It’s been awhile since I got a good chance to shoot at a Hulk in my beloved blockade runners, but today I found one in Kaimon mining into three neatly stacked and nicely labeled jet cans. (The one on my bookmark list was called “Sieriel PX-Kaimon II B2-01” — how precise is that?)

So I come rumbling up on the can and flip it, putting a tiny fraction in my tiny Blockade Runner cargo hold. The pilot was flying five T1 combat drones, and they immediately began trying to eat me.

They failed — insufficient DPS to break my shield regeneration curve.

Meanwhile, I’ve put the Hulk in a headlock and am pummeling him with heavy missiles.

It’s very slow going. I’m gaining, but my DPS seems to be reduced since the ships and missiles were rebalanced (this is the first time I’ve had a chance to shoot at a barge since then.) Or, possibly, he had some tank fitted — unlikely, but certainly possible.

So, while I’m chewing through his shields, I’m looking him up to see who he is. Pilot name is Sieriel, member of Cohortes Stellaris (Ticker COH, 55 members, German speaking, looks like they are selling capital ships). These guys could be trouble; will this Hulk pilot be getting reinforcements before I break his tank? Worse yet, COH is a member of ParadoXon Alliance [PX], which has ten other members. No telling how many friends will be dropping out of warp!

And then (it being the time of year when I live at a place with crappy internets) I lost connection. I’d say I had him to about 55% shields, so still some uncertainty about whether I could break him below peak regen, when I lost the connection.

Logged back in quickly, warped back. He’s still there! But, I guess, scooping drones to leave, because he was gone before I got him locked.

So I flipped another can, it having been more than 2.5 minutes. And then I went to get a stealth bomber. By now I’m sure he must have corp assistance on the way, and I’m expecting to see an escorted hauler return for the ores.

It never happens. Dude never came back. Belt sat empty until aggro timers expired.

Meanwhile I’m looking for my nearest Bustard. Sadly, they are all too far away, but I have an expanded Badger II in system. Which, eventually, I use to haul both of the Ironfleet cans of Veldspar, and then (having seen no sign of enemy action in nearly 30 minutes) the last remaining COH can.

I’m still marveling at the fact that in an organization of such size, there was nobody interested in helping the hulk pilot haul his ore from a hot zone.

Today in my daily belt sweep I found a Covetor (been awhile since I saw one of those) mining into a jet can. Pilot was Achaja1980, member of a corp called K-Gene Armed Mining. Hmm, maybe these guys will fight for their ore?

When I returned in my trusty Crane, also present were two combat ships, baby ones, a Merlin and something else. Merlin was flying a K-Gene corp tag, and sure enough, he locked me up and started shooting when I flipped the (almost full) jet can. Trouble is, my Crane doesn’t have its inherent +2 warp stabilization any more, and even a Merlin can kill me eventually if I can’t escape. Especially with some friendly drones flying off the mining barge, which remains a possibility. So, I boogied.

And came back in a stealth bomber.

Sadly, nobody was there but the Covetor pilot. I cloaked, she left. I lingered to defend my new can full of ore.

Achaja180 came back in a Ferox. Cool, I thought, she’s going to flip the can back, then defend it until she goes non-blinky, I’ve got fifteen minutes to figure out what I’ve got that can crack a Ferox.

Only, she didn’t flip. She just looked around and left, apparently for good.

Once all aggression was gone, I went home, got a Bustard, and hauled home my new jet can full of ore. But I’m still confused. What’s the point of being armed miners if you don’t try to fight? They had more pilots than me, giving them a huge tactical advantage that should have ensured I didn’t go home with any ore. Puzzling.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a “carebear with teeth”, so the “carebear tears” allusion in the title of my new alliance is a slightly uncomfortable fit. But I have long enjoyed collecting good smacktalk from people who have strange ideas about the way peace and harmony ought to rule in EVE — even though it manifestly doesn’t.

