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...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Treasure Hunting

It used to be that I would spend my time hunting for targets that I could ambush and maul.  Now it's a case of looking for targets that I can loot and pillage.

So far, in my Signal Cartel life there hasn't included much looting and pillaging.  Jack doesn't have strong skills as an explorer.  He can fly the cov-op frigates just fine - but when it comes to breaking down the relic and data sites - that's a problem.  Especially since the target sites are going to most likely be in wormholes or null space.

Since joining Signal Cartel, my schooling has been mostly focused on getting the skills to use the Relic Analyzer II and Data Analyzer II.  Both of them are essential in order to have luck with the sites found in wh and null space.  Especially since I prefer to fly an interceptor there to avoid problems with bubbles and interceptors don't have the hacking bonuses provided by exploration frigates.

It's been a waiting game as my skill queue did its thing.

But now I'm skilled enough for the Relic Analyzer II and I can go to the next step in my plan - actually exploring!

On the Eve-Scout website there's an option for looking at a map of the current links from Thera.  Here's today's map:

The areas I'm most interested in are down at the bottom of the page where today there are connections to Paragon Soul and Esoteria - each of them have one link to/from Thera.  These are null sec regions that have Sansha sites.  Due to the Intact Armor Plates (and other loot) that Sansha relic sites drop - these are prime areas for exploration.  I've been waiting for links to this neighborhood (which includes a couple other regions with Sansha rats).

The plan is to use these wormholes to enter these regions and then move to areas that show a limited number of recent jumps on the Dotlan map.  These backwater systems often have relic sites stacked up and an absence of locals who might take exception with my activities.  We'll see how it goes.

Another option for intrepid explorers in Thera is to jump through today's wormhole that leads to the Outer Ring region.  That's where the Outer Ring Excavations offices offer profitable BPOs for sale.  The trip there and back (with a Bowhead BPO tucked in the cargo bay) is often fraught with danger - but with the Thera wormhole, it's much shorter and relatively safer.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hello Thera!

Last night I made myself more comfortable in the Thera home station of my new corp, Signal Cartel, and bought a cheetah from the corp contracts to act as a temporary scanning ship. 

The first scanning foray into the Thera system showed a nearly overwhelming number of signatures to probe down.  Even with eliminating all of the ones that were listed in the corp bookmarks there were still more than a dozen.

Time to get to work…

The cheetah had a level I probe launcher, Sister probes, plus some helpful rigs to improve the scanning strength.  The scanning went well, not as fast as with some of my other characters that have better skills and equipment – but not too painful.

Many of the signatures were gas, data, or relic sites that I ignored.  But a few were wormholes that connected to all parts of the Eve universe.  These I checked out.  Being totally new, I’m still unsure of how to get these new sigs added to the eve-scout listing – but I’m sure I’ll sort that out in the next few days.

I wasn’t really interested in probing down the signatures other than for practice.  My future focus will be finding null sec relic sites (they pay the best) and in order to be successful in them I’m going to need to improve my equipment.  A Relic Analyzer II will be vital (another 10 days of training required).  And a ship that I feel comfortable in when traveling through null sec is another necessity.  The cheetah is ok – but most of my experience involving this sort of thing has been in an interceptor that is immune to warp bubbles.  I’ll need one of those.

After the initial scanning adventure, I jump cloned back to Molden Heath and sent Jack on a low sec tour buying clone soldier tags and then redeeming them at a nearby CONCORD office.  Jack’s security status changed from -8.9 to -1.9 (at a cost of more than 100m isk…).  This means that Jack can now freely wander through high sec space and not fear the authorities or fellow capsuleers.  It’s a strange feeling…

I hesitatingly entered high sec and stopped in Hek to do a little shoppng.  A Stiletto interceptor filled with appropriate modules for my future life was quickly put together.  Then it was time to call it a night.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

And Now For Something Completely Different

Probably all three of my readers have come to the realization that I’m not especially good (or even mediocre) at this PvP stuff.  To be honest, I tend to be a bit too risk adverse and panic prone.  I’m fine with that.  It’s been great fun.  And I have other qualities that make up for these shortcomings.  I think I do.  Well, maybe not.

But, regardless…

I've decided to change Jack Dancer’s Eve experience (easily done in Eve – there are a lot of options!).  I’ve said adios to my amigos for the past 3+ years, the Black Rebel Rifter Club.  Thanks to Miura Bull for letting me join the Rebels years ago.  And, while I haven’t been one of the more active or sociable members, I’ve enjoyed being part of the group.  My Black Rebel Rifter Club bumpersticker will always stay on the back bumper of my car...

My new corp – Signal Cartel – is based in Thera and they (we?) are focused on exploration.

Thera is a unique location in wormhole space.  It has a plethora of wormholes opening to all parts of the Eve universe - a perfect opportunity to pop into locations that I haven’t visited before.  Plus I've always enjoyed finding relic and data sites with their gamblingesque payouts.  I look forward to the change.

Now I'll be improving Jack's rather meager scanning skills and working on improving his dodgy security status.  Plus I'll be posting some exploration focused topics here from time to time.  The blog will continue.

Details about Thera and Signal Cartel are available at