Archive for the 'Today In Ironfleet' Category

Well, it’s been six weeks and a couple of patches since I’ve played EVE. I had some internet problems, I had to do some travel, there was some work stuff, there was some family stuff… and, y’know, I just wasn’t feeling the EVE lust. It happens.

So, this was the dustiest login I’ve ever had to do. As usual after patches, I had to redo all my settings. I had to pay a bunch of office rent bills, and I think I’ve got to go collect some stuff from offices that got repossessed. My skill training was done (not long done though, I managed to polish off Advanced Weapons Upgrades V during the break). I didn’t remember where anything was, or where I was.

Changes-wise, the two big ones affecting Ironfleet seem to be the new junk cleanup routines (sob, all that lovely salvage that went poof) and the removal of the “refine shuttles” cap on Veldspar prices.

The junk cleanup was hard on Ironfleet in one sense — probing down old shuttles in ancient safespots with goodies in the cargo was one of my best entertainments in the game — but the manifest benefits to the game cannot be denied. And the cleaner roid belts make salvage a lot easier, especially as it’s easier to find the Giant Secure Containers that aren’t anchored, now.

So far, all I’ve done is one survey of the belts in my current local system. Found a Catalyst mining into a free-floating Giant Secure Container, so I went for a cargo ship. Catalyst was gone when I came back, so I scooped container and ore (not a lot of ore) without drama. In the next belt over, I found a guy in a Retriever barge, jet-can mining; he had enough ore to fill up my hauler, so that was nice. We had this conversation:

Sterling Wilkes: What is your problem?

Marlenus: No problem.

Sterling Wilkes: Janfot.

Marlenus: And a happy rumfut to you too, sir!

Ironfleet Towing And Salvage is back in business, baby!

Today I espied a Hulk mining into several jetcans. So I hopped in my Crane transport and went to get some ore.

I’d flipped the first full jetcan of Veldspar into an Ironfleet can when the Hulk woke up and launched five drones. I responded with heavy missiles, and after things began to settle, it was clear that I could tank the drones for a very long time but not forever, and that the Hulk could probably tank me for longer than that, but again, perhaps not forever. So I resolved to blow up some drones.

Reloading with precision missiles…

Start over. After cussing out my crew for failing to stock up on precision missiles, I went back to shooting heavy missiles at drones. And the hulk pilot began micromanaging his drones, pulling them in after I had begun to hurt whichever one I was shooting at. But I was battering them each time, and he was running out of drones with armor and structure left.

Finally, I popped a drone. By now I was at about half shields and about half cap, and beginning to think that (if he did not have another set of drones in the bay) I could turn my attention back to pounding on the hulk.

Which is when his corpmate in a Drake warped in and began unloading heavy missles onto me in 7-missile volleys from point blank range. Time to go!

My Crane is a stout ship, but it’s just a hauler, and we were already low on shields. The second volley hit me just before I hit warp, and I got away with a substantial dent in my armor. It’s questionable whether I could have weathered volley number three, and number four would have been certain death.

Of course I came back in a stealth bomber to see if I could defend the Ironfleet can. And, indeed, the Drake did not seem to be fitted with a full Drakish tank, as I was able to beat well into its shields until it chose to leave. But the hulk pilot came back in an armor-tanking battleship that I could not scratch, and there was no more that I could hope to accomplish with the ships available to me. We danced a bit and I launched a lot of missiles for the pleasure of the noise, but in the end, I had no choice but to blow up the Ironfleet can (full of veldspar!) to keep it out of enemy hands, and then return to my hangar.

Conclusion, tentative: If the Hulk pilot had failed to get backup, I might have been able to take him.

It’s not the most profitable salvage I do, but the peaceful scooping of unanchored “secure” cans is very satisfying. Perhaps I played too much Pac-Man as a child?

In any case, I was sweeping the belts when I came upon one Curse Straken, mining in an Osprey. His ore, he was putting in a Large “Secure” Container.

With flashing green nav lights.

Named — I shit you not — “Container #9″.

