High-sec orange

21st August 2014 – 5.36 pm

Moving on. Having missed my chance at catching a planet gooer in a silly ship, I head back through one class 2 w-space system, in to and across our home system, and in to another class 2 w-space system. My directional scanner shows me nothing from the wormhole in C2b, the discovery scanner almost nothing. Two anomalies and four signatures is a strong indicator for occupation, if not current activity, so I launch probes and perform a blanket scan of the system.

One ship is added to the discovery scanner's annoying omniscience, the ship looking to be coincident with a planet that has a single moon. I take a punt and warp across to that moon, dropping out of warp to see nothing on my overview. That will be a result of scanning probe inaccuracy, I suppose, and my ship is in another castle.

Not much to see in the w-space system

My notes look to help me locate the ship, assuming it is inside a tower's force field. A previous visit three months ago lists a choice of two towers around a different planet, and it seems reasonable that they would still be there. They probably are, but the towers have been multiplying like Gremlins with water pistols. I don't see two towers on d-scan, but seven. Bastards.

I warp to one of the two towers in my notes, seeming as good a place to start as any, and drop out of warp next to a tower, but without the ship present, a Mastodon transport. I'll locate the other towers manually, sweeping d-scan around with a narrow beam. Pinging the moons, I locate the towers individually, all but one. I am sure I've done two complete sweeps with d-scan, checking each moon in turn, but I only count six moons with towers in my notes.

There are definitely seven towers on d-scan, I even use a second hand to help confirm this fact. Being smart, I reduce d-scan's range to 1 AU to also confirm that all seven are around this planet. They are. Where's this seventh tower? I make another sweep of the moons, and realise that although I made a mental note of all the towers, I didn't make a written note. That's why one kept on registering as there without my written tally totting up. Silly Penny.

All towers located, I warp to the one with the Mastodon. The transport is piloted but idle, almost thankfully idle, as it would be frustrating if he did something silly whilst I was struggling to count properly. Still, my notes also point out that my previous visit had my surprising a hauler coming in through a high-sec wormhole, not just by decloaking in front of him but popping his mineral-laden ship. That must have been quite the surprise. I should probably scan for the second static wormhole, on the off-chance that the same circumstance occurs today.

There's not much to see, and it takes little time to resolve a gas site and two wormholes. One is the static exit to high-sec, the devilman of Heimatar shining through, along with a K162 from even more class 2 w-space. I check the exit first, hoping to find a target, and there is an orange pilot in the system. We're only five hops from Rens, the orange pilot is local to C2b behind me, so it's possible he's hauling goods.

I hold my cloak for as long as it lasts, hoping for the pilot to drop on to the wormhole and return to C2b, but my Proteus strategic cruiser reveals itself before anyone else appears. I activate my cloak, but not before launching probes and throwing them off the wormhole. There's an extra signature in the system, and I may as well scan that whilst I'm waiting. It's a wormhole, and warping across sees an R943 outbound link to more C2 w-space. That's worth a look, particularly as the orange pilot hasn't shown himself yet.

Jumping to C2d and updating d-scan sees nothing but a rogue drone, with a single planet loitering out of range. I launch probes and perform a blanket scan, revealing two ships to go with the nine anomalies and seven signatures. The tiny signatures are for a pair of covert operations boats, the Anathema and Helios piloted but inactive inside a tower's force field at that far planet. That's mildly interesting, about as mildly interesting as my notes pointing out the system's static wormholes leading to class 1 w-space and high-sec.

I don't care for another high-sec exit, and the C1 system may be interesting but I can reasonably assume the local pilots have opened their wormhole and explored through it recently enough for there to be little point in my doing it. I have more w-space behind me to check, and rather than dive down a dead end, I head back to high-sec Heimatar and across to the K162 to C2b. Disappointingly, the orange has disappeared from high-sec, although it gives me hope that he's now waiting for me on the wormhole in C2b.

Jumping in to an ambush would be interesting, as I wouldn't be polarised, giving me an easy escape route, and my Proteus is fairly capable. If the ambusher doesn't know what I'm piloting, I could come out on top. That is, of course, if someone is actually waiting for me. I jump back to C2b with some anticipation to see nothing and no one on the wormhole with me, and still only the Mastodon on d-scan. Moving away from the wormhole and cloaking doesn't reveal anyone either. Never mind, it was a long shot. Time to move on again.

Chasing a warp trail

20th August 2014 – 5.35 pm

I've had no connection to space for a while, leaving me rather floating free, not quite sure what to do with myself. I tidied up my pod a bit, which was empowering, and watched some good films involving robots and cyborgs and other heartwarming subjects. I almost got used to gravity, but it all got a bit heavy. Now my connection is back, shaky but back, I'm straight in to space once more.

What's changed? All of the sites I have bookmarked in the home system have disappeared, which is unsurprising considering that I activate them all when scanned, they disappear after three days or so, and I've been gone for longer than that. We have some anomalies, but none of my favoured kind that would let me continue pondering just how bad Oblivion is. There are some new signatures, though, and I launch probes to get back in to a scanning groove.

A gas site looks outstandingly normal, but it's joined by three wormholes, which is a little unusual. One is our static wormhole, of course, which I manage to warp to first despite trying to avoid it by guessing which signature it would be. It takes me a second try to discover that the others are a K162 from class 2 w-space, and a second K162 from class 2 w-space. It looks like I'm going to class 2 w-space.

