Life in a Wormhole: Lose Some, Win Some #eveonline

Bre logs in and reports that the 850 million isk wormhole... is now occupied. So entrenched have the locals become in the last 20 hours that they're apparently already running mining operations, as Bre has a Retriever mining barge and Osprey cruiser on scan.

That's a bit odd, though, since Bre's combat probes don't pick up the gravitational signature of an asteroid belt anywhere nearby. She runs a quick scan on the two ships, locating them easily, and warps to their location at range to find the two ships floating in empty space, piloted, and over 80 kilometers from one another.

The whole thing seems decidedly odd. Either one of the ships is a potential victim for Bre's launcher-equipped Anathema, but the whole thing has the stink of rotten bait about it. She scans for the current exit to high sec while she turns her options over and locates the new tower in the process -- goodness but they got that thing up quickly.

Once she has the exit bookmarked, she warps back to the two miners just in time to see a tengu strategic cruiser uncloak about 160 kilometers away from both ships, after which the lot of them warp back to their tower.

Bre's instincts serve her well, and she heads out of the system and back home with an intact ship, although still annoyed and disappointed that the sale fell through because the buyer couldn't be arsed to get online and close the deal in less than four days.

Meanwhile, we've scanned down our lowsec exit to give our wayward real estate agent a way back in. The system we find ourselves connected to is somewhat terrible, as it connects to the more useful areas of known space only through the infamously gank-tastic system of Old Man Star. This presents no problems for Bre getting home, but it's not very useful for fitting out our shiny new Tornados. Ah well. What's in the other direction?

Our other static connection opens into a class two wormhole system with no less than thirty-five anomalies immediately visible on scan, three good-looking radar signatures to sweeten the pot, and home to only a single poorly defended tower that the owners have all but abandoned.

In short, our neighbors have left bales of money laying around in their back yard.

We fire up a flare, pilots assemble, cargo holds are filled to the rim with ammunition, and a fleet forms, consisting of CB, Em, Ichi, Tweed, Shan, and me. Our goal: to hit every possible Sleeper enclave in the system. We pause only once, when the local tower's forcefield goes offline without warning. It looks like the locals really were leaving, and decided not to take the tower with them, though they did make off with all the gear therein. So strange. You'd think that if you were going to move out of a wormhole, you'd take the 250 million isk tower with you. Apparently not.

Whatever. We don't have time to ponder the eccentricities of unknown pilots, as there's money to made and even at 5 to 7 minutes per site, 38 anomalies and signatures still take quite a lot of time to blast to flinders -- it's the most extensive single-session Sleeper flensing any of us have ever undertaken, and we spend the time chatting on voice comms, getting acquainted with our new alliance mate, and staving off boredom.

CB in particular seems to need some kind of adrenaline infusion, as the 'sit back and let the drones do the work' style of the Gila cruiser he's currently trying out really doesn't seem to suit him. He warps back to our tower for a few minutes and returns with his PvP-equipped Talos battlecruiser. The ship's oversized guns are a bit too big to reliably track the small sleeper frigates, the capacitor is far too unstable for typical PvE work, and the tank is entirely insufficient when compared to the punishment that Sleepers dish out.

It is, in CB's own words, "the most fun I've had in PvE since I ran that very first sleeper site in a Brutix." He blazes across the battlefield, microwarpdrive flaring, charging at Sleeper battleships as if he hopes to stave in their hull with the prow of his ship (which, to be fair, seems custom-built for such a tactic), and he only almost dies one time. Maybe twice.


[Image by Tweed. Click to embiggen.]
All in all, it's a good night, and time profitably-spent; the final tally puts our net profit at just over 1.2 billion isk.


Life in a Wormhole: Fish or Cut Bait #eveonline

Bre would very much like to sell the wormhole she's been sitting in for several days and come home, but the buyer and the broker (both in the EU), have trouble coordinating their time with hers, and they finally have to agree on finalizing the sale the next day -- an arrangement made much easier to accept thanks to the final offer that ended the bidding: 850 million isk. Bre scans the system and second and then a third time, convinced there's no way such a great system will stay unoccupied indefinitely, but the horizon looks clear and she logs out for the evening to try to think of something else.

Gor reports the Tornados are cooking in the tower foundry, and I decide to take my mind off the manufacturing process by poking around the connection to our neighboring class two system, which one of the other pilots already opened.

These plans come to a screeching halt when my cloaked Proteus coasts out of warp to see an unknown Buzzard-class covert-ops frigate slide through the hole and into our system. The fragile scout wheels and warps away from the hole as it cloaks, completely unaware of my ship only a few dozen kilometers away.

I let everyone know we have company (including the pilot's name) and, since the enemy Buzzard is gone, take the opportunity for a little counter-recon by hopping into the other system.

Once again, a covert ops ship brings me up short, as I arrive on the other side of the hole near an uncloaked Helios frigate owned by the same corporation as the Buzzard.

Now, I could decloak and try to target and destroy the Helios, but I don't waste the time for a number of reasons. First, the Helios is an agile, cloak-capable ship, and the pilot just saw someone jump into his system, so he's going to be on his guard. Given that, he could either cloak or warp away or both before I could get a lock on the ship. Second: even if by some strange chance I did manage to lock down his warp drive, he could just jump through the wormhole itself and escape to the other side, leaving me trailing in his wake and trying the same thing on the other side with even worse odds of success.

Third: there are a number of pointy ships and a tower on d-scan, and given how active their scouts are, I somehow doubt they'd be slow to come to the Helios pilot's aid if I make a play here.

Discretion being the better part of recon, I simply wheel my ship around, decloak, and jump back into the home system. I could just as easily have jumped further into enemy territory, but I have a bad feeling about this one, and in EvE, that paranoid feeling you sometimes get is usually right. On the other side of the hole I quickly cloak up and get out to a reasonably 'safe' range from the wormhole to observe enemy activity.

Meanwhile, Em has been doing some research on the pilot I reported earlier, and shares what she's learned while I watch the enemy Helios jump in, cloak, and warp off in the same direction as the Buzzard. It seems the corporation of which both pilots are a member has a rather... impressive record of kills in wormhole space. More importantly, almost none of those kills are solo, and in fact the main combat pilots almost always work in groups of three or four.

More troubling: none of the primary killers are the two pilots I've already spotted.

So, either these two pilots are trying to make a name for themselves in a particularly warlike corporation, or (far more likely), they're scanning and scouting alts, and the dangerous customers are waiting to hear if there's anything worth shooting at over here.

Something like, say, a shiny Proteus strategic cruiser that the Helios almost ran directly into.

Lo and behold, no sooner have we come to the conclusion these two frigates are not acting alone, then the wormhole flares again and a lone Tengu strategic cruiser fades into view a few dozen klicks away from my cloaked ship. Once in the system, the pilot (who I can't help but notice is one of the more deadly members of the corporation) proceeds to...

... sit there.

Yup. He's just sitting there, doing nothing. Stationary, that's the word.

I'm sure he doesn't intend to look like a blatantly obvious bait ship, but... yeah. He's a blatantly obvious bait-ship.

The enemy ploy nearly draws us in, but we resist their wiles.

It can be fun, when encountering a bait ship, to knowingly take the bait and still kill the target, but right now we don't have very many pilots online, and knowing that the Tengu pilot undoubtly has two or more likely three equally dangerous friends a single wormhole jump away keeps us from doing anything too drastic.

The tengu then decides to warp down to the center of the system, near the sun, where he can be located even more easily.

"He should have named his ship 'I Am Not Bait. At all.'," comments CB. "That would have fooled us."

The Tengu waits a bit longer, then warps back to the wormhole. And sits. Then warps back to the sun. And sits. Then back.

This goes on for a bit.

"He needs to try something new," says Pax. "Maybe he'll try taunting us in the Local channel."

"Does that ever work?" asks CB.

"Sadly, yes," replies Pax.

It seems our aussie expert is bang-on with his prediction; 30 seconds later, we see the pilot break radio silence and beg us to come out for a fight. We don't answer, and less than a minute later the Tengu pilot jumps back to his home system, followed shortly thereafter by the Helios and Buzzard.

"Dangerous, but not patient," Pax observes.

