Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ship Attachment Disorder (SAD)

My ships do not usually live long enough for me to form any kind of attachment to them. 1-2 fights and they are dust and I am on to a new ship. But, lately, I've been suffering from ship attachment disorder (SAD) and it has indeed been making me sad. Last time, it was my first Confessor, from which I had weeks of fun and over 200 kills.

This time, it is in my first Crusader. Interceptors are not meant to be ships that survive long, but survive this little beast did. I scored 90 kills (mostly solo) in this crusader before it finally died. 94 kills in one cheap, poorly fit interceptor is pretty decent for me.

It died to a very unfortunate warp in, basically 0km on a Taranis, due to a broken grid (a grid gets broken when part of a typically visible area of space around an object or celestial gets "cut off" from the rest of very nearby space that usually would be visible--terrible legacy coding, in other words). "Grid' mechanics are one of the strangest features of EVE; impossible to explain to anyone besides those who have either died to them or learned to exploit them.

I owe this crusader a lot, though, because for the first time in almost four years I feel like I am getting the hang of null sec solo PVP. I've tried to break into NS solo before, but I generally find myself roaming for hours, getting maybe one good fight, and dying to a camp. Fighting in GE-8 has meant, of course, lots of BRAVE targets, but most of my good fights have come from non-HERO. players looking for trouble in the system. I now have a high sec, a low sec, and a null sec system in my "top-5" kills of all time--which is saying a lot for me because apart from the time I was in RVB I do not stay in one system to PVP very often.

Looking over my top locations for PVP, I also see I owe BRAVE a lot over these past few years. I don't mean I owe them "easy kills," I mean the fact that BRAVE draws players together, making "hot spots" on the map where one can do solo, small gang, and fleet PVP. Players meet in systems like GE-8 (or, now, HED-) not just to "farm" BRAVE but because that is an informal meeting place in the game for players and fleets of all types. GE-8 is in my top 5 locations for PVP, Barleguet is in my top 10, and Rahadalon my top 20. I guess I owe thanks to all three generations of BRAVE pilots, and it makes me hope not just for a bright future for BRAVE but also for new groups to emerge in the game that are similar in style (and size!) to BRAVE.

Hanging around in Catch over the past week has created some interesting content. At one point, late at night, I caught a Tayra heading to GE-8. The hauler was empty, but the pilot said "enjoy the loot." Then I noticed the can:

I got in touch with a BRAVE pilot that I frequently see doing solo PVP and I helped him get the towers to station.  That will buy quite a few t1 frigates and interceptors for hours of PVP.

Here I am jumping into a PL. super fleet, a common sight in Catch. Sometimes I troll tackle their carriers or that rorqual they bring along. While the jump changes (nerfs) by themselves have created more regional conflict using capitals, they also have exacerbated problems with the virtual immunity of large super-capital fleets. It doesn't matter if BRAVE has 10,000 players logging in every week and living in their space; all these supers need to do is log in for a few hours total to ruin the sov. A game where these ships cannot be countered by subcapitals or where they play any major role in sov is a game that cannot survive into the latter half of its second decade. What EVE needs--what null sec needs--is 2 or 3 more groups like BRAVE, 2-3 more 10,000 sized, mostly newer players learning the game by living in space and doing new things in a supportive community. Of all the things I hope the new sov changes bring, I hope they bring more players to the game, players like those brave newbies.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Map Feedback

I posted a version of this on the forums for map feedback, but because the map (particularly when scanning) is so important to my gameplay I am going to post my feedback on the new map here as well, in a bit more detail.

1) The single largest issue with probe scanning on the new map is that the celestial clusters (such as planets and moons) are too compact--much more compact than they were on the old solar system map.

For instance, say I want to probe down POSes (using combat probes and setting the filter to "show all"). I frequently do this in order to find a POS or find an inactive POS so I can potentially destroy the mods. Here is what it looks like on the old map:

As you can clearly see, all of those green clusters are different POSes, each on a different moon, and I can warp to each individually via the map. As you can ALSO see, even the old map does not zoom in far enough, as some of them are overlapping (and some celestial clusters are even worse). So even the old map needs to zoom in more.

But here is what it looks like on the new map: 

This is as far zoomed as the new map will go, on the same celestial cluster. Needless to say, this is almost completely useless for purposes of scanning down POSes, mobile structures, drones, or players. For one, the probe icons themselves block out a bunch of celestial objects (more occlusion problems below). Second, again, I cannot zoom in far enough to interact with anything, such as warping to distinct POSes or even just telling how many POSes there are and what modules they contain.This problem exists regardless of whether the map is in abstract mode or not.

