Dear Marlenus:

Having a great time in Steel Fleet. Got in a little tussle last night in low sec while covering a corp cargo operation. Lost my first Claw. And we lost a Jaguar. But we killed a polycarb rigged Curse and a Cerberus and kept the bogies away from the cargo, so we’re calling it a win.

Was a little dismayed to learn that one of my new corpies has eighty interceptors in his hangar. I might be needing that shipment a little sooner than we thought.

Wish you were here —

Jim Bridger

Long-time readers will remember Ironfleet member Jim Bridger, our small-ships guy who flies Thrashers like he stole them. (Which, truth be told, he usually did — or at least, he had me build them out of minerals he did not mine himself.) Given the propensity of destroyers to pop like balloons at a porcupine convention, Ironfleet has standing market orders for high-meta 250mm and 280mm artilleries, which Jim hoards, in gleaming stacks of seven, in carefully labeled Medium Secure Containers with names like “destroyer gunsets — 280 TII”.

The other day, Jim got recruiting EVEmail from a CEO who was our favorite fleet commander back in Ironfleet’s faction warfare days. It’s the usual story, there’s a beachhead being established in 0.0, and aggressive interceptor pilots are needed. Jim’s got a hangar full of inties and a load of maxed-out skills, but there isn’t much call for interceptors in our usual high-sec shenanigans, so he’s got damn little real experience flying the things. This seemed like a good opportunity to get some.

So, somewhat sheepishly, he asked for leave from Ironfleet, and I gave it to him. He has promised to send postcards from the front lines. I can predict the first one: “Dear Marlenus, having a great time. Please send me six more Claws and a big bucket of Nanite Paste. Sincerely, Jim Bridger.”

There’s been a lot of discussion on the forums about the way the exploration mechanic tends to distribute content in wormhole space. Specifically, the content seems to accumulate in places where nobody is, as a result of the sites being cleared quickly when they spawn in populated w-systems and not-so-quickly (as in, never) if they spawn in w-systems where nobody goes.

Tonight I found an extreme example of this, in a w-system I choose to call Shangri-La, for reasons that may soon become obvious. It would appear to be a plain old “shallow” w-system (described simply as “unknown space”) discovered adjacent to high-security empire. In features, it has much in common with Greater Mars. The number of features, however, is enormous.

How enormous, you ask?

Let’s start with cosmic anomalies. As well we might — because there are an astonishing thirty-five of them.

How about cosmic signatures? There are a very respectable dozen of those. No structures, ships, or any other sign of pod-pilot incursion.

Obviously that’s a lot of ISK on the hoof. Perhaps, even enough to tempt me to move a POS in here and start farming for a few weeks, or however long it takes. But there are logistics and real-world considerations, and if I’m going to do that, it will be several days or a week or more (at best) before I can get going on it.

So, I decided to do some observational science. I decided to do a complete survey of the system, record its contents, and then park an observer who can update the survey from time to time. If the system should remain largely uninhabited and unexploited, will the huge numbers of sites remain? Or, will they ebb and flow as sites expire naturally and respawn elsewhere? It should be interesting to see.

Here’s the first survey report.

Shangri-La Survey Report: 5/29/09, 01:28

04x CA: The Ruins of Enclave Cohort 27
03x CA: Sleeper Data Sanctuary
19x CA: Perimeter Hangar
09x CA: Perimeter checkpoint

35x Cosmic Anomalies

01x CS: Wormhole to highsec space
01x CS: wormhole to unknown space
01x CS: Wormhole to dangerous unknown space
02x CS: Barren Perimeter Reservoir (ladar)
01x CS: Minor Perimeter reservoir (ladar)
03x CS: Ordinary Perimeter Deposit (grav)
02x CS: Unexeptional Frontier Deposit (grav)
01x CS: Forgotten Perimeter Habitation Coils (mag)

12x Cosmic Signatures

Update, a day later: All three wormholes gone. Two new wormholes spawned, one to high sec space and one to an “unknown” wormhole. Cosmic Anomalies are up to 37. All other sites: unchanged.

