Life in a Wormhole: Shopping List #eveonline

"So what are you looking for now?"

"In... what? A wormhole?" I'm distracted when Em asks his question, puttering around in the Placid region and running random missions for my Minmatar contacts to repair my once-sterling reputation with their faction.

You see, CB likes to collect "NPC" items -- at one point, long ago, I counted well over 100 individuals milling around "The Party Hangar" in our old tower in the wormhole -- a mix of militants, mercenaries, tourists, homeless, Damsels, and (of course) many exotic dancers.

He also had a fair number of "slaves" that he'd picked up at various ports of call.

Anyway, when we were moving out of the wormhole, he tossed his hard-partying vagrants into whatever cargo bay they would fit, like packing material to keep the secure containers from shifting. Distribution was random and unpredictable. Generally, it wasn't a big deal, until I tried to contract with Red Frog to ship our stuff home from whatever system the wormhole had connected to and was informed that "illegal contraband" could not be included in a courier contract.

Whatever. I just left the stuff in question in the station for CB to deal with on his own time and carried on.

The next time, however, I was flying a Mammoth-class industrial hauler through Minmatar space and got stopped on one of the gates. A Brutor Tribe hurricane pulled up alongside and tapped on the canopy.

"Sir, could I see your license and registration?"

"Sure. There a problem, officer?"

"Well, we got a call from some of your... cargo."

"A... call?"

"Correct. It seems you have some Wrongfully Indentured Individuals aboard your ship."

"Wrongfully indentured... oh. Shi-- shoot. The slaves?"

"The Minmatar Republic does not recognize the practice of legal slavery, sir."

"No. No, of course not --"

"So I'm sure you don't have --"

"Do I need to turn over --"

"-- remit your passengers to our Customs officials to begin the naturalization process --"

"Of course. Of course. Really sorry about --"

"-- will of course be a small processing fee --"

"Of course." I eyed the many, many Minmatar battleships slowly wheeling in the general direction of my ship. "No problem at all. Happy to pay. Really very sorry about the mix-up."

"Understood, sir. Carry on." The ship pulled away, but I couldn't help but feel that the officials involved were not at all happy with me.

Turned out I was right. While the fine was a paltry amount, the hit my standings took with the Minmatar Government... that stung.

Then, a few hours, later, it happened again.

"Goddammit, CB, haul your own damn slaves out of the hole next time!"

"Sorry. Can't hear you. Laughing too hard."

Right, so there I was in the Placid region, killing time while I waited for the Red Frog freighters to get back to Sinq Laison, and running level 3 combat missions in Appiary, my little Ishkur assault frigate.


"Sorry." I shook my head. "What was the question again?"

"What are you looking for in a ... wormhole. Or wormhole corp. Whatever."

"Well..." I thought it over. "Not a big alliance, spread out over umpteen systems. Sucks not knowing everyone."

"Better for defense, too."

"Eh." I shrugged. "Far as I'm concerned, defense is only a major problem if you're in the habit of running around kicking other people's shins -- we had alliance-sized problems in our hole because our alliance picked fights and we ended up being the randomly-selected kid who got punched back."

"Fair enough," Em said, though I'm not sure he agreed.

"A lot of the guys I've followed seem to be mostly active in just a couple systems," I continued. "AHARM, the Lost in Eve guys, or The Night Crew, or Lone Star Exploration -- they all pretty much just live in one system."

"I don't know any of those names except AHARM."

"The rest aren't big in wormhole politics bullshit," I explained. "Which reminds me: No wormhole politics bullshit. I just want to live in a hole, shoot people, have them shoot at me, make isk, lose isk, and not give a single solitary fuck about who's currently blue to who. Simple."

"Sounds good, if it's possible."

"I think it is."

"So you want to start an alliance with some other corp, or just drop your corp entirely and join somebody else?"

"Either-or, but probably the second option, so guys like Moondog can stay in the current corp and just shoot stuff out in known space -- it's what they enjoy, and I like giving them a home."

"CB mentioned you guys talked about running Incursions?"

"Sure, but that's basically just for the hell of it, to see what they're about. Just to kill time until we figure out what we're going to do."

"Sounds good."

The comms are silent for awhile, which I don't notice, as I'm too busy laughing at the Angel battlecruisers trying and failing to hit my ship.

"So... what are we going to do?"

"That," I reply, "is a pretty good question."

Life in a Wormhole: Tipping Point #eveonline

The fact of the matter is, we've been talking about moving to a different wormhole for awhile now. Let me speak frankly about why:

  • The system itself isn't really suited for us, anymore. It certainly was for a long time, and our roommates from Walrus and Cab's corp are fantastic, but we feel like we've done this kind of system long enough, and we'd like to try something new.

  • Bedbugs. I'm not gonna lie to you, Marge: one of the reasons I haven't been logging in as much for the last month or so was simply because I felt like my play options were limited. With a spy in the hole, even the most basic wormhole-related activity seems to require a fleet of ships to act as lookouts, backups, bodyguards, and so forth. I might be willing to risk ships, but if other's aren't I'm certainly not going to browbeat them into it. It starts a vicious circle where "not enough" people are logged in, so the people that do log in stop doing so, since there's nothing to do, and soon no one's logging in.

  • Maybe I'll head outside for a little -- NOPE.
    LoJack. Related to the above, I personally don't feel like I can leave the system and go do anything else, either. I've given up on casual roams in Syndicate, and stopped going on the RvB Ganked booze cruises because I feel like every time I head into known space I've got a locator agent saying "okay, he's out of the house, get on in there." Hell I don't even go to markets anymore -- I just have someone else bring stuff back -- it's basically house arrest. I don't mean to sound like I'm whining, so don't read it that way -- it's just the way things are.

  • The Alliance. Although I don't talk about it much, the fact is I don't see eye to eye with many of the folks in similar leadership roles within our current alliance. There's a strong movement in there toward a kind of structure that I and my pilots see (right or wrong) as strongly reminiscent of a null-sec alliance, and we don't think that's a model that works in wormhole space. (And even if it did, we'd want no part of that kind of setup; we've got too many scarred, ex-pat null-sec vets.) Given that, and the fact that I don't feel like I can leave the system to participate in mandatory ops, it seems logical that the best thing for everyone is to get out of the Alliance, and that the best way to achieve proper separation is to also leave the system at the same time.

So that's basically where we're at, sans drama -- it's just the facts of the situation. This has been something lurking at the back of our minds for quite awhile now, hence our on-again, off-again efforts to shift our underused assets out to known space. When Gor emails me to let me know he's moved all of his stuff entirely out of the wormhole and will be letting his account lapse for awhile, I decide it's time to take some serious action before anyone else starts winning at EvE. Up to this point, I've put off the final push to take our tower down, because it will leave us vulnerable to attack, especially with a spy in the hole, but I'm now to the point where I don't care; some loss is preferable to death by stagnation.

When Em tells me that some of our pilots spotted that same lurking bomber pilot in some other, completely unrelated wormhole only a few days after our bomber run was cut short, that just adds another bit of momentum.

"It probably just means they put a different spy in the system."

"Maybe. Or it means they're done with us. Either way, doesn't change anything."

In contrast to our last move out of a wormhole, CB is one hundred percent on board, and stiffens my resolve on a number of occasions when the to-do list starts to look a little too daunting. Within a few days we're down to the bare minimum number of ships (most of which can be flown by either of us, equally well), and I'm offlining defensive modules and packing them away. The next few days are a blur of moving ships and taking down bits of the tower.

(Luckily, April 1st comes along during this effort, which is a day that always makes me incredibly productive, since I avoid the internet like the plague.)

