Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jack Dancer - Stargazer

I’ll be camping up in the mountains of southeast Oregon until late next week – hot and dry desert country. 

A buddy of mine built a 18 inch (45.7cm) Dobsonian reflector telescope and we’re heading to the clear air and dark skies of Steens Mountain.  We'll also be stopping for some fossil hunting along the way (it's a 12 hour drive from Seattle so we're making it a two day trip each way). 

When viewing galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters I’ll (of course) also watch for rifters being flown with reckless abandon …

I'll be back on Friday August 5th if I manage to avoid the rattlesnakes and coyotes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Jack Dancer! Run Away! Run Away!

Well, this is a first.  Someone that didn't want to face the wrath of Jack Dancer's Rifter!

I was cruising around Ravarin looking for trouble.  With five strange (and I do mean strange!) faces staring back at me in the local channel I had hopes of some excitement.  I flew to my safe spot about 300k from the Stegette gate to see what might be lurking around that exit and there was a Crusader flown by Stridsflypla_ (I've not included the last letter of his name to protect his identify in this account of his shameful conduct).  I sat and waited and the Crusader headed my way.  Excellent!

I overheated everything and cleared the decks for combat!

It turns out a Crusader can go fast.  Really fast.  He was moving along at about 4.5k as he approached and when he got within about 50k of me I headed towards him at my max velocity of about 1k.  Death to Crusaders!

But I couldn't get within 20k of him.  Try as I might - he kept the range and I chased after him.  For about 2 minutes.  He ran and I chased.

Eventually, I warped back to the gate and went on my way confident that this Crusader pilot was suffering from a bad case of Rifter Fear.

***Postscript - a couple days later I saw this same pilot in a gatecamp with some of the other familiar locals - so it's possible that he was stalling for time with me until the rest of his gang could arrive...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

T2 Tank!

My alt's endeavors at station trading have been so successful that I'm giving Jack Dancer additional security - a T2 Tank!  Yes, he'll be flying with a Damage Control II and an Armor Repairer II from now on.  Very comforting.  I have enough of them in a Jita warehouse to handle Jack's loses for the next few weeks easily.  Might as well use them.

I also have a big pile of T2 150mm autocannons and about 100,000 rounds of barrage ammunition sitting in the warehouse - but that's going to wait. 

From what I understand (and this might be far off base) the big advantage of barrage ammo is that it gives me more options for range than the EMP S that I'm currently using - it will cause damage from much further away (where EMP S can't even touch the target).  I think, for now, I'll stick with "orbit at 500 meters" (and not worry about range) to keep things relatively simple while I lose a few more ships. 

With the T2 Tank I'm hoping that my Rifters survive longer to give me a bit more time to see what's going on.  I'm the first to admit that in these dogfights I'm often at a loss about what's happening and what I should be paying attention to.  But each one has gotten a bit less confusing - hopefully a good sign.  And I'm having a blast roaming around and occasionally finding fights.  No complaints here!

Which brings me to what has turned out to be the general theme in this blog.  I'm in total admiration of those that can choose from various victories when writing up a blog entry.  They are great fun to read.  I, on the other hand, by default am taking a different tack (obviously!) and giving hope to those of you not killing everything you meet - there's someone out there (ME!) even more inept than you are!  At least right now.

But I'm learning and I'm sure the future will bring a plethora of killmails and victorious blog entries.  Or maybe just more of the same confused Rifter destruction for your entertainment...  Either way, like I said, I'm having a great time!

Fly erratically!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Score Update - Death to Flying Things Campaign now 0-3

Another loss, but at least I seem to be learning.  I feel like I did everything relatively right this time.

I met Camelia Rouge's Hookbill at the gate when I warped into Fasse.  I proceeded to my safe spot to see if either of the other two occupants in Fasse were of interest.  They weren't - one immediately jumped out of the system and the other did likewise a few seconds later - probably just passing through.  I moved on to a couple more systems and again saw Camelia in local here and there.  When I found nothing of interest I headed back to Ney by way of Fasse.