In to C2a, updating my directional scanner once my cloaky Proteus strategic cruiser has settled from the wormhole transit. Three towers are visible on d-scan, as are an Occator transport and Epithal hauler. A magnetar phenomenon also hangs brightly off in the distance, giving me hope that I can rake through the Epithal's defences should he be out and about. What are the odds?

I start checking my notes, then realise on opening the system map that locating the towers will be quicker manually. C2a is a tiny system, nothing out of range of d-scan, holding a mere five planets, those planets holding a mere five moons. I quickly see that the Occator is at one tower, the Epithal another, and I warp in the direction of the Epithal.

I reach the wrong one of two moons around the planet where I spied the Epithal, and now it doesn't even look like the Epithal is around this planet. The hauler moved whilst I was in warp. I think that means it is active. I sweep d-scan around, narrow the beam, and find the Epithal around a different planet. Not expecting to get there in time, I warp towards that planet's customs office anyway.

Nope, the Epithal's moved on again. I don't know whether he's gone back to the first tower to drop off planet goo, or if he wasn't in that tower to start with and was actually at that planet's customs office when I first spied him, and instead of mechanically returning to where I was, I look for the hauler with d-scan again. The Epithal appears to be with the Occator now. I should pay the pair a visit.

I manage to get my Proteus to the tower where the Occator floats piloted inside the force field, but again there is no Epithal. I narrow d-scan's beam again and start prodding distant customs offices remotely, making a couple of sweeps of the system before realising that maybe I should do a coarser ping to check that the Epithal is still actually in the system. It is not.

It's a shame to miss trying to blow the crap out of a poorly conceptualised specialist hauler, particularly when a magnetar had my back with this one. Never mind, though, there are more planet gooers out there, and I have the scanning probes to help find them. On the assumption that the Occator pilot isn't paying attention, or simply doesn't care, I warp away, launch probes and start scanning.

Thirteen anomalies and seven signatures are crammed in to this small system, and the only wormhole amongst the signature is the second static connection, which exits to high-sec. I leave C2a for a system in Metropolis, nowhere good, with no oranges visible in the system, and two extra signatures that I can't actually bring myself to care about. I'll go back the way I came and explore the other C2 system instead.

Those wormhole changes

19th August 2014 – 5.30 pm

What's your view on the new wormhole changes, Penny?

The major changes, that I am aware of, are an increased number of random wormholes; a second static wormhole for class 4 w-space systems; a new type of wormhole that only allows frigate-mass ships through and regenerates mass over time, making them difficult to collapse; the K162 only being generated on the first jump through a wormhole, not when the originating side is warped to; and ships appearing in the destination system at a distance from the wormhole proportional to their mass. Overall, I'm not optimistic about any of the changes.

Adding more randomly connecting wormholes doesn't seem necessary. Sure, some days the constellation is a simple pipe that leads nowhere. But the exit from w-space is not the end to exploration, and I have yet to learn of a w-space pilot who won't scan the k-space systems for more options when w-space routes are exhausted. Even more occasionally, the pipe will be simple and terminated by an EOL wormhole. This is solved by collapsing one of the wormholes and starting again, or having a night off. It's not a big deal.

Other nights, you can hit a spaghetti junction system, with many wormholes leading in different directions. Perhaps multiple scouts can dive down each one and explore thoroughly, but small operations will not be able to exhaust their options in a timely manner. This leads to shallow exploration, potentially missing activity further up or down the chain by simply not having time to scan more than a couple of systems deep, or by picking the wrong wormhole to start with.

Activity used to be found by diving through wormholes that previously weren't there, that's true. If it were still true, it would make sense that adding wormholes would increase found activity. But increasing the number of wormholes will not lead to finding more activity, because it is no longer the case that a new wormhole can go unnoticed for any period of time, not with the discovery scanner continuously alerting any pilot even merely passing through a system of new signatures. W-space doesn't need more wormholes, it needs wormholes to return to being unknown variables.

It would seem that I would be in favour of K162s only spawning when a wormhole is first jumped through. I suppose I am, kinda. It's better than having the K162 spawn when warping to the grid of a wormhole, but only by about a minute, and there really isn't much more that can be done in that minute that couldn't realistically be achieved now. Some people are talking about being able to prepare a fleet on the wormhole before the K162 spawns, but a fleet for what? I haven't heard anything about being able to see through K162s now.

The question is not one of readiness, because nothing is currently stopping a fleet warping to a wormhole immediately behind the scout, but of what lies beyond the wormhole. If nothing's there, having the fleet ready means nothing. If targets are there, you won't know what they are until you've jumped through anyway, so what fleet are you preparing? In either case, you still don't know what's on the other side, and the K162 delay merely buys a little time that you used to have much more of before the discovery scanner was introduced. That this feature is being introduced seems to be an acknowledgement that the discovery scanner has had undesirable consequences, and the unwillingness to remove it.

