We few, we happy few

One of the downsides of being a smaller entity is that you sometimes don’t have the numbers to get stuff done. On the plus side, you “own” a share of everything you do – it’s typically the case that every single member of a fleet is critical to that fleet’s success. It’s a good feeling.

One night, I was scanning aimlessly down the chain. It was a boring chain, but it had been a night of boring chains and everyone else had logged off. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and I was more or less just scanning out of inertia – it seemed like it would be more effort to jump back through the chain than just continue scanning.

As I jumped through a new wormhole, I checked d-scan. One Loki, two Tengus, and a force field. Checking our logger, we didn’t have any record of that POS in system. I cloaked up and set d-scan to a 180° radius. One Loki, two Tengus, and no force field. Interesting. I switched overview tabs, and that became one Loki, two Tengus, and a bunch of sleeper wrecks – a sight to warm the heart of any red-blooded wormholer.

I checked Mumble – a couple of people AFK, but none woke up. So I sent out a ping on our alerts system, dropped some combats outside d-scan range for later use, and set about finding them. Using d-scan, I tracked them down to about half-an-AU to the left of planet 5 (facing the sun), and slightly below the plane.

Two of our newer members responded to the alert. Not quite the numbers I’d been hoping for, but the rest of EU was asleep and it was a little too early for the Americans. This was going to be difficult, but at least we had help from the C4 magnetar, whose effects include a +68% bonus to damage.

Ambitious and I could both fly Guardians, and that left TheGreatBelow plus my alt – now tripleboxing scout/logi/damage – for DPS. As we jumped into the system connecting to them, they moved. Uh oh. But no worries – they reappeared, now about 3AU beyond P2 (looking from the wormhole, where my scout was now positioned ready to punt*), and new wrecks started appearing at this location. Good, good. We jumped in, and I vectored probes on their new location. They didn’t notice the probes, and our squad warp landed us within a few kilometers of all of them.

I advised Ambitious that he’d be responsible for flying both Guardians – that I was just going to be orbiting him. Meanwhile, we started targeting one of the Tengus. However, even with the magnetar effects, our somewhat anaemic DPS was insufficient to break the Tengu. I ordered us to switch DPS to the Loki on a count of three. That turned out to be a good call – as it turned out, the Tengus were each only carrying one shield transporter each whereas the Loki had two. As you can’t use a shield transporter on yourself, this meant that the Loki could only get 2 shield transporters aimed at it, compared to three that could be directed towards either Tengu.

We were able to battle the Loki down and, without its reps, the Tengus both followed it in quick succession. They were cheaply fit – just as well, as we wouldn’t have broken them otherwise.

Battle Report

A little while later I noticed the local chat:

[ 2013.05.15 20:55:45 ] 3HAXAPb UA > may be we tell price?
[ 2013.05.15 20:57:12 ] 3HAXAPb UA > no one want isk?

Eh, I really don’t do ransoms anyway.

* “Punting” refers to using a covert ops sitting on grid with the fleet to scan down a target and having it use fleet warp to get everyone else to the target. The covert ops itself cancels the warp.
† For the purposes of this article, I am conveniently choosing to ignore the fact that we had more ships, as well as the fact that the three were all probably being triple-boxed by the one guy.


Odyssey scanning & exploration – initial impressions

Watching the Fanfest stream on probing was a bit worrying – they were implementing a nice feature like probe configurations, and then demonstrated it with that monstrosity of a useless probe configuration?
Spread formation

Fortunately, it turns out that that as only one of the two configurations available – if, rather unfortunately, the default. The other, “pinpoint”, is the more familiar 7-probe configuration (4 sides, center, up-down). Most means of losing probes seem to have been eliminated – if the probes have an expiry, it’s not shown any more, and they immediately return to your cargohold if you try to jump through a stargate or wormhole, or dock in a station. They will not return if you disconnect, but if they just stay there anyway, you can reconnect to them later. Basic probing can now be done single-handedly, as the previous shift and alt modifiers to manage all probes have instead been made the default.

Unfortunately, as currently implemented, group scanning efforts have been hit hard – not only have the text percentages for scan strength been removed, but so has the ability to copy the list of signatures (into a shared document, for example). Furthermore, you can’t sort the list by name, making it more difficult to find signatures that haven’t already been scanned by a corpmate. Hopefully these are more oversights than deliberate changes.

Right now, you can’t use the tracking camera to align to anomalies. So hunting currently involves pointing your camera manually – though that’s still an improvement over trying to convert 13AU into kilometers, on the fly and in a rush, in order to isolate a target to a site. Still, with any luck they’ll update the tracking camera. There are a other few things that could certainly use some iterating, but, hey, that’s what the forums are for.

One bonus, unannounced feature is tagging shortcuts. Finally! Hold down a keyboard shortcut, click a ship, and it will be tagged.

