Monday, 21 July 2014

Drugs are bad, m'kay?

Let me start with a statement that will be on your lips by the end of this blog post: "You're not very good at this game."

You're right, I'm not. I'm better than some, but I completely suck at solo PVP, mostly suck at small gang PVP, suck hard at large fleet PVP and I'm only passable in PVE.

Last night was a prime example of me being sucky.

There's a chat channel for wormhole people called "bobisgreat". It's where all the cool cats from wormhole life hang out and trash talk each other. It's kind of like The Mittani's Smoking Room (or whatever that jabber channel was called...) - but for wormholes.

Every now and again, they run a big PVP fleet with some kind of theme. These fleets pull together a decent number of pilots from most of the big WH groups, and go out and about with a decent fleet that generally isn't the WH norm of shiny Strategic Cruisers.

Last nights fleet was a Gila/Rattlesnake/Recon fleet comp. About fifty Gilas, half a dozen Rattlesnakes and about twenty Recon ships (Huginn and Lachesis).

The subcap fleet was supported by a pair of triage Chimeras who were staged within jump range of our target regions, Providence and Catch.

A kind benefactor (I'm actually not sure who) donated a metric fuck ton of these Faction hulls and gave them out like candy. I got a free Gila hull and it cost me about 100m to fit it. As I was fitting and filling the cargo with spare drones, a mobile depot, nanite repair paste and other related neccessities, I decided I'd buy some drugs. I have very little experience with boosters in Eve (other than a very complicated spreadsheet) so I asked in corp chat which drug I should buy. My CEO advised some X-Instinct and told me I should grab him one as well while I was there. 

The roam had a staging point for it's start and, as is typical for any kind of inter corp/alliance, we didn't leave that staging point (Amarr) until about forty minutes after the advertised time. It was then a twenty minute burn through dozens of High Sec systems to Keberz, the NS/HS border system into Catch.

We landed on the gate and waited another ten minutes for the slow warping Rattlesnakes to arrive and then our scout jumped through to see what was up.

"Not good" came back the reports. About 60 Ishtars were setup at range around the bubbled gate, with Bouncers deployed. For the uneducated, jumping into 60 Ishtars, at range, with drones deployed at their optimal range is basically suicide for any fleet, let alone a Gila fleet with no subcap logisitcs.

It was decided that we'd burn another twenty jumps thorugh High Sec to another Null Sec entrance.

It's at this point, some thoughts started circulating in my head:

  • This is a group of people who live in wormholes...

  • They primarily travel around Eve via wormholes...

  • Why has nobody found a good wormhole exit/entrance so that we don't have to spend ninety minutes moving through High Sec gates?

In addition to the laborious High Sec travelling, I was being hit with a warning message, followed by a question (to which there was only one correct answer) at, what felt like, every other gates

You see, standard boosters are "contraband" in High Sec, and at certain points, you are asked by the local "Customs" whether you'd like these drugs to be confiscated or not. If you choose "Yes", you're drugs are taken and you've wasted your money. If you choose "No" you get to keep your drugs but get a standings hit and a small fine (about 50,000 ISK per unit). Your choice in this dialogue is not remembered for each subsequent gate.

We finally got to the system we were heading for, Y-MPWL; which is another HS/NS entrance, but this time into Providence.

We sat and waited on the gate for our Rattlesnakes (again). With us, were a couple of neutral ships (unengageable because High Sec). On the otherside of the gate, it was reported that there was a small camp consisting of a couple of frigates and cruisers. We jumped through and inexplicably, they hadn't already seen the 70 man gang about to jump into them and fucked off, but instead a few of them got caught and exploded rather quickly.

Providence is Sovereign Null Sec, meaning that the locals (if they choose to) can put up Cyno Jammers, which is obviously not good if your fleet is relying on triage carriers for its survival. In order to check whether the system is jamme dor not, normal practice is to take your cyno ship, make sure your Liquid Ozone fuel for cynos) is split into stacks not big enough for the cyno to actually use and then try and light a cyno. You get an error message telling you the system is jammed before you get a message telling you that you don't have enough fuel for the cyno (because they are in split stacks). This does not work well if you are in a Recon ship and forget that Recon ships get a bonus to how much fuel is consumed for a cyno, and the stack you thought was split into small enough piles, is actually enough for a cyno. This is why we sat in this system on a gate doing nothing for five minutes.