So, tonight I was on a routine sweep of my belts when I encountered something I haven’t seen in a long time — a new character mining in a Navitas mining frigate. Normally I’d leave such minnows alone, but this one (Deter Javan) had an annoying corp name (Shoal of the Intrepid Righteousness) and — oddly for a two-week-old character — an alliance tag for an outfit called Integrity Respect Selflessness. Worse yet, he had named his ore jet can something like “Property of the Shoal Of The Intrepid”.

My Suddenly Ninja allies would die of shame if I left this cub unmolested. Besides, he’s well connected, he might have valuable stuff on board and he might decide to “teach the helpless hauler a lesson”. (He is, after all, flying one combat drone.)

So, in I swept in my slightly crunchy blockade runner transport. Click-foom, his can is gone and I’m about 20k units of Scordite the wealthier. All in a day’s work.

What’s this? He wants to talk?

Sure enough, the first miner smacktalk I’ve enjoyed in months:

Deter Javan > was that honestly necessary
Marlenus > Necessary?
Deter Javan > yes
Deter Javan > was it
Marlenus > I dunno, it’s what I do. Is the game necessary?
Deter Javan > no, but you know I pay for it and I’d like to not have my stuff stolen if you don’t mind
Marlenus > Stolen? I’m just salvaging jettisoned ore. I pay too you know.
Deter Javan > it was mine and you know it
Marlenus > It’s mine now, thank you.
Deter Javan > I tagged it and everything
Deter Javan > you’re a fucking dick dude
Marlenus > And I put it in my cargo hold.
Marlenus > No, I’m a *salvager*
Marlenus > And I pick up stuff that others throw overboard
Marlenus > It’s what I do
Marlenus > There are a lot of us, we have an alliance and everything

Unfortunately I lost connection at that point, I’m sure there would have been more.

If there were a “Smacktalk Bingo” drinking game, this player would have scored at least three chugs.

First: “I pay for this game” as a reason why the player should be immune from the activities of other players. Who among us does not pay?

Second: “I tagged it and everything” — the precious idea that putting his name on the can should have caused other players to leave it alone. Is he aware what kind of game EVE is?

Third: Rank profanity. Enough said about that. He who swears first, loses.

No guilt about taking candy from babies this time — because babies don’t have potty mouths.

After a month of being too busy for EVE and another month of moving house plus annoying travel stuff, I got back into the game to find out it was time for new projects. Faction warfare from the Caldari perspective had (has) degenerated into a game of “find some targets”, with no regular fleet combat happening due to the general pointlessness of it all. Worse yet, my favorite people to fly with have all left the Caldari Militia to pursue other projects in other places.

On the upside, the batch of high-quality scoundrels at Suddenly Ninjas has finally gotten their act together (sorta) and formed an alliance of like-minded corps. Since their methods and mine share certain commonalities, I’ve long thought it would be fun to be allied with them, and they attract just enough war declarations to keep life interesting. One quick Evemail to Tchell Dahhn (we’ve discussed the possibility before) and the deed was done!

TEARS (stands for Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service) looks to be in an organize-and-expand sort of phase, one the less charitable might term “getting our shit together”. That’s fine with me, considering that Ironfleet has always been a very loose collection of loners anyway. There aren’t many alliances that could tolerate the enemies a salvage corporation tends to accumulate, but TEARS is up to the job!

Updates as events warrant.

There’s a new dev blog up on proposed changes to the blockade runners, which of course includes my beloved one-missle-launcher Cranes:

The Blockade Runners (Crane, Prorator, Prowler, Viator) are meant to be rather good at getting through gate camps and navigating through low and null sec space with more impunity than the other industrial ships. Several changes such as the introduction of interdictors, heavy interdictors, and force and fleet recons have had an impact on their ability to run blockades with much success at all. As a result, we wanted to try and balance things to better focus them towards their role in light of many changes EVE has seen since they first were introduced.

