Friday, 6 February 2015

Ambushing a Vexor

So after the essay of self-fellatio I wrote a few days ago about me brutally beating a poor mining barge to death, I suppose I should finish the story I left on a cliff-hanger. Except I'm too lazy to dramatise it this time, so I'll just write out the battle report properly, to try and give you guys an idea of what it's like to play as a silent and deadly hunter instead of some crazy bastard with lots of guns.

First, let me give you an idea of what solo stalking is like. The closest similarity I can think of is a submarine. In space. A bit like a U-Boat during the Second World War, only more advanced and painted nicer colours. Much like a U-Boat, you spend alot of time watching and waiting for the moment to strike. Personally I enjoy this quite alot, I even keep a little log of what people are doing to keep me entertained. There's a strange satisfaction in watching people who have no idea you're there, like some demented space pervert getting off over people mining when they think they're alone.


This got dark pretty quickly. Sorry. Back to patient hunting.

The main reason you have to be so patient in EVE, is due to Local chat. Local chat fucking sucks for solo hunters unless you're hunting in W-Space, but your targets tend to be about five hundred times as vigilant/dangerous/crazy (delete as appropriate) out there. Local chat sucks due to the fact that if a stranger comes into system, everyone and their grandmother's alts know about it and they tend to stop doing stupidly risky shit that will get them killed by the new arrival. So when I find a system to hunt in, I won't actually do anything for a couple of days except observe the locals and hang in space cloaked. This does two things.

If you've not played the Silent Hunter series,
they're amazing fun for the tactical player

Firstly, you can start to notice patterns the locals may have, like missioning together, some sneaky gas huffing or collecting planet goo. Times they frequently log in or out, identifying people who tend to roam off solo, maybe ratting or scanning alone. Basically it gives you a good idea of times when they're vulnerable to you coming out of nowhere and beating them with a stick until they start crying.

Secondly, they get used to you being there and you doing nothing at all to them. Eventually they get bored of hiding from someone who doesn't appear a threat or they get complacent. This works even better if they never see you on D-Scan, or at gates/stations unless you're in something harmless, like a cloaky hauler. Basically you want to get them to a point where you log in and you're part of the scenery. Nobody blinks. That being said, don't ever talk to people. You want to fade into the background, not make friends with your targets. You're not awoxing them you're stalking them. Easiest way to do this is to log in, cloak up, then walk away from the PC and do something else. Go to the gym. Make lunch. Go to school. Watch a movie. Whatever. Hell you could even watch them at their tower or wherever and make notes on the ships they fly and who can fly what if you feel like being all secret agent about it.

When they start doing stupid shit again with you logged in, this is when you can make your move. Start planning your attack on the fly. While people will often do the same things, you can't guarantee the idiot flying around in that Navy Armageddon is going to fly it again tomorrow or even within the week. Measure your chances, take a risk and seize that moment of surprise.

My moment of surprise happened when I was chilling in system for about half an hour already, cloaked up and waiting for something to happen. I'd logged in around 15:05 EVE Time and sitting over one of their towers for about twenty minutes or so, hidden from plain sight. I'd scanned down their towers and bookmarked some perches for them earlier. It's all in the planning. At that point I was just watching the two pilots in the tower, an Ishtar piloted by "Ultra Gore" and a Vexor piloted by "Ahekon Akachi". I'm just chilling with music in the background so I keep a notepad of what they're doing to pass the time. Here's a bit of it.

15:11 Vexor switches to Buzzard and warps off. Combat scanner probes on scan (Looking for me?)
15:13 Buzzard returns to tower, switches back to Vexor
15:15 Vexor warps towards Planet IX/Col gate 26AU away
15:16 Vexor Navy Issue warps out (Same direction?) Both pilots still in Local

15:17 I warp to Planet IX at 70km. Both ships on scan

At this point i was wondering if I could take out one of the two Vexors. I started scanning the belts within range of the planet and soon tracked down the Vexor to Belt IX-13. The Navy Vexor was off somewhere else it seemed. I warped in at 100km to have a quick look while cloaked. He was ratting away. I snapped a screenshot and kept watching.

