Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Buying Success

A member of our corporation was selling some of his Eve characters this week, which got me thinking about the whole topic of buying and selling characters for isk.

The sandbox nature of Eve means that there isn't really any end-game content or goal. There isn't a steady progression through different occupations. Characters don't start out as miners, then move into missions, go through lowsec and finally end up in nullsec wars. Instead, there is a freedom to flit from one type of activity to another as we see fit.

But there is a type of barrier to this behaviour. The barrier is how you have spent your skillpoints. Jumping from mining straight into PvP is not normally possible without a certain amount of training. This barrier also exists within professions, for example it's not always possible to jump straight from providing logistics support to flying an ECM ship. Of course training is equal to time, so this barrier becomes an amount of time.

For some activities this time barrier might be short. It might take a new character a number of weeks until they can do level four missions. But if you want to fly a carrier and get involved in nullsec wars then you can be faced with training time measured in years!

I imagine you know where my thoughts are heading; why not cut a large amount of training time by buying a character instead?

If it's an approach you have never considered before then I would highly recommend doing it. Although payng billions of isk for a character sounds a lot, remember that, unlike a ship or module, a character cannot be destroyed. Your investment will retain its value. If the skill-set of your new character isn't all you had hoped for then you alwys have the option of re-selling.

Another good reason to buy a character is to get yourself an isk machine. The Mittani recently wrote an excellent article suggesting that we should measure profit in Eve by 'isk per effort required' rather than 'isk per hour'. He also came up with some excellent suggestions for occupations that maximise profit and minimise effort. Buying a character that could ice mine or breeze through level four missions with drones, would easily pay for itself in the long run.

So whether you have a long-term dream that could be made a reality quicker, or whether you need a passive isk-machine to fund your account - consider buying a character!

For all the technical information you need on selling or buying characters visit the Character Bazaar.

Maybe you'll end up in the same bizarre position that I am in; my PvP 'alt' character has more skillpoints than my 'main' character that I started playing Eve with!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Timing is Everything

Anybody wanting to PvP in Eve needs to get used to timers. Timers in Eve control a great number of things, such as when you may dock, when you may jump through a gate, when you may shoot at another player or when you may be shot at. PvP in wormholes is no exception to this.

There are two distinct timers that will come into play when you jump into a wormhole.

The Session-Change Timer

The Session-change timer is a standard one throughout the Eve universe. The timer is triggered by many player actions, including undocking, ejecting from a ship, jumping through a gate and joining a fleet.

In our case the timer is triggered when we jump through a wormhole. It will last for thirty seconds, and during that time we will be unable to perform any of the other actions that could possibly trigger the timer. Essentially this means that we will have to wait thirty seconds before we can jump back through the wormhole again. But you can get caught out by it in other ways as well. For example, joining a fleet just before you land at a wormhole will trigger the timer. That thirty seconds you have to wait is more than enough time for somebody to lock and even possibly pop your ship.

So the session timer is something you should always be mindful of. Luckily for us, rather than having to count to thirty, there is a visual setting that can be enabled to show us the session-change timer. From the Eve Main Menu go to the 'General Settings' tab then tick the option box in the top left corner labelled 'Show Session-Change Timer'. In-game the timer will show up in the top left of your screen as a very small whirling icon. Holding your mouse over the icon will tell you how many seconds are left until the timer expires.

Make sure to familiarise yourself with which actions trigger the timer and be careful you don't get caught out by it.

Wormhole Polarity Timer

The second timer to affect wormholes is the polarity timer. This timer is designed to prevent people avoiding PvP by constantly jumping back and forth through a wormhole. The timer is triggered when a pilot jumps twice through the same wormhole in quick sucession.

I couldn't find any concrete data on how this timer works, so I did a bit of my own testing. This is the conclusion I have reached. I believe that after the first initial jump through a wormhole a timer is started that is approximately five minutes long. During this five minute period you can make a second jump but are unable to jump a third time. If you try and make a third jump a message will pop up warning you that you are unable to jump. It will also display the time remaining until you can jump through again. This time remaining will be the five minutes subtracted by the amount of time hat has passed since the first jump.

In practice, the longest amount of time you will have to wait before jumping through the same wormhole the third time will be somewhere between 3 minutes 50 seconds and 4 minutes. This is because the two session timers caused by the first two jumps through the wormhole will already subtract 1 minute from the polarity timer and system loading time may subtract even more.