Prior to this decision, we'd been suffering through a long patch of really terrible connections to known space, but it's as if the system knows of our plans and approves -- we get a string of fantastically convenient connections to high-sec space, one after the other and sometimes two at a time -- a day's worth of concentrated effort and some assistance from Em lets us move the few remaining ships to the Walrus tower for temporary storage and use, strip the tower, remove all fuel, and shut it down. By the end of the day, we have only a handful of necessary ships on hand, and everything else is out in known space and aboard Red Frog freighters, heading for our home office.

And what about Walrus? I'd let those guys know what we'd decided to do, and it turns out that very little discussion was required before they decided to make a similar move out of the wormhole. It sounds as though their follow-up plan is to move into another Alliance wormhole, but for now we're not thinking that far ahead, except to acknowledge that we'd all be happier if we stayed together in some way, and then focus on the logistics of our collective exodus.

During all of this, we see no hint of the pilots who had once lurked in our system, though I find myself in more conversations with their CEO.

"You guys should really get out of that system and get into someplace better," he comments, unknowingly ironic. "Come join us!"

"I can't really move haulers out with your bombers floating around," I reply, trying not to think of our pilots' probable response to that invitation. "I'm stuck in the system, and as long as I'm stuck in the system, I'm stuck in the alliance. Your fault, by the way."

"If you were leaving that alliance," he quips, "I'd send over haulers to help you move."

I don't take him up on the offer, but regardless, we get all of our stuff moved without any complications.

Em was fairly surprised at how fast we got our tower down and, thus inspired, goes to work on the Walrus tower the next day, making use of the continuing string of amazingly good high-sec connections we've been blessed with. Two days after our tower came down, the Walrus tower shuts off the lights, with the last of our ships floating inside the force field of the system's remaining tower -- Cabbage's corporate fortress, which we've all decided will remain until we find a buyer for the wormhole system and (hopefully) the Rorqual, which is too big to remove from the wormhole as anything but self-destructed scrap.

The other two CEOs give the high sign, and I contact our broker, asking them to list the wormhole system for sale: Class Two, good connections, good planets, well-loved, comes with Rorqual (only driven on Sundays, mostly to compress ore).

The end?

Hardly. More like the end of the beginning.

We are happy... and tired.


Life in a Wormhole: Bedbugs #eveonline

It's been quiet in the system for a few weeks with logins dragging downward more than a little, but pilots are on and we're excited to have a fun roam out into null-sec space in some stealth bombers to see if there's anyone we can kill, or at least annoy.

Our exit to high-sec (via the class two system we're currently connected to) puts us in territory with which Pax is quite familiar, so we're happy to let him scout our way as we go, and manage to get ourselves quite far out into the deep water when we notice that one of the pilots on our watchlist just logged on.

This wouldn't normally be a problem or even noteworthy, except that it's the only pilot from the enemy "Occupy Wormhole" corp that we haven't been able to verify is out of our wormhole. We have a real opportunity here to find out if he's still around, or no longer a threat. I contact one of my agents who can run locator services on anyone in known space (not including wormholes), and Shan logs in an alt to see if there's anything going on back in our home system.

Which, of course, there is.

"Looks like we have five scanner probes out in the system," Shan reports. "Converging on our low-sec exit."

"Well," says Em, "we need to get back there. Op's cancelled. Let's get moving."

Our efforts are starting to feel a little futile.

While we turn 'round and head back, Bre (who stayed home) hops into a Crow interceptor and gets ready to drop on the low-sec exit if Shan reports any ships going out. It's good that she does, since it's only a few minutes before the pilot we'd been watching for (flying a stealth bomber) decloaks and jumps out into known space. Our situation has now gone from "get back to the hole to deal with the guy" to "get back to the hole before all of his friends show up."

Bre jumps out of the hole as well, and is almost able to lock the bomber before he cloaks up. She settles for orbiting the wormhole at various distances to hope for a lucky decloaking, but no joy on that front.

"We have a problem," Em reports.

"Another one?"

"Yeah, the entrance we used to get out is gone."

"So we go in through the low-sec entrance. How far away is it?"

"... 35 jumps."

Super. Our pilots scramble from gate to gate through known space while Bre and Shan monitor the situation at home. On the way, we posit theories about what happened in this case, and the commonly accepted one is that the other batch of pilots saw that a bunch of us were on, ran a locator agent to see where we were, saw we were all out in null-sec, and decided to slip back into our system while we were away.

Basically, this means we can't do anything outside the system without exposing ourselves to more of the same cloak-ship nonsense, and we can't really do anything inside the system either for the same reason. It's a bit like being held hostage in your own house by a small buzzing fly... because that fly will randomly open your front door and let in yellowjackets if you aren't paying attention.

"Well, to be fair, that's always been true -- anyone could do that to us."

"Yes, but there's a difference between 'this could theoretically happen, maybe, if you're unlucky' and 'this is definitely going to happen, every time.'"


For a wonder, we actually manage to get back to the low-sec entrance before any enemy pilots show up, and switch to ships better suited for killing the wormhole just as Bre reports that the bomber pilot jumped back inside, cloaked up, and got away.

"So even if we kill the hole, he's still in here."


We close the hole anyway, since we don't need any of the bomber's friends in the system to complicate matters, and most of us call it an evening at this point. I stay on and contemplate the nature of bedbugs. Nasty things; they get into the crooks and crevices of your life and negatively impact everything else you've got going on. Get them in your house, and your options are pretty much "fumigate", "burn everything", or "move out."

And there's really no way to fumigate in EvE.


Life in a Wormhole: Surreality #eveonline

I find myself in another chat with the leader of the alliance that houses the cloaky pilots who've camped our systems a couple times.

About what? Well... nothing, it seems he just wants to chat.

As I've mentioned before, one of the most important elements for enjoying any MMO is having people to play with; this requirement is (in my opinion) an absolutely unavoidable requirement for long-term MMO enjoyment because, compared to other types of games, MMOs are not... good; they don't hold up in terms of repeated, engaging play the way something like Mass Effect 2 does -- the missing ingredient that keeps a player coming back to the same MMO for years is, in short, the other people -- if you don't have that, or can't find that, you'll eventually leave.

EvE is no exception.

What’s different about EvE is that one of the ways players choose to play with others is by blowing them up, which (again, my opinion) makes EvE a lot more like ‘normal’ games (Chess, Monopoly, Clue, Cribbage, et cetera) than a typical MMO, because a lot of the fun you’re having comes from pitting yourselves directly against other people. Someone playing EvE can enjoy many hours of engaging "solo" play by roaming around through null-sec space, finding people to shoot and then working their way into a fight they have a small chance of winning. They'll have a great time, but the reason they're having a great time is because they aren't playing solo, not really; without those other players around -- the ones that 'solo' player is shooting at -- he's going to have a bad time, and it won't take too many nights like that before he starts looking for something else to do or stops logging in entirely.

In fact, if you can find other people to pit yourself against, that’s really all you need; there’s no ‘raid gear’ requirement or level-cap in EvE, so aside from being vastly outnumbered or outgunned, if you can find an opponent, the rest boils down to — in the words of Fezzik — “skill against skill alone.”

And I can't tell you how many times I've read or heard about someone in EvE who found a group of people to play with... by first shooting or being shot at by them.

It seems like that's what's happened here, in that this corp CEO seems equal parts amused and intrigued by our little band of misfits who, for all our relative noobishness, gave his squad of space ninjas a pretty good challenge... largely without actually shooting at them.

I understand the chats, is what I'm saying.

Doesn't make it feel any less weird, though.

Let's play some more catch-up.


Having moved Ko into the system, we're now interviewing his RL buddy, who seems pretty cool and quite interested in wormhole life. Call this a second win for 'recruit from the blog comments'.