To improve them we refocused on stealth rather than agility. They will gain the ability to equip covert ops cloaking devices and therefore can warp whilst cloaked. In lieu we removed the +2 warp strength and one or part of their active tanking bonuses which were not really being used anyway as much. They will also gain the ability to utilize the black ops jump portals.

For a salvager, the idea of an stealth-warping hauler is the ultimate pants. I’m gonna have so much fun with this!

I’ll miss the +2 warp strength, it was an insurance policy when can flipping in belts. For that role, it will increase my risk. And the loss of an active tanking bonus will eliminate some of the potential targets (especially hulks) where it comes down to a battle of the tanks. But for the tactical flexibility that covops cloak gives me? I’ll make that trade!

Of course, “these changes are not final and are subject to change” et cetera. But, still. I’m stoked.

(My big haulers, the deep space transports like the Bustard, are also gaining the +2 warp strength the blockade runners are losing. That means I can, for the first time, take them into harm’s way in the asteroid belts without worrying about a devious miner with an unexpected warp scrambler. Also cool.)

I haven’t been online much this week — real world calling — but I logged in an hour ago (after midnight local) to shuffle some ships and organize some gear for an hour. But of course, first I had to check my local belts for Dread Guristas, loose ore, and similar hazards to navigation.

Found a guy mining in a Vexor.

Just there, mining, miles from any containers, all by himself, no jetcans out, mining lasers shining cheerily.

I said to myself, “Self”, I said, “this cannot last. I shall come back later and see what is to be found then.”

So, I finished sweeping the belts, I ran an errand in the next system, and I returned.

I found my industrious Vexor pilot mining about twenty klicks from a jumbled pair of Giant Secure Containers, shuttling back and forth to them to dump his cargo hold. The GSCs were adrift where he’d (presumably) jettisoned them from a Badger, nav lights flashing green and brightly.

Flashing green. Yum.

Off I went to get my Bustard. Overkill, but it was handy.

Warp in on the cans. Scoop. Leave. Takes awhile — the Bustard is no twinkletoes — but there’s no reaction from the Vexor, who keeps mining about 20km away.

I wish I could have been there when his mining lasers turned off and he went to approach his … cans? “Hey, where are my cans? WTF? What happened to my cans? I tell you, they were just there, they were RIGHT THERE!”

One can was full, one was about 10% full.

Twenty minutes later, I’ve been watching local for puzzled or outraged inquiries, but nothing.

There’s a corporation in one of my systems called “Rampaging Alpacas”, which I think is one of the great corp names. Sadly, although they used to be numerous, they’ve suffered some sort of recent explosion, and yesterday when I looked they only had two members. I mention this because all of the players in today’s salvage operation were former members of Rampaging Alpacas but for one, who is still an alpaca. I don’t know why they are mostly now in NPC corporations, but today’s salvage operation would have been impossible otherwise, so I won’t complain.

Anyway, I warped to the belt in my salvage Crane, to find a former Alpacan mining into three numbered jetcans, in a hulk, mining drones out. Cool.

Closed slowly on the first can. It was full. That’s great — I flipped it — but it left me in a bind, because I’ve got a 2.5 minute wait before I can create another jet can. Sigh, can’t haul it all. Filled my Crane from the second can and warped home.

I decided to go back in the Iron Crowbar (as I call my favorite salvage Ferox) to guard my can and (if I’m lucky) secure some more ore.

Warped in at 20 clicks. There’s now a hauler present and only one “enemy” jetcan. I lock my own can and tractor it away from that immediate vicinity. Then I hit the afterburner and head in to see about flipping that other can.

By the time I get there, it’s only got about 10k cubic meters of ore left in it, but what the hey. I flip it, put it on tow, and go powering out of the belt.

When I get 20km past the first (full) Ironfleet jetcan, I drop the partial and pick up the full one, and then keep running for deep space. The idea here is to make it harder for them to flip it back, and to keep the can moving so that nobody can warp to zero on it. Then, once all agro is clear, I can come back in the Bustard and move it in one shot.