2) As other posters have noted in their feedback on the new map, there are big problems with how information is displayed. For instance, showing jumps per hour, kills in the last 24 hours, players currently docked, and so on, are all very poorly communicated and very much a step back from the old map design.

Here is how "ships destroyed in the last 24 hours" looks on the old map:

It's not pretty, but it does at least communicate basic information decently enough--you can see that there are systems with zero kills and others with quite a few just at a glance. But here is how it look on the new map:

The immediately obvious problem is that the new map does not visually communicate the numbers well at all, either by size or by noticeable colors. On the old map, I can immediately tell which systems have had 0 ship kills--a very important piece of information obviously--and I can immediately tell where the hot spots are. The way such information is displayed on the new map should model the old map but do it better--currently, it is doing it worse (even more so when it comes to jumps and other stats that display large numbers).

Compare this to how "systems I've visited" is displayed, which, I think, is a very nice improvement in the new map compared with the old map. With "systems I've visited" I can see each system distinctly and I can fairly quickly tell which I frequently visit and which I have never visited. Other stats should be just as easy to read:

3) When "Group stars by region" is selected, the bright light representing the region usually covers up the name of the region, making it very hard to read (especially for a newer player who might not know the name of the region just by its relative location). For instance, in this screenshot I am not even zoomed out much and the entire name "GENESIS" is covered:

A solution would be to either display region names above the bright circles, or move them above the circle as one zooms in so that they are not occluded. There is also occlusion when one region's bright dot covers up the name of an individual system nearby. I suggest making region dots smaller and transparent as well.

4) It would be very nice to have the ability to collapse and expand the map by double clicking the top task bar such as on the name "MAP." I would like to be able to double click and collapse the map down to the top task bar, do something in space like cloak, and then double click the map to expand it again.

5) Zooming problems: If I am zoomed to the level N on a celestial object and I double click another celestial object, I am immediately zoomed OUT. This is highly annoying when probe scanning or trying to identify celestial objects. If I am zoomed to level N and double click another celestial object my zoom level should stay at that same level N.

6) More occlusion problems! If I am zoomed to the level of a solar system and am looking around at bookmarks or cosmic anomalies, they are frequently covered up by text (such as the name of the system). Here is an example of a system with a cosmic anomaly in the new map: 

Yet in this example when I look toward the center of the system (say, to dscan the anomaly) it completely disappears. It is occluded by the sun and name of system to the point that the map does not even display it:

All I did was point the camera toward the sun. Setting the map off abstract mode helps visibility, but only if the objects are spatially separated in the solar system. When they are not, occlusion persists. Again, a big problem with the new map is that it has a lot of trouble clearly displaying information in a system, because celestial and bookmarks and anoms and writing frequently over-lap and block one another. This was less of a problem on the old map, partly because you could zoom in much further and objects were more spread out. Here is the same system as shown above on the old solar system map:

As you can see, it is far easier to tell clusters of objects apart, and nothing is blocked. In this screenshot you can see that there is an anomaly in the center of the system and you can easily dscan its location or warp to it from the map. And I am not even zoomed in as far as I can. Level of zoom is probably 90% of the issue here on the new map. 

7) Annoying wobbling: When I am zooming in the map it frequently wobbles. In general, movement on the new map is not at all fluid or fast. It frequently feels like I am moving through syrup when interacting with the new map. Oh, and yes, it does use a lot of system resources as well.

The bottom line is: The new map has considerably less functionality at the solar system level. The new map needs to be able to zoom in much, much further--even further than the old map, because the old map did not even zoom in far enough. And the new map needs to display statistical information and writing a lot more clearly and avoid occlusion problems. I will not use the new map until 1-7 (particularly 1) are fixed but in many other ways the new map is a huge step in the right direction so far.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Practicing Flying Skills for Solo and Small Gang PVP

One of the things that keeps me playing EVE is the vast upward potential for improvement on player skill (not the ones you inject and train over time). When it comes to solo and small gang PVP skills—things like manual piloting, knowledge of engagement profiles, fighting against larger gangs, and so on—the upward range of skills is potentially limitless. Watching pilots like Chessur in some of his recent PVP videos like his Slicer video and his anti-support small gang confessor video demonstrate what months and years of experience can provide. Manual piloting, for instance, is one of the most difficult things to do well in EVE, and there is so much room for human error that even the best still have things to learn and practice.

