Life in a Wormhole: Speedy #eveonline

"There's a tengu in-system," says Em. This seems like old news to me, except he's not talking about the tengu belonging to our stealthy stalkers.

The last few days have been very quiet. Knowing the basic activity cycle of the guys in the system (and having them on our watchlists) has led to our pilots confining most of their activity to times when enemy pilots are offline, and staying in cloak-equipped ships.

Apparently, our open low-sec connection and the fact that our system has accumulated some Sleeper anomalies in the last few quiet days has lured in a pilot looking to do a little daytripping in our hole. I'm not online yet, but I'm on the way, and in the meantime Em is keeping an eye on the tengu pilot in his cloaked up recon cruiser.

The pilot is moving pretty quickly, and by the time I'm able to get online and into Twilight Sparkle, he's wrapped up the killing portion of his quick visit, leaving three anomalies worth of shattered sleeper wrecks in his wake. Luckily Em has bookmarks on all those wreck clusters, and gives me a warp-in to the first site, but the tengu-turned-noctis pilot is working so quickly that by the time I get the warp in, find a good wreck to bookmark that's within the right range, he's already done and moving to site two.

"DAMN he moves fast," Em comments, and warps to the next site. I follow, and this time I've landed at a good range to get down on top of him immediately. I don't hesitate, initiating warp in and uncloaking as I do to soak up most of the calibration delay that almost any ship suffers when it decloaks. For a wonder, the attack actually goes to plan -- I get a lock, immediately scramble the Noctis' warp engines, and start unloading Twilight Sparkle's Neutron Blasters.

Once again, the pilot reacts surprisingly quickly -- he's not going to get his ship away, knows it, and ejects his pod and warps away after little more than two volleys. I fumble at the controls and manage to stop firing before I destroy the ship, leaving the salvager only half-way through its armor.

"Wanna kill it anyway?"

"I kind of like getting a free ship," I reply, and warp back to our tower to store the Proteus and come back for the Noctis. I have one of these ships out in known space, but not in the wormhole, and I realize I've really missed flying one -- I love how they look.

It's not pretty, but it is kind of lovely.

"I'm going to finish up these other two sites."


"Eh, might as well, the other guys we've seen aren't online, and if there are more of them, this is a hell of a ship to lure them out."


I start cleaning up the site, and I find myself very impressed with the fitting. It wasn't just the pilot moving fast -- this Noctis itself is remarkably fast, and I tear through the wrecks in short order, pulling in salvage worth almost as much as the fifty-five million isk ship, which isn't too bad for three sites we didn't even have to shoot (not counting the three volleys worth of blaster ammunition it took to scare the pilot away).

A short engagement, but it's getting within an hour or so of enemy activity, so I warp back to the tower and store the SS Generous Donation in our hangar.


Life in a Wormhole: The Talk #eveonline

This post doesn't have any spaceship explosions going on -- it's something I've debated writing up, because it's nothing but the drama that comes from not vetting a new member of your corporation well enough before bringing them into a wormhole. I don't like drama, I don't like these kinds of talks, and I especially don't like reliving the whole thing while I write it all down.

But I think it's important to see, and maybe something that can act as a cautionary tale both for the potential recruiter and for the would-be wormhole pilot about to embark on a grand new adventure. Caveat nauta, or something like that.

Cabbage had conveniently logged in the night before, while I and Em were tweaking our towers and planning for worst-case scenarios, and we took the opportunity to get him on voice comms and talk through "The Dolby Problem." The conversation went well, even if it's a little uncomfortable telling someone else how to keep their own house -- Em and I were both pretty adamant that the guy needed to go, but Cabbage agreed with all our reasons.

In the end, though, it didn't look like it was going to go exactly to plan; Em logged out a bit before I did, so I was the only other person on when Cabbage said that he had "sent Dolby an email telling him what he needed to change and that he needed to shape up immediately."

I wasn't thrilled.

Don't get me wrong; I don't like confrontation any more than the next guy, but to be perfectly honest there's a point at which a guy forfeits his second chance. Still, it is Cabbage's house to keep, and I knew he would own the problem, regardless of how his decision played out.

Anyway, it was late, so I let be and signed off for the night.

The next day, Dolby is online and silent, lurking in Cabbage's tower shields. I have plenty of other things to deal with, however, so I simply continued with shoring up defenses and moving expensive, non-essential items to the fasting at Helm's Deep known-space, getting some awesome help from Berke, who stows his Orca and jumps into his stealthy Crane-class transport. I watch him warp out on his way through a convoluted series of jumps that will bring him to high security space through abandoned or nearly-abandoned wormhole systems, when Dolby asks to speak with me on voice comms.

"This probably isn't going to go the way he's expecting," I mutter to Em as I flip over to Dolby's channel.

"What's up?"

"I have this email here from Cabbage, man, and it's got me pretty wound up," he begins. "I mean, it's full of all this stuff to do and to not do, and how all of it is non-negotiable -- I tell you what, I left sov-held null-sec space cuz I got sick of people telling you what to do and when to do it and controlling every aspect of the game."

I nod, because Dolby's filled me (and everyone else who will listen) in on the horrors of the null-sec alliance he was in, where those in authority would do stuff like issue a call-to-arms and force members to participate by temporarily changing the tax-rate to 100% to make any other activity BUT the CTA a complete waste of time. It sounded pretty bad, but my pity was leavened by the fact that he had been there because he chose to be... and because I no longer believed anything he said that I could not directly verify.

Mostly that second thing.

"Before we go any further into this conversation," I say. "I think you need to understand that I know about Cabbage's email. I disagree with it, but only because I don't think it goes far enough. I asked Cabbage to get you out of the system, permanently, and he decided to give you another chance. So, I'm willing to listen to what you have to say, but I want you to know that if you're looking for an ally in a bitch-session, you and I are currently standing on opposite sides of a fence."

There is a long silence. "Okay."

"As for comparing the basic safety requirements of living in a wormhole to the mandatory call-to-arms and strangling tax rates of a null-sec alliance, I think you're being ridiculous and over-dramatic. Cabbage is explaining that you live in a new neighborhood now, and you need to know how to cross the street safely, and your response so far has been to play in the middle of that street and compare his rules to some abusive relationship you just got out of. It doesn't fly."

"I've been careful."

"You have lost, on average, one ship for every single day you've been a member of Cabbage's corporation," I reply. "Plus two or three pods, which shouldn't even be possible in the systems where you lost them. That's not an argument in your favor."

"I know how to live in wormholes," he persists. "I lived in here with Cabbage back when he first moved in. Hell, I found the wormhole for him and introduced him to the head of this Alliance in the first place!"

I nod, and don't bother telling him that the head of the Alliance summed up his history with Dolby to me by saying 'He was a moron then, and he's a moron now' -- it won't help. "It's a bit easier to find a wormhole, or visit them for a few hours with a null-sec gang, than it is to live in it day in and day out. I think you can concede that."

"Sure, but I'm being careful," he insists. "When I'm mining in the system, I'm hitting d-scan every couple seconds."

I look over the webpage detailing the loss of his mining barge a few days ago. "You were mining in our system, which means the Isolated Core field?"


"The one that has the electrical field that does damage to every ship on the grid, every minute or so?"


"Yeah. See, that tells me that it's impossible for a cloaked ship to have crept up on you, because the damage would decloak them. That means he warped into the site and in on top of you, which means he had to use probes to find you. You didn't see them, so I don't think you were hitting d-scan every few --"

"I saw them," he interrupts, and as interruptions go, it's a pretty good one -- I'm left silent for a good ten seconds.

"I'm sorry, you saw the probes?"

"Yeah. I saw probes. I didn't figure anyone could find me that fast."

"If you see probes," I say, "you should already be warping out. I know from personal experience: if you see probes, he's already in warp to you."

"I don't see how I could have done it differently."

"Mine with other people," I reply. "Get someone on overwatch. Don't mine when the entrance out to known space is open. Maybe don't go out and salvage wrecks a few hours later and lose a second ship in the same day, to a guy in the same corporation."

"That was just a coincidence."

This guy has a talent for leaving me speechless. I actually get up and go get a soda at this point, because I'm not going to say anything constructive in the next minute or two anyway.

"There really isn't such a thing as a coincidence in a wormhole," I say when I sit back down. "I understand you've spent a lot of time in null-sec, with hostile neighbors maybe four or five jumps away, so the possibility of two completely unrelated guys from the same corp jumping you, six hours apart -- that's a thing that seems completely believable as a coincidence. It doesn't work that way out here. Ever."

"But the guy that got my Noctis must have just found me," Dolby protests, "because I was shooting sleepers with two Drakes before that for at least an hour and he didn't do anything."

