Agents and intelligence

15th July 2008 – 8.08 am

It could really have been just an ordinary evening spent in EVE Online last night. I flew a few missions, salvaged some modules, made some ISK. There doesn't seem to be too much to report on. The most interesting event of the evening seemed to occur during one of the missions. I got sent out to take care of a rat problem, with some Serpentis pirates attacking convoys in the system. It was just an ordinary mission at first, until I realised what the big hunk of debris was drifting ahead of me: it was a derelict space station! This is nothing relevant to the mission, but it certainly added to the atmosphere to see a few waves of ships scrambling out of the docking hold to engage me as the intruder, and it's always important to maintain some sort of atmosphere in space.

My agent sounded like he was getting bored with me as well. He asked me to get a Quafe formula back from some traitor or other at least twice in the few missions I ran last night, and I've done that a few times previously too. I think it's his way of hinting that I should find work elsewhere, which I started to do. Even so, the apparently mundane evening of missions was punctuated by a remark he made to me before I headed out to take on the Serpentis rats.

I was informed by my agent that the Serpentis tend to throw thermal and kinetic damage at enemies, and that whilst they have some decent armour their ships cannot withstand a sharp point so packing some kinetic-damage weapons would be a good idea. I unloaded the thermal-damage Flameburst missiles from my launchers and replaced them with the kinetic-damage Bloodclaw missiles instead, fitted a system to mitigate some thermal damage, and headed off to complete another successful mission. I had already found some intelligence about various factions and the damage they deal and are vulnerable to, but the interesting aspect was that the information on the Serpentis conflicted with what I had just been told. I corrected the information and thought little more of it. At least, until several hours after docking for the evening.

There were a few factors that all came together in my thinking. The intelligence shared by the agent, I had been thinking about engaging in some electronic warfare, I had enough money to at least think about buying my first cruiser, and that I was looking for a new agent. Taken separately, they were just single steps that I could muddle my way through, but combined they could become something more!

I had taken a look on the market for some ECM systems, after having looted a system that affected gravimetric sensors. There are quite a few different types of ECM system, all affecting different types of sensor arrary, as well as a multi-type system that wasn't as effective as the specialist ECM systems. I made the assumption that the cheap, low-threat rats I fight were probably using simple radar and nothing more fancy, buying myself an ECM system that was effective against radar systems. But now I'm thinking there must be a better way than trial-and-error to finding out this information.

There must be some ship systems that can be fitted that allow intelligence to be gathered about the rats' ships, and other enemies. I have found some scanners in my lootings, allowing me to work out the composition of an asteroid to what a ship is carrying in its cargo. I am sure there are some sophisticated systems that will let me see what systems another ship is equipped with. Maybe if I were to fit one of those to a ship I could scan the ships and determine what sensors they were using, gravimetric, radar, some other type; what weapons they employ; and if I'm lucky what type of shield and armour the ship has. It perhaps won't be of too much use in that particular sortie, although changing launcher loads is possible in-flight, but if I gained enough intelligence and knew my opponents before heading out in to space I could equip just the right systems to engage them effectively on both weapons and ECM capabilities. As is often said, 'knowing is half the battle'.

It's difficult to fit extra systems to frigates, as they are too small to carry much, but a cruiser has more hardpoints and plenty of CPU and power to handle extra systems. It may not be the best idea to remove shield boosters and damage systems from a frigate so that I can scan an enemy, but with the extra slots on a larger ship it would be possible and even prudent to fit systems that would allow the gathering of intelligence and being able to compromise the enemies' on-board systems.

Looking for a new agent found me a contact three systems away, with a quality of 7, quite a jump from the -2 quality of my current agent. However, my last look for a new agent found me someone with a positive quality level, an agent who was in public relations. I decided to see what kind of mission and rewards I'd get and took the seven-jump flight only to be asked to act as a courier, which was disappointing but not unexpected for a PR job. I completed the task offered anyway, for a measly reward, and headed back to Jita. The new contact I found last night, now available to me likely owing to my increased standing in the faction, is in security, which I am hoping will lead to offers of rather more interesting missions.

My last act of the evening was to buy a Caracal cruiser to travel to the new agent's system. I bought the cruiser so that I could investigate the type and quality of mission I would be getting in a powerful and capable ship, hauling some extra equipment in cargo, without having to haul several ships over multiple runs between systems. The cruiser will also allow me to fit more varied systems, including a scanner, bringing the new plan together nicely.

My relatively normal evening had evolved after some reflective thinking. I had gained some intelligence about an enemy, experimented with ECM, found an agent to check out, and bought a cruiser. Now I have a plan: I will investigate ship scanners, train in them if necessary, determine what systems the enemy uses, and equip myself to interfere with their systems as much as possible whilst blowing the crap out of them. This plan may not be feasible, I don't know yet, but I have a plan and this gives me focus and direction.

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