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Camping the Wrong Gate

Two days after the 4.6 bill Rattlesnake kill I mentioned earlier, we were looking to form up for a roam. As we were prepping, I looked at Milal and realized someone had come and set up a gate camp. We scrambled to form up, pushed a bait ship through the gate, and proceeded to dismantled their gate camp. A Falcon and a Tengu didn’t survive the engagement, and we learned that a Stratios that had been on grid was fitted with core stabs, which we found amusing and annoying at the same time.

We decided to look into these guys the next day. I ran some locates and tracked them down to another lowsec pocket. Neutral eyes found that their corp had a larger presence there. They ran a gate camp that we planned on crashing, but it packed up before we could arrive. I found a small mining operation, and we sent a bait Thorax in to tackle a miner and draw out a fight.

And did it ever draw out a fight. The bait thorax died as expected, but not before we arrived and killed two Megathrons, a Claymore, and an Orthrus. Then a Phoenix and Archon warped in from an NPC station and pushed us off the field, leaving behind a Harbinger.

We were excited. We had new playmates, Lifeblood was due to launch the next day, and we had plans for that expansion.

Occupy Arera

While all the action in my last post was going on, I also moved my NEAPS operations from Itamo to Arera. Lately I’ve been busy with in-corp action and haven’t done much ganking, but here’s the toll up through the end of October:

  • 15 Hulks
  • 7 Mackinaws
  • 6 Covetors
  • 5 Retrievers
  • 2 Procurers
  • 1 Iteron Mark V
  • 1 Nereus
  • 1 Bestower

Some high value and/or interesting kills among those:

Ace Onzo  was kind enough to fit Ore Strip Miners on one of my first ganks in the area. I only noticed later that I also caught his Gila in one of our lowsec systems.

More Ore miners donated to the cause. And more, along with storyline upgrades.

This capsule. And this one. And another. And this one, too. Seriously, lots of expensive capsules.

A few kills I didn’t include in that list up there:

This Noctis, belonging to a group of bots that operate in and around Shuria.

I was scanning for other stuff and found a Bestower idling in a safe spot. A cargo scan told me all I needed to know: it had to die.

After a few weeks of my reign of terror, the local population thinned quite a bit and the remaining began trying to put up resistance to my activities. I largely ignored their efforts, ganking ships under the watchful eye of Drakes and Hurricanes intended to stop me. One pilot decided he’d reship from his exhumer to a Succubus. This gave me probably the most absurd gank of the month.

Giving up on armed resistance, the remaining miners sought the final refuge of besieged miners: the belts had nothing but Skiffs left in them. Thinking themselves safe, they took to smack talking my corp in local. So, I ganked a Skiff. Turns out they’re not as gank-proof as the miners think. After that, there were plenty of times that the ice fields of Bashakru went hours untouched, my alts were the only characters loitering in local, and the local mercenary hired to deal with me was nowhere to be seen.

One last pair of ganks: while moving a scout around tracking targets, I stumbled across a pair of ships idling at the docking radius of a station. I burned a fleet of criminal catalysts 15 jumps through highsec to get these kills:

Deacon

Retribution

Feeling Like a Rookie

If you want a peek into the mind of a much-younger me, making my first foray into wardecs and everything else The Skunkworks did, you can still read my old blog. The jump to Arcana Noctis and the way we operate in lowsec has given me a lot of the same “new and exciting” impressions. I’ve found myself finding fresh applications for the skills I’ve honed hunting in highsec, learning new tactics and doctrines that would never work there, and just generally having a lot more freedom to engage people with involuntary content.

Arcana Noctis isn’t just a PVP corporation. It’s our driving motivation, but we are also building something.

My first fleet engagement with ARCNO was this battle. We showed up for the armor timer on an astrahus belonging to the same corp that I helped them run locates for when we met, and were met by a Mercenary Coalition hotdrop that resulted in us losing a ship after putting down several belonging to the wartargets. We disengaged and left them to recover. I knew I was in the right corp when no one raged about the fight. We were isk-negative, the targets had hired mercs to do their fighting, and the general vibe was that this was an expected outcome sometimes. Risk averse need not apply.

