Scout forward

Both avid readers of this blog know that my EVE activity is more like punctuated equilibrium than steady evolutionary progress, i.e. my characters have long periods of stasis followed by sudden (and generally quite violent) bursts.  The reason is simple, I travel for work and can’t be bothered to carry a second (private) laptop – my corporate laptop is so full of IT-sanctioned spyware that I swear it logs my keystrokes, Snowcrash-style and I expect to be hauled in front of a committee if my “sent mails / hour” ratio drops below 45 at 11 pm.

When I do get back home, I log in and look for fleets first, then try to find a ship that I am allowed to fly. See, I am still in Noir. Academy which (wisely) prohibits anything shinier than an interceptor or bomber.  Maybe (just maybe), I get to fly a cruiser one day.  But when our fleet goes out you can tell the academy dudes – we are the ones buzzing around the blue ball like flies around an overripe banana (there has to be a better image). But before even that happens, I need to find my fleet which isn’t that easy. See, mercenary life style is more or less nomadic.  People pay us and we saddle up and bring the rain.  Our logistics team is amazing in moving stuff from A to B – with the slight wrinkle that you have to be in the game to create the contracts. And so, for the second time, I returned to the game and found myself entirely alone in our home station while the fleet was somewhere very distant shooting things.

In that situation, I get into an Academy-Approved interceptor (I fly only doctrine-approved stuff these days which means, that part of my brain also has atrophied) and head at best speed toward the sound of gunfire.  One man, one ship, I come to the aid of my brethren unless of course I hit a sensor-boosted gate camp.  Ouch.  No SRP for this wreck of course and without sources of income, I watch my wallet dwindle alarmingly.  Anyway, off to Amarr, new – identical – boat is purchased and  I race toward my new home system (OpSec!).  Its literally a blind run, I don’t look for Dotlan activity, I have no idea who owns it and I generally don’t care about the locals.  Occasionally, I do see a gate camp but most camps are not quite efficient enough to catch me and I make it “home”.

I have no clue where I am btw, Nullsec names all sound the same to me and if someone asked me if I am in goon space or in Russian space, I would have no idea.  Its nullsec.  If it ain’t blue or purple or green, I’ll shoot it.  (ok, I will not shoot it.  I will run for my life.  But that doesn’t sound as good).  I am sure, somewhere it was explained what our contract is, who we are fighting and why.  But as Academy pilot, I don’t have access to the forums and I love it. I have zero responsibility for the greater picture – someone else figured all this out.  Flying with no expectations for performance or meta-knowledge is oddly liberating.  EVE all of sudden feels different, it feels like a (wait for it) “game”.  Yes, I said it.  A computer game!

Anyway.  So I park my sole interceptor in my temporary home and log for RL stuff.  A fleet was announced for later this afternoon as a casual stroll around the neighborhood, see which neighbor keeps his lawn, which neighbor has a mean dog, that kind of thing.

When the fleet forms, Interceptor pilots are asked for and I gladly apply to be scout.  Mostly because I don’t have another boat. Its either ‘ceptor or stay and home.  Since this is a general recon fleet, FC asks me to charge forward and just scout for things to shoot, I am not slavishly held to +1 or something.  Its different and harder for me, since I have no clue about the landscape.  Dotlan is really the only tool that I can use and I alternate between “jumps” and “NPC kills” to get an idea what is happening.  Not much as it turns out.  I am easily + 10 and look in all the little side systems for a mining fleet or something, much like a SCUBA diver looks under rocks in a reef for something edible.  Then the fleet catches up, FC gets intel and my other scout buddy catches a whiff of action.  He holds and investigates, I charge past him and am now +3 of the fleet, so if I do find / catch something, backup may even be arriving in time before my boat expires.

But nothing.  People are in “local” but docked / POSed / cloaked up, nothing really on scan, some systems have wrecks, some have tons of sites, some have sweet nothing.  All of a sudden a Caracal whizzes past us and I am in hot pursuit.  My memory is a bit of a blur but I following him to a asteroid belt, landing about 30km off.  He decides to stay and yellow-boxes me but no shots are fired.  I activate all my mods and go into a 20km spiral, hoping that he is not fit with something that can wipe me off the map.  And because my overview excludes blues, I don’t even see that my fellow scout also has point of him, so even if one of us goes down, we have him.  On comms, fellow scout reports that he is being shot at but with limited effect and we continue to pin him down until our fleet arrives and makes very short work of him and his pod.  In short review, I did pretty much everything right.  I followed him to the correct belt, held my range and called for support.  I could have been clearer on comms where I was exactly but FC was patient with me and asked the right questions.  Between me and my fellow scout, we did exactly the job we came here to do.  And I even overheated – with the consequence that my mid rack is getting orange. I forgot to pack nanite paste and someone very kindly drops a can that I can scrounge from.