So I zoomed out, and sure enough, he was surrounded by an entire canstellation of unanchored large secure cans. They were carefully spaced five kilometers apart, as if the hauler pilot who launched them for him had a clue, but it appeared Curse had not been briefed on the anchoring procedures.

So I began scooping.

After scooping the fourth can, my chat window pops up. Curse Straken wishes to converse with me. I accept the chat and begin motoring to Container #5”.

[ 2008.01.26 23:54:11 ] Curse Straken > dude, what are you doing
[ 2008.01.26 23:54:20 ] Marlenus > Salvaging
[ 2008.01.26 23:54:31 ] Curse Straken > why u taking my containers?
[ 2008.01.26 23:54:42 ] Marlenus > They aren’t yours, they are floating loose in space?
[ 2008.01.26 23:54:56 ] Curse Straken > uhh no, theyre mine
[ 2008.01.26 23:55:03 ] Marlenus > Sorry to say it, but no they aren’t.


At this point, he began locking me. Really? A visit from Concord? And I get to watch from the expensive seats?

Sadly, no. I finished my scooping unmolested, and went on my way.

Today I was giving an EVE demonstration to my friend, the one who wrote the poem. So I took my covert ops frigate out looking for some ore to salvage.

Found a pair of hulks mining into a jet can. Interesting. I’ve met some very dangerous hulks. If they launch tech II combat drones, they can dramatically out-damage my one-gun hauler. They can tank well, they can warp scramble, they can web. The question is, can they do all of those things at the same time?

Answer: yes. But how likely are they to be doing all those things while fitted for optimal mining?

More data needed.

So, home to get the Crane, back to get some ore. Grabbed a load, flipped the rest of the (nearly-full) jet can into an Ironfleet can.

Fweep fweep fweep, Captain Kronos in the hulk wants to play. Captain Kronos is trying to warp scramble YOU! Drones have been summoned and instructed to devour YOU.

Ok, start shooting and claw for distance, I want to outrun this guy in case the damage curve is against me and I need to warp out.

Hmm, 21 m/s top speed? Friends, we are webbed, this just got SERIOUS! How many points of scramble does he have? Now we may have to win — how’s the damage / tanking going?

Damage, not so good, his shield is barely scratched. My tank is dropping fast, he launched some nasty drones. Time to turn on the shield booster.

I’ve improved my shield gear considerably since the last time I met a hulk, but I know my setup is not cap stable. Looks like I’m holding my own while the cap holds, though. I’d better pop some drones if I want to win this thing.

Heavy missiles versus drones, tricky. I’m doing surprisingly well, about to pop the first drone after several shots, shields holding, cap getting shaky, when I realize that I forgot to swap in the precision missiles when I switched targets. I wonder if I dare pause to reload? I guess I’ll swap ammo after the first drone dies.

Hey, I wonder how his cap is holding? Am I actually warp scrambled? I haven’t actually tried to warp away yet, maybe I should? No, if I can pop a drone, I might could still win this thing, or at least get a chance to pound on his tank long enough to figure out if I can break it. One more shot and the drone should be …



I really figured I was dead, if he actually had me scrambled. But I logged back in quickly and found myself a million clicks away and warping back. Whew! Got back, he was gone, now we’ll never know.


My friend says “Don’t you still have a can full of ore back there?”

So I looked around my hangar and found a big bristly missile-y ship. And zoomed back to the scene, 100 klicks out.

There’s Captain Kronos, forty clicks away and flashing red. In a Vagabond.

“Computer, what’s a Vagabond?”

By now I know enough to know that when I find myself asking that question, the answer is never good. So I’m clawing for missile distance and hitting the afterburner.

Heavy assault cruiser, you say? I guess that explains why my default heavy missile loadout is hitting him for .7 hitpoints per shot.

Hey, now my missiles are hitting for 70+ a shot, but he’s RIGHT HERE! And what’s all this racket that sounds like autocannon? How he get here so fast? WARP! WARP! I don’t know who’ll win, but I want this flapping rattling nightmare OUT OF MY FACE!

