Cloaked and daggered

18th August 2008 – 7.58 am

Mission running for the Caldari Navy has my standing increasing steadily, and with it I am able to move up in quality of agents. From the negative quality level two agents I have proved myself capable or working for a level two agent of quality 16. This gives me the same kind of missions but considerably more money for my efforts, as the higher quality agents are able to pay more for trusted allies. Running through quite a few more missions successfully I poke around the agent database again.

It's quite easy to find agents in EVE Online. All you need initially is access to any one agent, perhaps one you're working for or any agent in a station, even if unavailable to you, and open the information window for the agent. By selecting the large faction icon for the agent in that window you are presented with information for the faction, within which is a tab for 'agents'. From this tab it is possible to view all agents of that faction, divided in to their respective departments within the faction, and showing those who are available to offer you missions and those who aren't. Once a likely candidate for interesting work is found the information tab for that agent will show their location, and off you go.

By looking through the agent list again I find an agent offering level three missions is now available to me. Even though he has a lowly -18 quality rating the jump from level two missions to level three would surely offer much greater rewards over even those given by my high quality level two agent. Of course, with more reward comes more danger, and the jump in level of missions suggests more than just a few more ships trying to kill me. Never the less, I am curious to see what sort of life-threatening, adrenaline-pumping situations I will be thrown in to, so I head over to the new agent to introduce myself.

The new agent sneers at me, but most of them seem to do that so maybe it's a military thing. He sends me out to disperse some rats who are acceleration gate-camping in deadspace. With level two missions mostly pitting me against frigates with only the occasional cruiser I assume that level three missions will throw larger hulls against me more often. I strip a couple of the assault launchers out of my Caracal and instead fit heavy launchers, hoping that I will at least have a chance of surviving. With the 750,000 ISK mission reward on offer I am willing to risk having to replace my cruiser, and I have money in the vault to do that at least. I leave the station, warp to the stargate, jump to the next system across, and then warp to the deadspace region.

Naturally, it all goes horribly wrong. I was right in expecting more cruisers than frigates, but I didn't expect a full reversal. My ship warps in to find a dozen cruisers locking-on to me and a single frigate hanging around to give a sense of scale, making the other ships look suitably bigger and more menacing. I release my drones and start loosing missiles at some targets, but as heavy missiles start flying towards me like a deadly blizzard I realise I don't stand a chance. Trying not to lose any time I punch in a distant celestial object and warp out after only a few seconds. Even so, there are dozens of missiles on my tail, my shields are depleted, and the Caracal's armour is more broken than a third edition D&D splat book rule. I'm going to need a bigger boat.

Even with all this damage I will not face a hefty repair bill. The last time I was shot up quite badly was after performing some reconnaissance and I got some good advice to get armour and structure repair modules and activate them outside of a station. I took this advice and got my hull and armour back to full strength after a short while. I lost my drones, of course, but those are easily replaced, having even looted a few in some earlier missions.

I don't abandon the mission, instead fleeing the scene hoping that maybe I can earn enough money to buy a battleship before the mission expires, which isn't likely but you have to admire my optimism. It may not be a completely outrageous suggestion, particularly as I was asked to recon another system, by a higher quality agent than before. I was offered over 600,000 ISK to perform the new reconnaissance, and thanks to my previous experience I didn't have to spend any of that reward on repairing my ship. Although I now know how to repair my own ship the relevant experience was knowing I should hit the reheat and head to the the acceleration gate as fast as possible in the first deadspace zone, ignoring any and all rats that engage me, so only my rechargeable shields take any damage during the mission. If only I hadn't spent most of my money on the advanced learning skills I might have been half-way to buying a Raven by now. Ah well, my salvaging operations are raking in good money still.

Warping back to my previous agent, I let my armour repairing module run. I had taken it with me as vital necessary equipment to the station of the level three agent, so fitted it before making the return jumps to my level two agent. I activate the module on leaving the station but see that it gets deactivated after jumping in to a system. I try to reactivate it after a jump but ship's computer becomes a female HAL 9000 and tells me that it can't active the module, Penny. And here comes the revelation of the day.

I had initially wondered why my ship seemed insubstantial after a gate jump and simply assumed it to be a graphical bug to do with redrawing the ship when changing systems. After all, as soon as I started warping away from the gate my ship became visible again, which I assumed was a forced redraw invoked my substantial movement of the ship. But when I was told I couldn't activate the module the message was that my cloaking was interfering with the module's operation. Cloaking? What cloaking? I don't even have the many high-level skills to pilot a cloak-capable ship.

Cloaking! So that's why my ship is shimmering: it's not a glitch, it's a PvP defence mechanism! Just as using a hearthstone in World of Warcraft makes you for a limited time a target worth no honour when killed, jumping in to a system in EVE Online cloaks you for a short period. This defence mechanism protects against potential lag problems and gives players time to gain their bearings in the new system. Without the buffer offered by the cloak jumping in to a system would be far more dangerous. Lag could cause your reaction time to suffer considerably compared to any gate-campers already in the system, and even without lag a space cadet still needs time to find and target her destination and kick the warp drive in to action.

The massive beating I took on my first, and only for a while, level three mission was not in vain. I found out new information that both explains an observation held since becoming a space cadet and offers a better assurance of safety when jumping in to a system. I would say it was worth it.

  1. 4 Responses to “Cloaked and daggered”

  2. Time to start training for a Drake, methinks.

    I don't think Ravens will fit in level 3 mission gates. But it's a good goal to work towards for level 4 missions.

    By Winged Nazgul on Aug 18, 2008

  3. I wondered if a battlecruiser would suit the task, but didn't want to spend tens of millions finding out otherwise. I'm pretty sure I can get the training done in time to complete the mission on time too.

    I'll probably give this a go in the next few days. With no turret hardpoints on the Drake I'll have to rethink my salvaging strategy too.

    By pjharvey on Aug 18, 2008

  4. The Drake isn't just some random battlecruiser. With the right passive tank, Drakes can be set up to run level 4's. So they pretty much laugh at anything a level 3 can throw at them.

    Also, I don't think you need a turret hardpoint for Salvagers; just a generic high slot.

    By Winged Nazgul on Aug 18, 2008

  5. That's good to know, thank you.

    I'll check out the salvager's fitting needs too. I'd be happy to leave the salvager off and run a full missile boat to give the best chance of completing the mission, but the Drake has an extra high non-launcher point that could be used.

    There looks to be a lot of money to be made on level three missions, although it could be that I've been given a particularly dangerous one to start with, hence the high reward.

    By pjharvey on Aug 18, 2008

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