All repaired, FC now asks for a tighter formation and I go +2 max and head toward some target that he thinks we may get fights.  I can’t resist to take side trips into dead-end systems but in general, I stay close to the fleet.  They seem to be getting some action, 2 jumps behind me and I am ordered back but by the time I arrive, it turned into false alarm.  So, I turn my boat around and charge forward, I am still flush with the excitement from the Caracal earlier when I see a Stabber Fleet Issue on Dscan.  He is perfectly in-line with one of those newfangled command nodes and in my total newbness I ask on comms whether those command nodes are associated with POS-es or safe to warp to.  Stone silence on Comms – I literally can see the thought-bubble over every fleet member “who brought this newb?”.  Anyway, I warp to zero on this thing and indeed, the Stabber is there, apparently entosing something.  I ask for permission to engage (FC grants it) and me and my fellow scout burn toward him.  I get hard tackle but for some weird reason it doesn’t hold, he moves out of range and suddenly, he is gone.  He warped to a gate, I know which one, my crew throws shovels of coal into to the burner and I warp in hot pursuit.  And due to the weirdness of the game, I land well before him at the gate at 20km (I dont like warping to zero to anything, its a Wormhole thing).  He is about 30km behind me – I think he may have aggressed and knows that he can’t jump yet.  My scout colleague lands even closer to him and we nail him right where he stands.  Our fleet arrives and his pod escapes the smoldering heap of rubble we created. Turns out, he wasn’t entosing, so no idea what he was doing there (chasing an entosing ship?).  GFs are exchanged – by the way, in this I love the Mercenary crew.  They never troll, they are disciplined, polite and courteous.  Much like my old corp – if it was any different, I wouldn’t last long.

Alright, fleet (and blog post) are getting lengthy, time to head to the barn.  I run forward, +5 and generally report back a whole load of nothing until we get home.  We have tons of “neutrals” in our home system and local is full of “gf”.  D-scan is a sea of wrecks and apparently a big brawl just happened.  We were blissfully unaware.  I D-scan the fleet and someone on comms has cloaky eyes reporting the fleet at our Station.  I play it safe and warp to 100km in order to get a better look and find myself landing 20km off a hostile fleet and literally on top of a Stiletto Interceptor.  Good aim, I’d say, old chap.  Not sure who was more scared, he or I but apparently my response is faster and I bail as fast as I can to a nearby celestial (and yes, I faceplant into a POCO).  FC asks for details on the hostile fleet, I report my soiled pants as only intel but our cloaky fleetmate has a very good picture of the setup and FC chuckles about my newbness.

Our fleet warps into the brawl and I decide to stay outside of it, brawls are not made for interceptors.  From my safe spot, I do quick mental geometry, my goal is to warp 100km behind my own fleet and watch the field for stragglers and escapees.  I reposition, then warp to the station at 100 again  – this being the error – and I land on top of my FC who is calling targets to tackle.  Ok, so I screwed up but I am not to bail, surge forward to try to tackle the primary target.  But that of course was the undoing, I am quickly primaried by the hostiles and with zero tank on this ‘ceptor I dont even have time to call for reps.  And thus, my brand new interceptor is no more, I warp to my safe spot, report the loss to the FC and wait out my timer.  I am entirely out of ships, there is nothing I can am allowed to fly on contract and my usefulness is zero (it was low to begin with).  I am calling it a night.