Slab of Tritanium + Afterburners

Tweed and Em spotted a battlecruiser killing sleepers in our system, but before we could jump him, he was caught and blown up by a couple roaming pilots from Narwhals Ate My Duck, one of the bigger/more notorious fish in the wormhole  pond. One of the ships, a Proteus strategic cruiser, leaves the wreck of the battlecruiser and warps to the random outbound connection we currently have to highsec, then jumps through.

We hatch a plan that involves waiting on our side of the wormhole, hoping he jumps through early, gets trapped against the wormhole by our ships and the polarization effect, and then dies in a fiery explosion. That's almost exactly what happens.


He jumps back, we jump him and proceed to shoot him and he... is not blowing up.

He continues to not blow up.

This goes on for a bit.

Eventually, his polarization effect ends and he jumps back out into high-sec. We are nonplussed.

Turns out that this particular pilot likes to fly cloaky Proteus fits that, if my math is right, would boast something like three hundred thousand effective hit points. Amazing (if expensive) fit, really: the best ship to uncloak first for a surprise attack, as you can tank any counterattack amazingly well. It doesn't do any damage to speak of, but it doesn't really *need* to -- if it's mugging a hauler, that hauler will die, and if it's attacking a tougher ship, this is just the guy to hold him while your buddies hit him.

I take some notes on the fit, because maybe I've found something useful to do with my own Proteus. Maybe I can rename Derpy Hooves something like Big Macintosh.

Where did the rest of March go?

Oh yeah: Mass Effect 3 came out. There's a week or two here where I'm pretty scarce, but this comes to a happy conclusion when our pilots decide to have some fun with a bomber roam through null-sec. Just the thing to get us back in the groove.

... until we're interrupted. Again.


Life in a Wormhole: Catch up #eveonline

Okay, since there's not much going on at the moment but Planetary Interaction, I feel like I can compress the action a bit: lets get back to that thing where I try to get us a little closer to the current day, because right now? We're still about two months behind.

It's a Gas, Gas, Gas

I do not enjoy the Rolling Stones. Never have. Just putting that out there.

The guys are harvesting fullerene gas from the many Ladar signatures next door in a class two wormhole system that has lain dormant and abandoned for (I'm going to guess) a really long time, since its two persistent wormhole connections lead to deadly Class 6 wormhole space... and null-sec. Yeah. That's not a system that's going to see a lot of traffic -- I can't imagine anyone who would ever find that whole enticing as a home, no matter who they are -- you'll never or rarely be anywhere useful via your nullsec connection, and you can't bring big ships through your c6 connection, so you can't really do anything that way, either. Maybe if the system has good native resources? Nope; terrible planets -- basically we're already pulling everything of value out of the system in the form of the randomly-occurring fullerene clouds.

I'm a bit distracted from this, however, thanks to a chat request from none other than the CEO of the corp of pilots who have been camped in our system twice. He wants to know why my blog is time-shifted by so many weeks, because he's eager to read about their shenanigans from my point of view. This is the danger with EvE blogging: sometimes, people decide to fuck with you simply because they'll get to read about it later.

At any rate, I'm not super-receptive to the "hurry up and get to the good stuff" request, though the conversation easily qualifies as the most surreal in my time playing EvE.

Cool Wormhole Stuff Doesn't Always Happen in the Wormhole Itself

Our connections out of the wormhole are boring and useless, so I decide to drop out into known space and scan the remote low-sec system to which we find ourselves connected. The results are two more wormholes to explore, a number of radar and magnometric signatures, and a huge pile of reasonably profitable Blood Raider combat sites I can mop up in my Ishtar. It's not our normal fare, but it suits me just fine since I can be super lazy about security and simply watch the Local comms channel to see if I get any visitors (I don't, for the next several hours).

By the time we (Gor and CB joined me) are done with shooting Blood Raiders, we have a new connection to wormhole space at home; one that leads to a convenient hi-sec exit Gor uses to fly unused ships out. I take off fairly early for the night, but smile at an email from CB:
Tweed and me killed a retriever in the c2. Chatted with the guy for about an hour after, giving him tips about not getting podded. Are we recruiting?

That's a good question...

Happy Birthday to Meee

I splurge and by myself a Loki strategic cruiser, fitting it for a similar role as my Proteus simply because the Proteus is driving me CRAZY with how slowly the heavily armored ship crawls around when it's cloaked. (I've renamed it from Twilight Sparkle to Derpy Hooves.)

All ready for action, Applejack heads out into the wilds of wormhole space. Yee-haw.

Meanwhile, I send emails to a few unaffiliated blog commenters to see if they're interested in wormhole space.


Some guy I don't like very much who lectures people about tactics and combat awareness loses over 4 billion isk worth of ships, simply by running Sleeper sites in a pimped out strategic cruisers and not keeping any kind of lookout posted. Lost a couple pods, too.

I won't lie to you, Marge; I laughed.

Then I bookmarked the killboard and tucked it away next to pictures of cute animals and viral videos for those days when I need a good cheering up.

Please forward your CV

After discussing it with CB and Gor, we decided to allow a (very) few corp applicants from people who've been actively asking smart questions on the blog, who don't seem to be attached to wormhole corps already. The first couple I contact are unfortunately in far distant timezones and thus a bad fit (for them and us), but the third one looks better, and Gor and I spend the evening chatting with the pilot in question, both asking and answering questions.

I'm a Big Sisi

The next couple days have family in town, so I'm not on much, and when I am, I'm logged into "SiSi", the Singularity test server, checking out builds for Scimitar and Oneiros logistics ships under pseudo-combat situations. I remain very impressed with how much even one logistics ship can change an engagement for a small group of ships.

Back on the Live server, we have a good High-sec exit, so we help Ko move his stuff into the wormhole. Then I slip out and buy CB a Cynabal for his birthday. Everyone should have a cool ship they didn't pay for.

Hello. It's Been Awhile.

Family are still in town, but I sneak a bit of time online to chat with Ko and set up a bit more P.I. stuff, then do some exploring. Looks like we're connected to the same system we were in 25 days ago, and not much has changed. Still a class two, still c5/null-sec statics, still (or rather, again) full of Sleeper anomalies. Me, Em, Shan, Ko, CB, Tweed, and Dirk (a new addition to Em's corp) warm up the guns and get to work, making some fun but odd ship choices that leave us looking more like a PvP gang than a sleeper fleet. CB's ship actually is a PvP ship - a blaster-fit Talos - which he flies against sleepers whenever he's bored and looking for the fun of flying fast and dying young... which is pretty much what happens when he gets primaried by a couple sleeper battleships before he can warp out. Oops.

The loot is poor overall, but at least there's a LOT of it -- 30 anomalies die for well over 600 million isk in loot (less one Talos).

Afterwards, I respond to CB's obvious enjoyment of the zoomy Talos by helping him fit up a properly-tanked hurricane that should give roughly the same experience. It's not cap-stable, but I explain how he can drain energy off Drake battlecruisers in between waves of sleepers, and this pleases him.



Life in a Wormhole: What's your favorite flavor of PI? #eveonline

It seems like everyone in the EvE blogoverse is talking about Planetary Interaction right now, and since I'm wrestling with setting up something like forty PI colonies right now, I figured I'd share the tiny little bit of information I've learned on the process.

Planetary What-now?

Planetary Interaction is a very terrible, Civ-like mini-game in EvE that lets you exploit the resources of all those balls of dirt floating out there in your nice clean Void. The basic idea is:

  • Pretty much everything in the game is made by some other player.

  • All those things are created from other, smaller things.

  • Players have to make all those smaller things too.

A lot of the stuff you make in the game is created via EvE's own particular brand of crafting (a subject I've already written about),  but a fairly sizeable chunk of stuff gets created via factories that players set up planetside all around New Eden and Anoikis to extract raw materials and turn them into useful things like Mechanical Parts, Enriched Uranium, Polytextiles, and Livestock.