Indeed. In about the time it takes to warp to a tower, switch ships, and warp back to the wormhole, I see another set of flares, and this time the ships coming through are much larger -- all piloted by the rest of the hunters we'd suspected were waiting to ambush us if we took the bait. A Dominix, Typhoon, and Raven battleship jump back and forth through the hole to destabilize and destroy our connection, and I count all our previous suspicions confirmed: sometimes too much paranoia is just enough.

We linger in hopes that the pilots screw up the mass calculations for the hole and strand one of their pilots without backup, but the job's well done, the wormhole collapses with no enemy in sight, and our system is quiet once again. It would have been fun to get into a good fight, but knowingly starting off outnumbered and outgunned only sounds brave and daring if you win.

The rest of the time, it's just stupid.


Life in a Wormhole: Stormy Weather #eveonline

"Bid for this wormhole is up to 300 million."

"Bored yet?"

"You have no idea."

Ty's on his way home, post-roam, after cleaning up some assets and moving them out of backwater systems where they've been gathering dust. Bre, on the other hand, is reorganizing her paperclip drawer while idle and cloaked in the abandoned wormhole system she found the day before. It takes a special kind of activity to make someone envy the guy who has 27 jumps to make before he can get home, and it looks like she's found it.

It also gives her more than enough time to poke around the corporation's Science and Industry interface.

"Hey, this says that Gor's Tornado blueprint research is done."

"I can haz Tornado?"

"If there's enough materials in the tower, yeah."


The Minmatar Republic ship designers like to name their battlecruiser and battleship designs after destructive forces of nature: Cyclone, Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest, Maelstrom -- the Tornado is a sexy new addition to the family. Although Ty was born Gallente and spends a fair amount of time herding flights of drones and swearing under his breath, he's been spending more and more of his waking hours in rusty earth-toned Minmatar hulls, and has been rubbing his hands together in anticipation of the new toy Gor's been researching: the Republic's answer to the shiny Gallente Talos he flew the day before.

I think I'll call mine Sokka.

Unfortunately, there's a note from Gor pinned to Ty's door when he gets back to the tower, listing off the materials he's currently lacking to actually build the ship. Ty's more than willing, however, fix that problem... if it means a new Tornado.

Our connection to Low sec space is already open, but while there is quite a bit of high-bulk tritanium available in stations just outside our wormhole, and the system we're connected to is close to a larger market with more of the rare ores, there are many low security systems and gates in the way.

Berke offers to solve that problem while Ty takes his Mammoth out for a couple loads of tritanium, switching from his Orca to the nimble and stealthy Crane transport. All the skills he's been training in an effort to make the bulky Orca move a bit faster serve him well in the Crane -- he reports it's like switching from a river barge to a sports car -- the blockade runner dances away from gate camps and gankers with ease.

Or so he reports as he arrives back in the home system with all the rest of the ore required to make not one but two Tornado hulls. All in all, the hauling back and forth took up most of the evening, but it feels like time spent productively.

Even for Bre-the-Bored, who reports that bidding on the wormhole system has "sped up a little bit", and now stands at 700 million isk. Oh my.

Life in a Wormhole: Fire the Wave Motion Gun #eveonline

Sure enough, Ichi is chortling when I log back into the home system the next day. Apparently, he happened to be around just as Pax sprung his trap for the capsuleers who had been using our system as a freeway out to known space, and got to partake in the ritual destruction of a couple expensive tech2 haulers that bumbled into a warp disruption bubble Pax anchored to catch the laden ships. I congratulate the both of them on the kill, and smother my envy.

I find it always helps to distract myself with shinies, and conveniently that's an option tonight, as I've completed training all relevant skills to a level I feel is mandatory before sullying the cockpit of my new Vagabond heavy assault cruiser, which means I can bring her back home. A quick hop out into low sec space, a short jaunt to our corporate offices, a few minutes to get everything up to spec, and the Girl Genius takes her maiden voyage.

Unfortunately, the vagabond is an inappropriate ship to bring to the stuff we have planned today. Our pilots are going on a null sec roam with another wormhole alliance with whom we somehow manage to maintain cordial relations, and Em and I have decided to tag along. The only problem is, we can't decide what ships to fly, and end up proposing a half-dozen to each other without coming to any kind of decision.

"I should take the Talos that Gor made me," I said. "Not much use shooting sleepers, and it'd be a shame to see it gather dust."

"DUDE," says Em. "I'll totally fly one if you do."

"They're brand new shiny ships," I point out. "Everyone and their robot dog is going to be calling them primary target if they see them."


A few seconds pass.

"All right. Let's do it."


We get fit appropriately and head toward the mustering point, admiring our ships' shiny hulls and the prison-shiv aesthetics of their design.

"These things are going to look so pretty," I say, "when they explode."


A few comments are made by the FC and a others at the appearance of shiny new Talos battlecruisers in the fleet, but they're our ships to lose, and everyone soon forgets we're even flying anything odd.

It isn't long before I notice that this roam is quite a bit different than those I've been on with Red versus Blue. For one thing, the fleet commander is sober, but more noticeably the ships in this fleet aren't all fit with a half-dozen sensor boosters so the pilots can lock and destroy a target before anyone else even gets a shot off -- which is something of a hallmark of RvB fleets, where I could probably fly my Talos around for most of the night and never fire a single round. However, with this group, not only are Em and I able to lock and fire on most of the targets, the impressive firepower the Talos brings to field means that our opening volleys are just as often the closing volleys (especially in Em's case, as he has considerably more experience with the Gallente hybrid turret platforms than I do). Many people have called the four new battlecruiser models glass cannons, but some have been emphasizing the "glass" part, and not the "cannon" part, and that's a pretty major oversight.

In short, Em and I have a pretty good time with the roam, and discover that an excellent defense against getting your shiny ship blown up is to blow up the other guy first.

I'll call it the Battleship Yamato tactic, and it works remarkably well.

Meanwhile, back in the system, the pilots not on the roam have been scouting, and locate an abandoned class two wormhole system that really has no business being abandoned -- between the persistent connections to high-sec and class four wormhole space and the really fantastic array of resource planets, it's a real find for any corp that settled there. Honestly, if it weren't for the Rorqual we'd have to leave behind, I'd almost want to move in myself. (Not *myself*, obviously: I have no intention of leaving either my corp or the other pilots in our home system behind -- they're a resource far more rare than a good system.)

Our resident real estate agent apparently has the same idea I do, and while Berke runs out in his Orca to sell corporate loot and help a new Walrus recruit (Tweed) move his ships in, Bre slips over to the empty system, sets up a tent, and sends a EvEMail to our tried-and-true wormhole broker. She'll probably spend a few days twiddling her thumbs with nothing to do, but the great resources and connections should make the time worthwhile.


Life in a Wormhole: If You Open a Door, Something May Walk Through #eveonline

Cabbage reports that we have an additional wormhole in our system, beyond the two that we always have. Entrance number three is an inbound connection from another class two system. I poke around a bit, but things look quiet. A bit of scanning helps me put things in context. Like our own system, our visitor's home has two persistent wormhole connections: in our case, it a connection to low security known space and one to class two wormhole space; in their case, it's a connection to class-two wormhole space... and a static connection to null sec.

Some wormholes are harder to get out of than others.

I'd be guessing, but my suspicion is the capsuleers were simply looking for a better connection to known space than their own, perhaps to grab some fuel, since it doesn't look as though they actually *do* very much in their system -- Sleeper anomalies are cleared out, but there is a wealth of more rare signatures cluttering up the sky.

We're a little short on time, but Cab and I decide to take advantage of the open connection to make a little profit, and in less than an hour clear about 100 million isk (MIsk? MIskies?) out of their hole.

"They opened the connection," Cabbage comments, "they should have figured we'd use it."

Hard logic to argue with, and I don't have much time to do so, anyway, as it's time to get going. Just as I'm logging off, however, Pax is logging in and getting an update from Cabbage.

"People flying haulers through our system, eh?" Pax muses. "You don't say..."

I expect there will be a story to hear when I get back, and I have to say I envy him -- the money's nice, but it's been a long while since we've had a good tussle with anyone, and I for one am starting to miss it.


Life in a Wormhole: What if they Gave a War and Nobody Came? #eveonline

Hurrah, we've had war declared on us again. Contrary to the ominous tone of this announcement, the mood within the home system seems curiously unaffected.

"Wardec? Huh. What's on TV?"