So, I am always looking for new ways to practice skills, if only because I am still terrible at this game somehow. One thing I have been doing lately is trying to solo PVP and “3rd party” amidst large fleet fights. I look at Dotlan's list of “most violent systems” in the past 3 hours and often use Thera to find a wormhole close. Basically, I try to survive in the system as long as I can, PVPing if and when I can. Over the past week, the hot spot in EVE has been GE-8JV. If you've seen GE- over the past week--in person or streaming on twitch for instance--you will know it is like a giant obstacle course, with PL. and HERO. fighting and dozens of other groups playing "3rd party" games. The station itself, with its near hundred bubbles, reminds me of a massive siege of a medieval castle

So, amidst the chaos in the system I've been trying to opportunistically PVP, but also just survive, evade, make dozens of bookmarks, bounce around grids, escape tackle, manually fly, and it has been a hell of a lot of fun. My ship of choice has been a Crusader--my own personal fitting that is really not optimal at all. It kites out to 17km, goes 4.4km, but has a decent enough tank with an AAR and decent enough DPS with Multifreq to pull out victories against other interceptors or T1 frigates if it should come to a brawl. It is sort of like a bad Slicer, but for me it is just for practicing skills, not for elite solo PVP. Amazingly, though, I've amassed 45 kills in this Crusader and no deaths so far, mostly in GE-. This included some good 1v1 solo fights in a system with 1k+ other players fighting, not to mention quite a few nice fights that ended in a draw. At one point I ran out of nanite paste and was scrambling to find some in wrecks while not dying--it was more fun at times to just fly around on grid at the station or gates and try to survive than it was to PVP.

The grid itself was nuts:

All of the bubbles around the station had the effect of being like a giant net that would catch players warping it at all different spots around the station. Over the course of the past few days I made dozens of bookmarks around the grid. For a while I was trying to do hit and runs while manually piloting or pick off pods that were landing awkwardly in the bubbles--all the while trying to avoid being caught by other interceptors, T3 destroyers, and being combat scanned every few minutes on grid, keeping a close eye on the ships and ranges on the overview. There is so much going on in large fights and so many variables to keep track of, including not only the ships near you or closing in, but also which ships are likely to be faster than you, which players are combat scanning you, and who can snipe you from range, such as the caracals that will start melting you at RLML ranges under60-70km, to the many cormorants who will start hurting you at 100km away, and the very long range snipers like nagas on station who can hit out to 250km but only effectively if you have low transversal, and so on. I feel like a newbro again, learning huge amounts and wide-eyed and amazed I didn't die at most points.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Death to Supers, come to fruition--and other positive developments in EVE at fanfest

There's a lot I am happy about from the CCP announcements at fanfest. To name a few off the top of my head:

1) The massively lessened role of capitals and super capitals in sov warfare as well as "elite" gate camping (i.e. via assigned fighters). Because, let's be frank, the status quo of carrier blobs and, worse yet, super blobs, is not only boring gameplay, it is boring gameplay only a small percentage of the player base has the patience to train for and then play (or, really, endure playing). The game would be better off if supers were quietly deleted and carriers given a primarily non-combat role, despite the protests of a small but vocal minority of the player base. CCP has loved running surveys lately, so I expect them to eventually run a survey about capitals and super-capitals in EVE and, I predict, only a small percentage of the player base will actually "give a fuck" about capitals. I'd rather fly any thing else, personally. The solution? Probably, give capitals and super capitals beneficial non-combat roles, let them all dock, and let them into high sec.

2) The art team is likely the MVP of CCP in the first half of 2015. First of all, every release of 2015 so far (and most in 2014) has either contained fundamentally new art or better processing of old art. If you saw or attended the art team's fanfest presentation "The Future of Spaceship Rendering" on day 2, you'd be crazy not to be impressed with the amount of work the art team has done in the past few months. There is something like 100+ new ship skins coming to EVE in the next few months, plus a completely new system for ship skins, a la the "SKIN" system, wherein many ship skins will be made permanent, bound to the character rather than the ship. Ship skins are pretty much the only thing I collect in EVE, so I am obviously extremely excited about these developments.

