For Part Two, click here.
“Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon a house. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.”
For some time now, a number of people in our alliance have been agitating to open up a higher class of wormhole. A “Class 5”. This would allow capital escalations — plenty of cash — and if we find the right type of hole, plenty of PvP.
It’s a recurring theme of our alliance. We’re not just here in wormholes for the ISK. It’s nice, but the real fun to be had is separating other players from their hard-earned money. Wormholes provide a target-rich environment that nevertheless remains unpredictably messy. One’s gank attempt can easily turn into a counter-gank, and having accurate reports about the habits and movements of other players usually trumps fleet composition and fits for deciding victory.
The class of wormhole we’re hunting for has a very specific type of composition that I won’t go into here. Because even this blog can be used in Player Versus Player combat to find out more information about our alliance movements 🙂 Any competent Wormholer might figure out the kind of system we’re looking for anyway by checking the list of all worm-space systems. Hardly a secret, but with 2,498 known Wormhole systems, and a little over 500 of them Class 5, you’ll still have a hard time finding our neighbourhood on any given day.
Hunting down new wormholes is kind of a time-consuming, resource-draining business. Truly. To hunt down a specific class of hole, you first need to set up in a system which has a “static” or two of the type you want. In the case of a Class 5, you have a very limited menu to choose from. I will spare you all the rules, but the below are the most practical staging points from which to hunt down Class 5 wormholes:
- A Class 4 with a Class 5 static wormhole. 87 systems have this attribute.
- A Class 5 with a Class 5 static wormhole. 232 systems have this attribute.
- A Class 6 with a Class 5 static wormhole. 52 systems.
So there’s the total. 371 possible systems to use as the staging grounds to find the eventual wormhole we desire. Wandering through inter-connected wormholes, that means we have a (gross, not particularly accurate) 15% chance of finding the wormhole we want to use to find our wormhole.
Not great odds to start with.
“This porridge is too hot!” exclaimed Goldilocks.
So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.
“This porridge is too cold,” she said.
So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.
“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.
Of those 371 systems, there’s a specific type of Class 5 we want. Let’s run the odds of finding each type in a given 16-hour period of a wormhole opening. Time to revisit statistics class a little bit. Excluding the wormhole we’re in, that means we need to divide these totals by 370 to determine our chances of the Class 5 wormhole to which we attach having the attribute we want:
- Y790 (20 systems) [to class 1]: 5.4%
- D364 (31 systems) [to class 2]: 8.4%
- M267 (71 systems) [to class 3]: 19.2%
- E175 (90 systems) [to class 4]: 24.3%
- H296 (232 systems) [to class 5]: 62.5%
- V753 (68 systems) [to class 6]: 18.3%
So let’s say we’re hunting a Class 5 with a Class 1 static. Outbound wormholes open every 16 hours (24 hours for certain types of holes, but we’ll ignore those for now). You don’t know when holes in a given chain were opened or are likely to close, but it’s easy to estimate the risk of hole closure:
- First hop: If you hit it before anyone else does (a likelihood if we pick our source C5 correctly), you can be fairly sure it will stay open for 16 hours. Unless someone rolls it; finding a wormhole corp who continually rolls their C5 so that we can scout out the next system would be ideal to speed up the chances here a bit.
- Second hop: Let’s assume a 50/50 chance someone else opened it. Average open time: 8 hours.
- Third hop: Average open time: 4 hours. Four hours from closure is referred to as “EOL”; any scout who wants to find his way home usually will avoid traversing EOL holes due to the risk of it closing behind him.
This also handily explains why few chains extend beyond three hops. At the fourth hop, chances are extremely good that you’ll be down to 2 hours from closure at some point in the chain you’re exploring. This jives with my typical wormhole experience: CxA (one hop from “home”, where “x” equals the class of wormhole in a number one through six) is usually open for raiding when the majority of players are on, and if a new one is open it’s always worthwhile scanning it down, creating tactical bookmarks, bookmarking sites, and doing general prep work for a successful night of PvP or PvE eight to twelve hours later. CxB (two hops from “home”) usually is a lot less reliable; between the time we scan it down (US AM and lunchtime) and when the majority of players are online ready to run sites or PvP (US PM through midnight), the CxB is closed about half the time. And a CxC — three hops away — is usually not worth scanning down unless we’re going to use it right then and there for PvP or site-running.
What’s my reason for throwing all these numbers at you? Well, assuming I land an alt in a C5-C5 hole, I can probably scan out two other holes each day. If we wanted a C5 with a static C1, I’d have 10.5 chances per week to scout it out and would have a 5.4% chance of each connection being of the right type. My chance of the attached C5 also having a static C5 is very good indeed: 62.5%. If that was what we were looking for, the hunt would end fairly quickly. But since we’re hypothetically hunting a Class 1 static, chance of it being the target system — or its attached system being the target C5/C1 system — remains a flat 5.4%, 10.5 times per week or possibly 21 times per week if I can consistently hunt down the chain two hops. This means that I’m likely to encounter a possible match once every week or two at best.
“This chair is too big!” she exclaimed.
So she sat in the second chair.
“This chair is too big, too!” she whined.
So she tried the last and smallest chair.
“Ahhh, this chair is just right,” she sighed. But just as she settled down into the chair to rest, it broke into pieces!
Then, of course, the question is “is the target system worth living in?” For certain types of escalations, one wants to avoid certain types of environmental effects. Black Holes, for instance, are a terrible debuff for most optimized site-running gangs due to reduced range, increase speed, and increased mass; these factors make it difficult to PvP effectively as well.
That said, I think it’s possible we could build a Black Hole fleet which would capitalize on the environmental effects. It would require some out-of-the-box thinking for which I don’t think our alliance is prepared, but I have this nagging suspicion that it’s very doable with minimal irritation with certain specific fleet compositions.
Cataclysmic variables are kind of fun in a remote-repair gang, but nerf local repair which is critical to capital Triage mode. A Pulsar makes it impossible to armor-tank effectively, meaning the most popular site-running capital ship — the Archon — is useless there. A Wolf-Rayet is the opposite, rendering site-running or PvP in shield-based ships irrelevant.
This takes the chances down quite a bit more, to about two or three systems in five being suitable, assuming a “no effect” system is also on the table as an option.
All this talk of numbers and chances is to illustrate one thing: to find a given wormhole — unless you’re in a Class 6 looking for a Class 6 — is very much like Goldilocks stumbling into a house, being given a few weeks to squat there, and selecting amongst innumerable chairs and porridges before deciding the one that’s “just right”.
In my next post, I’ll revisit this topic of “chances” and my adventures trying to locate a suitable new home for the capital-escalation-running portion of our wormhole alliance. And the ending of this story — possibly some weeks hence — will likely see Goldilocks meeting with the bears and — like the story — running away. Unlike the story, our Eve Goldilocks is likely to bring back an arsenal to put the Three Bears’ home into Reinforced mode, blow it up a day later, and set up housekeeping herself with bear corpses in the freezer.
“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed…”