Life in a Wormhole: Eager Defenders #eveonline

Morning in the 'hole, and with the wardec over and mining ops closing down, I'm ready to explore our connection to class-two wormhole space. Sounds great, except for the fact that our connection leads to a very alert system. In the ten minutes during which our wormhole connection appeared in their system, I jumped through, passively scanned, and located a few of the (many) online towers, the locals have detected our wormhole entry point, scanned it down and -- just as I land outside one of their more heavily populated towers -- warped off toward it with a number of pointy ships.

I'm concerned about imminent invasion, and fly back to the wormhole to see what's going on. On scan, I spot a Raven-class battleship, Manticore-class stealth bomber, and Heron-class frigate (probably the ship that scanned down the hole in the first place). While I watch, the space around the Raven distorts, and the ship is sucked through the hole into our system. Not good.

But not as bad as it seems, as the Raven returns to the system less than a minute later -- barely time to have even a cursory shufti, let alone any kind of serious recon -- it looks as though the locals (no strangers to PvP shenanigans) plan to slowly close the hole with repeated jumps back and forth with the Raven.

Actually, I spoke too soon; as I watch, the Raven is joined by a Dominix, Scorpion, Magathron and two Typhoon-class battleships. It looks like they're going to close the wormhole fast. I'm a bit surprised at the sudden arrival of the BBs, but given that the system (itself a class 2) has a persistent connection to class 4 wormhole space where battleships are far more useful ships to fly, the fact they have so many on hand isn't as odd as it seems at first.

The big ships fumble around the wormhole for a few minutes, looking unsure of themselves and generally confused, compared to the speed of their decisive arrival, but I believe I can reconstruct the conversation that's brought them to this point.

Scout: We have an inbound wormhole!
Everyone: Where? What's going on?
Raven pilot: I'll take a look... yeah. Nothing over there but deathstar towers, and no sleepers. I'm going to collapse it.
Raven pilot: No, but...
Everyone: *arrives*
Raven pilot: *sighs* Okay, let me do the math...

Battleship pilots, waiting for math.

Slowly, jumps start to happen, but I remain cloaked up with an eye on the wormhole. I don't know if I'll get the timing right, but given that the other exit from this wormhole is to highsec, I'm not terribly worried in either case.

My patience pays off, and the moment I see the wormhole become critically unstable, I warp directly on top of the connection, my velocity bumping the Dominix battleship to the side, and jump through, leaving our brief neighbors on the wrong side of a very unstable hole with no viable way to pursue. Works for me.

Em and I decide to leave critically unstable wormhole alone for now, as we both have places to be. Hopefully, there will be better options when we return.


Life in a Wormhole: Things that are Harder than Fighting #eveonline

I log in the next morning to find most of our pilots mobilizing for some kind of major operation.

Their plan is hazy, but their enthusiasm is clear.

After a few minutes, I'm able to sort out what's going on -- PanDemic (a member of Cabbage's corp who's handling all the actual assembly aspects of The Rorqual Project) needs ore, and we're suiting up three Orca-class industrial command ship to get through our lowsec exit, into high security space, and on to a major trade hub to pick up everything the big ships can carry.

Berke, Ichi, and Pan himself head out into the world and make the the round trip largely without incident (thanks to diligently paranoid bodyguard details commanded by Em). Berke is even able to bring CB's shiny new Cheetah and Hound Cov-ops frigate hulls back in with him in anticipation of CB completing that training in a few weeks.

Once the run is complete, we collapse all the connections leading to our system and the fleet reforms into a serious mining operation designed to strip our current asteroid belts right down to their rocky bones.

I won't lie to you Marge; I'm not much of a miner, but I can respect serious organization, and with six pilots in the field, with Gor sitting in his Orca providing perfect mining foreman boosts to the whole endeavor, not even Ty in his Mammoth (which can carry off an entire twenty-seven thousand cubic meter canister of ore per trip) can keep up -- I never stop moving, never stop selecting targets, and can really never take my eyes off the screen... and it's not enough.

Thankfully, Bre and Shan show up and also get into hauling ships to help me get caught up, and after two hours of hauling, we have filled two hangars at the Walrus tower to the brim with rocky goodness, and leave the asteroid belt to stagger away on shaky legs and find a good place to die with dignity. Job's a good'un, and I head out for some errand running, glad to have been able to contribute to the operation.

Honestly, as busy as I was, I feel like I've been fighting non-stop, and I'm glad to have a break. Who knew these miners were so hard-core?

The rest of my day is packed with weekend activities, but I have a minute later in the evening to check my EvEMail, and I log in to see this:

Great job on the all-day mining ops! Thanks to Gor for staying logged in the whole time, and thanks to everyone else for the mining jihad. The rocks never stood a chance.

All day? What did I miss?

An email explains:

Less than two weeks ago, we decided to try to get together the resources and ISK necessary to build a Rorqual.

I'm happy to say that, after today's mining ops, we have cleared our goal. There's a lot more to do, but as of right now, the Rorqual is paid for. I'm just blown away by what we've been able to accomplish in so short a time. Great job, everyone.




Life in a Wormhole, Always Smaller than You Remember #eveonline

There are Germans in the adjoining class two system, but since I'm really just looking for a good exit to known space (and the Germans are going to sleep), we just ignore each other and I keep looking.

This system has the same kind of lowsec exit as our own, but unlike our useless egress, this system drops out into Podion. On paper, this looks like a terrible system for hauling valuables, as it's a good half-dozen jumps from highsec, and takes you through the lone connection between the Derelik region and the nullsec region of Curse.

I know a bit better, however, since Bre used to frequent this area of New Eden. Podion is a sleepy little dead-end system that would probably never be visted by anyone except for one interesting feature -- although it does not connect to the Curse region, it is physically closer to Curse than any other system in Derelik -- as a result, it is often used by Jump Freighter captains looking to get in and out of the deeper areas of Curse without attracting too much attention. The few people you see in the system (and the other systems leading out from Podion to highsec) are usually pilots trying very hard not to be noticed.

Armed with this knowledge (and a number of warp core stabilizers), Ty sets out for Derelik and (eventually) the market system of Rens. For all that I wasn't expecting much from the run, I have to say that Derelik seems even quieter than I remember -- I suppose that my time with OUCH tended to fill these quiet trips with corp-channel chatter, so that I didn't notice the second-class space that the Ammatar people have been saddled with.

Ahh, the comforts of a familiar shopping center featuring all my favorite items.

I can't seem to convince any of my corp or alliance-mates of the generally benign nature of the area around Podion, so I'm unfortunately alone in my travels, though it does give me the chance to help folks out by bringing back some necessaries that we're short on, including some new strip mining lasers and crystals for CB, who seems to be anticipating another mining extravaganza. I manage to get it all packed in and still leave myself all but immune to the lesser, low-sec versions of interdiction, which works out in my favor as I dodge a few uppity Rifter-class frigates on my way home and tuck in at the tower, satisfied that my main PvP encounter of the evening was giving a few pilots internet-carnage-blue-balls.

You have to take your fun where you can.


Life in a Wormhole: An Embarrassment of Riches #eveonline

I get another message from my broker the next morning, telling me that the buyers are back online and still interested in buying the C4, so I send up a flare and meet Tira online.