Again the Hookbill was at the gate when I arrived in Fasse and it warped away.

I headed to a safe spot and scanned.  Seeing the Hookbill on the top belt, I warped up there at a comfortable distance and sure enough - there was Camelia 60km away.  I overheated everything and launched my attack!  Death to Hookbills!

I targeted her, set the orbit to 500k, started firing my autocannons when nearly in range, and hit the scrambler and webs.  The damage control unit was whistling along and the overheated armor repairer was doing it's best to neutralize the incoming Caldari Navy Thorn Rockets.  So far, so good.  No major blunders that I know of.

The fight went as expected - I hung in there for a while but my 30dps couldn't match the Hookbill's 80dps (numbers from the combat log when entered here: Eventually - Sirens and explosions!  GFs were exchanged and some friendly chat ensued in local.

What did I learn?  Well, that it is possible to not make any stupid mistakes (though warping to zero on the belt might have been a better idea if I was expecting a fight and wanted to give my opponent less time to plan - but certainly not a mistake in the league of some of my other blunders so far...).  Things worked as they were supposed to and if I can keep doing things right I'll be very happy regardless of the final results.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Score Update - Death to Flying Things Campaign now 0-2

This afternoon I was mowing down criminal frigates in an illegal drug outlet like a sythe through styrofoam when in dropped Jack Tygra (no relation) in a Dramiel.  In keeping with my "Death to Flying Things" intentions I immediately turned from the rats and fired up the afterburners!  Death to the Dramiel!

I rushed in and orbited as close to 500 meters as possible while my roaring autocannons spewed out hot EMP.  It turned out to be a better showing that I had previously experienced and I survived for longer than I thought I would amid the hobgoblin II's and the battering from the Dramiel's 150mm (T2) autocannons.  But eventually I heard the sirens and then explosions.

GFs were exchanged in local and I headed back to the hangar for another in the endless line of Rifters...

After the fight, when I reviewed the log it appears that in the excitement of the moment I correctly orbited the Dramiel but then I apparently neglected to disengage my target lock from the drug dealer to actively target the Dramiel!  I never targeted the Dramiel!  All during the combat I was pummeling the drug dealer with my autocannons from long distance and doing little damage.  Meanwhile Jack Tygra in the Dramiel was lucky to have this happen (and probably a bit confused by not receiving ANY damage) and escaped with the victory...

ps - It's "fights" like these that make me glad none of my modules have "II" as part of their names...  

Death to Flying Things Score - 0-1

I managed to catch an Ishkur on the top belt in Amamake and throwing caution to the wind I showed him no mercy!  Until my mighty rifter, the SS Henry Spencer, exploded.  Details here.

What did I learn?  Well, I need to get drones added to my overview, that's for sure!  They were whizzing all around, but I couldn't target them!

But at least I managed to get into a fight - something that has been eluding me.  I look forward to more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Death to Flying Things Campaign Update...

It's been a busy weekend for me - but not for Jack Dancer.  I did manage a few minutes to fly around looking for trouble, and I maybe possibly almost caught up to an exequror on a belt.  But didn't.  I'm getting comfortable with d-scan though.

And I was on grid with a possible victim in my Death to Flying Things campaign.  But unfortunately, it was on the Fasse side of the Ney/Fasse gate and the target was actually two drakes and two harbingers.  Maybe I should have thrown caution to the wind and attacked the nearest camper and taken them down one by one.  But it would have ended very badly very quickly and I'm not sure it would have been much of a learning experience...

Otherwise, there was a lot of flying around, shooting a few rats on belts to get better acquainted with the SS Henry Spencer's abilities, and not a lot of excitement.  Basically, business as usual...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Personal Death to Flying Things Campaign!