====

5:30/09, 01:06

05x CA: The Ruins of Enclave Cohort 27
03x CA: Sleeper Data Sanctuary
19x CA: Perimeter Hangar
10x CA: Perimeter checkpoint

37 cosmic anomalies

02x CS: Barren Perimeter Reservoir (ladar)
01x CS: Minor Perimeter reservoir (ladar)
03x CS: Ordinary Perimeter Deposit (grav)
02x CS: Unexeptional Frontier Deposit (grav)
01x CS: Forgotten Perimeter Habitation Coils (mag)

11 cosmic signatures

I don’t see how CCP could make this any clearer:

CCP Mitnal: “Salvaging is a mini-profession within EVE and does not constitute stealing.”

Source: CCP Forums.

Time for me to update this.

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.

Lost a gank Caracal cruiser today in a pickup Alliance group. Guy had a wormhole with a Catalyst destroyer in it, we jumped in with several small ships, found what amounted to a bait camp. We were chewing up the bait drake rather nicely when several of his friends arrived. I was on the wormhole when they primaried me, but lost my ship when I flailed the interface and failed to jump in time. No big, it was cheap and fully insured.

Later, I was in a Buzzard, looking for targets for a larger gang. Found a wormhole that seemed to have transitory targets, so I scanned out the deeper wormhole they were traveling into. That was interesting.

In there, they had a Thanatos carrier that was piloted, had fighters out, and was sitting outside a well-defended POS. They also had at least five or six other active pilots. An Imicus nearly caught me when we both bounced to zero on the same planet (he was 3,500 meters away and didn’t decloak me) and by the time I decided to leave, they’d put an Onyx heavy interdictor on the exit wormhole. When I jumped through, they had a Hurricane waiting on the other side. None of this was sufficient to catch my Buzzard covert ops ship, but it was an impressive display of the “Unwelcome” mat.

My time in Faction Warfare coincided with the peak of the nano-frenzy, when everybody and his brother was in a Vagabond going so fast that the game engine could barely cope. Our Caldari blob of Drakes and Ravens and Caracals was often hard pressed by these fast-movers, and we developed a considerable hatred of them. Every now and then we’d get a kill on one of those boys, and there would always be much rejoicing.

Of course, that was long ago, and there have been many changes since then. But still.

There was a TEARS roaming op tonight, another wormhole dive in search of unwary targets. I joined up some two and a half hours late, due to a conflict with my dinner hour and some quality family time. By the time I joined, the FC sounded weary and rough (I think he’s been sick).

I found a wormhole, and the gang converged on me. The FC jumped in to scout for targets. He found at least two POSs there, along with various parked ships and (he said) a piloted Orca, sitting safely inside POS shields. After just a few minutes scouting, he declared the system free of targets and announced that the op was over. Then he jumped out, docked, and logged.

Well, for me the op was just beginning, so I jumped in (in my stealth bomber) and began snooping around for something to shoot at. I figured if I found something, I could get a few other TEARS guys to jump in after me and help kill it. I was specifically hoping that the Orca might do something stupid. Not very likely, but in EVE I’ve found that you sort of have to make your own luck. It might be true that “there’s no way to get a kill in this ship against that target” if the other guy doesn’t screw up, but in my experience, the other guy often does screw up, and if you aren’t hunting him when he does, you won’t get him.

Great minds think alike, and it turns out that Khalia Nestune and Lian Xander from Suddenly Ninjas were similarly interested in spending more time in this wormhole. They were flying a Malediction interceptor and an Ishkur assault frigate.

We snoop around. No sight of the Orca, but there’s a guy in his pod somewhere, and various unpiloted ships inside POS forcefields. A couple of haulers, and once I got a Helios on scan, which explained the combat scanner probes visible on the directional scanner. We were directional-scanning, since none of us had combat probes available.

After about ten minutes of random warping around and snooping, we decided there was nothing to be found without combat scanners, and it was agreed that I’d go out to known space and pick up my Buzzard covops. I entered warp to the wormhole.

