Profiting from other's efforts

9th November 2011 – 5.04 pm

Intruder alert, intruder alert! I wake up on the outskirts of our home w-space system as is usual, cloaking immediately in my covert Tengu strategic cruiser, and all looks normal. I launch scanning probes, throw them out of the system, and warp to a spot within directional scanner range of the inner system as I arrange my probes to scan for new signatures, keeping them out of scanner range as much out of habit as a precaution against visitors. I can't remember the last time I was actually present when an unfamiliar fleet was actively engaging Sleepers in our system, but I know that it's happening now. I don't need my scanning probes to show me the ships, d-scan has the two Tengus and two Dominix battleships well in range, my probes simply confirm those four ships comprise the entirety of the fleet.

The intruding fleet is engaging Sleepers, stealing our loot. My probes show a diminished number of anomalies already, although d-scan only picks up wrecks from one site. I imagine they took a break, which I later realise was to salvage the wrecks before they disintegrated in space, and are starting afresh. The pilots are certainly taking advantage of the profit available to them. I'm glad glorious leader Fin turned up yesterday and we decided to realise some of the profit ourselves, blasting our way through a mere two anomalies before connection issues halted what could have been a rampage through many more. Just those two anomalies netted us a little under two hundred million ISK in loot and salvage, I can only imagine what the intruders are raking in.

I ensure I know which site the fleet is in and follow their progress, watching only on d-scan for now as I don't want to accidently bump off a structure, wreck, or ship and decloak to give my presence away. When the fleet clears the anomaly and moves on, and after the anomaly despawns to leave only the wrecks, I warp in behind them to reconnoitre the site. I make a pair of bookmarks, one that lets me sit at a range distant enough so I can warp to any of the wrecks, another of a wreck itself to give me a definite point I can always warp to. And then I sit at the first bookmark, the one distant from the carnage, and gaze upon all the lovely loot that will be filling other pilots' wallets. It seems like such a waste.

I'm not merely being maudlin, though. I make these bookmarks and keep myself hidden because I plan to ambush their salvager. The fleet clearly isn't salvaging as they shoot, and a Noctis salvager isn't obviously in the system, as my combat scanning probes don't pick up the extra ship, but the loot will have to be collected at some point. I wait in the first site in case the fleet's salvager is holding in the home system for an all-clear signal, but as the fleet fights on it seems more likely that the wrecks will be left until the fleet finishes, whenever that may be. And it may be a while. As I noted, plenty of anomalies have already disappeared, so unless we've had two roaming fleets pass through in the past eighteen hours these pilots are dedicated to their task. Having taken one break to salvage and then come back for more combat indicates they'll probably clear more than a couple of anomalies.

The fleet moves from the second anomaly to a third, with still no sign of a salvager, and so I wait for the second site to despawn and create a similar pair of bookmarks as to the first, making sure I am prepared for whatever order the sites will be salvaged in. I suppose I could try to spook the pilots, let my combat scanning probes slip in to d-scan range, but I don't know how the fleet would react. Maybe they'll retreat and not return to the system, which would keep most of our anomalies intact but deny me a shot at a salvager. And, to be honest, we're not likely to plunder most of these sites anyway, and I think I'd be content to trade them for popping another Noctis. There is also the point that if the fleet thinks they are threatened they probably won't send out a vulnerable salvager alone and unguarded, which would make any potential ambush more uncertain. I'm better remaining hidden, and here I have the advantage of appearing in the system. There are no new wormholes to give away my entrance, neither would a scout sitting outside our tower realise a new contact has appeared. If I have the patience, I have an excellent opportunity.