Granted, I might be a bit removed from any terror and tension this news elicits, as I'm currently off in the wilds of the midwest, but I don't think that's the case. The fact of the matter is that a typical 'griefer' wardec is kind of a pointless thing when you live in a wormhole, since most of the professional habitual wardeccing corps are only doing it so they can attack your ships when you're in some major trade hub -- usually only ONE of the major trade hubs (Jita) -- they can't even be arsed to cover three or heavens forbid all four of the main market systems in game.

So you've got a wardec? Stay in the wormhole for a week and make a bunch of ISK by running sites. That's what we do anyway. Just don't go out into known space where someone can have a Locator Agent find you, or if you must do so, get there through some other wormhole's connection and avoid the trade hubs.

Bottom line? For a wormhole corp, the typical wardec is about as troublesome and terror-inducing as road construction that blocks off your normal route to work. I'm sure there are groups out there that know exactly how to make a wormholer's life difficult, but these guys aren't it.

Anyway, after a long and restful time with family (seriously, stop laughing), I'm back home and ready to make some iskies. Our connecting class two system is pretty barren, but I scan down a Class Three system that's connected to that boring class two, and it is both thick with sleepers and largely abandoned, making it a good choice for a little Sleeper shooting.

One of our aussie pilots, Pax, is willing to come along, and while we're not as familiar with the different ship types and waves of attackers in the Class Three wormholes, they don't prove much more difficult than the homicidal, sentient, killer ships we deal with every day. Our time is fairly limited, and we're only able to hit about eight sites before it's time to wrap it up, but our brief run nets us a cool quarter billion isk, which is a pretty good haul. We need to see about moving into a higher-class system at some point.


Eve Online: My Year in Review

This is going to be one of those posts that isn't time-delayed, due to the subject matter.

I just noticed that I started playing Eve one year and one day ago. January 22nd, 2011 marked my return to EvE to give it another try after failing to find anything of interest over four years previous.

It's the fact that both of my main characters are only a year old that makes me kind of shake my head in bemusement every time someone asks me for any kind of advice, and why I rarely give any advice or write guides.

So if you'll indulge me a moment, I'd like to take a look at where I am and what I've managed to accomplish.


  • Ty, my first main, has focused mainly on cruisers and battlecruisers. He can fly a battleship if needs must, but so far at least it really hasn't been his thing. His skills focus mostly on Gallente and Minmatar ships (with a distinct preference for Minmatar, though he's Gallente himself), but he can fly passably in pretty much any race's ships, and suspect he will eventually be able to fly all the sub-capital ships of all four races. The thing I'm most happy about with his progression so far is getting to some major goals right at the end of the year with the advanced cruisers. Ty can fly both Minmatar and Gallente Heavy Assault Cruisers, Recon Cruisers, Logistics Cruisers, and Strategic Cruisers. I've still got a ways to go to full mastery on several of the more recent acquisitions, but I'm past the point where I'm embarassing myself by sitting in one with a booster seat on to get my head up even with the steering wheel. My main goal with him in the coming year is to really master the cruiser hulls -- Level Five in All The Things, as they say. We'll see how that goes.

  • Bre, my second main, is a bit of a weird bird. She started out as a scanning alt, but with a big skill point boost thanks to being the character I made up four years ago, she quickly drew even to Ty in skill points and demanded some projects of her own. She's pretty solid in science, research, and electronic warfare of all kinds, but my personal project was her was frigates, and I saw that goal reached about the same time Ty got his cruiser goals met: Bre can fly every single race's frigates at level five, and can fly all the tech2 variants of those frigates as well, from Interceptors to Assault Ships to Electronic Attack ships to Stealth Bombers. In addition, she has the support skills to complement those types of ships, and can use the tech 2 versions of every type of weapon system that can logically be fit to any of those ships.  If it's small and fast, she's pretty damned good at it.

  • Berke came to the party a bit later than the other two, and he had one purpose: to fly an Orca. I wanted someone to follow Ty and Bre around as they wandered around New Eden, hauling extra fittings and spare ships like a one-man caravan, and Berke was that guy. But when we moved into wormholes, priorities changed and Berke, who'd gotten quite good enough at Orca and other industrial piloting by that point in time, branched out into other useful support skills: he's recently gotten all the advanced Leadership skills to a high level, and between that and some of his more esoteric skills (he can't fly a combat ship, but he's a dab hand with a tower gunnery array), he's become a real asset -- a great booster for a fleet of any kind. He's my team player, my never-asks-for-a-thank-you guy and, in all seriousness, a hell of an Orca pilot.

What We've Done

I didn't come into EvE saying "I want to live in a wormhole," but I'm really glad that that's how things worked out. Our corporation colonized a system, then joined a larger alliance and, through them, met our new friends in the Home System. It's a situation I might have hoped for with no real expectation that it could happen in a cutthroat game like EvE, but it did happen, and I'm lucky for it.

Between Ty, Bre, and Berke (scanning Orca FTW), I've visited over 400 wormhole system in a little over half a year. I've made... well, a lot of ISK, and spent almost as much. I've even helped defend our system from invaders, blearily watching the scanning window for any sign of enemy activity in the wee hours of the night (more on that in a few weeks).

TL;DR: I've had a pretty damned good time.

Life in a Wormhole: A Few Days of Normal #eveonline

One of the upsides of losing your salvaging ship is that you have a legitimate excuse when it comes time to decide who's going to be responsible for melting down the wrecks you and your crew have left floating in your wake and doing all the math to split up the profits.

"Sorry guys, my ship is space dust," is damned hard to argue with. I should have thought of it sooner.

Luckily, there's a job for everyone when it's Sleeper shooting time, and after a few days of quiet I, Em, CB, Gor, and Ichi spend a good evening of Sleeper explodifying for 126 million isk. It feels good to pocket some profit, and after a break, I log back in and look for something else to shoot. The other American pilots are offline, but Cabbage is on and more than willing to clear out our local infestation (like cockroaches, these things), and (this time) both the shooting and salvage go smoothly.

It's a fine send-off, as I need to pack up and head for holiday fun time with family and friends in the lands where the men are men and the internet is sketchy-at-best.

To be honest, I'm kind of looking forward to it. No, really.

I queue up a couple skills that will take a nice long time to train, make sure the tower fuel is topped off, and tell everyone not to get their ships blown up in particularly funny ways until I get back, then it's off to the airport.

When I land, there's an email from Em.

"We've been wardecced again."


Life in a Wormhole: Not So Smart #eveonline

"Cha-ching." Bre is chortling to herself, as she's just closed the deal on a second wormhole sale in less than a week. I need to change her corporate title from "Recon" to "Real Estate". Still, it's good money for her and for paying off the "Customs Office" project so that they can start generating cash flow into the 'system wallet' for special projects.

I'm on my way back into the system from yesterday's corporate asset reorganization, stopping only long enough to pick up various blueprints for Ichi. I'm not entirely sure what he's up to, but judging from the contents of the canister in my hold, I'd guess a bit of invention aimed at designing blueprints for Manticore stealth bombers. I approve.

Also, I lied: the blueprints aren't the only thing I stopped for. Having gotten close to mastering most Leadership-related skills, Berke's looking for a good way to share those bonuses with the fleet when his Orca isn't appropriate to bring along. After some pondering, he's settled on flying a custom-built Tengu strategic cruiser for the purpose, running no less than six fleet boosting modules simultaneously. Again, I approve, but since Berke's focused mostly on industrial and leadership skills, his training path for a Tengu is going to be a long one, and he's got an extensive shopping list of skill books he's going to need on the way. I'm happy to pick them up for him, and deliver the lot just as CB logs in looking for something to do.

The home system is quiet, but we've got a reasonably well-stocked class two system next door, with inhabitants that don't seem particularly interested in what we're doing, or in defending their territory -- we've tried baiting them into an engagement, but all they do is log in for a few minutes to update training queues, check email, and make sure all their Planetary Command Centers are still churning. Yawn.

Still, even if they don't want to play, there's still money to be made, so Cabbage, CB, and myself hop into pointy ships and start blowing up sleepers, clearing five anomalies in short order. By this point, it's getting difficult for Cab to stay awake, as he's down-under, so I volunteer for salvaging duties and jump back to the home system to reship into the Catalyst destroyer I use for the purpose. There's a Noctis industrial salvaging ship in our hangar as well, which is generally better at such things than a retasked destroyer, but it seems like a bit of overkill for only a few sites, and more to the point it belongs to Gor and I'm not entirely sanguine about risking someone else's rhubarb without checking in with them first.