Overall, it was a great night, expensive, sure but a lot of fun.  Being scout is great and I hope to get better at it during my time in NA. Big thank-you to my fleet and alliance mates – you guys are awesome, helpful and super-patient with me!  And now I need to find another ship :)



PS. I just realized that I had the order of the kills wrong, the Stabber Fleet Issue came first, the Caracal second.  Blame my excitement, blame lack of coffee or general incompetence but I am not re-writing this post :)

Seekers entosing a gate

Just thought I’d share this with you – ran into a few Seekers evidently entosing a gate somewhere in Nullsec.  Can’t tell you where exactly, I took this picture with my super secret scout. Shhh….

somewhere deep in nullsec where only goons and Russians venture...

somewhere deep in nullsec where only goons and Russians venture…

Well, I ain’t no lore expert but I have to get this to the proper authorities:


In other news – been outdoors a lot, cleaning up the lawn, watched the kickstarter with concern, getting ready for a (work-related) overseas trip. Oh yes, spaceships.  Did a completely dumb rookie mistake and paid for it.  My alliance mate were totally supportive – we were on a frigate roam and ran into a frigate killing fleet.  But I did not do my orbit / spiral right and was ripped to shreds deservedly.

Thats it for this week, I will be on the road for a couple of weeks, if you get an update, it won’t be because I logged in but because I got bored in my hotel room or excited about something Meta EVE, I read!

Don’t fly safe

Backing the Fountain War

Calling EVE Online a “computer game” would similar to calling Facebook a photo sharing site.  Both statements are technically correct but they don’t do justice.  In fact, Facebook and EVE Online are both social media products in the broadest sense – with the crucial difference that Facebook’s core message is the importance of “me” whereas EVE Online’s message aims to be the value of “us”.

Yes, EVE Online is social experience for us players in-game and outside.  Like no other MMO (measured by percentage, not total number), it spawned blogs, podcasts, meetups, parties and – yes – fiction and lore.  We don’t see ourselves as “players”, we see ourselves as creators of stories set on the backdrop of a space simulator – even if the story is just our own, we touch and we are touched by tens of thousands of others like us.  Even you, the harmless industrialists built weapons of mass destruction that ended many other’s dreams.  And you, the professional AWOXER and harvester of tears force the rest of us to analyze our own moral stance toward the helpless, the newbros, the hapless.  EVE Online is a community like no other because it is under threat, not despite of it.  “EVE Is Dying” is our battle cry, not our swansong.

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EVE Vegas 2015 – Wrap Up

So, EVE Vegas wrapped up today and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was my first time at any large scale EVE gathering and it was touch and go until last week when I could finally confirm the flights.  I had a work trip this week and managed to re-route my flights to come from somewhere to Vegas rather than go home first.  Which means, my bags were full of crumpled suits and dirty underwear.  But, hey, its EVE… :)

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Viva Las Vegas

Was traveling last week again and hence EVE time was much curtailed.  Managed to sneak in a little PvP – in low sec this time.  Note to self, engaging a T3 destroyer with an interceptor is generally not a good idea.  However that guy had annoyed the FC and I was ordered to tackle / hold and serve as warp-in for the fleet.  It worked.  There are kill and loss of the week – nothing to be proud of but hey, 2 ships added to the economy.

In off hours, I have been running a few L4 missions with my alt – yes, I ground some standings – not so hard after all.  He doesn’t fly a battleship and I decided to break out the Tengu, gankers be damned – its a cheap one.  But it turns out that I am nearly as fast in most missions by using my Jackdaw – even for LvL 4 missions, the thing is the beast.  The webbing and scramming frigates pop much faster than if I was slugging it out with my Tengu and anything cruiser-size I can speed tank.  Battleships take a long time to kill, especially since this character can’t fit T2 Light Missile Launchers yet, so its T1 all the way.

To be honest it feels terribly imbalanced – where others use 250mil + battleships, I use a ISK 50 mil (ish) destroyer with very similar effect.  Something has to give in the long run, either the Jackdaw needs to be nerfed or the missions beefed up. But for now, I am having fun – this method actually involves quite a bit of manual piloting.  I am wondering if the Jackdaw would be good for C1 WH farming – it has a probe launcher in case my scout gets locked out (important) but of course no cloak like my Stratios.  Hm.

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Brewing beer like The Martian

Warning – Non EVE material ahead

if you have not seen “The Martian“, stop reading this silly blog and run to the nearest cinema.  Throw your wallet at them and demand to be let in – fake terminal cancer, a sick cat, mother-in-law visit, whatever you have to do but watch the movie.  If you have seen the movie (and hence are allowed to continue reading), you know that Mark Watney is stranded on Mars with nothing but his ingenuity to keep him alive.  As expected, he slides from one near catastrophe to the next and only lives because he can “science the shit out of this“.  This quote embodies both his attitude and his ability to survive and – coincidentally – is very close to my real life job.  With the exception of course that much more is at stake than my puny life, my boss depends on my work to secure her next promotion.