Class 4 w-space is seen to be a wasteground, apparently. I dunno, I like it there. I like the isolation. I like how C4 space feels different from the other classes. I appreciate how the rewards from Sleeper combat aren't a huge increase from C3 sites, but allow twice the ISK to be generated from half the sites in the same amount of time. The static wormhole also leads to more w-space, allowing extra sites to be found reliably, unlike in C3 space. I appreciate how capital ships cannot be jumped in and out of the system, adding some increase in security at the expense of increased logistics of occasionally awkward wormhole chains.

Class 4 w-space has a definite place in the hierarchy of classes. It seems to me that the people complaining about C4 systems are those that don't live there. This would be fine if they were complaining because they want to live there, if only it were better connected, but the complaints are mostly that C4 sites aren't profitable enough, or that there is no one to find to hunt. The people advocating for a second static wormhole in C4 space don't want to move in, but want new targets to want to move in. That's not proper motivation for the change. Either way, a second static wormhole may achieve the desired result, but as more wormholes won't lead to more activity perhaps a better incentive would be improving C4 sites in some way.

I have also previously mentioned how the second wormhole probably won't help anyway. The complaints generally focus on how C4/C4 systems are the problem; that is, class 4 systems with static wormholes to class 4 systems are poor chains to scout. If that's the case, let's see what adding a second wormhole will do. If it's not a C4/C4 system—which the majority of C4 systems aren't—then presumably the system isn't broken, and adding a second wormhole is not fixing anything. Indeed, if the second wormhole will now lead to C4 space then the system is arguable made less desirable than if left alone.

What if it is a C4/C4 system? We have to look at what second wormhole is added. Adding a C5 or C6 wormhole will lead to the same kind C4/C4 chains that people complain of—C5/C5 systems surely being as notorious as C4/C4s—but in to more dangerous space that is likely to have capital ships present but where you can't bring your own. Adding a C1 wormhole will lead to logistic problems because of the mass limitations of the wormhole. Adding a C3 or C2 wormhole may improve matters, but how many of those will we get? It seems to me that adding a second static wormhole to class 4 systems is not directly fixing the problem complained about, but is easier to implement. Messing with many corporations' homes whilst not addressing the issue doesn't seem like a good solution.

The new type of wormhole, allowing only frigate-mass ships through is peculiar. I can see the idea behind it, I just don't think it will work. If players wanted frigate fights, they'd arrange them to avoid having to commit expensive ships. Or they'd join RvB. Although only being able to push frigates through a wormhole sounds like it will lead to new w-space fleet doctrines, I'm not convinced. Just because you can't squeeze more than a frigate through a wormhole doesn't mean the other side won't commit bigger and nastier ships, if only to get some cheap kills and hold the field on their side. What is the frigate fleet going to do? They can't send their own big ships through to counter, and mobile depots won't let them do much about it.

Frigate roams are unlikely to work either, unless there is a pipe of these specific wormholes running from one empire system through w-space to another. One normal wormhole along the chain will allow the fleet to be destroyed by a normal fleet. I doubt there will be such chains either, unless they are specifically implemented that way, and even then the chain would need to be scanned first. And as frigates are popped quite effectively by Sleepers in even class 1 sites, these wormholes are unlikely to cause a ripple against PvE fleets.

I understand that CCP are quite happy with the emergent gameplay that wormhole systems have produced so far, and so they should be. Perhaps these new tiny-mass wormholes will produce their own emergent gameplay, but I doubt it. Now, I understand that, by definition, emergent gameplay cannot be predicted, but the limitations on the size of ship that can pass through this new type of wormhole drastically reduce the options available. I'm struggling to see what can be done effectively in w-space with frigates that isn't being done already, and how these new wormholes will affect that. It's not a bad idea, but I don't see these wormholes living up to the vision.

As for a ship's mass affecting its distance from the wormhole after a jump, I don't quite understand what this is trying to achieve. All ships will now be guaranteed to be far enough away from the wormhole to cloak after a jump, making scouting much safer. Non-scouting ships will have to commit to the jump, which will make polarisation ambushes, where a 'caught' ship runs back the way it came, almost impossible to perpetrate. Closing wormholes will also take much more time, organisation, and risk, to the point where smaller corporations will simply stop doing it. Activity will decrease, polarisation will not be a useful mechanic, and fewer massive ships will be caught on wormholes.

It seems to me that the overall direction intended with all the changes taken together, having more and harder-to-close wormholes, is to force players to engage in PvE activities with known open wormholes. That may happen initially, but once expensive ships start to get lost it is more likely that PvE activities will dwindle. Whilst w-space denizens rarely complain about the loss of expensive ships, they can only do so so often, particularly if their income stream is interrupted.

Aiming for players to engage in PvE with open wormholes is also a peculiar goal given that the introduction of the discovery scanner, which has directly led to fewer targets in w-space, was a reaction to what was perceived as the uninteresting and unwanted gameplay of spamming scanning probes to look for new wormholes. Open wormholes will just lead to fleets posting scouts on each wormhole that cannot be closed, listening for transits. This would be an obvious return to the previously unwanted style of gameplay, albeit without the direct interaction of pressing a button every few seconds.

On the whole, like I said, I am not optimistic about any of these changes. I also understand that I often have a negative reaction to change, and that the changes generally end up not being as bad as my emotional reaction suggested. My least favourite part of these changes is how they are presented to us as open for discussion, whilst the devblogs continue to assert that the changes are coming for Hyperion. The changes are not open for discussion, just the balance associated with these changes. We're getting them whether we like them or not, and from experience it seems clear that poor changes are never rolled back but iterated in attempts to make them less poor. The best option is to wait until the changes are live before making a final opinion, and strive to tolerate and work with those changes we consider to be poor.