The polarity timer is linked to one specific wormhole. So the timer will not be triggered if you are jumping through different wormholes.

This timer is very important to remember if PvP is occurring on a wormhole. Any PvP targets who are being beaten will attempt to flee by jumping through the hole, and if they are then tackled on the other side they will most likely jump through the hole a second time. At this point they will have a polarity timer, so they can be easily dealt with.

In theory the polarity timer confers an advantage on the 'defender' of a system. The 'attacker' will have to make one jump in order to enter the system. Once the battle has started the 'attacker' will have to split their forces in order to prevent the 'defender' from using the polarity timer to their advantage. This can often make fighting at wormholes a bit frustrating, but it is important information to remember if you engage on a wormhole.

I hope that summary was useful. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree with my theory of the polarity mechanics, or if you have any good/bad experiences of wormhole timers.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Blog Banter Reviewed

The response to the special edition Ladies of New Eden Blog Banter has been huge. This post is for those of you that don't have time to read all the blogs, or who are struggling to remember who said what. If I've missed you out, or you think I've misrepresented what you said, write me a comment. This post will be added to as I read through the blogs.

Women Are Different!

Ombeve kicked off the Banter by stating that the problem we were up against was a sociological one. There are fewer females in Eve because the majority of females are not interested in gaming or the sci-fi genre. Astral's Eve Trial by Fire agreed, and suggested that maybe the key difference was that males enjoy destructive gaming while females prefer constructive gaming. It was thought that Planetary Interaction might encourage this urge to build. The same thoughts were shared by Learning to Fly who suggested that Incarna was another addition that might also make the game more accesible to females. Vikings of Eve felt that a woman's desire to create and nurture, rather than destroy, was not catered for in Eve.

No Change!

The mood was lightened by Evoganda. Who sarcastically suggested such measures as kittens and a 'Nagger Class Cruiser' to attract females to the game. But ended seriously by suggesting that game changes for the sake of attracting females would be bad. The Nomadic Gamer also thought that game changes were not an option and instead looked for the playerbase to change by becoming much more welcoming to females.


However, many blogs were in favour of actual changes to game design. A number of key Eve issues that hinder females enjoying the game were picked up by The Ghost Report. These included a lack of individuality amongst players and a cumbersome and non-immersive UI. Linked Dreams added to these issues the lack of combat support roles and not being able to bond with your ship as you might an avatar in another game. Along these lines, Diary of a Garbageman suggested a larger focus on 'career paths' was needed to both aid and monitor player training.

Go Casual

Some blogs felt a game like Eve was just too 'hardcore' for general consumption by women. In particular Vive Virtual who felt that, as a result of their upbringing, women would be predisposed to dislike a harsh and complex game like Eve. Eve SOB talked about his experience of trying unsuccesfully to get his wife to play Eve and suggested that the lack of females may be due to the game not being casual enough. Garhead took this idea and ran with it, suggesting a number of ideas for Eve to encourage casual play.

Stay Hardcore

Mandrill disagreed with the idea of making the game more casual. Changing the game or marketing towards women was felt to be condescending and was a product of stereotyping female gamers. This was a trap that The Hydrostatic Capsule also refused to fall into, but instead stated that the liberty all players, regardless of gender, have, to rise all the way to managing vast alliances, would be an attractive prospect to female gamers. WfSeg claimed that making the game more casual could possibly alienate existing players who prefer Eve as it is.

Go for Visuals

The visual aesthetic of Eve was the key issue that need improving for Prano's Journey, who also issued a plea for the remembrance of Eve widows, the wives whose husbands played Eve all day long. Record of Alva Dyson agreed that visual changes would be worthwhile, such as bright ship colours and glittery module effects. Being a woman and having never played Eve, Draco Horizons also suggested a large list of female-enticing game changes, many of them cosmetic, that would convince her to play.

Go for Marketing

Making cosmetic changes was a view opposed by many, who rather thought that Eve was fine, but the way it was marketed needed changing. Errant Thoughts was one blogger who felt that rather than adding glitz and glamour, the non-combat activities in Eve needed greater publicising. Life in Low Sec expanded on this by appealing to CCP to market Eve more intelligently towards females, who might be attracted towards roles in Eve that are kept out of the spotlight. A similar view was held by Where the Frack is my Ship?, who used the examples of several notable female Eve players who were involved in different aspects of the game. A Little Bit of Blue also championed this idea and highlighted the importance of playing with friends in order to overcome the learning curve.

