Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A break from the battlefield

With other duties occupation my time, I will be taking a short vacation from the Crusade.

Ben Thanh will still maintain his trade operations, but actual combat will have to take a back seat. I wouldn't be able to give the ship to ship engagements the attention they need.

I will maintain this record. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Walk in dark places

With all the press about the unfortunately named CFC and renters lately, I've been tempted to join a null-sec corporation.

The siren song of sovereignty null sec is certainly a sweet one. It's the battlefield that receives the most attention, and the most reporting. the battles are titanic, the logistical challenges absorbing, and even mining can be a great adventure.

My Oath calls me to walk in dark places, and the space in null-sec is certainly the darkest. The shadows there have great knowledge.

Planetary Interaction is strong there. Null sec regional trading should keep Benh as happy as a pig in mud.

There are certainly many reasons to go to Null.

There are, however, a few problems.

Fleet fights are incredibly dull. Usually a rank and file member won't even know what's happening. He will click on the primary target, lock and fire, without any input on overall strategy and tactics. Eventually, he will be primaried, and that will be the end of his battle.

The Rules. All null-sec alliances have strict rules and regulations. These rules are absolutely necessary for these null-sec entities to operate. Whilst I can appreciate this, my Khanid blood roars at answering to any man's laws except my King's!

Finally, the people.

Whilst the Crusade is packed to the brim of unsavory types, I am not affiliated with them, nor do I have to put up with their churlish behavior to succeed in my goals. If I were to join a Null-sec entity, I would be at the mercy of immaturity and often downright offensive capsuleers. Their reputation would precede my own, and I'd rather not listen to endless litanies about certain male organs, or the the inferiority of whoever they happen to be mildly annoyed by that week.

I'm sure there are great pilots in sovereign null-sec. But these good people allow their names to be marked by the apes flinging feces around them.

In short, Null-sec has it's appeal. But I'd want to go there on my terms. Not on someone else's. I'm happy to learn from shadows, but I refuse to become one.

Perhaps a plan for the future, but for now, the Crusade is where I belong.

At least until Khanid II deems otherwise.  

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

War Record: Honourable Rebel

Today I lost a Kontos Executioner.

Kill mail

Very briefly, I was surprised by the auto-canons hitting me out to 12km, and made the mistake of believing them to be artillery. I closed to range to finish him off... where his rocket launcher made short work of me. A shame, as the foe had burned out his weapons trying to kill me. I could have won, if I stuck to my strategy.


Trust in the strategy if you are winning.

However, the pilot was gracious in victory, offering me his fit so I could see how I lost. We had a nice post match discussion, and he admitted he couldn't believe how much trouble he had with me. I take the compliment, since I am still a very poor pilot.

He was even gracious enough to give me some information about his corporation and where they operate. I appreciate this. When I set up my own Savaran, I will base it in a system where the most tenacious and skilled pilots are. My own pilots will need the practice.

Details aside, the best thing one can do after a fight is engage your fellow pilot in conversation. Polite conversation I might add.

I don't believe in the so-called 'smack talk' which is the posturing of inexperienced pilots who only seek a superficial rush of adrenaline in combat. This kind of pilot will inevitably find himself humilated as he strokes his own ego at the expense of others.

Far better to be like the honourable warrior who discussed tactics with me. I may have lost a frigate, but I come out of it with valuable information. He has his kill mail, denies me my objective, and also comes out with information, improving upon his victory. Had he reverted to tribal chest-thumping, he would have lost this opportunity to learn more of his enemy.

I hope to meet this man in battle again. I hope to fight his Firetail once more. This, I believe, is why so many are fascinated with this solo patrolling.

I still have to explain to my King exactly why I lost my frigate to a ship with no guns. That's not a conversation I relish.

My kill counter will revert back to 0. Five more to go, before I allow myself to command a fleet.

Stategikon Arcani: Ballista

For our first solution to the I-Hub siege problem, let us consider the ballista

A ballista is an accurate weapon, as siege equipment goes. It is essentially an over sized crossbow, hurling javelins at your enemy at great range.

It's best used against troops, rather than buildings. A 4 meter long stick to the chest presents a greater problem to the average infantry man, than it would to a stone wall. However, it's lighter construction, and the kinetic force it exerts still make it useful as a piece of siege equipment for a light, highly mobile task force.