"Nooo..." I keep my voice level. "He was in a cloaky tengu. He saw what you were doing, knew you'd need a salvager, so we waited for you to go get it, and then blew it up."

"Are you trying to tell me..." The tone in Dolby's voice tells me that he thinks I am completely crazy... "that some guy sat there, watching my two Drakes for an hour, and didn't do anything to them, but waited to attack my salvaging ship? Why would he do that?"

The facepalm is strong with this one.

"Why would..." I stare at the ceiling. "Because that's what people do in a wormhole. They lie in wait, cloaked, and mug soft targets."

"Who does that?" he scoffs. "No one I know."

"Everyone you know," I counter. "There isn't a pilot in here that doesn't have a cloaky ship they can use to go hunting from wormhole to wormhole in the hopes of finding a soft target -- *I* have at least six that have no other purpose. Out here, that is what you do when there's nothing else to do. It's the main pastime. It's like..." I wave my hands around as if the right word can be snatched out of the air. "It's like whittling."

"Listen," I say, cutting off yet another protest. "The stuff we're going over here, this is all very very basic stuff. This is the reality of wormholes. Someone is always watching you. Someone is always lining up a shot or waiting for you to make a stupid mistake, and you have to consciously and constantly work to deny them that chance, or know exactly why you're taking that risk." I take a drink of my soda, and the comms are silent. "This isn't something you need to learn -- it isn't something you need to get used to -- this is something that needs to sound like fun, or you will never last out here. You will, in fact, continue to lose a ship every single day you log in. Period."

Dolby says nothing. Five minutes later, he logs off the comms.


Life in a Wormhole: Late Night Jam Session #eveonline

It's getting late, and the end of my evening isn't in sight. We've got hostiles in the system who, at a conservative estimate, have been lurking out in the bushes for at least two or three days, and we don't know nearly enough about them.

Em needs to get back into the hole, but for that he needs a destination, and I'm the only pilot available to get it to him. Time to review my options.

On the one hand, there's my Proteus, which is reasonably tough and cloaky, and (especially in the sudden absence of my Cheetah) a go-to ship when I need to jump through a strange wormhole. The main problems with it are two-fold:

  1. It relies on stealth for a lot of its ability to get around unmolested, and if I make the worst-case assumption, the tower I'm sitting in and both the exits from the system are being watched, so any element of surprise the strategic cruiser might give me will be lost as soon as I board it.

  2. It's slow as hell, which makes it more difficult for me to slip out of a situation that turns hairy. The ship is meant to mug someone at point-blank range, and the odds of that happening at this point are slim to none.

Another consideration that isn't quite as pivotal is the simple fact that the Proteus is probably the most expensive ship in my hangar, and designed to be put at risk in PvP when the situation is in my favor and I know more about the battlefield than my opponent. To say that isn't the case here would be a laughable understatement, so picking that ship for this job is a bad bet. Also, the one pilot I know for certain is in the hole (the tengu) is also in a cloaky tech 3 cruiser, and matching like against like feels like a bad idea to me, especially if he's fit for speed and any kind of range at all.

Not that I'm adverse to putting a pricey ship at risk; the tengu probably went after my Cheetah because it was sitting there for so long, stupidly uncloaked, that it's destruction became a moral imperative. I actually want to get a better idea of the situation here, so a juicy target is a good idea -- something the tengu would want to take a shot at that (a) can deal with the thing on more equitable terms and (b) has a better chance of getting out if things spiral downward.

I jump into the Cynabal. Apparently, Cabbage is right: I'm a more likely to risk a ship I didn't buy. Aside from that, it feels like a better option. For one thing, I'm a better Cynabal pilot than Proteus in a couple of highly-relevant ways, and aside from that, the flying salamander of doom gives me exactly what I want: speed, the ability to get out a bad scene, and (depending on the relative skills of the pilots in question) a reasonable chance at a good fight with a cloaky-fit strategic cruiser if it turns out he's alone. (Cloaky tech 3s sacrifice DPS and sometimes a fair amount of tank, compared to pure-combat configurations that could very likely eat a typical Cynabal for lunch. This puts things -- theoretically -- on more favorable ground, which is all I want.)

At least, that's how I reconstruct it later. At the time, I think my whole thought process was "fast, pretty tough, and good damage: Cynabal." Once in the ship, I line up on the exit to lowsec and enter warp.

My goals, in order of importance:

  1. Get Em a route home.

  2. See if I can look tasty enough for the Tengu to take a shot at me, despite the fact that most solo cloaky t3s restrict themselves to a diet of softer targets.

  3. See if anyone else jumps out of the woodwork, and take stock of how bad the situation is.

I land on top of the wormhole and immediately jump into low-sec, then tell Em the system I'm in over voice comms, pronouncing the odd name as well as I can.

"Ugh. Can you type that into the channel?"

Behind me, I hear the distinctive sound of a ship jumping through the wormhole. "In a second. Things just got interesting here."

I'm still covered in the temporary cloak afforded any ship that jumps through a wormhole into a new system, as is my stalker, and while there's really no difference between fighting someone on the low-sec side of the hole, my preference is to get back on the 'home' side before I think about combat. There's still too many variables left unanswered, and I can't see what reinforcements might be on the way if I'm outside the home system and start a tussle. I jump.

Reinforcements? Oh yeah. Two lokis have landed (or simply uncloaked) on the hole since I jumped through to low-sec space, and while a cloaky tengu (who just jumped through after me, again) seems like a good fight, three on one starting at ground zero are odds I like a lot less.

The problem, of course, is that I need to get out, which means getting into warp before any of the three ships get a lock and tackle on me. Jumping back through the wormhole isn't an option for another four minutes, thanks to "secondary warp coil polarization" (a feature that, ten seconds ago, I was counting on to keep the tengu from easily jumping away from me -- ironic, that). My only real choice is to hit warp and hope for the best.

In a movie, this is the point in the story when the guy in the car realizes that his vehicle's been secretly fit with a big red button labeled "nitro boost".

Seriously, do you guys have any idea how fast a Cynabal can get into warp?

I'll give you a hint: faster than three t3 cruisers can lock it. I have yet to find any similarly-fit ship in its class that can come anywhere near it, and I'll be honest: I had no idea.

Once back in the tower, I get Em the name of the system, and he heads out in a covert-ops ship. The trip is a fairly long one, and we have time to do some research.

Going back to the kill boards (now that I'm safe inside tower shields and not floating out in open space), I'm able to find a number of situations where the tengu pilot I spotted was involved in kills with two other pilots, both flying Lokis, and from that I'm able to get a pretty good idea who's in the system with us. (No, I didn't take the time to write down their names when I was on the wormhole -- I was busy. I also forgot to take a screenshot I could look at later. :P)

Em has been digging as well, and his research goes a bit further.

"They're US timezones," he tells me, "and they've probably all got jobs. Almost all their kills are from 0000 to 0700, GMT. They fly a LOT of tech 3 cruisers, and do a lot of stuff in small gangs."

"So..." I squint at the math. "Sure. Log on after work, an hour to find something to shoot on the good nights -- longer on the bad ones." I glance at the clock. "Hopefully that means they're logging out soon."

"We'll see," Em replies. "You add them to your watchlist?"

I have, and watch the screen for any notification that my watchlisted pilots have disconnected.

Five minutes before Em gets home, they log out for the night.

"Welcome back," I mutter to Em as he drops out of warp in his own tower.

"Thanks." He sighs. "So, what are we thinking?"

"Option One," I say, "they're killing time for the weekend, and they bring in a whole fleet of ships and siege one of our towers, since that's what the alliance did over in that other system."


"Option Two is them doing what they're already doing."

"Yyyyup," Em says, popping the final consonant.

I update our shared comm channel's Message of the Day.

Hostiles in System, all in cloaked ships. Assume you are always being watched. Act accordingly. Inform Ty and Em of any ship sightings in system. More info when we have it.

"That's about all we can do with Option Two, for now." I turn to the tower controls and start offlining the small lab Gor and Bre have been using for low-grade research. "Off-lining and stowing all the non-essential modules and on-lining more of the pointy stuff."

"Same." The comms are silent for a long while as we work. It's gotten faster to manipulate tower modules in many cases, but when it comes to defensive and offensive stuff, it's still tedious and slow. "Which do you think it is?"

"I think..." I say, flipping on yet another module and watching the activation timer count down... "it's going to be a really interesting weekend."


Our towers modified, warnings set, and ships cloaked, we finally log out, many hours later than normal.

This will not be our longest night.

Not even close.