Cabbage slips back to the home system, CB reships into a Cheetah covert ops boat to keep an eye on d-scan for me while I'm melting down Sleepers, and things proceed quite --

Oh bugger.

Unfortunately, Cabbage logged off as I started clean up. This has an annoying consequence within our little fleet -- since he's not a member of our gang anymore, any of the Sleeper ships on which he got the final blow have now been flagged as belonging to someone who has not given me explicit loot permission -- it doesn't mean I CAN'T salvage and loot them, but it does mean I can't use the Catalyst's tractor beams to pull in the scattered wrecks, forcing me to fly from one to the next in order to apply my relatively short-range salvagers, and effectively doubling the time this will take. A twenty-minute clean-up just turned into an hour-long slog. As an added bonus, this isn't true for all of the wrecks, just some of them, and trying to figure out which is which is basically trial and error, as there are no visual indicators. Annoying.

Right. I roll up my sleeves and get to work, checking in with CB as I go. My lookout is doing his job, and reports any movement in the system, which includes a Badger hauler, Bestower hauler, and Heron scouting frigate appearing and then disappearing at the tower in rapid succession. It looks like someone just logged in all their alts in quick succession to take care of daily business, and I keep flying around from wreck to wreck, doing my thing. In all but one case, the battlefields are far enough from the tower that I won't show up on the local's directional scan, and even if I did, their PvP history does not suggest we need to worry about them very much. I keep at the salvage and loot process, watching the hold fill up with a surprisingly good amount of the really good stuff like melted nanoribbons.

The thrill of good loot is undeniable.

I'm about halfway through the fourth site of our five when CB announces Combat Scanner Probes on scan. My first thought is that the Heron recon frigate didn't log out, but instead warped out of range of our sensors and launched probes.

"You want to get out?"

"In a sec," I say. "Got one more Battleship to melt down, and this site's done. Anyone flying a crappy little Heron around either isn't going to find me very fast, or will have to reship before he comes in. We'll see him."

CB's response is very persuasive, if a little bit abrupt.

"Loki on scan!"

Now, a Loki strategic cruiser is an entirely different ball of twine. First, the ship can both scan and bring plenty of DPS to an impromptu ambush. Second, the advanced nature of the craft -- in contrast to a Heron -- indicates a pilot that could easily possess the skills to locate my destroyer quickly.

Very quickly indeed, it turns out, as the Loki lands almost on top of my destroyer as I'm turning and aligning to warp out a safe spot. The cruiser's autocannons make short work of the unarmored destroyer, and I warp only my escape pod free, rather than an entire ship. Dammit.

CB and I retreat to our home system to analyze what happened, which obviously puts most of the blame firmly on my own shoulders. Pro tip: when you have a lookout posted, and he announces evidence of hostile intent, get the hell out. I needed to be reminded of that simple lesson, and the loss of the destroyer (and all those shiny nanoribbons destroyed in the explosion) will help ensure it sticks. Yes, if we had prevented the problem with Cabbage logging out we would have been done salvaging before the Loki even showed up, and if I hadn't had to fly from one wreck to the next instead of using a tractor beam, I could have stayed aligned to a celestial and ready to warp out, as I usually am. But while that's true, it's all coulda-shoulda-mighta; come right down to it, I just didn't get out when my scout told me to.

A least I didn't use the Noctis; that would have been a much more expensive and painful lesson.

A bit more research reveals yet another lesson I could stand to learn. I was relaxed and dismissive of threat because of the poor record and generally negligent attitude of the local pilots, but it wasn't a local pilot who got my ship. The combat record for my assailant -- an independent hunter roaming through Anoikis -- is, in a word, stellar: a long list of solo kills in wormhole space against the overconfident and unwary. I am, in fact, his third kill TODAY: the first two were in some other wormhole system (probably one he came through to get to the one where he found us), and occurred over two hours apart from one another. In other words, he blew up a ship and then waited, patiently, until that pilot's cohorts decided he had given up and dropped their guard... then he killed another one.

Am I angry at this guy? Hell no: I'm taking notes.

Still, his evident patience is a caution flag on any further activity, and I don't like our odds for trying to hunt down a cloak-capable strategic cruiser flown by an obviously skilled pilot -- it sounds like a good way to waste a few hours in frustration, so we chalk the whole mess up under Lessons Learned and head out for the night.

Life in a Wormhole: One of the Little Days, One of the Big Days #eveonline

It's been a quiet couple of days in the home system. People have been in and out, but I keep hearing rumors of some other MMO that's got folks all giddy and since I can't get into the early access yet have better things to do, it's just been me and a few other pilots puttering around and clearing a few Sleeper anomalies as they crop up locally.

This holiday season has got a very Star Wars-y feel to it.

But after a few days of that, I get a bit stir-crazy and go poking into our neighboring systems within unknown space. Hello, what's this? Another abandoned system like the one Bre sold last week? One that clearly hasn't been touched by anyone for weeks and weeks? Why yes, yes it is. The system is positively overflowing with Sleepers to shoot and there isn't an active tower in sight (which is odd, since it's actually a pretty good system for colonization).

I could make some pretty good money just poking at this by myself, but I can't stand to see money left lying on the ground (as it were), so I place a scanning alt character in the system in hopes of a future sale, then fire up a flare to let all of our pilots know about the riches that await. That evening sees everyone logged in and ready for some money making. We set up proper operations, with Shan conducting salvage and acting as lookout while the rest of us convert Sleepers into shrapnel and money. The end result of about two hours of flying is a bit over 650 million isk in profit, split between the pilots involved.

Since I hate splitting up the actual loot itself with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, I volunteer to haul all the bits and bobs out to a market to sell, then distribute the cash proceeds appropriately -- anything else is like trying to have five people pay 13.95 for two large pizzas when all anyone has is twenty dollar bills.

Math: Threat or Menace?

While out in the known world, conveniently close to our old home base, I decide to move our corporate headquarters out of the system of Jel (our former stomping grounds) to a system with far lower rent. Jel is great, but paying 65 million isk a month for an in-station office is an awful lot of wasted cash for something you no longer use. Our new home (which I find after a bit of research and flying around) is closer to more markets, cheaper by a factor of over thirty, and isn't as generally out of the way.

Once the office is properly set up, I open transport contracts with the player-run Red Frog Freight (which specializes in high-sec hauling services) to move all the stuff we want to keep, then sell off anything we're truly not using, which unfortunately includes my Ishtar heavy assault ship.

Don't get me wrong: the Ishtar is a great ship, and we've had some good times together, but for sleeper combat I've found it's generally outperformed by the (much, much uglier) Gila cruiser, and I just can't see the point in owning the thing if I'm never, ever, ever going to use it. It makes me a bit sad, since the ship is built on the Vexor-class hull, one my favorite ship designs in the game, but it's still the best thing to do until I can figure out a better way to fit the thing.

Also, if I sell it, I can use the proceeds to buy a Vagabond heavy assault ship with virtually no buyer's remorse whatsoever, which is basically a win-win for me. The Ishtar relies very heavily on drones for its damage and is rather anemic in the guns department (I know some pilots use it for PvP, but I can't see myself doing that, and as a mission ship, it's beat out by the Gila), whereas the Vagabond is a bit of a terror when fit with some cruiser-sized auto-cannons, and is generally a more entertaining ship to fly, since it's so bloody fast. Zooooom. Say it with me. Zoooooooom.

Random gunfire and overheated propulsion modules. Two great tastes that taste great together.
Image by EveMonkey.

I've been looking forward to owning one for awhile, as the almost steampunk-like design of the thing appeals to me, and cuts the sting of selling the Ishtar substantially.

I can't quite fit it the way I feel I must before I can risk it in PvP, however, so I leave it in the market up for now as an incentive to stick to my training plan for another week, and get ready to head back home.


Life in a Wormhole: Like a Weekend Camp-out #eveonline

In our early days of wormhole living, CB drew a comparison between that activity and weekend camping trips where you head out to some campground all of an hour from the nearest gas station.

"You're technically out there on your own," he explained, "except for the part where someone's driving out to pick up more beer and ice after breakfast every morning."

