January 11, 2017

Stratios Vacation: Part 1

On New Year's Day I decided it was time for something a little different - particularly since the family is away visiting my wife's best friend.  A change of pace from the usual FW play, though as I noted in the last blog there certainly has been a good bit of content there lately.  So I packed up a Stratios and headed out into the great unknown.  This entry (and some coming up) will be the tale of how that little vacation went.  I'm also going to try to get back to my "Lessons Learned" bit that I used to include regularly in the blog.

Note: I'm trying some things I'm decidedly not an expert at, so don't try this at home kids!  Oh, and advice on what I did wrong is quite welcome.

Setting Out. I decided not to post the fit right off the bat since as of this moment the hull hasn't been lost and I'm not good enough at this game to give up too much info.  The general plan though is that I want to be able to PVP when the opportunity arises, but I have a mobile depot to swap things out.  I even have relic and data analyzers in the cargo, though the last time I did hacking was back when the cans would spew out all over the place.  I figure there's a very good chance this Stratios is going to die, so insurance is bought and it's time to undock!

Probing: I always use the pinpoint pattern.  As far as I know you would only use the spread pattern if you're trying to quickly figure out how many items of interest are in the area, without immediate need to resolve them to 100% and warp.  Perhaps the combat probe experts might have something more to say about that.  Another trick that newer folks might not know is that sites/WHs are always going to be within 4 AU of a planetary body, so you can save a pass at 8 AU in many cases where the red sphere of uncertainty is off-center of that planet.

I see a corpmate has already found and bookmarked a wormhole to a C3 right here in Suj, but there's also another WH sig that hasn't been investigated, so I scan that down and warp to 20 km, which is my usual safe distance to be able to check it out without being so close as to bump into someone (or the WH) and lose cloak, but still be within range to burn in and go through a WH easily enough.  It's a lowsec hole, so that sounds like potential fun.

Lasleinur (0.2, Metropolis, Minmatar held).  There are 7 in local, and I'm seeing frigs and dessies on d-scan.  I don't want to get caught up in a fight with a bunch of those.  There are 10 signatures, so I start working them down, looking only for WHs as this system is too busy to try hacking or a combat site.  My general practice is that if I scan down a WH I'll warp to it to check it out while I move the probes on to the next sig.  I forgot I had left myself cloaked off a C6 hole, and then got a surprise when I heard the wormhole splash sound.  I panicked for a moment that I'd been decloaked as I switched back from the probing window just in time to see it was a Cheetah passing through and I was still cloaked.

Along the way I found a tiny, hard to scan signature.  When you're at 1AU and only 12% or so, it's something unusual.  If it had been a hole to a shattered WH system then I might have turned around and gone back to Suj to reship to check it out.  But instead, Relic Site. :(

I'm finding it distracting as corpmates post juicy kills on the corp channel, but I stick with it.  Time for a vacation, right, gotta stick to the plan.

My general practice is to decloak and reload the probe launcher as I'm burning for the wormhole, so that it's loaded when I come out the other side.  I wonder if that's what other people do?

U65-CN (-0.1, Cloud Ring).  I see this is listed as -0.01, which if I understand right means it's terrible for ratting and such. It does show 142 jumps in the last 24 hours, so I'm guessing people pass through it on their way elsewhere since it looks pipe-ish, but it's empty now. I kill some belt rats as I scan, as I can use the security bump. I'm at -6.3 and have been annoyed recently at that keeping me at a disadvantage with gate guns and out of travelling shallow highsec shortcuts.

Lets try hacking: Central Serpentis Sparking Transmitter. I fail hacking the first mainframe, and after failing the next datacom unit I decide either this one is too hard for me or I need to watch some videos on how to do hacking.  It feels like some things have changed since this first came out, and I'm not sure what. There are little numbers that appear in the nodes when you click on them, so there must be some data there I'm not getting.

I make up for it by shooting some rats in belts, though I was really hoping to find one of the special type of rat (like a Shadow Serpentis).  No luck though, and I come to realize that Wardens were a terrible choice of Sentry since their optimal is longer than my drone control range in this Stratios.

It's now an hour in and I certainly haven't been moving as fast as I could.  I'm pretty happy with trying out things here in null. Since this area of null looks like it could be good, I decide to duck back and get a better drone loadout to match the rats.

On my way, I get distracted by the fact that Lasleinur has a DED Security station. I've been meaning to trade tags for security status lately.  So, 48M ISK and many of my stored up tags later, I'm a reformed citizen, from -6.3 to -1.3.  Good enough to get me into highsec systems again.

Back to U65-CN, at least after I made myself some lunch

Lets try ratting. I refit for PVE and ran a small site (Serpentis Hidden Rally Point) while eating lunch.  Actually, it took longer to run the site than eat my lunch, hanging out at 50km or so with Gardes boosted by my Omnidirectional tuned for Optimal Range.  That's just inside one falloff, so then they charge towards optimal.  If I wanted to really rat I suppose I need to be ready to refit to three DDAs.  This is something I remember hating about rating like this.  It takes forever and just when you think you're done there is one more wave.  So eventually I said "forget this" and warped off.  Two people had come into the system and while I couldn't see them on d-scan, and there weren't any probes out, it could be easy enough for one of them to be approaching under cloak or in a recon.  So back to my safe, refit back for PvP and time to move on.

Except - there's a new signature showing.  I scan it down, and find it's a relic site.  Still in my PvP configuration, I head over to take a look at it.  As I arrive I hit d-scan and see core probes ... but I've already pulled mine.  The two people I'd seen in local earlier are gone and now there's a new person.  Hmm... what are the chances he'll want to come run this relic site and I can be waiting for him.  Still under cloak I slowboat to about 20km off of the cans and wait while I do other things around the house, peeking at the screen and hitting d-scan regularly to see if anything had changed. (Is this what Cloaky Bastard does?)

As I check back I see now there are combat probes out.  I double-check to make sure I didn't somehow bump something and lose my cloak (whew, all set).  But the combat probes tell me that that the local isn't happy with the intruder in space.  That works out okay since the family is just about home, so I move off to a safe and then safe-log.

No going home (yet): I didn't head back through the WHs to home station.  I expect that one of those WHs will be gone by the next time I log in, even if it's just later tonight.  Now that I've gotten my security status up, I feel better about wandering about without a way home.  It won't be that terribly hard to find a place to dock in lowsec or highsec and clone-jump back to Suj if there's something important I want to be a part of.  That wasn't really possible with my old security status.  Now as a Gallente FW member I'm not welcome in Amarr or Caldari space, so there is still a lot blocked off, but at least I can get into Gallente and Minmatar highsec.

The first session of the Stratios vacation hasn't resulted in any kills, and the ratting was not great from an ISK perspective (6.8M/tick) compared to what I hear of valuable null areas, but I'm enjoying the new space and trying to new things. There's no backup out here if things go wrong.

And maybe that's really part of the excitement of it, after all.

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