Sunday, June 14, 2015

Travel Advisory - Stain Region

Be aware that the northwest corner of the Stain Region is currently a very dangerous area for explorers. Especially the JVJ2-N system and surrounding systems.

A character named Vihane Finnexus is making an excellent living out of killing explorers like me. He's using a battleship equipped with smartbombs. A quick check will show that Vihane Finnexus's killboard is littered with explorer ships, pods, and some very high value drops from the wrecks he creates (fortunately, I had just dropped my loot off in a station a couple jumps prior to meeting Mr. Finnexus).

Fast align time and even the ability to travel cloaked will not save a target from him. Smartbombs explode immediately with extreme prejudice to everything near the battleship. Targeting? Lock time? Speed? Fast to cloak? None of them matter. The attacker can near a gate and hits a button to destroy anything that lands at the gate or decloaks after passing through the gate.

Boom! Poof!

I would advise that if you frequent this neighborhood, you should add Vihane to your contacts list and check to see if he's active.

Good luck!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Risk Aversion

Sometimes explorers are a pretty risk-adverse bunch.  I know I am. 

If I see another capsuleer in local in null sec, I usually don’t even bother to scan down the 2 unknown signatures.  If I happen to see an Astero for an instant on d-scan in a wormhole, I’m fleeing from the relic site and cloaking at a safe spot.  Why take chances when you don’t have to?  There will always be another null system empty of enemies.  The wormhole was just one in a chain, I’ll slip along to the next.

But, I’m starting to change my opinion about risk avoidance.  Or at least trying to – it’s not easy.

When in the game are you most excited, engaged, thrilled?  OK, maybe when you open that Sansha relic can and find 89 million in loot.  But otherwise, at least for me, it’s when there’s danger.  A bubble pops up on a gate I just jumped through (even when I’m in an interceptor, my heart rate jumps).  I’m hacking the last two cans and there’s an Astero whose probes are getting closer and closer and closer. I jump through a gate and there are a dozen red flashing ships that I know have their modules hot in anticipation of catching me…

These are the things that really get me engaged with this game.  And, most importantly of all, but often forgotten - this is only a video game.  It’s meant to be entertaining and fun. 

In addition, with the recent changes (which still haven’t sunk in for me) to the price of clones – a ship and pod loss really is costing just the price of the ship (as long as I don’t have fancy implants).    The interceptor I fly in null sec costs about 25million.  Which sounds like a reasonable amount of isk until I realize that an average relic site nets me more than that.  So if I can successfully loot just one relic site (and drop the loot off safety somewhere) – the ship has paid for itself even if I get attacked and lose the ship and my pod.

So, I’m trying to be less risk adverse.

I’m scanning signatures in null systems that include one or two other capsuleers and hacking the relic sites that I find.  I’m jumping through wormholes into C4 or C5 space hoping to find a juicy gas site for my venture.  I’m attacking the sleepers in C2 wormhole gas and ore sites with my merlin.  I’m hauling loot out of null sec via routes involving several wormhole connections.   

It’s not easy – risk aversion is a primal part of my gameplay, but I hope to change that.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What Have I Been Up To?

With Jack Dancer abandoning his mediocre pirating career in favor of the Credo of the Signal Cartel Corporation – things have changed a bit.  Jack donated all of the pirating ships and modules and boosters and other miscellaneous junk in his Auner hangers to the Black Rebel Rifter Club.  It’s amazing how much junk can pile up.  The final price tag on all of that stuff was about 2.5 billion isk.  I’m sure they’ll make much better use of it than I ever would have.

Now Jack Dancer spends his Eve time sorting out the various wormholes in Thera.  Getting them added to tripwire so that is accurate is something that we have several Signal Cartel members working on during all the time zones. It’s fun to see where the wormholes lead and occasionally I’ll grab some loot out of relic sites in wh space or null space when I’m there. 