Target located!

I followed his warp to the next belt, again cloaked, and watched. I started thinking how best to engage.This planet was out of D-Scan range of the Navy Vexor plus it was a long warp, perhaps giving me enough time for a sudden surprise attack. Thinking quickly, I decided my best shot would be to ambush him in the next belt after he'd warped in, where I'd be waiting to pounce on him. He wouldn't expect an attack so soon after landing. I warped to the next belt at 20km from the beacon and hoped I wouldn't be decloaked by anything. Luckily, I missed all the asteroids by a good 50km.

Lying in wait

I sat and waited. Minutes dragged but eventually he dropped out of warp barely 20km from me. Time to go! I started slowboating towards him while avoiding anything decloaking me. I made sure to let him engage the rats first. Any DPS is good DPS in my opinion, and the Pilgrim needs all the help it can get. As soon as I saw the rats engage and drones get dropped I decloaked and lit my MWD while spamming CRTL click on the overview to lock him as soon as my decloak delay ended. If he reacted fast enough, he was clean away and I wouldn't be able to stop him. An agonising eight seconds later, I had him locked, pointed and webbed. I dropped Hammerhead II drones and started neuting his tits off. I activated the tracking disruptor just to piss him off even more (not like he could fire with no cap). My drones started chewing through his armour at a steady rate.


I started spamming D-Scan as he slowly went down. 

50% Armour. Nothing
25% Armour. Still nobody.
He enters hull. No sign of backup. I'd been shooting for a solid two or three minutes by now
20% Hull. Navy Vexor appears on D-Scan. Sorry mate, you're way too late for the party.
The Vexor explodes. I bookmark the wreck and warp out to the planet while cloaking.

The Navy Vexor hangs around for a few minutes before leaving D-Scan. I warp back to the wreck, scoop the loot and fly to a safespot. After some boring waiting, I logged out and played some League of Legends because I'm a nerd.

Hardly a close fight but it was still fun as hell!

However the story isn't over yet. These guys tried to murder my Pilgrim a few days later to get revenge. With some skillful flying and a large amount of luck it ended badly for them and I escaped by the skin of my teeth to fight another day. But that's a post for later since this one is long enough already. Until the next time, fly safe guys!

P.S For anyone who wants to read the notepad I had been writing on their movements, here's the full transcript.

15:04 Log in at Sun, cloaked instantly. Vexor and Ishtar on scan at unknown tower
15:07 Two previously unfound towers located at planet VIII, Moons 3 and 10. Planet 10 holds second MR tower
15:09 MR tower contains Ishtar (Ultra Gore) and Vexor (Ahekon Akachi). Ishtar appears afk
15:10 Vexor Navy Issue warps in to tower (chappu costa) from unknown location
15:11 Vexor switches to Buzzard and warps off. Combat scanner probes on scan (Looking for me?)
15:13 Buzzard returns to tower, switches back to Vexor
15:15 Vexor warps towards Planet IX/Col gate 26AU
15:16 Vexor Navy Issue warps out (Same direction?) Both pilots still in Local
15:17 I warp to Planet IX at 70km. Both ships on scan
15:18 Vexor appears to be belt ratting. fabzy enters Local. Vexor spotted in Belt IX - 13 ratting
15:20 I pre-emptively warp to Belt IX - 14 at 100km and wait. Vexor enters belt and begins ratting. T2 Hammerheads used. Railguns visible on ship
15:22 Vexor warps towards Planet X, has two belts. I warp at 100km to the first and see him engage rats
15:23 I pre-emptively warp to the second belt at 20km
15:24 Vexor warps in 17km from me, I decloak and engage after he drops Garde IIs vs the rats
15:27 Vexor dies, Vexor Navy is on short scan. Despite being at 85% armour still I decide to warp out ***
15:29 I return to belt at range, bookmark the wreck, and return to loot what I can. No sign of hostiles
15:31 Pilot fabzy has left Local at some point between the Vexor fight and now
15:34 I warp to Tower II at range. Only an Exequror Navy Issue is visible (chappu costa) but pod is on scan (Ahekon Akachi) from Vexor kill
15:37 No activity
15:43 I'm bored and warp to the first tower. Pod from Vexor kill is floating sadly in space next to the SMA
15:55 I log off at Planet IX, outside D-Scan range of both towers.