More Gentlemen Needed!

Bloggers weren't unanimous in blaming CCP, some targeted problems with the playerbase. Rantuket was one who placed the blame squarely on the head of CCP for bad marketing. But while La Vie d'une Capsuliere agreed that Eve marketing needs to change, it was also claimed that a male dominated playerbase could be intimidatory and repellent to women. Along these lines Max Torps warned CCP against making Incarna too male oriented and 'seedy', but rather take time to enhance the position of female role-models in Eve. Depths Unknown echoes some of these views when claiming males in Eve often act in a way that females find repulsive and that only the toughest of females can survive. Using many in-game experiences Talk Nerdy to Me highlighted the challenges some women could face as a result of trying to join an uncompromising male culture.

What's the Big Deal?

Eve's Parity Bit had just one question, what's the fuss about? If females like the game, they will play it, if they don't, then that's fine.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Sorry, No Pink Spaceships Here Please

Welcome to a special installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always good fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month's Blog Banter is on the subject of women, who at present make up only 5% of Eve's playerbase. The big question is:

What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?

My personal Eve experience doesn't qualify me to speak on this subject at all. The corp I belong to has one female that I know of, and she is the sum total of my interaction with females in Eve so far. But if you were hoping for a short blog post, then I'm afraid I am going to disappoint you. Here then are my views, backed up with zero evidence or experience.

To me, this whole question hinges around a key game design issue. What is the motive behind creating a game? Do you design a game to appeal to a certain group of people, or do you design a game because you think the core idea is good? When Eve was dreamed up, was the initial motive to create a game that would appeal to sci-fi loving, space-hooked, young males? Or was it not the case that Eve was created because a huge, massively mutiplayer, open-market, harsh, cooperative, spaceship simulator was just an amazing, bold and daring idea?

You see, when you decide to make a game, it should be based on the merits of the idea itself. It should have nothing to do with needing to fill a gap in market, or trying to appeal to a specific type of person.

A demographic should be created for a game! Not a game for a demographic!

So what has this got to do with females in Eve?

My point is this. Don't change Eve purely to appeal to some demographic, whether it be females or pre-adolescent kids or grandparents. Instead, change Eve to make it a better game! This is surely the only variable we should consider when making a game change. Now sometimes making the game better will induce a change in the demographic. For example the inclusion of tutorial missions made the game more accesible to younger players. That's brilliant! But making all ships have 100% insurance might also have the same demographic affect, that doesn't make it a good game change!

The truth is that I'm not a huge sci-fi fan. I have only a cursory interest in spaceships and space travel. If Eve was created to appeal to a demographic, then it definitely wasn't aimed at me. Instead I play Eve because it is a fantastic game, full of innovative ideas and creative game design.

So, I'm really sorry females but I'm not going to start suggesting game changes purely so I can see more of you play Eve. That's not a sacrifice I am willing to make. But before you label me as a cold-hearted and a close-minded individual; changing the game to suit a demographic is only half the story.

The other half is you, or me - all of us. The community.

Eve is a game that requires player interaction if you want to get the most out of it. The game is great, but would it be even half as good without the community we are part of and the interaction we enjoy? This is a key part of Eve, just as important as the game itself. So although I've ruled out changing the gameplay purely for the sake of attracting females, I have no objection to the community doing all it can to increase and boost the female playerbase.

None of us play this game just because we are sci-fi loving spaceship nerds - most of us probably aren't. We play the game because it is fun and it has an active and vibrant community that gives us both camaraderie and friendship. There is no reason why any female shouldn't be attracted to this.

So my advice is keep interacting. Keep blogging. Keep chatting. Keep twittering. Keep showing that there is more to this game than spaceships.

The strength of our community will attract female players, and hopefully some of the changes to make Eve better will also do the same. I'll leave you with one last thought:

Any gaming community that has the strength and cohesion to even begin to address this subject sensibly and at length is surely on the right track.