Normally that works. Today, an Iskur and a Scorpion showed up, and then the hauler pilot in a Caracal. The Hulk pilot (the only guy who can shoot at me) continues mining.

The Iskur immediately closes with me and launches five Tech II combat drones. I expect him to flip some or all of the ore and then dare me to shoot at him, which would be foolish insomuch as my Ferox is not optimized for catching small fast frigates with good skills.

Only, he doesn’t. He just chases me.

And chases me.

And chases me.

Much more slowly, the Scorpion and the Caracal also follow me. None of these characters has agro rights, so I’m not sure what the plan is. But they are all former corpmates, and I assume they have one.

Eventually I figure they must plan to flip the ore once I leave, and then haul it before I can come back for it. But, they don’t have a hauler present. Maybe they plan to flip it and then pwn my hauler when I come to take it back?

Dunno. But I’m now 200+ km from the belt, all agro timers have run out, so it’s time to move. Drop the can, bookmark it, and warp home for my Bustard.

Warp back (and this is key) 10km from the can. There I find the Caracal pilot, the Scorp pilot, and the Iskur pilot, sitting around drinking Quafe and admiring the jet can one of them has apparently just shat out. But my own can still exists, and nobody is flashing red. Lock the can, hit the tractor. ZOOMcan!

The Caracal pilot begins flashing red as my jetcan flies out of his range. He obviously managed to grab a cruiserload of ore, at least.

Then the can reaches me. It’s still virtually full — he must not have managed to flip any. Dump it all in my hold, warp home laughing.

There’s still another can back at the belt, 1/3 full, so I go back for that. Warp to it. It’s still there. Flashy red Caracal, and the Scorp, and the Iskur, all still there, out at 200 kilometers. Take ore, go home.

Now for some fun. Back in the Ferox. Warp to where the flashy red Caracal used to be.

Sadly, he’s not there no more; he’s 50 klicks away. What the heck, I approach him to see if he runs, and lock him. He locks me back. Iskur and Scorp are standing by, interested neutrals who cannot play. I hold my fire, turn on my afterburner, creep closer. He is running away as if to kite me, but I am catching him slowly, and he’s allowing it.

When I’m at point blank range, I turn on my warp scrambler, hit “keep at 500m”, overheat my afterburner, and start launching missiles. Then I launch drones. If he’s really the world’s slowest Caracal, he’ll be dead soon.

And he is. He starts shooting at me and trying to outrun my scramble range, but he can’t do it. He’s gonna die, while his friends watch helplessly.

This is where the alert readers will be smiling and saying “Marlenus, you don’t know dick about PvP.” Which is true. Because right then the Iskur starts bumping the crap out of me. It slows me down, the Caracal quickly gets out of scramble range, and warps away with dented armor.

So I begin to align for warp home. It’s going slowly, the Iskur is still bumping me and it looks like the Scorp is still trying to lumber into range to do the same. Interesting! Can they really keep me here long enough for the Caracal pilot to come back in something dangerous?

Answer: No. Once I remembered that my afterburner was still on, and turned it off, I was able to get aligned between bumps (nav skills for the win!) and warp out. But it was an amusing and very instructive encounter.

Not to mention: profitable.

Although I don’t write about it much because it’s not very exciting, I take a great deal of enjoyment in, and make some fair income from, putting up bizarrely cheap buy orders on the market and hoping they will fill. Usually they don’t; sometimes they do.

Recently I decided to stock up on Tech II precision missiles. They are fairly cheap, widely considered to be worthless or at least a poor ammo choice, and there are rumors that the devs are tweaking (“balancing”) missiles as part of the upcoming nanospeed nerfing patch. Even if missiles generally get nerfed in that balancing extravaganza, it struck me a few weeks ago that the relative worth of the precision missiles might increase relative to other options, and I’d feel stupid if I didn’t have a robust inventory when the price explodes. So, I bought some token shooting amounts, and put in some very large “stupid cheap” orders to see if anybody felt like dumping inventory.