3) CCP (fozzie and rise) admits that T3 destroyers are OP, but seem to be willing to release them while they are OP and rebalance them...later? I guess this is an improvement on the past where, say, it took a year of releases to balance a ship as OP as the ishtar. Maybe we will see a rebalance on the T3 destroyers in 2015, if we are lucky. Also mentioned in passing was the OP status of on-grid probing. Maybe we will see a nerf to that as well in 2015? But while T3 destroyers might be OP, I plan to fly the already broken 6-mid caldari missile T3 a lot.  Even so, they mentioned assault ships as a class that they are going to work on again, which I am looking forward to as well.

The universal language for broken

4) Oh, and the plan for structures? Hell yes.

5) CCP Quant is a genius when it comes to graph porn. If you haven't seen his segment in the EVE Keynote, it is worth watching just for that--he could make any economist or quantitative sociologist blush with envy.

So, yeah, I am pretty happy about EVE's direction in 2015. Maybe the main disappointment for me would be that no solo or small gang PVPer was elected to represent on the CSM. But, at least, many of the most popular EVE blogs are written by solo and small gang PVPers. Solo ain't dead it's just takin a smoke break right now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hauling 1 Trillion Isk

I hit an interesting milestone in market trading this month: Since I haul all of my own stock that I then trade, I've now hauled 1 trillion isk (technically, more like 1.25t, as the above not include my second trader). And, I've hauled 1 trillion isk without "incident." A few gank attempts, sure, but no successful ganks after hauling for over a year. Of course, this does not imply that hauling is safe. With the active work of CODE. & co. in systems like Uedama and Niarja (both of which I pass through for some of my hubs) there has probably never been a more dangerous time to haul goods.

So how does one haul 1 trillion isk without being ganked? Well, not all at once, that's for sure. Being ganked is inevitable, however--there is no "perfectly safe" way to haul. Since I work from home quite frequently, hauling is something that I can do without devoting much attention to the game. I fully expect to get ganked one day, and it is a type of gameplay--particularly in the form of organized ganking and creative hyper-dunking--that I fully support and myself engage in.

I wrote a post about what ships I use to haul goods: http://evelostfound.blogspot.com/2014/07/safer-hauling.html That has stayed fairly constant, except I use freighters less and less, and when I do use a freighter I haul at off-hours, when the server population is low. I would estimate that 10% of my hauling, by isk, is done via freighter, 40% by blockade runner, and 50% via deep space transport.

Before hauling, I check the killboards in hot systems for ganking activity, particularly organized ganking. This isn't a perfect method (one could always be the first target of the day!) but waiting a day to haul through a hot system has likely saved me a few freighters.

Of the two or three gank attempts that have happened to me in my DST, their cause is due to a tornado having a cargo scanner but not a ship scanner. This is what a single tornado volley did to my shields (the OH did not go off in time--I was preparing for multiple tornados, just in case they were to show up):

Realistically, though, a single T3 can often kill a DST given how they are usually fit according to the killboards--no buffer tank, all cargo expanders, and so on. Hauling is a microcosm of the game itself: there is always, always risk any time you undock, but the game (via its sandbox gameplay) inevitably punishes laxity and ignorance and thereby (sometimes) rewards being careful and smart--or, at least, it rewards being a little more careful and smart than the player next to you, a feeling I've often gotten when jumping into Uedama in a scout or fast hauler and seeing a freighter, probably still afk, helplessly being bumped 200km off the gate. It really is a beautiful ecosystem.

Friday, March 13, 2015

I will miss her ... Power Creep, T3 destroyers in the current meta, and my first confessor loss

This post is about two things. The first is how sad I am that I lost my first confessor. I've never really gotten "attached" to a particular ship before, but I got really attached to my first confessor. I got around 200 kills in my first confessor before dying. I grew attached somewhere around the first or second kill, when I knew this was the ship I'd been wanting in EVE for a long time--in fact, that this ship was too over-powered to last. I had so many narrow escapes! At one point, I was tackled and multi-webbed by a gal mil gang (including Roy Henry in his own confessor) but--somehow--managed to over-heat, burn in the right direction, and get a warp off. That was a weekly occurrence. I was in stricture in fights so many times--even just earlier the night I lost it, I fought a incursus+vexor  and only won after killing all the drones while going into structure.

In that first confessor, holy hell did I have a lot of fun. I've basically flown nothing else for February and March. With the bonus to scan probe launchers, I had a sisters combat launcher fitted, allowing me to scan down ships as well as signatures (and everything else--from drones to mobile structures). I ran countless exploration sites in this confessor, including 4-5 4/10 combat sites, and made close to 1b isk just exploring in this ship (not only that, but I blew up not a few explorers that got in my way, too!). And many of my kills in my first confessor were ships I scanned down.