Life in a Wormhole: A Lack of Communication #eveonline

Note: The events I'll be covering in the next few blog posts are written from the point of view of the pilots involved, at the point in time when the events took place. As will become evident, there was a definite and profound "fog of war" in effect that left us making best guesses that sometimes turned out to be right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes... well, sometimes it was just a red herring just didn't end up mattering that much.

Some folks might feel compelled to leave a "LOL I can't believe you thought/did that" post, but the fact is when you're in the middle of an event, you can't easily look at all sides -- you make your best guess, and you make a move -- even a bad move is better than no move at all. Some of what we believed at the time turned out to be wrong or incomplete, but in most cases our actions (though they might have come from false assumptions) turned out to be the right moves at that time.

"Dude, we need to talk about Dolby," Em says as he and Shan pull me into a private voice channel. "Did you hear about the thing yesterday?"

"Yesterday?" I frown. "He said he lost a couple ships. I guess he's been using the high-sec and low-sec connections and going out and mining or something when no one else is on with him."

"And since he never logs off..."


"So..." Shan's voice is quieter, but I've found it's worth shutting up and listening to him. "Apparently, after he lost his second ship yesterday, he ragequit, uninstalled EvE, and broke his keyboard."

For once, I don't say anything right away.

"Then he took a nap," Shan continues. "And when he woke back up, he got a new keyboard and started reinstalling EvE, so he could self-destruct all the ships he still had left."

There is a long silence.

Have you ever actually felt like you were a rage comic?

I have.


I try again.

"How did you..."

"He told us," Em says, "on voice comms. I don't know how much is BS, but --"

"Well, there's only two possibilities," I say. "One: he's telling the truth, and he's an incredibly unstable person. Or Two: he's lying, and he's a drama queen. Either way..."

"Either way, he needs to go," Em finishes the thought for me. Wormholes are a lot of things, but what they aren't is forgiving. Like fox holes, you need to be able to trust the guys next to you, and if you can't, one or the other of you needs to go.

"Yup. Let's talk to Cabbage."

Cab isn't on at this point, due to timezone differences, but Pax -- a director in the same corp -- is, and we get his take on things, which unsurprisingly meshes up pretty well with ours. Plus, he's able to verify that none of Dolby's ships are missing (aside from the ones he'd already lost), so we know at least some of his story is hogwash. The discussion goes on for a bit, eating up most of the time I'd expected to spend online that evening. I hate drama like this in any kind of MMO, and when it comes up, I tend to attack it with a flamethrower. As far as I'm concerned, a chunk of wasted time one day is better than hours and hours of wasted time spread out over months.

Pax logs out for the day, and Em and I continue the conversation, trying to backtrack through everything that happened, which allows us to put together a bigger picture of the "Dolby situation." -- a picture that keeps getting uglier.

"Apparently, he wasn't just mining out in highsec," I report to Em, after a brief email conversation with a corp mate. "He didn't want to leave the ore in jettisoned canisters, so every time his cargohold was full, he would carry it back into the wormhole to leave at Cab's tower, which --"


"Yeah. I know." I check the time. "Are you in the system?"

"Jita," he replies. "Trying to wrap up some market stuff from a few weeks ago. Need me to come back?"

"Nah." I check things over from the vantage point of my cloaked scout ship, sitting at a safe spot in the system. "Everyone else is asleep, so I'm heading out. We can deal with this tomorrow. Let me know if you see Cabbage."

"Will do."

"Talk to you later."

I've just closed down the game and the voice chat when another thought occurs to me.

Where did he lose those ships?

One of the (I believe) unique features of EvE as an MMO is that it captures any PvP-related kills and funnels them to the game's API, which allows websites to pull that information and display it in easier-to-read formats. Certainly, there's a quite a bit of violence in the game's early history that predates this API, but for most pilots it means that every loss and victory they've ever experienced in PvP in EvE is saved and available for review. I pull up one of the most commonly used public "Killboards" and type in Dolby's name, then flip to the "Losses" tab.

I reopen voice comms as soon as I start reading, and find Em still in the channel.

"Is it later already?"

"He lost the last two ships inside our system," I say, still scrolling through the information and scouring the page. "Each one was a solo kill."

"Same guy both times?"

"Nnnno." I check time stamps. "Six hours apart, different pilots. Looks like they were both flying covert-fit tech 3 cruisers; a Tengu and then a Loki." The icons next to the portraits of Dolby's attackers catches my eye, and my stomach sinks. "They were both from the same corp, though."

"That," says Em. "Is not good. How..." I can almost hear him shake his head. "How does he not tell people stuff like that?"

Out of habit, I log back into EvE, although there's nothing I'm currently doing that requires I be online; EvE's metagame is rich and potentially dangerous, but doesn't often require the participants be sitting in a ship. Once logged in, I basically ignore the game screen and turn my attention back to research.

"Maybe they're just from yesterday's neighboring wormhole." While it isn't a comfort to know that there were enemy pilots in the system, it's a "typical" kind of danger, and one that 95 times out of a hundred will disappear when the connecting wormhole dies. If these pilots weren't just opportunistic hunters from a neighboring system, however, things might be --

I frown at the killboard. "Why do I recognize that alliance name?"


"The guys that killed Dolby. I recognize their alliance name." I turn back to the game screen for a second, where my Cheetah covert ops floats in open space, and open my evemail to scan through recent messages. "Oh. Shit."

"Who is it?"

"It's..." I rub at my face, unconsciously leaving my hand in a perfect "facepalm" position. "It's one of the alliances that was involved in that system assault last weekend." I lean back in my chair. "The guys everyone was told to watch out for, because they'd be looking for one of our systems."

"And they followed our drama queen miner back into --" Em cuts himself off. "Shit."

"Yeah." I flip through the killmails again, looking for more information.

"You think they're still in the hole?" Em snorts. "What am I saying -- of course they are."

It's like they could hear him.

Explosions burst from my system's speakers.

My attention is -- finally, and far too late -- brought back to my game screen, where a Tengu strategic cruiser -- the same one that attacked Dolby the day before -- has just dropped out of warp directly on top of me and opened fire. For a moment, I'm simply too surprised to act, and my attempts to burn away from my larger, slower attacker are thwarted by his scrambler, which offlines the Cheetah's microwarpdrive, giving him more than enough time to take apart the fragile covert ops ship. It's over in seconds, and I'm able to warp clear in my escape pod and get back to the relative safety of our tower.

I'd been so distracted by the information in the killboard I forgot to activate my cloak when I logged back into the game, and have been floating, completely exposed, in open space. It was far too easy a target to pass up -- I know I wouldn't have. Such a stupid mistake.

"They're still in here," I tell Em, my voice curt as I update the Message of the Day in our systems comm channel with a warning and instructions for our pilots. "Looks like you're going to have to come back after all."

"Yep," Em replies. "But I need the name of the system we're connected to."

I look out of the tower shields, and the stars all look like eyes, watching for my next move.

"Give me five minutes."


Life in a Wormhole: Ship Swapping #eveonline

There's some chatter in my Alliance evemail box when I log in; something about the system assault that happened over the weekend. At first blush, it sounds like they actually got a fight (which they were looking for), but a second read-through and a bit of research indicates that the eventual outcome didn't exactly go their way. Something about the opposing group hiring a couple mercenary alliances to help with the system defense; there's a bit of grumbling about this, but to be honest it sounds perfectly normal to me -- it's not as though we (I) wouldn't do exactly the same thing in their position -- who wouldn't do whatever they could to defend their home?

In any case, there's the standard cautions about maintaining operational security in the event the corporations involved go looking for a retributive strike, but as everyone in the alliance gets the mail, I leave it as that -- I know our guys have probably already seen the message, and it's not as though we advertise our wormhole entrance even on our worst day.

Meanwhile, we're shuffling a few ships around in the system, as Bre informs me that CB grabbed the wrong hauler and actually took hers out to known space. Oops. CB brings that ship back in, and while he's flying I talk him into picking up a Daredevil frigate, a terror of a ship for which he is well-skilled. It's a bit of a tough sell, as the Daredevil is expensive and CB is generally frugal, but eventually he succumbs to the lure and splashes out for the new toy.

Meanwhile, I've been re-reading that post I wrote about giving up on my Ishtar, and it's making me annoyed. I do a bit of work in EvE Fitting Tool, taking a hard look at the ship, and decide that dammit, I can (and want) to use it in wormholes, so I replace it, fit it, and get it ready for some sleeper blasting. The stats may be about the same as the Gila, but the Ishtar is a hell of a lot prettier, and anyone who thinks that doesn't factor into my decision doesn't know me.

I'm up very early today, and I use the time (and the completely dead low-sec systems to which we're connected) to empty and close out our second unused corporate office in the high-sec island systems where CB and Gor used to do a bit of mining. Some of the gear is sold, some retained for use in the wormhole, and a few cruiser hull's are donated to this year's Griefergeddon.