If you don't know what you're doing, you'll fiddle with this once, retrieve your crappy low-end product one time, sell it for pennies, wonder why you bothered, and never go back and mess with your colony ever again.

If you do know what you're doing, a single character with about twelve days worth of skill training can produce over 20 million isk worth of materials per day, via a passive income source that (once you get it all set up) takes about five minutes of tweaking every few days.

Now, as it happens, the quality of a planet in terms of the amount of raw materials it produces is determined by the security level of the space it's in. Wormhole space is the lowest of null-security space, therefore, planetary interaction colonies in wormhole space can be quite profitable, if you happen to have set up shop in a system with a good selection of planets. Even if you haven't, it's possible to use PI to create most of the materials you need to make fuel blocks for your tower, and maybe even sell off the excess.

Let me give you an example, using a common PI product: Coolant.

(Non-EvE players: I won't be hurt at all if you stopped reading here.)

Coolant is (relatively) easy to set up, and it's pretty easy to find planets on which you can make it, since it can be produced on virtually any gas planet, which are very common in EvE.

As an added bonus, Coolant is quite profitable if all you want to do is make it and sell it. The obvious reason (and the one everyone thinks of) is because it is one of the ingredients in the fuel blocks used by every kind of player-owned tower in the game.

However, it's worth noting that Coolant also (eventually) finds its way into a few other products in the game, such as the Infrastructure Hub, Territorial Claim Unit, Sovereignty Blockade Unit, Biochemical Silo, Catalyst Silo, Coupling Array, General Storage, Hazardous Chemical Silo, Hybrid Polymer Silo, Advanced Large Ship Assembly Array, Capital Ship Maintenance Array, Advanced Medium Ship Assembly Array, Ship Maintenance Array, Advanced Small Ship Assembly Array, Capital Ship Assembly Array, Explosion Dampening Array, Component Assembly Array, Heat Dissipation Array, Photon Scattering Array, Drug Lab, Equipment Assembly Array, Intensive Refining Array, Large Ship Assembly Array, Medium Intensive Refining Array, Medium Ship Assembly Array, Refining Array, Rapid Equipment Assembly Array, Small Ship Assembly Array, Subsystem Assembly Array, X-Large Ship Assembly Array, Amarr Control Tower, Amarr Control Tower Medium, Amarr Control Tower Small, Caldari Control Tower, Caldari Control Tower Medium, Caldari Control Tower Small, Gallente Control Tower, Gallente Control Tower Medium, Gallente Control Tower Small, Minmatar Control Tower, Minmatar Control Tower Medium, Minmatar Control Tower Small, Corporate Hangar Array, Cynosural Generator Array, Cynosural System Jammer, Biochemical Reactor Array, Complex Reactor Array, Energy Neutralizing Battery, Jump Bridge, Large Blaster Battery, Large Railgun Battery, Large Artillery Battery, Large AutoCannon Battery, Experimental Laboratory, Mobile Laboratory...

*deep breath*

... Citadel Torpedo Battery, Large Pulse Laser Battery, Large Beam Laser Battery, Customs Office Gantry, Station Construction Parts, Station Hangar Array, Station Storage Bay, Station Laboratory, Station Factory, Station Repair Facility, Station Reprocessing Plant, Station Docking Bay, Station Market Network, Station Medical Center, Station Office Center, Station Mission Network, Advanced Mobile Laboratory, Capital Neutron Saturation Injector I, Capital Murky Shield Screen Transmitter I, 'Limos' Citadel Cruise Launcher I, Shock 'Limos' Citadel Torpedo Bay I, Quad 3500mm Gallium Cannon, 6x2500mm Heavy Gallium Repeating Cannon, Warp Disruption Battery, Warp Scrambling Battery, Stasis Webification Battery, Sensor Dampening Battery, Ion Field Projection Battery, Phase Inversion Battery, Spatial Destabilization Battery, and White Noise Generation Battery.

So, you know. Coolant.

It gets used in stuff.

It's not one of the "20 million isk/day" products, but it's pretty decent, and not too horrifying to set up.

So this is your basic Coolant PI set up on a Gas Planet, assuming you have the Command Center Upgrades skill trained to 4 (which you should absolutely do).

... and here's how I put it together.

  1. Scan the planet for the two types of materials you need (Aqueous liquids and Ionic Solutions). Find a place equidistant between the two sources (they won't be close together) where no one else is set up (right-click on the planet and 'show other installations'), and plant your Command Center (CC) near there. Save Changes.

  2. Set up your spaceport (SP) pretty much smack-dab in the middle of where you want everything to happen.

    • Realize you forgot to upgrade your command center, so you can't build a space port. Go back and upgrade your command center as far as it will go, THEN build the space port. Save Changes.

  3. There's room immediately around your spaceport to arrange in six structures, so plant 4 basic processors (BP) and 2 advanced processors (AP).  Save Changes. I usually go BP, BP, AP, BP, BP, AP. Note: this picture is neither to scale nor arranged as I've just described, because I need more space for the ARTISTIC ARROWS.

  4. In two of your Basic Processors, load the program to turn Aqueous Liquids into Water. In the other two, load the program to turn Ionic Solutions into ElectrolytesSave Changes.

  5. In both of the Advanced Processors, load the program that will take Water and Electrolytes and make CoolantSave Changes.

  6. Set up two Extractors (Ext), each right up against that ring of processors. One extractor will be set to harvest  Aqueous liquids and the other, Ionic SolutionsSave Changes.

  7. Create links between all the structures and the Starport (SP). Save Changes.

  8. Start putting down extractor heads for the extractors.

    • Your "perfect" goal with a gas-planet coolant farm is to pull about 12000 units of stuff into the extractor, total, per hour, for a roughly one- to two-day cycle.

    • Your second (equally important) goal is to pull the same amount of stuff IN TOTAL as the other type of extractor, so you don't end up with a lot of extra Ionic Solution or whatever.

    • Accept that you will end up with too much Ionic Solution anyway.

    • With CC Upgrades at 4, you can drop 7 extractor heads, I think. Probably you'll need the odd one for Aqueous Liquids.

  9. Once you have your heads set, Run Program. You'll have to set one of the extractors up, run the program, then work to get the other one to match the first's numbers. Save Changes.

  10. Once the program is running, click on Products (not Routes) for each extractor and route the product back to the Starport. Save Changes.

  11. Back at the Starport, create Routes (not Products) for the incoming extracted stuff. Two routes for  Aqueous liquids: one to each Water BPs; two routes for Ionic Solutions to the two Electrolytes BPs. Save Changes.

  12. At the BPs, click on Products (not Routes) for each processor and route the product (Water or Electrolytes) back to the Starport.  Save Changes.

  13. Back at the Starport, create Routes (not Products) for the incoming  Water or Electrolytes and route them to each of the two Advanced Processors (AP).  Save Changes.

  14. At the APs, click on Products (not Routes) for each advanced processor and route the final product (Coolant) back to the Starport.  Save Changes.

  15. Exit. Remind yourself that once everything is set up, all you have to do to keep it running is massage the Extractor heads to keep your numbers even, and that you're one-fifth closer to being done with PI for this character.

When your starport starts to look full of nothing but coolant or the m3 of coolant is getting close to your single-trip hauling capacity, send it up to the POCO, fly out, and pick it up.

The only difference between this and doing some other tier-2 product like, say, Mechanical parts on a Barren world, is that with mechanical parts, you aim to pull 18000 units of basic junk out of the ground each hour, and you use more processors (6 BPs and 3 APs). You can do this because most planets are smaller than Gas planets and require less infrastructure to run, so you can build more Processors on smaller worlds. It's otherwise the same.