I killed a 7-player frigate gang.
I killed assault frigates.
I killed a bomber+confessor+thorax gang.
I killed some strange EAFs.
I killed a Cerb, a Myrm, and many others I found exploring or missioning with scan probes...

I've never been sad to lose a particular ship before. I lost this confessor after around 20 minutes of fighting a large EVE University gang. I had multiple frigates and destroyers and a few stabbers in armor but they never seemed to die (they had a logi on field as well, as well as a Lachesis and multiple VNIs, not to mention Astarte links blissfully sitting on station as well). Yeah, it wasn't a great gang to fight, but no matter, it was fun. The only kill I ended up getting was a griffin and its 30m isk pod, but I must have destroyed 20-30 drones fighting this 10+ player gang over the course of the 20 minutes or so while I zipped around field trying to pick off targets. But it was a lot of fun, and I guess the best way to lose a great ship is while outnumbered, out-gunned, probably out-skilled (all of which E-UNI never fails to provide me, it seems). I seem to die to their gangs more than anyone else, but I'm fairly fine with that.

Well, the second thing this post is about is that tech 3 destroyers are vastly over-powered. They represent the latest iteration of "power-creep" in EVE as Fozzie+Rise rebalance ships with what seems to be the sole intent of adding one new FOTM after another just to keep PVPers interested in new things while the rebalancing works has slowed to a painful crawl in the past year or two. That's my cynical attitude, but it doesn't take a PVP genius to know that the t3 destroyers are simply too good, to the point that they raise the question: if you are flying anything at the destroyer-frigate level (or the tech 1 cruiser level), why fly anything but one of the new t3 destroyers? There's no reason in virtually every situation. They have better base stats than their tech 1 destroyer counterparts, even without the modes. I originally expected that when a t3 destroyer was in one mode, it would get penalties to the stats in the other mode. Instead, no matter what mode you are in, you still have above average stats in every other category compared to assault frigates, destroyers, and even dicter stats in most cases.

On the other hand, I don't care how broken they are, I loved that confessor, and will sorely miss that ship...

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wormhole PVP: Part 1

Sven has many opened ended goals in progress, and many large goals uncompleted. However, it is time to try something relatively new—wormholes. I've been active in wormholes in the past, both to PVP and since the introduction of null type relic/data sites to  explore there as well, but not as a dedicated play style. The play style itself is very close to my heart as an explorer and wandering PVPer, not to mention the fact that 5 of my top 10 ships by total kills over the last 3.5 years are cloaky / steathly type ships—the Stratios, the Astero, the Tengu, the Helios (yes, before the SOE ships were released I flew a battle Helios with much delight), and the Confessor (I include it on this list because of its ability to use combat probes and enter frigate sized wormholes etc). However, I've never done dedicated wormhole PVP, nor have I lived in a wormhole for any other purpose. While I do not plan to be a “full timer” wormhole player at this point or likely at any point—I will still keep up solo PVP, exploration, and trading, in k-space—I have a number of goals for learning about and living in wormholes. Here is the rough plan:

Part 1: Live in a C1 wormhole with a HS static primarily to PVP.

Part 2: Live in a frigate-sized shattered wormhole primarily to PVP.

Part 3: Set up a POS in a wormhole with my alts and maybe some friends for drug manufacturing, PVE, and PVP.

There's also a little problem called being busy. Working from home more, but longer hours and with more at stake, means I can run EVE, but, for any minute of the day, should probably not be playing EVE during that minute. As a result, I am logged on, but can (/should) only be active for brief periods. That type of schedule suits wormhole hunting well: I can stay cloaked, checking dscan and probing new signatures occasionally, and switch to brief “active” playing when I find a potential target.

Searching and Researching

I've always had an interest in wormhole life, and follow many blogs that focus on the playstyle. I've read the classic wormhole blog “Tiger Ears” for over three years now, a blog that has sadly gone a bit quiet, and one of my favorite new EVE video producers is Chance Ravinne, increasingly well-known for his torpedo delivery videos (and yes, I voted for him for the CSM). My research and interest in wormhole PVP, mechanics, and living substantially increased with the introduction of Thera, the shattered wormholes, and the wormhole-heavy lore over the past few months.