On my way back, the rest of New Eden seems to be waking up, and I'm informed that we have yet another high sec wormhole connection coming into the home system. I'm starting to think Dolby really does have some kind of homing beacon on him, though he swears it's not the case.

"I don't even want to leave the tower shields, right now," he comments on voice comms, "I lost another two ships yesterday."

"Really?" I'm puzzled. "Man, we need to get you working with the buddy system or something, until you get this bad luck of yours worked out. What happened?"

But there's no answer. He's logged out, and I suppose I should do the same, as the rest of the world (like New Eden) is waking up as well.


Life in a Wormhole: Scouting, Scouting, and Scouting #eveonline

Today's schedule is a bit odd, as I have quite a bit of free time to poke around the lost recesses of wormhole space, but none of it in long stretches. There's some kind of Alliance Op going on (a system assault that grew out of the killmail bingo I mentioned a few days ago), but since I'm taking my EvE in many small doses today, that looks like a poor option for me -- to the scanning probes!

Our current wormhole constellation is partially mapped, thanks to our fellow pilots from down under, so I have a quick shufti and poke my nose into every system in the constellation, but it looks like everyone's asleep, even Goonswarm, who (once again) owns the null-sec space to which our neighboring class two system connects.

With nothing else to shoot, I let Cab and Tweed lure me back to the home system to explore a magnometric signature they've located. Explore with bullets, that is. We do so, gather up the loot, and realize a nice little 55 million isk profit for all of 20 minutes of total effort. I gather up the loot and (rather than doing market research and other nonsense) haul it out to market through a random connection we currently have to high sec -- the second one in two days. While out and about, I pick up a few supplies, and skitter back through the dying connection to take a break.

I'm back a bit later in the afternoon, and see from our shared system notebook that we currently have four wormholes in the system. Two are normal, and the previous high-sec connection has died, but it's been replaced by not one but two additional random connections to high-sec.

"I think Dolby has some kind of high-sec beacon on him," one of our pilots comments. "He's certainly making enough use of them." Apparently, our new pilot has been using the connections out to high security space to do some solo mining, since we don't currently have any mining sites open in the home system. It's a bit odd or at least a bit atypical, but as long as he's being careful, I suppose it's no problem.

We're all on voice chat, and I find out why Em mentioned the problem with talking directly to Dolby. Apparently, his computer system is fit with an extensive surround sound system, and he routes all voice comms through the main speakers at some very loud setting. The echo and reverb coming back through the microphone if you happen to be talking when he opens his own mic is, in a word, deafening. Dolby seems to be very proud of the set up, and inexplicably amused by the number of people in his old alliance who 'hated it'.

I imagine if that amused him, the reaction from his new corpmates is going to seem hilarious.

Despite Dolby's affection for highsec mining, I decide to look another direction for amusement, and head through our connection to wormhole space to see what entertainments our neighbors might provide. Sadly, the answer is 'none', as it's home to what looks like a PvE corporation that keeps their system meticulously groomed while at the same time avoiding any losses to predator pilots. They may not be big on PvP, but they're smart and careful and have little to no intention of falling for any bait we throw their way.

I report these findings, and the rest of the pilots in the hole set out to collapse our connection so we can find some other option. We take the wormhole down with no problems and quickly find the new signature, but our new neighborhood isn't much more appealing than the last, as it's yet another heavily-pruned system (this one occupied by a couple Russian corporations who are currently sleeping). The only feature of note is a connection to known space only a couple jumps from our home offices. CB runs out to drop off a disused Iteron and pick up one of his Mammoth haulers, and I take out some lower-tech fittings and gear that we never use and probably never needed to bring to the hole in the first place, then it's break time again.

The evening is drawing on, but we've decided to try our luck resetting our wormhole connection once again, overstressing the hole with a series of battleship jumps that brings it crashing down. Tweed and I locate and jump through to the new system and proceed with scanning in what looks like a completely uninhabited system full of sleeper anomalies and other juicy signatures that unfortunately takes quite awhile to sort through. By the time we've got the system properly scouted it's getting late and I'm getting tired, so I leave the riches for Tweed, Dolby, and the newly-arrived Cabbage to plunder, and call it a night.


Life in a Wormhole: Wait for Backup #eveonline

"I've got a bad feeling about this Dolby guy."

Trust Em to know what I'm thinking even when he doesn't know that he knows what I'm thinking.

It's the next day, and I'm hanging out near Syndicate, running level three missions for some Minmatar agents to kill some time before a roam later that day. Hopefully, this will finally push my standing the last .01 points I need to open up level 4 agents with that faction. (No, I don't really need to have level 4 Minmatar agents available, but it bugs me to be that close and not finish it up.) My ship of choice for this little side project is an Ishkur assault frigate; more than enough ship to manage the worst that most level 3 missions can offer, since it's small and fast enough that most of the Angel autocannons miss.

It's fun to see the new animations when someone misses your ship -- we never get to see that in a wormhole -- Sleepers don't miss.

"What's up with Dolby?"

"Apparently," Em drawls, "Cabbage got him into his corp last night, and the guy started moving stuff in." He pauses. "Or tried to. I guess he got about 800 million isk worth of his ships blown up, trying to get into the hole. Plus implants."

"He got podded, too?" I frown. "Who was watching the gates for him?"

"No one. He just did it on his own. He's got this nullsec mentality about being on his own so hardwired he didn't even ask. No one even knew he was on his way until he started bitching about losing ships."

"Well, that's --" I stop. "Wait, Berke and Bre got back into the hole this morning through a HIGH-sec connection. What connection was this guy using?"

"The low-sec," Em says. "In Aridia."

"What --"

"Something like eight or nine jumps through low, with no escort or scouts."

I remember the amount of cover and coordination we put together just to bring in a few ships for Moondog, and my head starts to hurt.

I'm not sure what to think about this.

"We tried to get him on comms to coordinate, but that was a problem."

"What --"

"You'll see."

Oh goody.

I wrap up the mission and switch ships for the roam, which is another RvB extravaganza featuring rifter-class hulls, wandering around the Syndicate region trying to get blown up. This particular event is a smashing success, with a great fight with Agony Unleashed to start things off, and a horrifying/hilarious fireball of destruction to wrap things up a few hours later.

Best of all, since I got out to known space yesterday, I'm able to immediately jump back to my main clone and head back into the home system (via that same High-sec connection), to find a Cynabal cruiser waiting for me -- which is a bit of a surprise, since I didn't buy one. Apparently, Cabbage did, since he'd heard me mention wanting one in the past, and "People are more likely to risk ships if they didn't pay for them." Well alrighty then; I thank Cab and promise to use it only for reckless things.

I won't lie: I've had a crush on this ship for a good long time, and since (as a ship designed by the Angel pirates) it combines the technologies of both Gallente and Minmatar designs, it's right in my wheelhouse in terms of skill requirements.

After very little consideration (and ignoring CB's suggestion of "Banana Slug"), I name it Hellbender.

I don't spend much time oogling the new ship, since there is apparently a neighboring system full of Sleepers to shoot. The locals spotted our scouts, but their only response was to reship into some very large, very impressive, very expensive, very SLOW ships that are pretty good for PvE, and pretty harmless in PvP... and then log out. How disappointing.

Still, that lets us spend our night gathering up melted sleeper bits, which is what we do for roughly a 375 million isk profit.

A good roam in a cheap ships, a fancy toy to play with when I get home, and some profit. All in all, a pretty good day.


Life in a Wormhole: Gadabout #eveonline

My comms are full of annoying distractions when I log in, and they're proving unusually difficult to tune out.

First off is alliance chatter about some kind of bounty prize contest... thing. Apparently, the goal is to get more people involved in PvP by awarding prizes to anyone who manages to tic a box on a laundry list of different kinds of kills over the next couple weekends: sort of a treasure hunt of death or a game of murder bingo.

Yeah. Pretty much this.

Now, I don't want to dismiss the effort being put forward by whoever came up with the idea, but the whole concept carries about the same appeal, for me, as beer pong. Let me explain.

Who here has, either recently or in the distant, hazy past, played some kind of drinking game? Doesn't matter if we're talking about quarters, or Cardinal Puff Puff, or 'drink when Mal is left at a loss for words' Firefly Booze Bingo, or the aforementioned beer pong; raise your hand.

*raises hand*

Right. Now... do you still do that sort of thing with any regularity?

If you answered "yes", you are excused. Toddle off now, you're late for class.

If you answered "no", it's probably for one of two reasons:

  1. You don't really drink that much anymore (or at all), and don't enjoy a game whose express goal is to get you to drink more than you otherwise would.

