Monday, 28 April 2014

Nomadikon: Survival Kit

Living entirely out of a depot is proving an interesting way to live.

But now that I'm here in the Wildlands, there are certain things I brought that I wish I hadn't, and certain things I didn't bring that would be very helpful right now (and I'm hoping a lucky pirate kill will oblige me).

So here's a quick draft of what I'll call the "Nomad Survival Kit". I'll probably be heavily editing this list as I learn more about this way of life, and I'll leave a page up at the top of the site for people to use later on.

Survival Kit

  • Ammunition 
  • Salvager
  • Cargo expanders
  • Core probe launcher (and probes)
  • Combat probe launcher (and probes)
  • Armour/hull repairer
  • Mobile Depots
  • Cloaking device
  • Warp scrambler

Ammunition is fairly self-explanatory. You'll have T1 drops of what you shoot, but you're much better off using faction ammunition. This is, however, the last thing I'd pack. You'll want to bring as much as you can, so pack the other items first, and pad out with ammunition.

The salvager is for salvaging wrecks. Not necessarily needed, but salvage materials, with their great ISK to cargo space ratio are nothing to be sniffed at for the nomad conscious of a bursting hold. That, and removing the wreck will hide your trail in a 'busy' system.

Cargo expanders are a must, if only for the trip out and for the eventual moving day. These are, of course, fit into every low you have. I know someone out there is trembling at the thought of not having warp core stabilizers... well, we'll need to trust in out cloak. The truth is that a dedicated ambush camp will kill you, and the warp core stabilizers are not going to help with that.

The Core probe launcher is to find an escape route if the net closes in on you, and you're not confident in your ability to sneak past. You can also use it to scan down combat sites. I count it as a travel fit item.

The combat probe launcher... I'm sure you can find a use for that.

The armour and hull repairer is something that sadly I wish I'd thought of before flying out here. My bomber took some armour damage, and there's no way for me to repair that outside of visiting a station. The hull repairer is for the same reason. It only needs to be a cheap one, but obviously, the better it it, the less time you'll be spending uncloaked and repairing.

As discussed earlier, you'll need at lest two mobile depots. Oddly enough, they're more secure after you've deployed them, rather than keeping them sitting in a hold. You'll have to balance the number you take with how much ammunition you bring.

Cloaking device will keep you alive. Never fly without one. That is all.

Warp scrambler is a bit of a thorny issue with me. On the one hand, I don't really advocate piracy, or at least I find the actual act of it something I can't do. On the other, We really need to use any resource presenting itself. A mining barge with strip miners is worth at least a million in loot and salvage. So, I'll put it there as an option. Be warned though: We're better off co-existing with locals rather than earning their ire, leading to better relations with them and less chance of a battleship group parking itself in system.

As for the thing I wish I'd left behind? I brought a small pulse laser for dealing with frigates. After using it, it's not really worth it. It doesn't hurt, but the bomber's torpedoes deal with frigates well enough. The lasers damage just isn't enough to justify mounting it.

Hunting and gathering

Yesterday I had a very busy schedule, but managed to find some time to explore space.

The Great Wildlands is an interesting place. The only people you see are generally in transit, explorers looking for wormholes, or people who are just generally lost, confused, and desperately trying to get back to space with more stations.

There is at least one corp I know of living in the small clutch of systems containing stations, but I've never seen them venture far from their docks. I occasionally wander past them, but I have yet to see one in space. I must make a note of greeting them to see what their response is.

I've often heard that all null-sec corporations are violent, territorial and greedy. Also, that warp disruption bubbles are everywhere. I'm working on the assumption that this is mere hearsay, and that the truth is ultimately more complex. It usually is. I'm looking forward to speaking to these more settled null-sec dwellers.

But that's a side project for a later time. 

Over the past few weeks, my depots have been filling up, and I've just added a few more to extend my range. I'm getting into the habit of keeping munitions in my hold down to a bear minimum, so that I can carry back more loot. In terms of actual ISK gained in the last week, that's up to about 70 million. The majority of that is in items and salvage. I'll need Benh to come out and pick it up once he gets over his little incident.

That's not an inconsiderable amount of money, and my actual flying time has been limited to 20 or so minutes a day. I'm finding null-sec to be quite lucrative, and much, much safer that low sec. It's also very peaceful out here. I'm beginning to see the attraction.

Particularly since you can make over 10 million in under 10 minutes. 

Immediately after starting to explore space, I found a Domination Angel battleship loitering around in a belt, surrounded by some cruiser serfs. The bounties alone were worth more than 8 million. Torpedoes flew, and hulls were rent open to hard vacuum. The battleship went down surprisingly fast for such a high bounty.

The drops weren't that inspiring, but that's only relative. Really, 200k modules are nothing to be sniffed at.

Much better than that, someone had clearly been through the belt claiming bounties too, but failed to check the wrecks. That means free loot and salvage! I ended up getting about 2 million in modules and salvage, and it only took a few minutes of picking up someone else's garbage.

The take home message is this: Take everything you can. If you're choosing this lifestyle, you won't have the luxury of a ship replacement program, or a secure place to hoard your findings. Every scrap of ISK is vital for the inevitable day when someone will come to destroy it all.

Practical notes:

I'm getting a better handle on Null-sec mechanics, and the 'true' security levels in particular. Put simply, the lower the true-sec value of a system, the better quality pirates you'll find. You'll need to balance that quality of pirates against number of belts.

Also be aware that these will inevitably be high-traffic areas. If you pitch your tent in this system, expect it to be noticed much more easily. So again, balance true-sec vs. travel time.

Salvage is smaller than modules. It's tight, but fit a salvager. Not only will you make more cash off your kills, but it's easier to transport than modules.