The Best Kind of Rorqual

We had a nullsec into Malpais, and had gone around for a little roam. Just a couple jumps out though, our scout saw a mining fleet – complete with Rorqual – out in space. In a site, not a belt – so they’d have to be scanned down. Naturally, being a wormhole corp, we have lots of scan alts. However, and rather predictably, as soon as the probes appeared on d-scan the Rorqual and its fleet relocated into a POS. Miners do tend to be very sensitive about probes when there are neutrals in system.

We bookmarked the site and instead decided to roam around another nullsec connection we had into Immensea – with decidedly mixed results. As we came back though, an interceptor pilot decided to pop out into the Malpais nullsec and check out that site, see if they’d come back. Astonishingly enough, they had, and he tackled the Rorqual. As soon as our DPS started landing, the pilot ejected – whether to save an expensive pod or out of fear that his corp might kick him for a silly loss, we don’t know.

After a lively discussion about whether we should kill it anyway, it turned out one of our fleet members had a Rorqual- and jump-capable pilot. He headed out, grabbed the Rorqual and logged off at a safe. A curiously expensive Crow turned up, and then exploded. An Atron landed and lit a cyno, and brought a Thanatos into the grav site. Initially we popped the cyno and started shooting the Thanatos. However, as we were taking down the thanny’s shield, an NC. Loki lit up a covert cyno near a gate and a few blackops battleships started jumped through, one or two at a time. Our fleet warped off to deal with these first, with one tackler staying behind to hold the Thanatos. However, they turned out to be bait – and soon something like 20 new blackops battleships joined them. Our fleet warped off, except for one, tackled by the Loki, and scattered to make safe spots around the system.

With the fleets now AUs apart, the smack talk started in local. They evidently thought we’d killed the Rorqual, and we kept mum about the fact that it was actually logged off in system. All that was left was to wait them to get bored and leave so we could extract our fleet (plus our new toy). We lit up a cyno to get the Rorqual to the wormhole – the cyno Loki was in system and I’m rather hoping he warped to it and got to watch our new Rorqual come through – and we then escorted it through the chain of wormholes back home.

And that’s the best kind of Rorqual. A free one. On the other hand, dead Rorquals are a very close second.

The prize

A Quiet Night in Providence

It had been a relatively quiet night. We had a nullsec connection into the south-east of Providence and were poking around to try and get some action, but it seemed like all of their FCs were offline – everything was docking as soon as we got close. We’d gotten a few small kills here and there, but overall it had been fairly slim pickings, and we were considering switching another nullsec in our chain.

That all changed when our interceptor pilot reported a Dominix warping to a gate that our little fleet happened to be sitting on the other side of. Naturally, we went for tackle when he jumped through. Oddly enough, he aggressed on us. Suspicious of a trap – we were expecting a local fleet to form up and challenge us at any moment – we kept range. This made our damage output rather weak – with only my tornado really capable of any damage projection. He continued aggressing though, and no backup was forthcoming. Eventually we moved in for the kill, and he died alone.

After clearing his weapons timer Devian jumped through and found a Vexor sitting a little way off the gate. As we cleared aggression, a Manticore uncloaked and Devian went for tackle on the Vexor. We jumped through as soon as he had point, knocked off the Manticore – who at no point even attempted to evade death, and then the Vexor. We also got their pods – pod saver tabs are just for suckers. Battle report.

We were ready to head back home – our cargos already full of loot and I was getting low on ammo having fired most of mine at the Dominix. Devian, however, decided to just check one nearby system. Being Devian, he promptly found and tackled a Vargur in an anomaly. The vargur had brought along a scimitar for reps – naturally it died first. With his logistics dead, we quickly exhausted his ASB and killed him, though our own logistics pilot was forced off the field under fire from both the Vargur and the rats. A cheap fit, but marauders make good prey however they’re fit. As a bonus, even though it was only T1 ammo, I could even replenish my stocks.

I don’t know how the Providence intel channels weren’t screaming bloody murder about us by this point, but less than ten minutes later we caught a siterunning Harbinger. And as we turn for home, we run into the Vargur and Scimitar pilots, who’ve apparently decided it would be a good idea to try their luck in an arty thrasher and nemesis. Thrashers are pretty effective against frigates, yes, but get butchered by tornadoes. And nemeses don’t work well against frigates. So they died again.

Providence killboard

Using w-space to access nullsec is a lot of fun. You can drop out deep into the vulnerable underbelly of sovereign space, and prey on the ratters. Although it generally takes a great deal of silliness on the part of a ratter to get caught – between intel channels, local, and the time it takes to run an anomaly scanner, locate their site, and warp to it – there’s ample opportunity for even the least agile ship to get out. And yet… we keep catching them. There’s a lot of silly people around. Even better, if you’re lucky, they’ll put up a defense fleet to push you out, and you can get a good fight from that.