Late-night look backwards

18th August 2014 – 5.57 pm

A new signature at home is often an interesting discovery to make. Could it be a new site to plunder for materials that can be sold for ISK—or activated and ignored if you're not industrially inclined? Could it be a new wormhole that leads to opportunity for a combat engagement, whichever side holds the advantage, or even a route out to empire space where fuel, ships, and other supplies can be brought in?

When coming home after a full night's activity, however, a new signature is not always welcomed. I'm more inclined to ignore the discovery scanner pinging me new intelligence without interrogation more than usual, as I am already in the frame-of-mind to go off-line and get some rest. I tend to go with my inertia. As it happens, my current inertia is confused. I was coming home to go off-line, but I am still in space, still in my covert Proteus strategic cruiser.

I suppose I could at least scan the new signature and see what it is. It could just be gas, which would both sate my curiosity and allow me the peace of mind to go off-line in an idle constellation. Of course, it's not, it's a wormhole, and I can't really find an excuse now not to warp to the wormhole to see where it comes from. Class 5 w-space. Okay, good. Only now I can't find an excuse not to see what's happening on the other side.

It could be nothing, of course, as the higher-class w-space systems have a tendency to connect to themselves, and I could just be poking my prow through the end of a chain of systems a dozen long, all empty and inactive, the scout already home and his colleagues collapsing their static wormhole to give me a trail of breadcrumbs without even a sammich at the end of it. Or there could be someone being a bit silly in an expensive ship. You just can't tell.

I jump through the K162 in to C5a, curious that no one has evidently come this way so far. There are no obvious signs of scanning probes in our home system, or in our neighbouring class 3 system, which makes me wonder who opened this wormhole and how far did they go. Updating my directional scanner sees ships, though. Two Vargur marauders, three Iteron V haulers. There's a tower as well, but no wrecks.

Maybe the marauders aren't busy at the moment, which may be for the best. I doubt I could successfully engage one of them by myself, and seeing so much ISK in space without being able to destroy any of it would be frustrating. The Iterons are more interesting, or would be if they hadn't been usurped for general w-space life by poorly conceptualised specialised variants of the hull. Still, I'll find them and see if there are any pilots.

Locating the tower is straightforward, and lets me see that of the five ships only one Iteron is piloted. Is it really just him in the system? One planet lurks out of d-scan range, but warping that way sees no other towers or ships. Maybe the Iteron pilot has scouted quickly to empire space, when I wasn't paying attention, and is now looking to take his hauler out for a solo spin. I do hope so.

I loiter outside the tower, watching the Iteron, waiting for any sign of movement. I've orientated myself in the system map to the position of the wormhole, so that I can know quickly if the Iteron is headed that way or if there is a second wormhole I don't know about yet. That's assuming the Iteron moves, of course. Which he doesn't.

Our last visit to this system was a good day. A Megathron jumped through the wormhole as we collapsed the connection, at which point we caught and destroyed the battleship, then ransomed the ejected pilot to give him an exit out of w-space. No such luck today, the Iteron pilot not apparently able to will himself in to using C3a's high-sec exit. I'm not going to wait around all night either, not when it's already late. Oh well, an Iteron kill would have finished the night with a bang.

Bumping in to Verge Vendor

17th August 2014 – 3.43 pm

Sleepers have been popped, their wrecks looted and salvaged. A decent amount of plunder is brought home and stashed in our hangar. No new signatures have appeared during the time in the single combat anomaly, so I swap back to my cloaky Proteus strategic cruiser, align to our unopened static wormhole, and accelerate in to warp.

Jumping to our neighbouring class 3 w-space system and updating my directional scanner shows me a tower and a couple of ships, a Rifter and Probe frigate. I doubt the Rifter is doing much by itself in w-space, making a lack of wrecks unsurprising, and there are no scanning probes visible to suggest the Probe is active.

I warp away from the wormhole to an edge of the system to launch my own probes, only to bump in to a second tower, this one with a Cyclone battlecruiser probably inside it. Still there are no wrecks, and I warp to a different edge of the system to launch probes, where I instead bump in to a third tower. A second Probe is out here, this one a Vherokior Probe, whatever that is.

I consider simply launching probes anyway, having exhausted edges of the solar system, except the system map shows me a large chunk of empty space between this planet and the centre of the system, just right for making a safe spot hidden from d-scan. If only I'd done that on my way out to this planet, I could have saved myself having to warp back to our wormhole, bookmarking a suitable spot, and warping back from the wormhole to this spot. Still, it only takes a minute or so.

Probes finally launched, I perform a blanket scan of the system, showing me seven anomalies, five signatures, and the four ships that I've already seen on d-scan in various places. My notes tell me that there is a high-sec exit waiting to be found, and even though I don't really need that today it may be useful for finding further wormholes if this system turns out to be boring.