Essentially, fire enough large sticks at a wooden gate, and eventually you'll get in. Hardly elegant, but easier to move than larger pieces of siege equipment.

Which brings us to this: the Man'jenuk Stealth Bomber

[Purifier, Man'jenuk]
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II

1MN Microwarpdrive II
[empty med slot]
[empty med slot]

Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
[empty high slot]

Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
[empty rig slot]

Posted above is a max damage fitting for the Purifier, the Amarr stealth bomber. If it looks inflexible, that's because it is, and because it is designed to be.

  • 700dps
  • Low price
  • Relatively low Skill Points
  • Cloak

This solution draws inspiration from the tragically named CFC raiding groups that roamed around Fountain in their conflict with the equally tragically named TEST Alliance: Please Ignore. Despite their names, however, they do have some of the best strategies and tactics in New Eden, proving the old adage: a rose by any other name can still make you bleed with it's thorns.

The CFC would form large raiding parties of Stealth Bombers and assault various sovereignty structures. They were largely successful in paving the way for larger capital fleets to come and put in the decisive blow. Using Black Ops battleships, these fleets could strike deep into enemy territory.

The advantages of the Stealth bomber are it's relatively low price tag to damage done ratio, coming in under 50 million isk and putting somewhere between 400-700dps depending on skills. Whilst the max damage variant takes a while to skill up to, meta modules and faction ammo can be used for similar effects.

It's use is simple. Warp to structure, target and begin firing.

The supreme advantage of the Stealth Bomber is it's cloaking device. Should an enemy fleet counter attack the siege fleet, cease fire, cloak up, and warp away to evade capture. You can then regroup, and mount a surprise counter-counter attack from stealth!

Unfortunately, it is not perfect for our task. Like the versatile ballista, the Bomber is best used against heavy troops, or in this case, cruisers and battleships. It only achieves our benchmark dps at highest skill levels, and as you can see, is fairly inflexible.

Any changes to the above fitting will result in a loss of dps. More than that, unless you are a missile specialist, you will have to stop your normal weapons training in order to use such a bomber.

Unlike the Null sec warlords, we have no need for the complex web of jump bridges and Black Ops ships. The Crusades operations can all be done via traditional Jumpgate warfare.

It certainly provides you with a plethora of strategic options, and a good soldier of the crusade is not doing himself a disservice in training for one. However, I prefer a much less subtle ship, which I'll discuss in my next post.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Setting a goal

So after a week long shore leave from the front, I've decided that solo fighting on its own is not satisfying enough.

I understand that many pilots enjoy it, and I can see the appeal, but I've always preferred building, logistics and strategies to a fist fight. No to say I don't enjoy them from time to time... a good warrior should always keep his basic combat skills sharp. But I feel I can, and thus, should be doing more.

In any case, my King keeps asking for progress reports. A few destroyed frigates has not been satisfying him either.

So, I want to create a Savaran, or corporation of pilots.

The reason is simple. The Crusade needs bastions.

For a single roaming militia member, the most annoying thing is losing your ship, and having  long trek back to your staging area to re-ship, and fight again. Another problem with patrolling deep into enemy territory, is that you are not allowed to dock in enemy held stations. This is more significant for Amarr pilots, as armour does not replenish itself... and any true cataphract of the Kingdom trusts in his armour.

The Crusade needs bastions placed at regular intervals across the war zone, to allow faster re-deployment of our pilots, and keep them from frustrations of logistics.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to lead a corp, or even the mechanics to maintain it. But, as my family's oath states: Learn from shadows. I intend to learn more about how to fight in this war zone. And any training program needs goals.

Action Plan

  1. Get 5 solo kills
  2. Particiapate in 5 sieges
  3. Command a fleet of frigates
  4. Develop frigate fleet strategies and tactics
  5. Command 5 frigate fleets
  6. Command a fleet of cruisers
  7. Develop cruiser fleet strategies and tactics
  8. Command 5 cruiser fleets
  9. Command an I-Hub siege fleet
  10. Develop siege fleet strategies and tactics
  11. Command 5 siege fleets
  12. Create a corporation
During these steps, I will be creating a format for my corporation to maintain a bastion.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Trade Log: Buying (Regional Trading)

Hi again. I'm here to tell you about Buying.