Other Banters:

1. Ombeve - The Ladies of New Eden
2. Astral's Eve Trial by Fire - Is Eve a Man's World?
3. Evoganda - Chicks 'N Ships
4. The Ghosts Report - The Girls Who Fly Spaceships
5. Eve SOB - It's Not About Fluffy Bloody Kittens People!
6. Max Torps - Space Boobies Are Bad, m'kay?
7. Learning To Fly - I like Girls
8. Garhead - Making Eve More Casual
9. Prano's Journey - What Women Want...
10. Rantuket - I Wish My Wife Played Eve
11. Eve's Parity Bit - Is There Something Special About Women?
12. La Vie d'une Capsuliere - Banter
13. Linked Dreams - CK's Blog Banter
14. Mandrill - The Female of the Species
15. Diary of a Garbageman - The Ladies
16. Record of Alva Dyson - Women Who Want Eve
17. The Hydrostatic Capsule - Tech 2 Stilettos
18. The Nomadic Gamer - New Eden Doesn't Need to Change for Eve - Adam Needs to Get Over Himself
19. Errant Thoughts - Eve Online and ... women (sorta)
20. Life in Low Sec - Think Outside the Spaceship
21. WfSeg - Women, Women, Women
22. Depths Unknown - Girls Just Wanna Have... Guns!
23. Where the Frack is my Ship? - It's a Woman's World (They Just Don't Know it Yet)
24. Draco Horizons - Notebook Banter (click Blog)
25. A Little Bit of Blue - Don't Change Eve for Me!
26. Vikings of Eve - Getting in Touch With Our Feminine Side
27. Vive Virtual - Women in Eve
28. Talk Nerdy to Me - Where are Teh Laydeez of Eve?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Power to the Players

Last week a CCP Development Blog was released detailing how both the creation and use of 'deep safe-spots' was to be removed.

This fix meant that anybody who had a ship, bookmark or other object located in a 'deep safe-spot' would have to move them. If they didn't, the items would be destroyed on the day that the fix was released.

However, just yesterday, a further blog was released. CCP have had a change of heart. They intend instead to find away to move the items, rather than destroy them. Now, I'm not really interested that much about the specifics of the fix since it doesn't really affect me that much. What does interest me is the reason for this changed decision by CCP.

In the most recent blog the reason given for the changed decision was to me, initially, confusing. There is a lot of talk about 'solutions' and I had to read it all through a couple of times before I understood what they were saying. Entertain yourselves by counting how many different adjectives they use to describe their two different solutions. It's definitely not the most lucid blog I've ever read.

So to help you all out I will attempt to translate it for you:

- We at CCP wanted to nerf deep safe-spots
- The 'neat' (also referred to in the blog as 'proper' and 'better') solution would be to move players ships and objects
- But everybody was pretty busy so we went for the 'quick' solution of just destroying stuff
- Then you players started moaning
- So we found somebody with enough time to implement the 'neat' solution instead

Basically CCP were going to rush a game change. The playerbase then responded with their concerns and CCP decided instead to implement a slower but better change.

Now as I said I'm not particularly interested in the game change decision itself, but rather the player interaction with CCP that prompted it. The Council of Stellar Management, or CSM, is a prime example of this interaction. They are a group of players, elected by players, that have a definite say in what happens to the game.

I think the reason we have seen this change on deep safe-spot policy is partly because the CSM were never consulted. As a result, both the CSM and player-base were unhappy, firstly about the decision, and secondly about the lack of consultation. This lead to a huge thread on the Assembly Hall forums, begun by TeaDaze, a current CSM member, registering concern about the proposed change.

I think CCP listened.

Eve is a little bit unique in this respect, and I think it's worth realising this and expoiting it! Many players I talk to are either unaware of, or apathetic to the opportunities available to us through the CSM. In short, make your vote count and your voice heard, because, as we have seen, we have the power to change this game!

Friday, 16 April 2010


Due to maximum jump mass limits on wormholes it can be tricky to move high mass ships around. Ships of Battleship size and larger can be unable to jump through certain wormholes. Wormholes with higher maximum jump mass limits tend to connect to the higher class wormholes. The practical outcome of this is that those living in class one wormholes may find bringing in Battleships tricky. And those inhabiting wormholes from class one to three will find bringing in Carriers and Dreadnoughts all but impossible.