  2. You enjoy a good drink, perhaps several, perhaps many, and you don't need a game to help you pace yourself.

A clever idea, but ultimately I'd rather just have a beer and play on a normal sized board.

PvP is kind of like that. There is a small, small subset of people who will engage enthusiastically in any kind of killmail bingo you set up. They're a bit like the college frat boys that cycle through an endless supply of drinking games -- gung-ho now, likely to crash and burn eventually (possibly swearing off the sauce entirely).

Everyone else? Everyone else probably breaks down fairly neatly into three groups: disinterested, social drinkers, and those impressively grim bastards silently holding up the bar at the local pub. (That last group of guys might actually win the killmail bingo, but if so, they did it by accident.)

I think you can probably see where I'm going with this: you're not going to convert anyone to an active PvPer this way any more than a game of Battleshots is going to make someone realize that binge drinking has been the one thing missing from their lives. The non-drinkers will keep non-drinking, the casual social drinkers will have a few with some of their friends if the opportunity presents, and the serious guys? Well, they don't see the point of a drinking game to begin with; if you're going to drink, drink.

Aside from that, the whole thing sounds needlessly complex, and I am a simple creature, so I just file it and mute that comms channel for awhile.

There's nothing in our adjacent class two wormhole system but a high-sec exit and a connection to a class one wormhole, which is also empty except for a high-sec exit. So... high-sec or yet more high-sec; what shall I do? How about run some errands in high-sec?

Said errands include selling some loot and then a bit of shopping, as Ty has finally got off his indolent rear end and finished off the training for interceptor-class frigates, which was a subset of ships he's thus far left in the capable hands of pilots like Bre, Em, CB, and Ichi. The Minmatar "Claw" combat interceptor has caught his eye, however, and he spends the better part of an hour fiddling together a machine that might actually be able to lay a glove on a missile-fit Crow (the Caldari combat inty). We'll see.

Ty fwooshes back home in the new ship while Bre and Berke experiment in the empty C2 system with a project of Berke's he's dubbed the "porta-tower" -- testing how long and how much of a pain it would be to anchor and online a temporary tower in a system where it would be worth our time to set up a lengthy bivouac. The test is informative, but it takes a bit too long, and both pilots (and the returning Ty) get cut off when the connection to our home system collapses of old age.

Ah well; its not as though we don't have a ton of high-sec options. There's not really even a reason to rush; with the porta-tower set up already and the hangar of Berke's Orca filled with a buffet of ships, Bre and Ty take the time to shoot some sleepers and harvest some gas before we call it a day and head out.

Once out in the known world, we split up, with Bre and Berke heading toward Amarr space (where it is 80% likely our next connection from the Home System will be), and Ty flying the Claw in the direction of the Syndicate region for a roam the next day.

With nothing but multiple system jumps going on, the second distraction finally starts to register.

This second distraction comes in the form of some whining on comms. A pilot with an unpronounceable name (let's call him Dolby) is looking for Cabbage, claiming that Cab is "an old, old friend" who invited him to join his corporation and move into the wormhole, and that he "owes me an invite."

First off, Cab lives down under, and is probably asleep right now. And no, I can't help you out, because...

Secondly, I don't much care about your alleged past history, and...

Third: why are you on our private, password-protected comms channel?

This, unlike the previous distraction, doesn't feel like one I can just mute and ignore until it goes away. I have, in the words of another science fiction intellectual property, a Bad Feeling About This.


Life in a Wormhole: Two Exits, No Joy #eveonline

I've been told by some of my more opinionated ... readers?

Hmm. They say they don't read the blog, actually, and I don't think they're fans, exactly, so let's say...

I've been told by some of my more opinionated EvE acquaintances that I should stop writing about every little thing.

"Just focus on the big explosions!" They suggest. "Whether they're you or someone else."

And that's fine -- that would ensure some consistently exciting reading, certainly. But I won't be doing that. There are a couple reasons.

  1. It's inaccurate. Some days are really slow and not much happens, especially in a wormhole. There aren't any agents to get a mission from when there's nothing else to do out in the lost reaches of space; you have to make your own fun. Basically, if you aren't a self-starter -- if you aren't willing to scan and search and explore -- you will twiddle your thumbs, waiting for someone else to bring the fun to you, like one of those obese carnival attractions that has to wash himself with a rag on a stick. And, sometimes, even when you go exploring, you don't find anything. Them's the breaks.

  2. This way is more challenging for me to write. Not every day is exciting, but hopefully I can (with some extra effort on my part) make at least most of the days entertaining to read about.

So that's that thing discussed. Now then...

Our class two system connection yields up small but profitable crop of sleeper anomalies to harvest, which is just the right size for a smaller group of pilots like myself, Tweed, and Cabbage. We hit a half-dozen of the least annoying sites, then pack it in.

I still feel like doing something, though, so once the Sleeper shooting is done, I reship and open the class two's connection to nullsec, because I'm curious where it might lead.

Goonspace! We almost never see a connection to the home of the notorious Goonswarm Federation; that's almost kind of cool.

"Say it with me: Gooooooonswarm. Gooooooooooonswarm. Goonswarm."

More interesting, however, are the scanning probes I spot on d-scan.

"Hop in something that can tackle a cloaky frigate," I tell Tweed.

"Is that even possible?" he asks, flying back to the tower for his current best option.

"Catching something that can insta-cloak and warp off? No." I admit. "But they may make a mistake."

It's not long before I see a Helios covert-ops frigate decloak on the null-sec side of the hole and jump through.

"That's a red flash. Repeat, red flash on the hole."

"I see him --" there's a moment of silence. "Nope. He got clear."

"No worries. He's wide awake now, anyway." I ponder the now-empty local channel out in Goonspace. "So he's either going to pull the same trick coming back, or call in fifty of his closest friends." I look up information on the Helios pilot, and note that within the Goonswarm, he has the title 'Commander of the Local Defense Force'. "Let's assume he's going to go with option two."

"You think he'll get a lot backup?"

I shrug. "They don't call it Goon-just-a-couple-of-dudes."

"Good point. I should get going anyway."

"Works for me." We head back to the home system, and catch site of the Helios hopping back out to Goonspace just as we leave, noting that our connection from that class two system has conveniently gone into its End-of-Life death throes, which doesn't necessarily ensure we won't be followed, but does lower the odds a bit. Outside of other wormhole dwellers, most pilots in New Eden don't like going too far down the rabbit hole when there's a good chance they'll get stranded.

"Alright, I'm out."


It's just me in the home system, and the hour is getting late, but I'm restless, so I jump out through our static connection to low-sec space for a bit of a poke around and find myself in Venal, home of the Gurista pirates and birthplace of my trusty Gila cruiser.

Is the haven of any potential targets, though? I check for signs of activity via Dotlan and see some ship kills (both NPC and player-flown) in nearby system, and head that way, but it's not to be: I find only abandoned wrecks and a couple frozen, floating corpses.

Twilight Sparkle wanders the wilds of Venal Low-sec. (Actual screenshot)

"What ever happened here, Leiutenant, I think we missed it."

Indeed. I head back home and call it a night, a few ISK richer and a few near-misses away from a fight.


Life in a Wormhole: How Can You Miss Me if I Never Leave? #eveonline

First, a quick behind-the-scenes update: CCP contacted me and told me they'd changed their minds about the whole media account thing, so it looks like I'm back to writing about EvE stuff for the foreseeable future. I will probably keep doing the Life_in_EvE twitter account, however, and just figure out a way to tie it in here.

Now then, where were we...

"Oh man, Ty's bringing his Proteus," Em murmurs over comms. "Shit just got real."

"You told me to hurry," I reply. "This is what I was already flying."

I'm dropping out of warp next to our lowsec connection in response to Tweed announcing he's spotted a couple haulers once again using our system to move goods from their home out to the public markets. This hasn't gone very well for anyone in the past, but in this case the pilot gets a pass -- it turns out he's flying a blockade-running Viator transport which is both nimble and able to warp while cloaked. This means we get virtually no time to lock the ship before it's clear of our slapdash ambush and safely back at home. Bugger.

"Clearly, we need to blame Tweed for this."

"Sorry guys," Tweed answers. "I'll try to find something slower and stupider next time."

"See that you do."

Tweed's as good as his word.

I log in the next day in response to a summons from CB, and work to sift through the information everyone's sharing with me over comms. There's another hauler. It's an Iteron III. It's cloaked up right now, but it's not going anywhere like that. It's at... a tower? What?

Oh, no, it's in the middle of taking down a tower, an hour-long process that (according to the publicly visible timer) should wrap up in about 26 minutes, thus dropping the force field and leaving the hauler (probably still lurking around cloaked) defenseless and the tower itself entirely yoinkable.