I've also started to refine my depot living techniques, and I'll make the move to sovereign space in two weeks time. 

Saturday, 26 April 2014

War record: Trade Log

So yeah, I get to do one of these things.

I was running a not inconsiderable amount of stuff from Amarr to Hek two days ago in my Wreathe. Now, to be fair, I really wasn't paying attention. I know I should take more care with hauling, but, well... read on. And besides, I really wanted to find out what happened to Vinneti. Those long hauls are good reading time, and I'm a sucker for Gallente crime stories.

I jumped into a system, and span up the warp coils for a jump. Suddenly, alarms go off, I get little red warning lights flashing in my eyes along with a big red warning light flooding the pod with crimson. I also spilled my pod-kaf.

I looked up from my reader and saw that someone had taken a good chunk out of my shields. Out of reflex, I hammered on the defenses (read: Damage Control Unit), and prepared for combat! (read: to die horribly)

Or at least I would have if I wasn't already halfway across the system and slowing down for the next gate jump.


So, yeah, that was my first time being the target of a gank. It... did not go so well for the ganker. Now, don't get me wrong, he took a big chunk out of my shields. But he lost a ship for his troubles, and judging by the chunk taken out of my shields, it was a big ship.

I've heard of this Burn Jita thing. I did the run that night to avoid having to deal with it. Honestly, I'm not sure it was worth the extra effort. Seems like gankers these days haven't quite worked out that T1 industrial ships are tougher than they used to be.

Ah well.

If I were the boss I'd go into a full-blown discourse on warp-mechanics and gank avoidance strategies. I don't have time for that, and know the exact reason I got caught: my ship wasn't named, therefore was unlucky.

Fixed that problem. Debt Dodger will again make the trip out to Amarr in a couple of weeks.

Why Debt Dodger? Well, that refers to this time in Dodixie, when I needed to make a quick get away after a not-quite-on-the-books deal. Let's just say electro-magnets were involved. See why I like those Gallente crime novels? Reminds me of my well-spent youth.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Nomadikon: Camp sites

Alternative title: At least two baskets...

One of the biggest problems of living undocked full-time, is where to put your eggs, er, I mean, loot.

Battleship drops can be as big as 50m^3, which is roughly 1/5 of a bomber's cargo hold. It's a fairly big chunk of space, even on something cruiser sized. I had filled up my hold within 10 mins of clearing belts, and was sitting in a belt uncloaked wrestling with my ships inability to jettison more than one can every five minutes, trying to sort out the valuables from the not so valuable.

The best solution is a mobile depot.

Mobile Depots

  • Big cargo hold for it's size (50m^3 gets you 3000-4000m^3)
  • Difficult to scan down (depending on meta level)
  • Ability to re-fit ship
  • Fits easily in a frigate.
  • Relatively cheap (depending on meta level)

You could also use secure containers, but these don't have a good size to cargo capacity ratio, don't have the reinforcement timer, and doesn't look as good.

The depot also has an interesting mechanic, whereby if you emergency scoop the depot, the items inside are immediately jettisoned into a can. Nice for a quick transfer of items between friends, but something to consider if you find your depot under siege and need to bug out quick.

This is the important tip though: have more than one.


  • Maintain 2+ depots in your hunting grounds
  • Keep at least 2-6 jumps distance between each depot
  • Divide ammuntion stores equally between them.
  • Divide loot stores equally between them
  • Do not log off at your depots
  • Safes at about 15AU distance from jump gate travel lines are preferred
  • Adopt naming conventions of the locals

Quite simply, if someone finds it, and you can't defend it, you will have lost a good chunk of income. The best solution for this is to have at least two depots you store items in, so that the risk is somewhat mitigated. Nothing is going to stop a determined attacker from getting your spoils, but that doesn't mean we should make it easy for them.

That's why we keep them a number of jumps apart, and away from common travel lines. It only takes a quick D-scan to find a depot (and then a long while probing to actually locate it), but depending on where you set up, those 2-6 jumps can have enough divergent paths to make it a hassle to find them all. Keeping them out of easy D-scan range reduces the risk of people finding them.

Furthermore, keeping all of your assets split up, gives you many more choices to re-deploy from. If one of your depots is taken, you can refit from a different one, and get back to hunting. Be wary of escaping to a system with your depot in it. They will eventually catch you and your depot. Be brave my friend, and run into unknown space, and return once pursuit has lost interest.

The last point to consider is naming your depot. By adopting the naming conventions of the local residents, we gain anonymity in the crowd. Resist the temptation to mark your territory. The closer you mimic  the POS and other depots around you, the less notice you'll attract. They may even assume you to be a friend. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Savage's Fiddle

Or, "Bar-bar-bar."

I recently wrote about the people who were famous to me in New Eden. Mord Fiddle was one of them.

And that's peculiar. He spends most of his time in Non-sovereignty null-security space, and writes almost exclusively about the various events of the sovereign alliances.I spend most of my time in low-sec, and hi-sec trade hubs. We don't share any common ground.

Except for writing. And writing is the reason I count Mord as one of my most important influences. His writing style is unique among most bloggers, and he has a wonderful way of describing the machinations of the null-sec war-lords. Even me describing them as warlords in due, in part, to the colourful and vivid narratives and thought-provoking analogies he creates.

Not to mention the personal benefit I get from his blog. I get a steady stream of page views directed from his site. I'm proud to be included on his blog list.

But it was mostly what he wrote about that kept me coming back. More specifically, it was when he spoke of barbarians.