We eventually left and moved four systems deeper, to 9UY4-H.

We jumped through into that system and someone decided it would be a good idea to setup a Mobile Warp Disruptor (Medium) on the gate. Within a few minutes, a hostile fleet arrived to see us off (perhaps spurred on by the reports of us not having any Logistics). They arrived in Prophecies and Myrmidons and other assorted things not really suited to brawl Gilas. The Triage carriers were dropped and our fleet suffered minmal losses and the hostile fleet, making liberal usage of the new Medium Micro Jump Drive, fled. We stayed on the gate while the carriers came out of Triage, during which time we killed a couple of people who were stupid enough to warp to the bubbled gate or unlucky enough to jump into us.

After a few minutes, and after seeing some combat probes on grid and a couple of Stealth Bombers coming into system, I realised that we were probably about to be bombed. In normal circumstances, afterburning, heavily tanked, low signature cruiser hulls are not an easy bomb target. In this circumstance, those cruiser hulls were slowboating rather close to the two carriers, with no prop mods on. I decided that anchoring on the FC might not be healthy for the survival of my ship and started orbiting at 10km (prop mod on). I advised the rest of my corp to do the same as well as mentioning it casually in the fleet chat.

Literally thirty seconds later, we were bombed. In NS bombing terms, it was a rather tame effort. A single squad with a mix of void and damage bombs. It capped a lot of people out, but didn't have enough damage to kill anything. The FC decided that we should all move to a safe spot, which we duly did, until I pointed out that being in a safe didn't mean that the bombers couldn't bomb us. We went back to the gate.

During this time, we were waiting on a response from the hostile locals and waiting to see what they'd bring to fight us. After about fifteen minutes of the various FC (there were multiple) trying to decide on a course of action, and us being bombed twice more (but this time by a double vector squad who actually killed some  things), local spiked by about 100 and scouts reported a Battleship fleet incoming. The call was made to jump through the gate and for the carriers to jump out to their LS staging.

"Cool."
"Cyno up."
"Jump to cyno."
"Why can't we jump?"
"I don't see the cyno."
"Is the cyno in fleet?"
"The cyno isn't in fleet"
"Why isn't the cyno in fleet?"
"Hold on, joining fleet. "
"In Fleet."
"Still can't see the cyno."
"Rebroadcast the cyno."
"Where's that option?"
"*garbled explanation*"
"Do you see it now?"
"No"
"Carriers tackled."

The subcaps burnt back to the gate and jumped through and shit went South.

The battleship fleet was much bigger than ours. They had their own subcap logi (and lots of it). They had their own bubblers. They had dreadnaughts.

I was actually a little late to respond to the order to jump back through, by about 10 seconds or so. As I loaded grid, one of our Triage carriers exploded. I had the time to launch a flight of drones and command them to attack a Guardian before the extraction order was given. Most people tried (and mostly failed) to burn out of the bubbles and warp off, some people went down fighting. Personally, I just burnt back to the gate and waited out by aggression timer before jumping out. That is one of the biggest perks of having a name that starts smack bang in the middle of the alphabet - you often get the chance to run away.

I didn't even have chance to consume by drugs.

Some other people had the same idea, so I waited about 30 seconds before I warped, knowing that they'd be the ones to be caught in any kind of camp in the four jumps back to the High Sec system.

Uneventfully, I made it to the High Sec and a quick look at our mapping tool showed that it was about 38 jumps of High Sec back to the nearest entrance into our wormhole chain. I hit Autopilot, smugged a bit that I now had a free Gila and tabbed out to launch my League of Legends client. Once logged in, I tabbed back to Eve to be greeted with a warning message in the middle of the screen. Glancing down to the module UI, I saw that I was warped, jammed, and taking damage.