And that's PI, which I'm spending an inordinate amount of time doing right now, so I can fuel the tower and (hopefully)  even enjoy some profit in the future.


Life in a Wormhole: Back on the Horse #eveonline

I'm going to go backwards a bit to tell a quick story that happened during the "2nd Siege" of our home system by the enemy cruisers. Why the air quotes? Well, it wasn't really a siege, was it? I mean, they left.

Best way to siege a system, really: make them think you're out there when you aren't. Sun Tzu would be proud.

Worst thing about the whole weekend? Having a bunch of people shitting up our local intel channel with kugu links. Anyway.

So as mentioned, Berke lost his orca during the initial fracas. As per usual, the mighty ship went out in a blaze in the midst of hole-closing shenanigans, which is how such things tend to happen. The next day, he jumped out to known space in his pod to check the markets for a new ship because (a) they're pretty useful and (b) Orcas are pretty much what Berke flies, so not having one is just silly.

So is gnashing your teeth and mourning the bloody thing, by the way. We're certainly not casually throwing away ships out here, but the fact of the matter is, if you undock in anything, there's a chance you're going to lose it, and that chance increases exponentially if there are enemy ships anywhere. If I go into a fight, I have to expect I'll lose that ship, and the Orca -- despite not having any guns on -- is the same. Yes, it's pricey, but it's also useful enough to make it a necessary risk a lot of the time. If you're going to be like this:

... then you need to harden the fuck up, Miles.


Berke had pretty much settled on a good contract deal a few jumps away when we get a pleasant surprise in the form of the Alliance replacing the Orca, complete with fittings identical to the recently lost ship - some kind of new ship-replacement-for-system-defense thing about which we will ask few questions and simply say "thanks."

The only downside to this gift horse is that the ship is in Jita, which is (a) several dozen jumps away and (b) Jita. Yes, it's the "main" market in the game, but it's also a cesspool of lag and malice -- it's like flying into 4chan.

Still... free Orca. Le sigh.

The downside got considerably worse when Berke got his pod blown up one system away from his destination, resetting him to his naked clone (still back in the training system he started in) and requiring some new skill implant shopping. Thanks, random gate-camping dude in a destroyer.

Man I hate Jita.

Orca retrieved, Berke flies it back and slips it in through low-sec to return to the home system.

That's not the amusing part.

That comes the next day, when all the Alliance guys are in the system, their fleet commanders have logged out, and we decide we want to close up the connection we have open to the class two system next door. The problem is, no one wants to put their battleships through the hole that much, because there's been some traffic through the wormhole, it's remaining strength is unknown, and they don't want to get stranded.

So Berke gets his Orca.

And Berke crashes the hole, explaining as he does so that if he gets stranded, he's got the tools he needs to get out, even from the BIG SCARY LOW-SEC EXIT in the neighboring system.

And of course the hole crashes with him on the wrong side.

Guys. You should have heard the dead silence on the comms. Seriously, you'd have thought the Orca had already exploded. It actually made me laugh, because Berke was like:

In the silence, Berke drops probes, cloaks up, and scans down the exit to lowsec, in a system which is directly adjacent to a CONCORD-controlled high-sec 'island', with six more lowsec jumps out to contiguous high-sec.

"Find a station, man, and once this thing is done, we'll send a fleet to come pick you up."

"Yeah, we will; no problem."


Berke docs up in CORCORD's station, pulls a fast frigate out of his own Orca's ship hangar, and scouts the six-jump route out to high-sec. Quiet as a tomb. Right. Back to the station, back in the Orca, 10-second warps to each gate, and ten minutes later he's back in high-sec. Twelve more jumps back home, another couple jumps through low-sec (with Ty checking the gates to see that they're clear of camps), and back in the tower by bedtime.

The next day:

"Okay, we've got six guys who've volunteered to escort that Orca out to somewhere safe. What was that system again?"

I'm not saying you should fly reckless, or stupid.

But don't fly scared. Don't fly timid. It's a fucking game.


Life in a Wormhole: Bad Time to Stop Sniffing Glue #eveonline

It's a new day, and it's clear that we've been penciled in for another round of "spot the invisible ship" with our old friends.


Everyone's laying low right now, but unlike the last time when we were playing it cool in the hopes of misleading the enemy about our intentions or level of activity, this stretch of silence has nothing to do with tactics or, in fact, EvE. We're just really busy.

The last tussle was a huge time investment, and pretty much every pilot we had was active and online. This time?

  • I've got about five deadlines to worry about, I'm Solo Dad for the whole week, and my kid has a terrifying-sounding but ultimately treatable case of the croup.

  • CB, Shan, and Gor are working really long hours.

  • Em is actually physically out of town, only able to log in via some sort of wifi-enabled GoToMyPC-funded seance.

The list goes on, and includes (I'm sure) a couple guys who just flat-out don't want to go through the same marathon hole-crashing session again. It's kind of tough. We mostly stay offline and shoot a lot of emails back and forth, trying to figure out what our best options are.

No one has any great ideas, aside from the obvious.

Basically, even if we wanted to fight, we don't have enough people available to make it more than a blood sacrifice.

Our alliance has offered assistance, and we have a few discussions with the more vocal members about various possible options, all of which boil down to two main choices, each with their supporters and detractors. The pace of this discussion picks up a bit when I log in a day after the first fight and see that our visitors have shot up one of our Player-Owned Custom's Offices (POCO), which has locked down in 'reinforced mode' and will come out of that mode in a day and a half, ready to be either defended or destroyed.

An artist's rendering of the presumed POCO-bashing events. Screenie by Pell Helix, embedded photographer.

Option 1: Sneak a bunch of pilots into the system in stealthy ships, while the enemy pilots are logged out. Set up some kind of believable but attack-worthy target for the enemy to bite on, then ambush their ambush. This is seen as too nuanced and 'weak' by some, and as the only really viable option by others. I'm in the second group, since I believe I understand the enemy pilots well enough to know they aren't going to take any fight that looks bad, so a bait/ambush thing seems like the only way to actually get a fight that MIGHT result in expunging the pilots from the system.

Option 2: Fly in a fleet of battleships with heavy logistics support, form up on the damaged POCO and get ready for a big fight when the reinforcement timer ends. This is seen as the 'strong', 'decisive', show-of-force or 'swinging dick' option by some. Me? Well, if I were commanding a small fleet of billion-isk cloaky cruisers designed to mulch unsuspecting haulers and miners -- I'm not going to be baited into a fight with a bunch of battleships. Obviously.

As plans go, I feel like I've heard better.

Still, I'm not going to look a gift fleet in the mouth because frankly without any help at all, our big move for the coming weekend is going to be "nothing". When the group consensus settles on option two, I make room in our tower and open up a ship's hangar to alliance pilots, so everyone has somewhere to bunk down.

I want to be clear: I may not think much of the plan, but the pilots who voluntarily leave their home systems, strap into ships, and fly over to join in on an operation versus an unknown force, all for guys they barely know? My opinion of them could not be higher.

In any case, it hardly matters. While I can't be on all the time, I can be on at the right times, and between my watchlist (which still has all the enemy pilots on it from a few weeks ago) and some meta-intel, I'm able to confirm within 24 hours that six of the seven pilots involved in the fight two days ago are no longer in our system, and are in fact busy blowing up guys in some other wormhole. That last pilot is worrisome, as he's the one guy who wasn't in an expensive cruiser, but a relatively cheap stealth bomber, and as such he makes a great 'alt' to leave hidden in the wormhole for yet another fight down the road.

But that's a concern for another day. The main enemy force is gone -- probably left before the response fleet even showed up, actually -- we repair the POCO, everyone flies back home with our thanks, and I start vacuuming up the potato chips and putting the couches back in their normal locations.

