Sunday, 17 August 2014

I know nothing

Lately I've been trying to keep myself to a posting schedule. I take Mondays and Tuesdays off (to actually spend in space!), and then write the rest of the time.

I stalled this week.

I was trying to make a thread of Rifter re-balances. I was trying to be clever, and used Excel to track falloff ranges, and tracking changes.

I tweaked fittings and manipulated graphs until EFT burned holes in my computer. Spreadsheet after spreadsheet fell to my cold calculations.

And I found out that all my suggestions were wrong.

I found the Rifter was exceptionally well balanced.

In fact, I would almost describe it as overpowered.

Imagine my shock, for a ship so underused.

It can literally compete with every single Tech 1 frigate, and I'm not un-convinced it can't best the Navy faction sips either. It has tactics to counter everything. It does not have a single winning formula, but it does gave one for every situation.

All the arguments that I used to claim the Rifter as weak, or somehow un-fit for combat, were demonstrably incorrect. I worked the numbers, and found that the only part of my Rifter that wasn't working was the pilot.

So, I must admit;

I know nothing.

I am... impressed with the finesse of design here.

I also need to apologize for the level of arrogance in assuming I knew better than the designers. I was wrong.

Fitting suggestions: Go with a standard set up. Rocket launcher in the utility high. If you want to scare kiters, two Projectile ambit rigs and a missile launcher works wonders, and actually fits with a meta plate fit. I'd also argue this is a great way to deal with drone users: Kite out to beyond scram range, and pop off the drones. Then close for the kill.

But this whole experience of working through the numbers has been valuable. I have a far greater appreciation for the effects of falloff range increases, and for tracking on turrets.

And I've found out that the Rifter works. It is a finely balanced blade. A product of years of engineering. No crude tool to repeat a tactic over and over, but a calm, measured responder to circumstances. If anything, I was wrong about capsuleers showing their age with a shift to the Tristan. The Rifter grew up... we didn't. We just switched to the easier ship to fly.

I've never wanted to fly a ship more in my entire life than I want to fly a Rifter now.

(That said, a little speed increase would be welcomed.)

((And maybe a reduction on reload times to make better use of damage type selection.))

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Swords of New Eden

Less of a factual post, this is more of a framing device for imagining New Eden's weapon systems. I tend to think of each star-ship in terms of conventional hand held weapons.

Honestly, I find it hard to conceptualize falloff and tracking, at least in real terms. Trying to hold all those numbers in my head means they start leaking out my ears. It's certainly impossible to work it out during combat.

Weapon systems also change their use from hull to hull. But keeping a group of weapons in mind whenever I encounter ships in space, allows me to react accordingly.

It also gives us a frame to understand the mystery of the Rifter's unpopularity.

So lets start with the easy one:

Pulse lasers are Spears

I've written several times how I equate these weapons to lances and polearms. They are excellent weapons of war, and perhaps the best example of a real military grade weapon.

They have the best operational range, able to damage at a distance well beyond the reach of other weapons. This is just like the spear. You're able to keep your opponent at arms reach, and you have excellent control at this range.

The ability to switch to point blank faster than other weapons is also shown here. A spear can be swiftly drawn back to a closer grip faster than most other weapons. If you're curious, take a stick, and hold it like a spear. Draw it through your dominant hand to a shorter grip. See how fast that was? Of course your control is limited at this range, but so is pulse laser tracking.

Spears had their roots in hunting tools, and again, lasers are one of the more popular NCP hunting weapons.

Blasters are axes

I've never really used blasters, except once in my youth when I thought the Thorax was the best looking ship in New Eden. But ask anyone anything about blasters, and the ridiculously high damage usually comes up. Blasters blast things apart, just as axes were designed to do.

Axes gained popularity around the same time as chain mail did. The reason being, axes were high impact weapons that could pummel a chain mail user, and even hammer past shields. That's not to say they lacked finesse, but that's what their purpose was: close-range high-damage.

You could also use it to chop wood. Most people living away from civilization centers prefer an axe over other weapons, simply because of it's utility. We see this quite clearly in New Eden, with various ratting Vexors and mission running Dominixes. Blasters are extremely quick to clear NCPs, and a baying pack of drones neatly wraps up the image of a hunter.

You can argue the Atron treats blasters as longer range weapons. You're right. I'd call them poleaxes.

The downside of axes was the lack of protection for its user. No hand guards, and a fairly vulnerable wooden handle meant that a competent opponent could hurt the user, or weapon easily. This was true until the blaster boats got their full-plate armour in the form of tanking bonuses, and a flat increase in hit points.