By this point, several of our pilots have slid into position in cloaked up stealth bombers, ready to wreak havoc. The only concern is the Rapier-class force recon cruiser that's sitting at another nearby tower owned by the same corporation, but since it's the only other ship beside the Iteron III that actually boasts a conscious pilot, it's not too worrisome. I slip into the system in Twilight Sparkle and warp down the unanchoring tower as well, ready to get up close and personal with the Rapier if he comes out to rescue his corp mate.

The time ticks by, the forcefield dies, and a wild Iteron III appears, only to be greeted by a double handful of bombs that vaporize the ship and the pilot's pod in short order.

The game is on! Get ready for reinforcements! I warp in close to the deactivated tower, holding cloak and ready to pounce when the Rapier shows up.

Twilight Sparkle puts on her War Face.

Except, of course, the Rapier doesn't show up. Or move, actually -- the pilot's apparently busy toasting a bagel or fixing up a cup of coffee Just. So.

Ah well. There's still a lovely tower to pick up and haul home. Ichi hops into a hauler of our own and makes off with the structure. Once he's off the grid, the rest of our gang resumes cloak and vanishes into the woodwork. Not the most fiery of PvP engagements, but the job was done well, everyone bombed the right target (no mean feat when everyone's invisible at the start), and we have a tower to sell the next time we head to market.


Life in a Wormhole: Winning at Eve Blogging #eveonline

When I first started playing EvE about a year ago, it was an investigative role on behalf of MMO Reporter, and my editor asked CCP to give me some game time so I could really dig in and write some articles.

Quite unexpectedly, they set my main account up for a year of play time, which was a bit of a shock, as I'd only intended to write a few EvE-related articles for the site in question.

Once those articles were done, I felt a bit... obligated, I guess. I'd been 'paid' a year's worth of time for a couple week's worth of writing, and I enjoyed the game, so I just... started writing about whatever I could think of to write, using my own gaming-related website as a repository for all of it (and overwhelming the non-EvE-related stuff in the process). That these posts have been well-received by the EvE community was an unexpected but welcome bonus.

There's a meme that circulates around the EvE playerbase wherein a player is said to be winning at EvE when they unsubscribe from the game. The particularly optimistic and/or confident ex-player might expand on that to claim that they have actually beaten EvE, but most won't do that, because such statements have a way of being proven wrong, given enough time.

Over the last year, I've helped quite a few "winning" players start losing at EvE again, and that's something I'm really kind of happy about. For whatever reason, these little stories about our misadventures in Anoikis inspire old players to return to the game, and convince new players to give it a try. That's good -- it makes me feel that I've repayed CCP in kind. I love hearing from those players, which I do on a fairly regular basis.

Unfortunately, this type of nigh-daily blogging is, for me, coming to a close.

My year's worth of play-time and, thus, the 'pay' I got to write regularly about EvE is just about used up, and while I've contacted CCP to request an extension, I've been (nicely) informed this blog isn't really a professional media outlet (agreed), and as a result a media account doesn't make sense for them.

Fair enough.

I'm still going to play, obviously; I really enjoy the game, but that sense of writing obligation is gone. As a general rule, I get paid to write, and if I'm putting time into writing something that I'm not getting paid for when there's paying work waiting on my desk -- well, that's just irresponsible. So I'll be tabling the daily EvE posts for the foreseeable future.

My non-EvE-playing friends (all of whom have been reading this blog for much longer than I've been writing about EvE) just heaved a long sigh of relief.

What sort of EvE stuff will I continue to post?

Mainly, articles that strike me as interesting enough to do just-because.

Aside from that, I'm going to continue to document my day to day misadventures via Twitter, in a mini-diary format of which I'm very fond. It's not as detailed, but it's often a bit more fun (and sometimes quicker) to write, and leaves room for some good conversations when people ask for more details. You can find the Twitter feed at Life in EvE -- I've taken the not-insubstantial time to back-fill it with the full Life in a Wormhole timeline and begun posting new stuff. I hope that if you enjoyed the posts here, you'll enjoy this new thing as well.

I expect I will.


Life in a Wormhole: Should have Just Stayed Home #eveonline

One of the really interesting EvE-related youtube posters that I enjoy is a guy named Kil2, especially when he posts a video about some major mistake he made. Now, don't get me wrong: he's a hell of a PvPer in a subset of PvP that both interests me and which I think it particularly important and relevant in Wormholes; specifically, solo and small gang PvP. I've learned a lot from listening to his "Bringing Solo Back" podcasts, as well as watching his videos.

But I like his "I screwed up" posts, because failure and mistakes are kind of important, too. More important, in a lot of ways: you generally learn a lot more from mistakes than easy successes.

Why mention it? Because the next couple days are full of failures, and while most are of the 'frustrating wasted time' kind, and not the expensive explosions kind, they all taught me something.

The day after we lured the Manticore to attack our bait-salvager, I head for known space to take part in a couple activities. My first 'to do' is to get ready for the RvB roam that afternoon, as their theme involves everyone flying the shiny new tier 3 battlecruisers, which I happen to have handy.

I'm interrupted by pilots in our Alliance channel talking as though there's some major stuff going on in a system where they are currently attacking some enemy group's tower. Actually, after getting a bit more info, it sounds like the tower is currently in reinforced mode and can't be attacked at the moment, but that the locals are trying to get reinforcements in and we're trying to prevent that from happening which, aside from anything else, sounds a hell of a lot more interesting than a basic tower-bash.

As I said, I had some other plans (basicaly getting a couple Tornados all shined up and ready to go for the roam), but I ask them what they need, and they express a strong desire for armor-tanked battleships, which... let's just put it bluntly, I have little interest in flying and less interest in buying.


Ahh dammit, fine: they need some help, so I work out a viable close-range brawler in the form of a Typhoon battleship. It takes a bit of time to get it all set up, and when I'm done, I ask for an entry system to fly to and join them.

"Well, it's such and such system, but we're going to collapse it soon and get a new one, so we'll tell you where that one is."


Time passes. I spend it fitting my Tornadoes, but eventually there's nothing else to do, and I check in on that new hole status.

"Oh, yeah, we haven't collapsed it yet. Hang on though, we have a new entrance anyway -- a randomly opened one."


Time passes.

I ask for an update, and am told that the threat of invasion has died down, and that little needs to be done at this point.

I am now sitting on a completely kitted out battleship for which I personally have little to no use, and I've wasted three hours doing fuck-all in a highsec market station.

Really? You're fine now? All good? That's brilliant.

Lessons Learned: Hey fleet commanders -- if you have put out a request for pilots, and people are offering to show up, get them fucking moving your direction. They're coming from a distance, and spending their time to help you out. Respect that. If you're too busy (understandable), put someone specifically in charge of handling rendezvous -- make that their only job.

Hey guys coming to a fleet -- if your time is limited (or, you know, important to you at all) communicate your desire to help and make sure you don't get forgotten in the hustle and bustle and left to rot. FCs have a ton of stuff to going on, with multiple distractions, so find that fine line between passivity and nagging and make sure they remember that you either need a route to their location or a wave-off. Sitting on your hands wastes everyone's time. Worst case, just get a location and start moving there -- take some initiative. If I'd just started flying toward the first system they'd mentioned, I've have been there at least an hour before they got around to collapsing the entrance.

So I strip down the Typhoon and sell off the parts, taking a bath on the destroyed rigging because by this point I just want the damned thing out of my sight. I take a break and come back in time for the roam, meeting up with CB who is also bringing a Tornado. Cool.

Eh. Not so cool. While RvB is generally very casual with their ships on these Ganked roams, and given that the FC (who has way too much money) is actually providing FREE SHIPS to the first eighty people who show up, there is something going on with this particular fleet that is a bit... off.

First off, they're way too sober. Don't know what that's about, but I'll tell you this: I prefer my internet Brits tipsy, at the very least.

Secondly, while the FC fully intends to die-in-a-fire, the fact that everyone is flying these shiny new ships that have only been in the game for a few weeks is making him... not cautious, exactly, but... picky. In a typical RvB Ganked roam, the fleet will charge into anything that looks like it'll have some explosions involved, whether that means winning or losing, but since we're in the New Hotness, they seem to want to ensure that when we die, it'll be... memorable? Epic enough? Something like that.

So when, only a few jumps into the roam, our scouts spot an approaching fleet of ships from a large alliance, a fleet that would probably provide an interesting fight, the FC decides to avoid it, rather than engage, because they apparently assume that these large-alliance pilots will just call for major backup, jumping in a Titan or a huge fleet of ships, and that we'll then be squished right off the bat.