My Jita station trader is doing a bang-up business in faction modules and implants.  Mostly I trade items that sell for 50m – 150m now.  Currently I have about 8 billion in buy orders and 7 billion in sell orders.  This business has expanded quite a bit in the last 6 weeks or so.  I added items to my trade list and now deal in about 60 items.  These are not high volume items - so I buy one or two at a time and turn around and sell them.  I update my orders every morning before work (it takes about 15 minutes) and sometimes in the evenings when I get home.  This trading provides the funds (plus some extra) to purchase a couple PLEX every month for the two accounts.

But, it’s not all gravy…

I managed to hit a wrong key a couple months ago and ended up with about 15 of an item at 150m each.  Having that many (when on an average day only 2 or 3 sell) isn’t ideal, but no disaster.  Until I notice the price tanking.  It dropped to 120m and I decided to hang onto them until the price rebounded.  Then it hit 100m.  I hoped it would come back.  Then 80m and I started panicking.  I dropped my price (from 160m where I has originally stuck it) to the current sell price (about 80m) and expected to take a loss.  Then the price continued to drop.  I’m currently down to about 7 in stock and they’re selling for 70m each (people offer 50m in the buy orders).  So now every time I sell one for 70 million, I'm losing 80 million on the deal.  Six month ago they were selling for 400m…  Unfortunate, but stuff happens…

I have another character that’s sitting in a C2 wormhole with a corporation that’s mostly involved (both the character and the corporation) in PI (a 5 minute daily task).  He occasionally runs relic and data sites that pop up (the null sec ones that don’t have sleepers).  He also occasionally does some gas mining (including killing sleepers to clear the way for the arrival of his venture gas mining ship).  Plus he’ll occasionally sit cloaked in a data or relic site in a bomber in hopes of catching an explorer.  Most often he just scares them rather than killing them due to a variety of mistakes… 

Another character is devoted to manufacturing.  This is the newest occupation for any of my characters.  I’ve tucked him away in a backwater station that’s relatively cheap for manufacturing, but relatively close to a major trade hub.  He’s currently pumping out nanite repair paste, large shield extender IIs, and copies of researched Bowhead blueprints (the original came courtesy of a shopping trip via a wh that Jack discovered leading from Thera to the Outer Ring region).  Now that I have this character settled (the move took place yesterday with a couple freighter’s full of materials and blueprints passing through the always scary  - and even more so on a Sunday afternoon - Niarja…), I’ll be working on sorting out what he can research and manufacture.  This character is not meant to be a money producer – but rather a content source.  If he makes isk, fine.  If not, I doubt that he’ll be a big isk drain as long as I’m not stupid with the choices of modules/ships he builds.  It’s fun to think that the bowhead I see flying in space might have been built from a blueprint copy that I researched and sold.

Another character is stuck away in a nice corner of low sec doing PI.  Interestingly, the system he is in has customs offices by a corporation (not his) that only charges 2% on transfers.  That’s a refreshing change from the usual 8-15% that I have found in low sec customs offices.  This character is also my go-to character for null sec exploration – he has a jump clone in an NPC station in Stain and I’m often out there looking for Sansha relic sites since I can do my daily 5 minutes of PI updates from any location.  He flies an interceptor and hasn’t been caught yet by the locals.  But eventually, he probably will.  This guy is also my hauling character capable of flying a freighter, a jump freighter (I have one, but it just seems too complicated/scary and he’s never actually made a jump with it) and an orca.  He’s currently training to fly a bowhead (I have one of those too – not built with one of my blueprints though…).

And to wrap up the family I have a character in RvB that rarely gets into fleets and 1v1 action.

It’s a nice collection of characters that give me an opportunity to dabble in something different every time I sit down at the computer.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Interceptor Exploration

I often hear from people that my flying an interceptor for exploration is a bit, ummm, odd.  The usual conversation often ends with something like, “Well, I guess if it works for you then great.”  I can sense them rolling their eyes and sidling away from this crazy person...