Projectiles are blades

Anyone who's flown a Slasher knows the seductively little dance of slipping in under an opponents guns, and jabbing them furiously at point blank. The Slasher is just what it says it is; a knife fighter. Utility highs and e-war fits show this little ship to be an utter scoundrel, cruelly closing range and attacking mere inches from the enemy. And it works extremely well.

If you intend to go pirating, you can't do much better in terms of theme than the Slasher.

And the Rifter? Rifters used to be long swords. Able to jab at full reach with Barrage, and then cut more vigorously at close range. In a universe defined by the three ranges: close, scram and disruptor, the Rifter could cope well at two of these, particularly since the other ships lacked the practicality in application of the Rifter.

Long swords, especially those with longer points, could more easily find the gaps in armour. This is represented by the ability to choose ammunition, to find that resist hole.

These days? Other weapons developed, and the Rifter went into stasis. Unsurprisingly, it became less popular. No one needed a plain heavy long sword when the modern axe could hit harder with decent armour to back it up... particularly since the axe users became either lighter on their feet, or started using hunting dogs.

It developed into the rapier. The weapon became a long thin piece of steel, more designed to thrust at long range, into falloff and scram range, but still heavy enough to cut. It was still better than a spear (Punisher) at close range, but nothing like a knife (Slasher) or an honest axe (Merlin/Incurs).

Which is a promising start, but it carries with it the flaws of the rapier. They were not primary military weapons. They were excellent sidearms, being easy to carry at the hip, but aside from a cavalry sabers, the majority of soldiers carried either spear,musket, or some kind of weapon to deal with either (axes being commonly used to chop spears into kindling).

Moreover, it can't full utilize the rapiers advantage. It can't easily find those gaps in armour. Reload times for projectiles are 10 seconds. Yes, you can hunt for those resist holes, but you're going to sacrifice nearly a quarter of your armour to find it. And the Rifter doesn't have much armour to spare.

And without that armour piercing capability, the relatively small damage advantage at range the Rifter has is irrelevant.

The Rifter is a blunt, and over-weight rapier. Yes, it can do reasonable damage at most ranges. But it can't react to its enemy as it should be able to. And even then, it can't leverage its advantage well. Furthermore, it's too bogged down by armour to dictate the ranges it likes against lighter ships.

It's still a good ship. It's just much harder to use effectively than other frigates.

Well, that's fairly common knowledge. Everyone knows this about the Rifter.

So... how ca we fix it?

We could petition designers to alter bonuses (and I'll post up later on my recommendation for that). That takes time though, and does nothing for our Rifter now.

Or we could break the rules a bit.

And we draw our influence from medieval Scandinavia.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Strategikon: Scram Range analysis and the Rifter

I was patrolling around in my Rifter the other day, when I realised a big gap in my knowledge. And it was a fairly crippling gap.

The Rifter is still very much unloved by capsuleers, or at least under-used. Part of this is due to a shift from dare-devil piloting to a more mature, and reliable flying style offered by the Tristan. The Fat Man's drone bay allows for relatively easy counters to an unexpected opponent, and doesn't require such light-footed reactions for piloting.

In short, capsuleers are showing their age. Passions of youth give way to the more cool responses of maturity.

But lets deal with the hulls themselves. A while back the Rifter was re-engineered to have longer ranged autocannons, at least as far as falloff was concerned. I was initially pleased, and excited about the possibility of an autocannon true kiter, operating out to disruption range. More on that later.

However, it still hasn't done the trick. New Eden still distrusts the Rifter. And I know why.

I was hunting for targets. Several frigates popped up on scans, and I noted there were a lot more pirate and navy ships fluttering around these days.

  • I saw an Incursus. Blaster boat. Should be easy prey for a scram range kiter... but for the drone it also carried. That drone's damage could be applied at all ranges, and might best my Rifters projectiles in falloff. Better find something more easily targeted.
  • Atron. Attack ship, so should also be easy to slug it out with... but its own falloff bonus means the heavy damage of blasters may out-do that of my relatively light projectiles. Hum.
  • Kestrel. Can put reliable rockets out to a distance equivalent to my projectiles...

You can see my problem.

Whilst I knew the Rifter's advantage lay in scram range kiting, I didn't actually know how good an advantage that was. Thus, I didn't have the confidence to take my ship into combat. I feel that many capsuleers are the same, and are not eager to go find out for themselves, for fear of embarrassment. I always think flying smart is just as important as flying bravely, and taking a ship into a bad situation without knowing what you're doing is fairly dumb.