So I counted things up in the hangar (it's been getting pretty crowded in there lately - hard to walk around) and it looks like I have about 50 rifter hulls and plenty of equipment for them sitting around.  On the other side of the equation, I've only managed to lose 2 rifters in combat and have no victories yet.

It's time to work my way through those rifters before they start to rust. 

My new policy is no longer to go out just searching for reasonable targets (like industrials and other T1 frigates) but to go out and find any target.  I'll search every low sec system from belt to belt.  I'll sit on top belts waiting for challengers.  I'll hunt rats on belts until someone comes along to stop me.  I'll search for anomolies and fight rats until disturbed by pvp foes.

Anyone found away from a gate or station in low sec will be fair game for the SS Henry Spencer (and it's successors).  I don't care how scary their name might sound!  Apocalypse, Slicer, Dominix, Hurricane, Crucifier, Armageddon, Cockroach, Worm!  Bring them on!  Face the wrath of the SS Henry Spencer's mighty 150mm (T1) autocannons' fury!

Death to flying things!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Station Trading

OK, you’ve decided on a life of crime.  Piracy!  YARR!  The first thing you’ll probably realize is that crime doesn’t pay (at least not very well).  Your cherished ships too often get blown up.  Your opponents’ ships get blown up leaving you nothing but wreckage.  Your opponents’ equipment sometimes survives, but often gets blown up too.  There isn’t a big profit margin. 

What to do?

I’ve turned to station trading for my ISK.  It’s relatively simple and not really time consuming (for me about 20-30 minutes twice a day).  And the profits should be enough to fund my Rifter Addiction.  You don’t need to fly anywhere or haul anything anywhere – just have a character just sit in Jita (or some other trade hub) and buy and sell items. 

Here’s how I’ve done it…

First I created an alt character – a Caldari (it’s not really important to be Caldari other than he is near Jita to start the game) – and immediately flew him to the biggest trade hub in the game – Jita (which is in Caldari space).  I then trained him to level 3 in three skills - Trade, Retail, and Broker Relations.  That takes about 18 hours of training and the skill books are cheap (buy them at your original school – not in Jita where they are expensive!).  With these skills I can have more than 40 active orders and Broker Relations cuts down my broker expenses by 15%.  Of the two, for my purposes, the Trade and Retail skills (to get more active orders) are the most important.  I then went back to training Jack Dancer to fly a rifter better…

Then I gave the character in Jita 5 million ISK to get started (a loan from another of my characters that was paid back in less than a week).

Now comes the tricky part…  What to buy and what to sell?  My advice is to first look at things that you regularly buy and sell when playing.  Guns, ammo, shields, armor reppers, shield extenders, missiles, etc.  Things that get purchased and used up so that more need to be purchased.  You want to find items with a relatively high volume of trading.  Then open the market window and see what price they are selling for and what price they are being purchased at. 

My first thought was the bigger the difference the better!  More profit!  But then I had second thoughts.  If the highest buy price is 2,000 ISK and the lowest selling price is 150,000 ISK – who’s going to sell one to me?  If I had one and saw that market, I would definitely have second thoughts of getting rid of the item for 2k.  It seems like it might be worth 150k to someone! 

So instead of looking for huge differences, I look for reasonable differences – 30% to 50% between the highest buy order and the lowest sell order.  That seems to be the place where people sell items and buy items.  If the item has a 2k buy price and a 3k sell price, people are going to be much more likely to sell it to me for the 2k so that I can then turn around and sell it to someone else for 3k.  Same with a 200k buy price and a 300k sell price.

When looking for items to trade I use a modified “burger method”.  I open up the market graph tab and look for a large hamburger patty and mustard in the middle! 

Look at this chart – it has a thick brown area in the middle (the “hamburger patty”) – meaning there is a good separation between the buy and sell prices.  You need to check this out though, because sometimes the graph appears to have a large brown area, but when you look at the legend on the left the scale of prices might be very close – go back to the “Market Data” page to get a look at the current gap in buy and sell orders, you are looking for something in the 30% to 50% profit range.