If he had warp scramblers, he didn’t use them, because I was very gone, very soon. While warping, I reflected that maybe my missiles started hitting better when he hit the microwarp drive. Then my computer chirped and I got the report on Vagabonds. Let’s see here, “…the fastest cruiser invented to date… lightning strikes … fastest vessels to ply the spacelanes….” Ah. No surprise he got to my lumbering missile tub in no time flat.

Captain Kronos, you may keep the ore you jettisoned.

At least for today.

A couple of the day’s events:

1) Got notice that Ducky had failed to pay his war bill. So that war will be over in another hour or two. Apparently it was a typical nuisance declaration; every time I checked, Ducky was at least 32 jumps away.

2) Got smacked-talked with greater-than-usual intensity, after finding some mission salvage while surveying a system and salvaging a battleship wreck. Lachlann’s opening remarks will give you the full flavor of the conversation:

Lachlann > attention all mission runners in system
Lachlann > Marlenus this fuckwit is a salvage thief

Of course there was rather a lot more in the same vein after that. There was talk, for instance, of shoving missiles up my arse. Just by way of example.

After more friendly salutations of that sort, Lachlann turned to bluster and menace, or his best efforts at same. First:

Lachlann > you will be taken care of
Lachlann > i prefer to pay someone to scrape you off the bottom of their shoes

Then, of all things, he links to this brand new forum post:

I hate salvage thieves. There are some operating in my area of Caldari space and I want them taken out. Unfortunately I’m stuck in a research alliance atm so I cant take care of the problem myself. There are 7 members in the target corp and I want them destroyed. Please evemail me if you are interested

As I’ve mentioned before, VampireZim once hired Murder-Death-Kill to come after Ironfleet, but they never even showed up in local. We’ve never worried about mercs since, nor seen any either. Promises to hire some? Now, those we’ve got a pretty big collection of.

Some interesting facts about Lachlann:

1) He’s a member of Spear of Destiny, which has four members.

2) Spear of Destiny is a member of ZZZ, an alliance “dedicated to offering alt corporations and science related corporations a way to safely work with their blueprints in empire.” According to this thread, ZZZ has more than 500 members (seems hard to believe, but the members tab won’t open in game, so maybe?) and more than 130 mobile laboratories (in at least four systems, helpfully named).

I haven’t had many chances to shoot at Empire research POSs, but it would sure be fun to take some potshots if I have another occasion to try the Chebri / AC-ME / INDY defense. I’d have to recruit some battleship-flying friends, but with targets like those, that won’t be an insurmountable problem. Plus, if they really have that many customers, there will be a wealth of soft war targets flying in and out of the pertinent systems. Stealth Bomber field day! I almost hope it happens.

Frankly I’m surprised a mercenary corp hasn’t already decced ZZZ and locked down their systems until substantial protection money is paid.

I’ve seen the whining on the forums ever since Trinity about the general increase in loot sizes, but (what with the wars and all) I haven’t had a chance to do much mission salvage. So, I’d noticed that my cargo holds were filling up faster, but it wasn’t a huge deal for me.

Today I was surveying a system in my survey vessel when my probes showed me a Cormorant above the ecliptic and far from any asteroid belt. That usually means a mission salvager, so I warped in to see what the pickings looked like.

And my crappy internet connection picked that moment to die.

By the time I got back online and finished my warp, I found myself looking at about thirty widely-spread loot cans in open space — pretty clearly the remains of a turned-in mission by somebody who salvaged the wrecks, but left (or cherry-picked) the loot. Some of the loot cans were named to indicate poor quality loot, so I assumed a cherry-picking — but when I sampled the first can, it had named gear for laser-battleships in it, more than would fit in my frigate.

Time to inventory my regional vessels.

No hauler within several hops. No Badger II available in system. But there’s a creaky old Badger in the junkyard around Moon 10, she’s cheaper than the first item of loot I just looked at. She’ll do.

Buy the Badger, any afterburners in system? No, but there’s a frigate microwarpdrive, she can run that thing all day and it will double her speed. Duct tape that bad boy to the stern and let’s go salvaging!