So let's find out...

Tactic: Scram range kiting

This is where a ship will operate at the very edge of a warp scramblers range. It knocks out a micro-warp drive using ship, but also stays out of range of the bulk of returning fire. It's a much more delicate form of brawling, as opposed to the more common image of slugging it out with an opponent.


So lets look at some ranges and damage profiles. As before, I got my calculations from the Eve Uni-wiki. If anyone knows this is out of date, or simply wrong, please let me know!

Since we're looking at scram ranges, we'll only be comparing long range T2 ammunition in the biggest short-range guns that can be reasonably fit. This should give the best range achievable by a single hull. Of course, all these are T2 variants (as only these can fit the long range T2 ammuition types).

(Note: We could include faction T1 ammunition types, but they're typically inferior to the specialist T2 munitions for range)

I'll include example ships below for clarity. Many ships carry the same bonuses, and turret layout. If they carry additional drones, add +20dps for each drone (assuming Hobgoblin IIs). For a Rocket Launcher 2 secondary, add 18dps up to 10.1km (Navy rockets), or 15dps up to 15.2km (Javelin).

Auto-cannon -200mm x 3, Barrage [Slasher]
Blaster - Light Neutron x 3, Null [Merlin, Incursus]
Pulse laser - Small Focused Pulse x3, Scorch [Punisher, Tormentor, Executioner]

Whilst running the calculations, I thought it'd be interesting to see the close range ammo on a Rifter. It's range is similar to that of a Barrage using Slasher, so it'll be interesting to see the difference in damage. I also counted the Atron, with a fall-off bonus to blasters, as a separate ship.

The damage shown is before any modules or rigs. Obviously the more damage increasing modules you put on the better! All skills to 5, for fairness.


Scram ranges highlighted in yellow, the first one cold, the second on overheat. The orange is disruptor range.



What follows is mostly my own opinion. If you disagree, let me know in comments!

Pulse lasers are clearly the best scram range weapon (but most of you knew that!). This damage projection offsets the natural slowness of Amarr ships, and gives the reason why the Executioner works as an attack ship. Coming in dead last are blasters, with projectiles in the middle. The Rifter with it's fall-off bonus comes in at 2/3 the firepower of pulses at scram range.

So yes, conventional wisdom wins out. Rifters should use keep blaster boats at range, and engage Amarr ships at point blank.


The drone users

Incursus vs. Rifter is still skewed in favour of the Incursus. Adding the damage of the drone (30dps @ 11km) puts the gap between them at about 20dps. Which is great! But the Incursus with it's repair bonus can absorb that easily. It also comes a bit more cap stable than the Rifter, and usually more armour, meaning that in a war of attrition, the Incursus comes out just a little better the Rifter.

Tormentors are similarly protected by their drones at close range. Most carry a plate along with a holy trinity (propulsion, scram and webifier). Eve if you get under their guns, that's still around 40dps of fire coming in at you.

This can be remedied by putting a rocket launcher in the Rifters utility high. Work on your rocket skills to fit javelins (for range against blaster boats). You lose out on the cap warfare options (neuts and vamps) when you go close range, but it works out to be more flexible (i.e. useful in all engagements rather than one). Cap warfer will mostly be useful against laser boats, but with the Rifter's capacitor being what it is, you'll just cap yourself out before the enemy.

Tristans a little out of control right now. Just don't get involved. Your best bet is to go point blank and hope they're not blaster fit. Either way you have 100dps from drones coming at you, and that's pre-damage mod. If someone can explain to me their weakness, I'm dieing to know... Quite literally in fact.

The kites

It's also interesting to see that the Rifter's damage is quite respectable at disruptor range. Provided you're not hamstrung by electronic warfare, you should be able to do reasonable damage to those pesky T1 frigate kiters. Not a stellar amount, but enough to maybe make them think twice!

Which brings us to the scram range kiting Atron. According to the paper work, these are basically tied. You should try to keep your distance, and the Atron should try to get under your guns. Tracking comes into play too, but these fights will most likely end in one party escaping.

Looking at the pulse laser line, we can see that the Executioner is clearly the king of scram kiters. Keeping out at OH scram range, you even have a great chance against an Incursus. Of course, a number of factors come into play here (sig radius, resistances etc.) but in a 100 second extrapolated fight, the Exec puts out 9300 damage at scram range, to the Incursus' 3000. Not bad at all really!