Back up to the message and skim reading. Something about drugs. Oh, this message again. I just clicked "No" as I had a dozen times on the way here. It was at this point I realised that I had been on Autopilot and was 15km from the gate. Shit.

Shit.

I piped up on comms.

"Guys, I'm tackled at a gate..."

"What gate? I thought you got out to HS..."

"It's a HS gate."

"Wot..."

"I have drugs and I was on autopilot..."

"AHAHAHAHA"

Various attempts were made to get out of this sticky situation. To the soundtrack of my corp laughing at me, I first attempted to consume the drugs to get rid of all the evidence. Apparently CCP doesn't want anyone to overdose and it's only possible to consume one drug of the same type at a time, which was annoying because I only had two units.

To the soundtrack of my corp laughing at me, I attemped to jettison the cargo. This resulted in another message popping up. I didn't really read it and just clicked OK. I wish I'd read it because it might have given me some clue on how to pacify the Customs NPCs who now had my Gila into about half shields.

To the soundtrack of my corp laughing at me, I even tried ejecting. I should have known that it wouldn't work, and when I got back in, the ship was down into half armor. As I was entering structure, I noticed that only the icon showing that I was jammed was still present for some reason, and I tried to initiate warp. Nope.

Boom.

Goodbye free Gila. May you rest in pieces.

At least it's not on the killboards...





*I'd like to point out that this isn't a jab at the guys who organised and ran the fleet last night. You did an excellent job considering that you guys don't FC big fleets very often, don't have experiance in dealing with bombers (or avoiding them altogether), don't normally drop caps other than in wormholes and other contributory factors.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Loot Fairy Plz

Recently, the loot fairy seems to be in a bad mood.

This has been reported recently on Reddit, amongst other places:

https://zkillboard.com/kill/39755961/
https://zkillboard.com/kill/39725424/
https://zkillboard.com/kill/39717817/
https://zkillboard.com/kill/39879826/

We've had our own share of "loot fairy plz" situations in our corp recently.

In no specific order:

An Orca:

https://zkillboard.com/kill/39874113/

An SMA:

https://zkillboard.com/kill/39862686/

Another SMA:

https://zkillboard.com/kill/39708687/

Yet another SMA (from the same POS):

https://zkillboard.com/kill/39708696/

And not recently, but still...:

https://zkillboard.com/kill/33937906/



Fuck the loot fairy...



How to Gate Camp

It's been another month since I wrote anything. I must try harder.

I originally wrote this for our internal forums, but after re-reading it a few times and editing out some specifics, I decided to post it here as I think it's pretty useful.

I also added some pictures, which my forum homies didn't get.

I like to run some gate camp fleets for the downtimes when we're just sitting in a POS doing nothing.

It's a very simple concept, but it has a couple of peculiar fitting theories. Here's a lot of words that fully explain everything you need know.



How to DPS:

Add high DPS guns - Alpha is better than consistant DPS, but close range is better than long range.
Put on appropriate sized prop mod (MWD) - This is so that you can GTFO when needed
Add damage mods to the lows - Leave two or three slots free and think about stacking penalties (you don't need the fifth heat sink)
Add some kind of resistance module - a Damage Control II or Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Add as much tank as you have fitting space left in the low slots - plates won't fit, try to fill resistance holes
Fill the mids with SeBo's. If you have more than 3 or more slots, also add Remote SeBo's - SeBo's should obviously have Scan Res scripts loaded.
Fill your drone bay with DPS drones. No ECM drones. - They should always be out and assisted to an Interceptor
Rigs should either be targetting (Targeting System Subcontroller), DPS (they have huge Calibration issues), or tank (try to avoid trimarks)

Basically, the DPS comes from minimal tanked, high DPS ships.  You can either go super glass tank shield fit, or have a smattering of lightly tanked armor ships. Personally, I prefer to have that little bit of tank and use armor. You can use almost any DPS ship, but some are better than others. Personally, I prefer Cruisers such as the Omen (or it's Navy cousin). Destroyers are pretty good but lack any kind of tank whatsoever. Battlecruisers are also pretty sweet, but can get a bit pricey if you get it wrong. It's possible to do with Battleships, but their Scan Res is too low to be practical in most cases. 