Life in a Wormhole: The Simplest Answer #eveonline

So there are a couple reasons why I posted the story of our last fight from the point of view of the guys on the other side of the gun barrels.

  1. I was really busy on Wednesday, and this let me post a fight without all the tedious... work.
  2. It's important to remember that there are always at least two ways to look at a situation, often more than two, and that your perspective might not be the best one.

Mostly it's that second part. Let's see what we can learn from looking at things from that point of view:

  • That's a group of guys who are obviously very familiar working with each other.

  • They know their jobs and responsibilities.

  • They make mistakes, they aren't perfect, they don't always or automatically get what they wanted out of a fight.

  • They get excited and shout and miss things.

  • Say what you will about camping systems in cloaked ships, or pulling "loginskis", they're really pretty damned good at what they do.

  • They were waiting for us, specifically.

Now, all those points are true, but I'm going to focus on that last one, because it's relevant, here; if you read that last post, especially the part that led up to the fight, you should understand that our read on the situation was that we had discovered the presence of the enemy pilots, and that based on what we'd decided the situation was, the best thing to do would be to quickly close the connecting wormhole before we found ourselves right back where we had been.

Now, the whole time we were getting ready to do that, we were on voice comms, audibly shaking out heads and saying - over and over - "What are the fucking odds, man. What are the fucking ODDS?"

Yeah. What are the odds?

A small group of pilots with a really good track record of stealthily terrorizing wormhole systems with a pack of cloaked-up cruisers got into our system and started warming up for a pretty good weekend. We got them thinking that we were pretty non-active by staying quiet and cloaked up, then sprang into hole-crashing action as soon as they acted on that assumption and had a few guys leave the system. As a result, instead of explosions and mayhem, they found themselves in a scanning war, with the ousted pilots racing around New Eden trying to get back in, and eventually losing their inside man. We lost a couple ships, yes, but it would be fair to say that when the rubber hit the road, we 'won' that round.

Then, a few weeks later, we "open" our connection to class two wormhole space and see those same guys, but just a couple of them, blowing up ships next door.

There are 2500 wormhole systems. Of those, we will randomly connect to, at a minimum, one of the 499 other class two systems every day. Assuming that other class two system connects to high security space (it did), that's 1090 different systems to which that other system might be connected.

So what are the odds that a small group of wormhole natives happen to be out in highsec known space for some reason, happen to be scanning, happen to find an entrance to class two wormhole space (500 of 2500 possible wormhole systems) which in turn just happens to be connected to our system via our outbound connection... and that all that happens on the same day?

I'd say those odds are pretty low.

What are the odds those guys wanted a rematch, waited a few days, then set about locating our system or following one of our pilots back home... or simply always still had one more 'alt' pilot in the system, ready to open the back door once we let our guard down a bit?

I'd say those odds are quite a bit higher; that we've moved from the realm of "vanishingly small" to "obviously, moron".

We were in a rush. We were looking at things from only our limited point of view with only about a half hour's worth of gathered intel. (We didn't know that those enemy pilots had come into the class two from our system; the pilots that knew that were in our alliance, but opted to log out rather than communicate. Oops.)

Also, probably, we just didn't WANT the more obvious answer to be true. No one wants the policeman to say "The call is coming from inside your house."

It wasn't until we had time to go over the fight, access our losses (not terrible, despite the loss of the orca -- it could have been a hell of a lot worse), and evaluate our performance and ship selection (the Onyx was worse than useless - it was actually harmful; Em's cloaky proteus turned out to be completely inappropriate for the fight that developed, and we were woefully short on proper sit-and-fight combat ships that would have evened the fight up a bit) that Em said:

"You know... they could have been in here, and just shooting the guys in the other system until we logged in."

"That... yeah. Damn. That'd make more sense."


"It's not very good news, though."


Are we making assumptions?

That's the question to ask, when something like this happens. Maybe you don't have a lot of time, maybe you need to move quickly.

But make sure, as you rush off, that you aren't driving your 425 million isk bus right off a cliff. The simpler explanation is often the right one.

Lesson learned.


Life in a Wormhole: Return of the Tengu #eveonline

I'm on my way home for the day when I get a message from Em that our pilots have scanned down our connection to the neighboring class two wormhole system, and run into not one but two damned unlikely coincidences.

The first: the wormhole is occupied by one of the corporations in our own alliance, though no one we've interacted with before (one of the problems with an alliance this size and so spread out is that the vast majority of its members are folks we've never met or spoken to).

The second: they've apparently just had a couple of their ships blown up by the same pilots who had lurked in our own system a few weeks previous.

"Can we help them?"

"We've tried coordinating with them, but they're not answering any of Tweed's messages, and then they logged out."

"Wow. That's super useful. How many of those t3 pilots are there?"

"Looks like just two. The guys in the other hole were running a mining op. Tweed didn't know who they were, so he scanned them down and snuck up on the asteroid belt, saw that they were blue to us, tried to talk to them through Alliance comms when he couldn't raise any of them directly, and then two of our old buddies decloaked and blew them up."

"So... bad guys around, and good guys logged off? We should --"

"We should close this connection asap, before they scan and figure out it's here."

"Yeah. On my way. Let's get this done fast."

"What have we got?"

"Shan's in a hole-crashing Typhoon. I've got my Orca. Can Berke bring his too?"

"Of course," I say. Berke is many thing's but he's never been squeamish about risking his big ship when it's important -- both of the Orca's he's lost have been while performing hole-closing maneuvers in dangerous situations, and even so his record of successful hole crashes while under fire has far more checks in the plus column. "I'll bring the Cynabal for cover fire -- might be the only thing I have besides the claw that can keep up with those over-propped lokis they fly."

"I've got my Onyx," adds Ichi, "and Kat's in the Falcon."

I nod, frowning a little. The ecm-fit Falcon force recon cruiser is a good choice for these kinds of ops -- although fragile, I can sit over 70 klicks from the wormhole and jam the targeting on enemy ships, allowing the lumbering hulks to escape. The onyx makes less sense, since its main claim to fame is the ability to generate a large warp disruption bubble around itself, which many cloak-fit strategic cruisers are immune to. Still, it's not my ship, and I'm honestly not sure what else he could fly that would be any better -- he's more often in a mining ship or a sleeper-shooting drake than a PvP ship.

"Okay," says Em, "let's do this."

Berke lands on the wormhole next to Shan's Typhoon while I circle the wormhole in the Cynabal cruiser, and the two waste no time jumping through to join Em on the far side of the wormhole, where's she's been waiting for several minutes.

"Ready to jump back?" Em asks.


All three of the big ships slip through the wormhole and reappear in the home system.

That's when all hell breaks loose.

[The following transmission was taken from the combat logs of the attacking pilots. Additional notes were added by one of the participating pilots, who sent the logs over in the first place. EvE is weird, sometimes.]

"You're decloaked," Brehm said, as we sat on the static C2, watching the Typhoon and Cynabal. There was a cloaked Onyx hiding nearby, and we knew the Orcas were about to decloak as well, but we're waiting until their guard is down, right after the hole collapses.

"No I'm not," I began to say, searching my overview for anything within range to decloak me. I looked down at my Cloak to see the green pulse of activation was absent.

Well, shit.

"Here we go!" I yelled on Comms. "Cynabal is primary, log in guys here we go; log in and warp to me!" I called, adrenaline beginning to pump.

The pilots already cloaked on the wormhole decloaked, locking the Cynabal and opening fire.

"Need a scram on the Cyna, confirm point!" I commanded.

"Got a point!" yelled Shocks, burning his Loki toward the Cynabal.

Yellow boxes on the HUD turned red as the Cynabal opened fire on me. The Onyx and both Orcas decloaked, and my warp drive became unavailable as the heavy interdictor's warp disruption field coalesced around us.