Against a Rifter, the difference in tank makes this actually a reasonable fight. You won't be able to close the distance on them, but you'll be tougher, and a rocket launcher in the high slot might make all the difference. Weaving in and out of pulse laser fall-off might be the best option, tagging them with a scram when they look like they're about to escape.

On  overheating

On overheating scrams; yes, it does cut incoming blaster fire by half. Against an Incursus, that's not actually significant (because of the drone), and honestly, you'll just be cutting your own damage by the same actual amount. But against a Merlin, which has nothing better to do with it's low slots than damage mods, yes, it's good!

Against a Slasher, well, not that helpful. It's faster than you anyway. Just focus on ripping it's flimsy hull to shreds. Against an Atron, the difference is slightly in your favour, but you're going to have your hands full keeping him at range.

The rocketeers

These are some ships you should avoid like the plague:

At scram range, all the rocket ships out-damage you, and realistically with webs and your guns suffering from tracking, they'll outdamage you at close range too. The Condor you may be able to slug it out with, but you're likely to be hamstrung by ewar. Kestrels are rather terrifying at all ranges, and I'm surprised more people aren't fielding them with an overdrive injector in lows to dictate range. The Breacher, again, shows itself to be a sheer marvel of Matari starship design.


I feel a little more confident about the Rifters ability now, and it doesn't need the overheating management of tackle modules suggested by many others. It helps in some cases, but shouldn't be standard operating procedure. Just keep an eye on your ranges, and make sure your scram has a base range of 9km or better. Realistically, the other ships I've mentioned aren't going to be fitting their biggest weapons, and the virtue of auto-cannon's low fitting cost means that the Rifter can.

A rocket launcher is most likely the best choice to put in that high slot. Leave cap-warfare to the sneaky gutter-fighting Slasher.

What's remarkable is just how well balanced the Rifter comes against the other frigates. Despite having a falloff bonus which suggests it to be a scram range kiter, it always has options. It's still the same flexible, jack-of-all trades it's always been.

Which I think is a problem. This post is getting huge though, so I'll leave why to next time!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bonus post: Hurricane in a teacup

I was looking through the thread on clothing in the official Eve forums, and was disappointed that traditional Khanid clothes are still not available to capsuleers, and that we are forced to wear whatever sanctified robe comes out of Amarr.

Not that I think there's anything wrong with them, I just wish they made more different cultures clothing in capsuleer sizes.

However, I found this response to the thread:
"Best part about eve is all the freedom and crap you can do, swearing, trolling, etc., the only respectable mmo I've played that doesn't bring me down by trying to be child friendly. Even if people wanted to walk around in underwear, it would still be in the spirit of the game to allow it. And on that note, is anything truly wrong with a bathing suit? This is the first time I've bothered to take an interest in this new cosmetic part of the game and its a pretty big downer."
- Alestra Demoness of the TinklePee corporation.

Now the thread itself is a fine example of a storm in a tea cup. What started as a simple request devolved into a heated debate, where (Overheat Diplomacy) someone very passionately believes in something that most people would consider of relatively minor importance (/Diplomacy).

But that reply is particularly worrying.

New Eden is all about the swearing and trolling? And somehow this is a respectable game?

Apparently it is in the spirit of the universe to allow capsuleers to walk around in their underwear.

It's hard to say how misguided an opinion this is without coming off as prudish, or simply old. Maybe that's true. Maybe I am settling into my maturity a little too well. I'll consider that next time I jump at the chance to go underwear shopping with my wife.

I still think the image is bad. And it tars the rest of us with the same brush. I've never seen this world as a place where I can simply be cruel to other people. I very rarely swear either. I certainly don't consider it to be a right I have in space. But people who hear I'm a capsuleer will see comments like that, and assume I'm the same.

They'll assume that you, gentle reader, are the same too.

So that's bad. People will join the sleepers simply to avoid being associated with that kind of juvenile false-maturity. Older capsuleers in particular, those who actually have the patience and experience to train new pilots, would simply assume this life is not for them.

Mabrick recently wrote about how it's damaging New Eden. I have to agree.

I simply have to agree.

But on the upside, the thread gave me inspiration for this Hurricane in a tea cup picture!

Tea cup image from here

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The wormhole interlude

Today is an example of a project that you work towards, but fizzes out at the end. This was part of the ongoing project to run a Sleeper site (and potentially see a Black Hole!).

So far I've only crossed a few things off my list. Not doing so well.

I got back to Hek, and in a fit of madness decided to take a Hurricane to wormhole space instead of a Harbinger. To be honest, there's not much difference between the two hulls in terms of damage output, and running a shield tank leads to similar levels of survivability on both.