*** Vexor appears to have been PvP/Bait fit  Kill: Ahekon Akachi (Vexor) Was this an attempt to catch me after killing their miner yesterday or just random chance? 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Level 4 PVE Vargur Guide

I've wanted to do a post about missions for a while now, maybe even several. My inner carebear refuses to be silenced, so I've decided to let loose. This post is going to be about the best missioning ship I've flown so far in EVE, the Vargur.

I've flown the Vargur for about two months since I've trained Minmatar Battleship V, and frankly it's amazing. It does a shitload of damage with only T2 modules, is easy to fly, super tanky, damn quick and it's pretty sexy to boot. Add some faction module love and it only gets better. Before we go any further, here's the fit I've been using so far.

Vargur - 24/7 Wrecking

Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II

Gist A-Type 100MN Microwarpdrive

Pith C-Type X-Large Shield Booster
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Shield Boost Amplifier II
Large Micro Jump Drive

Bastion Module I

800mm Repeating Cannon II
800mm Repeating Cannon II
800mm Repeating Cannon II
800mm Repeating Cannon II
Small Tractor Beam II
Small Tractor Beam II
Salvager II

Large Capacitor Control Circuit I

Large Projectile Burst Aerator II


Hammerhead II x 5
Hobgoblin II x 5

So there we go. Now obviously the first thing you're going to notice is that I've thrown faction and Deadspace gear on here, which should push the price up right? Well not massively. At time of making this fit (Dec 2014) it was fairly cheap for a faction fit marauder, coming in at around 1.55 billion, the majority of which is the hull and gyrostabilizers. The Deadspace MWD is definitely not a priority, it just lets you be lazy about cap management. The Deadspace shield booster is cheap as hell (around 40mil last I checked) but if you're looking to keep costs down you can replace all of this with T2/Meta and it'll work just fine. Infact, I wouldn't have bothered buying fancy Deadspace stuff if I didn't have the MWD and gyros lying around already, the T2 version is about 95% as effective to be honest, and a hell of alot more ISK efficient. Hell if you live in quiet NullSec or LowSec, a fully T2 fit Vargur will probably pay for itself in less than a week if you run high end anomalies/L4 LowSec missions. However you'd want to make some changes to the fit. Swapping the tractor beams and salvager for heavy/medium neuts is a good idea, and carry a set of light or medium ECM drones just incase. The MJD helps alot in avoiding people too, but it's a good idea to have backup plans. I'm not saying a LowSec Marauder is always a good idea, but if you have a quiet missioning system or your corp is well set up in a dead-end pocket, you can get away with it pretty safely.

However the one thing about this fit I really recommend is the use of faction ammo. You might think I'm being crazy here but hear me out. The Vargur only has 4 turret slots with a 100% bonus damage role, so you're doing the damage of eight guns with only four which halves your ammo consumption straight off the bat. Plus the increase in damage is definitely worth it, since you gain over 100DPS at all V skills (875 Gun DPS -> 1007 Gun DPS). Don't worry either, you'll earn the ISK to pay for your ammo consumption per mission at some stupid rate of like 20:1. So for every mission you run, you could afford to pay for twenty more mission's worth of ammo with the proceeds (I'll admit this is some guessing here, but the point stands, it's completely sustainable). Often when I run missions, I only need to reload once, and even then it's pretty rare. So don't skimp on cheap ammo when faction gives such a boost in completion times, which is what this ship is all about.

