January 19, 2013

Expensive lessons

Every night in Eve someone makes a mistake a loses something important to them.  Given the population of Eve, probably a lot of someones.  I recently contributed to that statistic with a big loss on Monday followed by a bigger loss on Tuesday.  Both come from working to fulfill my planned checklist item of "Run L4 missions for ISK to do other things."

Monday - Smash the Supplier, not the Megathron

Before Monday night I've done a couple L4s in my new Megathron and I had started to get a feel for it.  When I logged in Monday night I saw a corpmate on with whom I'd discussed running L4s.  He flies a Drake and has good Caldari standings, but the other players in our corp are more Gallente based, so I thought getting him up on standings with the Federation Navy could be useful.  And I'd heard that small teams could run through L4s a lot faster, even if not enough to be a net ISK win over soloing - but it might be more fun to be able to chat as we do it.

The mission my agent in Dodixie offered up was Smash the Supplier.  From the comments it looked tough, but we were going to have two ships, right?  So we both tailored up our fits, hit the Accept button and fleet-warped us to the acceleration gate.  The Drake concentrated on taking out the frigates and I leveled my 425mm rails on the control tower and started pumping Federation Navy Antimatter into it.  Things were going well.  I was taking pretty much all the aggro, but even with the three-damage-type application of the mission my trio of T2 active hardeners (EM, Thermal, Kinetic) plus Shift Hardener were keeping my resists in the high 80s.  I was cycling my LAR since it kept banging 100% and it takes a lot of cap.  Then the rats started targeting my drones, so I started having to micromanage them to pull them back when they started getting smacked. Suddenly I hear the warning squeal and saw my armor was at 30% and dropping.  I hit the LAR, but that's a long cycle and the rep only comes at the end.  I stared at the display as the little white arc raced towards life-giving armor as the red arc grew in the opposite direction.  Then bam - I was out in my pod.

What happened?
I think a couple of things happened.  I had turned off the LAR since I was at 100%.  I had then turned my attention to rescuing Hammerhead IIs and redirecting them back to the drone bay.  Launch new drone, send it to the old target.  I looked up at the control tower and saw I had it into armor.  I think about that time the front wave of rats also must have gotten into their optimal, because it felt like the incoming rate of damage leapt up - or perhaps I didn't have all the aggro and some rats shifted from the Drake to me.  That combination meant that the difference between 30% and 0% structure was less than one LAR cycle.

What could I have done differently?
Firstly, once that alarm squealed could I have done something different?  I was aligned out, but I didn't think to hit warp.  I think the time to reselect the target gate, hit the button, and get out is probably longer than a LAR cycle.  However, I had the AB running.  Could I have turned off the AB and thus jumped to speed since I was already aligned?  Maybe.

Second, what could I have done before the alarm to avoid the problem?  I think the key is that if you have full aggro then you have to be hyper aware of your tank.  I probably tried to do three things between glances at the armor level.  You probably have to just constantly be looking at your tank if you are pulsing your defenses.  This is a big difference between active and passive tanking of course.

Third, could I have fit better?  The kill doesn't appear to be on the killboards for some reason (even those with my API logged), so I can't link it right now.  I'll edit it back in if I can find it.  But I think it was decent enough given my skills - as I mentioned I had a T2 active hardener for each of the damage types dealt in the mission, plus a shift hardener.  I may have had an EM membrane as we to shore that up, the LAR, two magstabs.  425mms, heavy nos for cap support, and meta AB.

Between insurance, my balance, and some ISK from a corpmate I fit out a new Megathron and raced back out to the mission, joined by a third member of our corp, and we finished off the mission.  It's a good payout mission - I think our individual share was 16M or the like, which is a lot compared to what I'm used to being able to earn.  Of course, it doesn't make up for losing a ship that was probably 250M fit.

Tuesday - The Ninja Salvager

Tuesday I logged back in ready to try to recoup my losses.  My wife and I had opened up a bottle of red to go with supper, but after a glass and a half she told me just to finish the bottle.  She turned on the old-school Nintendo (Zelda) and I refilled my glass, put the bottle by the monitor and logged in to Eve.