"One of the Orca's just jumped back here!" called Winter from his location on the far side of the static. "Orca cloaked."

The Cynabal's shields start dropping under the combined fire of half a dozen Tier 3 Cruisers, but it was already pulling away from us. "Cyna's dual-propped." I called as my battleship-rated afterburner flared to life and I took chase. "Winter, get back over here."

My point lock on the Cynabal fell, as it first managed to use its afterburners to outrun the warp scrambler my fleetmate had on it, then switched to a microwarpdrive, putting a hundred kilometers between us in seconds.

The second Orca -- the one that hadn't been sitting on the far side of the wormhole for awhile and which was obviously still polarized by passing through the anomaly twice in a few seconds -- was aligning to warp away from the wormhole, but was trapped by his own ally's warp disruption bubble.

Then the Onyx's bubble vanished.

"Orca is primary. Confirm point on the Orca! Need a 3-point! CAN ANYONE CONFIRM A THREE POINT?" I yelled on comms.

"Confirmed," Brehm said, cool and collected as he always is during a fight.

"Confirmed scram on the Orca!" yelled Winter at almost the exact same instant, burning clear of the wormhole he'd just jumped through.

"Falcon on grid," announced Prot, piloting his Jihad alt "Rabid", a bare-bones Bomber pilot with a few kills already under his belt.

"Bump the Orca! Orca is primary!" I ordered.

"Onyx is getting away!" shouted someone, their pilot ID lost in the confusion.

"Get a point on that Onyx, chase him; he's trying to make a break for it!" I yelled.

"I'm jammed, lost my point," said Winter, his Loki ramming into the Orca's shields to push the big ship out of alignment -- force works when technology fails.

"Got the Onyx!" shouted Shocks, chasing the heavy interdictor as it tried to clear the main body of the fight.

I chased after the Onyx while keeping guns on the Orca, whittling it into structure with my comrades, overheated my warp disruptor and caught him; I wasn't going to let any other ships get away from us.

"Falcon has me jammed," call Shocks as the Orca exploded, its wreck adorning the wormhole in a shower of light, the pod was gone in the blink of an eye.

We then turned our full attention to the Onyx and the Falcon.

"Bump the Onyx guys, don't let it get away. Rabid, you're the fastest align; warp out and come back in on top of that Falcon, now!" I said as I, also jammed, rammed my Loki into the limping Onyx. The falcon was delaying us, but he couldn't jam all our ships; a mixture of Stasis Webifiers and Energy Neutralizers played over the ship's hull, dragging it to a near halt and draining the capacitor dry.

"I'm gonna get that Falcon," Brehm called, his Tengu already turning away from the doomed Onyx, his heavy afterburner overheated, his warp disruptor overheated and at the ready.

We continued firing on the Onyx, its strong tank holding out for over a minute against the onslaught of our fleet, even drained of power.

"Falcon's gone. Warped out," Brehm called as the Onyx's one remaining fleet mate on the field made a hasty exit.

We continued pounding on the Onyx as Rabid reported in. "I've got three of them inside the shieds at their towers."

I watched the Onyx explode from meters away as my Loki rammed through the wreckage, setting the wormhole alight a second time. "Nice work."

"Wasn't there another ship around here somewhere?" Winter asked. "Besides that second Orca?"

"Oh shit, we forgot about the Typhoon!"

So, lessons learned:

  • If you're worried they're going to find the wormhole that leads to your system, they've already found it.

  • Don't use a heavy interdictor to cover your wormhole crashing operation. This kills the Orca.

  • Cynabals are fast. They can't brawl it out with six tech 3s, but holy hell are they good at getting away when things go pear-shaped.

  • Two warp core stabilizers don't help when your attacker has an expensive faction warp scrambler with extra disruption strength.

  • Patience pays off. Rushing gets you killed.

And that's about it for now. Thanks to Pell for sending over the attacker's side of the fight -- it's interesting to see things from the side you weren't on.


Life in a Wormhole: Time and Relative Dimension In Space #eveonline

Time for a bit more wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff to help get caught up to current events.


The biggest challenge with wormholes is staying engaged. If you're engaged and doing stuff, then wormhole living is the best thing in any MMO I've ever played. If, however, you're in the mood for a more passive gaming experience, where you just sit back and let some random NPC tell you to go kill ten rats, then wormholes can be kind of a drag, simply because there are no such NPCs out in wormhole space, and you're left at the mercy of your fellow wormhole pilots (friendly or not) to provide some entertainment. If you're not in the mood to scan the home system, you'd better hope someone else is. If you want to shoot at someone but can't be arsed to go find them, odds are you won't have much to do tonight.

The problem we're running into in the current hole is that the "level" of the hole (a class two, on a difficulty scale from one to six), isn't particularly challenging in and of itself. I can easily remember times when the sleepers filled me with a healthy amount of respect, but between better training and more knowledge of the content, those days are fairly well past. In short, simply shooting sleepers in a class two isn't the draw it might have once been. We're looking for either bigger or more frequent challenges, and that's what most of the activity this week amounts to:

Perhaps in Lowsec?
While running out to Amarr for some parts, I decide to detour for a random solo roam through the low-sec systems our hole is connected to, looking for trouble. Trouble, however, seems to have taken the night off, and I return to the hole with no kills or losses to report.

Perhaps a Merger?
A couple days later, Em and I sit down for a long talk with one of our alliance mates who lives in a wormhole similar to ours, except that instead of a static connection to low-sec and more class two wormhole space, his system connects to high-sec and class Four wormhole space. The set-up sounds like a lot of fun. Runs to known space are even easier, sure, but one of the fun draws is the fact that, if you open up the wormhole to highsec all the time, the signature tends to lure in curious exploration pilots -- the results can be fun and often hilarious. Also, having access to higher-level wormholes with more challenging content and (potentially) more skilled pilots to fight sounds fun as well.

It's a good talk, and leaves Em and I discussing where we'd like to see our two corps in the near and distant future.

Perhaps a Roam with RvB?
Sometimes "Ganked" null-sec roams with Red versus Blue can be a lot of fun. Other times, it's more like this one, which amounts to ten minutes of fun packed into many hours of aimless wandering and miscommunication. Honestly? I think everyone involved is too sober.

Perhaps on Sisi?
I join up with Em, CB, and Shan to try out various types of ships on the test server and to practice catching ships on wormholes and gates (and escaping from people trying to catch you). It's good fun, although the overview when I'm logged in is basically non-functional and very nearly makes the game unplayable.

Still, we have a good time and get in an entertaining scuffle with a pilot from Eclipse., ending in a long conversation about ship fittings and overheating tactics that shows me a lot of the cool things you can do with underrated ships. Pity about the overview, though -- damned if that little excel-like grid isn't basically the heart and soul of everything that happens in space in EvE. In a lot of ways, the game is just the old text-based Battletech MUSE that I used to play in college, with cool graphics added -- all the real work still happens by interacting with the text grid.

Perhaps a re-match with the Same T3 cloaky cruisers that we pushed out of the home system a few weeks ago?
Umm... no, that doesn't sound like much fun at all.

Oh. We don't get a choice? Well, damn...

More on that tomorrow, in its own post.


Life in a Wormhole: Let's do the Time Warp #eveonline

Holy moly, I'm behind. Under normal circumstances, things posted here are time-delayed several weeks to a month, but now? Looking at my notes, I'm almost two and a half months behind. Let's see if I can rectify that, somewhat.

When we last left our heroes, we'd just managed to push, trick, trip, or luck our way into removing some enemy tech3 cruisers from the home system. Our assumption is they'll be back, eventually, but for now we call things good. Let's hit the highlights of what went on after that.