Let me present my thoughts on the interceptor as an exploration vessel. (the idea isn't unique to me - check out this video from JonnyPew)

Most explorers use either a special exploration frigate (Cheetah, Helios, et. al.) or one of the Sisters of Eve ships (Astero or Stratios).  These ships have specific bonuses for scanning that decrease the time it takes to scan down sites.  They also are able to equip a covert ops cloaking device so that they can warp around under the safety of a cloak.  And they have bonuses for hacking relic and data sites. 

These features are all very valuable for exploration - but not vital for my style of exploration where I cruise around null sec space searching for relic sites.

The relic sites in null sec generally have more valuable loot than the relic sites in high or low sec.  And they generally have more valuable loot than data sites.  And the loot is much, much, much more compact than data site loot -  I never worry about overflowing my cargo bays with too many intact armor plates.  Wormhole space (C1-C3) has identical sites – but can be very scary (both a good and bad thing).  I generally prefer the prosperity, relative safety and situational awareness advantages of null sec.

Null sec space has some peculiar features unlike other space – population density and warp bubbles being the most important ones for this discussion.

With low population density, it is easy to find systems that are empty - sometimes several in a row.  I avoid running relic sites in systems that have other capsuleers.  If I find a relic site, I’ll wait for any locals to move along or will move along myself.  Speed of scanning is not important when you are the only person in a system.  When I used to do DED 4/10 sites in high sec, scanning speed was of paramount importance – if I didn’t scan it down quickly, someone was likely to come along and steal the site from me.  In null sec that “someone” doesn’t exist.  So having the scanning bonuses isn’t as important.

With an interceptor I am immune to the effects of warp bubbles.  Bubbles are not especially common in null sec – but they do exist.  I’ve come across bubbles on gates and between gates - usually with some Bad Person lurking there like a spider in a web.  With a fast aligning interceptor travel is gate-to-gate.  No need to bounce off of nearby planets to see if a gate is clear of bubbles.  No worries, just simple gate-to-gate travel.  Nice!  No need for a covert ops cloak if nothing can catch me without one.

Jack Dancer flies a Stiletto interceptor – being a former Rifter pilot the Minmatar interceptor seems most comfortable to him.  Stilettos have 3 high slots, 4 medium slots and 3 lows – a very utilitarian layout for exploration purposes.

In the high slots I have a regular cloak (not a covert ops cloak) and a Sisters Core Probe Launcher fitted with Sister Core Probes (plus 8 extras in the cargo hold to reload while I'm scanning).  The cloak is to hide myself when scanning in a system or when Bad People are looking for me.  The Sister version of the probe launcher and Sister probes are to get maximum strength on my probing efforts – the interceptor isn’t bonused, so I need all the help I can get.  The third high slot is empty, but I supposed you could stick an off-line salvager there in case you came across something interesting to salvage.

The medium slots are no-brainers.  A microwarpdrive, a Relic Analyzer II, a Data Analyzer II, and a cargo scanner.  The microwarpdrive is very handy when in a site to quickly get from can to can (sometimes 70km apart).  The Relic and Data Analyzers are (of course) for hacking the cans.  Having the T2 versions is vital if you want to successfully complete the null sec sites (they are tougher than high and low sec sites).  And the cargo scanner is for (rarely) checking out cans in data sites to see if any of them contain the valuable pirate POS tower BPCs.   Feel free to off-line the data analyzer and/or cargo scanner if you have fitting challenges - you can online them (and off-line something else) when you need them.

The low slots have 3 inertia stabilizers.  Inertia stabilizers lower the align time to under the magical 2 second mark (be sure to train Spaceship Command to V).  Under 2 seconds is where even insta-locking enemies will not be able to catch my Stiletto on gates.  Or so I hope.  There are rumors that lag and other weirdnesses might come into play and make the interceptor catchable.  But I prefer to not think about that… *shudder*

The rig slots include two of the Emission Scope Sharpener I rigs that enhance relic virus coherence.  Since my focus is on relic sites, I need all the help I can get with them (especially since the Stiletto has no relic site bonuses).  With this setup I have 130 virus coherence (I think that's the total) and 30 virus strength.  Enough to not be frustrated by null sec sites (but not enough to guarantee success each and every time).