Em and Cabbage are already there, and report that we're currently connected to a "very lootable" class 2 system; Cabbage gleefully reports over twenty sleeper anomalies, thirteen gas harvesting sites, several rarer signatures... all guarded by a single small tower with no guns, no shield hardeners, and no ECM.

It sounds great, and I'm invited to come along on the space-fleecing, but I need to concentrate on coordinating with the broker, buyer, and Tira as she scouts a way out of the Class Four, into a Class One, and from there into (thankfully for the buyer) Highsec empire space.

It takes a little over an hour for the buyer to get to the entry location (I send it to them once the third-party broker has the full payment in his possession), go inside, scan everything, and verify it's what they were hoping for. Once that's done, the broker sends me the payment, pockets his 10% cut, and we thank everyone for a smooth transaction. It takes 90 minutes to wrap the whole thing up, but I walk away from it 350 million ISK richer, which I consider an effective use of my time, even if I didn't get to shoot anything.

Every so often, those high exploration skills really pay off.

Tira is rewarded in the way she most prefers, with a pretty pony; in this case, that means a Taranis-class interceptor named "Pony" and contracted to her in the nearest market system. She declares it 'shiny' and takes off for a shake-down.

Once that's done, I finally join my alliance mates in the nearby system. Cabbage is gone and likely off to bed, but a few more folks are logging in, so while I and Si reship into harvesters that take advantage of our leet gas-sucking skills, Bre gets into a cloaky hauler to move the product back to our tower while Em flies overwatch and blows up the occasional sleeper ship that shows up to defend the gas clouds.

Two pilots with maxed out skills make very short work of the fullerite-c50 gas clouds at various sites, and we leave the less profitable gas behind to hit the highest profit for the time spent, which means killing off all the c50 and moving to the c72.

It isn't until we reach the third c72 site that we realize there's actually a proper tower in the system -- a well-fit "death star" style Domination-class tower that might have given us pause if the scouts had noticed it three or four hours earlier. It's a bit of a scouting SNAFU, but to be fair, it's a huge system that undeniably looks neglected. In any case, our gas harvesting operation is undeterred, and we manage to pull a hundred million isk worth of fullerites into our holds before we decide we need a break.

I return later in the evening to find Em, CB, and Ichiban shooting sleepers, with Gor cleaning up the shattered wrecks lying in their wake in his Noctis-class industrial. Bre and I join them in an effort to speed up the killing as much as possible, since we are nearing the end of life on our connection to this system and we're nowhere near finished shearing this sheep.

Our caution at not wanting to be stranded in the system finally overcomes our greed, and we head back to our towers with seven sleeper sites still unplundered and roughly 250 million isk in our hold to be split between the involved pilots.

All in all, another pretty damned good time spent with our friends in the home system.


Life in a Wormhole: Frontier Real-Estate #eveonline

The wardec has ended as it often does: not with a bang, but a whimper.

In this case, the whimpering comes from me, wrestling with some serious server problems -- stuff the keeps me offline for a couple days. When I finally get back, we no longer have to worry about high-sec space shenanigans, but our connection to New Eden is aging to the point where I don't trust it to stay open, and Berke isn't around to kill it early, which leaves me a still trapped in the home system.

Well, trapped at least as far as known space goes: no reason I can't go poking around in our neighboring wormholes, now that the mining has slowed down. Still, it's late by the time I realize I have other options, so I leave it for the next day.

Conveniently, the next day is somewhat free of other obligations, and I start it off with some early morning scanning, which leads me to a class 2 system with a plethora of connections to other systems. An hour of scanning later, and I'm amassed a long list of bookmarks to gas clouds and connections to Class 1, Class 4, high sec empire, and class 3 space (that last one already old and dying).

A bit more exploration reveals that the class 4 wormhole (with a persistent connection to class 1 wormhole space) is completely unoccupied; unbelievably, there is no tower evident, and I decide to capitalize on this good fortune by contacting a wormhole broker I've used in the past. Lucius Taggart of Taggart Transdimensional gets a quick evemail from me, and posts a notice on my behalf.

All that's left to do (as far as the wormhole sale goes) is wait, which I'm quite bad at. I consider joining the rest of the home system pilots in some gas harvesting, but just as I'm about to hop in my trusty Thorax-class cruiser, the fleet spots a Buzzard-class covert ops ship on d-scan, and everyone scrambles for pointier ships. I don't fancy our luck snagging even a moderately wary cov-ops pilot, and the rest of the household is waking up, so I call it quits for awhile to get some other stuff done.

I log back in when I get a message from Taggart about a potential buyer for the empty class four system, but by the time I get in the buyer has logged out for the day. Ahh well -- Tira's agreed to stay hidden in the class four to provide access whenever we need, so there's no rush.

It seems I missed a bit of violence while I was gone; the Walrus fleet mixed it up with a Raven-class battleship. The fight didn't go very well, apparently, and left the fleet down a Falcon and the Raven scot-free, thanks to their judicious use of drones. We need to get folks some more appropriately PvP-fit ships, and maybe a few training sessions for the newer pilots. Something to consider.

In any case, the tussle with the Raven left no one really in the mood for evening mayhem -- it's only me and CB once the sun sets, so we saddle up in gas harvesters and take care of the sites that the Buzzard pilot interrupted in the morning. Once that's done, we use the highsec exit from that same system to sell the gas for a quick 50 million ISK. I take my cut and cobble together a serviceable Scythe-class mining cruiser -- it's no Hulk-class exhumer, but it'll give me something to do when there's nothing else to do, I suppose.

Meanwhile, Bre has logged in and is celebrating a couple complete skill training sessions by grabbing her Vengeance-class assault frigate and flying it out to known space to get it properly fit. I'm a bit concerned about this, since our connection to the class two (and, therefore, to known space) is aging and close to collapse, but Bre has great faith in her ability to find the fittings she needs quickly (or great faith in our ability to scan down a new entrance for her to use tomorrow). I wait on the wormhole to tell her if she need not bother hurrying.

It turns out her faith is well-placed; even stopping in a several far-flung systems to get the best prices (and pick up a few new skill books), she manages to get back into the home system before the connection dies.

Just before; a few minutes after she warps home to our tower, I notice that the wormhole I'd been watching is gone. Given the potential wormhole system sale, the gas mining, and a few new ships parked at the tower, I'd say it served us well.


Life in a Wormhole: Dangerous When Bored #eveonline

It's less than 24 hours since I first heard murmurs about getting a Rorqual for the system, with a number of ideas tossed around about funding the whole thing.

Twenty-four hours is a long time for a bunch of pilots trapped in a single wormhole -- a lot of things can happen, and apparently they have; by the time I log in, Em has a new spreadsheet set up to track "the Rorqual project", and people are mining away, tallying up the value of the ore and adding it to sheet in a slow count toward lofty monetary benchmarks.

It would appear we're doing this, or at least we're seriously considering it. Our corp is lagging behind, so I cast our vote with an enthusiastic email and three hundred fifty million ISK sent over to Em to get the wheels turning -- I'm a shite miner, but I do have cash, and since the Rorqual plan involves repaying all the investors (eventually), I'm more than happy to chip in.

