It’s been a busy couple of days in Greater Mars.

You remember Greater Mars — that’s the POS that Ironfleet uses in w-space, courtesy of the lady I like to call The Empress (not her real name).

Well, Greater Mars has been kind of a bust ever since Apocrypha 1.1 came out. When they reduced the number of Gravimetric spawns to improve wormhole navigation, they seem to have tweaked some of the other spawn mechanics as well. Before that patch, we got a radar spawn about once a week, a couple of ladar spawns a week, and 1-2 Cosmic Anomalies a day. In the month (ish) since the expansion? Wormholes, a couple of ladar spawns, a couple of grav spawns. That’s it. Zero radar, zero mag, many fewer ladar, and astronomically fewer (but richer) grav spawns. Maybe two Cosmic Anomalies. Pretty much, nothing.

The upshot of all of this was that there wasn’t anything to do in there. Before 1.1, just clearing the guards for the grav sites took an hour or two a day, and made enough sleeper salvage to pay the POS fuel bill. Post 1.1, Dingo did some AFK gas mining, and that was it. I didn’t have ore mining gear in there, there were no sleepers to kill, and the POS was not paying for its upkeep.

So, I was thinking about having The Empress take it down. But, you know, we probably took a dozen hauler loads of stuff in there, and 15 or 20 ships of various kinds. Taking it down? A huge pain. It was easier to keep fueling the thing, and hope we’d just been getting a bad run of spawning luck. Perhaps the random number generator has just been hating us. It’s also the case that, by spending less time in there, it’s possible we missed some spawns that got found and run by visitors we never saw. So, I was waffling.

Then two days ago, the Empress logged in to find her POS in reinforced mode, with all her guns and facilities either incapacitated or offlined. WTF?

She had emails from Concord indicating that five pilots spent eight and a half hours burning everything down and putting the tower in reinforced mode. The good news: she’d stoked the (small Minmatar) tower with as much Strontium Clathrates as it would hold. We can only imagine (with pleasure) their frustrated groaning when they were presented with a reinforced timer with 41 hours on its clock.

At that point, we had a tricky decision to make. Can this tower be saved? For offensive modules, it only had three guns, a web, and a warp disruptor, all now incapacitated and in need of lengthy repair. With the tower in reinforced, the web and warp disruptor couldn’t be put back into service, and there isn’t enough power on a small tower to mount serious defensive armaments. Worse yet, the corporate hangar array was offline — which meant that none of the goods could be removed. There wasn’t anything too valuable…except Dingo’s gas, and quite a lot Sleeper salvage, and a fairly big pile of expensive T2 fittings. Too much to give away without a fight.

The ship maintenance array stays online in reinforced, apparently, and it contained many ships: a drake, some Caracals, Buzzard and Manticore, some Ospreys, some Thrashers and Rifters for Jim Bridger, half a dozen haulers, and at least a dozen miscellaneous frigates. These, at least, we could remove.

The Empress decided to evacuate what she could (the expensive ships) and then mount the best possible defense, with an eye toward removing the goods from the hangar array (if necessary, while under fire) after the tower came out of reinforced. She was hopeful that the aggressors wouldn’t be back — logistics in wormholes being what they are — but given their initial determination, not hopeful enough.

Complicating all of this was the fact that I, Marlenus, was in my Dodixie jump clone, because TEARS has a new war declaration against it that went active at the same time. So, I wasn’t free to vanish into Greater Mars to help with the defense, nor could I (well, I could have, but I didn’t want to) ask my TEARS peeps to help me mount a defense fleet.

So. The Empress. First thing she did was scan out the wormhole de jour. It was ugly — dropping into Minmatar space way the-Hek-and-gone out there, literally. (Coming from Jita it’s a dozen jumps past Hek.) Ah, well, that’s a logistics problem for another day. She ferried all the combat ships out to high sec and parked them.