As he says, 'barbarian' is essentially another way of calling someone savage, or uncivilized. It's an ancient Greek term, since the conversation of their less-urban inclined neighbors sounded to them like "Bar bar bar bar bar." Over the ages, it's come to apply to anyone we see as overly aggressive, with a tendency to use their enemies' skulls for drinking wine.

And it is these stories that fascinate me.

Mord recently announced his departure from New Eden, based on the new industrial taxes that will hit soon, and the inferred Cosmic developers' contempt for those living in Hi-sec. I'm not convinced this is the whole of the reason.

CSM Ripard Teg said in a comment that most of Mord's posts are based on the unfortunately named CFC, and that they mostly contain a certain amount of vitriol for the group. He claims burn-out for Mord's choice to join the Sleepers in immortal slumber. I tend to agree.

I believe the reason for that is because the CFC are the only worthwhile thing to write about in Null-sec. They have been for a long time. And thus far, despite some minor footnotes of other alliances rising to power, but quickly brokering treaties with the swarm, there has been little else for him to talk about. I'd be burnt-out too if my passion had only come to chronicling the rise of a single entity. After commenting and  analyzing the chaos of null-sec before, I'm not surprised.

In other words, it's kind of dull.

I know nothing of null-sec, but things must have become more barren for one who wrote so passionately about it to lose interest.

So I think of barbarians. More specifically, I think about the more successful ones.

The idea of a barbarian without culture or civilization is entirely misleading. They often do have one, it's just distinctly different from those looking out over the horde and trembling. The word barbarian quite literally means foreigner, or something other.

Which is why Mord's ideas of barbarianism never really gained traction. Whilst he advocated looting and pillaging, I always felt it was from the perspective of setting out to raid and pillage from a secure place. Which is logical. You need somewhere to cart back that plunder.

But the next logical extension is that you'd need to defend said place, and things start to look a lot like a traditional null-sec alliance. And we already have one that reached the peak of that particular development cycle. The real answer lies in a fundamentally different way of living in null-sec. A different culture.

The most successful barbarians in ages past were nomadic herdsmen. They lived in tents, and never built anything to last. When things became uncomfortable, they just packed up and left. An entire empire was built this way. All they asked from their subjects was some gold to prevent unpleasantness. Other than that, they lived off the land, and traded with the more settled people.

This kind of nomadic existence doesn't exist in New Eden's null-sec. There is a general feeling of ownership, and that ownership of systems comes with a right to security. The idea that one should 'own' space before one is allowed to exploit it is built into the narrative of the cluster. Even worm-hole residents put up there POS towers as a way of flag-planting.

But, as Mord says, barbarians tend not to care who's hiding in the castle, so long as they get to use the lands whilst he's there. The very idea of paying to operate in someone else's space is a dream. It is certainly more convenient to be able to dock up, but with current technology, it's no longer absolutely necessary.

The Great Wildlands is home to nomadic Thukkers. I am entering this dark place to learn their ways. Once I have the theory and practice of living without station or POS, I will move to sovereignty held null-sec, and hunt all they have. I intend to find out whether a different culture beyond the settled farmers can exist in null-sec.

I am moving to Null-sec. But I am doing it on my terms. I will not bend my knee to any alliance there, and I will not pay for the right to live in space they refuse to patrol.

I do not go for destruction, although I am aware many will try to bring it to me. I go to create, to learn and to teach. I actually envisage collaboration rather than opposition to the locals.

But the biggest reason, inspirations aside, is to see if I can.

It is a challenge, and one I look forward to tackling.

I keep hearing null-sec is essentially safe. I'm not a big risk taker. Safe space sounds great to me. And if the local landlords come after me, well... I'm not all that risk averse. I love a good chase.

Catch me if you can.

Ugh, I have no talent for this philosophical rambling. Next up, some practical advice for living out of a depot.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Null-sec Nomad

It occurred to me as I looted the clone pirate wreck a week ago, that you don't need to own space to profit from it.

None of the high-sec capsuleers can claim ownership of a single system. Low-sec corporations can, by right-of-might, claim a system as their own. But they don't get to fly their banner from the stations ramparts. The closest they get to that is the cheery little corp logo adorning their station office door.

And yet, these pilots flourish. They exploit their space, quite without the keys to the system. When the mood takes them, they may camp outside the star gates, snarling at interlopers, but when it's time for bed, their ownership amounts to nothing but words lost in the void.

My little jaunt out to Thukker controlled space cemented this idea. I was exploiting space quite beyond the clutches of the Empires, the gentle iron fist of CONCORD, and with only minor pirates for company.

It's dangerous, no doubt about that. There are only a handful of stations in the whole region. But because of that, it's largely untraveled. Warp disruption bubbles aren't a problem if there's no one to deploy them.

So, I made a few little preparations and headed out to see if I could live there for a week.

Preparations were simple. The biggest problem of extended operations in the Great Wildlands was cargo space. This is semi-fixed by deploying mobile depots. I have a number of them dotted around the Region now, all in safe spots, and hopefully beyond the care of other people.

Setting up was easy enough. Cargo expanders in the lows meant I could carry more, and the depot ensured I could refit once I got into my hunting grounds.

I pretty much have this space to myself. I warp out to belts, collect the bounties on a few pirates, and loot them. I then return the loot to the nearest Depot. Rinse and repeat.

I see much more of the alliances I read about in the press. Pandemic Legion, Read Alliance, and some others. I never really met them in Hi- or Low-sec. They flitter around the Wildlands, probably looking for someone to kill. I wonder who? They can't be after me... unless they've brought a dedicated probe ship, and have their hearts set on a mobile depot kill mail. And the pirates in the belts go fairly un-molested, save for one lonely Khanid taking their bounties.