I picked up a mission in Dodixie and started plowing through it with no problems at all.  Soon the rats were dead and the Salvager drones were set loose as I AB'd from wreck to container picking up loot.  Then to my surprise there was a new ship on screen - an Incursus that nosed up to a wreck of mine. Sure enough his icon on the overview switch to having the blinky skull of a suspect tag. Here's where the mistakes begin - I targeted him. He's pretty far off, and I let sit there targeted. I hadn't had reason to notice before that the suspect tag now also shows in the targeted ship display - nice touch.  I let him sit there under the gun as it were, and a second later he warps off. Satisfied I return to my looting.

Then he's back again. Hmm. Again he nestles up to a wreck and I target him. This time he doesn't warp off. My heart starts thumping cause I'm going through my options. Sadly ignoring him isn't really on my mind. Instead my recent experience in frig fights is more coming to mind, never mind that I'm in a battleship and one I can't afford to lose. I align to a gate - thinking I can blast him in a hurry at this range - an active tank Incursus can't really stand up to massive damage as I we'll know. He's far away (I seem to remember), and I've got a heavy nos and web if he closes, plus Hammerhead IIs and Hob IIs when he's probably expecting me to have Ogres or Gardes. I hit the button. 

His shields vaporize and he's into armor, but he rushes at me. My align- warp plan forgotten I put out the hammerheads on him. Before I realize it he's in nos range so I throw that on him, then the web and shit he's under my guns and the 425s aren't landing. That was fast, and of course the scram icon appears. He's doing nothing to my shields though, so surely the nos and drones will break him off soon right? Oh crap, where did my Hammerheads go? Launch the Hobgoblins!

That's about when the Oneiros drops in next to the Incursus and I realize that any chance of chasing him off is gone.  I'm heading away from him at full AB, and I'm guessing that my only hope is that the Nos gets through his cap long enough for the scram to drop.  I make sure I'm aligned and am ready to go.  The 425s are doing nothing to the Incursus so I switch over to the Oneiros which is still nosing a bit at range, hoping I can surprise whatever local tank he has.  That doesn't seem to help but just to reinforce it another Oneiros drops in which the first closes in.  Okay - all my drones are gone, but there's no way that the Incursus and the Oneiroses (Oneirii?) can get through my tank.  Will they get bored?  The answer comes as one of the Oneiroses slaps a scram on me and the Incursus warps off, the pilot then returning in a Hurricane.  Okay, so that can break my tank.

Time to open negotiations.  I try to keep things light, put right up from that it's part of Eve, all that.  He seems business-like enough about it, no taunts or threats about it - having my Mega sitting there in structure is clearly threat enough.  What it will take to save my ship is posted as "75M and a shuttle kill."  Hmm, "shuttle kill" - I haven't heard that one before.  I go to my wallet.  Crap, after refitting this second Mega I don't even have 75M.  We agree on 40M and a Navy Vexor BPC I have from my time in FW.  "Okay, eject and go get the shuttle."  Oooh, now I see some possibilities of how this shuttle thing could go - I have to leave the Mega behind, but then the alternative is to have it blown out from under me.  I eject and head for Dodixie to get a shuttle.  As soon as I come back through the acceleration gate the shuttle is scrammed and webbed.  "Ok, now take the ammo from that container."  He's not taking any chances that my limited engagement to him will lapse.  The shuttle vaporizes, and the scram and web drops near instantly on my pod.  "I hope you have you clone updated", he says.  Boom, in station.  Crap - in station all the way back where I established a clone for FrigFest, and I still have a suspect tag, so I have to chill for a while.  While not honoring his ransom was a real bummer, he does do one nice thing - I ask him to take the trigger goods from the mission and contract them back to me in Dodixie - after all they have no good value to him and he does - so at least I don't have to abandon the mission and lose standing.

What could I have done differently?
Well, the obvious one is to ignore the ninja salvager.  Yeah, he might score one of the 1.5M admiral tags.  But if I'm going to start a fight I have to be ready to lose the ship, and I was in no place to lose this ship.  If actually did want to start that fight I probably needed to be sure that I had backup - none of my corpmates were online.  If someone had been there and willing to jump in with a PVP fit destroyer, maybe.  But what would be the benefit (other than the satisfaction of blowing up the ninja)?  I had a fragment of a plan in aligning away from him, but like my earlier lesson I have to remember that a BS does not align and warp like a frigate.  It might have taken too long to get to warp even if I had started the engagement at 110km or so to take advantage of my ranged big guns.  Then the smaller lesson I missed was that once again I didn't overheat - Nos or Web or AB might have made a difference.  I think overheating is something that just doesn't occur to you unless you do a lot of PVP.  I may start overheating even in missions just to get into the habit, despite the repair bills.

