Most people (not all) prefer to have goals in their lives, big achievements like dominating nullsec or little ones like curing cancer. My goals follow similar lines but my erratic log in times used to limit me to goals that I could accomplish in a single play session, like setting up new a new PI chain or scouting a route etc.
Now, I am on my own, with all the time in the world – if I can’t log in for a week, so be it. But sometimes I can work from home which allows me to be online a lot more but with limited ability to actually “do” anything.
Perfect for Wormhole Intel Gathering. Lets talk about what that means….
Firstly, why camp a hole in the first place? Well, there are only 2 things in EVE, ISK makin’ and people shootin’. Combine these two in one location and you have a Wormhole Camp. But I fly solo, my scouts are not backed up by a fleet of T3s, no-sir, two combat toons are all there is to my fleet. And I am not very good at PvP. Or PvE for that matter.
So, what can I do with two characters in cloaky ships? PvP-wise, I maybe be able to down a single T3, Drake or equivalent. And what sites can I run with the exact same ships? C1 and C2 sites and with C2 its either too slow or too dicey. T3 cruisers are the wormholer’s backbone but when you fit the Clovert Subsystem, their usefulness for PvE encounters drops. Sure, 2 cloaky Tengus can take on a C2 (maybe even a C3) but there would be nobody left for overwatch. Not a good idea.
No, for this I choose a Stratios for one of my characters and the other in my standard Tengu. The Stratios fit is similar to this one, it allows me to run C1 sites relatively safely but without tackle. That’s the Tengu’s job, just grab & hold. And keep and eye on things, always combat probes out.
So we are camping a C1. How to find one? Well, there is a relatively easy way – scout High Sec systems – there are quite a few that have those as their statics. On a good weekend, many are opened and ripe for entry. I choose to go in there with a Helios first, just to make sure its not riddle with bubbles and nasty things that can ruin a day. With the J-number, a very cursory look at Z-killboard lets us know what has been going on. The POCOs quickly tells us who lives there even before we locate the POS. Then we find the POS (without combat probes, of course) and make a pleasantly safe perch just under 100km from the tower. We need to be this close to allow us to put the eye on the tower and all that is in it. After all, we are sizing up if this is a good hole to camp for a while.
The POS can tell amazing stories about our putative opponent. The name of the corp is clearly visible and with it its corp description. Those tell us generally what country they are from, what time-zone they are online and sometimes roughly what they do. Nearly all corps advertise that they are recruiting even if they are not. Some have a recruitment channel – time to get an alt online and check that out. A corp that advertises mining as an activity is slightly different than one that shows of its active killboard.
In the current POS system, the structures are clearly visible, if our hosts have many reaction arrays, they are gas harvesters. If they have processing arrays, miners. If they have assembly arrays, they build stuff that needs to be exported. If they have 1 SMA, they trust every member. If they have a personal hangar array, they do not.
Look for floating stuff in the POS. Secure containers are good – “Blues” are often not allowed to use the CHAs but can get a password to the POS and safe up.
Floating ships are a treasure trove of Intel. They are rarely found in POSs run by corps who know what they are doing hence their presence is already a good indicator for slackers.
Floaters allow to understand the corp’s naming structure for ships, some corps think that using clever symbols is protection from spoofing the shipname. Not quite, highlight the ship name CTRL-C and you have just copied the name with all symbols in them. I used to rename my ships immediately to their format, but it shows hostile intent. I now name my ships after names I found one hole away in the chain so that my current target gets confused of my origin. If in doubt, name your boat Force Field”. When you decloak during WH transient for example, it may spoof the eyes of a casual observer for a second. Yes, yes, these things may sound petty but everything helps.
And, now for the jackpot: Floaters tell us which pilot logged in last and – of course – what they fly. We use this information to create a nice contact list within a few seconds and we cross check them for killboard records and how old they are. We also check their Bios – those give away an amazing amount of Intel – its quite shocking actually how much people tell about themselves thinking that anyone really cares. It tells us which country (timezone) they come from and how their brain (if present) works. You may say this takes too long but its not a big deal, maybe 15 seconds for each character on the long side.
Oh, by the way, floating ships. If they are combat vessels, we can check what they are fitted with. It helps to see if a Drake – your future target – is Heavy Missile fitted or Heavy Assault Missile. Range matters.
Ok, now we have a list of pilot names – lets do a very quick check on their PI activity. PI is tedious and boring but makes money. Until Epithals became the de-facto standard, catching PI haulers was my favorite hobby. Epithals now are nearly always warp-stabbed and I tend to not even try anymore – its not worth blowing the cover. But just for completion sake, there is a cool trick to check if a pilot has a command center on a planet:
Select Planet. Right Click “Show other Character’s Networks”. On most planets its really hard to spot the little black dot that indicates a Command Center among the backdrop of the planet’s geography. Here comes the trick: Select “Scan” from the menu and adjust the false color of one of the resources until the planet is “white”. Command centers stand out as a black ring inside the white background. Right-click and there is the name of the owner. Next time he is online in a Epithal, good chance he is visiting this POCO. To hunt him or not is now a matter of choice, not luck – always nice.
Well, thats done, we now have a pretty good idea about this hole, time to make a decision whether to move in or not. If no, move on, there are many more. If yes, then its time to make safe spots, preferably outside the D-scan range of the POS. We make a few, we don’t want to get sloppy and allow someone to scan us down when we log in, do we?
Now, if possible, we scan down all signatures, make perches 150km off and generally get a feel for the place. All that done, we settle down with a glass of wine and wait for things to happen, wait for someone to run a site, hack a can, mine something, suck gas, haul PI. We observe, we wait, we relax. We are here for the long haul.
(To be continued – but this may take a while before I have something eventful to tell).