I recently did some number crunching on projectile fall-off, and realised that operating ranges for projectile ships was actually pretty good. I usually dismiss them for NCP clearing purposes, as lasers and drones have a very good edge when it comes to sustainability. However... well, just look at that Hurricane!
No doubt one of the better looking ships of New Eden!

Fitting was a relatively simply task too. For this little trip I'd be taking advantage of the Mobile Depot, taking modules for scanning and evasion on top of what I'd need to hunt the Sleepers. Fit shown in the picture, along with all the tools for the job.

Lows were the simplest part f this fit. All damage and target projection, with mids hosting the relatively meaty shield tank.

The shield tank itself is non-standard, both for current wormhole preferences and for NCP hunting. Shields, barring passive Drakes and Tengus, are not all that popular for wormhole work, with capsuleers favouring the stronger resists of armour. Capsuleer combat, as Rhavas outlines here, tends to work at relatively short distances from wormhole event horizons, so the slowness of armour tends to not be an issue. (As an aside, he mentions low-sec tends to prefer nimble shield tanks... I can't say if this is true, as I've seen a good mix of both, but the reasoning is sound, and worth exploring.)

I chose a shield tank, however, to clear the site quicker. My experience in low-sec has taught me the best defense is avoidance, and clearing a site faster means less time for an unfirdnly capsuleer to catch you. The tank itself is a standard buffer; extender plus invulnerability field, with Anti-em rig and extender rigs. The non-standard part was a Large Ancilliary Shield booster.

The theory was to make the fit as independent of capacitor as possible. The buffer is there to absorb fire whilst the shield booster reloads. incredible unsustainable, due to the size of cap boosters, but I didn't intend to stay in the hole for very long.

All gank and burst tank, my strategy was to blitz unknown space; to blow in fast and hard like... well, like a hurricane.

The deployables are a depot to refit, and a tractor unit to loot faster.

I scanned down the nearest hole, and hopped inside. C3, full of anomalies. All of which had rocks. As my bad luck would have it, the only anomalies in this system, barring two combat ones which seemed too challenging for my untested battle-cruiser, were mining ones.

Fortunately, these anomalies still have sleeper patrols, usually entering on a timer. So, I refit to combat, leaving a cloak in the high, and warped in, excited for the hunt!

And waited.

And waited.

And waited...

And soon my allotted time in space ran out. Duties back in the known world called out to me, and I had to leave.

Extremely disappointing, but not necessarily a waste of time. The ship was fit and ready to go. Next time I attempt to do this, all I need do is un-dock (and hope for a lower rated wormhole!). Projects in New Eden can go this way sometimes, and even the most careful planner can have unexpected events throw a spanner into the gear system. 

Well... no matter. Although it did give me a new thing to put on the list: go mining in a wormhole! Honestly, they look empty enough for it.

Ratting results

I actually only managed an evening or two of ratting, with half an hour spent each night. My schedule doesn't allow a great deal of time to be in space. The area I chose had a nice selection of battleship rats and clone soldier recruiters.

Sadly, I did not encounter any Mordu's Legion ships.

Overall, not a bad haul. Within about an hours worth of ratting, I ended up with a good haul of lot, including a bunch of clone soldier recruiter tags.

The ratting itself was fairly easy. I got a little practice in closing the gap between myself and a target, and the Omen held up well against the incoming fire.

It did however, take some damage to armour. I was never in danger of having that armour breached, but it did mean some trips back to station to repair it. I think in future one of the resistance plates could be swapped out for a repairer, for in between belt reps. You lose out on capsuleer combat ability, but you gain in sustainability of patrol.

Honestly, if it weren't for the laser-fit pirates, I probably wouldn't use an armour cruiser for this work anyway. After some thought, I'd much rather take a shield cruiser that was lighter on it's feet, and with better regeneration. I think next time I'll try taking a Rupture out. Projectiles aren't ideal, as you need to carry ammunition, but flexibility in damage type may be better in cross-region patrols, as might be the case in my next project.

Or just take a Vexor. It's the better choice, and if I wasn't so stubborn about not following the herd, I'd be using it too.

It's not worth your time to shoot the frigates. Their drops are't stellar, and their bounty pocket change. You're better off moving on to find other, more profitable targets. Even the non-clone tag cruisers are better left alone.

Across the two days, with a total play time of an hour, I made 11 million ISK. Not bad at all, and a much closer trip to get the loot to market. I also didn't have to live out of a depot to do it, putting the Great Wildlands to shame.