Then, she jumped in an Osprey and started repping the guns. That took most of a day, but she got them all back in operation. She was starting on the web and the disruptor (although they can’t be turned back on due to no CPU from the reinforced tower) when the aggressors came back.

A word about the aggressors: They were a collection of pilots from the Rogue Windz Interprizes LLC [ROWIN], in the Blue Sun Trust alliance, led by their CEO, Icuwarrior. Pretty cool guys, mostly, although the Empress did get some drunken and belligerent mails from a Drake pilot, one Jlee, after Dingo Indere accidentally decloaked him at a planet. (Dingo was in his unarmed gas-mining Badger II and thought he was dead, but Jlee apparently thought it was a trap and warped away in alarm. Then Jlee started drunkmailing. It was pretty funny. Sample: “you know that pos well go down so you what to get all you can out so get what you what out and yes i know”.)

Anyway, when they came back and started shooting at The Empresses’ guns, she was apalled to see that the guns were not reliably shooting back. We’re still not sure why not — they’re supposed to shoot at anybody with a standing of 1.0 or lower. Once she set that number to 10, that problem went away. The guns started shooting. But that’s going to be hard on friends and allies who may stumble in from time to time.

And then the fun started. She got to “control” the guns — something she’d never done before. So, she began shooting at Icuwarrior (in his Navy Raven), one Vaderrr (in a Minnie battlecruiser) and their friend JleePlus in a Prophecy, who was apparently the go-fer who brought replacement ammo.

For guns, all she had was two small artillery batteries and one medium. That was enough to melt the Prophecy if it didn’t drop ammo and scoot — so that’s what it did.

The battlecruiser was a bit trickier. At first, six or eight salvos was enough to put the BC in deep armor and make it warp away for awhile. Eventually, though, Vaderrr figured out how to keep his transversal high enough to thwart the medium gun, and he could tank the smalls for quite awhile. He’d still warp away, but not often enough to prevent him from doing a lot of damage.

The Navy Raven was a tough nut. Although its tank couldn’t handle all three guns forever, it could handle them for a long long time. I’d say it had to warp out maybe three times, over twice that many hours — not counting other times it left briefly (for more torps?) when its tank was not in question.

Yes, I did say six hours. These three pilots warped in and out for six hours — and shot at the three guns when they were present — for six hours. Once the first gun went down, so did any hope of hurting them, but The Empress kept at it, catching Vaderrr several times when he got bored or lazy and forgot to orbit. But, eventually, all the POS guns were once again incapacitated.

The Empress, meanwhile, was learning to shoot POS guns. Icuwarrior started with some drones (and apparently resupplied them once) but those, The Empress figured out, can be instapopped by a lucky hit from small tower artillery. All it takes is ammo and patience and luck and time.

During this time, there were various exchanges and communiques. Early in the festivities, Jim Bridger flew out in a rifter and attempted to tackle the Navy Raven, thinking that if he could just hold it there while the guns chewed on it….

Jim is an enthusiastic young pilot, but his career has been mostly spent in high sec. He forgot about the humble smart-bomb. Popped and podded before he ever knew what hit him. Bummer.

On the bright side, that put him back near Jita. The Empress, meanwhile, looked at all the newly available power on her POS (what with all the CPU-using facilities being offline) and placed an order for six new guns and plenty of ammo. Which Jim, after buying a new clone, dutifully bought and ferried about thirty jumps to the station nearest the wormhole. (Jim is in TEARS. There’s a war on. This was hazardous, though ultimately uneventful, work.)

At some point during the six hours of gun-reshooting, Icuwarrior delivered a friendly (in tone) communique. He was complimentary about the defensive efforts, but stated “the second the tower comes out of reinforced there will be a heavy DPS Alliance fleet sitting here to finish the work. You can keep wasting time, ISK and effort trying to keep it alive but this tower is toast. Much better weps today BTW.”