But for corporations in the higher level wormholes, it is a much easier matter. Having Carriers and Dreadnoughts becomes not only possible, but also advisable, because if you can bring a Carrier into your wormhole, there is nothing stopping somebody else bringing one into your wormhole. A scary thought perhaps. Our corporation lives in a class five wormhole, and we are lucky enough to have both Carriers and Dreadnoughts in system.

Carriers in particular have many uses. For example they are great for forcibly closing wormholes. But one other ability they have is to 'escalate' a Sleeper combat site. Basically, if you warp a Carrier onto grid in a Sleeper combat site that still has active Sleepers, it will trigger an extra spawn of Sleepers to fight. This is a nice bonus that can be exploited to get the most out of your combat sites in your home wormhole.

For an added bonus Sleeper sites can be escalated more than once! The first Carrier to warp into a combat site will trigger a spawn of six Sleeper Battleships. The second Carrier will trigger an extra spawn of eight Sleeper Battleships. After this second spawn, warping in extra Carriers will do nothing. But this is where the Dreadnoughts come in handy. Warp in a Dreadnought and a third spawn of a further six Battleships will be triggered.

Now at this point I have to turn from practical experience back to theory. As a corporation we have done combat sites with three escalations before, but that is where we have stopped. You see, from all the reading I had done on the subject, I was told that the fourth and final escalation of eight more Battleships would be triggered when another Dreanought warped in. This would mean that you could trigger a total of twenty eight extra Battleships by escalating each single combat site.

A couple of days ago we finally had enough pilots and a large enough fleet to test this fourth escalation for ourselves. The first, second and third waves were triggered and dealt with without incident. But when we warped in our second Dreadnought - nothing happened!

So we were left scratching our heads and wondering what had gone wrong. Maybe there is something extra about the mechanics that we are not aware of. Maybe it might be something to do with living in a class five. Until we get the chance to do a bit more testing we're not sure exactly what happened.

Anyway, that is a bit of a rough guide to escalations. It would be great to hear from readers about your experiences of escalations and especially if you can tell me more about triggering that fourth and final escalation.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Covert Tackling: Putting Theory to the Test

My last post contained advice on fitting a Covert Ops ship. There have been some really good suggestions in the comments, so make sure you check them out.

In one comment REve Blogger mentioned 'I never really considered the use of cov ops as a tackle.', and it just so happened that yesterday I had the opportunity to prove that a Covert Ops can do precisely that.

A Dominix, a Gallente Battleship, warped into one of our gas mining fleets yesterday. Everybody that was harvesting managed to extricate themselves, but the Dominix, instead of warping straight back to the hole he came from decided to hang around in system. Suspecting the Dominix to be bait, I hopped into my Helios and jumped through the only other active wormhole in the system.

Sure enough there was a fairly large PvP fleet on the other side. I quickly cloaked up and we started to get a fleet together to deal with the threat. This can sometimes take awhile, so by the time our fleet was prepared a number of the opposing ships had come and gone.

When our fleet finally got around to warping to the wormhole that was being camped by our opposition, they had either already noticed our fleet and started to run or thought that we weren't going to take the bait. Either way, I was left sitting at a wormhole with the Dominix, who was about to warp back to his POS - with our fleet fast approaching.

It was the work of a moment for me to uncloak, lock and tackle the Dominix. Then I flew towards the wormhole, just to make sure that I would be able to jump to safety if he started spewing drones at me. As expected, he popped out his sentry drones and proceeded to take me down to 25% armour before I jumped through. But by that time the rest of our fleet was on grid and they made short work of the target.

All in all, I probably tackled him for about 15-20 seconds - but without those seconds we wouldn't have got the kill. It's also very nice to appear on the killmails as well! So there you have it - a fortuitous textbook demonstration of tackling in a Covert Ops ship.

I should imagine many of you have similar stories, where you just happen to be in the right place, at the right time. But in this case I should also add, with the right ship fitting!

Monday, 12 April 2010

How to Fit a Covert Ops Ship

Yesterday I lost my Helios Covert Ops ship while attempting to tackle a Proteus, a T3 Gallente Strategic Cruiser.

If you think that sounds a bit stupid, then you are right - it was stupid. It was just one of a number of mistakes I made yesterday.

Another mistake I made was tackling the same pilot in his own Helios Covert Ops ship and letting him escape before I could kill him with my one drone. In my mind this was by far the biggest mistake I made because it was a mistake in the way I fit my ship.