I’ve picked up a fair few cheap missiles, but today I found two purchases in my wallet that I particularly enjoyed:

Scourge Precision Heavy Missile, 34 ISK, Quantity 14,502
Thunderbolt Precision Heavy Missile, 10 ISK, Quantity 43,680

The average market price for those missiles in my region has recently been at about 350 and 225 ISK, respectively. So I could dump them now for a quick 14 million ISK profit, or hold to see if they appreciate after the nerf/balance episode. Either way, my cost was under a million ISK.

The only fly in the ointment is that I’ll need to take a hauler about four jumps into low sec to pick them up, but with my new FW-honed low-sec skills and a spot of luck, I should be able to pull that off.

So, the interesting question becomes, who dumps a large inventory of expensive missiles (or anything else) into an insultingly cheap market order, and why do they do it?

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the long silence. As mentioned, I’ve been having a lot of fun in the Caldari factional warfare fleets, and the skills I’m learning will serve me well when I decide to return full-time to my salvage activities. But, sadly, most of the FW fleet actions don’t generate much worth blogging about. It’s like that weary general said during World War One: They came at us in the same old way, and we killed them in the same old way.

Only, sometimes, it’s vice versa.

My other problem has been technical; EVE has been marginally unstable for at least a month, crashing me out at the most inopportune times. I upgraded my video, no help; reinstalled my OS, no help; and then (far too late) discovered I had some bad memory. It seems to be stable again, after many frustrating nights of troubleshooting and tinkering; I’m keeping my fingers crossed and holding my breath.

Moving rapidly along, you want to hear about the blockade runner versus the battle cruiser, dontcha?

First, some background. After I got a hulk kill in my trusty blockade runner transport back in early June, I’ve been wondering what’s the next big thing to hunt, for another notch in the ship’s bell.

Tonight, I found a Ferox mining in a belt, with at least three mining lasers active. “Aha!” I said. A battlecruiser will do. It will do nicely.

Now, let’s be realistic about this ambition. A Crane has exactly one weapon slot. Is it even possible for a Crane to break the tank on a Ferox? I can’t say, but I’m certain it would have to be a very lame Ferox.

And, to be blunt, that’s what I had. I looked up the pilot, one InfameWolf of White Star Corporation [W.SC], member of Talon Alliance. Date of birth: twelve days ago. I am not making this up.

A Ferox is a forgiving ship, but after you’ve mounted three mining lasers as a 12 day old character, what could you possibly have left in the way of weapons and tank? There’s never going to be a better target than this one. It’s late at night and he’s been in his new corp for one day, so the odds seem decent that he won’t even get reinforced.

So, selecting my very best and most deadly combat Crane from the array of fitted Cranes in my hangar, I warped to zero on his cargo can.

I opened his can.

It had about 12k cubic meters of fancy Plagioclase ores in it. And some heavy assault missiles. Which vanished as I was transferring the ore to an Ironfleet jet can. Hmm, better not stick close to this guy.

He’s targeting, he’s launching drones, a motley assortment of three Tech One combat drones. His drones begin pecking at me.

I warp scramble him and attempt to orbit him at good scramble range, and begin pecking at him with Caldari Navy heavy missiles. He manages to find at least one gun, (type unknown) and two heavy missile launchers, and begins shooting at me with those.

His damage is … sustainable. It’s close; he took me fairly fast down to the best place on the recharge curve for my shields, and I’m having to use some shield boost to stay there. But it’s shield boost at a level I can (I think) sustain forever. The gun stopped scratching me when I got out to max disruptor range and began orbiting, and no HAMs are hitting me out there either.

Meanwhile, my own heavy missile system is — well — gaining. That’s the best I can say; it’s eating his shield faster than his recharge rate, but it’s going to take half an hour to get him there, and I’ll probably need to overheat the launcher if I’m going to have a prayer of getting through his peak recharge.

I decide I might as well take out his drones, just to make my life easier. I pop one of them, and just then … WTF?