(Note: this happens ALL THE TIME in RvB Ganked roams, where the fleet gets decimated right away and has to reship before proceeding, but this week, it's seen as a bad thing.)

Anyway, the FC decides to fly another direction, avoiding this fight, and in the confusion of reassigning our destination, someone calls out to jump to the gate and jump through to some system name that sounds A LOT like one of the other system names to which we're also connected.

So the fleet warps one way, and I warp the other, having misheard the system name. I jump on contact, and come out right in front of that fleet we'd just decided to avoid, which is one Tornado down. Right.

I make my way back the 12 jumps to the original staging system (I should have just let them blow up my pod, it would have been much faster), grab my second Tornado and try catching up, but if you do the math I'm already 24 jumps behind just getting to the system where we were split up, and by then the fleet is another 15 or so systems further along and deep into Curse, which is thick with gate camps that love to eat solo ships like mine.

So that's two more hours gone with nothing to show for it but a stupid loss mail.

Lessons Learned: FCs, especially FCs for roams, have one job -- find fights. Yes, you call the route of travel or call targets, but first and foremost, you find fights. You've got 2 or 5 or 50 or 500 other players who showed up for a fight, so answering that desire really needs to be your first priority, bar none. Your job is not to keep everyone (or anyone) from getting blown up; get the fleet into a fight and (distant secondary goal) win, or at least blow up doing something (even if it's something stupid -- just as long as it's not 'sit there and look confused'). NO or almost-no interesting fights occur without losses on your side, so don't worry you're going to lose ships (or, heavens forfend, that their explosion won't be epic enough).

Pilots, listen to the targets and destination your FCs calls, or you're going to Leroy into a waiting fleet and get your shiny ship blown up with nothing to show for it, and then waste another two hours trying to catch up to them and hearing about cool fight after cool fight that you can't see or participate in.

Again, I take a break, and when I'm back, the Alliance fleet in that wormhole POS bash finally have their business figured out and are calling for pilots to come help kill the tower. I have a battleship handy (not that typhoon, obviously), so I join my Home System mates in helping out. It's no surprise that shooting an undefended, inanimate tower is as boring as ABC Family, but when the tower finally drops, the FC makes everyone wait until every ship has a lock on any of the (many) structures inside the force field before they start shooting it. Then repeat. Over and over.

Why? To make sure everyone gets on the kill mails for each of the cosmic outhouses we're looting, and gets credit.

I make my excuses and head out, because seriously? Fuck that for a lark. I need to whore my way onto 40 structure killmails like I need breast augmentation.

Lessons learned: POS bashes are boring. I knew that already, but maybe I'll get it through my head one of these days and think of something better to do with my time. Like crochet. Or... well, anything, really.

FCs: Just get the goddamn structures killed. It's a boring fucking job in the first place and making sure everyone gets their time cards punched for every barn you burn down is not actually doing anyone any favors. Yeah, it pads a kill board, but that's not a good thing: it makes bad PvPers think they're good PvPers because their kill/death ratio looks good on paper. Sod that.

Pilots: Get in, get the job done, because it's part of being in a group. Help out. Maybe you'll get lucky and there will be a surprise attack and actual PvP. Maybe. Not likely, but maybe. Someday...

The evening passes, and next day I'm online and hanging out, awaiting the start of another roam in a few hours, this one run by friends of our alliance -- the same group as the guys who ran the roam where Em and I flew Talos battlecruisers, but a different FC. The fleet theme is... sniping battlecruisers, but NOT using the new tier3 battlecruisers that are obvious (and excellent) choices for the role, if at all possible. Because I guess... surprise factor? Whatever.

Anyway, I've got time to kill, and I've got sniping ships on my mind, so I pick up a Rupture cruiser, fit it with the longest range guns it can manage, grab a deployable Warp Disruption bubble, and head out into Syndicate, looking at system statistics for someplace that's seeing a fair bit of traffic but is still a bit off the beaten path.

Once that's located, I set up the bubble in a way that will stop anyone warping between the two gates in the system and sit away from it about a hundred kilometers. My plan, such as it is, is simply to take pot shots at anyone dropping into the bubble, hoping their disorientation will give me time to pop them before they figure out what's going on and can get away. I even get myself set up so I'm at optimal range from the bubble and at warp-range from the nearest gate, giving me a good way out.

What actually happens is that the locals grab a couple stealth bombers and a Falcon force recon cruiser and ambush me while I'm watching the bubble and d-scan. (I was watching for traffic from the nearby-and-only station in the system, but they must not have come from there.) The Falcon perma-jams me, so I can't return fire, and while I am able to burn away from the bombers fast and far enough to get out of their warp-disruption range, by the time I do that, I've moved too close to the nearest gate to warp there -- by the time I come about and align to a new target, they're able to crack my fairly minuscule sniper-ship's tank and get to the candy filling inside.

Nothing more to add, here.

Lessons learned: Fuck falcons. I kid a bit, but even when it's on my side, ECM seems kind of... broken. I don't know if it's overpowered, exactly, but it's not... fun. At all. Even when it's on your side. CCP, take a look at how crowd control works in other games and take some notes about effects that render the target completely unable to act, because they aren't common, they aren't absolute, and they aren't effectively permanent-until-someone's-dead.

More importantly, if I'm going to try a solo camp-out, I should have put a cloak on the rupture and stayed hidden until a target presented itself. Odds are good I'm not going to get a kill in any case, so the targeting delay from the cloak isn't going to matter -- I'm just testing theories at this point and killing some time. A warp bubble with no ship around is just an annoyance -- maybe someone comes to investigate, and I can even shoot them. Who knows? A warp bubble with a single ship around is just... yeah. An easy target. Snipers in the real world keep from getting their heads caved in by HIDING until they decide to act, and that's what I should have done.

Well, no: what I should have done was something else, really. I should have just solo-roamed and kept moving. My options would have been a lot better, as would my longevity. I was in the mood to mess with sniper-fit ships, however, and since they're really not that useful for roams, this was the option I had.

Either way, don't be a target unless that's the point.

SPEAKING of how sniper ships aren't really well-suited for roams unless you really know what you're doing, what's next on our to-do list?

A roam with a bunch of sniper-fit ships, run by someone who mentions they've never done it before, but "it sounds like fun." What could possibly go wrong?

I have my second Tornado ready, but it turns out we have only one pilot willing to scout, so I stow the battlecruiser and put together a Cheetah covert-ops ship to be the eyes and ears of the fleet. The fleet flies around through the same couple systems in Syndicate for a bit (not where I had been earlier with the Rupture) and send me on ahead a few jumps to find targets.

Finally, my time in the wormhole works to my advantage, as I'm able to use my directional scanner and some slow, cloaked creeping to pull up right alongside a Cynabal cruiser and Drake battlecruiser who are... actually, kind of doing the same thing I had been doing with my Rupture. At least I have a fresh and relevant example of what I need to do in this situation, and I let the fleet know I have targets and a good warp-in for our forward tacklers.

The fleet, however, sends their regrets. While I was scouting, they circled around the same few systems until the locals knew pretty much exactly what sort of ships they hand and mounted an ideal counter-fleet. The two forces engaged on a gate, the sniper ships got beat up a fair bit, and the FC ordered them a single jump away from the system where they'd had the fight, and told everyone to dock up in a station and repair.

The other fleet, of course, camped the station, ready to blow them to tiny bits right on the undock if the long-range ships so much as poked their noses out.

And that was the end of that roam. Right.

Lessons Learned: Play to your strengths. I was happy with my scouting, and think I'm actually pretty good at it. If you're FCing a fleet and you're not a weathered veteran of many such things, stick with the simple fleet compositions. Yes, they're known compositions, but they're common because they're effective, and they're effective because all the pilots know what to DO in most situations. Save tricky and complicated for later. Snipers in the real world don't go on patrols, and if that's what you plan to do, use different ships; appropriate ships.

And with that, my jump-clone timer is refreshed, and I'm back in my primary clone and heading back to the wormhole. I won't say it was a very great couple of days, but it was educational, and I learned a lot.


Life in a Wormhole: Overheat All the Things #eveonline

Iteron down! Iteron down!

Oh, nevermind, that's someone else's Iteron hauler, using our system as a route out to known space -- it seems like people would learn not to do that, but they never do.

In fact, the neighbors that lost the hauler doesn't seem genetically disposed to learning behavior. Despite the loss of a ship in a system to which they're still connected, Tweed reports quite a bit of continued activity in their system, including a Raven battleship... shooting sleepers? Solo?

If you can't say anything nice...

Em would very much like to kill a Raven, but since our pilots shot their hauler at home, and we've only been stealthily watching them since then, their system is only partially scouted, and we don't have bookmarks for whatever obscure location the Raven is at. Tweed gets out of range of the tower, drops probes, and starts an initial scan.