It's been a long time since we've had any weeks like that -- I'm much more likely to leave our system through a wormhole leading to more unknown space than I am to head to a market, and even when I open the connection to low-sec, I'm usually more in the mood to shoot someone than run out for more beer -- but with the holiday downtime coming and some new pilots in the wormhole, I find myself planning yet another trip into known space, even though we were just there.

But first, I and Bre hit a few sites in the neighboring class two system, if only to give me something to carry on my way out as well as back in; I know more than a few truckers in real life, and the idea of 'deadheading' for part of the trip makes the whole thing seem like a waste. As it is, I'm able to sell off the spoils of some gas harvesting, as well as the loot from a couple radar signature sleeper sites, a few anomalies, and some gear we no longer use in the home system.

That done, I take the change jingling in my pocket and poke through the local markets. Moondog's got appropriate ships for shooting things in the home system, but his mining/hauling alt is (sadly, I guess: I don't mine) short a mining ship, and we've been nowhere near our home systems to go and pick it up, so I grab something appropriate and toss the parts in the hold to take back in as a holiday gift.

Also, there's the matter of these two Talos battlecruisers that Gor built for CB and myself -- we have everything we need to fit them in the home system, with the rather glaring exception of appropriately-sized guns (though only battlecruiser hulls, these glass-cannon ships sport battlship-sized hybrid weaponry, which neither CB or I make much use of, generally), so I hop over a few more systems and pick up 16 heavy neutron blasters and enough ammo to fire them for the 20 or 30 seconds the ship is likely to survive, then head home through a deceptively benign-looking section of low-sec.

Once it's all said and done, I'm glad to be back home, where it's safely uncivilized.


Life in a Wormhole: Holiday Spirit #eveonline

This is one of those times when it's quite obvious I time-delay my posts.

It's coming up on the holiday break in the home system and we're all trying to get things taken care of before everyone's afk and deep in the heart of No Internet Land (granted, that's mostly just me).

Ty's on the way home following the RvB ganked shenanigans, and Bre's working on scanning down a good route for running ships out for necessary tower fuel. Her luck at finding an exit is poor, but on the other hand, she reports finding an abandoned system that might be a new dream home for an aspiring wormhole corp -- the sort of system someone might pay quite well for. Since she sort of needs to stay in that system if she wants to sell it, she's out of the fuel-route-finding project, which leaves it up to the rest of us.

Finding a decent route out takes the better part of a day, but eventually we nail down something useful and start stocking up in anticipation of both the holidays and the impact that certain other newly-released sci-fi MMOs will have on the play time of a few of our pilots.

I hear there's a new MMO coming around Christmas. Shh. Dont' ruin the surprise.

Gor does the lion's share of the hauling on this one, and also brings in a new small minmatar control tower that Berke requested. Our orca pilot has some kind of crazy plan to carry around the tower in his ship's roomy hold and use it when we hit systems so flush with resources that it will take a considerable amount of time to reap the benefits. The idea is to fly in and set up the bare bones tower as a kind of armored bivouac tent, running the orca as a supply, reshipping, and refitting hub inside the tower's shields, staying more than a day if necessary, and then packing back up when it's over and making the trip home through known space. It's a little complex (at least until the new fuel cubes go into use), and probably won't come up much, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Whether it's profitable-interesting or expensive-explosion-interesting remains to be seen.

Once he's back in the home system, Gor also surprises Ty and CB with early Christmas gifts in the form of a pair of the shiny new Talos battlecruisers he's been working on. Dawww. Who says eve players are heartless?

Is that all the holiday magic? Not quite. After over a day of wrangling with a buyer (and a reluctant broker convinced Bre couldn't get her asking price and then getting grumpy when it turned out she could), Bre manages to close a multi-hundred million isk deal for the class two wormhole she found. After a hefty seller's fee for her solo effort, the rest of the money is donated back to the home system to help pay off the customs offices and the rorqual project (which has languished thanks to a serious absence of any actual mining opportunities).

Life in a Wormhole: Sneaking Out to Play #eveonline

It looks like another quiet weekend in the hole during the crazy holiday season, and my play time is still a bit limited, so I'm looking to maximize fun by blowing up ships in various amusing ways, and that usually means going along on a roam with Red vs. Blue.

I've been on two of these before, the first in an Arbitrator meant to provide fleet support for the pile of ships-fit-inappropriately-with-lasers, and the second in the same Arbitrator, since I didn't want to deal with making another ship and I was a bit miffed at not getting it blown up the first time. Luckily (?) that wasn't a problem on the second trip, so for the third roam I'll have to come up with something else.

As will CB, who's decided to come along as well. He brought along a Sabre interdictor on his-first/my-second roam, and discovered first hand out much people like to call such ships primary. This time, he's looking for something a bit less expensive to fly.

Luckily, RvB has us covered, since the theme for the roam is destroyers. This class of ship (which falls in speed, size, and defenses somewhere between frigates and cruisers, with remarkably good damage output) is potentially some great fun, since they've gotten a number of big buffs in the most recent expansion and can be purchased and fit for very little ISK. Just what the doctor ordered. CB and I head out of the wormhole (moving cautiously even in highsec, since there's still a wardec in effect), and get to the staging system of Rens. CB has a much easier time with this than I do, since Rens is actually where he recently made all of his jump clones -- by the time I jump to an inexpensive clone and sneak over from the Sinq Laison region, he's already got his Thrasher-class destroyer fitted and ready to go. I follow suit, and we're all set.

Several other folks have written and posted videos about this particular roam, but I won't let that stop me from a lengthy summary. With that said, I can give you the short version: fun and laughs were had, and we all blew up gloriously at the end -- basically, that's an RvB Ganked roam, Working As Intended.

When the fleet (lead and heavily populated by pilots from the EU and Great Britain, where it is quite a bit later and -- I assume -- much closer to Guinness o'clock) heads out, we're boasting something like 100+ ships, mostly Thrashers like the ones CB and I have selected, but with quite a few of the incredibly high-damage Catalysts as well. The mood, like the fleet, is drunkenly cheerful.

As we roll along, a few trailing scouts report we're being shadowed by a fleet from Sniggewaffe, the 'training' corp for the infamous Pandemic Legion. Their group is quite a bit smaller than ours, but they're in considerably beefier ships with MUCH longer ranges. (Destroyers are many things, but they are not snipers.) Still, it looks like such a fight could be good fun, so the fleet commander tries to get them to engage. Unfortunately, the Sniggewaffe pilots seem to anticipate our every move, and avoid any engagement that doesn't heavily favor their long-range, hard-hitting guns.

The RvB pilots quickly deduce that the Sniggewaffe guys must have a spy listening in on our voice comms, (which isn't really that much of a deductive leap, as ninety percent of all the pilots in RvB are spy-alts from some other corporation), so the FC announces on our own comms that if the spy will simply sing some kind of appropriate holiday tune in comms, he will activate his Leeroy Jenkins ability and fleet-warp the lot of us straight into their optimal firing ranges.

The spy obliges, and we go into warp to a solo serenade from the other side's fleet commander.

Unfortunately for the Sniggewaffe guys, we'd actually managed to locate their fleet with a cloaked scout, and were able to drop right on top of them at point-blank range, which gave us a huge advantage that led to the almost-complete destruction of their fleet. Still: good singing.

After that, we got back to a station where folks could repair damage (or replace ships if needed; CB and I were still fine, though CB had to go at this point). While the command crew were trying to figure out what to do next, someone noticed that CCP had just announced that they were sending out a CCP-piloted "try to kill us and loot our fancy ships" fleet, so we turned around and headed toward the likely muster point for said fleet (somewhere in Syndicate region) at best speed.

We spent a bit of time messing around with scouts spread far and wide, trying to figure out where the fleet would be, which was a bit unnecessary: when the CCP fleet was finally sighted it was only two jumps away. We got into the system and tried to get one of the CCP reps to get on our comms and sing, but none of them were feeling that brave. Ahh well -- it's not like we weren't going to charge straight into their guns anyway.

Scouts reported that their ships had some pretty significant logistics support and were, like the Sniggewaffe group, fit with big, slow, long-range guns. Yay. :)

Once again, we got a warp in right on top of them and charged into battle, getting in as close as we could and orbiting at full speed to stay ahead of the big guns. A good defensive plan which worked well, but offensively we couldn't put a dent in the battleships and started going after the logistics ships instead, which, while tough, weren't going to withstand focused fire from over eighty destroyers for very long -- their defenses started to fold, and it looked like we were going to do some real damage to their fleet.