I started some focused research a week before I finally move into a hole. I scan for wormholes from HS, LS, and via Thera, studying them: who lives there? Is it easy to find empty holes (lacking players, starbases, POCOs, etc)? How active are they? I research holes via public killboards. I search for Control Tower losses in wormholes, trying to piece together a picture of who gets evicted, and why. Since I am going to begin wormhole life in a lowly C1, the main question I have at first are: Why do evictions happen in C1 wormholes? Are they common, or do they happen only in special circumstances? And are there many empty C1 (et al.) wormholes?

Researching all control tower losses in wormhole for the past few months, I find that POS destruction is actually fairly common in C1 and other lower class wormholes, but almost all of the POS losses in C1 holes occur in C1 holes with a HS static, and the POS is usually removed by a group of 3-10 players in Ishtars or attack battlecruisers. I only find one destruction of a total POS in a C1 with a LS static, and it paints a confusing picture: A large tower is destroyed in a C1, and on the killmail are a dread, a carrier, and a rorqual. These capitals must have been built in in the hole. Were they built solely for the purpose of removing someone from a lowly C1 with a LS static? This intrigues me, so I contact the CEO of the corp that did the removal for more information. The reply is brief, but the story is this: They were aiding friends who were being forced out of the hole. That at least suggests they did not build the capitals solely for the purpose of evicting someone. Though, given how strange wormhole groups can be, I wouldn't be surprised if it has happened, and I notice on other killmails in C1 holes that some groups do build dreads or carriers in C1 holes to remove POCOs and, presumably, to defend their own dominance in the hole. So far, I am finding the research into wormholes—and the people who live there—fascinating, maybe more so than even living there.

I make an interesting find: J154449, a class 3 with a NS static. 10 planets, all interbus customs offices. 3 dead sticks, all 3 from small and inactive corporations. The PVP history is sparse. Strangely, though, there is a mobile depot here. From a pilot in Phoebe Freeport Republic. Looking over the pilot's killboard, it appears that he flies a Stratios into lower class wormholes and perhaps day trips. This mobile depot could have been a refitting station left behind on one of his excursions. I put it into reinforce, but don't plan on waiting out the 48 hour timer in this dead wormhole. It is eerie, in a way, finding a wormhole that is completely abandoned. I'm sure there's someone out there who would love to have this wormhole, but I move on. Later, when I find a few more empty wormholes, I post the information on some pubic boards hoping that someone can make use of them. 

I find a few C1 wormholes with a NS static, and am surprised at who lives in some. It looks like many of the major null sec alliances have their own wormhole corporations and "outpost" POSes in systems with NS connections. This makes sense: null sec fleets increasingly use wormhole chains to PVP across the map, so it would be natural for some of these groups to maintain a fairly constant presence in some wormhole systems.  This might make lower end wormholes with null sec statics a bit more active than they were in the past.

Part 1

Day 1

Finally, however, I make my find--and it is not Sven who makes it, but my gas mining and fleet booster alt who will live in the wormhole with me. It is a C1 with no effect and with a HS static, one set of POS modules (guns, etc.) with no control tower, and then one remaining control tower: J142617. 

Even on the day I find it, it looks like the wormhole has had an interesting recent PVP history. Earlier that day (Feb 16th) it appears someone got ambushed while moving out of the hole, losing a blockade runner and a DST. The hunters leave without destroying the SMA, which I take care later in the day though it is unfortunately empty. Sven moves in that day, and so begins my week hunting in this wormhole. The wormhole has apparently not been frequented recently, as it has almost a dozen signatures and almost two dozen anomalies. My alt does the gas sites and soon notices a drake on scan. At this point Sven is still in a confessor, and it makes short work of the drake who must not have been paying much attention to dscan.

Day 2

Day 1 bleeds into day 2, and I am still clearing the gas sites. Sven is in the process of switching to his Stratios and so is briefly out of the wormhole, but in the meantime I get lucky on a dscan and see scan probes—within 5AU—flash on the scan, then off. Fortuitous because, at this point, I was preoccupied by doing my 2014 taxes and checking dscan had become less urgent. Given how quick and deliberately the probes scan come and go, I know my little venture is being hunted. I align. I even talk in local, like a new player would, breaking the first rule of wormhole life. I go back to gassing, and some time passes before a pilgrim de-cloaks 21km away. His slow reaction time tells me he did not intend to de-cloak (the gas field is rather large) and I am warping away before he even begins to lock. I finish the site later with no interruption, but absence of evidence in a wormhole does not make for evidence of absence. Sven returns in a more suitable ship, the gas clouds are finished, and I am about to log for the night when I see another drake. The stratios dispatches it quickly. 

