Armour tanking in a pulsar system

31st March 2010 – 5.16 pm

Scanning has a purpose! I need to get myself a new Manticore after the old one exploded, and to do that I have to dock in empire space to buy one from the market. There is a slight complication in that our current static wormhole has been deemed inappropriate for some reason, and an operation is in progress to close it. However, the benefit is that a new wormhole will soon be open and there are people around to help with scanning, which will make the process quicker. Once the wormhole is collapsed the new one is found, and two of us jump through for some co-operative scanning.

The neighbouring system is unoccupied and full of juicy signatures to resolve. Actually, the anomalies don't need to be resolved, as any ship's on-board scanner can find them reliably, and anomalies are the bread-and-butter w-space PvE. The signatures are gas, gas, rocks, and gas, predictably enough, although a couple of radar and magnetometric sites are also found. And the occasional wormhole, which my colleague finds. My calculations at quickly finding wormholes based on their initial signature strengths still needs more data to be reliable. Another colleague turns up for three-capsuleer scanning as we jump in to the next system, one we visited about five weeks ago. It is still uninhabited, and I find a wormhole out of here on my second attempt, hitting gas initially.

Our third system of the night is inhabited, and contains an exit to low-sec space. I hope that the BYE signature will spit us out somewhere convenient, but it only leads to more gas. With all of this gas, I am wondering just how much of a vacuum it really is out there, not that I am keen to leave my pod to find out, though. The low-sec exit turns out to be good enough to bring in a couple of allied pilots who are happy to shoot Sleepers with us, and as they dash to join us in a fleet I find I don't have time to shop for a new stealth bomber. I head back to the tower and swap in to my Guardian logistics ship in preparation for combat. The neighbouring system contains a pulsar, which boosts shields, and we are nominally an armour-based fleet. Our lack of fitness for a pulsar system and the extra pilots in the fleet should shake us Guardian pilots out of our rut steady groove.

Our allied friends turn up. We lend them a couple of ships to use and we are soon enough jumped in to the neighbouring system and have two cleared anomalies behind us, initial combat causing few real problems. Another Wormhole Engineer turns up and, after having to scan for the static wormhole from all of us forgetting to drop a bookmark in the can, joins us to shoot Sleepers. All these ships certainly are a lot to take care of, even when my drone bay is loaded with armour repair drones and I have no need to target the Sleepers themselves. One energy transfer is permanently targeted on the other Guardian, the other is on either the Megathron or Abaddon, as they suck their own capacitors dry pretty quickly otherwise. And the greater number of ships gives the Sleepers more targets, so we need to be more alert to incoming damage. It is not as simple as making sure our punching bag of a Scorpion pilot is kept safe. Besides which, the Scorpion doesn't have its normal pilot this evening.

This sized fleet means our current squad leader has to promote me to wing commander in order to preserve a legitimate fleet, to grant fleet bonuses. I am pleased that my training in the leadership skills helps the fleet. On top of that, some of the core skills I've been focussing on recently look to be helping indirectly, allowing a greater number of reppers to be run off a single incoming energy transfer array for much longer, whilst using the second array to transfer enery to a battleship at the same time. It's good to see positive results from utilitarian skill training. I also quite enjoy being wing commander, even if I should not be put in charge of a fleet, but it has the drawback of not being included in squad movements, and I find myself loitering in a cleared anomaly as everyone else warps to the next. I probably should have mentioned something. It's not a problem to catch up shortly, as all ships have tended to survive ten seconds or so alone in a Sleeper anomaly.

And with the anomalies being cleared so quickly and smoothly, and with a fair-sized fleet, we head in to magnetometric sites to grab some Sleeper artefacts for greater profits. The first magnetometric site even has a deserted Talocan cruiser to be salvaged. My fabulous Damnation is refitted with an analyser module to enable it to provoke the secondary waves of Sleepers with little risk of exploding, although I am not the lucky one to be pilotting it today. The Damnation is swapped for a specialised analysing Kestrel once the Sleepers are cleared from the site and we leave it to grab all the artefacts whilst we move on to a second site, again with a deserted Talocan cruiser. I can almost feel all the iskies flooding in to my wallet. But we need an analyser to alert the second wave of Sleepers in this second magnetometric site.

The Kestrel warps in to our site, after one of the fleet warps in to the previous site to prevent it from despawning in the meantime, and starts to analyse the artefacts, hoping to provoke a Sleeper response. But nothing occurs when the first artefact is recovered. She continues, and on the third artefact the Sleepers appear. The poor Kestrel gets targeted and fired upon quickly, but it is expected and the ship is primed to warp out quickly. I note that the Sleepers' missiles keep homing in on the Kestrel even as it warps away, making a sharp diversion and getting a big boost in speed as the frigate's warp drive engages. Nothing strikes the fragile ship, though, our pilot getting away cleanly. The second magnetometric site is then cleared of Sleeper activity before the Kestrel returns to grab all the loot. But it is a little challenging, as the pulsar detrimentally affects our systems enough that when four Sleeper Safeguard battleships concentrate fire on the Scorpion it takes all we have to prevent it imploding. And that was after our Ishtar pilot didn't want to wait to see if we could maintain his hull integrity, wisely warping out with minimal armour left after the Sleepers' alpha strike hit him.

But we cope. The second Talocan cruiser even turns out to be only a malfunctioning hull, the second tier of salvage, where we normally get wrecked hulls. It's been quite an interesting evening. Flying with a larger fleet has kept me actively engaged in keeping all ships in a fit state. The faster micro-warp drive-boosted battleships easily fly twice as fast as my Guardian, the slower ECM Scorpion less than half my speed, and with Sleepers appearing over twice my effective module range apart it has been challenging to maintain suitable ranges for my systems to be effective on all ships. It has been a fun and enjoyable evening of plundering sites of specific Sleeper interest.

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