It's only a brief snapshot of the rating lifestyle, but so far, it's promising. If I had found a Mordu ship, that profit would have been huge. I have to admit, I kind of like it.

But I have a task to do in a wormhole. Back to Hek to pick up a battle-cruiser! 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Strategikon: Standard cruiser armour fitting

My targets this time are not capsuleers, and I'll be going after the more elusive, but less able Mordu's Legion. However, that does not mean capsuleers will blithely let me pass by. I fully expect to be hunted down whilst I do my own hunting. As such the following is a solo Omen, which should manage the belts NCPs well enough, and be an effective counter for capsuuleers.

Billed as an attack ship, the Omen is designed to bring the fill fury of concentrated laser fire on its opponents. There are a number of different fits available, from brawling to kiting. Its major weakness is capacitor, so if you plan to use it, start training those energy management skills.

It's been a while since I've done a fitting, and the one I've chosen for my Omen is hardly revolutionary. In fact, it's so standard, it's applicable to the majority of armour tanked cruisers. Most Omens are actually fit for kiting, and that was my original intention for this fit. However, after a little bit of research (and the location I'd be hunting in) I decided an armour brawler was best.

The below fit is based on the most popular Battle-clinic entries, corroborated with an Eve Uni fitting, and may even have been on Jester's Trek at some point.

[Omen, Brawler]
Damage Control II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Heat Sink II
Heat Sink II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Small Capacitor Booster II, Cap Booster 25

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M
Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency M

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

Valkyrie II x3
Warrior II x2

Like I said, this is fairly standard, and can be applied to most other armour brawlers, with slight differences based on slot layout.

The core defense is as follows:
  • Damage Control Unit II
  • Energised Adaptive membrane II
  • (Energised Adaptive membrane II)
  • 1600mm plate
And that's it. Fill up the rest of your lows with damage modules, and you have yourself an armour brawler. One of the membranes can be swapped out for a damage mod if you wish, but the core is fairly similar right across all the races.

This is standard for most capsuleer combat ships to save on capacitor. Unlike Ancillary shield boosters, ancillary armour repairers still require a big chunk of capacitor to run... which is why you won't see many cruisers with armour repair bonuses built into the hull. Modules of a size to be effective repairers consume more cap than is sensible for most cruisers. Simple plate and resistance allows you to keep guns and prop mods running.

Mid slot choices are limited by number of slots, but usual trinity rules can apply (warp disruption, web, and propulsion) with an extra wildcard for ships with 4 slots. For laser ships, the web can be swapped out for a cap booster. Even a small one will keep the guns shooting, so it's worth bringing along.

This homogeneity makes cruisers a lot easier to fit. This is not a bad thing (although my inner theoretician rankles at such a thought). I've heard it said that cruisers are actually the best place for a capsuleer to learn how to fight other capsuleers. After seeing the relative ease of fitting, and the more manageable speed of combat, I'm tempted to agree. Defenses take far longer to break through than in a frigate fight, so you have more time to appreciate your mistakes.

Tactics are fairly simple too, depending on your weapon choice. Blasters close in, lasers and rails sit at optimal, and projectiles and missiles move around in between. Drones... well,  sit back and manage capacitor, recalling any drone that gets hurt too much.

Overall, cruisers, whilst being heavier on the wallet, are shaping up to be much lighter on the brain than frigates.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Insurgency in Null

Okay, so people have been talking a lot about guerilla style warfare and irregular tactics as a counter to the growing stagnation in Null. I say talking, because no one has actually stepped up to do it.

We have a saying on Khanid: All talk, and no trousers.

Anyway, despite people talking in theoretical terms, I'd like to discuss what the hit-and-run tactics being suggested would actually involve. A lot of the comments I've read are full of 'great ideas', that 'could work only if people tried'. Which shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the problem.

So lets look at it, so that people can understand the challenges of insurgency in sovereign null.


Getting there

You'll need a ship that can either warp whilst cloaked, or pass through bubbles unhindered. Wormholes are distinctly unreliable as a transport system to a specific location, which makes them impractical for our purposes.

This limits you to Strategic cruisers, interceptors, the covert ops line, and Sisters of Eve ships.

The use of covert jump drives and jump bridges expands your options, but at that level you've already hit conventional warfare, and you may as well bring in the dreadnoughts.

Alternatively, you just fly a fleet in and hope for the best. Not a terrible idea, considering the gaps in most sov-null alliance defenses, but also not as secure. You'll need to run scouts. But this leaves you wide open to a counter-attack from a settled fleet, that can pick the hard counter to what you'v brought... being next to heir home bases and all.