"This is going to take awhile."

"How many signatures are there?"

"Thirty... one? Thirty-two."

I suppose one of the upsides to an incredibly messy system is that it conceals your activities and slows down newcomers to your system, but that's like saying hoarders have a good home security system. Seriously, clean up your crap.

Meanwhile, the Raven vanishes off d-scan, then reappears about five minutes later, which seems to indicate the pilot is running errands through a wormhole to known space, or collapsing said wormhole (very slowly).

"Or he's scouting out the exit so that Iteron pilot can get his new clone back into their system," points out Ichi.

Ahh. Probably that. I didn't realize the hauler pilot had gotten his pod destroyed as well.

Tweed scans, working over the area where the Raven seems to be located, where there are "only" 19 signatures to sort through. Most lowsec connections have a weaker signal strength on scans, but since there are so many sites, even that clue doesn't help much in terms of speeding up the process of elimination, and by the time we locate the exit, Tweed is fairly certain his probes have been spotted, as the Raven pilot has returned to their tower's force field. The small fleet of ships lurking on the other side of the entrance into his system are disappointed.

"What's he doing over there?"

"There's two of them. One's in a scanning ship, and the Raven pilot just reshipped into a... Manticore."

Now that is interesting. The stealth bomber looks like a show of force; somewhat more effective than the Raven, as the small ship can fly cloaked and dish out quite a lot of damage on an unsuspecting target. Too bad we don't have any unsuspecting targets for him to att-- hey.

"I have an idea," I say on comms. "I'll be right back."

I warp back to our wormhole connection and from there to our tower, where I swap out Twilight Sparkle for Drageron, the Gila-class cruiser I usually use for running anomalies. As a drone-boat, it's not a very common sight in wormholes, thanks to wildly exaggerated tales of Sleeper ships targeting and destroying drones within seconds of them of them being sent into combat. My estimation of our target's research skills are fairly low at this point, so it's my hope that he might take a shot at the cruiser if I go over and start shooting up their anomalies, taking it for an easy target.

As an added plus, the Gila is somewhat ridiculously over-tanked for class two wormhole systems, which lets me remove a couple of shield modules and replace them with a propulsion module and a Warp Disruptor, which should be enough to pin the Manticore down if he does take a shot, and still have more than enough tank to handle any active Sleepers. Thus refit, I jump back to the other system, then jump to the system's exit out to low sec known space and sit there for a couple minutes.

"Hum de dum. Here I am in my little drone-filled cruiser, completely inappropriate for wormholes. Clearly, I am from low sec, and those probes you saw, Mister Raven, were from my otherwise-harmless scanning alt. I am all alone, and most certainly not from that nasty class two system filled with all those pilots who killed your friend a few hours ago. All those people went to sleep."

"You know he can't actually hear you."

"Shut up. I'm Method, bitches."

I do a quick passive scan of the Sleeper anomalies in the system, and pick one that's within directional scanning range of their tower, but only barely, then I warp in at the worst range possible and proceed to run the site as inefficiently as possible. Wrecks are scattered across the starry sky as far as the Overview can see.

"Manticore and Anathema have both warped out of the tower and cloaked up. Probes on scan."

"Probes? He can find the site I'm in with passive scans!"

"They're combat probes. He must think he has to scan down your ship."

Time goes by. The probes very, VERY slowly converge on my location.

"Did you put a microwarpdrive on that thing?" asks Em. "Can you turn it on so your signature gets bigger?"

"Unfortunately, no," I reply, pulling my sentry drones back in and deploying the smallest drones I have in the bay, just to slow down the process and give this guy more time. "I'm going as slowly as I can."

"I think you'll need to go slower."

He may not be wrong, as the probes are still on scan and converging when I finish the site. Luckily, I only have to waste another minute before they disappear -- a sign that the pilot finally located me and pulled his probes back.

Unfortunately, there's no attack, and I can't linger in the site any longer without looking suspicious.

"Warp to another site and clear that one?"

"Move? He'd have to find me again. I don't have that much free time." I sigh. "I'll go get a salvager."

"Have you got one that can tank a bomber?"

"Not yet."

I warp straight back to our hole, convinced now that any misdirection about my point of origin will be wasted, as the pilots in the system aren't picking up data fast enough to get anything but the most obvious information. Back at our tower, I reship into a Catalyst destroyer that we sometimes use for salvaging and move the Warp Disruptor from the Gila to my new ride, staring at the fitting window and trying to figure out how to tweak the rest of the modules to survive a bomber assault. The other pilots suggest a number of modules, none of which I have available, since our tower is woefully short on things like Frigate- and Destroyer-sized armor plates. I finally settle on a Damage Control unit to capitalize on the Catalyst's Gallente origins, and fill the other two low slots with a passive omni-resistance plate left over from fitting Twilight Sparkle and... hello what's this?

Down at the bottom of Gor's personal equipment hangar, I catch the gleam of an anti-kinetic actively-powered armor resistance module, which is quite useful, as the Caldari-born Manticore will very likely be doing almost all Kinetic damage. I borrow the module (offlining all but a few of ship's tractor beams and salvagers to give me the grid and CPU I need to make it fit) and hope Gor won't mind too much if I get it blown up.

"On my way back."

The system is quiet, and the site is clear of everything but wrecks, which I start to gather up. Thankfully, I did the site in such a way as to scatter the wrecks everywhere, which means I can take my time slowboating from wreck to wreck, leaving my microwarpdrive off in case the Manticore finally drops a bomb.

"Ichi, can you get in an interceptor?" I ask. "It may be useful."

"Sure thing."

"Want me out of the Hurricane?" asks CB.

I think about it. "On the very very slim chance that he's bluffing us, stay in it, in case he has cloaky friends."

I putter through the site, looking as vulnerable as I can, with only my damage control unit running -- the active armor hardener gives the ship's hull a distinctive glimmer that a knowledgeable pilot would recognize as a very odd addition to a real salvaging ship, and I don't want to tip my hand on something so simple.

"BOMB." Tweed calls out.

He's right. The bomb is lumbering toward me, and there's the Manticore, just on the outside edge of my Warp Disruptor's range. I start a target lock and head his way, flipping on the active hardener and waiting for the detonation.

My ship's systems tell me when the bomb goes off, screaming a warning about my evaporated shields. I have a lock on the Manticore, who is now lobbing torpedoes my direction, and (despite the incoming missiles) flip on my microwarpdrive to close the distance. The signature bloom from the propulsion unit ensures that the torps do their maximum damage to my little ship, but the actively-hardened armor takes it, thanks in no small part to that (currently overheating) kinetic resistance module. My destroyer sprints across the 20 kilometers to the Manticore and drops into a tight orbit 500 meters off the ship, at which point I shut off the microwarpdrive and stop overheating the armor resistance module.

"I've got him," I announce. "Come hit him. Warp to me."

Pilots in non-cloaky ships jump in from our system and get into warp, and I see them appear on my directional scan. The manticore pilot does as well, and seems to realize he's in trouble -- he wheels away (still tossing torpedoes at me over his shoulder) and lights up his own microwarpdrive to get clear of my Warp Disruptor's range.

Once again, I'm faced with the necessity of burning into oncoming torpedoes with a microwarpdrive lit, but after taking this long to draw the pilot out, I have little interest in letting him get away, so I flip the module back on, take off in pursuit, and start heating up the armor. The torps are beating the hell out of me, but it's holding... kind of -- I've got about 5% of the plating left before it's time to test the famously over-engineered Gallente ship structure.

"I've got him jammed," comes Em's calm voice, like he's ticking "avocados" off a shopping list. I see his Falcon on my Overview where it hadn't been before, and the torpedo rain magically stops falling.

Unfortunately, the nimble bomber is really pulling away from me, and I overheat my own Microwarpdrive to slow his escape, even if I can't prevent it. He's three kilometers from getting outside my disruptor's range.

My fellow pilots drop out of warp, but they're already twenty kilometers behind me and forty kilometers from the Manticore, as they warped to where I was at the moment their engines engaged, not to where I am now.

"Ichi, I need you to catch this guy."

Two kilometers... One... Ichi's Crow interceptor passes me so quickly I wonder if I burned out my microwarpdrive and am sitting dead in space.

My disruptor shuts down, Aura telling me that the target is no longer within range.

"Son of a..."

"Got him," calls Ichi. "I mean, Point. I have point. Got him."

"Kill him," murmurs Em, his voice still low and even. "And get the pod."

He does, and we do.

It's a good day.

I give my trusty little bait-destroyer a pat on the dashboard and review the blinking warning lights flashing up at me.

"Anyone have any nanite repair paste?"