Let me explain - on my Covert Ops I fitted a Warp Disruptor, so when I tackled the Helios he was able to simply use his MicroWarpdrive to get out of range of me, before warping away. If instead I had fitted a Warp Scrambler, then he wouldn't have been able to use his MicroWarpdrive at all, and I would probably have a nice Helios killmail to show for my efforts.

So it got me thinking about how to fit a Covert Ops ship, especially since I had to go and buy myself a new one. Here is my short guide to fitting a Covert Ops ship.

1. Firstly fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II. This cloak is built specifically for your ship and you wouldn't be 'covert' without it.

2. Fit a Scan Probe Launcher. The primary purpose of your Covert Ops will be to scan in wormholes, so this is an important piece of gear. You have a number of options here. If you are intending to live a life of pacifism and not get involved in any PvP then you might want to use the Core Probe Launcher I. This launcher will not be able to use Combat Probes, but it will free up CPU for other modules on the ship. The second choice is an Expanded Probe Launcher I, which will allow you to use both Core Probes and Combat Probes. Both of these items have a Faction equivalent, the Sisters Core Probe Launcher and the Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher. If you have the isk, they are very worthwhile. They both give a 5% bonus to scan probe strength.

3. Fit a MicroWarpdrive or Afterburner. In conjunction with your cloak the propulsion mods will keep you safe from harm. The top speed of your ship isn't terribly important, so your only criteria for picking which module to fit should be based on what other modules you're hoping to fit on the ship. The MicroWapdrive is better from a safety perspective, while the Afterburner will enable you to squeeze more utility modules into the mid slots.

4. Fit two Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I rigs in the rig slots. These will each give a 10% scan strength bonus.

5. Fit speed and maneuverability modules in the low slots. Which modules you fit is a matter of taste. But any mix of Inertia Stabilizers, Overdrive Injectors and Nanofiber Internal Structures will work nicely.

6. Fit some tackle. As I found out this should probably be a Warp Scrambler. If you are interested in wormhole PvP you will find that in most cases a Covert Ops ship will normally be the first on the scene and it's useful to tie down a ship before everybody else arrives, just in case they get away. The Scrambler can be well paired with a Stasis Webifier to stop fast targets in their tracks. Some fits can also include both a Scrambler and a Disruptor if you need.

7. Fit some pewpew. This is only really an option if you have any CPU or PowerGrid left. In my case for my Helios this is simply a matter of putting a light scout drone in the drone bay. For other Covert Ops ships it will mean putting a weapon in a spare high slot.

8. If you have any space left it is likely to be in the mid slots. So try and squeeze in a capacitor mod, such as a Cap Recharger II.

Don't worry if you haven't managed to fit a module in every space. A Covert Ops ship is not one that requires a very neat fitting - just try and squeeze in the modules you want it to have. I hope that helps!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Keep Rollin' Rollin'

Wormholes are shifty things. Not only do they pop out of existence after a certain amount of time but they can also pop when you jump too much ship mass through them. This quality they have can be exploited. If you wish to close a wormhole you can jump enough mass through it to make it pop.

This is dangerous business of course. Normally when you want to close a wormhole there is a specific side of it that you would like to end up on. Making sure that you end up on the right side when it closes takes a lot of knowledge, maths and every so often a pinch of good luck.

Unfortunately for us one of our pilots recently made an error with his calculations and while attempting to close a hole, managed to strand a Moros. The wormhole closed after he jumped out of our home system, leaving no way back in!

This was bad news. Really bad news. A Moros is a Gallente Dreadnought worth well over one billion isk. In other words, an asset you definitely don't want to lose. The Moros was stranded in a class six wormhole that had a static class one exit. This means that the system would always have a wormhole connecting it to a random class one system. Our first response was to bring a couple of alt characters in covert ops ships through the class one from Highsec and into to the class six system with the Moros.

So we were in a tricky situation. Although the covert ops ships had come through the class one system to reach the Moros, the Moros couldn't jump through to the class one itself. This is due to wormholes having a 'maximum jump mass limit'. Basically, some wormholes have big enough limits to fit through huge masses, such as a Moros. Most wormholes - such as the wormhole to the class one - don't.