At that moment, Khalia began shouting that the Helios at the wormhole and (miracle!) pointed. Turns out he warped in uncloaked (why?) and Khalia was able to burn over and point him (about 30 kilometers from the wormhole, again, why?) before he could cloak.

I’m not sure where Lian in the Ishur was — also at the wormhole I think — but they were already burning the Helios pretty hard by the time I came out of warp. I was able to lock and get a volley of torps launched, but the Helios popped before my torps ever arrived:

2009.05.18 02:43

Victim: MulaSoldats
Corp: The Dark Tribe
Alliance: None
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Helios
System: J103716
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 1954

Involved parties:

Name: Lian Xander (laid the final blow)
Security: 1.33
Corp: Suddenly Ninjas
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Ishkur
Weapon: Light Neutron Blaster II
Damage Done: 1954

Name: Khalia Nestune
Security: 0.2
Corp: Suddenly Ninjas
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Malediction
Weapon: Warp Disruptor II
Damage Done: 0

Name: Marlenus
Security: 1.3
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Manticore
Weapon: ‘Arbalest’ Siege Missile Launcher
Damage Done: 0

Destroyed items:

Cap Recharger II
Warp Disruptor II
Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Inertia Stabilizers II
Co-Processor II
Core Scanner Probe I, Qty: 2 (Cargo)
Combat Scanner Probe I, Qty: 4 (Cargo)
Hobgoblin II (Drone Bay)

Dropped items:

Combat Scanner Probe I
Combat Scanner Probe I
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Expanded Probe Launcher I
Survey Scanner II
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Co-Processor II
Core Scanner Probe I, Qty: 2 (Cargo)
Combat Scanner Probe I, Qty: 2 (Cargo)
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron (Cargo)

Nice! I can’t imagine what MulaSoldats thought he was doing, but I don’t much care. Of course we tried to catch his pod, and of course we failed. And right then…

A Vagabond (which, for any of you fortunate few who don’t know, is a very expensive and very fast and very deadly T2 heavy assault cruiser) dropped out of warp right on top of Khalia and Lian, who by this time are close to 50km from where I am, which is right on the wormhole.

Now, a fully T2-fitted and rigged Vagabond chattering autocannons at you from point-blank range can be a terrifying thing when you’re in any frigate-sized vessel. So, I don’t blame Khalia for shouting at us to run away. I think he’d have warped out himself, only, he was pointed. So of course he began burning away from the Vaga. I said “no, kill him!” (easy for me to say when I’m parked on the wormhole for quick escape!) and began launching butt-slow torps. Lian attacked with drones and guns.

From there on out everything happened very fast. My torps started arriving, Khalia was speaking urgently of where in armor he was, I noticed the Vaga was finally targetting me, I was praying for one more volley to hit, somebody was saying “I’m in structure, I’m gone”, I got volley of torps that hit for more than 2k damage, there was lotsa yelling, I heard “I’m dead!” and then the Vaga was a wreck.

It turns out, Khalia had less than 20% structure left on his interceptor. I think (not sure) that he got out of scramble range and was using his speed to tank (badly but well enough) the Vaga’s guns, which presumably were in deep falloff by then. If Khalia did have a chance to leave and didn’t take it, I’m very impressed. Brave!

I’m not clear whether we ever had a point on the Vaga, or whether the pilot was just overconfident and planning to melt faces. I believe Lian had a point, but I’m not sure if the Ishkur is fast enough to keep a Vagabond pointed for long — I just don’t know. Like I said, it all happened very fast. Whatever the details, I was pleased to see that we suffered no losses, except maybe in the soiled-underpants department.

We speculate that maybe the uncloaked Helios was a badly-set trap; I’d been cloaked at all times and they may have thought they could bait the other two frigates and kill them both with the Vagabond. If so, they timed it badly (considering how fast the Helios popped) and were surprised by my bomber. But still, they should have had tactical initiative at all times, and I can’t figure out why they squandered it the way they did.