Before I scan, I'll locate the towers. My notes aren't much help. Despite my last visit being a mere six weeks ago, I have just one tower's location roughly noted. I'll need to find them manually, by warping to the planet and pointing d-scan at the moons. It doesn't take too long to find that the Vherokior Probe is piloted, the Cyclone empty, and the Rifter and standard Probe also lacking pilots. Maybe it was good I didn't lazily launch probes in d-scan range of what turned out to be the only piloted ship in the system.

Piloted or not, the Vherokior Probe isn't doing anything, as far as I can tell, and most of the signatures are out of d-scan range of this tower. I can scan without him seeing most of what I'm up to, if he's even watching d-scan. I call my probes in and start poking the signatures, resolving a wormhole, some gas, a relic site, and more gas. It's a pretty dull result.

Dull scanning results, really vivid wormhole colours on the exit to high-sec. The snot-and-pus yellows and greens of Verge Vendor are oddly interesting in the otherwise muted visual experience of space travel. If only it weren't going to Gallente space. I poke my prow through the exit anyway, appearing in a system seven hops too close to Dodixie, with other pilots around, and one extra signature. I should check that out.

The signature in the high-sec Verge Vendor system is a combat site. How dreary. I consider my options, and realise I don't have many. I could hop a stargate and look for more wormholes amongst the signatures, but I don't feel in the mood for that. Other than that, I could watch the Vherokior Probe a little longer, but swinging past that tower on returning to C3a sees it now aligned with the hangars in the manner that ships do when inactive for a prolonged period. That just leaves either collapsing our wormhole or going off-line for a quiet night in. It's an easy choice to make.

Sleeperblivion

16th August 2014 – 3.45 pm

It's all change at home. A bit of time away sees all five scannable sites missing from space, dispersed by the solar wind, and four new signatures wafted in to replace them. I would try to contain my excitement if they weren't all likely to be gas sites which I'll just activate and forget about until they've gone too. Still, I need to scan the sites in order to activate them, so I launch probes to take a look around.

Yep, all gas sites. Well, except our static wormhole, which is one of the signatures, but the rest are gas. I resolve the sites and the wormhole, bookmark each of them from the scan results, and activate each site in turn. Before I warp to our wormhole, though, I realise that our home w-space system is probably closed and we have a good anomaly to plunder. Keeping the ISK flowing is always a good goal.

I warp my covert Proteus strategic cruiser to our tower and swap it for the Golem marauder. I check that the Golem has enough cruise missiles in its hold for some Sleeper combat, realise that I have no idea how much 'enough' is and just guess that a thousand or so will probably do, and warp out of the tower to engage the Sleepers in the combat anomaly.

Once in the site, I start locking on to the Sleepers, activate the marauder's bastion mode, and launch the silly mobile tractor unit. That should keep me going for a bit, as I can shoot, loot, and salvage whilst updating my directional scanner and pinging the discovery scanner almost on automatic. As long as nothing comes along, I should be fine. That lets me consider the drones.

Shooting Sleepers in a Golem marauder

Not the Sleeper drones, no. Oblivion's drones. They were pretty cool, overall. The drones were nicely designed and nicely realised, exuding power and efficiency, combined with an effective lack of humanity that made them quite threatening if you were on the wrong side of them. Which makes the final confrontation in the human base all the more disappointing.

The drones come in to the base and all the humans scatter from these death machines. Quite rightly so, as the drones' power and efficiency are no better highlighted than in this climactic scene. The drones move and shoot, shoot and move, guns blazing almost continually, picking out new targets and firing without hesitation. Being awesome units, they move in three-dimensions and can fire in a direction independent of their movement. They were ripping through the base quite ruthlessly. Very cool so far.

This move-and-fire threat makes the drones deadly. That is, until the plot threatens the action. One drone chases after Julia Harper, and catches up with her in dead-end room, along with a couple of dozen other humans. Inexplicably, for an automated drone with no conscience and an already displayed penchence for wiping out the human race, the drone doesn't just gun everyone down and move on, it instead moves very slowly towards the humans, apparently highlighting each one in turn with a targeting laser.

The drone doesn't do what it's been doing up to this point and instead changes its entire behaviour to give Jack Harper time to appear, aim, and shoot the drone, destroying it at the speed of plot. It's really quite disappointing how obvious this trope is, considering how brutal and efficient the drones are shown to be, not twenty seconds earlier.

Anyway, the Sleepers don't act out of character for Sleepers. They trundle in to range as quick as they can, keep their range based on ship type, and shoot and apply electronic warfare as normal. I pop each one as normal too, no one coming to interrupt me, and no new signatures appearing on the discovery scanner. All the wrecks are looted and salvaged, and I bring back a cool eighty million ISK in plunder to our hangar.

Finishing the fitting

15th August 2014 – 5.45 pm

Back through class 3 w-space, out to low-sec, across to a wormhole in to a different class 3 system, and warp across that to our K162. I jump home, having passed through inactive and rather dull systems, fully planning to go off-line. So it is that I'm caught rather unawares to hear the wormhole crackle seconds after I've moved away from it and activated my cloak.

Not entirely sure what has followed me through, if indeed it has followed me, I turn my Proteus strategic cruiser around to approach the wormhole once more. As I do, a Helios covert operations boat decloaks, accelerates, and warps away. I don't suppose he was following me, and perhaps is entirely unaware of not only my recent transit through the wormhole but even my presence in the constellation. Sometimes w-space still holds surprises.

