Hey, everybody. Sorry for the long silence; I’ve mostly been messing about on the test server (Singularity aka Sisi) trying out the new scanning/probing system and looking at the incoming content.

Until today, I was mostly flying a covert ops ship for the scanning bonuses, so I stayed well away from the actual sites inside the wormhole systems where the new Sleepers spawn. The stories coming back from more intrepid explorers have been rather daunting, with rumors of entire fleets getting wiped.

Of course, given all the free ships on Sisi, the Game Development Forum threads have also been alive with “oh, it’s not hard to solo the easier sites, I went in in my rigged Nightmare and it was cake, especially with my full implant set” reports. Well, bully for you; but when this goes live, I personally don’t have much interest in taking expensive T2 hulls into a gankable 0.0-style hell-death, with no local chat to even tell me if there are enemies in my system. Nope, if I can’t do this in cheap ships, it’s not going to get done by me.

Now, mind you, I’m not against flying with friends; that’s gonna be necessary for most of the new content no matter what you’re flying. But the other feature of W-space (the unreliable and ever-shifting wormhole access) means that no matter who you go in with, you’re likely to wind up alone in the dark. At that point, are you just doomed to wander in a wasteland of pointlessness? Or, will there still be some business a solo pilot in a cheap ship can conduct?

That’s what I set out to discover today, and since nobody else on Sisi seems interested in testing that, I figured I’d just have to do it myself.

So, first, I grabbed a covert ops ship and scanned me down a wormhole. It wasn’t hard; there were no cosmic signatures in my home system, so I jumped one jump over (to another .7 system) and found one. Probing it out took about ten minutes with the new scanning system, which is getting very easy to use while still providing a mental challenge.

After finding the wormhole, I checked its description. It promised to take me to “unknown space”, as opposed to the more dangerous “dangerous unknown” or “deadly unknown” space that are the other two options. Cool! I bookmarked it and went to see what was in my hangar for cheap.

What I found was a gank Caracal, left over from my faction warfare days. 5 T2 heavy missile launchers high, a large shield extender and a medium shield booster middle, and ballistic control units (T2) low. Plus a warp disruptor and some signal boosters. Nothing fancy, nothing special, nothing ridiculously expensive.

Jumped in, went back to the wormhole, jumped through. Used my on-board scanner to find a few cosmic anomalies, did the cancel-warp trick to make their names pop up on the system map. Then warped to them, in succession, at 100km to have a look.

The easiest looking one was a “Frontier Camp” with six sleeper frigates and two sentry guns. I got to work.

The sentry guns hit me hard but variously, in amounts from 200 to 1200 hitpoints each. Their rate of fire, however, was very slow. I was able to pop a frigate before I had to warp out to save my armor — no way to repair my armor in here!

I was using Caldari Navy Scourge missiles, but I only had the ones in my launchers — after that, it was a choice of precision lights (which proved to do less damage) or regular Scourges — which seemed to work just fine and almost as well as the Navy ones.

So I warped out, repaired my shields, let my cap recharge, and warped back in. The site was between two planets, so I came in from a different side each time, giving me a chance to use range against the rapidly-closing frigates. This second time in, the sentry guns were closer and hurt worse; by the time I popped a frigate and warped out, I’d suffered a substantial armor dent. Must be more careful.

Third trip in, I popped two frigates and dented one sentry gun, but there was a new spawn — six more frigs and a cruiser. At this point, I decided to take out the sentry guns, which were a far bigger danger than the ships seemed to be.

That took maybe six more passes before they went down. But after that, it was cake — the frigs dropped easily and the cruiser, easily enough. Then the final wave — three cruisers and a few more frigs — popped.

I had to warp away after popping the frigs and one cruiser, then come back and finish the other two. Interestingly, at no time did any of the Sleeps use any kind of ECM on me; I was never webbed or scrambled. Sleepers DOuse this tech, by all reports, so I either I got lucky, or there are modest and minor sites where they aren’t programmed to do it.