No matter, here’s the killmail, complete with faction remote armor repper:

2009.05.18 02:45

Victim: Garreden
Corp: The Dark Tribe
Alliance: None
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Vagabond
System: J103716
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 8605

Involved parties:

Name: Marlenus (laid the final blow)
Security: 1.3
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Manticore
Weapon: Caldari Navy Juggernaut Torpedo
Damage Done: 8171

Name: Lian Xander
Security: 1.3
Corp: Suddenly Ninjas
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Ishkur
Weapon: Hobgoblin II
Damage Done: 434

Destroyed items:

Barrage M, Qty: 140
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Warp Disruptor II
Large Shield Extender II
Gyrostabilizer II
Overdrive Injector System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Core Defence Field Extender I, Qty: 2

Dropped items:

Barrage M, Qty: 35
Coreli C-Type Small Remote Armor Repair System
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Large Shield Extender II
10MN MicroWarpdrive II
Gyrostabilizer II
Overdrive Injector System II
Barrage M, Qty: 3520 (Cargo)

I suspect the pair of large shield extenders didn’t do him any favors when my torpedoes began striking home. I am fitting a target painter, and against his shields, I was doing between 440 and 720 points per volley. My sixth volley, which broke into his armor I think, landed for 945 points; and my seventh volley did an astounding 2096 points. I wonder if he may have pulsed his micro-warp drive, giving him the sig radius of a small sun? Then my next volley landed for a thousand points (taking him to half structure) and my last volley popped him.

All in all, the best fight I’ve been in lately, and the best killmail I’ve seen since my FW days. All thanks to Khalia and Lian!

What a dream.

The boards have been abuzz, lately, about an assortment of pirates who watched a mothership cloak at a safespot, then assembled a nefarious crew to melt it. Here’s Mynxee’s account, which sounds like jolly good rogering fun. (Double entendre intended.)

But the part that caught my salvager’s eye was this:

Someone who made an effort to salvage it got this message:

“You cannot salvage this wreck because it contains too much loot to fit into a single cargo container. The wreck contains 89,230 m3 but can contain no more than 27,500 m3…”

I wonder what the final numbers of salvage bits were, because surely someone sorted this and got it done.

I’m salivating over the idea of 89k cubic meters of salvage bits, but I’m somewhat puzzled about the message. I frequently get a similar message when trying to salvage a battleship in a salvaging frigate, because of all the metal scraps. But in that case, the message is about inadequate cargo space on my ship. This message talks of loot not fitting in a standard jetcan.

How big are the modules (and cargo space) on a mothership? Because this sounds to me like a message that’s not about lack of space to put the salvage. Rather, when you salvage a ship before looting it, all the dropped modules and cargo get evicted into space in an old-fashioned jet can. This sounds like a “you can’t salvage because we can’t create a big enough jet-can for the loot” error.

Still, a fun problem to have.

There’s a young Ironfleet member named Dingo Indere (I think he might be some sort of distaff cousin of Jim Bridger’s) whose only joy in EVE is to mine for gas in a Badger II. AFK. In w-space.

There’s a certain Leroy Jenkins logic to the whole thing. He’s got 900k skill points, he flies a Badger II that costs what, 200k ISK? And he loads it up with modules that reduce his scannable signature down to the size of a frigate. A new clone costs him forty thousand ISK when he gets podded. And even at the current low prices, every gas cloud is worth millions of ISK, for close to zero effort.

He’s had great success, too; I think he’s cleared at least half a dozen Ladar sites without ever encountering hostile action.