Helios jumps in to our home system seconds behind me

I see the direction the Helios warps, and the silly discovery scanner shows me a new signature in our home system. The Helios hasn't scanned his way in from our neighbouring C3 or low-sec, but scanned his way out from deeper in to the constellation. I wasn't planning on staying in space much past this point in the evening, but popping the empty shuttle in C3b has given me an aggression timer. I may have completely forgotten about that when I took a swipe at the empty, abandoned, inexpensive ship. That means I'm here for another twelve minutes or so, I may as well make use of my time.

I launch probes and, two scans later, am in warp to what turns out to be a K162 from more class 3 w-space. Jumping in to C3c and updating my directional scanner doesn't see much, just a tower with no ships, and performing a blanket scan of the system sees only eleven anomalies and five signatures. Still no ships. Maybe the Helios comes from further back still. I poke the signatures for wormholes.

One pocket of gas and three wormholes in C3b. Having the static connection exit to high-sec looks good, that it looks like Khanid on the other side isn't so good. A K162 from high-sec looks like it comes from Genesis, and a null-sec K162 almost certainly comes in from Immensea, with the beautiful turquoise colours being quite prominent. I can leave that one alone and focus on the high-sec exits.

The static wormhole actually leads out to Derelik (my balls), but has the Khanid spirit of being in the middle of nowhere and with no other signatures in the system. The K162 does indeed come in from Genesis, and a pretty convenient system in Genesis too, being a mere two hops to Dodixie. If I can tolerate the Gallenteness of it all, perhaps I can get some shopping done.

I will be in space for a bit longer but I want to make the most of this opportunity, partly because the exit is pretty damned convenient, and partly because yesterday's opportunity was thwarted by activity. The Helios I saw came either from high-sec or null-sec, was almost certainly flying solo, and almost as certainly won't be seen in the w-space constellation again. I have a currently sterile route to a trade hub, and I'm going to use it.

I take my Proteus home and check our inventory of modules. We have a bunch that are useful, and I only need to pick up a few specialist modules. There's nothing to take out to market, which reduces risk and saves time, and I simply jump in to a Bustard and take the transport out to high-sec. A couple of stargate hops are quick and easy, and I'm soon docking in Dodixie.

Taking the Bustard through Sinq Laison

Capital modules are expensive. I'm glad I've been reviewing Oblivion popping Sleepers recently, keeping the ISK flowing in to our wallet. I am able to get what we need and top up the Bustard with tower fuel. It would be churlish not to pick up some fuel when I have opportunity and ability to do so. Undock, hop stargates, and back through w-space to our tower in the home system. I dump the fuel in our stores, now up to very healthy levels, and chuck the modules in to a hangar.

Stowing the Bustard, I swap in to the Revelation dreadnought. It has guns and fuel, today it will get everything else. It's not a great fit, admittedly, but it is functional, and it is finally complete. Not only can we start saving our ISK to waste on the next pointless goal we concoct, but we can start making use of the Revelation we've built. Now, if only I knew what we're supposed to do with a dreadnought.

Shooting for the stars

14th August 2014 – 5.47 pm

I've not much time tonight, enough for a poke around w-space, at least. And to update my skill queue, perhaps. I'm taking a rather more pragmatic approach to this task nowadays, and simply throw a skill in to the queue that is under a month long. It will come in useful at some point, I'm sure, and saves a lot of time in the long run. I actually start scanning within a few minutes of coming on-line.

One new signature in the home system is just more gas, so I warp to our static wormhole and jump through, updating my directional scanner on the other side. A tower is somewhere in the class 3 w-space system, but I see no ships to go along with it. That's pretty standard, and I warp away from the wormhole, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan of the system. Three anomalies, five signatures, still no ships. It's looking to be a straightforward night.

This is my fifth visit to the system, the last being a year ago, almost to the day, when there was no occupation. I locate the tower the slow way, not relying on my notes but pinging planets and then moons with d-scan. It takes a little time but is hardly a chore. Rather than wasting time warping around to look for additional towers, I check my combat scanning probes for structures around the distant planets, seeing a bunch in one direction. Warping that way to look for other potential towers finds one surrounded by bubbles, but off-line and inactive.

Old bubbles left around a derelict tower

I return to loiter outside the on-line tower whilst I scan. Gas, wormhole, relics, wormhole. A K162 from null-sec comes in from the Venal region, with two pilots in the system and a signature that I ignore, if only because it's over 115 AU away. The static exit in C3a leads to low-sec Tash-Murkon, by the looks of it, confirmed by jumping through. There are pilots in this system too, probably dirty pirates, with this low-sec system bordering high-sec and being eight hops to Amarr.

Seven extra signatures in this low-sec system are more interesting than its proximity to a trade hub. Scanning finds just the one other wormhole amongst the combat, data, and relic sites, which turns out to be a K162 from class 3 w-space. That seems pretty normal. I head in to C3b to see if anything's happening. A tower and no ships on d-scan, a red giant off in the distance. No anomalies is a bit peculiar. Maybe some wicked soul activated them out of spite, but my last visit was five months ago. They should have come back by now.