That's all there is to the ship.  With it you can sneak around null sec.  Find relic sites in empty systems.  Profit!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Exploration Guide

I was thinking of writing an exploration guide and even had a couple parts written out - then I came across Wingspantt's excellent guide.  Job done.

The only advice I would give potential explorers to maximize your profit is:

  1. Train all your scanning skills to at least 4 and seek out null space relic sites in Sansha space while flying an interceptor.
Good luck!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Catch Me If You Can

My daily routine is to check the map on to see where the wormholes might lead.  I'm especially looking for links to the areas at the bottom center of the map around the Stain region - that's Sansha space where the most lucrative relic sites are hidden.

So last night when I saw there was a link to Catch - I jumped at the opportunity.  And jumped into my Stiletto interceptor!  The wormhole opened at GE-94X and I immediately found a Sansha relic site in that system.  that seemed like a very good omen.  I scanned it down and started opening the cans.  And, as I was racing through them, an Astero showed up in the system and threw out probes.  Another explorer.  But in a ship that could be dangerous to my little interceptor...

I finished 4 cans (for a measly 400k isk in loot) and left the final two when the Astero's probes had all clustered around the site I was in.  I expected the Astero to arrive at any time.  So I left the last two cans and in local wished the other explorer better luck than I had with the first four.

I headed off to the next system.  I had charted a course to the far end of Catch - the systems near K717-8 had very few jumps in the past hour so I was hoping to find some solitude.  I soon received a convo request from the explorer that I had seen in GE-94X:

Pococurante > Just curious: why did you leave the remains rather than the rubble?

I gave an honest answer, "I just grabbed the close ones.  Is there a difference?"  It turned out there is (Pococurante educated me on this - Thanks!).  The proper order is Ruins - Remains - Rubble to go from the ones most likely to have a large payout to the ones least likely.  That way when something scares me out of the site, I'll know I did my best to maximize the profits.  Pococurante and I chatted a bit about exploration and wished each other well.

I continued on and found Catch to be a very lively place.  Ships and wrecks were everywhere.  One system had 400+ capsuleers.  Many of the gates were littered with a dozen wrecks or more.  I came across a bubble or two.  Plus I found lots of ships of all sizes when I jumped through gates - that definitely gets the blood moving!
I continued my tour congratulating myself on the purchase of a Stiletto interceptor in Thera (at a very stiff markup compared to Jita prices - but now worth every penny).  Interceptors are immune to the effects of warp bubbles.  And they align very fast when equipped like mine - so they are almost uncatchable when traveling gate to gate in null sec.  Hope I didn't just jinx myself by saying that.

On the other hand, interceptors are not ideal for doing relic sites as they don't have bonuses for virus coherence or strength.  But it wasn't too bac - of the 6 or 8 sites I found in the tour of Catch I only failed once and blew up the can (a "ruins" can of course...).  Otherwise the interceptor worked fine.

Some of the relic sites were very lucrative (one can alone contained 65m in loot).  I only did the sites that were in empty systems - so I had to leave one or two untouched when the other occupant didn't move along.  In the end I returned to Thera with about 190m worth of loot in my cargo hold and an evening of excitement to remember.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ninja Relic Site Hunting

So, when I got home from work the other day, those exits to Sansha space were either gone or at end of life.  I popped through the end of life hole but found a system with half a dozen occupants and no sites.  Rather than get caught there when the hole collapsed - I headed back to Thera.

But then today I signed on and there was one exit from Thera that hadn't been probed down.  So I did and jumped through to find myself in an empty system in Tenal - RKE-CP.  There were three signatures - the wormhole I had used to arrive, a combat site that I ignored, and a relic site.

The relic site - Ruined Guristas Temple Site - quickly offered it's riches to my Relic Analyzer II and after 15 minutes work I found myself 30 million isk richer.  Most of the wealth came from the logic circuits and power circuits.


PS - And just to let you know that it's not all pretty ponies and isk waterfalls - after going out for dinner I rambled around 11 systems in Tenal and found a few combat sites, a few wormholes, and no other relic or data sites...