(This drake pilot later becomes my gas mining alt's friend when I meet him in another wormhole later and we share the gas sites.)

The first two days in the wormhole go well. I am 50m richer from two gas sites—not that it matters—and have two battlecrusier kills to my name, along with one 150m pod, as well as two structures I popped which were left over from a recent tenet.

However, the wormhole has many connections at the moment—too many. The static to high sec is there, but there is also two connections to null, two to other unstable wormholes, and one to a deadly wormhole. There are a few dozen POS modules left over from a past control tower I plan to take down--housekeeping you might say--but tonight is not a good night for it.

Day 3

The third day in J142617 brings a new high sec connection, this time to Maira in Solitude, a home to many explorers, some of whom may want to use the wormhole for logistics or profit. I poke around Solitude briefly and then return to the shadows of the wormhole. The many wandering wormhole connections from yesterday are gone, leaving us with only one way in or out. That gives a sense of safety, but there's little way of knowing whether the wormhole is being inhabited by stealthy stowaways attracted to the wormhole's recent activity (besides, of course, myself). 

During the workday, three of the null sec type relic sites have spawned and it isn't long before a Buzzard enters the hole and begins scanning. Here I'm met with one of the disadvantages of being confined to a single ship in this wormhole. I attempt to capture the explorer while he is running one of the relic sites, but my 5+ second lock time against this target gives him plenty of time to warp away. I return to the HS connection and watch him leave. Later in the day, however, an Astero is not so lucky or aware. I catch him as he finishes a relic site. I see his capsule hanging around the system. Talking to the pilot, I learn he forgot to bookmark the wormhole exist. I could leave him to his fate, or try to send him home in a more forceful way, but instead I form a fleet with the pilot and tell him I am at the wormhole exit if he would like to warp to my location. He is trusting—or desperate—enough to take up my offer, and makes his way out of the wormhole. 

The highlight of the day, however, came earlier. The hole is active, with a procurer entering and then exiting via Geckos before he could even fill up his ore hold, followed by a newer explorer who sits just off a customs office to scan (I have a nice chat with him after--helpful, I hope). After, scanner probes again pop up and work through the signatures. Then, a tengu appears on dcsan, at one of the relic sites with sleepers. I warp in a range and find a good spot to intercept the explorer. The tengu pilot is looting wrecks one by one, so I position myself in between a remaining wreck. Looking at his ship, I see HAMs, so I expect to take some damage (as opposed to fighting a HML fit tengu). Though I have only been in the wormhole for a few days, I am already worried about traps--a PVP fit HAM tengu could be more than I can handle if he has friends waiting to uncloak. Risk aversion be damned, though, and it turns out to be an easy 850m isk kill. I exchange kind words with the pilot, talk about fittings and wormhole survival (it appears this was one of the first wormhole visits for the tengu) and watch the capsule exit back to HS. (The only downside is that this is the only fight I had in the wormhole I did not get on fraps.)

Day 4

A new day brings new connections. Living in a wormhole, out of one's own ship, gives the feeling of being a passenger on a massive vessel. Each day the vessel brings it passengers to new locations in space, bringing with it the potential for activity, or complete silence. Day 4, now in the middle of the work week, brings silence. A covert ops ship or two scans the few sites in the hole, leaving when it becomes apparent none are the NS, non-sleeper variety. In the evening I begin the tedious--and dangerous--work of destroying old POS guns and batteries. I get a certain satisfaction out of "cleaning" up the wormhole. As I am about to log out, I notice something that gives me slight chills. The control tower from the previous residents--the ones who were ambushed right before I moved in--has dissipated. Of course, I haven't been logged in 23/7--far from it--so they easily could have logged into the system, grabbed the tower, and left via the HS exit, but it leaves me with an unsettled feeling that I have not actually been alone all this time after all--not as alone as I thought, anyway. Especially unsettling because I just spent the last hour or so in space--aligned, or course--destroying POS modules from another, long-gone group. The ghosts of residents past have a way of waking up again it seems.

Day 5

I am too busy to play much today, but it is as just as well because the wormhole is quiet. With a HS connection to one of the less popular starter systems, no visitors (or hunters) seem to even notice our presence. In the evening, though, a C5 connection appears, and as I am about to log after a brief scanning session, I see a loki and nemesis flash on and off dscan. Never alone, it would seem.