A lack of sites often means the signatures are mostly wormholes, as particularly active pilots are generally active in all arenas. Launching probes and scanning the seven signatures suggests otherwise in this class 3 system, with all but one signature being a gas site. I don't know why the locals would chomp on rocks but not huff gas, but whatever. The wormhole is a K162 from class 4 w-space, the symmetry of the constellation not lost on me as I jump through.

Dead-end class 4 w-space system

This time there is almost literally nothing to see in the system. D-scan shows me yet another tower lacking ships, and the discovery scanner highlights one signature, the wormhole I'm sitting on, plus some anomalies. There are planets beyond d-scan's reach, though, so there may actually be something to see. I launch probes and blanket the system, adding seven ships to the meagre scanning results. Is that activity, or a second tower?

Warping across to the ships finds the boring second tower, where a Tengu and Legion strategic cruiser, two Epithal haulers, and two Orca industrial command ships lie dormant, only the Legion piloted. To reinforce the fact that nothing's happening, the Legion blinks off-line. One ship is missing from the tower, but it's only a shuttle, easily found on the edge of a bubble at an off-line tower around the same planet. Empty, of course.

Empty shuttle abandoned in bubbles

Shuttle no more

No one is around, there's nowhere else to go, and I have a ship—of sorts—vulnerable in front of me. Naturally, I decloak, blast the shuttle in to smithereens, and self-five. There may be nothing and no one in our w-space constellation, but I can still get a kill! I can hum a happy tune to myself as I take my all-powerful Proteus strategic cruiser home.

Noticing new signatures as I come and go

13th August 2014 – 5.41 pm

What treats does w-space hold for me this evening? A new signature in the home system for a start. I mistakenly identify it as gas initially, but only because I clumsily ignore the wrong signature. Poking the right one with probes finds a second wormhole. It's only a K162 from class 3 w-space, hardly a change from heading through our static wormhole, but at least it implies activity. I'm going through.

Nothing appears on my directional scanner in C3b, and opening the system map sees just one planet out of range. Launching probes and performing a blanket scan reveals eight anomalies and eight signatures, and warping to the distant planet finds occupation with no one home. There wouldn't be, not without ships under my combat scanning probes. I start sifting through the signatures for wormholes.

Two connections crop up immediately, a third after a touch of gas, then it's just relics and more gas. A K162 from low-sec joins the static exit to low-sec, but I ignore those exits to explore through the K162 from class 4 w-space. An Integrated Hobgoblin drone—what's that?—is somewhere in C4a, d-scan otherwise being clear, unlike the system. Twenty anomalies and eighteen signatures is a mess.

Blanketing the system adds the drone to the anomalies and signatures, plus four big ships. Warping in their general direction takes me to a planet holding a tower, and locating the tower sees an Iteron hauler, two Mammoth haulers, and Typhoon battleship all empty. Back to scanning for wormholes, and despite the numerous options only the one wormhole can be found amongst all the gas. It's also the last signature I check.

The next wormhole takes me to class 2 w-space, where d-scan shows me a tower and no ships, and the system map shows me mostly space. The system is vast, the planets well-spread, and the signatures few. Five signatures are easy to sweep through in a small system, but I don't think I can be bothered when the system stretches 121 AU in one direction and 94 AU the other. Thankfully, my notes come to the rescue, telling me I've once again found the home of the 20 Minuters. That's good enough scouting for me.

Vast and stripped system of the 20 Minuters

I turn back, through C4a to C3b, where I get the exits for completeness. The static exit leads to faction warfare Black Rise, the K162 comes from Genesis. Vaguely interesting, but I want to see what our neighbours are doing in C3a before scanning k-space systems. Across C3b to home, across home to C3a. Or I could scan the new signature at home, silly discovery scanner. This time it is gas, and I continue on my way to C3a.

Updating d-scan on our K162 shows a tower and no ships. Our neighbours are clearly not up to much, they don't even seem to be in. I warp away, launch probes, and perform a blanket scan, revealing seven anomalies, five signatures, no ships. My notes point to a static exit to high-sec, which could be worth finding in such a dead constellation, and scanning resolves two wormholes, the first being the static connection.

I exit C3a to appear in a system in Sinq Laison four hops from Dodixie, which sounds like a good opportunity. Going back to C3a and reconnoitring the second wormhole finds a K162 from class 2 w-space, which is not only worth a look but rather necessary if I'm considering logistics. I jump to C2a, ping d-scan, and see a tower with a Buzzard covert operations boat. That seems suitably boring for me to make a quick trip to Dodixie. Home I go.

I return to C3a and warp across to our K162, planning to dump this scouting boat for the Bustard transport, working out what I need to look for in our module hangar so that I can buy what I need. If only there weren't core scanning probes in the home system and the discovery scanner showing me yet another new signature. The constellation was quiet, now there is someone potentially watching for activity.

I'm tempted to let the scout scan and simply go off-line, but my curiosity won't let me. I warp out of d-scan range of as much as I can, launch probes, and scan the new wormhole. It's a K162 from class 4 w-space. As much as I try, I can't leave the wormhole alone either, jumping through to see what's happening on the other side.

A tower, two Anathema covert operation boats, and a Loki strategic cruiser all on d-scan. The discovery scanner shows me five anomalies and just the one signature, the wormhole I'm sitting on. At least that settles the need to scan further, but as the locals have ruined my shopping I activate all their anomalies. Yeah, that'll teach them when a few days from now the sites that they either will clear in time or don't care about are gone.