We knew they’d had five pilots in system the day before. Three pilots spent six hours shooting three guns. Would they have bothered if they could get an Alliance fleet to do it the easy way? We were skeptical. Adding to the skepticism, at some point during the six hours, the wormhole expired and a new one spawned — this time, to a station deep in Khanid space, dozens of jumps from the wormhole ROWIN came in through. What alliance is going to send a battleship fleet dozens of jumps to burn down an empty tower in near-worthless w-space?

No, The Empress figured they were hoping to do the job themselves, or with a few additional pilots. (There were hints on scan that they had a few other people hanging around in the system, logging in and out, who would presumably hang around for another day. These included Jlee, the drunken Drake pilot, and possibly a couple others.) In conversation with Icuwarrior, he indicated that his organization had another wormhole system, of the same class as Greater Mars, that they considered “a gold mine” and defended with three large faction towers. Even adjusting for possible boasting, this offered a hint of the motive for the attack. But the promised heavy DPS fleet seemed unlikely, so she decided to defend against the visible threat, as best she might.

Eventually, Icuwarrior and Vaderrr logged off, their work done. Jlee and possibly other pilots were still in system (sometimes being seen warping in and cloaking) so The Empress knew she was under observation. (Just to drive home the point, Miss Plus sent Evemail: “I see you.”) But still, what could The Empress do? She’d been playing for about fourteen hours at that point, and she was tired and sleepy, but she had Jim Bridger’s boatload of new guns to play with. She ended up staying up about three hours past her usual bedtime, but she got six new guns anchored, and online and stocked with ammo. Then, she crashed.

After five hours of sleep, she woke up and got back in the Osprey. She had at that point two medium and four small guns — twice the armament that she started with. She was able to offline the ship maintenance array (after dumping a cloud of cheap frigates out of it) and get enough power to online the original medium gun (giving her three of them). No sooner had she gotten it online, then a new pilot (Asahi Halycon) uncloaked in a Dominix and started pounding torpedoes toward the guns.

The Empress took control of all three medium guns. In three salvos, the Dominix had to warp away.

And that was the pattern all the long day. The Empress ran around in her repping Osprey, repairing up the other four incapacitated modules; but it was slow work because, from time to time, Asahi and/or Vaderrr (now in a battleship also) would uncloak and attack. They now, however, always had to warp away before they could do any serious damage. Which The Empress took to be an endorsement of her new micro-deathstar configuration.

Finally, after a long and boring day, the reinforced clock started to tick its last. Every known member of ROWIN was logging in, except Icuwarrior the CEO. She assumed they were waiting for him.

The tower came out of reinforced. She was amazed to discover that you can’t online modules at that point — you have to wait until the shields regen from 25% to 50%, or until you can rep them up. She wasn’t in a position to do that. But, now, she could remove things from the Corporate Hangar Array.

Everything of value, it turns out, fit in Jim’s hauler, the one he brought the new guns in. So she loaded him up.

Icuwarrior logged in. There was a disturbance in the force. Three battleships plus at least one Drake, plus perhaps two or three other ships, type unknown. Could they do a rolling thunder attack, retreating in turn to self-repair? Spider tank? The Empress was concerned but confident, now that she had enough firepower to make battleships warp out. It might be ugly, but these boys would get a fight, even if they got their as-yet-unseen heavy DPS fleet.

The Empress bounced to the wormhole to check for a bubble. Clear. She gave Jim the order to run for it with the last of the loot. He warped to the bubble. She bounced back to the POS.

Jim arrived at the wormhole. At 6,000 meters and spinning, due to the odd wormhole approach/bounce physics.

Jump range is 5,000 meters. And guess what was waiting for Jim? Icuwarrior in his Navy Raven, and Miss Plus in another Drake. There were drones out.

Jim did all he could do in his butt-slow Minmatar industrial. He gave the command to approach the gate, he turned on his shield booster, and he began to spam the jump button. By now, he was taking fire and well into armor.

It’s possible there was praying. Jim says he was just cussing.

