Fitting the fleet for hacking

8th February 2010 – 5.59 pm

Our daily scanning finds some lucrative magnetometric and radar Sleeper sites in a neighbouring system. The only question now is how to reap the profits. Forming a fleet to clear the sites of Sleeper ships is simple enough, we have our battleships and twin Guardians ready. But we can't quite work out how to hack databanks or analyse artefacts effectively. That's not to say that we don't have the ships, modules or skills available to hack and analyse, it's more a matter of how the Sleepers protect their information.

Salvaging is easy. We blow up Sleeper ships and come back at some point to grab loot from the wrecks and salvage them. Ship wrecks last for two hours before breaking up in the harshness of space, independent of when the site despawns, letting us complete several sites before breaking for one of us to get a salvaging boat. We only need to make sure that no one steals from the wrecks, as it is the only source of income from w-space combat, there being no bounties on Sleepers. But accessing databanks and artefacts can trigger a new wave of Sleepers, which means we need a full and active fleet at the same time as one of us is hacking or analysing, and we don't have a pilot to spare.

We can't use a Guardian pilot to access the loot, as we will need both Guardians actively repping when the new Sleeper ships warp in and start firing. We could have a boat dedicated to recovering the loot, but it would need to warp in and out on demand. Leaving the loot boat, or battleship it is swapped for, adrift in space is unwise, even in a safe spot. Having to leave the system in a hurry would effectively abandon the ship, and a battleship or boat filled with Sleeper loot is a relatively expensive loss to risk. In the end, a battlecruiser's configuration is compromised slightly to fit a suitable hacking or analyser module, the smaller hull also allowing more passes through the wormhole without destabilising it. It is time to start attacking.

The fleet jumps in to the neighbouring system and warps to the first site, as our Myrmidon battlecruiser busily squeezes an analyser module in to a mid-slot. By the time the Myrmidon joins us, the initial wave of Sleepers is destroyed, at which point the battlecruiser needs to head back to the tower anyway as miscommunication means he needs a hacking module and not an analyser. Of course, a battlecruiser is not going to have much success in hacking Sleeper databases, not having the bonuses of specialist ships, but we aren't planning to recover all the loot this way. The idea is to provoke the extra waves of Sleepers to attack, by hacking a database or two, and get a dedicated boat once the site is completely clear. The extra waves of Sleepers arrive once the Myrmidon accesses a databank successfully and we are back in to the fray.

With a site empty of Sleeper presence we still have a problem. Unlike wrecks, the databanks and artefacts are part of the site itself, and the site despawns quickly when completed, unless we maintain some presence there. So our dedicated hacking boat is brought in. It turns out to be useful for our fleet to be sitting idly by watching the lone ship access the databanks, as an escalation occurs. A Sleeper battleship warps in and starts attacking, bringing with it a deserted Talocan cruiser! The fleet quickly swats the Sleeper aside and we finish hacking the databanks and salvaging the wrecks, including the Talocan hull.

There are more sites to plunder, and we seem to have a reliable method for inducing the extra Sleeper spawns. Having a set of more challenging encounters makes a refreshing change of pace from all the anomalies we have been clearing recently, even if the Sleepers are a little harder hitting. 'Are you getting some good pictures, Penny?', asks our Scorpion pilot. Oh, stop whining, your armour barely reached 95%. And yes I am, thank you.

Radar and magnetometric sites are cleared with a ruthless efficiency. So effective is the fleet that I lose count of the sites we visit. I need to be reminded of the second magnetometric site, it somehow blurring in to the first in a haze of explosions. Two radar and two magnetometric sites are cleared in total for the evening, with two Talocan cruiser hulls looted as well. We return home with plenty of loot, salvage, and Tech III materials, which amounts to a good evening's profit.

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