Bumping in to rocks in space

27th August 2010 – 5.12 pm

Our pilots have a need to make some iskies. A fleet is currently engaging Sleepers in our home system and planning to continue in our neighbouring class 4 w-space system, afterwards opening the wormhole in that system in the hopes of finding more. I am happy to join in with the systematic annihilation of Sleepers, mostly because the fleet already has two pilots flying the paired Guardian logistic ships, so I get another chance to pilot my Tengu strategic cruiser. I am enjoying the dynamic and involving nature of flying my Tengu. I need to be aware of the range of my weapons and distances between each hostile ship, as well as taking care not to fly pod-first in to a barrage of Sleeper fire.

The Guardian pilots may not have matched skill training, requiring modified ship configurations or less able to throw spare capacitor energy around, but that only shows that the corporation needs more pilots willing to dedicate some training to the logistics ships. The more pilots able to fly a range of ships gives a greater level of flexibility for every operation. As Sleeper combat has come to require two Guardian pilots complementing battleships, or a reliance on strategic cruisers, a corporation pilot's ability to profit becomes dependent on being able to fly effectively in one of those fleets. There are only so many salvagers we can support.

A few anomalies are cleared in our home system without fuss and the wrecks are looted and salvaged. Three strategic cruisers, including my Tengu, jump in to the adjacent C4 to start creating more Sleeper wrecks whilst a scout explores further ahead in today's w-space constellation. My notes show that I've been in this class 4 system before, about fourteen weeks ago, and benignly suggest that I missed bombing a Hulk exhumer here. But I need to look beyond my overview of visited w-space systems to remember the events of that day, when hunting some miners sees returning reinforcements nearly get me and Fin in to trouble.

It's not just me considering miners now, as our scout in the next system along has seen two Hulks on the directional scanner. The question is whether they are mining or sitting inert inside the shields of a tower. Our scout goes looking for the mining ships as our strategic cruisers continue to pound on the Sleepers, the find coming mid-combat. We aren't going to stop shooting and swap ships if there are no valid targets, but when the local tower is found and the Hulks are elsewhere in the system we leave the last Sleeper battleship of the wave intact and head home. I swap the Tengu for my Onyx heavy interdictor, the other pilots changing from their strategic cruisers in to a Pilgrim recon ship and Myrmidon battlecruiser.

The new fleet warps out and jumps back in to our neighbouring C4 to congregate on the wormhole leading to the miners' system. Our scout still needs to locate the gravimetric site where the targets are and the fleet holds patiently on the wormhole as he scans. He finds the site and warps in, getting his nav-comp to drop out of warp fifty kilometres early, but doing so makes his ship bounce off a rock and decloak. The two Hulks see him and flee, warping out of the site along with a newly joined Covetor mining barge. We're not likely to be the instruments of needless capsuleer slaughter this evening. Even though the miners board their own Tengu cruisers it looks like sabre-rattling, as they don't leave the safety of their tower.

Warping in to a gravimetric site is tricky. The rocks in the site are spread over a hundred or more kilometres and there is no way of knowing how they are orientated until you reach the site. In my experience, the safest place to warp to in a gravimetric site whilst remaining cloaked is a short distance away from the cosmic signature, by maybe ten or twenty kilometres. All of the rocks are distant from the cosmic signature, as every miner who has warped to the site once just to make a bookmark to a better position knows. There will be no rocks at the signature and, as a result, no miners. Unless you use combat probes to find the mining ships themselves and warp the fleet directly to that position, warping close to the signature of the site first and bookmarking the rock being mined or jet-can of the miner is generally the best option.

Our ambush is thwarted but the Sleeper operation can continue. We swap back to strategic cruisers and warp in to the unfinished anomaly, finding the Sleeper battleship where we left it. The anomaly is soon cleared and, feeling bolder, we encroach on the system of the vanished miners and raid one of their radar sites, taking in a full fleet with Guardians and an ECM battleship, along with my Damnation command ship fitted with tractor beams, salvager II modules, and codebreakers. We have someone keeping an eye on the local tower, ensuring our safety and allowing us to steal plenty of profit from the system. It is an awful lot of fun salvaging and hacking in my hugship, retrieving Tech III proto-goodness along with standard Sleeper loot. The miners don't return, nor try to retaliate in combat ships, and we exit the system to get home safely with all our lovely profit.

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