Extremely restricting. And this is the easy part.


Admittedly if all you wanted to do was take out miners and mission runners, all you need is a gun and a warp jammer. This is already being done, and hasn't helped the stagnation. If you want to destabilize a system, you'll need to do something more impacting.

Sadly that means structure.

Here is where you can find out about the Sovereignty structures you'll need to shoot. I consider myself an educated man, and even I have difficulty deciphering this. As far as I can tell, unless you start putting up Sov-blocking units, everything worth shooting is invulnerable. And once you've put those onto the field, you're reverting to conventional warfare. (Note: To be honest I don't even know if this site is still relevant. Seems like a peculiar way to manage sovereignty.)

About the weakest thing you can shoot at there is a POCO (and I'm not even sure they are vulnerable).

Foo goes into detail about how this can be done.

I've run my own numbers, and yes, it's largely correct. To get a POCO to reinforce under an hour you need the equivalent of 4 battleships, pumping out 1000dps. Once the reinforcement timer is finished (and provided they've let you shoot this long without repping the POCO), to finish it off takes little more than half an hour.

And yes, that's do-able. But even if you manage to take it down, you've cost the alliance 50 million ISK. To put that in perspective, using tier 3 battle-cruisers for the DPS you need, you've invested just under 100 million.

For one ship.


Extremely easy to do. Get ship, go to null, start blowing up non-capsuleer pirates, and carting off the loot. Alternatively use a Prospect to steal ore. Alternatively, use siphon units to steal moon resources from POS.

Now... how do you plan to get that stuff out again?

You can't sell it locally. A Prospect fills up it's hold in maybe one belt run, and battleship modules dropped from the NCPs take up a massive amount of space. You'll need a logistics network to get this stuff to a place you can sell it.

It's a lot of effort. And in the end, you're better off working in low-sec. And based on the results of my low-sec belt ratting run, you're probably better off in hi-sec running missions.


I was informed that Dirt Nap Squad is doing these things regularly, and stealing resources from null entities to fund themselves. If that's the case, then good! They've managed to work through the logistical problems presented above, and are surely destabilizing the sov-empires as we speak!

But they're not. And the biggest problem is why they're not:

Your supply lines are far more vulnerable than theirs.

Guerrilla tactics work best against an opponent who is far from home, who needs that plane full of bullets and pancakes to land to be re-supplied. Blow up the airfield, and he'll starve and run out of ammo. Stealing his resources costs him not only the resources, but the travel time it takes for new resources to get to him. This costs them more to resupply than it costs you to attack.

They also work great because your fighters an just go home, bury their weapons and become a civilian again within minutes.

Hit and run against null requires you to go there, and escape again. It's going to cost you more to hurt them than it will for them to resupply, which means you haven't actually hurt them. You can't hide in null, and you can't go home easily. Cloak up in a system and log off, and you'll still have a mission to get back out.

It's a headache, and one most capsuleers have sensibly avoided.

The only way for a capsuleer to hurt null-sec in this way is to be so invested in their destruction, that even the tiniest scratch on a POS shield is worth a Titan. You have to be willing to set fire to yourself to watch them burn.

But these are New Eden capsuleers. Immortality mutes these passions.

Final word

That said, if all you're looking for is to kick mud in sov-null eyes, and come away with a bunch of kill mails, Gevlon Goblin has some data that shows them to be rather soft targets. This is where 'insurgency' works.

Theoretically, if enough capsuleers maintained a round the clock siege of a null empire, then the members might lose heart, quit and join the sleepers in slumber. Realistically, the profits of null-sec are good enough that I doubt this will ever happen. It's a place where you can replace your lost battleship in half an hour, and that raid that happened mostly just livened up your day.

It's probably been said before, but null-sec is mostly likely choking on the glut of ISK available to it. So called apex forces will be much harder to field if you cut the income needed to fly them.

That's as far as I want to think about null-sec issues. Frankly, everything about null seems so taxing, I don't know why people bother with it in the first place.

Holders of Hek

I ended up in Hek fitting out my Omen for some low-sec belt ratting. Whilst there, I decided to have a look around the system.

It's fair to say that Hek is my favourite trade hub. I couldn't say why. Prices aren't as good as Amarr, and certainly lacks the sophistication of Dodixie. I haven't been to Jita for years, and refuse to go back there. But Hek certainly does hold some charm for me, and I even had a few factory planets in that system making POS fuel parts.