Usually, though, he mines late at night, in the quiet hours before the server goes down. Today he tried it bright and early on a Friday morning, which is not quite so quiet. Thus, when I logged in, I had this in my corporate losses window:

2009.05.08 18:09:00

Victim: Dingo Indere
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Badger Mark II
System: J235321
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 2505

Involved parties:

Name: The Grum (laid the final blow)
Security: -1.3
Corp: Apocalypse Enterprises
Alliance: Chain of Chaos
Faction: NONE
Ship: Vagabond
Weapon: 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Damage Done: 2505

Destroyed items:

Warded Gravimetric Backup Cluster I, Qty: 2
Gravimetric Positional ECCM Sensor System I, Qty: 3
Gas Cloud Harvester I
Fullerite-C50, Qty: 1500 (Cargo)
Core Scanner Probe I, Qty: 20 (Cargo)
‘Dactyl’ Type-E Asteroid Analyzer

Dropped items:

Warded Gravimetric Backup Cluster I
Deep Space Scanner Probe I, Qty: 3 (Cargo)
Gravimetric Positional ECCM Sensor System I, Qty: 2
Expanded Probe Launcher I
Combat Scanner Probe I, Qty: 10 (Cargo)
Deep Space Scanner Probe I, Qty: 5

2009.05.08 18:10:00

Victim: Dingo Indere
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Capsule
System: J235321
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 320

Involved parties:

Name: The Grum (laid the final blow)
Security: -1.3
Corp: Apocalypse Enterprises
Alliance: Chain of Chaos
Faction: NONE
Ship: Vagabond
Weapon: Hobgoblin I
Damage Done: 320

He says it tickled a bit, getting podded; but was, overall, more fun than the week he spent as the designated target drone when The Empress Of Greater Mars was learning how to shoot her POS guns.

By now he’s probably right back out there in another Badger, harvesting 10 units of gas per minute and watching those foul Amarr slave-porn holoreels on his pod viewer.

I’ve never made any secret about the fact that this blog is the propaganda arm of Ironfleet. Which means that comments people leave here are subject to moderation. Although I allow critical comments, including some that are quite rude and bitter indeed, I do so only when they interest me. Snarky COAD-style stuff that’s just intended to express empty disdain and establish a false sense of superiority? Nope, we don’t need any. That special flavor of unwarranted arrogance has plenty of homes elsewhere on the internets.

One such comment this morning, though, caused me to reflect on Ironfleet’s relationship to piracy. Among the would-be commenter’s expressions of disdain was the suggestion that my recent PvP efforts in w-space had turned Ironfleet into “boring old pirates”. Which, frankly, took me by surprise. Although I don’t much care what other people think of Ironfleet, we are not now, nor ever have been, self-identified as a pirate organization, and I don’t expect that to change.

It’s true that since I took up with the merry band of ruffians in the TEARS alliance, I’ve participated in small-gang warfare that culminated in pod ransoms being collected by my gangmates. TEARS has no policy on piracy of which I am aware (pro or anti) but if I had to guess, I’d say the alliance leadership approves.

Ironfleet, however, remains first and foremost a salvage operation. It’s just that we’ve got an extremely broad definition of salvage, and sometimes if the salvage won’t stop wigging, you have to nail it to a board and hit it repeatedly with a heavy stick.

I myself have never asked for or collected a ransom. (Although I might in the future if it seemed reasonable. Sometimes there’s no reason to take the goods back to the impound yard, if you can sell them back to the former owner while they — the goods and the owner — are still on the hoof.) It’s my understanding that most of the ransoms TEARS collects while “out roaming around” go into the alliance war chest; be that as it may, I attend those operations because my cooperative combat skills could still use an awful lot of improvement. I do most of my salvage work solo, just as I always have; and it’s rare that I bring enough tackling gear to ransom anybody, even if I wanted to.

Meanwhile, Ironfleet’s other activities continue to evolve with the game. When “canstellations” went away after missions were moved away from the stargates, Ironfleet moved to salvaging jettisoned ore in the belts. That’s become a rare opportunity in the era of the Orca, though, so we don’t get to do much of that any more. Mission salvage has been the Ironfleet bread and butter for a long time, but right now the opportunities in w-space are more lucrative and almost as entertaining. W-space being a brutal and somewhat defensible terrain, we’ve perforce been doing more to-the-knife old-fashioned PvP, which is (a) entertaining and (b) good training. But, at the end of the day, I still consider Ironfleet a salvage corporation.

Other people can think what they like. But if going into lawless space and getting into fights has made the stories on this blog more boring, all I can say is, too bad — because in the doing, it’s been enormous fun.