Day 6

It's the weekend now, and we have a connection to two fairly active HS systems as well as a C5 (which, from my experiences the previous day, I know to be wary of). Overnight, it appears that someone ran the null sec type relic/data sites in the hole, but throughout the day a few more spawn.

Like flies to ripe fruit, explorers seem to enter the wormhole whenever null sec relic or data sites spawn. Another exploration frigate comes into the wormhole, and I have another failed attempt at catching it. This time, it was a very unfortunate warp in. I warp to a structure at 10km; however, I pass through another structure en route on grid, and it seems to decloak me. The target is gone. So far, that makes 2 exploration frigates killed out of 5 that have entered. Worse yet, it means that the relic site will now despawn, leaving no attractive exploration sites in the wormhole for those looking for the NS type relic/data sites. 

Day 7

The final day in the wormhole, a Sunday, marks 1 week hunting in this C1. I can already tell a major difference of activity in wormholes on week days compared to weekends. If I were living in a wormhole primarily to PVP, I would focus on playing on the weekends; if I were living in one primarily to PVE, I would play on the week days. The activity--even the site respawns--is painfully slow during the week, but on the weekend, and with a good HS connection, activity is constant. My last day in the wormhole does not disappoint. I remove the remaining POS modules in the morning, leaving the wormhole almost completely empty--no control towers, no POS mods. Only the POCOs remain. Later in the day, a Stratios enters. I am, at this point, nervous about my presence in the wormhole. The longer I stay and PVP in this single wormhole, the more likely the killboards will signal my activity, and the sooner it is that someone sets a trap for me. A trap is inevitable.

The trap does not come today, at least not for me. I dispatch the Stratios with the almighty Gecko squadron.

My final engagement ends up being by far the best. Two battlecruisers enter--a prophecy and a harbinger--and start farming the sleeper anomalies, looting and salvaging. They are fairly new players, and have already lost similar ships in wormholes (making useful intel). I make my move as they are finishing salvaging a combat site. I am surprised by the reaction time of the prophecy, as he lands a warp disruptor on me almost as soon as I land a scram on him. The mere fact that it is a warp disruptor and not a scram, however, means that escape remains possible for me, should I need it, and it signals a certain inexperience. Under the pressure of both battlecruisers my tank is a bit stressed. I am running a dual cap booster, dual armor rep, neuting Stratios, and while my medium ancillary armor rep still has charges I am tanking fine, but if I do not kill the prophecy before the charges run out I will start to bleed structure. I have neuts on the harbinger as well, as his guns are much more cap dependent, but the prophecy dies before my last set of nanite charges runs out, and I swap to the harbinger, comfortably tanking him until he meets the same end.

I again have some nice words with the pilots, who seem fairly hardened by such PVP experiences. If they would have had tech 2 drones and weapons, the fight would have been a lot closer, and for that reason I wish they would have.

Sven's time in the wormhole is up. Even busier with work in the coming week, I won't have time to hunt in the wormhole. A week of activity, and I have downed 4 BCs, a tengu, a stratios, an astero, a procurer, a few pods, an imicus, and a bunch of POS modules. 28 kills total. Not bad for a first week living and hunting in a wormhole, I think. I am pleased, at the very least, and most of all I learned a huge amount.


My alt stays in, though, just to see what happens to J142617. A few days after Sven leaves, a small corporation moves in--only 3 members, potentially all of them alts. I put the characters on watch lists--they appear to play at much different times. However, I immediately notice that they are able to farm all of the content in the wormhole playing very little in total. Once they move in, there are never any anomalies and only wormhole signatures, but they seem to run the sites so fast and at off-hours so I never end up seeing these new residents active. This is a reminder that, for purposes of PVE, a C1 wormhole barely provides enough content for a single person, and is only really suitable for a single person who plays a few days out of the week. Any more active than that, and one will quickly out grow the wormhole. After a week of no signatures but wormholes--not even gas sites--and no sign of the pilots (not even on the killboards--Sven remains the last active PVPer in the system) my alt finally moves out as well. I say my goodbyes to J142617--I've grown quite attached in such a short time, if only because of the ample supply of targets the system has provided me in just a week. I know I will see the system again--listed on the connections to Thera or popping up at random when I am hunting in new wormholes. Until then J142617: o7