And on this example chart there is a string of yellow dots (“mustard”) that generally run through the middle of the brown area (meaning there are sales both above and below the yellow dot price).  This is a Very Good Thing™.  You want the yellow dots of “mustard” to be as close to the middle of the brown “patty” as possible.  If they are right in the middle that means there are as many items trading at the buy price as there are at the sell price.  So you should be able to buy items relatively easily and also sell them relatively easily.

If the “mustard” is at the top of the “patty” and never anywhere else, that means all the transactions are sales of the items.  You would have an easy time selling the item (if you had any), but probably no one will accept your buy order to get some in the first place.  Conversely, if the “mustard” is attached to the bottom of the “patty” that means that it’s easy to buy the item, but no one wants to buy it back from you at the sell price.  So always look for “mustard” through the middle of the “patty” and never stuck to the top or bottom.

Also check out the volume of sales (the bars sticking up on the bottom of the graph – or click on the “Show Table” button on the lower left side of the graph page) to be sure there are enough sales for the quantity that you intend to purchase (attempting to buy 1000 when only 5 are bought and sold a day will make for some very slow trading...).

So once you have found something to trade in – let’s say you find that Hobgoblin I drones have a reasonably sized patty, mustard through the middle, and (of course!) trade in a good volume – it’s time to buy and sell! 

When you look at the market screen you see that people are offering to buy Hobgoblins at various prices.  Click on the price column to sort so that the highest offer to buy is at the top of the list (be sure to only be looking at the Jita prices!).  You might see that the highest buy offer is 1801.58 ISK and the lowest sell order is 2431.35 ISK – a 35% profit on each Hobgoblin (minus broker’s fee and tax – probably about 2% - but I ignore this and don’t lose sleep over it).  You also might notice that there are offers of 1801.57 and 1801.56 and 1801.55 ISK below that top one.  What you want to do is click on the “Buy” button at the bottom of the market screen and select “Advanced” on the bottom right of the pop up screen.  Then put in your order for, let’s say 1000 Hobgoblin I drones and offer to pay .01 ISK more than the current high buy offer – so you offer 1801.59 ISK.  Then hit the “buy” button and you’ll see your offer to buy 1000 Hobgoblins now at the top of the list!  You’ll also have 1,801,590 ISK (1801.59 x 1000) taken out of your account (plus those “don’t lose sleep over them” fees) and put into escrow to pay for your upcoming purchases.

When people at Jita sell Hobgoblin I drones, they’ll sell the first 1000 to you.  Unfortunately, as you might have imagined by seeing that list of prices (1801.55, 1801.56, 1801.57, 1801.58) other people can change their orders to be .01 ISK higher than yours.  Sometimes this happens immediately, sometimes it never happens until you have purchased your items – it depends on the item, the demand, and the market activity.  The more often you check your orders and modify them to be at the top of the list the more chance you have of purchasing the items.  You also should take into account that you have a 5 minute “cooling down” period between setting a price and when you can next adjust it.

So let’s say someone comes along and sells you 130 Hobgoblin I’s.  They are now in your inventory.  Don’t get attached to them – sell them immediately!  Right click on them and select “check market price” to see the current sell price in Jita and then right click on them again and select “sell this item”.  You want to now sell the item for .01 ISK less than the lowest selling price on the market screen (be sure to sort it so that you have the lowest Jita selling price at the top of this list!).  If the lowest selling price is 2431.35 then you want to put your price at 2431.34 and hit the sell button.

With luck (and this is Jita, so it probably won’t take long) someone will come along and buy those 130 Hobgoblins and give you a nice 35% profit (about 80k ISK in this case – enough to buy about 40 more Hobgoblins with that quick profit!). 