And that’s when the true horror (well, horror for mission runners, it’s really a dream for a hauler-pilot like me) of the size of Level IV mission loot began to sink in. Large lasers, large armor repairers, torp launchers, large armor plates, heavy cap gear, the usual assortment — my gut tells me it would have been two or three trips worth in my well-fitted salvage destroyer pre-Trinity. But I tell you what, I was beginning to fear it wouldn’t all fit in my Badger before I finished cleaning up that canstellation — in fact, I wound up with nearly 4,500 cubic meters worth of loot, out of a single stage of one mission.

Clearly my days of speed-looting in a nimble kestrel are over. And the salvage destroyer concept is getting long in the tooth. Unless CCP finally coughs up a specialized salvage vessel, the humble hauler clearly has a bright future.

So I found myself at loose ends today, and decided it was time to go clean up some of the dangerous jet cans that litter the spaceways. And so it was that I found myself in my Crane, with a cargo hold full of Dense Veldspar, looking at an angry Osprey flashing red at me and attempting to gnaw me to death with three light drones and an occasional light missile.

Pish, tush. “Captain to Gunnery, would you be so kind as to crank up the heavy missile launcher we carry around at great expense for just such an eventuality? Oh, and you might as well warp scramble this boyo, he’ll probably try to leave long before we crack open his carapace and start scraping out the greasy goodness inside.”

And so we began tossing heavy missiles at the guy.

They were having remarkably little effect.

A genuine mining cruiser (which this guy was, I’d counted at least two lasers burning) is usually not very heavily tanked or gunned. This guy? Tanked better than most.

Of course he tried to flee, but my Crane had the speed to control the range, and the cap to maintain the scramble forever.

His shield eeee-ventual-eeeeeey was gone, and so I paused to switch ammo to a more armor-eating flavor. Dang if he didn’t regen enough shield while I did that to make it unbreakable with the new ammo! I had to switch back to EMP, and stay there.

By this point I’m noticing that he’s got a corp tag and an alliance tag. This salvage operation is taking entirely too long, and I’m starting to worry about a passing battle fleet landing on my head. Nothing for it but to stay alert and keep pounding him. Shield regen is enough to make the project slow, but I continue gaining.

Finally he explodes. The killmail makes the problem clear — he’s fitted a Tech II Medium Shield Extender and a small (but best named) shield booster:

2008.01.15 20:22:00

Victim: eracklionne
Alliance: Zenith Affinity
Corp: Pleasure and Pain
Destroyed: Osprey
System: [redacted]
Security: 0.7
Damage Taken: 10224

Involved parties:

Name: Marlenus (laid the final blow)
Security: 1.2
Alliance: NONE
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Ship: Crane
Weapon: Thunderbolt Heavy Missile
Damage Done: 10180

Name: Guristas Arrogator / Guristas
Damage Done: 44

Destroyed items:

XeCl Drilling Beam I
Bloodclaw Light Missile
75mm Gatling Rail I
EP-S Gaussian I Excavation Pulse
Small C5-L Emergency Shield Overload I
‘Dactyl’ Type-E Asteroid Analyzer

Dropped items:

Expanded Cargohold I, Qty: 3
Dense Veldspar, Qty: 4941 (Cargo)
Medium Shield Extender II
Standard Missile Launcher I
1MN Afterburner I

All in all, an unusual mining cruiser fit, especially mounting only two mining lasers and that monster extender.

I’m still a little bit amazed he didn’t get some help in the time it took — do you know how long it takes to deal 10k damage with a single heavy missile launcher? (According to my logs, it was almost eight full minutes the way I did it, which included time for some errors on my part.)

The next part was almost more fun. While I was crawling back to pick up some more ore, he came back in a Raven!

Who mines in a cruiser when they have a Raven to play with?

Well, I saw his Raven and called with my Manticore. It “felt” like he didn’t really have the Raven skills and fittings he needed yet, because in just a few volleys his shields were below half and he chose to leave.

All in all, a fun outing on the salvage grounds.