So, this is actually the hardest part of the whole trading business, and how well you do as a trader is a direct product of what you choose to buy.

That said, don't feel too pressured. So long as you set your sell order higher than what you bought the item for, you will make a profit. Of course, when you make that profit is a completely different question. It depends on your patience, and how active you want to be in trading.

Before you do anything, choose your hubs. Here is an excellent description buy a far wiser trader than I am, which highlights the regional hubs by size. The idea is buying from a bigger hub, and selling to a smaller. The hubs I work are Amarr and Hek... the reason being I was born in Hek, and Master Arcani operates from Amarr.

On a side note, flooding the Republic's markets with cheaper Amarr goods also sucks wealth from the regions economy. This is the one reason my Master didn't kill me on site for selling guns to his enemies. An added bonus is the intelligence my Master picks up from his patrols. Every ship he blows up gives us an idea of what the Liberation Force is buying, and thus what I should be selling.

A better idea is to work from Jita, that giant ISK blackhole in Caladri space. Prices tend to be the best there, and you'll never want for supply. If you are a serious trader, not working a Jita store is dumb. Really dumb.

Anyway, the easiest way to find things to buy is to use appropriate intelligence channels. This trade tool will give you a distinct advantage in choosing items. Essentially, set your budget, fill in your hubs, and you can just select the items you want to trade.

Sound simple? That's because it is! Using this site, you are nearly guaranteed to make profit.


This is where your experience and knowledge will come into play. Some items sell faster than others. As a rule of thumb, the fastest sellers are:

  • Skill books
  • Implants
  • Modules
  • Rigs

... and in that order too. Avoid things that are manufactured, since you'll put yourself in competition with the industrial capsuleers. Use your common sense too. If you can pick something up for a million and sell it for a billion, chances are it's too good to be true.

Feel free to take risks and gamble on unfamiliar items. The only thing that can hurt is a slow down in profit, provided you don't go all in on one item.

The actual buying can be done in two ways. Ideally you'd set up 'Buy Orders' at the bigger hub, so you can get something for the cheapest possible price. The problem with that is that you'd have to manage the buy order, which is added hassle.

The lazy way to do is simply to buy from the cheapest 'Sell order'. Not the most ISK efficient, but it depends on your chosen vocation. A pure trader can spend his time managing the buy orders along with what they station trade. If you'd like to do other things with your time, just pick up a sell order. It all comes down to what's important to you.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for the next post which tells you how to haul. 

Strategikon Arcani: Infrastructure Hub Siege (Sub-capital)

So after the rout at the Lamaa I-Hub, I decided that a siege vessel was needed.

The target:

Shield: 10,000,000
Armor: 2,500,000
Structure: 2,000,000
Shield regen: 700 hp/s

The above stats are really not accurate, but I'm having trouble finding legitimate sources of information for an I-hub. If anyone has any other details (beyond about the same as a POCO and hearsay) I'd be grateful. Remember, the FW hub is a smaller version of the null-sec sovereignty one.

Nevertheless, the shield regen alone gives us a good base DPS target. If our We should at least be aiming to cancel out the regen. then whoever else joins the fleet can actually begin applying damage.

We also need to consider the mobility of the ship. Ideally for shooting structures, you would use capital ships. Even if I could pilot it, it becomes unviable as a solo pilot, due to the need for scout ships, jump drive operators and so on. It is not Strategically mobile in Low security space.

The use of capital ships is a fleet effort. It should not be done lightly.

Needless to say, a capital ship is also an attractive kill mail. Many pilots would risk a great deal to take one down.

Range, whilst traditionally needed for large caliber weapons (so you're not caught in your own explosion), is not an issue here. The explosion radius of star ship weapons is far exceeded by the range of even the smallest caliber star ship weapon.

Defense is less of an issue than you might think. The I-hub does not shoot back, and should the siege fleet be assaulted, the first thing to do is retreat to a more advantageous battlefield. Staying to fire a few more volleys into the structure (or shoot down a frigate) will cost you your ship, and maybe even your clone.