Honestly, I would be anyway: as I said, I'm not much of a miner, but several of our other pilots (CB, Gor, Wil, to name a few) definitely are; They don't mine in wormholes due to all the problems with mining that I've mentioned -- I love the idea of them being able to use more of their character's abilities -- ultimately, a completely 'realized' wormhole should be allowing you to use all aspects of your EvE pilot's abilities (except your official "social" skills, maybe), and this is a step in that direction.

We're still running the home system with the wormholes closed up, so I've little enough to do other than that. The wardec has a few days left; the alliance has lost a hauler in a ridiculous example of poor decision making, but we've popped a couple tech 2 assault frigates, so with all that said, we're 'ahead' for the week, and will easily cost the wardeccing corp more than they cost us.

This is probably the most dangerous part of the wardec: with only a few days left and nothing much happening, this is when someone decides to take a chance and run to a market system. I'm not a patient person, and I've got no mining ship with which to distract myself, so the safest thing I can do is log out for the night to keep myself out of trouble.

As I head back to the tower, the mining continues, and although there's no sound in space, I'd swear I can hear the pilots humming a tune over comms.

Pilot you’re a punk
flyin' cheap junk.
Playin’ in wormholes
gonna go mine some rocks today.
Shootin' Plagioclase
You big disgrace
Kickin’ jetcans all over the place.

We will we will Rorqual
We will we will Rorqual.

Pilot you’re a carebear
don't care
Lookin’ for a way
gonna pay to smash some ore today.
You got dirt on yo’ face
You big disgrace
Screams of boredom make no sound in space.

We will we will Rorqual
We will we will Rorqual.

Pilot you’re an rich man
ore man
Lickin' cracked lips
Gonna make you some ISK today.
Crushing ore in a vice
You're not that Gneiss
Gotta crazed glaze creepin' over your eyes.

We will we will Rorqual
We will we will Rorqual...

(With apologies to Freddy Mercury... and everyone else.)


Life in a Wormhole: Welcome to the Alliance #eveonline

The war declaration I mentioned yesterday came on the last day of our month-long trial period with the Alliance, so while we were prepping for a bit of alone time in wormhole space, we were also going through the minor paperwork that comes with full membership; apparently, we managed to pass muster and got some pretty glowing reviews from the other corps in our wormhole.

As an added plus, Walrus and Cabbage offer to make our 'trial' arrangement permanent, so thankfully we don't have to relocate, either -- we're not 'guests' anymore; just the third 'home' corporation in our system. It feels good. We become full members within an hour of the wardec going active, which I personally find kind of amusing.

Not that the wardec has no effect at all -- it does hinder us a bit (at least it hinders me), simply because we're keeping our persistent connection to known space closed for the duration. This isn't a problem for the obvious reasons -- if we really needed supplies, all of our corporations have alt characters outside the alliance who can haul stuff in -- the 'problem' is that we're taking this opportunity to do some mining in the home system, hitting the three belts currently available in the system while the chance of outside interruption is low.

This increased security is due to the strange nature of wormholes in general. The way it works is that while any given wormhole system has one or two persistent connections available, they are only potential connections -- they show up on scan, but they don't "activate" until you actually warp a ship out close enough to them to show up on the same tactical overview grid as the wormhole.

Basically, what that means is that until you actually fly close to a wormhole, is has no 'other' side; it's not connected to anything until it needs to be (I smell some database programming efficiencies here). This affords a wormhole dweller a fair amount of security just by leaving their wormhole connections alone; since there's no 'other' side to the wormhole, no one can use your unvisited persistent connections to enter your system -- the only way to get unexpected visitors is if some other system's wormhole connection randomly selects your system as its destination point when it's activated. This is (a) not incredibly common (happens to us every week or so, maybe) and (b) pretty easy to watch for.

So, given all that, and the fact that we are already going to leave our LowSec exit closed, Mining Ops are set up, with the accompanying request to "keep all exits closed unless necessary", which means that our class two connection should be left alone as well, unless you know you have the ability and time to collapse it when you're done.

I don't want to endanger my fellow alliance mates while they shoot rocks, and Berke's not around much this week, so I'm left with few options for the next couple days, twiddling my thumbs while I pondering the fact that I didn't remember to bring a mining ship into the home system.

I'm not the only one mildly displeased by the current situations, though; surprisingly, it's the pilots in the system doing the mining who are looking askance at the whole set up, and the reason is that demon of wormhole mining: refining loss.

Miners in known space don't generally have to deal with this kind of problem; when they mine, they haul the raw ore back to a station and, assuming that their skills are good and their standing with the faction that controls the station is good, they will realize close to 100% return on the refining process. In short, if they mine X amount ore that should, on paper, yield Y amount of minerals, then Y amount is pretty much exactly what they're going to get.

Wormholes don't work that way. There are no stations, and the best refining facility you can set up at your tower yields only a 75% return on the refinement process, which (if you're selling the minerals for profit) is a pretty major cut into your profits and (if you're building stuff) is a pretty damned inefficient way to get the materials you need for manufacture. On top of that, any kind of effort to haul the raw ore out into known space where the refining percentages are better is hampered by the fact that the ore itself is extremely bulky and basically a huge pain in the ass to move out of the wormhole in any useful amount.

And mining is already kind of iffy in terms of profit in the first place: even in high security known space, a pilot with the standing and ability to run level 4 missions will make far more ISK running missions than they will with maxed-out mining skills, unless they're running something like four mining accounts at the same time. Even with the the existence of the rarer, more valuable ores inside wormholes, shooting sleepers is still almost always an exponentially faster and more effective way to make some ISK, even assuming perfect refining, and without that, mining becomes a very, very, very last-resort activity, even for pilots with a long list of perfect industrial skills.

Even carebear wormhole dwellers balk at 'mining op' fleet invitations.

Which is why my fellow pilots are spending their time in solitary talking about a Rorqual.

A what?
A rorqual-class capitol industrial ship is a kind of big-(big-big-)brother to the Orca. It is capable of performing a number of functions (mobile ship hangar and clone bay being of particular interest in known space), but the most valuable function to a group of wormhole miners lies in its ability to compress ore; it doesn't refine it into manufacture-grade minerals, but instead makes them far more portable in their raw state, which lets you accumulate what would otherwise be unmanageable amounts of ore and -- thanks to something like a 140:1 compression ratio -- smash them into a dense package that can be far more easily hauled to known space.

Obviously, this is a great solution to the problem.

There's just a few problems:

  • Cost: Between the blue-prints, required training books, and materials, the Rorqual costs several billion ISK to make, and to train up pilots who can us it in the way I've described.

  • Mass Limitations: All the minerals that Rorqual manufacture requires have to be acquired from somewhere -- either purchased and hauled in from known space (which goes back to the whole problem with hauling minerals through mass-limted wormholes), or mined and refined in the home system (which runs into the problem with 75% return from the refining array).

  • Training time: None of us can pilot a rorqual right now, and ideally at least one member from each of our corps should be able to, so we can all make use of it at any time -- that's a big commitment for a pilot to make, even if they'd be done before the ship is actually completed.