Then “Phase change is already in progress”. Yes! He was through, with nothing worse than a twenty-five-thousand ISK armor repair bill.

Icuwarrior said “nice work”, The Empress said “Thanks, that was the last load of sleeper loot” or words to that effect, and Icuwarrior said: “Relax and get some sleep.”

The Empress: “What? After all this, you’re not going to bring it?”

Icuwarrior: “We are outta here… our heavy DPS guys say it’s too far from their wormhole. We were hoping for a closer access point….”

And thus did two hard day’s defense work pay off. Too much nut for the local forces to crack, not enough value to justify bringing in the heavy hitters, if they ever existed. Wormhole design at its finest.

Further pleasantries were exchanged — the ROWIN guys gave Jim Bridger back his corpse out in high sec — and that was that. It was over, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Why did The Empress fight so hard for an unprofitable POS in low-quality w-space, one we were thinking of taking down anyway? Sheer cussedness, mostly. True, there was that one load of fairly expensive fitting gear and sleeper loot (including a bunch of that gas that Dingo harvested), but more important to her was (1) the opportunity to learn by experience a bunch of POS warfare mechanics, and (2) that peculiar EVE unwillingness to give the other guy the satisfaction of a victory. Unless they come back in force another day, The Empress has won. That was worth two long hard days of POS defense.

As of now, the tower is back above 50% and refilled with stront and fuel, the hangar arrays are offline, and the defensive modules are all online and working. We’ve got the world’s smallest deathstar — it’s cute, like a ninja hamster or something. But, half a billion ISK worth of ships and gear is now buried deep in Minmatar and Amarr space (to be recovered via tedious AFK hauling, some other day, after the war unless the Empress does it herself). My guess is that the Empress will leave the tower up for a couple weeks at least, but will probably tear it down eventually, to be replaced by a more robust medium tower placed deeper in w-space, next time.

17 Responses to “The Micro-Deathstar In Greater Mars”

  1. Jastra says:

    Man I enjoy readng this blog… all props to the empress, gotta love the cusedness of your average EVE pilot :)

  2. Raelyf says:

    You really need to get a warp jammer on your POS !

  3. Velocity Prime says:

    Great story, Marlenus. Glad to hear everything worked out. POS logisitics in w-space sounds like tricky business indeed.

  4. Elohim Alera says:

    Good luck in the frontier/core system, dude. Sounds like you had bad spawn luck. I farmed a w-space system for about a month, and we had chaining mag/radar spawns, one after the other. Most of the time a Grav and two ladars hanging around as well.

  5. mauve says:

    Bookmarking a wormhole from the scan result tends to give a warp in point at about 8km from the actual hole. We always warp in and bm directly. Jimmer got lucky.

    We setup our POS in a Dangerous unknown system. We started out with about 16 signatures. It seems that while WHs will respawn within the hour, the other type of signatures respawn on a 3 or 4 day timer – even if you deplete them right away. The reason I think this is we are now at 1 to 3 sigs in system which are only ever WHs. Every once in a while a gas site will pop up. :(

    One aspect you will find with being in a dangerous unknown system – 75% of the time the WH in system will lead to another w-space system. Our k-space exit is usually out thru a chain of 2 – 5 w-space systems.

    This does mean that for ratting and looting mag/radar sites – there are always neighbouring sites to pillage – given the limitations of the connecting WHs (ie longevity and mass limitation).

    Living in the dangerous unknown and frequently not being connected to k-space directly means that there are not often visitors. The most frequent visitors being c-ops – when you see them. So lots of safe activities in system. Yet, our sigs are almost always depleted. More of a risk pillaging the neighbouring systems, which only occasionally have residents.

    Anyway, just thought I would pass on some of my observations as I enjoyed yours. Our POS is producing a cap fleet slowly and reacting our gas but there is just not enough grav sites to do much building, we haul in our mins for the most part. More trit please.