Avoiding capture and warp disruption is much more important than being able to absorb damage.

Here are the necessities:

  • Damage scale-able up to or above 700dps
  • Strategic mobility
  • Warp disruption evasion.


  • Low cost
  • Accessible at low skill

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting my two solutions, for two different uses.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Trade Log: Starting off in Regional Trading

...amn pie.. of Min..tar junk! Why does anything made in Rens break the second you leave system?! Wait, is it on now?

Oh. Well... good.

My name is Benh Thanh. I am Vehrokior. I am a slave.

Lets clear away the obvious question. Do I like being a slave? To be honest, I never really think about it. What would I do with freedom? Probably the same thing as now, but I'd worry more about a steady pay check. As a slave, my family is taken care of by the Arcani, and as long as we work, we won't starve.

The Arcanis are good people, as most Holder families go. They treat us fairly, and show us trust. They don't have to. The Khanid aren't exactly known for the good treatment of slaves. If you want to know more, ask my Master. he loves to ramble on about crap like that..

Anyway, he asked me to talk about Region Trading. I guess he wants to give away all my secrets, but slave does as slave is told.

Region trading is this:
  • Buy stuff in one hub
  • Move it to another
  • Sell
  • Repeat
Got it? Good. That's all. I've got some business to get back- What? Oh. The whole story? Do you want us to lose all our profits?! 


Ahem. My master informs me, that this is not clear enough. I apologize for my rude outburst.


The above is entirely true. Region trading is simply the process of moving some cheap things in one trade hub to another one where the locals will pay more for it. 

There's all sorts of complicated reasons why there is a price difference. Certain things are in more demand in some places, some things are only produced in other places. Throw hauling time for that with a bunch of other factors, and you have a five hundred page essay, which will amount to a lot of time wasted when you could have been trading for profit.

That said, there are some things you can do to make trading an easy source of income. It takes a bit of effort to set up, but after the intial set up, you can do just a little bit every day to keep a steady profit.

Obviously the more active you are, the more you'll make.

Over the next few weeks I'll be describing each of the above stages in more detail. There are other more trade centered blogs out there, but I want to give you a lazy man's guide to 'enough riches', rather than boast of my riches.

After all... it's not my money. I just spend it.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Hunting Ghosts

I was flying back after an extended patrol in space.

There were no engagements so far. The Republic seemed unwilling to fight with me that day. No matter. I had a productive time capturing some minor stations deep in enemy territory. The Republic will pay for its lack of defense when these systems are made vulnerable.

Entering a system, I noticed a war target broadcasting in Local communications. My sensors picked up the distress call from a minor training outpost. Readying my defenses, I warped to the invader! He would pay for threatening such young recruits!

I leapt into the complex, ready to do valiant battle.

My foe wisely turned tail, and fled, before my warp disruptor could catch him. The outpost recruits thanked me, and I defended the system until they could bring up their cloaking systems again.

As I was about to leave, a distress beacon was lit in system again, this time a small patrol fleet discovering they were the target of a Republic mission.

Two stealth bombers appeared in Local, and I hunted them down, daring them to engage the fleet so I could ambush them in return.

Eventually, they decided my pulse lasers were too much of a threat, and left the system, their objectives thwarted, at least for now.

Minmatar aggression subdued, and without firing a shot I might add, I continued on my journey home.

On my flight back, there were many targets of opportunity. Many small stations were captured without retaliation.

Some of the braver Republic pilots scouted my operations, including another elite Firetail, but declined combat. Their reasons are their own, but I saw none for them to give up their complexes to me without a fight. They were content to menace me from the furthest extent of my scanners.

These are minor victories. No kill mails are attached to them, but each one furthers the Crusade's objectives. Remember, it is capturing points that will win this war, not the number of wrecks floating in system.

This should be your mind set when engaging in combat. You are there to deny your opponent his objectives, and further your own. This is best achieved through careful planning and maneuvering. Once you come into contact with the enemy, you invite variables which can lead to you losing your objectives.

That's not to say you flee from combat. But choose the fights that further your goals, rather than simply attacking the first thing that moves. Ships are expensive, and you shouldn't treat fighting in one like a drunken bar brawl.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

War record: I-Hub siege

Shortly after my initial sortie, a call went out to an Infrastructure Hub siege, commonly referred to as a 'bash'.