I also met a budding exploration pilot, wandering around the Wildlands in  Magnate, lows full of warp core stabilizers. Rookie capsuleer. He'd only been in space for 3 weeks. We had a brief chat about where to find things, and he left my hunting grounds. I wish him well. He said he learned a lot from his past 3 ship losses. Good man. Hope he can maintain that optimism.

But as I rove between my interstellar camps, wondering how I can convince Benh to pilot an industrial out to pick up all of what I've collected, I struggle with this question: Why am I out here?

And I think it all comes down to one writer.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Day Tripping

Time for a holiday from Faction Warfare. But where to go?

I spend the majority of my time in low sec and high sec. Honestly, a bit more high sec. I do my shopping in hubs and strike out from there, with re-supply caches dotted around low sec.

Quick tip: Little caches spread out across space gets you into fights faster than one big supply depot in a single system. A little more prep-work, and definitely something to consider at a corporation level. If I could follow my own advice in this matter, I'd have a much healthier kill board.

New Eden offers a variety of interesting holiday destinations for the discerning capsuleer. I've done wormholes before, but I've only ever been to Null-sec once or twice in my entire career.

So what can I do in Null-sec? Go and take a system? Sounds like to much work. Hunt down some sov alliance miners? I tried that in piracy... didn't really work.

But I would like to visit.

So, I fit up a stealth bomber, and left to have a look around. Why the bomber? Because it's very effective at dealing with the mundane, non-capsuleer pirates that infest the belts of 0.0. I planned on making a little cash whilst I'm out there.

And I did! In about 30 minutes of idle hopping around I made 10 million ISK, including drops.

I went to the closest null-sec region, The Great Wildlands. It was easy enough to get in. Passing through Molden Heath meant that most of the would-be gate campers were scared off by the various pirate corps that live there.

I think I might have gone on record as saying this already, but pirates are good people.

I went a few systems into null sec, and marveled at the empty systems. I warped out to a belt, and promptly earned 1 million ISK in bounties, and another half in loot.

I jumped to the next belt, and tried my luck against a battle cruiser group. Half a million in bounties, a further half in loot.

I repeated this process and within 4 belts, had enough for a new Rifter. I wasn't even being efficient with it. I was testing out torpedoes against frigates to see how fast I could take them. The answer was, not very fast at all. If I was truly ISK focused, I would warp in, blast the battleships, bookmark and and loot, ignoring the frigates.

The only problem I could see was that my little bomber couldn't haul off with all of the loot. Battleship drops tend to be battleship size, and whilst they're worth a good deal of ISK, I couldn't carry much.

Honestly, it was a nice break from the chaos of low sec. Peculiar as that sounds in totally lawless space.

And it did start the idea mill turning...

Friday, 18 April 2014

A brief oddyssey

Occasionally I get the deep desire to go to wormholes.

And why not? They're exciting places. New space, with weird and wonderful creatures infesting their lonely space lanes. Almost unspoiled systems. And treasure. An awful lot of treasure to be found.

I jumped in my Astero to find the nearest wormhole I could, and go looking for treasure.

And the first one was 2 jumps out of Hek!

I leapt inside and...

Found myself in low-sec. Thrilling.

Well, treasure turns up in odd places. I warped out to a nearby belt to make a safe-spot.

Quick tip: Making a safe spot in every system you come into is a good habit to get into to. Never know when it might come in handy. The procedure is simple: bookmark your location in warp. Their are four levels of safe:

  1. A bookmarked location between two known orbitals (stations etc.). 
  2. A bookmarked location between a safe and a known orbital. 
  3. A bookmarked location between two safes.
  4. A bookmarked location out of D-Scan range from the furthest orbital of the sun (now all but impossible to get).
Anyway, at the belt I found the wreck of a clone pirate. Un-looted. Clearly someone got scared by me entering system, and left even the very valuable tag inside. Nice.

So, with a hold suddenly worth a great deal of money, I dropped back through the wormhole to the tune of 10 million ISK. Not bad for what amounted to a few system jumps.

It did start me thinking though. I have been spinning my heels around Metropolis and the Crusade stomping grounds for a bit too long. And my Rifter experiments haven't born much in the way of good news. 

Maybe it's time for a change of pace.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Blog Banter 55: Famous to me

In response the the recent blog banter:

Last Blog Banter we talked about heroes in EVE Online. The followup to that topic has been provided by Wilhelm aka The Ancient Gaming Noob:

Write about somebody who is "space famous" and why you hate/admire them, somebody who isn't space famous but you think should be or will be, or discuss space fame in general, what it means, and how people end up so famous.
I'd like to add another take on the subject, is there a cost of being famous in EVE and if so, is it worth the price?


This started out as a response to the previous blog banter. I didn't really like it though. Everyone had already said much of want I wanted to say. But this idea did form out of it, and it neatly lines up with the current banter.

Rather than focus on who's famous to everyone else in New Eden, I'll instead look at who's famous to me. All of them are bloggers, which perhaps says more about me than I'd care to admit. But these are the people I've come to respect and admire in New Eden.

Roc Weiler
A blogger, former Matari colonel, body builder and generally a nice guy.

Whilst I served in the Crusade I considered him my Minmatar opposite. Just as I sought to exemplify the teachings of a Khanid, he sought to express the spirit of the Brutor.

He recently joined Stay Frosty, casting aside his old military harness in favour of struggling for freedom from the Empires. I wish him well, and hope he finds whatever cause he's looking for among those surprising pirates.

What I admire most about the man is his sheer optimism. He genuinely believes that others can gain the discipline and success he has. His posts on physical fitness are a testament to his faith that people only need to be shown how to help themselves to make their lives better.

I hope he realizes others believe in Roc Weiler, and I consider it a tragedy I never crossed turrets with him when I was with the Crusade.