  6. mauve says:

    I suppose I should also mention that ratting in Dangerous Unknown systems usually requires at least one buddy depending on your SP. Not too much of an issue on the perimeter and frontier sites which still appear in Dangerous though I think appearing in a base Dangerous system, are a little move buffed than the same one appearing in a base Unknown system.

    For our fleets we go with multiple Remote shield Reps and BS’s for most. This allows for the Reps to rotate to whomever is taking fire.

    For the more serious Core site rats or the mag/radar sites, we add one or two Basilisks among the RR BS’s.

    We tried experimenting with adding a Carrier to our ratting fleet since we heard of the 6 BS spawn for each Cap ship going to a site. Well, those BS’s were able to put any of our BS’s into structure in 2 volleys with thier concentrated fire. We lost 3 BS’s and a basilisk from those scramming Sleepers – luckily the carrier got away. I am sure we could have done it smarter. Will be a good farming source though when we get it down pat – the BS’s each carry 2 tags worth 5M isk each. Having 4 or 5 cap ships brought in one at a time would lead to some nice loot.


  7. Lei Merdeau says:

    Why fight? for the experience, if nothing else. Skill points are one thing, knowing how to use them is another. Which reminds me, I don’t, must do something about that.

  8. Marlenus says:

    Some responses:

    Raelyf, The Empress had a warp jammer on the POS, but there isn’t enough power on a small tower to support hangars, jammer, and very many guns. The aggressors were able to tank the damage when the guns were firing without human guidance, and switching (as they do) from one ship to the next.

    Mauve, I know Jim Bridger got lucky. The whole reason we scouted ahead to was to make sure there was nobody waiting on the wormhole — but the other side was thinking a step ahead or got lucky themselves, I’m not sure which.

    In Greater Mars, I never found a system I couldn’t solo in a Drake, though on the Radars and some of the harder anomalies I’d have to warp out several times and get a fast cap recharge from The Empress at her POS. I’m pretty sure that in any deeper w-space, I’d have to pick and choose encounters, upgrade my ship choice, or both. Or make Jim Bridger fly a Basilisk, which is going to take some fast talking and menacing threats.

    Everybody, thanks for your comments. I’m glad folks enjoyed hearing about this.

  9. threeDspider says:

    great read!

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

    Good write up, I really enjoyed reading that!

  11. Kahega says:

    Bah. Next time this happens, we need a TEARS warfleet. /bitter

    Anyway, good read. Just hire a freighter pilot to do all the tedious hauling.

  12. Kahega says:

    Also, about the spawning: Wormholes aren’t on individual respawn timers. A sig that despawns can reappear in other wormhole systems.

    I recommend going into other w-space systems from your GM base.

  13. Marlenus says:

    Going into other w-space systems from the GM base sort of defeats the purpose of having the base, which is to provide a secure rabbit hole and the tactical flexibility to swap ships on short notice.

    And I’m well are that the sigs aren’t on timers, I was just providing general statistical info on the sigs that have appeared in GM and the way in which their distribution changed after Apocrypha 1.1.

  14. Bob Ghias says:

    you should have called on us…would have beat sitting around discussing how to attack the WT’s we had over this period…next time

  15. mauve says:

    Let me pose this – on your next radar/mag site – don’t kill all the rats in the first spawn (or any of them) but hack the cans anyway. A little less salvage but works for the harder sites you cannot solo cause your buds are not online. Just an issue at the end with the scramming sleepers.

    Apologies if this is already well known on the forums since I only go there occasionally.


  16. namelessclone01 says:

    a friend of mine tipped me off about this blog. a great and very entertaining read! keep it going :)

    this bit got be a bit confused though:
    “then a new pilot (Asahi Halycon) uncloaked in a Dominix and started pounding torpedoes toward the guns.”

    WTB torp-spewing domi, paying 2b ;)

  17. Mynxee says:

    Way late to the party, but found this post in researching living in a WH. Really good info. Need to look at your other Greater Mars posts ;)

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