That's when a handful of stealth bombers from Agony Unleashed decloaked and bomb the holy hell out of the whole melee. The first two 30-kilometer-wide explosions took out most of the the RvB destroyers (leaving the heavily armored CCP pilots largely unscathed), a third mopped up all the escape pods, and that was the evening (at least for me).

Good stuff, and the perfect way to kill some time (and a half-dozen battlecruisers) in an amusing way.


Life in a Wormhole: Background Checks #eveonline

"One of your damned dirty fan-monkeys is clogging up our application inbox." Em's voice is loud and accusatory -- probably joking, but sometimes it's hard to tell. She gets a little confrontational when she's processing stuff in the Rorqual; I think the escaping ore compression gasses get to her.

Or maybe she gets to them. Or maybe she can't get to them. Did she pick the wrong day to quite sniffing Bistot? What if --


"Jesus! What?" I blink, replaying the last few seconds of the 'conversation'. "Oh, right: damned dirty fan-ape, clogging up the... whatever."

"Fan-monkey," she replies. "And application inbox."

I rub at my face, still trying to wake up. "I dunno what that is."

"You would if you accepted new pilots into your corp," Em grumbles. "Ever."

"Yes, I should do that." I flip a few switches and deploy probes for a system scan. "Except I can already get all the same benefits via casual, semi-consensual, unprotected sex with suspected felons... and there isn't any paperwork."

"Slacker," she replies almost automatically. "Also I hope you're joking."

"Don't worry," I busy myself with scanning, trying to keep my voice even. "I don't bring anything back into the wormhole with me."

"I don't want to know."

"I mean, I don't use all the different bodies out in known space just for dangerous combat..."

"Don't want to know."

"I call that particular one my 'jump clo --'"

"I DON'T --" Em cuts in as I start laughing -- "want..." I hear her sigh over the comms. "Can we talk about this fan-monkey applicant? I'm sending you the file."

"I don't have fans," I reply. "Or, sadly, monkeys." I tap the blinking message indicator and scan the attachment. Technically, Em and I are in different organizations, but we're part of the same alliance and live in the same wormhole, our people counting on each other for damned near everything, so in general practice we're pretty open about our corporations' day to day business. Em's gotten more than a few applicants -- even new members -- that she's never bothered talking to me about, and I trust her judgement in hiring them, but I can see why she sent this one over. "Oh. Tweed."

"Yes," says Em, speaking slowly. "A fan."

"Pfff." I am nothing if not eloquent. "He's asked me a couple questions. Pretty good ones, actually, if I remember right." My probably-bad habit of chronicling our exploits in Anoikis and posting the results to public capsuleer sites had attracted some attention from time to time -- usually good stuff like the messages from this Tweed -- but I get tense when it comes this close to home. I obfuscate the information in my posts almost entirely to protect the pilots I fly with, rather than myself, and I don't like it when that posting habit and our day-to-day operations intersect, even when it looks like a coincidence. "Did he apply to you guys directly? Cuz that would be bad."

"Nope," Em pops the end of the word. "Just the general alliance, after background checks, though it does look like he figured out it's the one you talk about."

"Yeah. That's happened before." I call up a few more screens, one to the alliance site and one to my personal journal, checking the backbone databases. "He's sending the messages to you, the alliance, and to my site from the same locations, and we don't have any enemies from around there. You talk to him?"

"A couple messages back and forth, no voice comms yet," Em replies.

"What do you think?"

"What do you think?" Em counters. "You're the word guy."

I frown, knowing she'd say that, and scour all the different messages I can find, comparing word choices both for what they said and what they didn't say. I can recall the time-lapsed 'chats' we'd had on my public comment boards, now that I'd had enough time to wake up, and digging through a Alliance comm log or two reminds me of something else.

"He's been waiting out this application since..." I try some basic math, but give it up. "Months. Many months, actually. Been on tenterhooks a long time."

Em makes an sound of agreement, but doesn't say anything else. I stare out at the distant star -- our star -- and wonder what it would feel like to lose it. It's a hard thing to imagine, but not impossible. Still...

"I like it," I say, nodding to myself. "As much as I can like it, anyway. Feels legit."

"I do too." Em's response is almost immediate. "Wanted to get your take, though. Anyone we bring in is going to affect everyone."

"True," I say. "And, thanks."

"No problem. Also?"


"I'm totally blaming you if he turns out to be a spy."

Corporate security is a pretty serious thing in EvE. Everything you have in the game came to you though time and effort (like most any MMO), and (unlike other MMOs) you can lose it -- all of it -- when your ship gets blown up or some other catastrophe strikes. Imagine LotRO if being defeated by a swarm of orcs meant you had to replace all your gear.

Then picture losing not just that gear, but all your backup gear, and the stuff that belongs to everyone else in your corp or alliance, because it was taken from you by another player whom you decided to trust more than they could be trusted.

And of course you never know how much trust is too much until after it's been given.

Yet people still play, and they still invite virtual strangers into their groups. You do what you can to protect yourself, of course, but ultimately, you make a decision and you give a stranger some of your trust; you make another connection.

It's an MMO -- that's the point.

Welcome to the family, Tweed.


Life in a Wormhole: A Taste of the Good Life #eveonline

It's been well ove 24 hours since the fleecing of our neighboring class-two system, but the wormhole connection is still up. Very strange, as they typically only last 16 hours.

Oh, wait: it is a new wormhole, connecting to a new system, but the hole is in the exact same location as yesterday. Weird! (Though not unheard of amongst wormhole dwellers.)

The new system is heavily pruned, which I suspect is because some of our alliance mates connected here just two days ago from their home system and did a bit of sleeper maintenance -- it certainly doesn't seem like the locals are doing much of anything.

The system is thick with wormholes, if not sleeper anomalies, however, and I track down an outbound connection to Amarr high-sec (not terribly useful, since we're currently under WarDec house arrest), an aging inbound from Low-sec (in the aptly named Solitude region of known space), an outbound to Class-One wormhole space, and yet another inbound connection from a Class-Two system like our own. I do a bit of poking around in the other wormholes, but both are similarly picked over.

Still, Moondog is online and looking for something to do that isn't shooting Customs Offices. I'd like to oblige, and luckily I can -- at least a little bit -- as there is a single sleeper site up in our home system. I hop into my trusty Gila to join MD in his Harbinger battlecruiser and (with some missile-throwing assistance from Ichi) make short work of the site. Salvage is not great, and Ichi and I donate the proceeds to Moondog's wallet to give him some spending money.

Moondog calls it a night, and I decide to make a quick run out through the high sec connection located in the neighboring class two system to pick up a new skillbook I'll soon be able to train. Yes, a wardec's on, but these habitually war-declaring corps tend to just camp out in high-traffic, centrally-located markets and watch for foolish or overly brave targets to wander in front of their guns -- in practice, these things are never so much a war as they are a kind of vodka-soaked duck hunt.

"Tellya whut: we're gonna declare war, and you boys jus' do us a favor and float on by the winders here. Pa don't like to move much, if he kin help it."

In any case, my destination is the nearest "library" system, with piles of NPC-sold skillbooks on the market (usually, and not coincidentally, these system are often also one of the 20 or so 'starter systems' for new pilots, and about as safe and any system in known space is likely to be at this point). I swap the Gila for my nimble and more-importantly stealthy Cheetah covert ops frigate and head out.

The trip is comfortably anti-climatic (aside from the part where I buy the books, forget to move them from the station bays into my ship's cargo hold, have to turn around and go back); I pick up Recon Cruisers (plus a few other impulse buys), and books for Em, Moondog, and CB, then head home, stopping just long enough to poke my head into the Class One system again in hopes of stumbling across a target. No luck, so I finish my trip, drop off the latest batch of textbooks, and call it a night.


Life in a Wormhole: Just Being Neighborly #eveonline

Two customs offices remain in our system, but we only have one replacement structure, so we leave the less-frequently-used planet alone and get to work blowing up the other, which takes little time as every active pilot is online and ready to be done with this organized vandalism.