The DPS portion orbits the gate at it's optimal range and kills anything that comes through and is tackled. SeBo's are important because without them, you won't get on the killmail. 

Guns should ALWAYS be overheated, as engagements won't last more than 10-20 seconds. Carry Nanite Repair Paste.

If the FC or the scout reports that a large gang is coming, you turn on your (overheated) prop mod, get out of any kind of bubble and warp to a safe. This fleet does not take even fights unless it heavily has an advantage (which it hardly ever will).


Don't fit any tackle or utility mods other than a Remote Sensor Booster. 




How to Support Ship

Webs:

Webs are super important for this comp, so that ships that jump into us cannot burn back to the gate and escape. That means we need Hyenas or Rapiers, preferably with some kind of faction webifier.

They sit at their optimal web range and web anything that come through. 

Due to the fact that they need SeBo's (in fact, they are the ship that needs them most) and Webs, they should be armor tanked, but you will find that they have fuck all low slots. This is OK. They should run from anything that even remotely threatens them.

Yellow boxed? Warp
Red boxed? Should have already warped
DPS drones? Warp
ECM drones? Warp
More ships than you can web? Warp

Tackle

Obviously, camps are no fun if you can't catch anything. Drag bubbles take a while to set up, and can get expensive, so it's best to have an Interdictor with you, preferably two (one for reach side of the gate). Don't forget, drag and pull bubbles still work with dictor bubbles. You shouldn't bubble until the hostile ship decloaks.

If you're the dictor chasing someone who just gate crashed, don't forget to break your gate cloak otherwise your prey will get away. I've made this mistake too many times.

The second most important piece of the gate camp are the instalocking Interceptors. 

You want to be moving as fast as you can (low slots should be overdrives and a DCII), be able to lock as fast as possible (at least one SeBo) and have bonused points. YOu will also ideally be Remote SeBo'd by the DPS ships, making your lock time even quicker.

The best interceptors for this job are the Crow and the Stilleto due to their base scan res and their role bonus. The Keres and the Arazu are also good, but have the drawback that they cannot go for decloaks.

Talking about decloaks: a decloaking ship should be sat at 0ms with it's prop mod active. You see a ship break their decloak, and you hit approach. You then immediately, manually set your approach by double clicking in space so that you don't stop when the target cloaks. You should have drones assigned to you and orbiting, which will help decloak anything.

This fleet can easily be used in either LowSec or Nullsec with one exception. In LowSec, interceptors cannot hold tackle on a gate for very long before dying. In this case, you should be using an brick tank armor Heavy Interdictor, with as many infini-points as they can manage.

T1 and T2 frigates suck at this role, so don't bring them. They don't lock fast enough, aren't quick enough and put out abysmal DPS. If it's all you've got then fine, but you'll be very limited in what you engage (unless you've got like 200 of them obviously)


Logi

All this fleet really needs is one or two of the T1 Logi, and even then, it's questionable. If you do fly Logi, bring a single Warrior and fill the rest of your drone bay with shield maintenance bots. 


The Warrior should be assisting an Interceptor, and the shield bots should be repping either the Sabre the Interceptors at all times. Bring a Mobile Depot and spares. Sit at your most extreme range and orbit the gate. Your job is to keep tackle alive.

Your job is also pretty boring, so if you're flying Logi, consider dual boxing and doing one of the other roles as well.

ECM

The smaller the gang, the more important the ECM. With a bigger gang, ECM is just a nice to have.

Obviously, use a bonused ECM ship. None of the DPS ships should have ECM drones. The Falcon and Kitsune are optimal, but a Blackbird or Griffin is acceptable. Fit Signal Distortion Amplifiers in all the low slots, and Particle Dispersion Augmentors in the rigs slots. Fuck you high slots (but if you need something there, fit rails) and fill your mids with ECM except one slot for a prop mod. 
You should have a mix of ECM types, at least one of each race. You should have a Mobile Depot with a couple of spares for different races as well, just in case the people in that region only fly Amarr ships, or Caldari ships, etc.