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Hello Joaquin

A couple of months ago, I thought my work life would slow down a bit during the late summer – that was unfortunately not true.  Nearly every week, I spent a few days flying somewhere, fixing things (or breaking things, depends who you ask) and with little energy reserves left for spaceships. Which is a shame because I have newly-found enthusiasm for EVE-online.

Why the surge in my appreciation for this game that we all know is dying? Well, I tried a couple of other games – Elder Scrolls Online for example and found  them wanting.  Don’t get me wrong, ESO is a great game – it is what WoW could have been, much more engaged leveling, crafting and questing system, a combat system that actually is challenging and very high quality (for an MMO) graphics.  I bought the game when it became free-to-play and enjoyed it for a while until the novelty wore out.  All games fade compared to the depth, the beauty and the complexity of EVE online and whenever I logged into my ESO character, I was wondering why I am not logging into EVE.

Add to this that I thoroughly enjoy my time in Noir Academy – I fly with people who know what they are doing, are always willing enthusiastic to help and have no expectations, as a student, I am allowed to only fly cheap stuff lest I ruin our killboard efficiency.  It suits me well and hence I roam with FCs who – I hope – start  to know me as a reasonably good scout who is comfortable in any boat as long as it has a cloak. That is eventually what I want to be excellent in and while I take Interceptors out as well, I am not in love with them.

And thus came my kill of the week just on Thursday – a Cyclone that my fleetmates tackled and that I barely managed to get onto the kill, I was 2 systems over watching a station when the action went down.  I am not proud of my involvement (I did nothing) but its my only kill in 3 weeks, so there it is.  Oh and if you wonder about the bomber fit that I used, here it is.  I lost it fair and square because I was greedy and stupid, greedy because an Archon jumped into my side of the gate and I could not resist to decloak and open fire  – I have never once shot at a Capital ship before (other than Orcas).  Stupid because I staid on grid too long when I saw only Battleships come though whose locktime I thought I could beat just for a few more seconds.  And then the Loki scrammed, webbed and killed me.  Oh well. At least the Exotic Dancer was rescued later by the folks that shot me and that is all that mattered to me.  (everyone knows how much I care about non-capsuleers getting rescued, right?)

Other than having fun in game, I also think EVE is on the right trajectory.  CCP has reached a balance of innovation paired with customer feedback – the recent change back from frequent patches to more meaningful expansions indicates to me that they are not afraid of monitoring their performance and correcting their course when necessary.  Immature companies don’t have the confidence for that, so I think CCP has turned the corner to a proper software house.  All we now need is that they formally cancel Legion and DUST and make sure that Valkyrie is more than a novelty for fanfest demonstrations.

Speaking of fanfest, as a registered fansite operator (yay me!), I was approached by @CCP_Logibro with the offer of free tickets to EVE Vegas.  Real life etc meant that I could not commit for a while but for 2 weeks now, I have been trying to contact him (and @CCP_Guard) to confirm my registration.  I have sent 4 mails, 3 tweets and a forum post.  To zero effect. I happen to work in an industry where customer support is paramount to business success and I find total absence of communication extremely annoying.  I assume that this is an industry thing and that I don’t need to worry about it but having been promised tickets and now not been able to claim them makes me rescind my plans of going to Vegas (I was there 2 weeks ago for work – the place itself holds no appeal to me.  Its neat but I have seen it too many times. I wanted Spaceships!).

So, what else is going on?  Like Sugar Kyle, I live in a geographic location that occasionally is the target of storms and we have been warned that the first Hurricane of the season may make landfall this weekend (it likely won’t but Americans can not have a time without impending disaster – it validates their existence).  Hence I need to make sure that my generator and chainsaw are working, that I have enough flashlights and candles and of course beer.  The thought of living through a power outage without a case of beer is abhorrent to me.  Worse than not having water (we have a well, so no power, no water.  Hence beer).  And if the power does not go out, I will visit a friend who just had her first job offer after 10 months of unemployment.  My problems of traveling and balancing spaceship time with real life pale to the worry of not having work and I will soberly reflect on this until not sober.

Have a great weekend, space cadets!