I asked a lot of questions, did a lot of listening, and fired out what works for me. I lost several scout ships leaving them idling on gates in lowsec while paying attention to other accounts. We had some good fights, one unpleasant one where I lost another Hyperion, and we ganked a pair of stupidly expensive Hulks: Hulk 1 Hulk 2. Following the gank, Master Thai returned to the ice belt in a Machariel and spent hours rage bumping every miner out of the belt. I returned four hours after the gank to find him sitting in the belt, surrounded by six Orcas that had all been bumped 200+ km out of the belt and were sitting idle. Apparently there was some history concerning his fleet and the other locals, and he assumed we’d been hired to hit him.

It took me a few weeks to really get my feet under me. I settled in using neutral scouts to patrol both lowsec pockets we control, hunting anything that lingered long enough to be caught. The best catch I made was a Rattlesnake found running what I assume was an escalation.

Seeing that he was in a rat-heavy pocket, and flying a Rattlesnake on top of that, I grabbed my Hyperion and took my best shot at it. I was able to get on grid and tackle him, clearly demonstrating a remarkable lack of situational awareness on his part. A corpmate scrambled to bring a pair of Oracles to the fight while I held him down and chewed on his considerable tank. The oracles arrived, opened up on him and when that failed to burn out his tank overheated guns to the point of failure. The oracles warped out with no guns and in structure from rats, but the damage was done: he’d spent his capacitor trying to hold up to their DPS and my lone neut was able to finally break him down and his ship experienced sudden rapid disassembly. I looted the wreck and got out with a single cap booster left from tanking the rats.

Clicked the link yet? Go back and click it. We rode high on that kill for a week. Two days later we made some new…friends. More about that later.

Occupy Itamo, and a New Beginning

After my departure from the empty Skunkworks, I decided to stay in the area I’d been fighting wardecs and revive my ganking corp, NEAPS. Over the course of 19 days:

34 retrievers

10 covetors

1 tayra

2 Miasmos

5 Mackinaws

7 Hulks

1 Porpoise

2 Ventures

Public Enemy was hired to wardec me, and we had a friendly conversation regarding their disappointment at the sec status of the average NEAPS pilot as well their appreciation for being prolific enough to encourage people to give them money to wardec a group that can be shot in highsec anyway.

While that was going on, I continued operating my locator alt as a service for others. For those who don’t know how this works, I have a character that has sufficient standings with an empire to access all the level 4 agents there. Years ago I worked out a set of bookmarks that give me 27 agents in a 46 jump looping route. I can spam locates on average about every 90 seconds indefinitely. Some people have found that to be a very useful service.

One such person contacted me looking for locates on a particular individual. After explaining the nature of my alt to him and telling him I was at my next agent by the time the first locate was back, he asked about putting me on a retainer for his corp. We worked out a deal, I looked at their war and proceeded to track down an online player who was in space. My main provided neutral scouting and a probed warp-in. It was an insignificant kill, but they were impressed by my ability to provide content and set about recruiting me. After some due diligence on both our parts, I joined Arcana Noctis three days later.

After six years (minus probably two worth of unsubbed breaks) of highsec wardecs, ganking, and griefing, I moved out to lowsec to join a group of like-minded individuals who, as our fearless leader put it, “intend to force our content upon anyone we choose.” It’s been a thrill to fly in a proper fleet again, with excellent FCs and lots of good fights. I relocated to the corp’s home system and set about figuring out life in lowsec. I quietly exercised an abundance of caution which we’ve joked about since I admitted it to the corp: I waited about a week to expose anything of value, as my history meant someone might have been looking to bait me into a good opportunity for payback.

Back Again Part 3: All Good Things

It’s been two months since the war with Moonshade Citizens. So forgive me if I’m light on specific details. Facing a dozen-ship defense fleet, I opted to poke them frequently by hitting and stragglers and unwary miners I could find. That went well:

  1. Moa
  2. Covetor
  3. Thrasher
  4. Venture
  5. Corax (the Venture pilot returning for revenge)
  6. Venture

…plus several pods as people failed to escape. That last venture kill was with my new Hyperion fit that I was trying out. I wanted something to brawl with. Being a lone operator versus a dozen guys, I needed lots of tank and something that wouldn’t scare the locals. Marauders are great, but you can’t win a fight if it never starts.