  • It's a ship in a bottle. We live in a class two system, which in turn means that any wormholes that leave or enter our system have a certain total mass restriction, and a certain per-jump mass restriction. In short, that means that we can't build or buy a Rorqual out in known space and bring it in, nor can we get such a ship out if we build it inside the hole; if we build it, we have to build it locally, knowing that it can never leave.

In short, it's a hell of a big project, and a hell of a big commitment to make. Given that our little corp only just joined the Alliance a few days ago, the fact that we're even discussing it says something about the great relationship we've already formed with our fellow system-mates.

It's all just talk for now, of course, likely driven by a bit of cabin fever and the fact that every hour spent mining is (thanks to the refining problem) at least 15 minutes worth of completely binned effort, but all the same I take it as a good sign for the future health of our home system.


Life in a Wormhole: WAR (or something like it) #eveonline

I log in a few days after our last big day to find a notification of War Declaration in my mailbox, so my evening plans are put on hold to make proper preparations.

War declarations are something in EvE that never fail to amuse me a little bit, probably because of when and how I've experienced any wardecs during my time in the game.

The basic idea behind the wardec is that war between corporations or alliances in high-security space is illegal, according to the Yulai Convention. In order for one group to declare war on another group, the instigating corp has to pay a fee to bribe CONCORD so that they will leave the aggressors to attack their target without getting mobbed by a bunch of peacekeepers. The bribe lasts for a week, at which point in time it must be paid again to keep going (with, I think, increasing costs every week), or allowed to lapse, at which point in time the pencil pushers at CONCORD finally notice the shenanigans and call a halt to the whole illegal mess.

It makes me smile, because the process has a very heavy EvE flavor to it. I know the folks that suffer from (or instigate) a lot of these wardecs are aware of more than a few deep flaws in the system, but that's pretty far outside my arena of regular activity.

Which brings me to the reason that I've always found wardecs personally amusing. The whole point of the things is to allow you to attack someone you otherwise would not be able to attack, while in highsec space... and I've never been in highsec when I've been wardecced. I remember two wardecs while living in Curse (to which the corp responded "we're right here, come get us!" -- it was a very quiet week) and now while in Wormhole space which (I believe I've mentioned) is a lawless frontier wilderness.

When you can safely assume that everyone is trying to kill you, it doesn't matter that much if a particular group is paying an extra special fee bribe to do so.

So why worry?
Well, as I understand it, the group in the process of deccing us specializes in ganking inattentive haulers as they move in and out of (and between) market systems, and they're associated with a wormhole alliance that doesn't much care for ours, so it would seem that their goal is to get some easy kills and screw with our lines of supply. This affects the whole alliance as well -- not just the three corps in our system -- which at this point numbers something like 20 inhabited wormholes. That's a fair amount of logistics.

The war goes into affect 24 hours after the fees bribes have been paid, which gives me about 22 hours to get ready from the point where I get this notification, and pretty much everyone else in our home system is doing the same stuff: scan down the exits, get some hauler ships out into highsec, grab whatever tower fuels we're a skosh low on (in our case, there aren't many), get any lingering ship/drone reparis done, update the Planetary Interaction colonies to make sure the tower fuel we can make will be entirely sufficient, double check everything...

And then wire the doors shut and just ignore known space for awhile.

If these corporations want to come and find us in our home systems, they are welcome to: this is our home territory, where we understand the rules and idiosyncrasies, and where we fully expect trouble. To try to function around a high-sec 'griefer' wardec corp in their home arena -- where they are the ones who know all the little tricks and exploits and can turn them to their advantage -- is pretty much the height of foolishness and (despite evidence to the contrary) we try fairly hard to avoid being foolish.

So, 20 hours later, we have closed up the wormhole, taken stock of the activities with which we can amuse ourselves for a week (quite a few gravimetric signatures indicating mineable asteroid fields), and settled in.

It's only then that realize I never brought in any mining vessels. My time-killing options just got a *lot* more limited.


Life in a Wormhole: Day-tripping #eveonline

A few days ago in the comments, Ko asked:

Question, when day tripping, at what point do you say “thanks but no thanks” to a hole? It seems that most holes spawning into High Sec space are occupied, regardless of how many sites left. They are positively littered with POSes and more often than not, ships.

I’ve been probing down with cov-ops, peeking inside and running a quick passive and d-scan. If ships are present I’ll pull out the probes. I then run back to high sec for the Drake if things look nice. I’ve been lucky so far, but after a close call a few days ago (got tackled by an assault frig with his friends in-bound.) I’m wondering what I can do to increase my security.

I feel like I’m being stretched 5 ways from Friday trying to keep an eye on the d-scan while running sites and keeping myself aligned to a celestial or safe spot, and I’m at loathe to run a cloak on the Drake since I’ve already got a probe launcher and salvager.

Really, really good question I'm probably going to answer poorly.

At what point do you say “thanks but no thanks” to a hole?

The short answer: "If there's any kind of activity."

That doesn't mean "if you see Towers", or "if you see ships". It means you see ships, and there's pilots in them, especially if they're doing stuff. (Really, the only way to tell if there's pilots in them is if you can tell they're moving around, or by getting on grid with them, which means finding their tower and looking at them. If the overview shows you a Drake in one column, but a player name in the other column, it's piloted. If it says the ship type in both columns, it's just floating there.)

The long answer: You should cancel your original plans of shooting sleepers if you see online pilots in system, for sure, although it's possible that you can make new plans that involve doing pointy things to the pilots. By yourself, you won't be able to do much, but mugging a lax miner or a badger out collecting planet goo is a fun change of pace, and maybe you'll scare him into logging off so you can shoot sleepers in peace. If you have a couple friends online, you might even be able to lure a guy into attacking you and ambushing him.

It seems that most holes spawning into High Sec space are occupied, regardless of how many sites left. They are positively littered with POSes and more often than not, ships.

I would say that at least 9 of every 10 wormholes I encounter are occupied to some degree, yes. Keep in mind I'm talking mostly about Class 2 and Class 1 systems, but given that Class 2s are the most numerous type, this is indicative.

With that said, "occupied" isn't the same thing as "active". A few minutes of poking around when you get into a system will tell you a lot about what's really going on there. If you do a passive scan (using your onboard scanner), do you see a lot of anomalies? If so, these guys either aren't terribly active, or they just aren't there for the Sleepers (they're doing gas reactions, or making tech3 cruisers or something).

You can also tell by the modules they have on their towers. Are there a lot of silos and coupling arrays? Then they're doing some kind of industry. Online ship assemblies (or ammo or drones or whatever)? Building stuff. Is it nothing but guns and a few hangars? They shoot stuff.

And as I said, just because you see a lot of ships doesn't mean anyone's online. Lots of people are very sloppy and just leave their stuff floating inside the tower shields. The only way to tell for sure is to get on-grid with the tower and look, and that means finding the tower first. More on that in a bit.

I’m wondering what I can do to increase my security.

Okay, so here's me, coming into a system for the first time. I'm not day-tripping, but aside from that, nothing is really different, nor should it be.

I'm outside the wormhole, cloaked. I bookmark it. I have the scanning window up, and I have the in-game browser open and minimized. The homepage of my browser is set to wormnav.com.

I approach the wormhole and jump.