Not that I've ever owned a POS, but POS fuel was an easy pay cheque back then. I probably should have written something about it.

So I was interested to see who had laid claim to what I consider as my home system (despite growing up in Khanid).

Turns out, there's a good story here!

Quite clearly the Obsidian Front owns Hek. They have the majority of planets held, spread across a few different corporations. They appear to be a very well run alliance, with a large chunk of text to describe who they are as well.

Are they a Hi-sec superpower? A branch of a null-sec sov group? Simply a group of friends out to leave a mark on the cluster? I couldn't say. But they are, at least for now, the Holders of Hek.

Well done! But you missed a spot...

Here are some rebels of Hek, and actually their rebellion spreads across Metropolis.

VenKee Enterprise is a relatively small corp, that nonetheless has a foothold in a major trade hub. Whilst I doubt they have the manpower to hold onto it for very long, for now, this tiny corp is keeping an alliance from having a clean sweep of the Hek system planets.

As a tiny minnow is the galactic ocean of New Eden, it makes me happy to see a tiny faction stannding up to a much bigger alliance. Well done pilots! Well done indeed!

And finally something that I noticed getting the above shot of the Obsidian Front against the Hek star; some advertising companies will stick billboards anywhere. Kudos on going the extra light-year Eve Radio!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Back to Low-sec

Honestly don't remember where I got this picture, but I know it's not mine.
Well, it's clear that the Astero is not going to be up to the task of running a sleeper site.

I'm going to need something of at least battlecruiser caliber, particularly if I'm planning on doing this on my own. Whilst I have perfect piloting skills for battlecruisers of all races, my medium weapons skills (both trained and practical experience) are quite limited.

I'll probably be taking a Harbinger into the hole. No real reason, other than I quite like the hull, and I've been feeling a hankering for lasers of late. It's also because medium pulses are one of the few mid-sized weapon sets I have any competence in. I'm near the same level of competence in projectiles, but I don't have that much confidence in the weapon system, at least as far as long-term wormhole patrols go.

Fortunately, I have other things on my list to get on with whilst I skill up. I'l be hunting down some Mordu's Legion ships.

This runs in tandem with a little niggle I've been having at the back of my mind lately: Is it possible to get a decent income hunting low-sec Non-capsuleer pirates (NCPs) these days?

In the Great Wildlands, I managed to get a decent amount of ISK from bombing the NCP battleships there. I'm a little curious as to whether or not you could get similar results in low-sec (which would be a thousand times easier to get loot to market).

I'll be attempting this in a PvP fit ship, so that other mercenaries and pirates in low-sec can have see an alternative income source accessible whilst they roam. It also gives me another option instead of running from people interfering in my project.

So, the following ship choice criteria need to be met:
  • Must be fit with medium lasers
  • Must be PvP capable
  • Solo capable
  • Preferably cheap...
Not a lot of choice there, coming down to either Maller or Omen, and arguably any Amarr ship is meant to be used in a fleet. Most laser boats are too vulnerable to, well, any unconventional weaponry. Neutralizers, dampeners, and turret disruptors are all very effective on tough but inflexible Amarr ships, and most fleets make up for these shortcomings with heavy logistic support.

The Omen is slightly more flexible in dealing with frigates than the Maller, partly due to it's expanded drone bay, and I've heard that it's firepower can take one of the field in short order. Sounds good if any capsuleer pirates decide to take an interest in the experiment!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Lost pioneers

Despite being fairly useless for my purposes, a group of capsuleers once made this place their home.

All of the planets in system had POCOs up, and there was even a Gallente station in orbit around one of the outlying moons.

Wormholes usually require a lot of operational security (i.e. hiding), but bearing in mind what I found, I think I can reveal the residents of this system without ruffling too many feathers.

The Hordes of Belial own this system.

I didn't see much evidence of their existence other than the space structures. The POS itself was still running near as I could tell, but I must admit utter ignorance when it comes to station upkeep. They could still be active, or the hole could have been abandoned.

The POS name didn't leave me hopeful that they still lived here: Hearse.

Even so, from these probable remains of a once running corp, we can learn a few tricks.

The POS itself was in orbit around a moon far from the center of the system. If I hadn't flown out to it's planet to get a picture, I probably would have missed it all together. That's a neat trick, and I recommend anyone living in a hole, or out of the way system to try the same.

Well, since no one responded to hails, I took the low-sec wormhole back to civilization. I have some other low-sec things to do on my list, and might as well take the opportunity to get some planning done.