Oh, then there is the bottle of wine I had finished off before the ninja arrived.  Maybe drinking and flying your most expensive, can't lose it, ship isn't such a good idea.  I could have done industrial stuff on my alt or even roamed around for a fight in a disposable frigate instead.

So what next?

I no longer have a ship capable of doing L4 security missions, nor the money to procure one, and I have no desire to borrow ISK from friends to make up for this double mistake.  I've mulled over the idea of buying PLEX but put that aside at least for now.  In the conversation with my ninja ransomer did later badmouth grinding missions, so I asked him where he got ISK (other than ransoms).  He didn't answer that question, but he recommended lowsec exploration and doing more thinking "out of the box."

I'm going to check how far I am from a storyline mission.  I may do a couple L4 distribtutions to clear that if I'm close - I think I should be.  Then I think it'll be exploration - highsec for now while I get better at scanning.  After I lost my pod (and all my implants) I switch my training over to my alt, and it will stay there until I can afford to put decent learning implants in.  I had a single +4 implant in storage, so if I can get another to match either my current remap or a pair for my next remap then I'll switch back.  Essentially I'll move to the next checklist item a bit ahead of schedule (and with substantially less capital).

So it's frustrating, but I can track both losses back to my own mistakes.  As such I hope that I can avoid those again in the future.  I'd prefer to move on to new mistakes...


  1. Buzz me in game or drop into my chat if you need help with exploration stuff (hows, what, wheres).

    Also, you fought back. You lost, sure but you didn't roll over. Good job.

    1. Thanks Sugar. I was hesitant to move to battleships because I wanted to focus on smaller ships first. In some ways this reinforces that - I'd rather lose more smaller ships I can afford. I suppose that might bring me more into your neck of the woods, so to speak.

  2. A mission griefer with 2 Logistics? What is the game coming too..

    Remember that someone crashing your mission is rarely solo (they will usually be multi-boxing or have friends). They also have plenty of tricks to make themselves look as enticing as possible to engage. It is best to stick to the rule of never responding to them in a PVE ship.

    Thanks for the timely lesson for the rest of your readers though!

    1. And it should be noted that all three ships were in different corps. I had done a bit of looking to see if the ninja had corp friends in system when he first showed up, though in a crowded system like Dodixie all you can do is sample-test. A corpmate of mine pointed out that this is why one shouldn't do L4 missions in such a busy system, let alone in a hub.

  3. As for the first loss, Damage Control II. Would've def saved your Mega while that LAR "spooled up". Yes, it's a "PvP module", but one that does miracles for your EHP and gives you that extra bit of "wiggle room" in case the new AI throws you a curveball.
    Also, drone micromanagement -- set a "all drones return to bay" hotkey and USE IT. Saves you a hell of a lot of work in micromanaging them.

    Ninjas -- remember a NOS only drains your target's cap to the same percentage that yours is at (so if you're at half cap, it won't drain your opponent past half of their cap). Smaller ships can use NOS offensively with active tanks by cycling reppers unnecessarily to eat their own cap and cause the NOS to drain their victim's cap (I have an active-rep Firetail that I do this with to great effect). It's really hard to make that work the other way around. A heavy neut would've done you a lot more good in that situation. Also a point and some webs would've done you even MORE good.

    1. I'm not sure that I'd agree on the DCU II. My general understanding is that you should optimize your primary tank. It would have been a swap of the DCU for the RAH, which was giving me a nice top-up in resistance to what I was facing.

      On the drones, that brings up an interesting point. I was withdrawing individual drones as they lost shields. It sounds like you're saying I should withdraw them as a group, which is simpler to manage.

      The NOS is a really good point. I had forgotten about to "no lower than your own" aspect. It works well for NPCs as I understand they will constantly supply cap, but not player ships.

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