Not that I won. I picked a fight on the gate of their home system and spent ten minutes brawling with 11 members of the corp. In that time, I spent far too much time trying to kill a Raven that I should have ignored before deciding to turn my guns onto the cruisers. I killed one Vexor before making a critical error with my tank management and watching my lovely new ship explode. It tanked 218,000 damage during the fight and only died to my own rusty skills.

After that loss, and seeing some of my old mercenary friends ally into a different war against me, I finally made the call. I dropped my corp roles and quit The Skunkworks. It was time to look for something new.

Back Again Part 2: Back to War

I promise, I’m still playing. Things in Eve took an…interesting turn that distracted me from writing for a bit. I’m going to catch up with that eventually.

Following the loss of my Stratios to three Orcas, I decided to wardec some of locals who got involved in that mess. Vergnugen Industries made for a fruitful war.

An hour after going live, I found an Orca making a short run to Jita. Catching him on gate aligning to Jita 4-4, I pointed him and began the arduous task of burning down an Orca with an Orthrus. He had time to call for help, a call answered by a Vexor and a Thrasher. His friends didn’t last long, and I was finally able to finish the kill.

In the course of scouting these targets, I stumbled across another party who had decced them. We got to talking, and he put me onto another target: Moonshade Citizens. The next day we took up a joint venture of picking a fight with them…which resulted in a dozen ships turning up on gate with the two of us. I quickly picked off one catalyst then another before speeding out of range and warping away. These guys put up a great fight and we were off to a fun start.

The next day locates found the CEO of Vergnugen on the move. I sped to intercept him, killing a Nereus and its pod on the way. I knew my prey was in something big and slow and I was concerned that his corpmate dying on the pipeline would cause him to dock. It didn’t. I caught his Obelisk in Murema, aligning to the station that was his destination. After ten minutes or so of shooting and bumping him, he finally managed to get close enough to the gate that I knew I was going to lose him. I deaggressed and gave him a few more bumps so that my timer could reset, and we jumped a few seconds apart. On the other side of the gate in Warouh, I went right back to chewing through his freighter. It finally exploded and he was so occupied with his loss that his pod stayed on grid long enough for me to catch it, too.

That freighter kill isn’t properly valued on zkill. Those blueprints were originals, and the Moros BPO was 6/10 researched. The overall value was somewhere around 12 billion.

At that point, Vergnugen was done for the war, and I never saw another member in space. Moonshade, on the other hand, was just really getting started.

Back Again (part 1)

…and then, 17 months later…

So I set Eve aside for a while, and a month ago picked it up again to see if there was anything interesting left in it. I’ve just dropped another month’s worth of PLEX on my main account, so I guess I found something.

My first probes into Eve were cautious. After an extended period of almost no gaming, my instincts wouldn’t be at their best. I decided to just roam about highsec and have a look at what’s new.

Citadels and the like are everywhere. I’ve learned that these add an extra layer of annoyance to hunters because locator agents don’t know the difference between “docked in a citadel” and “in space”. Which I suppose is the same as sitting inside a POS shield, only you can’t find their ship via scan probes and definitively put eyes on them.

Even more of highsec feels…depopulated now than I recall. With no content to reward living on the fringes, everything seems to have contracted toward Jita. Even Dodixie has a pitifully small population compared to what I remember. This isn’t intended to be a complaint about a slight dip in concurrent users, but rather the lack of content giving incentive to be somewhere more than five jumps from Jita.

Remembering what kept me occupied in my last foray into New Eden, I began investigating asteroid and ice belts. I found a remarkable number of Orcas solo mining with expensive drones. I also observed, to no great surprise, Orcas surrounded by balls of Skiffs. These were clearly the multiboxers who learned long ago to give up yield to avoid ganks.

Still, there was enough on the field to stay interested. I stumbled upon a well-populated ice belt and destroyed an MTU that wasn’t being watched.  A nearby retriever saw the opportunity to take on a dastardly suspect. That went as you would expect. But then my rusty instincts betrayed me. While I was killing that retriever, several Orcas targeted me and closed distance with microwarp drives. I suddenly found myself swarmed with 20 drones, with multiple webs and points on me. My poor Stratios died heroically trying to chew through an Orca’s tank.

Getting mauled by Orcas was new. Seeing miners shoot suspects was interesting. It was time to look at the game a bit longer. And time for a wardec.