He warped away.

Was he warp stabbed? Did I flail at my navigation and let him get outside of warp disruptor range? I can’t say. Why did he run? I assumed this would all end badly after he summoned a friend — did he not have any friends online? I just don’t know.

All I know is, a Ferox (possibly the lamest Ferox in the known universe, but a fugly battlecruiser nonetheless) attacked me, and I shot at it in my transport ship, and it ran away, leaving ore behind to be salvaged. This makes me very happy.

Since there was too much ore to haul home in a Crane, I went and got my own Ferox, the one with a tractor beam for moving ore cans out of hostile warp-in zones. And then I cheerfully towed the can away from the belt and waited for my new best friend InfameWolf to come back.

Which he did, about sixty clicks away from me. I targeted him, but he prudently chose to flee some more.

Eventually, I docked the Ferox, grabbed a handy Badger II, and hauled all the tasty plagioclase home. It felt good to be hauling ore again, I need to do this more often.

All the Factional Warfare excitement has really put a crimp in my old-time aggressive salvaging fun. I’ve been too busy fitting, fighting, and losing ships to bother much with any but the most opportunistic of salvage opportunities.

Like the one I encountered today. I was putting a different fit on my Scorpion, and on a whim, I warped to the belt to jam the crud out of a Gurista Arrogator. Instead, I found a dude in an Osprey snuggling up to a Giant Secure Can. It was NOT anchored.

Back I went for my Crane.

By the time I returned in the “helpless hauler”, the Osprey dude had managed to anchor the GSC. Drat.

But hey. Has he had the time, or the knowledge, to set the password?

In a word, no.

So I removed the ore from the can, fully expecting to get a criminal flag the way I do when I remove ore from a jet can. Only, no flag!

Cool! I’ve never found an unpassworded can with stuff in it before, so I’d never realized there is no agro when you take from an unpassworded can. I looked around, saw two more anchored cans with the same owner, and went scooting around emptying them, too. Tasty, tasty pyroxeres!

By now the erstwhile ore owner is convo-ing me in impotent fury. He keeps opening new convos and typing “WTF” into the windows, then apparently losing the windows, before starting over. I think he sent me about five “WTF!” convos.

I had to jet some of the ore — there was too much for one trip in my Crane — so he had a chance to take some back if he was so inclined. Sensibly, he wasn’t.

Eventually he manages to keep his eyes on a chat window long enough to ask why I was stealing his ore. That question always bemuses me, I’m never sure what to say that isn’t hopelessly sarcastic. Usually I fall back on my “I prefer to consider it aggressive salvaging” and leave the “why” unaddressed — if the tastiness of ISK isn’t universal, I don’t know how to communicate it.

But then he asked a very good question: “How are you doing that without flashing red?” I didn’t want to educate him about password protection, so I simply said “you have failed to secure your ore” and closed the chat. But I got to thinking about the question.

Is taking ore from an anchored can with no password most analogous to scooping a can with no anchor (in which case the lack of red-flashy is to be expected)? Or is it more like taking ore from a jet can? If the latter, there should be red-flashy, and there wasn’t.

Given the two years of ugliness with VampireZIM that’s at least partly founded on his opinion that my operations against his POS were exploitative, I’d much prefer to know what the game mechanic is supposed to be. And I wasn’t quite sure, in tonight’s case, whether my salvage victim should have gotten the right to shoot at me.

So what did I do?

I petitioned myself.

Well, not literally. I filed an exploit petition, but they are described as being for the purpose of “asking whether something is an exploit” as well as reporting exploits, so I wrote a nice note explaining what happened and asking whether the lack of a crim flag when I took from the unpassworded can was “working as intended” or a bug.

Within minutes, I had my answer from GM Surmoi. Criminal flagging, it turns out, is only supposed to happen with respect to wrecks or jet cans, but never in connection with secure containers. Cool!

Moral: Anchor those bad boys, and then don’t forget to set the password!