An evening in w-space anomalies

27th February 2010 – 3.49 pm

The fleet's up, and we're ready to steal some Sleeper profit. I am back in a Guardian logistics ship, after my brief return to the Damnation field command ship, looking forwards to keeping the fleet safe as we raid Seeper sites in a neighbouring occupied w-space system. We warp as a fleet to the outwards wormhole and jump, directional scanners poised to alert us of any threatening activity.

I'm feeling a bit rusty in the first anomaly, looking up to see a ship with no armour! I'm going to get shouted at for this. Oh, it's a Sleeper battleship, not one of ours. It having no armour is desirable, so I set my drones to attack it. At least I didn't try to repair it this time. Locking both friendly and hostile targets can make visual identifications a little trickier, but ensuring all friendly targets are locked before any attackers helps to separate friend from foe, and making use of the watch list keeps track of incoming damage on allies. But it's not just keeping track of damage that is important, as our Rook pilot demonstrates.

The third wave of Sleepers in the second anomaly warps in over 150 km away from our position. The Rook zooms off to get them in to range, eventually putting him outside the range of our two Guardians. We can get a little complacent at times, the ship's generous bonuses to module ranges giving the impression that we can repair any ship in the field. In reality, the 72 km range to our modules, whilst undoubtedly significant, is not always sufficient when fighting Sleepers. I alert the Rook pilot that he is out of range and at the same time start moving my Guardian towards him. It's good that I notice just as he pushes 72 km away from us, because by the time he's turned and we've closed the range again our Guardians need to pull his Caldari tin-foil armour back from 30%. Any further and the Sleepers could have melted his hull. It's a reminder that fleet movements need to be watched and accounted for.

Maybe it's because his ship nearly gets ripped apart, but the Rook pilot doesn't ask me today if I am capturing any good pictures. I'm glad he doesn't ask, because an irritating little bug surfaces at just the wrong moment. Sometimes, and I don't know the trigger, the meta keys can 'stick' in software. Normally this results in the wrong modules being activated, as I hit F1 and the UI responds as if opt-F1 or ctrl-F1 is pressed instead. Turning off your tank instead of firing missiles is irritating in PvE, and potentially devastating in PvP. As it turns out, it can be quite a problem when taking pictures, particularly as the command to clear the UI is ctrl-F9. After grabbing a couple of pictures of the combat, hitting ctrl-F9 doesn't bring back my UI. I can't see who I am targeting, the watch list, what modules of mine are active, nothing.

The only way I have found to 'un-stick' the meta key bug is to mash the meta keys a few times and try again. Luckily, the method works this time too and my UI is restored with a further press of ctrl-F9. I haven't missed any damage spikes and the saftey repper I have on the Rook is still running, as is my energy transfer array to the other Guardian. I would rather a bug doesn't cause our destruction. I think I get quite a good picture too, although the best pictures generally come when we're under the heaviest fire and that's when I need to be paying the most attention. Even so, I also quite like the geometric shapes that our various repper and energy beams can produce over long ranges. They don't always translate well in to two dimensions, though.

Another engineer turns up ready to shoot Sleepers. There is a little difficulty getting her through the wormhole, but it turns out that she simply wasn't quite close enough to jump, and not as I thought that the wormhole wasn't big enough to allow the mass of her voluminous bottom through. Our current squad leader reaches the limit of his leadership skill, and the fleet is reorganised to preserve the skill-based boosts that only apply to a legitimately commanded fleet. It's just a shame that our now-delegated commander doesn't realise his demotion, as he warps what he thinks is the entire squad to the next anomaly. What quickly follows is a series of panicked yelps, and as new squad commander I feel somewhat obliged to send the fleet in after him.

It is only after I initiate the squad's warp that a new message is broadcast that our brave ex-commander has safely exited the Sleeper anomaly in one piece. I and a couple of other veterans of w-space cancel our warp drives in time to see the other three fly off. I suppose we should go after them now. Amidst the confusion, it transpires that my squad warp was initiated when the Rook pilot had just safely reached warp himself, so the wayward fleet ends up floating in space and not inside an anomaly. Once we have regrouped we head in to the anomaly together, clearing it swiftly. There is just one more anomaly to go, but warping to it only reveals a few floating wrecks. 'It's a trap!' Or the same anomaly was bookmarked twice by mistake.

The last anomaly is scanned for, warped to, and cleared. With a new recruit happily following behind us in a salvager boat, collecting all the loot in our wake, we manage to strip eight anomalies of profit in the evening. The occupants continue to show no activity, probably not waking up judging by the lack of any change on d-scan. It's been a good evening of combat.

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