CB and Ty made use of a convenient high-sec exit to sell some loot and pick up some of the shined-up versions of the once old-and-clunky assault frigate. No idea what we'll use them for in a wormhole (aside from running anomalies in Class 1 wormholes), but they sure are pretty. While I'm out puttering around, CB reports a Drake running sleeper sites in the class two wormhole we've been using as an exit route, but my return sends this denizen of highsec scurrying back to the light.

Or wait, maybe he didn't run away because of me: maybe he ran away because the local inhabitants of the system woke up and jumped into their own sleeper-running ships. Why yes, that seems to be what's happening; we spot a Typhoon-class battleship (a bit of an odd choice for class 2 sites, but whatever) and a Thrasher destroyer (probably the salvager). CB skitters back home to get a hurricane, and I try to set up a proper mugging of the Typhoon, but sadly my poor cloaky proteus is far too slow to catch up to the 'phoon as it jets around the site, at least not without decloaking, and I rather doubt the pilot will stick around if I show myself prematurely.

No worries: We'll just jump the Thrasher when it shows up to loot the wrecks, instead. This proves to be much easier and fairly profitable to boot (also, amusing, since I'm even able to catch and pop the pilot's escape pod, thanks to it getting hung up on some structures).

Let's Not and Say We Did
The weekend's scanning leads us through a class one wormhole and into another class two, unfortunately inhabited by members of the same alliance who originally started the whole problem with the group of pilots whom we just kicked out of our hole. Do we want to tussle with these guys again, and possibly end up with those same pilots back in our system? No, we do not. Luckily, the hard-to-close class 1 connection dies of old age before our unwelcome neighbors realize we're there.

Moon Them as we Drive By
We had a very convenient exit about a week later that let CB and me move some ships out of the wormhole and over to a corporate office we've set up as a staging area for nullsec PvP. Which ships? All kinds, but mostly those that are better suited for Null-sec pvp (where small-group conflicts tend to happen at the 10 to 40 kilometer range) than wormhole PvP (where fights usually happen within 5 km or less). We have way, way, WAY too many ships in the tower anyway, so I'm happy to haul out a couple Talos battlecruisers, some of our less-used interceptors, and a bevy of "cheap roam fitting" tech1 cruisers that we've played with in the past.

Now all we have to do is find time to fly them and get them blown up.

Our offloading is marginally (VERY marginally) inconvenienced by some maneuvering with members of Moon Warriors who, while better known as a nullsec alliance active in Syndicate, also seem to have members in the wormhole system we're using as an exit. We circle the lot of them for a while, but can't seem to get them to engage. Ahh well.

Class Five is a Gas
We got a weird, rare connection to a Class Five wormhole, out of which I extract more than a little of the rich, ladar-emitting fullerene gasses that the kids are all huffing these days. Tweed does better scanning than I do, however, and finds another very strange wormhole connection -- one straight from the c5 out to conveniently located highsec. I take the opportunity to pick up a Scimitar logistics ship and a Rapier force recon, then CB and I trudge back out to highsec to do prep work for a battleship-sized roam of nullsec that's been arranged with another alliance. We have NOT had good experiences roaming with this other alliance in the past, but I talk CB into at least doing the prep work. He puts together a fairly hellish blaster-toting Dominix, while I set up a nasty, short-range Typhoon. We may be as near-sighted as a rhino, but between the two of us we're as dangerous as angry hippos. Rawr.

The original Hunger Games.

The Host has Not Yet Joined this Call...
Unsurprisingly, the guy who's supposed to be running the battleship roam is late to his own party. He logs in five minutes before we're supposed to actually start and two hours late for the actual mustering time and announces that he's still out in wormhole space.

At which point about half of the people on the comms reply that they are all still out in wormhole space as well. Why did we even bother prepping a whole day early?

Oh yeah, because we actually respect other people's fucking time.

So rather than wait, we say screw this, and CB and I hop in Rifters and go roaming around on in the Syndicate region for awhile. Two HOURS later, we're on our way back to home base and actually fly through the battleship fleet we'd decided not to wait for. They have made it three whole jumps into nullsec, and are hung up on a gate, apparently too scared to jump through the gate and into the enemy force half their size waiting on the other side. We slip past both groups and finish up with no kills but -- it must be said -- a lot less stress than we'd have otherwise had. Call it a win. (Except for yet another set of ships we've built and then never used for a half-assed, poorly-organized roam. Seriously, guys: take a couple classes from Agony Unleashed and see how it's done.)

Once that's done, we unload yet more unlikely-to-see-use ships from the wormhole, focusing on the redundant or highly specialized.

The trick with ship selection in wormholes is to avoid too much specialization in a ship. Yes, all ships have primary roles -- interceptors should be interceptors -- that's fine, but a cruiser that isn't any use except to lure in a fast frigate and kill it, while cool and fun, is of limited to no use in a wormhole. Ships you bring out to a wormhole should be capable vs. any opponent (within reason) -- with something useful to do no matter the enemy; no more of these "oh, if it's not a frigate, there's no point in flying it" ships.

In short, there's a reason battlecruisers are so common in wormholes.

Mammoth Undertaking
I get an email from CB sayin that a Mammoth-class hauler has been lost and that he and Ichi were both involved. What?

Oh! They killed a Mammoth. That's much better.

Apparently, some inhabitants in a class two wormhole opened a connection to us, left the connection open, and decided to... do some mining. They were wrapping up operations when Tweed found them, but had left multiple time-stamped canisters in the field to retrieve, which gave our guys a great guideline as to where to be and how soon they needed to get there. (Dear miners: renaming your cans of ore so that they tell everyone nearby when you'll be back? Always do this. Thanks.)

Anyway, while Tweed sussed out the location, Ichi and CB got into stealth bombers and then proceeded to use them on the hauler to great effect.

I'm unfortunately not as lucky.

I log in a few hours after the highjinx; our system is quiet and Tweed is still watching our neighbors. No sooner do I arrive than Tweed announces a sudden flurry of activity and one of the pilots switching into a Sigil hauler and warping off to one of the planets in system.

Em and I are both online, but we weren't exactly prepared to run an ambush because we figured the neighbors would have more sense than to do more hauling with a dangerous connection still up -- silly us. We both scramble into stealth bombers while Tweed warps around trying to tackle the hauler with his Anathema covert ops frigate. He gets close, but the pilot only stops at a few planets and returns to his tower. Boo.

But wait! The pilot reships into an Imicus scanning frigate and flies slowly outside the tower's forcefield to fiddle with a storage canister cunningly labeled with the pilot's name. (Dear pilots: always do this too.) Once he arrives, he drops scanning probes and proceeds to scan while floating, fully visible, with no protection except the tower's guns, which take forever to lock anything as small as a bomber.

Clearly, we need to do something.

Em and I line up bombing runs, which goes off perfectly except for one TINY detail: since we were cloaked up, we didn't realize that we were flying different types of bombers and dropping different types of bombs, so rather than killing the Imicus with two massive explosions, we only get one massive explosion (Em's) which strips the Imicus's shields and armor... and destroys my bomb before it detonates. Darn it. This is what we get for hurrying.

Somewhat Back to Normal
Cabbage is in the mood to run some sleeper sites, and we have a good system next door to do so. Cab and I shoot the enemy sentient ship thingies while CB runs salvager operations in the HMS Generous Donation. Cab's time is limited, so we focus on higher profit and/or less annoying sites for a little over an hour, netting 275 million isk, split 3 ways. Not too shabby. CB and Cab log, I run the loot out to Rens and take the time to set up a non-wormhole-dwelling corpmate with one of our spare Myrmidon battlecruisers to use for running missions while he trains a few more skills to come join us.

Time Travel Complete. Doctor Whooves is pleased.

But Wait, There's More...

Not today, though. We're a bit caught up, but I'd say we've still got a month or more to go. Tune in tomorrow.