Sugar Kyle
A blogger, a pirate industrialist, and budding politician.

Sugar was actually the first blogger I met in space, although I doubt she remembers the encounter! Needless to say I didn't realize it was her at the time either, but we did chat about trading a little.

I admire how she balances her life between piracy and industry. Rather than simply use low-sec space as an arena, she truly lives there. It's not enough for her to use it to fight in. She develops it, and I'm grateful that her Cougar Store has had such a positive effect on Molden Heath (my youth's stomping grounds).

This woman embodies the low sec resident ideal.If you haven't voted for her for CSM 9, and you live in low-sec, I implore you to stop reading now, and change that.

Azual Skoll
A skilled pilot who has left fame and infamy.
I can't think of any solo-pilot who hasn't benefited from his teachings. His 'Know your enemy' posts were some of the first lessons I had in capsuleer combat. I'm continually amazed at how little I know about piloting in comparison, and how topics he wrote about years ago are still relevant today.

Mord Fiddle
I know nothing of null-sec politics, and yet Mord Fiddle's writings lay all so clear that even a fool like me can understand.
The enjoyment I find from his discussions of the state of the sovereignty alliances cannot be over stated. I only hope that my own feeble writings on the state of Faction Warfare come to but a tenth of the quality of his.

And now a word from my market partner, Benh Thanh...

The Three Wise Men

Yeah these are mine: croda, Gevlon Goblin and MoxNix.

Croda and the boss both started blogging at around the same time. I've stolen a lot of good ideas of that guy, and he was the first to link Behnid's blog. Nice Guy, and very market savvy. You only need to look at his wallet to see that.

Gevlon is a bit of a controversial character. He has a strong opinion about pretty much anything, but the way he attacks his projects shows more love for New Eden than most of the more popular personalities show. Stolen some good ideas off him too.

MoxNix showed me how to trade without all the effort of the other two. That's not to say he's lazy, but when it comes to making the easy ISK, without the data banks full of spreadsheets, he's true trade royalty.

All right, I've got work to do. Whilst Behnid wastes time writing about his idols, guess who's gotta keep the ISK flowing in. Don't know why I still work for the bast...*static*

Yes, thank you Benh.

You'll note that names such as The Mittani, or Ripard Teg aren't on my list. The reason is simple. I don't know them. I've read hundreds of articles on Jester's Trek, and I've heard many tales of the Mittani's nefarious actions. But they aren't famous to me. If they dropped out of the game tomorrow, I doubt I'd bat an eye.

People don't become famous in isolation. We make them. By the simple act of celebrating who they and their accomplishments, we turn them into celebrities. The people I've listed, to me at least, are worth celebrating. If any of them read this, I just hope they know what a positive impact they've had on my New Eden career.

Honourable mentions:

Kirith Kodachi. His simple posts linking my Rifter thought experiment gave me a wider audience than I ever thought possible. I couldn't thank him enough.

Rixx Javix. My former CEO is a man who hardly needs help tooting his horn. He is one of New Eden's true Characters, and his antics are always an enjoyment to watch.

Jack Dancer. A man kind enough to link my blog on his site after a chance encounter in space. I still owe him a Rifter duel in my Breacher!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Strategikon: Tactics of Faction Warfare (Solo)

Please note, this does not refer to overall strategy on a corporate or alliance level, but will focus on the strategies a single pilot can use to succeed in Faction Warfare.

I also write this from the perspective of a solo pilot. I rarely fly with others, and although it's on my to-do list, don't know the first thing about leading a fleet.

Tasks for the solo pilot in FW fall under three broad categories. Two of these are socially acceptable. One is frowned upon. We will discuss all three. A good soldier should learn about all tactics, even if they never employ them. I also cast no particular judgement on the use of that strategy, as it does directly benefit the goals of the militia.

It's only annoying to combatants. It's not like you're blowing up freighters full of slaves.

The below are very abbreviated summaries of the three broad strategies.

Search and destroy

This involves hunting down war targets, destroying them, re-arming and repeating. Often called a roam.

This is the more offensive strategy, and gives you total choice over whether or not an engagement takes place. In general, you will enter a system, and warp to a safe spot. You locate targets using your D-scan, and, depending on what you find, will engage at your discretion.

Whilst you will find many engagements, you will not be earning a great many loyalty points. I recommend a brawling vessel for this, as these (usually) tougher ships give you the greatest chance of surviving the defenders counter-attack. You will also find many novice kiter pilots sitting on the warp-in point, leading to easy kills.

This is the strategy employed by pirates to find targets. If you're looking to learn this, Stay Frosty is a corp that will teach you well.

Fighting patrol

This was the first strategy I used for the Crusade, and involves capturing complexes.

Warp in system. Find an empty complex using the probe scanner. Orbit around, and wait to capture. If a pilot comes into the plex, engage.

This is the most defensive strategy (ironic since some pilots doing this are participating in offensive plexing... you are attacking the enemy militia's outpost). You will engage any opponent that seeks to stop you capturing the plex. I recommend using a kiter for this. Your greater range will allow you to choose whether or not to engage the enemy entering the plex. If 3 destroyers and a Griffin warp in, you'll have a 20km head-start for running away.

The militias are the best place to learn this strategy, as you will earn LP for every fight you don't get. Win-win. If you are outside of the militia, you an modify this for any important objective you know enemies will come to.

Occupation patrol

Similar to the above, this is where you capture complexes, but avoid combat.

This is the best strategy for making money. Keep an eye on D-scan, and run when you see an enemy appear. Your ship will be quick (with an MWD and maybe a back up Afterburner), and you will have warp core stabilizers in your lows. You will need some weapons to defeat the non-capsuleer militia ships.