Once a system is taken to a vulnerable state, the I-Hub structure becomes open to attack. The attacking force then spends a long time focusing fire on it to capture. I will write a Strategikon post on this later, once I am in a position to enact good strategies for this.

I flew to the bash. It was a relatively small group, but I was shown immediately that my Kontos Executioner is unsuited for the task. A mere 120dps was barely registering compared to the battlecruisers and stealth bombers hammering the structure.

Nevertheless, victory comes with taking systems, and so I set my frigate to hammering the station, whilst researching viable siege ships.

About half an hour into the bash, everything went bad.

The I-Hub was brought to 50% shield strength when a Minmatar fleet of missile cruisers and battle cruisers dropped in, scattering the Crusade's siege fleet.

I was caught unawares, but remembered my running orders. I picked a target, orbited and took him down, before warping out.

I very nearly escaped, but unfortunately, the frigate was lost to combined fire from many cruisers.

I escaped in my pod to a celestial, and retreated back to the staging area. The loss of my first Kontos Executioner is not a heavy blow. It was able to garner about 20,000 Loyalty Points before exploding. More than enough to cover it's cost, with some profit, and I still have 9 back at the staging area, ready to go.


It was short-sighted of me not to notice the sudden increase of Minmatar militia in the system. I must keep an eye on local chat for sudden population increases.

Equally short-sighted is not having a ship ready for siege work. I will research this thoroughly, and have a ship waiting at my staging area for such tasks.

The siege was a failure due to the low firepower brought to the field. Strategies for bringing firepower must be found.

War record: First Kill

This was the first time I used the Kontos Executioner. Apologies for the late posting, but I had no idea how to post information about the kill. Turns out it was rather easy, a subject for a later discussion.

A course was plotted throughout The Bleak Lands, starting at Kamela.

  • Offensive capturing of points.
  • Fly high orbit of structure
  • Utilize Tent-pegging

Kamela is a popular staging area. There are probably good duels to be had here, but I dislike it due to the high population.

Lamaa by comparison was nearly empty. I warped to a Novice complex, and began my strategy. Whilst I waited, I made myself a cup of coffee. I didn't have to wait long.

A Firetail appeared on D-scan outside my complex.

Adrenaline kicked in, and my hands started to shake. The enemy appeared in the complex, I clicked to lock and started to orbit, pulse lasers pummeling purple destruction into the foes frigate.

So far so good.

He managed to close to 13km, and I activated my web, pinning him back. His shields went down.

He closed again to 13km, and I clicked my web, but it did not activate! The overheat had shut down, reducing it's effective range to 10km!

He closed the gap rapidly at that point. A warp scrambler landed, killing my MWD. He was faster than me, with better tracking.

I fumbled the crystal switch, loading Multi-frequency crystals. He was into armor now, but my flimsy shields were failing.

I noticed I was simply traveling in a straight line, easy prey for his guns!

His bullets crashed into my ships plating, armor stripping off with every shot.

And then suddenly... his ship vanished.

All that was left was a rapidly expanding cloud of debris.

I had won.

I complimented him on the fight, and thanked him for his participation in my first kill. He took it badly, but I was too high on victory to care. His loot was mine, and the complex captured, and my first kill is now a Faction frigate in a common hull.

I retreated to a station to repair my armor.


After the fight, I realized that letting him close the distance could have been easily avoided. Making sure the web is over-heated is crucial to maintaining distance from the target.

I fumbled the crystal switching, leading to valuable seconds of damage lost.

I was also remarkably lucky. Not only was his ship set up for close range fighting, but he did not even have long range ammunition ready.

In retrospect, traveling in a straight line at the end probably gave me the victory. He had far better tracking than I did. It would have been better for him to be on a tight orbit, where my pulses would have trouble hitting him.

And finally, when I am in an engagement, I must remember to put the coffee cup down. It was only after I looted the wreck I realized I was still holding it.

Appendix: Those cunning enough to check the rest of my kills will see a number of losses before the Firetail, and a 'kill'. I assure you, I was nowhere near that Incursus when it exploded. That pilot beat me without breaking a sweat.