I am on the other side. I have less than a minute before my the 'jump cloak' drops. I check my overview (which is currently set for basic PvP and tower-hunting) and hit both my ship's passive scanner and d-scan. I open the browser window and tell wormnav to update to my current position (something it can only do if it's open in your in-game browser).

Bookmark this side of the wormhole.

I now have data to analyze. Assuming no one is sitting immediately on the wormhole, I align to convenient celestial and immediately cloak. Maybe I jump somewhere to sit at a safe spot, or maybe I keep flying off in random directions while cloaked. Up to you. Time to analyze the data I have.

1. Passive scan: Least-important, but fastest to analyze. Are there anomalies here? "Few or none." means this system is actively occupied, or has very hungry visitors. "A half-dozen or so" means they occupants aren't very active, or they're very inactive and someone cleaned them out a few days ago. "Many" means they're inactive and haven't been visited recently. "OMG it's full of stars" means no one lives here. Jackpot.

2. D-scan. Any ships or towers? If ships AND towers, they're probably together. If ships and no towers, uncheck 'use my overview settings' and re-d-scan, looking for wrecks. If you see wrecks and ships, they're shooting sleepers. No wrecks might mean mining, gas harvesting, Planetary Interaction, space rugby, or ... hell, lots of stuff. If Tower and no ship, probably everyone's asleep. Make sure your overview is set to also show you force fields; if you see a tower but no forcefield, it's abandoned.

If you see no ships or towers, open your system map and see which planets with moons are more than 14AU from you. You will need to warp to those planets (NOT THE MOONS) and refresh d-scan in that area until you have d-scanned the whole system.

Do that even if you initially find a tower. There may be more.

Rule 0: there is a tower. There is always a tower.

3. Wormnav. This page will tell you lots of things about the system, but mostly you're looking for the readouts in the middle that tell you about recent jump activity (random, far-flung spikes indicates visitors-only; lots of consistent jumping means occupants that are active), NPC shooting in the last week or so (indicates activity), and PvP ship and POD kills.

If you see ship and pod kills, reconsider sticking around, unless you're looking for a fight.

If you see ship and pod kills, go to the bottom of wormnav and open up the battleclinic link for more details. Maybe it's the locals who get shot up all the time; that's not bad news.

If you see very little activity, then things are looking pretty good for you.

Let's have a look at that tower. (Or those towers.)

Directional scan is called that for a reason. At this point, it's time to figure out where the towers are and go look at them. Change the 'angle' of your d-scan down to about 15 degrees and swing your camera around so that a planetary cluster within d-scan range is dead-center, then scan.

Do you see the tower on the results? If yes, then the tower is at one of those planet's moons. Warp to that planet at some random distance (not 0 and not 100). If no, repeat this with each planet until you get a 'yes'.

Once in orbit around the planet, swing your camera around to point at each of the planet's moons, d-scanning each, until you figure out which moon is concurrent with the tower. That's your moon.

Make sure your d-scan is showing you EVERYTHING, then scan again, looking for a lot of secure containers, abandoned drones, or corpses, concurrent with mobile warp disruptor bubbles. Such things equal traps meant to snag and decloak you. Be wary.

Warp to the moon and check out the tower. See if the ships are piloted. "Show info" on the tower, check out the owning corp and alliance, and see what their corp info says. Look up the corp and alliance on the battleclinic kill boards. Google them. See if they have a website. Do your research.

Repeat this for every tower where you see ships.

Is everyone logged out? Are you alone?




You may deploy scanning probes.

Wormnav will tell you how many wormholes there should be in the system. Use your scanning probes and verify there aren't more than that, but don't visit them if you have the right number and want to keep the system quiet.

So: Are we cool? All things are right in the world?

Now you can go get your Drake. Hopefully, all of this hasn't taken more than an hour or so. If you're lucky, or you get good at it, it'll be about 20 minutes, top to bottom. (Yes, it takes a tedious amount of time. I've said as much. C'est la EvE.)

What if there isn't a tower?

There is always a tower.

If you really think there isn't, drop a single combat scanner probe, set it to 64 au, and scan the whole system.

If you don't get any hits but you, congratulations: You either just found your new home, or are about to make about 300 million isk or more from selling the system's location.

I feel like I’m being stretched 5 ways from Friday trying to keep an eye on the d-scan while running sites and keeping myself aligned to a celestial or safe spot.

You're doing it right, mostly. Solo, daytripping into a wormhole, you need to land on the site, align to a celestial, keep moving, and be ready to warp away to that celestial the moment you see anything weird on d-scan (which window should simply never be closed, and which you should be hitting every 10 to 15 seconds, at minimum.

Don't salvage on that Drake, though; not while you're solo and fighting (if you have friends with you, one of them can salvage as they fight, if they're very good at it, but don't expect them to watch d-scan). Bookmark a wreck as you keep moving and killing. When everything's dead, warp to another site and keep going, or warp away somewhere and wait, or warp home for a salvaging ship. In 20 minutes or less, the site will despawn. (You'll know it has if you try to warp to the wreck and DO NOT see the little pop-up message.) Don't salvage until it's despawned. Preferably, do it in a dedicated salvaging boat, because it's better to do it faster and get out, and frankly one salvager on a properly tanked Drake will take WAY too long.

The reason you wait for the despawn is because anyone in the world can find you with no probes in an active anomaly (they need only d-scan and the passive scanner), but in a despawned anomaly, they must use probes, and that gives you a layer of protection and a few more seconds of warning.

And if you have someone following behind you to salvage, try not to do what these guys did.

Hope that helps. More good questions and bad answers in the comments...


Life in a Wormhole: Payout #eveonline

The last couple days have been...

How should I put this?

Here. This:

There. That. The one and only time you will ever see me compare myself to Brad Pitt in any context.

Moving on.

I vowed to make this day work out better than they have for the last week, and the neighboring class 2 system looks promising. Many anomalies and a juicy radar signature waving alluringly, and between the persistent connections to Class 5 wormhole space and nullsec (both of which I leave closed) and the fairly inactive, PvP-averse corporation that calls the place home, we are go for money-making.

Our system also has an unannounced inbound connection, but like our c2 neighbors, it reads "Mostly Harmless", if only because the inhabitants are French and not active on our timezone. We have confirmation: Time to make some iskies.

Gor and CB are online by the time I finish finding a lowsec route back to our wormhole for Cabbage, and we head into the anom-rich system to shoot Sleepers and take their stuff. This goes fine until we leave the second site and head to the third. Ty and Gor's ships leave CB's lumbering Dominix behind, and as soon as it's alone, it's jumped by an Arazu force recon cruiser!

Oddly, while I'm pounding d-scan and working to get turned around as fast as I can, CB is entirely calm about the whole thing.

"It's just Em," he explains.

"No it isn't," I counter. On d-scan, I can see that the ship is nothing at all like Em's Nighthawk command ship, nor does it have a callsign I recognize.

"It is," CB replies. "He's sitting five klicks from me. I'm looking in his cockpit."

"Oh," I say. "Well... kick his ass for me; I about had a heart attack." I pause to let me pulse slow down. "And ask him if he wants to join us."

Em readily agrees (once he stops laughing), and swaps ships into the far more familiar-looking Nighthawk. Aside from friendly-fire ambushes, the system remains quiet and we clean the entire system out, then collapse the wormhole connection to find a system with better exits, since Cabbage reports the lowsec gates near our other wormhole are camped and no use for getting supplies and loot in and out.