Pilots performing these patrols are near universally reviled by most combatants. However, they have their place. As the majority of pilots, particularly the skilled ones, are only interested in padding out their kill boards, the actual act of capturing space gets left to these pilots.

Personally, I don't judge the pilots themselves, but rather the peculiar system CONCORD created to restrain the Empires from annihilating each other.

This strategy is only applicable in the militias, which reward LP for capturing points.

My personal favourite is Search and destroy. Hunting is generally more fun than being hunted, and you take a lot more control of the battlefield. I've never done an occupation patrol. It has it's value in terms of overall alliance strategy, but for the solo pilot, it's only purpose is money.

And I get that through other ways.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Trade Log: Back to business and a few quick tips

I do so enjoy fixing other people's mistakes. My former-master now-boss fluffed up his finances. Needless to say, it took me a whole 2 days to fix it.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Benh Thanh, Behnid's former market slave.

So, as soon as Behnid joined the Tribal Liberation Force, I became a free man. With all the rights, privileges, and taxes that come with it. Apparently even mercs for the Matai forces can't own slaves, and his conscience was giving him the usual unprofitable pangs.

Which means that we no longer enjoyed those lovely tax exemptions on our trades. Ugh. Nothing worse than giving governments money. They rarely know how to invest it.

Slaves aren't taxable in the Empire. Any customs taxes that get put on my shipments need to be sent off to my master. As my Master was very difficult to track down (piracy and all that), the invoices got lost bouncing around the legendary Imperial Bureaucratic machine. The Republic also doesn't tax slaves. Anything you bring out of the Empire is considered liberated goods, and basically what you use to make a new life in the Republic. They also strongly hint it's a good idea to go back to the Empire and liberate more stuff.

These new taxes would seriously cut into my bottom line. So, I put my plan into effect.

My first step was to free my wife, posted in Amarr. Behnid managed to sneak her papers under the local authorities, and bam, free lady. With all the rights and privileges of an Amarrian subject to the crown. One of those rights being the right to own slaves.

Holder status is surprisingly cheap to obtain these days.

After that, I sold myself to my wife for the incredible price of 1 ISK. Well, at least that was the starting offer. She haggled me down to 0.01 ISK. God, I love that woman. So now, like all husbands, I'm a slave to my wife... just more literally so. And blissfully free of taxes on moving goods between the Empire and Republic.

I guess I shouldn't mention what category of slave I am. Let's just say I get to share the exotic dancer lounges in stations.

Anyway... fixing problems.

It took three runs from Amarr to Hek. Starting with 100mil liquid ISK, I bought a dozen or so stacks of, well, crap that no one wanted in Amarr, but was highly valued in Hek. Two days later, and we're looking at a PLEX within a week, with enough licenses to keep the Sir Chief Behnid, myself, and my wife in space.

Seriously, if you need a lot of cash in a hurry, and you're not afraid of travel, Region Trading is the way to go. It's even a little easier than when I first started. Frigates warp faster these days, and Industrials don't take forever to get going. I did the last 2 runs in a Wreathe. Never felt more secure carrying 100mil worth of stuff.

But I just want to share a quick tip I discovered. Made my life a whole lot easier.

Before, I would use spreadsheets and market browsers to keep track of everything. It was fantastic, and kept track of everything well, and I could get all kinds of data.

It did add a lot of time to my trading though.

But did you know the market browser had a quick bar?

Using folders to organize what you region trade and what you station trade, you spend a lot less clicks going through your orders. Before, I'd go to my order page, get the menu open, wait for it to load, check back on my spreadsheets etc.

Now, I open up the market quick bar, and just scroll down to update my orders. Many of you are thinking, 'Duh, why didn't you do that before?' No one told me how, that's why.

But something I did discover though, which was pretty nifty. You know you can add your own text notes to items in the browser?

I use this now instead of referring to my spreadsheets. If I find an item worth trading (which croda does so well in explaining how.. and which I tried to explain a while back), I just add it to quick bar, put it in the right folder, and note 'Buy". If I have the item already, I note 'Selling'.

(Actual items censored to protect my investments. Do you own research you lazy bums)

How does this help? My wife in Amarr shares the same market browser as me. I don't have to keep referring to spreadsheets to see what I want to buy, or what I don't need to get more of. More time spent actually buying/selling, and less spent on fixing my terrible spreadsheet equations, is more potential profit.

Just a quick tip for your market noobies out there, and those who don't want to spend too much time crafting spreadsheets. Nothing better than good accounting though, so if you're serious about things, still make that spreadsheet. Some mercantile royalty types do seem to get along fine without though.

Now I need to go find the Boss. last I saw he was babbling something about wormholes and the profits there in, and trying to find his Astero keys.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The right ship for the job

Before you even undock, you need to think about what you plan on doing.

Seems obvious, but you'd be surprised how often people get into space without having a clue what they're doing or even why they're doing it.

You can't choose a ship unless you know what you need to do. In the most extreme cases, you'll have someone fitting auto-cannons to a Badger, and going out to conquer null-sec. Seems silly*, but you'll see a lot of similar cases in space. Things like that Coercer in a close orbit around the entry point of a complex.

The Coercer pilot didn't know their ship. They read some advice, along the lines of 'if you brawl stay close to the entry point' and 'brawling is the bravest way to fight'. They then got into the most deadly ship they can fly, and died in big explosion from that Breacher sneaking in under their guns.

This highlights a couple of mistakes.

First up, not realizing the Coercer is better for long range. There will be times when you want to get up close to a ship (maybe fighting against a cruiser for example), but if you're waiting in a plex, a bit of distance will mean melting that Breacher before it can even set it's drones on you.