As you might imagine, aggressive salvaging attracts a fair few war declarations. Most are pure nuisance declarations by the alt of a friend of an unhappy person. Typically these are from small corporations in distant space and we never see a hostile in local. When I don’t know the people and I don’t know the causus belli and nothing ever happens, I don’t always bother even mentioning these on the blog.

I’m only mentioning this one (from a one-man corporation called Empire of Ducky, starring, you guessed it, Ducky) because the timing is a little suspicious, coming right after a pissed-off Chebri retracted her war under pressure from the INDY folk (we all understand I’m speculating based on the best info available to me).

Ducky (actually, Duckeye, but Ducky sounds funnier) sounds like somebody who could be a Friend of Chebri. His corp title is “God”, he carries around a 25,000,000 isk bounty, and his bio says:

Within me there is a destiny; to live a greater existence and become an ultimate power….Free to decide who lives and dies in the world that I will rule as my own, and it will be perfect, a perfect world! I WILL BE JUSTICE!! I WILL BE THE GOD OF THE NEW WORLD, SAVING IT FROM EVIL AND RIDDING IT OF FEAR!! THOSE WHO BETRAY AND STAND AGAINST GOD ARE EVIL AND WILL BE SWIFTLY DEALT WITH!! BOW BEFORE GOD OR BE DESTROYED!!

Sorry, Ducky Dude, but here at Ironfleet we don’t do a lot of bowing. Plus, my locater agent says you haven’t even bothered relocating to my region of space, yet.

Last night at 04:40 game time, I got email from Concord alerting me that “Equilibrium L.L.C. has retracted the war against Ironfleet.” That’s Chebri and sidekick, of course.

Since Chebri’s still very unhappy with Ironfleet, I can only assume that she was responding to a request from AC-ME or INDY. Which means that, mad or not, my military-diplomatic strategy seems to have worked. Two INDY casualties (neither in AC-ME) yesterday may have had something to do with that. Or not — there are some other wars brewing in the Isaziwa vicinity that may have complicated the politics. It’s a big game, not everything is about me.

Six minutes later, I retracted the war against INDY. My reason for being at war with them is gone. And I’d like to say right now, that with the exception of a few specific characters in AC-ME, the whole alliance was a joy to fly against, professional and friendly and good-humored.

Right now, of course, hostilities are still possible, until the 24 hour window is done. But I do not intend to engage in further hostilities unless locked by a war target.

Other news from yesterday: Near the end of the day, I logged in in Isaziwa, checked a few belts for targets, and, finding none, hopped a few systems away to talk to a locater agent.

TorpedoTed, coming into Isaz from a different direction, found a hostile wad of INDY at a gate, and they tried to catch and snack upon his Kestrel. Apparently they did a creditable job of chasing him, and he was uncertain whether he would get away. But he did, and then led him on a merry chase from belt to belt for a time.

More seriously, I got a convo from Aktala, the INDY person I accidentally podded yesterday. She felt she had a real grievance, inasmuch as there had been some back-channel diplomacy between Ironfleet and INDY aimed at establishing a limited no-podding agreement. And, though Ironfleet had not in the end made a firm no-podding commitment, I had indeed expressed an intention not to pod INDY folks who had given no offense — a category in which Aktala squarely belongs. I’m not sure exactly how or at what level the miscommunication occurred, but Aktala had believed she was safe from podding based on an Ironfleet commitment. So she was, understandably, unhappy.

In time of war, I was disinclined to reward an unfortunate misunderstanding with cash for my enemies to use against me. Ironfleet’s war chest was adequate to the need, but not overflowing with excess. However, once the war was over, principles of business return to the forefront. And one of the first principles of business is to under-promise and to over-deliver. Although my natural tendency is to get stubborn and point to the letter of my commitments (Miss Iron likes to call me “lawyer-lips” when I do this) I know that a generous interpretation of Ironfleet’s promises is much better for business in the long run. So, once I’d retracted the war against INDY (which happened while I was in convo with Aktala) I asked her what she’d lost in implants, ISK-wise. She named an amount, it was fair, and I paid it. The podding was a genuine accident, it was contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the assurances I’d made to INDY, and apologies, like flattery, feel most genuine when backed by ISK.

