Sneaking up on miners

1st July 2011 – 5.31 pm

Another day, another high-sec adventure. An empty first system moves me on to a second where I resolve two wormholes, giving me options. I choose to explore through the K162 from class 1 w-space first, leaving the class 2 w-space as an alternative. And my choice looks promising, as my directional scanner shows me a Drake battlecruiser teasingly named 'Kill Me Please', but only an off-line tower also in range. The Drake disappears before I can think about locating it, and I warp off to the distant planet in the system to see if there is permanent occupation here.

A tower reveals itself on the outskirts of this C1, with plenty of ships in its shields. I see an Anathema covert operations boat, two Bustard transport ships, a Covetor mining barge, the Drake, a Harbinger battlecruiser, Iteron hauler, Vexor cruiser, and even a Rorqual capital industrial ship, most of the ships piloted too. The Drake pilot swaps to a second Covetor, which is enticing, and whilst all of the ships remain in the tower I warp away to launch probes covertly. I throw the probes out of the system for now to keep them hidden, performing a blanket scan as I return to monitor the tower.

There are only two signatures in the system, one of which is the wormhole leading out to high-sec empire space. The occupants clearly keep the system clean and, as all the pilots remain stationary at the tower and out of range of the single unresolved signature, I find out what site remains available. It's a gravimetric site, which would explain the two Covetors, and perhaps the Drake seen on entering was clearing the Sleepers from the site to make it safe for an imminent mining operation. I have the gravimetric site resolved without the locals spotting my probes, but there is one more preparatory task I should make whilst I have time.

I warp at range to the site from the tower, noting the relative postion of the rocks, including those containing high-value ores, pleased to see that I am not decloaked when warping in. I can now plan a suitable ambush, but only if the miners come out of their tower. I warp back to watch them a little longer, surprised to now see a Chimera carrier at the tower, making me wonder what on earth they do with all these ships in a simple class 1 w-space system. None of the ships is making any kind of movement either and I don't want to wait forever. Whilst they make up their minds what they want to do, I head back to empire space to see what's happening in the other w-space system I found.

It is my third visit to the class 2 system, where previously I had five towers listed as active. I take a look to see if they are still around from ten months ago, and end up warping in to a bubble trap littered with mining drones. Thankfully the trap is ineffective and my cloak holds, but now in the heart of the system I see seven force fields on my directional scanner and eight moons, and I can't be bothered with finding and checking each tower for ships and pilots, and tracking them all for activity. I leave the C2 as quickly as I enter it and head back to the C1 to see if anyone has started mining yet.

A Covetor on d-scan when I jump in to the C1 is a good sign, and he must be in the gravimetric site if he's not in the tower. I warp in at range to take a look, dropping out of warp to see two Covetors now in the site. I bookmark the can that has now been jettisoned, giving me a convenient marker, and warp out so that I can come back to drop on top of the ships. In the short time it takes me to bounce out and in two more Covetors come to join the mining party, giving me four soft targets to aim for. I wonder how many I can get.

As my engines slow down to drop me out of warp I decloak, knowing that I have to wait for the sensor recalibration delay to pass, but the six seconds passes quickly and I am locking on to all four mining barges. I pick one as the target of my single warp disruptor and prevent it from leaving, hitting the ship with salvos from my missile launchers. I am tempted to cycle my warp disrupter across multiple ships, hoping that they are hitting warp before aligning, but I want to be sure of getting the kill and hold the point on my primary target. The other three Covetors align and warp clear before my missiles pop the first mining barge, but I get the kill as desired.

I have been punching d-scan for updates, concerned that help will arrive for the Covetors, but all that warps in is the Anathema, which is hardly a threat. And as the popped Covetor's pod warps out safely I opportunistically lock on to the only ship remaining, surprisingly getting a positive lock on the cov-ops. Maybe he was relying on his cloak to activate but ended up too close to the rocks, but I don't know. Whatever the reason, he's not getting away now. I prevent the Anathema from warping and start pounding the tiny ship with missiles, watching it pop most satisfyingly. The pilot must be disorientated, as his pod hangs around long enough for me to lock that too, and I am soon scooping another corpse in to my hold.

I hit the jackpot when looting the Anathema, almost all modules surviving, including a Sisters expanded probe launcher and the covert operations cloaking device. The only problem with having such lucrative spoils from the Anathema is that I have nowhere to hold all the mining crystals that are in the wreck of the Covetor. It's only ISK, though, and I shoot both wrecks once my hold is full to the brim or piratical loot, to deny any salvage to the locals. Still I see no threats on d-scan and it is only when I warp back close to the wormhole that the first sign of defence appears. An Onyx heavy interdictor warps to the wormhole and activates its warp bubble, which would be more effective if I couldn't crawl through it cloaked and jump out to the security of high-sec.

My new cov-ops Tengu strategic cruiser is working well, allowing me to scout effectively whilst giving me enough firepower for small engagements, removing the need to change ships. The fitting may need a tweak or two to be more effective in getting in to range and out of potential danger, but being self-sufficient and temporarily not tied to a home system is quite liberating, such that I don't have to rely on any particular exit being clear or not collapsing. Tonight I am able to return the way I came and, having had enough fun for the evening, head back one hop to my mission base to empty my hold of loot, making my Tengu ready for its next exploratory adventure.

  1. 3 Responses to “Sneaking up on miners”

  2. With covetors you can usually pop 1 before it gets to warp in cloaky t3s, with heat that is. So shooting 1, bumping another and shooting the 3rd can get you all three kills. Admittedly it does takes a bit of luck.

    By kryn on Jul 3, 2011

  3. That should have been pointing the third.

    By kryn on Jul 3, 2011

  4. Yes, that's a good plan, and the worst that can happen is you only get the pointed ship, which is what you would get anyway under a more conventional attack.

    Hulks, on the other hand, are actually pretty hardy, even if they are still rock-muching space-coffins, and I imagine the first would probably be in warp before its shields gave way.

    By pjharvey on Jul 3, 2011

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