Tips for flying like a pro

Now when it comes to flying this thing it's easy as hell. Autocannons with the tracking bonus of the Vargur can hit frigate sized rats flying towards you to a minimum of 12km ish, which is damn good for battleship sized weapons. Cruisers are fairly easy to track, even the elite ones, and battlecruisers get smacked off the field in two or three bursts. Battleships obviously have zero tracking issues unless they're 500m away in tight orbit (i.e Angel battleships). Your falloff starts showing a noticeable dropoff in damage at around 35 - 40+ kilometres with all Vs but that's why you're dual propped. Just burn within 30km or so of the targets, hit bastion for a minute and gun everything down. You travel at nearly 1km/s if not a bit more under MWD so you're damn quick at approaching targets.

Your shield is extremely cap efficient while in bastion (and still pretty efficient out of it) so don't be afraid to let yourself hit 33% or so cap when closing range before engaging bastion. You're stupidly tanky with the Vargur's bonus to shield boosting + bastion bonus to shield boosting and shield resistances. There's no need to swap resistances for different missions either, though obviously  as a shield tanker, Angel rats are hilariously easy to fight/tank, especially with their helpful tendency to fly straight at you for zero transversal. On a related note, here's a sped up video of me blitzing Angel Extravaganza in my Vargur.

Youtube link

I usually don't bother salvaging/looting anything that isn't a battleship sized wreck since most other stuff is trash, and besides this ship is designed for blitzing. If you want to full clear I'd recommend a Rattlesnake and Noctis combo with a Mobile Tractor Unit to create a wreck ball in each room. I might throw my Rattlesnake fit on here in the next few weeks, I'm still tweaking it currently.

Anyway give this fit a try if you're looking for a high skillpoint, if slightly pricy, mission blitzer. I promise you it's worth the train!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Stretching old muscles

Khanid Region
Fekhoya Constellation
Tegheon Solar System (0.4) - Far orbit over Planet IX
15:32 EVE Time (Local System)

It had been so long since he'd flown in the deep black. Months stuck in station, his pilot license stuck in limbo between CONCORD's red tape and the multiple arrest orders out on him from Minmatar authorities, several for crimes he'd not actually committed. Or atleast, he felt he was no longer the man who'd committed those crimes. A strange moral compass true, but atleast he had one now.

That being said he was no saint. Not one of the holy men from the stories in his youth, who had led peaceful and philosophical lives for hundreds of years before allowing the technology anchoring them to existence to cease, freeing them to the great beyond. One last great journey. But the life of a saint was not the one he craved. Excitement and adrenaline were the drugs he was addicted to. But today, his first flight into space in months, he wanted to keep things slow and methodical. To reawaken his dulled senses and slowed reaction speeds from too long spent in station, drinking nights away.

As a result, his recently refitted Pilgrim hung in deep space near the ninth planet in the Tegheon system. Beautiful carvings in the gold embossed over thick starship armour plating showed her name to be "Ad Astra". New developments in energy transfer technology and power core management had resulted in huge increases in range for energy neutralizers fitted to Pilgrim class ships, and the capsuleer was looking forward to putting them to use. Reliable intel from his alliance had thrown "Tegheon" up as a potential hunting ground, and he'd been loitering in system for about three or four hours now. Annoyingly, the locals seemed content to sit in their tower, probably chattering over secure comms. Two ships were on scan off towards a nearby moon, but Seraph felt no need to observe them directly. The sophisticated sensors onboard his ship would detect any sudden warps away from the tower. He was content to wait silently, cloaked up, allowing his crew to rest and recover from the long flight here from Jita.

He toyed with the idea of decloaking several hundred kilometres from the tower, just to jolt the motionless capsuleers into some sort of action, but he knew this would be a pointless waste of the ease he was steadily putting his targets at. Experience hunting in wormholes with a past group of mercenaries had taught him that greed and boredom soon outweigh caution. Of course this was easier to come by in unknown space where a lack of CONCORD regulations meant there was no way to track how many ships were in system via the use of gate idents. LowSec was still constrained by these legalities, meaning his name would be showing up bright and clear on all "Local" comm channels. A blessing and a curse from CONCORD, but it was only a matter of time before one of the pilots was sure enough Seraph was no threat, and then they'd be vulnerable. It helped that his months stuck in station had meant his confirmed kill history, publicly available, was severely lacking.