That’s all for now. Once all opportunity for hostilities has passed (tonight or tomorrow) I’ll make another blog post recapping the two wars and tallying the wins and losses the way Ironfleet sees them. I invite all parties to share war anecdotes in the blog comments as long as you keep it friendly.

I am beginning to think some of the AC-ME and even INDY folks are starting to notice the steady parade of recent losses.

During my most recent combat patrol of the Isaziwa belts, I came upon Caen Endarr, in a Vexor fitted for combat. He attempted to close aggressively as soon as he saw me, but I had the range I needed. Stout ship, the Vexor, but helpless outside of drone range. He kept closing until the end, in a valiant-looking charge:

2008.01.10 23:58:00

Victim: Caen Endarr
Alliance: Independent Faction
Corp: Colonial Fleet Services
Destroyed: Vexor
System: Isaziwa
Security: 0.7
Damage Taken: 5036

Involved parties:

Name: Marlenus (laid the final blow)
Security: 1.2
Alliance: NONE
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Ship: Manticore
Weapon: Caldari Navy Wrath Cruise Missile
Damage Done: 5036

Destroyed items:

Hobgoblin I, Qty: 8 (Drone Bay)
Medium Armor Repairer I
E5 Prototype Energy Vampire
10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Small Rudimentary Energy Destabilizer I
Stasis Webifier I
Medium Nosferatu I
Hammerhead I, Qty: 2 (Drone Bay)

Dropped items:

Energized Reactive Membrane I
Hobgoblin I, Qty: 2 (Drone Bay)
Damage Control I
50W Infectious Power System Malfunction
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane I
Small Diminishing Power System Drain I
Warp Disruptor I
Hammerhead I, Qty: 3 (Drone Bay)

The next belt over, I came upon Wcaspar of AC-ME in his Blackbird. He, too, attempted aggressively to close the gap as the cruise missiles came raining in. About 4.5k in damage taken later, he managed to break my target lock with his EW. But as soon as the first F.O.F. cruises came raining down on his armor, he disengaged.

After some meandering, I found myself on a stargate, cloaked and watching. From the comings and goings and patrollings, it quickly became clear that AC-ME and friends were loaded for bear. The crew included Dan Lyons in his crow, Wcaspar in his blackbird, Los Kias the Manticore pilot, Corruptblitz in his Scorpion, Caen Endarr back in a Thrasher I think, and what’s this? One Crusader Eomar of Aerodyne Construction (an INDY member) flying in … you’d never guess from the name … a Cerberus?

fleet including a Cerberus

“Computer, what in hell is a Cerberus?”

I’ve been playing this game for a little time but not a long time, and I’m not a combat pilot. I haven’t seen it all, indeed I haven’t even seen very much of it. But in my experience, when I have to ask “What in the hell is a {blank}?”, whatever in the hell it is, is probably both expensive and dangerous. Thus, I’ve learned to associate that momentary confusion with a healthy feeling of peril.

This time was no exception. What in the hell is a Cerberus? Turns out it’s a Caldari Heavy Assault Cruiser, built on the Caracal model, which probably means missiles. Plus speed and resists out the ass. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one of these before, but I sure as hell never shot at one. And I don’t exactly propose to start today, while he’s got two EWAR platforms with him and an interceptor pilot handy somewhere in the system.

About that time I did the sums, and realized that I’d seen every enemy pilot in the system, and each and every one of them was in a combat platform of some sort. There weren’t any more easy targets in the belts, which meant that my day’s work was done.

Right about that time, AC-ME’s Galdaan Sicarius went through the gate in front of me, outbound via Oiniken in a Badger. I gave chase, but guessed wrong about which stargate he was going to next, and didn’t find him. Instead, one of the Blackbird pilots caught up with me, but left before I could lock. By this time local was climbing fast, and when the Cerberus pilot hit local, I decided I’d had enough fun for the time being. So I found a handy safespot, cloaked, and came to make this blogpost. There are still four of them in system and (presumably) looking for me.