Level two combat missions continue

1st August 2008 – 7.53 am

After my introduction to level two missions in EVE Online I contact my agent to pick up another couple of missions, now that he trusts me enough to offer me the decent jobs. Before I take any new assignments I hit the market and look at different launchers, after being informed that assault launchers are the weapon of choice for cruiser-versus-frigate dogfights, and see that the assault launcher has that very claim in its description text. Excellent, I'll buy some of those, thank you. The price appears reasonable but the availability is scarce in the constellation, requiring several jumps to get somewhere that offers more than one, which has probably been scavenged. Instead, I head back to Jita, system of lag, where the market is generally quite vigorous. Not only are there hundreds of assault launchers to buy but the prices are an order of magnitude lower, thanks to the stimulation of the market caused by competition based on high availability of the item.

Having saved a small wad of ISK I replace the heavy launchers with assault launchers and head back to Saila to speak to my agent. Go and kill some rats, says my agent. Sure thing, I reply. Of course, because I have no heavy launchers installed it stands to reason that I'll encounter a couple of cruisers on the mission, with my light missiles tickling their shields for the most part. It's a good thing that the assault launchers hold 65% more missiles than a standard launcher, and that I always carry extra ammunition in my hold, otherwise I'd have been fleeing to a station to reload. I manage to destroy the cruisers along with the rest of the rats and head back for the juicy reward money, after which I'm feeling pumped and ready to shoot some more space pirates.

My agent has more work, something to do with Minmatar rebel plans to release a viral agent in to a planet's atmosphere. I decide not to ask him who even bothers going planetside these days and instead agree to stop the rebel scum. Watch out, says the agent, there are reports of interceptors in the fleet. Okay, sure, thanks for the warning! What are interceptors? I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

As I am to encounter Minmatar rebels I use my intelligence gathering to determine that I should fit my Ladar ECM system, and probably kinetic missile warheads. I also fit a broad spectrum ECM module that I have lying around, which I use either to try to jam a second target or perhaps assist with the main ECM system. I'm not sure if the modules can be used in that way, but I like to try and it seems to work. I decide to swap out one assault launcher for a single heavy launcher, on the chance that I'll encounter a cruiser or two amongst the frigates, trying to strike a decent compromise on firepower.

My ship breaks out of warp in to deadspace and I am faced with three clusters of enemy ships, one close by, two far enough away to ignore for now. I plot a course to keep myself in range of the closest group but on a general course to keep my distance, and start locking on to some likely targets. Ah, I think I find the interceptor amongst them, mostly by him finding me. Judging from my first experience, interceptors are fast and employ ECM techniques for maximum irritation. I would guess that their speed helps them mitigate some damage from missiles, as they are tricky to get a decent hit on. Tricky, but not impossible, and whilst I have foes swarming all around me at one point I emerge intact, surrounded by the wreckage of Minmatar ships.

As I found out previously with drones, if a group of ships in deadspace is out of targeting range and not being actively tracked they will not engage. At least, this has been true in my limited sampling of four missions. Managing to stay out of range in this fashion allows for my shield booster to replenish my shield, pushing that red bar back to a healthy white, as well as giving me an opportunity to salvage the wrecks without having to travel 100 km to engage more ships only to have to come back afterwards. Of course, if some of the salvage is within 50 km of active enemies it's best to be prepared to drop the current salvage target and warm up the launchers again.

The heavy launchers help in the fights, doubling the damage the light missiles would do to the transport ships, and helping out enough with the smaller frigates. The ECM systems seem to help when active, as although I am under near-constant fire it looks like I am able to keep a ship or two from maintaining a steady lock. Focussing the ECM on the missile boats reduces the damage I take to manageable levels, and never once does my shield drop enough for damage to get through to my armour, which I consider to be a good result.

The intelligence I gather on the radar system used was good, but the missile damage type to wield was uncertain. I have wondered about the existence of a more comprehensive combat log before, something more than flashing up individual messages on screen, and after a bit of poking around I find the log sitting under 'accessories' and call it up. The log itself is no more detailed than the individual messages, although I don't think I've checked to see if the amount of information logged can be changed, but at least the data is accumulated and can be examined quickly in battle or more thoroughly when sitting in a station.

The data in the log can be used to see how much damage each missile does to which opposing ship, as well as what damage you are taking. Damage taken is a little sparse, as most turret-based hits only mention that amount of damage, although that could be because the type is not important. Rocket and missile damage is noted through the type of missile being used, so you get a message that, for example, a thorn rocket hit you for so much damage. From that message you can check the information about thorn rockets, via the market, and see what type of damage they deal, whether EM, kinetic, thermal or explosive.

Damage done to the interceptor was varied, which is perhaps due to its speed as I wrote above. Damage to other ships also seemed to vary, with the thermal damage of the flameburst missiles seeming to be effective sometimes, and others the kinetic damage-dealing bloodclaw missiles seemed best. Some explosive warhead piranha missiles, which I plucked out of a wreck earlier and had loaded to ascertain their effectiveness, also seemed to be hitting for just as much damage sometimes. I essentially don't know what to load in to my launchers the next time I battle Minmatar; on the other hand, perhaps it doesn't matter too much either.

As I wasn't fighting rats I decide I'd better leave no trace of my killing spree, and clean up the battlefield with my salvager. Yep, I only leave smoking wrecks of hulls, rogue missiles empty of fuel, and plenty of floating corpses, just as I learnt from previously being a member of the Ghost Squad. No one will ever know.

The mission successful, I head back to the station and claim another big reward. My earlier concerns about level two missions not paying enough to warrant the added risk are completely gone as I get 224,000 ISK deposited in to my vault account from a -14 quality agent. The Minmatar rebels were not pirates and did not have bounties on their heads, much like drones, so no extra rewards were to come directly. However, just about each Minmatar wreck contained the military insignia of the pilot, effectively their dog tags, and by selling these almost 250,000 ISK extra was made. Adding in the salvage, amongst which I found a couple of alloyed tritanium bars, some armour plates, and handful of burned logic circuits, I estimate I made about 1,500,000 ISK in total, which is a neat haul for one mission.

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