The new neighboring system has a persistent connection to lowsec, like our own, but the exit is much better; only six jumps from a major trade hub, and immediately adjacent to high sec -- an easy run for haulers fit with a few warp core stabilizers, which we happen to have. We all head out and sell our shares of the loot accumulated in the last four or five days, netting each pilot around 100 million isk. All in all, a good day of profitable sleeper shooting, followed by bountiful supply run.



Life in a Wormhole: Skipping the Boring Stuff #eveonline

The title of this post is misleading; one of the things you can't do in a wormhole is skip the boring stuff.

Every day, when you log in, you scan. It may just be a passive scan and d-scan, or it might be with scanning probes, but either way, you scan.

Sometimes -- perhaps even most of the time, if you have a lot of active pilots in your wormhole -- there won't be much to do locally. Anomalies in the home system are run almost as soon as they appear, with the rarer signature sites taking very slightly longer to attract pilot aggression. Likewise, gas clouds (which only take a few minutes to harvest) die pretty quickly; that leaves only the gravimetric signatures of mineable asteroid belts to accumulate until the locals decide that they too need to go, and if you don't like shooting rocks, that's not a terribly enticing option.

If you want more to do, then there's more scanning to do; find the connection to the nearest wormhole and, once you get there, do more scanning to see if it's got stuff to shoot or is as picked over as your home. If the later, maybe you push big ships back and forth through the wormhole until it collapses under their weight, or maybe you scan further afield, looking for better pickings.

Maybe by this point you've found something to do. Maybe not. Maybe you're shooting sleepers, or other pilots, or they're shooting you.


Sometimes, though, there just isn't much going on. You can't skip it.

In space, no one can hear you sigh.

You can't run over to the next system and pick up a couple missions from the nearest Fed Navy agent. Even roaming around looking for some PvP takes a fair amount of preparatory scanning work.

It's sometimes hard -- mentally -- is what I'm trying to get at.

But is it worth it?

Absolutely. Even at it's most boring, wormhole living is better than 90% of everything else in the game, because although you are sitting at your tower with nothing to do, and nothing to shoot with your shiny guns, you are still sitting at your tower, in your system.

You are, for lack of a better word, home. Sitting around your home may be boring, but sometimes it's kind of nice.


Just because that's what we end up doing for the next couple days days doesn't mean YOU need to hear about it, so...

Berke and Ichiban's Orcas gets a workout for the next few days, and we rack up an impressive number of incredibad wormhole connections -- systems that are picked over, over-populated, just plain empty (and inexplicably so), or halfway useful systems we don't have the manpower to make proper use of. At one point, we scan through the next door system to the next one over from that, find a bunch of sites to hit, get a good group together, hit a bunch of sites, and gather up what may go down in history as The Worst Loot Ever -- so bad that it's actually possible we lost money on the effort once you calculate the cost of expended ammo.

Our loot accumulates, however slowly, but the other side of the poor connections is that it's simply building up in storage, since we can't seem to get a decent outbound connection to known space, either... though it's possible that our scouts are being a bit cautious in the aftermath of the loss of Berke's old orca and Shan's Hurricane.

But enough of this nonsense. I haven't been on much in the last few days, but I have an open day tomorrow and I decide that is going to be the day switch the momentum back in our favor. Enough of this crap; bored people are boring people.


Life in a Wormhole: Hole-crashing a Manticore #eveonline

A new day! Albeit another day where my playtime is limited. Kate's out of town, and while she's taking The Littlest Copilot with her on her trip, I've still got a pretty heavy work schedule and Eldest Daughter to care for. (Something something, needs food, something something, homework, something something, laundry, something something, get to school on time, something...) The upshot is that while I'm technically living the glorious dream of temporary bachelorhood (all the slacker free time, none of the soul-crushing, life-long loneliness), the reality is that I need to use most of my playtime bandwidth for things like feeding the dogs and making sure my daughter has reasonably clean uniforms to wear.

On week's like these, seeing to my own stuff takes a distant back seat.

Today, in fact, I have only a few minutes to be online, but they conveniently coincide with Em, Berk, Bre, and Tira. I consider doing a bit of sleeper shooting, but a note in our home system's comms channel about a suspicious in-bound wormhole sends me out for a shufti instead.

I quickly scan down the wormhole and home in on the class four wormhole, sweeping my d-scan around to locate a couple of towers, which gives me the intel I need to determine that, once again, we're next door to some pretty dangerous people.

"You going to collapse that hole?" Em asks. A few seconds pass during which all of our pilots start switching to appropriate ships. "Nevermind. I can see you are. I'll get the Falcon."

Our setup this time is considerably more paranoid, due to recent events. Tira gets into her Helios-class covert ops frigate and posts herself in a fifteen kilometer orbit around the 'enemy' side of the wormhole, scouring d-scan for the signs of any activity, which right now means only a single piloted Mammoth-class hauler. Meanwhile, both Bre and Ty have gotten into Blackbird-class cruisers brimming with Electronic Countermeasures, backed up by both Em in her Falcon and Si in her Curse. Only with the entire defensive infrastructure in place does Berke warp in and jump.

The first jump turns out poorly, as the stubborn wormhole spits the Deliberate out nearly eight kilometers from the other side of the hole, forcing the lumbering ship to crawl three klicks before it can jump back. Not normally a problem, except for the fact that we're within d-scan range of one of the enemy towers, and this move leaves Berke's orca visible for almost 45 seconds -- more than enough to spot, if the current pilot is remotely awake. Maybe we'll get lucky.

Turns out we won't. Berke jumps back to the home system and then cloaks up manually to wait out the polarization effect, and as the Orca's secondary coils (whatever those are) recover, Tira spots movement at the tower: a Buzzard-class covert ops frigate appears, warps out of the tower, and dumps a half-dozen scanning probes into space. They aren't looking for the Orca (which would be hard, since it isn't there) but for the wormhole through which our Orca has invaded their system.

Right. This is going to get a little close.

The probes are still out during Berke's next jump, and he has time to watch them close in on the wormhole's location while he waits out the session change timer. Once again, he jumps home, destabilizing the hole (though not critically) and (again) cloaks up to wait out the polarization. Ty warps back to the tower to swap his Blackbird for a Typhoon-class battleship to help with the final wormhole-destroying push.

Tira, meanwhile, sees the probes vanish once again, and the Buzzard reappears at the tower, only to be swapped out for a Manticore-class stealth bomber. Interestingly, though, the Manticore doesn't immediately warp away from the tower and cloak -- it's just sitting there. Odd. Maybe the pilot isn't happy with the configuration of the ship? Maybe it doesn't get used much, and they're frantically swapping modules around at the Ship Maintenance Array? Maybe.

"How's it looking over there?" Em asks.

Tira ops for optimism, as is her way. "They've spotted us," she says, "but they're not getting organized fast enough to do anything."

"You sure?" Em asks.

"Mostly," Tira quickly corrects herself. "Most definitely." There's a short pause. "You know... just... be ready, in case."