15:48 EVE Time (Local System)
A quiet ping from the bridge sensors was the only sign anything had changed in the silent darkness of space. Lounging in his captain's chair, Seraph suddenly sat up, alert. A surge of energy had just emanated from the space surrounding the tower, an obvious sign of a ship dropping into warp. A mere thought from the now awake capsuleer started the Pilgrim's sensors on active directional scans, invisible fingers streaming through space attempting to locate what the ship was and where it was headed. A minute or so passed. A low tone from the sensor suite, followed by a blinking icon on Seraph's holographic HUD screen showed the ship to be a mining vessel, a "Retriever" class strip miner. Seraph tried not to feel too disappointed. A target was a target after all, but a mining vessel was hardly dangerous prey. Then again, it would serve as good practice for covert operations maneuvers, and perhaps would bring combat ships out in defense. The potential for a good fight perked him up slightly, and he worked quickly to locate the clueless miner. He had no need to wake his crew for a defenseless target, there was very little chance of any danger in this engagement.

Within the minute he had located the barge to an asteroid belt surrounding planet VIII. A little slower than he used to be, but much better than he expected after months away from the complex sensor systems found in all combat ships these days. A slight tug on engine power aligned the Pilgrim towards planet VIII, and the muted sound of low-energy covert engines hummed through the hull. The familiar split-second feeling of falling was the only indication that they were in warp. He nodded to himself in satisfaction. Warp technology had come a long way from throwing anything that wasn't tied down to the deck from sudden acceleration.

Deceleration was felt only as a slight pressure pushing him back into the seat. Viewscreens from tiny camera drones launched on landing flickered to life, displaying the surrounding environment, next to distance and speed indicators on surrounding monitors. Automated collision prevention fired microthrusters to float smoothly past gigantic spinning asteroids. In the distance, almost a hundred and seventy kilometres away, the Retriever was visible on the centre screen. Seraph flicked his eyes over at sensor readouts while plotting a short warp that would put his ship within a few kilometres of his target. A few last minute checks confirmed everything was ready.

Power rerouted to sublight warp engines, powerful ion thrusts flaring into visibility as the Pilgrim shimmered back into the visible spectrum halfway through the hundred and sixty or so kilometre warp towards her prey. Seraph had disabled his cloaking device, knowing the few seconds he'd save recalibrating the targeting sensors might make the difference in the barge being caught or slipping away. 

Ad astra had landed perfectly between the barge and her intended warp-out alignment, causing the barge to attempt emergency maneuvers, giving Seraph the dual advantage of surprise and time to act. Not that he needed much time. In one flowing action, energy neutralizers slammed into the Retriever's hull, Hammerhead combat drones launched from the Pilgrim's drone bay, and the warp disruptor pinned her down. He had her dead to rights. With no power for her shield arrays and no avenue of escape, the brutal hybrid rounds from the Hammerheads had torn holes through the lightly armoured barge in mere seconds. The light armour plating was designed to protect the crew from small asteroid impacts or a short fight with ill-equipped pirates. However it was about as effective as plastic against the military-grade ammo used by Seraph's drones. A slight flicker, then a blue flash washed over the camera drones as the Retriever exploded. An escape pod was blown from the wreckage and warped out before it could be locked onto by the Hammerheads.

Salvage drones quickly stripped the wreck of anything that could be sold on the open market while Seraph kept an eye on directional scans. No sign of retaliation just yet, but his comms system had already began decrypting a short burst of static from the Retriever before it had met its demise.

" - Miner Three to Home One, we are under attack from a Recon Class Cruiser
 // Roger Miner Three, we are sending reinforcements
 - Far too late for that, he's downed my shields 

Seraph smirked slightly. Despite the calm tones attempted by both pilots, he could hear their voices shake and hesitate. Clearly they were not expecting combat. His scanner beeped a warning, picking up two cruisers enroute. A Vexor and a Vexor Navy Issue were barreling towards his position. Time to move. A shimmer in space, a short warp, and he was gone. 

But he wasn't done picking off these pilots yet.