Once that's done, Ty's jazzed to use the new scouting Proteus, and volunteers to scout out the connecting class two system and see what options present themselves for our evening's entertainment. There's a bit of mockery as Twilight Sparkle shows up on directional scan, but Ty's secure in his own manhood and (to be honest) pretty darn happy with the ship.

The wormhole connection is quickly found and entered, and Ty finds himself in a system with one large and two small towers on directional scan. Despite evidence of some fairly heavy occupation, the system is poorly tended and overgrown with sleeper anomalies, Ladar-emitting gas clouds, and even a few uncommon Radar signatures. It's shameful. Someone should call the HOA.

The flare goes up, and pilots assemble to do the right thing and clean up the new system -- things just look so much nicer when they're tidy, after all, and we're very good neighbors.

Em, Ty, Bre, Ichi, and Clovis get to work with long range weed whackers, with Shan performing overwatch duties on both our wormhole home and the currently open connection to high security known space. Si salvages, and we knock out fifteen sites in about 90 minutes, for an estimated 300 million isk -- the first profit many of us have seen in several weeks, thanks to weird schedules and poor wormhole connections.

"Some flowers will really help the Curb Appeal."

Our initial foray into the neighboring system was a good start, but Ichi is still concerned about how those untended Gas Clouds are going to affect local property values, so once the combat fleet breaks up, he, Ty, and Bre jump into harvesting ships (a Thorax-class cruiser and several Moa-class cruisers should do the trick) and head back over, with CB running overwatch in a Hound-class stealth bomber and Berke in his Crane-class transport to pick up the canisters of gas and haul them home.

Time is fairly limited, so we stick to the really valuable... ahh... that is say, the most overgrown clouds, and we're all but done when CB spots a Helios-class frigate on d-scan, but it's just sitting at the tower, and doesn't stay on for long.

Our assumption is that the pilot logged on to update his training queue, took a few minutes to survey our outstanding landscaping efforts, and then quickly closed down EvE so he could write us a nice thank-you.

Completely understandable.

Life in a Wormhole: Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. #eveonline

Ty's gotten it into his head to pick up a Proteus-class strategic cruiser. Though the ship is pricey, his reasoning is atypically sound; he does a lot of the scanning and scouting in the corp, he's most likely to make first contact with some enemy ship, and while his cheetah can disrupt a target's engines, its single autocannon isn't likely to put an end to much of anything before reinforcements arrive or he runs out of ammunition. On the other hand, a properly configured Proteus can scan quite adequately, warp around while cloaked for covert recon, ignore some of the more annoying traps that lurk around enemy towers, protect itself with a very tough tank, and (while not the heaviest hitting configuration of the highly versatile ship) pack more than enough punch to ruin the day of many ships it might stumble upon in its travels.

He's been debating the purchase for a couple days, weighing the pros and cons of a Proteus-class versus a Loki-class cruiser, as he can fly both, but while the Loki looks like a lot of fun in less sneaky configurations, when it comes to scouting around and mugging the unwary, the Proteus seems to have the clear advantage.

He's off to highsec for some shopping, exiting the wormhole alongside Gor and Wil, who are running out to pick up battleships more appropriate to the task of Customs Office bashing -- perhaps unnecessary, as we only have three of the structures left to destroy, but as they already have appropriate ships readily available, there's not reason not to take advantage of the ... convenient exit?

Actually, the exit doesn't look that convenient after all, as once again we're connected to high security empire space via a series of extremely high traffic low security systems, each one boasting roaming packs of pirates and taunting me with the impenetrable logic of their gate gun AIs and their tendency to follow each other really closely on Facebook. All it takes is one of them switching their relationship with you to "It's Complicated", and your whole day is ruined.

Still, thanks to a bit of misdirection and sashaying around like a wanton hussy to draw their attention, we're able to distract the enemy pirates and give Gor and Wil enough of a window to slip a couple battleship through.

Meanwhile, Ty has scurried on home with his shiny new ship and decides to have himself a scan whilst pondering what to name the thing (always the most difficult decision). It looks like we have an incoming wormhole in addition to the persistent connections to lowsec and class-two wormhole space, so he hops through to find himself in a well-tended, fairly active-looking class one wormhole system with one tower on scan. Sweeping the d-scan around helps him find the tower fairly quickly, as there are few moons around which such a structure could be anchored in the first place, and soon enough he's in warp.

... and landing right in a warp disruption bubble outside the tower.

It seems almost too convenient, but Ty finds himself in a situation for which this Proteus configuration was specifically designed, no more than 30 minutes after bringing it home -- the disruption bubble is quite small, and the Proteus lands with quite a lot of momentum, thanks to the 1600 millimeter armor plates Ty's bolted on. The ship coasts well inside the bubble, decloaking when it comes too close to the central device that actually generates the bubble.

Now visible, the ship becomes Target #1 for the nearby tower, and the guns open fire, but thanks to the modules Ty fitted (and to Gor for talking him OUT of one and INTO another), Ty can simply warp away, ignoring the effects of the bubble, then cloak up and return at an angle that will keep him out of trouble.

Once back in range, Ty spots a familiar name on overview and announces to the rest of the corp that the tower's owned by none other than the Germans with whom we once shared a wormhole. (Though obviously this new tower doesn't care much about our generally friendly past.) As the default diplomatic... umm... person, Ty opens a hailing frequency with our old contacts to say hello and make sure we aren't going to get in each other's way for the rest of the evening -- the pilots in the Home System have some Customs Office bashing to do, and it would be nice if we didn't have to worry about being jumped by former allies.

The pilot (possibly the only one in the system, as it's a medium-sized tower with a fairly bare bones layout) is entirely willing to leave our system alone provided we do the same (not much temptation there, as he obviously keeps a tidy house), and Ty waves and heads back home.

Once back at the tower, he reluctantly reships into something bashier, and the fleet assembles for another round of Bullet Time Urban Renewal. There's some discussion about what to name the Proteus, especially since Ty's already used "That There Ship" for his Maelstrom, but it's CB who provides the obvious answer: what else are you going to name a strangely-hued ship with nigh-magical powers and a quiet demeanor that you have to do a lot of studying to understand?

All hail the USS Twilight Sparkle.


Life in a Wormhole: In Which I Hate Low-sec #eveonline

I log into a new notification that some alliance is declaring War on us. Again.

Again? Do I mean "we're being wardecced again" or "it's an alliance that's already wardecced us, back for another swing"?

Answer: Yes.

Unfortunately, yes.

Le sigh.

Okay, so let's make our preparations! Thankfully, there isn't anything to do in terms of system supplies, since the last wardec dropped not that long ago.

Unfortunately, it does mean that the last of our corp mates who isn't yet ready for wormhole life needs to be booted out of the corp again so he doesn't become a target while puttering around known space. Pity, as we just got him back in a few days ago, after the last wardec. Also, Moondog is on and wants to bring in his mining alt with some supplies, so it seems a very good idea to get that done before people are looking for us, and I set out to make that happen.

Tonight might be a little more complicated than MD's original trip in, however, since we're connected to a very busy area of lowsec. I scout the first of two stargates that he needs to jump through and find it camped in desultory fashion by a hurricane-class battlecruiser. There's not much I can do about that in a scouting frigate, so I slip back to our tower and pick up a blackbird-class cruiser fit with a raft of electronic countermeasures that should make the hurricane unable to target anyone, let alone shoot them.

My plan is fairly simple: I'll jump through the first gate, land about a hundred kilometers off the second gate, poke at the hurricane in the hopes it will try to engage me or at least sniff in my general direction, and once I've got him off the gate a good distance, MD can jump through and fly onward.

I proceed as planned, and fetch up about 110 km away from the gate, watching the hurricane circle the gate and waiting for him to notice me. He does so almost immediately, and after a bit of dithering about, swings around and starts burning my direction. I have no real hope of matching his speed, but that doesn't stop me from wheeling about and flying away from him, mostly to pull him further from the gate.

As the distance between us dwindles (faster than I'd like), he gets a target lock and I start thinking about my options. Typically, a solo hurricane will have short range, high rate of fire autocannons fitted, but there's a possibility -- however slight -- that he might be set up with slow, long-range, hard-hitting artillery cannons in the hopes of one- or two-shotting someone coming in through that gate. If that's the case, he's already dangerously close to the range where he can start applying that damage to my blackbird, a ship justifiably respected for its electronic warfare capabilities, but understandably mocked when it comes to its meager conventional defenses.