The pilot of the Moros made a safe spot and logged off. The covert ops pilots also did the same, and for the next four days they scanned the system whenever they could, hoping to find a new wormhole spawn that would enable them to get the Moros out. The best option would be a Lowsec hole, but we would've been happy to find an incoming class five or six wormhole as well, that would at least give us the possiblity of a new class six wormhole to scan everyday. But after four days there was nothing to show for our efforts.

So yesterday we decided to do something crazy. 'Chain Rolling'!

Let me explain. When we forcibly close the wormhole to our static class six we call it 'Rolling'. The Moros was stuck in one of approximately 113 class six wormhole systems. The crazy plan was to 'roll' our static wormhole until we found the right system. This is the equivalent of rolling a 113-sided dice and looking for just one single number. Now I'm no mathematician but they are not the nicest odds possible. But we made a fleet and started the 'rolling'

My part in this fleet was to act as the scanner. To find the new static, take a peek through and note down the system number. It was largely dull and boring work apart from one wormhole system where we found a Thorax gas mining and quickly ruined his day before moving on.

But to my huge surprise we managed to find the system after merely 21 rolls of the huge, many sided dice. I couldn't beleive my eyes when I read the system number, I had to double and triple check it!

So, with a concerted team effort and a very large helping of luck, we got our Moros back! And we all celebrated by flatly refusing to 'roll' any more wormholes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Gas Mining the Easy Way

Scanning is key to enjoying wormholes. If you are not able to scan, you are often quite literally stranded. But if you can scan, a door of opportunity opens. It so happens that your door of opportunity becomes somebody else's door of misfortune.

This was the case today.

I had just entered a class 6 wormhole in my trusty Helios covert ops ship. My initial d-scan showed a Moa, a Caldari cruiser, with a single cargo container that was named with a timestamp. It doesn't take a genius to realise that any container with a timestamp means somebody must be mining. Moas are also fairly commonly used as gas mining ships in wormholes. This was a prime PvP target!

When these opportunities arise, the preparation required to get the kill is easily 90% of the work. PvP scanning in wormholes is both technical and time-consuming.

The first step is to launch combat probes without giving the target the opportunity to notice. This means launching the probes while out of d-scan range, which is around 14AU. In most wormhole systems it is possible to use the planets and moons to get the required distance from the target. When the probes have been launched they should be sent immediately to scan a point that is out of d-scan range of anywhere in the system, this ensures that the target has no chance of noticing them.

Once combat probes are out, then comes the tricky business of narrowing down the target to a rough position. This requires intelligent use of both the angle and range filter on your d-scanner. Finding the angle is a fairly simple business, but to approximate the range you will need to use a km to AU conversion chart.

When a rough position of the target has been found all that remains is to place probes in this location and hope for the best. Sometimes it will take repositioning and multiple scans to locate your target. In my case, with the Moa it took two scans, which must've given the Moa around twenty seconds to see my probes on d-scan. In practice this is a very short time, especially when someone is semi-afk gas mining. With my 100% signal I warped into the Moa at 100km away. The reason for this was that the Ladar gas clouds have a sneaky habit of decloaking covert ops ships.

Even though I was 100km away from the Moa it was the work of a moment to bookmark his jet can, which was only, at most, 2500m away from him. Perfect! I love jet cans!

At this point I warped back to a neighbouring wormhole in order to guide my PvP support group who had been patiently waiting. I gave them the can bookmark and jumped back into the hole, only to see on d-scan that the Moa had GONE!

Questions run through your mind. Did he see my probes? Had he just finished? Was all that work just for nothing? Wormholes can often be like this, PvP targets will evade you, hours of scanning won't find you exits. Things might just not go your way...

But suddenly a Badger MkII appeared on scan! Fantastic! The Badger is a Caldari industrial ship and obviously the miner was coming back to transport his gas.

I called the fleet to warp to the site and we tackled the Badger. Once tackled he gave us the slip by quickly ejecting and warping his pod away; a smart more if your head is full of implants. We quickly stopped firing since a Badger full of gas is worth more than a killmail (in terms of isk that is). One of my corpmates piloted the rigged and T2 fitted Badger back to our POS while we celebrated our victory!

Our winnings:

1 Rigged and T2 fitted Badger MkII
1000 c32
1500 c70

That is gas mining the easy way!