Second, is not understanding the theory behind close orbiting. We do that to make sure we catch any kiters before they can get out to their preferred orbits. However, it's not a case of do it and succeed. You need a scrambler to catch those kiters, and a web to keep them from coasting out of range. Attempting to do the same trick with a warp disruptor will lead to a fiery death.

And that's only the fitting stage. You also need to have the discipline to focus first on web and scram, and then start applying firepower. I usually follow the advice of 'He who punches first, punches last', but in this case, if you don't have that kiter before their MWD launches them to safety, you've lost. It'll be a slow death, and you might be able to slingshot them back into your grasp. But I wouldn't count on it.

The third mistake is worrying what other people think about you. So what if you used a kiting strategy? That's just the ship you're flying. Hek, if you're the one in a defensive position, the bastard chose to fight a kiting ship. They certainly can't complain when that kiting strategy took them down.

What matters is that you survived the encounter. They may get frustrated, but if they can't learn from the loss, then that's their problem. You clearly learned your lesson. That's why you get the LP for the plex, and the bounty for their ship.

My oath gives me the strength and focus to develop myself as a pilot. Learn from the shadows. Learn from your past defeats. Bring your light of understanding. Then when you go walking in dark places, you just might come back alive.

And with some kill-mails to prove you've been there.

*But being the man I am, I've just had a quick think about how that could work. It involves siphon units, wormholes and a hold full of exotic dancers. You'd be surprised how many great ideas involve a hold full of exotic dancers.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Strategikon: Rifter Ammunition

Whilst I'm neck deep in money making schemes, I'll take a quick break to talk about Rifter ammunition. I promised this months ago, and with the recent changes to the Rifter it became more achievable.


Before, ammunition selection for the Rifter was tricky. It's bonuses favored a close in style of fighting, which meant a variety of close range ammunition types, along with Barrage for dealing with blaster boats. I was all set for a comparison of resistance vs. damage types, which escalated quickly, since modular customization of New Eden vessels makes for a massive variety of resistance profiles.

That changed with the fall-off range increase. Or rather, my perception changed.

Lets look at the graph again, this time updated for the new fall-off bonus.

Blue lines are pre-fall-off bonus. Red are post.

The new ammunition change point is about 7 km. If you're thinking this is a pretty good sweet spot to be orbiting, you'd be right. Just at scram range, and in deep fall-off for most blasters. If you're going quick enough, and can finely manage the distance, you might also be able to out-run rockets. Missiles have a travel time which limits their range. Rather than follow straight lines, they follow more of a 'chase' trajectory. If you're at the max range of rockets, they might not make it to you.


Regardless of damage type, you want Barrage for kiters.

The reasoning is simple. Unless you are very very confident you can catch a kiter at close range at the beginning of a fight, you will lose applied firepower getting into range. If a kiter managers to escape your grasp, you will also lose firepower.

Blaster Boats

If you are fighting any kind of blaster boat, use Barrage. You'll need to keep out of range whilst your superior fall-off range whittles them down. In the case of most blaster boats, this will mean a lot of whittling. Your biggest problem will be the Atron, as they have comparable range.These fights will be very close for you.

This hasn't really changed since before. The benefit now is that new Rifter pilots without access to Barrage have a much better chance of countering blaster boats. It also makes your fight more forgiving if you get jumped by one with your close range ammo loaded.

Rocket Boats

The above applies to rocket ships as well. Unlike a blaster boat, auto-canon firepower won't overwhelm your opponent. It's also more likely that rocket boats will be faster than you, and better able to dictate range. Load Barrage, and keep your damage application more consistent.

Pulse Laser Boats

The only time you'll be using short-range ammo is when  you're fighting a pulse laser boat. These will typically fight within scram range, and you'll be able to use the Rifter's higher speed to close the distance. Your superior tracking will take over at point blank range.

These ships are Punishers, Tormentors, and Executioners. Looking at resist profiles for these ships, you're best off using explosive rounds. You may come across a Succubus, the Sansha pirate frigate... but honestly if you find yourself under threat from a pirate frigate in a Rifter, perhaps disgression is the better part of valour.

Rocket choice

Conventional wisdom states that thermal is best, to avoid hitting a brick wall when it comes to resistance. The rules are slightly different for rockets, because you'll be using them at all ranges, and it's only a secondary weapon.

Summary of charges to be carried

Republic Fusion
Navy Inferno rockets
Nano-repair paste


Does this negate the damage type selection of projectiles? Yes, but to be honest, it's not that great a benefit in the first place. Unless you can be absolutely certain of your enemies fit and module layout, you invite catastrophic failure, rather than a tougher fight.

The advantage still has relevance in attacking the uniformly designed non-capsuleer pirates that infest New Eden, so it's not a total loss.

Further experiments

Whilst I think the above is probably the best choice for ammunition choice, I have hunch that the traditional, high-damage close range rounds aren't the best choice for the new Rifter.

Before, with the Rifter's 25% tracking bonus, and AC reliance on fall-off, short range ammunition is preferred. This was smart, since ACs out-tracked most other turrets at close range, meaning a point-blank attack usually worked out well. Slashers are perfect for this tactic, with the speed to nip in under turrets and stick there, gently pricking their opponents to death.

The new Rifter might better benefit from the mid-range ammo. Deplete Uranium or Titanium Sabot both have a 20% tracking bonus, somewhat similar to the old Rifter tracking bonus. The damage is significantly less, but you'll be able to apply that damage better.

This is the best mind-set to have when piloting a Minmatar ship. It's not about the firepower you bring to the field, but the accuracy in how you apply it, and how best to avoid it.

I'll be testing out the effectiveness of fusion vs. depleted uranium on my own ships. If it works out well, I'll let you know.