Locating the tower sees the Loki and one Anathema piloted, and a running refinery suggests they have finished any interesting activity for the evening. Whatever. My last visit was more interesting, popping a Noctis salvager and looting its wreck just in time to see six Tengu strategic cruisers drop out of warp on top of me. Much better days, them. Nothing of the sort tonight, sadly, but that's okay. I'm going home to get some rest.

Get loot, sell loot

12th August 2014 – 5.51 pm

I popped a Tengu strategic cruiser but had to leave the wreck behind, deciding to flee from a Navy Vexor cruiser. That's cool, my Proteus strategic cruiser is still cruising, having warped to our K162 to get out of further trouble. Checking my directional scanner shows that the Vexor has bugged out too, probably back to the tower far out of d-scan range. I can go back, under cloak, to see if the Tengu wreck has been looted or not.

Tengu wreck left untouched

Warping to my perch in the anomaly sees the wreck untouched. That's peculiar, as I would have thought the locals would want to salvage what they can from their loss. Whatever, their loss could be my gain, as long as they aren't planning a sneaky counter-ambush. As I've only seen two pilots on-line, the second appearing to shoo me from the first, along with a completely undefended tower, I don't think I'll run in to more trouble.

My perch in the anomaly isn't good. It lets me view the anomaly, but is too close to allow warping in to and out of the site. No problem, I bookmark the Tengu wreck and bounce off our wormhole to get close. Updating d-scan all the way confirms that no obvious ships are returning for the wreck themselves, and I get on top of the ex-Tengu to loot the surviving modules. There aren't many, and they aren't good. Well, they are Tech II, but I'm hardly expecting to see anything less.

Looting the wreck of the Tengu I destroyed

I loot and shoot the wreck, warping back to our K162 a little startled at getting shot. It's only the two remaining Sleeper frigates that I reminded myself about and promptly forgot, not any real danger. Cloaked and safe again, I check the details of the popped Tengu. It's cheap. Much cheaper than I thought you could even buy the ship for. Maybe three hundred million ISK, fitted. It's a passive shield fit too. No wonder my Proteus could chew through it.

Ah, this class 3 w-space system has a cataclysmic variable phenomenon. I knew that, I just didn't understand quite what that entailed. I look up the details of the phenomenon, seeing that it impairs local repairs and enhances remote repairs, hence the Tengu relying on shield resistances and the passive recharge rate. Considering the effect these phenomena can have on an engagement, I really should know this information.

Back to the present, and I warp to the tower to see what's happening. Nothing, really. I ought to get my armour repaired back at our tower, not feeling entirely comfortable flying in w-space at half strength, but I'm here and have probes launched. I may as well scan first. There's a static exit to high-sec somewhere, probably amongst all of this gas, gas, gas, gas, and gas. The last signature is the wormhole, and the only signature in d-scan range of the tower. Still, I think the locals are aware of me by now, my probes appearing on d-scan shouldn't be a surprise.

The ex-Tengu pilot swaps to a Helios covert operations boat and blinks off-line as I finish scanning, swiftly followed by the Navy Vexor wannabe-rescuer, leaving me alone in the system. Alone with a wormhole that goes to high-sec Lonetrek, by the looks of it. Never has a bland greyness looked so appealing. Of course, Lonetrek is quite big, so I poke my nose through the wormhole to see where I end up. Four hops from Jita. I can't ignore this.

I should export our mounting piles of loot. It should be safe enough through C3a, with no pilots on-line and no other wormholes. I take my Proteus home, repair its armour, and jump in to a Bustard transport. I throw all of our Sleeper and plundered loot in to its hold, and head out, wondering if I'm taking a risk transporting almost a billion ISK of loot. Probably, but a mitigated risk. Such is w-space life.

Out to high-sec, and I look for a buyer of Sleeper loot. Not low-sec, thanks. I head Forgewards to find someone suitable, getting me closer to my destination whilst managing to stay in Lonetrek. Sleeper loot sold, it's on to Jita, and beyond! A short diversion lets me collect the guns for our Revelation dreadnought that I had to abandon, first because of a collapsing wormhole, then because of a fuel crisis.

Jita 4-4

Back I go, pausing in Jita to sell salvage, modules, and minerals, stocking up on tower fuel to fill the empty space in the Bustard whilst it's convenient. My recent adventure has taught me this lesson. Take us home, Mr Sulu. Across high-sec, to the wormhole, and in to C3a. The wormhole is clear, the Helios is back on d-scan, and a new anomaly and new signature pop on the silly discovery scanner.

I also see our K162 is still in the system, thanks to the same silly discovery scanner, which is something. I cross the system, jump home unmolested, and warp to our tower. I drop the dreadnought guns in to our hangar and top up the tower with—hey, I brought home a couple of weeks' worth of fuel. I thought it was maybe a couple of days' worth, not fully realising how much the Bustard can carry now. I don't suppose we'll need to risk our Orca industrial command ship for essential logistics any more.

I've brought home a good chunk of fuel, and having seen the new signature in C3a I don't see a need to risk the Bustard for a second trip tonight. It's also too late to scan the signature and do anything with it, so I simply swap back to my Proteus and go off-line, after an exciting and productive evening.