Your original offer to buy 1000 Hobgoblins at 1801.59 will now show an offer to buy 870 (1000 – 130 = 870) and is still active.  It’ll stay unchanged until someone sells them to you, or you modify the price, or you cancel the order (in which case you get your escrow back but not the fees).  If someone has come along and offered to buy Hobgoblins at 1801.60 you should feel free to modify your offer to 1801.61 (it costs 100 ISK to modify your order and an additional escrow payment to match the new total offering price – again nothing to lose sleep over!).

One of the great things about station trading is that it’s a pretty passive activity and continues all day and all night long.  You don’t need to do anything more than occasionally check your orders and modify them to be the top buy offers and the bottom sell offers. 

I update my orders in the morning before work and again when I get home.  Plus sometimes again before I head to bed.  With about 20 buy and 20 sell orders it takes about 20-30 minutes to go through all the orders.  You don’t need to update your orders this often – daily will generate plenty of ISK.  Even weekly updates will generate ISK.  But the more often you move your orders to the top of the list the more often they’ll be accepted. 

In the three weeks that this character has been active I’ve made more than 50 million ISK in profit (the 50 million is currently all invested in buy and sell orders) plus (in addition!) I’ve piled up a nice stock of Rifters and ship equipment for Jack Dancer to destroy in PvP. 

Hope this helps!  Remember - YMMV.  Let me know if you have any questions.

-- For additional information you might want to look over this Eve University page and listen to some of their classes related to trading. --

Friday, July 1, 2011

SS Moe Howard - RIP

After having several fruitless meanderings through low sec in search of reasonable targets, I decided on a new plan.  I'll go out ratting and let the targets come to me.  It worked.

I was in Gratesier flying the mighty SS Moe Howard and bounced around the belts shooting some Serpentis ships.  Mostly frigates and a couple cruisers.  Then I did a scan and found an anomaly called, "Serpentis Yard" and I headed over there for some new targets.  A Serpentis frigate and a cruiser.  So I kited away from that warp in spot with them following me and then proceeded to kill them.  That spawned 3 more cruisers.  I sat and waited for them to arrive.

In the meantime I had noticed a few people coming and going through the system (Gratesier doesn't have much to offer and most people are just passing through).  But there was one person staying around ("Vornmal") and on the d-scan there was a rifter.  At least it was in the realm of possible 1v1 combat - not like the gangs of battle cruisers I usually come across...

As the Serpentis cruisers were getting closer (they had already targeted me) the rifter arrived.  He was a ways off, but I didn't think I wanted to worry about the three cruisers adding dps to his attack on me - so I bookmarked a wreck and warped off to the sun.  My intention was to then immediately warp back to the wreck and hopefully find him in the position I had been in - targeted by the Serpentis cruisers.

It didn' t work.

A couple seconds later he was also at the sun and the short battle commenced.  Or, at least, I think it commenced.  By warping to zero at the sun I was blinded by a huge burning orb.  Like a WWI biplane pilot, Vornmal's rifter came out of the sun and I didn't have a chance.  Details here.

OK, OK, maybe the sun played a very minor part in the battle and I'm just grabbing at any available excuse.  I did do better in a couple ways.  I managed to turn on (and overheat) my armor repper.  And I managed to find a 1v1 opponent (something that I'm finding to be much more difficult than I thought it would be!).  So I count those as successes.

After the fight I chatted with Vornmal and another player in Gretesier.  Vornmal pointed out that I should use T2 equipment (obviously my wreckage is sub-standard to my victors because the last guy said the same thing...) and the other player pointed out how a 2009 player attacking a one month old player isn't a fair fight.  I was fine with both comments - I'm still glad I'm using cheap junk just to get the mechanics of combat learned, and where am I going to find another 1 month old baby to fight?  I expect that I'll be fighting more experienced players and am happy to do so.

In the end the most important lesson learned was not to warp to zero to the sun (or maybe I'll go back and see how I can avoid being blinded by the light when close to the sun - possibly pull my view back a ways...).  And also that those rifters are tough little ships.  After losing twice to rifters, maybe I should find something else to try to destroy...