Crisis of funding

Well, turns out bring branded a traitor had greater repercussions than I thought.

Put simply, the ISKredit card I was using to fund my Pilot License has expired, and I've been officially barred from space. Ordinarily, the banks on Khanid would just send me a new one. Apparently, they don't do that for traitors living in Hek.

I will eventually get a new one. Nations rarely impede banks in their business, and the wealth generated by a single capsuleer is, well, astronomical. A family member who has yet to disown me is working on a courier as we speak... but that could take a month or two.

It's not really a problem. CONCORD gives you a 4 hour grace period to purchase a PLEX from the markets. I have a few in storage*, and cashed in one.

However, it does mean I'm running low on funds. To put it in perspective, I'm down to about 100 Rifters, in wealth. That's not bad, but it's also not good. If I continue to rely on PLEX, then that will dwindle fast. If I want to keep my little organisation running, I'll need to work on funding for the next month.

This does push back the Rifter experiments, and my desire to move to cruisers. Hopefully we can get back to them at some point.

*PLEX almost always increase in price. If you're looking to take time off, or have too much cash that you don't have interest in trading, they are a good investment.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

War record: Initial Rifter trials

Or: Rusty ship, rusty pilot.

So, my first few sorties were a terrible tragedy.

Lets start with my first flight since I returned from the Academy.

This flight was actually when I was still flying with Stay Frosty. There's not much to tell about this defeat. Rather than make the most of the Rifter's fall-off bonus, I decided to brawl at point blank range. The Tristan has drones and a tracking bonus to hybrids... close range is not where you want to be if they are blaster fit. And this one was.

Maybe things would have gone better if they were rail fit, but the next flight shows that my piloting skills really suffered from my absence.

Before that though, I lost this clone. A simple gank as I warped into Hek to re-ship. An important reminder to not be sloppy with your long range navigation, and to mind your suspect timers.

The second defeat was one of pure incompetence. I decided to change my control layout. What I thought I was doing was hammering my after burner on, wondering why the module wasn't working, and I wasn't going faster. What my opponent saw was a Rifter crawling along furiously pulsing it's warp scrambler.

Again, I lost this clone, as I was too slow in warping away. Luckily the implant lost wasn't too expensive, and my skills had outgrown the need for it.

The third loss was against a Slicer, and kind of solidifies a theory I have about capturing plexes. When I was a pirate, the easiest kills I made were on brawling ships orbiting warp-ins. In this fight, I thought that since I was sitting on the warp-in, I could catch any kiter that came in before it could get to it's preferred range. As such, when I saw the Slicer on D-scan, I loaded close range ammo.

Unfortunately, the pilot overheated his MWD, rushed toward me and got out to his preferred range before I could tag them with my scrambler and web. I then had to spend 10 seconds reloading barrage before I could hit them. If I had long range ammo fit before the fight started, I might even had won.

However, before the fight began, I had already given my opponent control over the engagement. He chose when to start the fight, whereas I was simply waiting for him. If you are capturing a plex, I highly recommend a kiting ship. It gives you much more control over the engagement, as you can simply speed away from a fight. There are exceptions, but if you have terrible reflexes (like me) this will make you more successful.

These kills were fairly won by my opponents. It's important to not excuse your losses, as doing so encourages complacency. In frigate combat, there is no room for error, and even the slightest mistiming or course correction can mean the difference between loss and defeat. As a pilot, you must learn to shelve your ego, and admit your mistakes, and the simple truth that your adversary was better than you.

That way you can get better than them quicker, and exact revenge.


Know your ship: If you are flying a long fall-off Rifter, don't get close to the blaster-boat. But actually these losses did give me clarity on what ammunition is useful for the Rifter to carry. Playing the averages, it does cut down what you need to carry quite a lot.

Navigation discipline: If you have insta-dock warp ins, use them. Related to this, have an escape plan ready for when your ship is lost. I like to warp to the sun, but any celestial body will do. Follow up by warping to your safe spot.

Timer awareness: If you are a suspect, never assume anywhere is safe.

Know your controls: Don't be an idiot. Know which button turns on your after burner.

Know your situation: I'll recommend it here again. For capturing a plex, use a kiter.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The current position of the Tribal Liberation Force

Much like when I first started at the Crusade, the situation is fairly dire for the TLF. They are down to one or two stronghold systems (ironically a jump or two away from Kamela, the Amarr stronghold system), member count is low, and Crusade pilots are lurking around Hek.

Is this bad?

If you're a Matari living in the The Bleak Lands and the less protected areas of Metropolis, yes. For capsuleers? No. In fact it's rather good.

Offensive plexing, or capturing of hostile outposts, nets you more Loyalty points (LP) which can buy you things at the militia quartermaster. The more hostile systems there are, the more choices you have to capture. If there is a concentration of crusaders in one system, no matter, just avoid them, and attack somewhere else.

If, like me, you plan on using Imperial Navy ships and armaments (for reasons that will become apparent later), it actually works out better for your wallet. The market is currently flooded with Imperial tech and weaponry. Their prices are low. Republic fleet items are running low, and they are worth more.

Aside from the occasional Cap booster and ammunition for my Rifter experiments, there's not much I want from the TLF quartermaster. Everything I get from there is for sale... and what's better, I don't have to pay extravagant shipping costs to get these to my market partner.

So, we have a target rich environment, with cheap weapons that I want to use, and a relatively safe income source. Jolly good.

There is a downside to this. Operational range is, of course, limited. I can't use stations to rearm and repair for extended patrols into the Bleak Lands. And there is also a strange question of fighting style, which I'll discuss in my next post.

It involves me exploding. A lot.