Berke isn't waiting. Dangerous neighbors are bad, but dangerous neighbors that we've alerted and riled up are worse, so it's time to kill the hole. He jumps, followed by Ty's 'phoon, and Tira starts moving back to the hole to get out as well.

Neither Ty or Berke see the Manticore on d-scan. It's left the tower and cloaked. There's very little doubt where it's headed.

We have only the Orca's session change timer to wait on.

Ty's timer expires, and he jumps. The hole critically destabilizes.

Tira hits the 'hole at full speed, decloaking as she approaches, which is enough to encourage the Manticore to decloak as well. She doesn't see what happens next, because the wormhole whisks her away, leaving only Berke in enemy territory.

So. A Manticore twenty kilometers away, in perfect bombing range, a critically destabilized wormhole just behind.

The Deliberate decloaks, activates its afterburners, and pivots toward the hole.

The Manticore releases a bomb directly at the hole and starts to lock the Orca in the vain hope of following the blindly-launched bomb with guided torpedoes.

The lock never happens and the bomb, so far as any of us know, never lands. Berke tips the Orca through the wormhole, destroying the anomaly with the mass of his shiny new ship, and vanishes from the system, leaving only empty space where a juicy bombing target used to be.

Back in the home system, the anomaly collapses in on itself as the Orca fades into view.

"Easy peasy," Berke comments. "Heading back to the tower."

If he and Tira exchange any knowing glances, well... who can tell from inside a spaceship?

Life in a Wormhole: Orca Migration #eveonline

Our luck with known space connections has been uniformly bad for the last few days, making it difficult for Berke to get his new ship home in one piece. All our recent wormhole connections have been to Class 2's with pretty useless connections, and while that's given us a good chance to get some gas harvesting and Sleeper shooting done, that's not really the goal at the forefront of our minds. Finally, though, we get something that might work, and it's only about twelve jumps away from Berke's location and about as many for Ichiban, who is also bringing in an Orca from another direction.

We get properly coordinated on this effort to make sure that all our ships get home in one piece. Ty puts together a package of bookmarks and drops them off for both Berke and Ichi in the nearest knownspace station, then gets back to the tower where Bre is waiting in a Blackbird ECM cruiser, and gets into one himself. Em rounds out what should be an overwhelming force in the realm of attacker frustration by bringing her Falcon force recon cruiser to the escort party, and Si waits in the wings in her Curse cruiser. Between the four of use, we may not be able to actually kill anyone, but we certainly should be able to keep a (not so) small fleet of attackers effectively neutered until the lumbering Industrial Command ships can get away, which is rather the point.

And this time, everything goes exactly to plan, with both the Orca into the neighboring wormhole, off to our home connection, and safely tucked in at our respective towers with no kind of problems whatsoever. Now is the time at Sprockets when we dance, right?

Well, no. Now is the time we log off, since that whole process took up most of the evening. Still, it's good to get everyone back home. Time to sleep.


Life in a Wormhole: Weekend Coda #eveonline

It's been a fairly frustrating weekend. We started off with the loss of an Orca, which we replaced by selling off a Tengu hull, a blueprint, and some faction fittings, losing and replacing an assault ship in the process, which means that when it's all said and done we're exactly where we started two days ago. That's an awful lot of effort expended on treading water.

Berke is still in highsec in the Deliberate, so even though we don't have a good way to control the wormhole connection, we really have to scan a good entrance/exit if we want to get him back in the home system. I locate our C2 connection easily in the relatively barren system, then Ty and Ichiban from Walrus hit the next system over with a double flight of scanning probes to make short work of the recon process.

We're not in luck as far as a connection goes -- the system connects only to dangerous class 5 wormhole space and nullsec known space -- but it is a good system for Sleeper bashing; full of anomalies, all but abandoned by the neighbors (who don't seem to have logged in since the last time they needed to refuel the tower), and pretty much ours for the evening. Sounds like a good alternative to getting the Orca home. (Honestly, after all the travel we've done in the last few days, it sounds like a better alternative, even to Berke.)

Ty, CB, and Ichiban run sites with Bre flying unnecessary-but-comforting overwatch, keeping an eye directly on the local's tower. An hour later, we've raked in a bit over 90 million in loot, which provides an understated but welcome up-note at the end of a moderately crappy weekend. Sounds like a good time to call it for the night, which is exactly what we do.


Life in a Wormhole: Orcas Require Liquid(ation) #eveonline

We've tried a couple different ways to handle the costs of living in a wormhole. Our first was probably the most 'big corporation' method, and involved putting anywhere from 75% to 50% of our gross profits from any given sleeper run into the corporate wallet, until we got said wallet up to a nice fat number, and then paying for all fuel and other expenses (ship replacements, et cetera) out of that pile. That actually worked pretty well; individually, we made a less, but we also covered all the big expenses out of a shared wallet.

Since moving to the new home system, where we share the space with two other active towers, we adopted a different method that benefits from simplicity, although it does require more hat-passing before major purchases. Put simply, the new method is "you keep what you kill", and it is probably the best solution when you have a half dozen pilots from three different corps in a fleet, killing Sleepers. In a situation like that, once all the loot is collected, it's split up into even piles and distributed to everyone participating, regardless of whether you were shooting sleepers, hiding in a covert ops ship and watching d-scan for enemies, or following behind everyone else in a salvager. The reason for the even split is quite simple: everyone can potentially get jumped and blown up, so everyone gets paid the same. If you think you should get more because of the fancy ship you're risking, then don't risk the fancy ship. (Be honest: you're 'risking' it because deep down you WANT to fly that thing.)

(It's worth noting that the players who run more than one pilot at a time decided awhile back that they only get a single share of group loot, which is an opinion I happen to share, so I suppose it's accurate to say each player gets a share, not each pilot. I know that different groups handle that differently.)

This arrangement, while relatively easy to manage, fairly straightforward, and simple to scale up and down from '10-man fleet' to 'one guy harvesting gas', can become a bit of a problem when someone like Berke loses something like an Orca. What do you do?

First off, obviously, the Orca is damned expensive. With typical fittings, it'll easily run a half-billion isk.

Secondly, Berke isn't the sort of guy who's going out and making money directly -- he really doesn't fly much besides the Orca; can't, in point of fact. Yes, he is sometimes directly involved in ops, and he certainly puts his ship at risk for the benefit of the home system (too many examples to link to too), but what kind of 'cut' do you allocate for system-wide leadership buffs shared from his command ship, mobile ship refitting, swapping, and repair, or fuel hauling done in a ship with five times the capacity of a typical industrial hauler?

How much does a guy get paid when he throws his ship back and forth through a wormhole to collapse it, hoping that the math is right and when the thing collapses, he's on the right side?

Every corp has to answer that question for themselves, but in our case, the answer is "you replace his damned ship, and you do it as soon as possible."

At the moment the Mammoth exploded, any of our individual corp members could probably have brought a new Orca outright, though it would have left any particular individual tapped out. Certainly we could have spread the fiscal damage out by passing the hat, but given that we're resourceful EVE pilots, we decide that we're going to see how fast we can pay for an Orca with out spending any of the ISK we already have.