All told, it may have taken me a couple hours to finish playing patty-cake with these sleeper boys, but in the end, the site was done. The wreckage was promising — probably not enough, depending on the final price of T3 parts, to justify the time, but not worthless by any means either. Total loot and salvage (I had to go for a salvage boat) was about 120 cubic meters, breaking down as follows:

22x Reinforced Metal Scraps (refined to 51k trit)

28x Neural Network Salvagers (50k ISK apiece to NPC buy orders on SISI)
8x Sleeper Data Library (200k ISK ea to NPC buy orders)

55x Electromechanical Hull Sheeting (ancient salvage)
2x Emergent Combat Analzyer (ancient salvage)*
1x Heuristic Selfassemblers (ancient salvage)*
27x Modified Fluid Router (ancient salvage)
10x Neurovisual Input Matrix (ancient salvage)
6x Powdered C-540 (ancient salvage)
2x Resonance Calibration Matrix (ancient salvage)*

The three ancient salvage items marked with asterisks have the color of icon we currently associate with the unbroken salvage for making Tech II rigs.

So, what did I learn?

Remember the question I set out to answer: is there Sleeper content that a solo player can beat in a cheap boat? I’d say the answer is, conclusively, yes, even if there’s probably far more content that’s too tough to do this way.

What’s really fun about my answer, though, is that what one cheap boat can do, more cheap boats can do better. Missiles seem to work well against sleepers, but some remote repping would really have sped things up. A couple of T1 logistics cruisers (dirt cheap) and anything else crunchy enough to bring some DPS while buffertanking the worst of the Sleeper DPS should work a treat.

It’s important to remember that all the time I was doing this, I was NOT worrying a whit about who might be sneaking up on me to player-gank me. On Sisi, it’s against the rules, and it doesn’t matter anyway. On Tranquility, it would have been suicide to do what I did — or at least, it would have required a lot more care and attention to my directional scanner. With a gang, you’ll probably have a cloaking prober who stands aside from the combat and keeps an eye out for enemies. In fact, I’m thinking one of my cloaking Prowler blockade runners would be great for this duty — keep a probe launcher in the second high slot, carry reloads for the troops and haul all the loot home, with primary responsibility during combat of maintaining continuous scans for enemy player ships. (A Badger II would work just as well, to be honest, as long as the pilot was willing to stay in continuous motion.)

All in all, I came away enthusiastic for the possibilities. Now it only remains to find out whether the ISK value of the w-space resources makes it worth the trouble.

8 Responses to “A Caracal In W-Space”

  1. Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" says:

    Glad to see you doing great stuff in a cheap ship, this gives me hope!

  2. threeDspider says:

    Nice mission report on the sleeper npc’s. I’m looking forward to trying W-space for myself, getting some of those Tech 3 components just after the patching finishes and selling them for ridiculous prices :)

  3. Prophet says:

    Good to know that there will be at least some soloable content. Also looking forward to trying it in small groups. :) Thx for the detailed report.

  4. Marlenus says:

    Easy there, 3d. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the industrial community about whether the game is worth the candle. Which is to say, it’s not certain that T3 ships are spiffy enough to command enormous prices.

    They might be, but it’s far from clear at this point.

    Everybody — I’m glad you found this helpful!

  5. threeDspider says:

    True, Marlenus, but whenever the devs put something shiny into the game, there’s always someone out there making a couple billion isk a month who wouldn’t mind spending a lot to be the first with a tech 3 ship (or in this case, be the first to get the tech 3 components to build a tech 3 ship). Oh well, ill have to see if any of this loot i got was worth the battleship my group lost in the end :(

  6. Celem says:

    Just ran the anomoly you mentioned on Tranq today in a fairly expensive t2 fitted ishtar. just goes to prove more isk != faster sleeper pwnage as i was unable to even complete the site.

    Tank held steady with as much as 2 sentries, 4 cruisers and 16 frigs however drones are a non-viable dps form against sleepers, they primary them almost instantly, especially heavies

  7. 2moons dil says:

    Just ran the anomoly you mentioned on Tranq today in a fairly expensive t2 fitted ishtar. just goes to prove more isk != faster sleeper pwnage as i was unable to even complete the site.

    Tank held steady with as much as 2 sentries, 4 cruisers and 16 frigs however drones are a non-viable dps form against sleepers, they primary them almost instantly, especially heavies

  8. Marlenus says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of tank. I couldn’t hope to tank that much, gotta split/separate/kite/warpout to get it done in the cheap ship.

    The heavy missiles are still the best thing I’ve found for DPS, probably because that’s the only weapons system I have serious amounts of skill points in.

    I do use drones as a sort of damage sponge sometimes — when the Sleepers focus on my drones, there’s a lot of DPS that isn’t hitting me, and I can use the reprieve to kill something (especially battleships, when I’m in a Drake) that I couldn’t hope to kill otherwise at all.

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