The same engagement rules as the Webbing ships applies. (i.e. warp if ever in doubt)
Never forget, everyone in Eve will primary the ECM ship.


Scout

A gate camp fleet relies on two things. A gate to camp, and scouts to let people know when to wake up. If you're in a pipe, you should have a scout immediately on the other side of the gate your camping, as well as slightly up the pipe to give you advance warnings of bigger gangs. This needs to obviously be in both directions if you're in a pipe.

Scouts shouldn't be idle, and should be busy making multiple perches and safes for themselves and for the fleet. Every system within two or three jumps of hte camp should have at least 3 perches on each gate, and at least 3 mid warp safes. The system which is being camped should have double this.

It's also important that the scouts look out for Jump Bridges in NS, as these can make camping a gate an entirely pointless excersize.

Scouting needs to, obviously, be done in a fast cloaky ship. This can either be a CovOps or a Stealth Bomber. Stealth Bombers are a little better as they are useful for forcing something through a gate purely by decloaking at 30km.

Scouts should have a probe launcher fitted for that odd occasion where it might be needed.

Links

It's awesome cool if someone sits in a safe and gives boosts to the fleet. Skirmish and Information links are the best. They don't even need to be T2/Mindlink boosts. Even a T1 Battlecruiser with T1 links and no mindlink makes a gate camp fleet super awesome.

Sit in the WC position and make sure each squad has a Leadership V character. The WC booster needs Wing Command I for one squad, II for two squads etc. 

Don't be dumb and get caught in your link ship. Be aligned to another safe and don't go too AFK.




Choosing a location

The main concept of this fleet is to go out of an exit that already exists, go to the nearest "busy" system and sit and kill things. 

The easiest way to find somewhere is to look at Dotlan, filter by jumps in the last 24hrs and then go to the obvious pipes.

In NS, Jump Bridge systems can make the camp entirely futile, so try to avoid a pipe that has a JB at either end (these are easy to spot on Dotlan)

Systems with multiple gates are less preferable than a pipe system, and dead end systems are almost entirely pointless.


Try to avoid station systems where possible, but in a lot of places, it can't be helped.

Gates that are off D-Scan from other gates in system are good and especially good if they are off D-Scan from the nearest planet as well.


 






Time Period 

The idea of camping only exists as a time filler between doing other more interesting things. 

Other fleets, hole logistics, roams, and even PVE should take preference over a camp and just because some people are camping shouldn't, in any shape or form, discourage people from doing something else.

It's way better than POS spinning.




Engaging (should be titled Running)

Only engage things you know you can kill. Single ships, or very small groups (two or three max) are engagable, but you should run from anything else. Running doesn't necessarily mean go back to the wormhole, but it means GTFO out of any bubbles, and warp to a perch or a safe or dock up (in LS).

Don't chase after ships coming the wrong way (i.e. entering system from the gate you aren't camping). If you have an Interdictor, you can chase them through the gate and try and get them on the other sied, but don't chase them for multiple systems.

If you miss initial scrams and webs on a kiting ship, don't blindly chase after them because that's what they want you to do, and you will die. Let them go. If they stick around, they'll eventually do something stupid and you can kill them. 

Run from obvious bait.

Run faster from ongrid cynos.

Get ready to run from in system cynos (don't just warp to them and die to obvious cyno tower bait)

Run if local spikes from something your scout misses.

Trust your scout, if he says "large fleet", run and ask questions later.





Doing Other Things

Camps can be tedious. Feel free to browse Reddit, watch YouTube videos or jerk off (or any combination of those). The scouts should not be AFK as much as possible, and it's a good idea to rotate roles as much as possible to keep things fresh. 

Don't be so AFK that you cannot quickly tab back to your Eve client in order to GTFO or to shoot something. If you need to actually leave your computer, go to a safe or back to HH.

People can join and leave this fleet at random, as the concept works at any number of pilots. Don't feel bad if you have to leave and don't feel like you have to stay.