Bre's solution is fairly straightforward. She recently won a Tengu-class strategic cruiser hull as part of a one-off lottery that was run amongst the pilots who participated in the alliance-wide POS-bash a few weeks ago. On the upside: Yay, winning. On the downside: Bre doesn't have the skills for (or interest in) piloting a Tengu -- even if she put her entire training queue on hold, it would be almost two months before she could fly it well enough to risk it.

So she's taking her Iteron IV hauler out to the station it's in, picking it up, hauling it to the the system with the best buy-order she can find, and liquidating it.

"You sure you want to do that?"

"Are you kidding? If it sell it, I don't have to train for it or worry I'll lose it. This is a relief."

Ty is taking a more direct route. A few months ago, he had the chance to run the Gurista "Epic Mission Arc" in the nullsec areas controlled by that NPC faction (sent in as an undercover agent of the Gallente Federation, who think he's the bees knees). It was fun, it was an interesting and entertaining storyline very evocative of the group it concerned itself with, and the end result was a very nice fitting that sold for a nice sum, and a one-shot blueprint for a Gila-class cruiser -- a ship I've already expressed my admiration for on several occasions -- as a PvE ship, it's hard to beat.

He can't re-run the Gurista arc for awhile yet, but in the meantime, there is another epic arc that takes place in the NPC Nullsec region held by the Angels. Specifically, it takes place in Curse, which is an area I'm fairly familiar with thanks to my time with OUCH. Like the Gurista's arc, the major rewards for completion are a nice 'bling' fitting that he can sell, and a blueprint for a Cynabal-class cruiser, which is to PvP was the Gila is to PvE. Frankly, it doesn't matter if I make the ship and sell it, or simply sell the blueprint; the profit would be nearly the same.

Why aren't we just staying in the wormhole and shooting sleepers to make money?

That's the irony. Sleeper sites would be the best way to handle this, but in order to really push through and make a good chunk of change in a short period of time, we need to cycle our wormhole connection aggressively to find good systems full of anomalies, then crash them when we're done to move onto the next, and to do that, we need...

Yeah. An orca.

So, without further ado, Bre and Ty head out of the wormhole, then take off in opposite directions; she in her Iteron and 37 jumps to the system where her Tengu hull is stashed, and he toward lowsec Minmatar space, where he will find the agent who will send him (undercover again) to meet with the Angels.

I'm not going to say a lot about the Angel Epic Arc except to suggest that Gurista arc is better, for a couple of different reasons:

  1. Story. The Gurista Arc has one. It's creepy and tragic and backstabby and piratey and just generally good EVE. The Angel "story arc" is just a baker's dozen worth of missions where you go shoot some guys. That's it. No story. Bleh. The only comparable bit is that both of the arcs basically require that you run them in an assault frigate or interceptor. For the Guristas, I used a Ishkur drone boat that basically melted the opposition. This time I'm using a Jaguar-class assault frigate that isn't quite as perfect for the mission-running, but which can perhaps fair a bit better if someone jumps me.

  2. Location. The Gurista arc takes place in the fairly quiet Venal region. There are lots of different ways to get around, so it's easier to avoid ambushes and gate games. Conversely, Curse is basically one long pipe. With only one way through the system, Ty often found himself cloaked up in a safe spot for hours while massive roaming blobs swept up and down the pipe looking for ships to pop, or stuck inside (or outside) a station he needed to dock at while some Sabre interdictor pilot camped the undock ring. Super fun.

Still, eventually Ty wrapped the story up, and I had a chance to drop in and say hi to some familiar names in OUCH (while I dodged their gate camp), which left me about five jumps inside Curse, with a couple very expensive items in my hold.

The question was: sell them in Curse for a lesser profit, or risk them in the haul out to highsec for a bit more isk?

I opt to sell them, because I can't easily 'travel fit' my Jaguar in the system I'm in, so I don't love my odds of getting through the hellishly overcamped Doril system nexus.

Turns out that was a pretty good decision.

I've been on the ball throughout my run of the Angel arc, using pretty much everything I ever learned in OUCH and everything I've subsequently taught myself in wormholes, and I've successfully avoided a couple of gate camps, station camps, and guys looking to gank a mission runner.

The warning signs are there, if you pay attention.

My doom comes, as it always does in Curse, in the form of an Interdictor. God I hate those ships.

On my last jump before the Doril-Sendaya gate that will take me out of Curse, I spend more than a half hour watching traffic through the gate I plan to use, sitting cloaked and at a safe distance. This gate is frequently camped, and the kill reports for Doril are depressingly high right now. However, what I'm seeing on this gate seems to indicate that this isn't where all the fights are taking place -- there are a lot of ships coming and going, many of them roughly in the same size category as my tough little Jaguar, so I finally decide to take a chance.

The interdictor's warp disruption bubble blows up all around me as soon as I land on the other side of the gate. Of course.

Some warnings come a little bit too late.

Still, there's a chance: I align to the nearest celestial, tap my cloak and pulse my propulsion, then change alignment to a different celestial as soon as I cloak. I know the interdictor spotted me in the split second before the cloak kicked in, but hopefully he'll be fooled into thinking I went the other direction, and won't get close enough to decloak me before I can get out of the bubble and warp away.

It almost, almost works. I'd go so far as to say that I think I might have been outside the bubble when the Sabre-class interdictor (deadliest of the breed) gets within 2 kilometers of my ship and disrupts my cloak -- it's hard to tell, because the bubble itself visually fluctuates. I initiate warp, and can't; pulse my propulsion, try to initiate again, and I can!

But then the Sabre gets a warp scrambler on me, and I'm stuck. The only way out now is to try take the Sabre down first, so that's exactly what I do.

Tactical advice via guynumberthree on Reddit.

Amazingly, the Jaguar is holding up under the Sabre's fire (he seems to be missing a fair amount, thanks to overheated propulsion pushing me in a fast orbit of his ship), and I'm actually making a dent in his shields (thanks to overheated guns) -- for a second, I let myself dream that I'll get the ship to flee or explode, and get out.

That's about when the Vagabond-class heavy assault cruiser, Scimatar-class logistics cruiser, and Falcon-class force recon land on our position and save their Sabre buddy from my deadly Jaguar. I warp away from the explosion with a heartfelt salute to the little ship -- he did me proud, and I'll be happy to build one exactly like it when I get out of here.

As a matter of fact, that's actually not a bad idea: in addition to the two pieces of loot from the Angel mission arc, I also got paid a fair amount of isk for the missions themselves. 35 million isk, give or take, which is almost exactly enough to replace and refit the ship in Rens and head back home neither a penny up or a penny down. A little frustrating, but I'll take it.

Between Ty and Bre, it's not quite enough to buy the reasonably-priced Orca that Berke's located, but that's only true until he checks his mail.

Hey, just wanted to say thanks for all the work you and your guys are doing to help us protect the system and all the heavy lifting you've shouldered lately. I promise I'll be risking my own ships in the future, but in the meantime, I hope this helps you replace that Orca as soon as you can.


And that wallet flash signals all the rest of the money we'll need to buy and fit a brand new ship. With that, Berke hops into a shuttle and flies back to the Essence region.

One hour, lots of very careful shopping, and only 435 million isk later, the Deliberate is ready for service.

Total elapsed time: less than 24 hours.
Bank balances: all intact.

Now to pay back Cabbage...