So, acting in what I believe are my own best interests, I acquire a target lock on the hurricane, tell Moondog to jump through and get moving, and hit the hurricane with my ECM modules.

Veteran low-sec warriors will already be shaking their heads and laughing at my mistake.

You see, virtually all of my PvP experience has been in null security and wormhole space.

In nullsec, there are star gates to navigate and gate camps to avoid, but there are no local police forces, no CONCORD, the space stations aren't armed with sentry guns, and neither are the star gates. This is also (obviously) true in Wormholes, which go so far as to get rid of stations entirely and replace star gates with (un)natural wormhole phenomena. These are the situations I'm used to: you need to watch out for a pilot's friends to come help (I am), but one thing you don't usually have to worry about is interference from the environment.

This is not the case in low-sec space. There are still no police or concord forces, but there are automated guns on the stations and anchored around star gates, and they shoot at any troublemakers that cause a fuss within their (ridiculously long) range. The damage they deal can be handled if you're in a sturdy enough ship, but even then it can really hurt.

And, as previously mentioned, I'm not in a very sturdy ship.

In theory, I knew about these things, but I wasn't really thinking about them -- they just don't factor in my personal checklist of things to worry about in PvP. I've got bigger fish to fry: right now, I just want to shut this hurricane down.

As plans go, it isn't my best.

The problem is this: right now, the hurricane isn't a troublemaker. HE didn't shoot at me yet. Yes, he obviously intends to, but he hasn't, so when I target him with Electronic jamming, I become the troublemaker with whom the gate guns are meant to deal.

They hit really hard.

Now, to my credit, I realize what I've done almost as soon as I activate the ECM, and immediately commence warping away from the gate. But even with my quick reaction, by the time I'm out of danger and hidden in orbit around a random celestial, my shields and armor are gone, my hull structure is groaning like like an old arthritic dog and... yeah... it appears I'm on fire.

In EvE, as in real life, one of the main rules for happiness is "Don't be on fire."

Still, at least I haven't been followed by the hurricane. Some quick use of directional scan determines the battlecruiser's pilot is back in orbit around his gate, and that the next gate I need to use is wonderfully clear of enemies, so I prod my poor blackbird into warp so I can get it back to the tower and repaired.

Veteran low-sec warriors will -- again -- be shaking their heads and laughing at my mistake.

You see, thanks to that whole "troublemaker" thing, I've been flagged with a GCC or "Global Criminal Countdown", which prevents me from using any stargates for fifteen minutes following my nefarious behavior, so when I land on the gate, I am unable to jump and just sit there like an idiot. Again, I knew about this as a theoretical thing (it's even something that that can sometimes affect you in null sec, I think) but, like being shot at by gate guns, it wasn't something I'd ever experienced directly.


Well, there's this saying we had when I was a kid, growing up in the wilds of the midwest: You can outrun the cop's car, but not the cop's radio.

Apparently, the gate gun AIs have been chatting, and the guns at THIS gate already have me on a "Shoot on Sight" list for the duration of the GCC. This, I'm ashamed to admit, I just didn't know anything about at all.

The new guns make short work of what's left of my blackbird. They have the decency to leave my escape pod alone, which gives me plenty of time to warp away and contemplate the scope of my (really, breathtaking) cockup, and how much I hate the security mechanics in Low-sec -- a tepid mix of high-sec loophole jumping and nullsec danger, with few of the benefits of either. Bleh.

At least MD got his stuff into the wormhole. I wait out the rest of the GCC and join him and the rest of our cohorts in the wormhole.

We still have a lot to do that night, though none of it's that sexy. It's another evening of blowing up customs offices, and this time Moondog is able to stick around and join in which, while helpful, is a rather poor introduction to the excitement of wormhole life. Ahh well, can't be helped.

Once everyone is home, we kill our lowsec connection to secure our system and switch into appropriate structure-bashing ships. Much envy is directed at the folks who fire lasers and, thus, don't have to reload all the time. Eventually Custom's Office #2 crumbles, and a tired cheer goes up.

At this point, several folks need to leave, but we were hoping to get office #3 down as well, so the remaining pilots reship yet again, looking for the biggest and boomiest guns we can fire. CB wins the lottery in this case, as Pax (from Cabbage's corp) has one of the shiny new Tornado-class battlecruisers that just started rolling off production lines a few days ago, and while the Tornado is nice increase in the damage CB can inflict on an inanimate object, it's not the best Pax himself can do, as he's flying a Raven-class battleship built for exactly this sort of activity. The upshot of this is that CB gets to fly a shiny new ship (on loan), and we all get to take screenshots of it.

Out artistic picture-snapping passes the time as Customs Office #3 crumbles, and as it explodes, I call it a night.


Life in a Wormhole: In which we Multiply and Subtract #eveonline

CB is beside himself!

Technically, he's beside himself three or four times, as he's out in the Rens system, making multiple jumpclones for distribution throughout known space, but he's also a little stressed about being back in highsec. I answer questions as best as I can, and try to comfort him as he moves from station to station in the heavily populated market system. His twitchiness is a common problem for anyone who stays out of known space for long stretches -- you get hardwired to lock and fire the moment you see a neutral pilot on your overview, and when the overview is showing you a hundred viable targets, you can get a little tense.

The local chat channel for Rens isn't helping.

"I feel like an old guy on a subway about 15 minutes after a metal concert lets out," he comments. "Or Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino."

As CB deals with his identity issues, I comb through a backlog of evemails until I get to one from our old friend Moondog, who is announcing his intention to get with all this cool-kid wormhole business.

My timing is good; MD logs in just as I start drafting a reply, and rather than finish the message, I get him on voicecomms and start making arrangements to get him moved. He's a tidy sort, shipping only the bare essentials with him -- a good hauler, a scouting frigate, and the Omen-class cruiser what brung 'im. Little more is needed, since Gor and I already have Harbinger-class and Prophecy-class battlecruisers sitting in the hangar with his name on them. (Literally.)

The only real concern is getting him safely into the home system, since our current exit to known space lies through a heavily-populated stretch of low security space with more than a few predators circling. I fire up a flare, and pilots from Walrus join me and CB and spread out through lowsec to get eyes in all the connecting systems -- perhaps a bit of overkill, but it's important to me to get our new bunkmate home in one piece. Losing a ship or ships while moving in is a bad way to get things started.

Still, the process takes time, and by the time we land at the tower and get Moondog moved in, he's ready to be done for the night, so his first taste of wormhole hijinx will have to wait.

Not so for us, as Em has it in his head to start blowing up the NPC-owned customs offices and replacing them with our structures. The outlay for this little project has been fairly significant, so we're going to pay the bill with a tax of our own on Planetary Interaction (still considerably less than what the NPC offices are charging).

We announce our intentions for the evening, and pilots start reshipping into vessels more appropriate for bashing structures into tiny bits.

The one nice thing: the customs offices aren't surrounded by a force field sixty kilometers in diameter, the way player-owned towers are. This means that we can sit at point blank range to the customs office and bring high-damage, short range ships that would be useless if we were shooting a tower.

The result is a cluster of ships rarely seen for structure bashes, like the newly buffed-up, small-but-deadly destroyers, and a number of Gallente-made ships boasting short-range, high damage, heavy blasters.

The process isn't fast, and it can't be said to be particularly exciting, but it's nice to have a project to work on with everyone in the system. Eventually the first of the customs offices comes down, and Em begins anchoring the new structure in its place, stamped with our alliance logo. Jobs a good'un.

By the time we're done, the hour's running late. We've got five more customs office to blow apart, but they don't all have to go tonight. We make plans for another bash the following evening, and call it for the night.

Notes: Dayjob has returned to more normal levels of activity, contract work is done, other contract work is waiting on the client, and the novel line edits have gone back to the publisher! Happy New Year! Time to get back to some EvE!

Also, it appears that there are people out on the internets who don't use RSS readers but DO know how to use email. These strange, venn-diagram-defying creatures have contacted me in accordance with the practices of their people, and requested some way of being notified of updates to this blog without the tedium of... you know... going and looking every day. Uncharacteristically, I have obliged them, via the stylish "subscribe via email" button, top-right.

I'll get the requested fax and telex options implemented just as soon as I can.