Another anomaly is cleared and the fleet disappears. I check the location of available anomalies and note that one is on the edge of the system and out of d-scan range of the inner planets. I warp out there to confirm that the fleet is continuing their combat, which they are, and haven't left the system, before I reconnoitre the third anomaly to make my bookmarks. I warp back to the edge of the system to keep tabs on the fleet, when I see a combat scanning probe on d-scan for the first time. I think I know what that's for, which if I'm right makes these pilots quite cunning. Happy that the fleet is shooting Sleepers I return to loiter in the first completed anomaly, in case a salvage appears unexpectedly, and mull over the presence of the probe. The fleet is now out of d-scan range of their completed sites and can no longer rely on d-scan to protect their spoils. In some circumstances I would be tempted to start looting the wrecks whilst they couldn't see me, indirectly showing my presence but at least making some good iskies. But with a combat scanning probe keeping an eye on the system the fleet can detect any new ships, warping back to shoo away looters if necessary. I remain hidden.

I make a new contact on d-scan, what I take to be a covert Tengu appearing briefly. It has been named 'core scanning probe', which is cute but doesn't fool me, and combined with its short time on d-scan makes me think it is covertly configured. If that is part of the intruding fleet it could pose problems, particularly if it intends to shadow their salvager. I won't worry about it for now, but keep it in mind. A second appearance on d-scan of the cloaky Tengu comes and goes, and still the fleet fights on. I imagine it's one of their ships, and the double showing suggests jumping in and out of the system, which are fair assumptions. But the fleet disappears, almost in a blink of an eye. And there, on d-scan, is another Tengu, this one with a strangely familiar name. Cotillion sounds like one of our ships, but I remain the sole member of our corporation in this system at the moment. I can't remember if that is Shev's ship or not, but it soon disappears too and whether it was a shadow or glitch I can't say. Either way, the fleet saw it too and it was enough to have them scuttling home, the anomaly they had moved to barely started. I wonder what will happen now.

Still sitting at range in the first cleared anomaly I wait and watch d-scan carefully. I would be surprised if the fleet left all of this loot behind, after all their invested time, and I would be equally surprised if they sent in an unguarded Noctis, so I watch d-scan not only for an approaching salvager but also any other ships that enter the system. I still haven't scanned and so cannot sit on the wormhole watching transits directly, but even a covert ship is visible for a few seconds before its cloak regains integrity. I just need to be vigilant. Oh splendid, there's a Noctis entering the system now. This is perhaps where it gets complicated, as I need to work out where the Noctis is heading, which may involve using the system map and a narrow-beam d-scan, whilst also trying to keep an eye on ships following behind the salvager. As luck would have it, it's all nice and easy. The Noctis warps nice and predictably to the first anomaly, appearing right in front of me and clearly on my overview, and d-scan picks up a Nemesis stealth bomber entering the system before cloaking.

I'm not quite sure I can believe that. A fleet of four is only going to send a single stealth bomber to guard its Noctis and, by extension, all of their unrealised profit for the evening? D-scan shows me no other ships, and I've been watching closely. Regardless, I want to strike the Noctis hard and fast. The Nemesis appeared after the Noctis, which is also a curious decision, giving me a small window when I can attack before the bomber even reaches this site to act as unseen protection. I warp in to get close to the salvager, and decloak and burn towards the ship as I get my weapon systems hot. I get a positive target lock, disrupt the ship's warp engines, and start shooting. It's an easy kill, my missiles shredding the industrial ship's shields and armour, until it pops and ejects the pilot's pod.

Catching the pod is normally more difficult, as they are supremely agile and can enter warp almost in a moment. But there is a brief sensation of disorientation, as a pilot is ripped from the links of their ship, and today it works in my favour. I lock the pod of the salvager, stop it from warping away, and start shooting. It may be brutal, but it's what I do. And as I start cracking open the pod the Nemesis appears, not in time to save the salvager but perhaps still hoping to make a difference. The stealth bomber locks on to my Tengu and starts firing. I don't even blink. I knew the Nemesis was around and although I can't say I was expecting his appearance, as a stealth bomber versus a strategic cruiser seems a little one-sided to me, I am certainly not surprised. I return the target lock and, as the salvaging pilot turns in to a frozen corpse, move my warp disruptor over to bomber, along with the rest of my weapon systems. He graciously appeared at just the right time to give me a second target.

Torpedoes from the Nemesis all but bounce off my shields, barely scratching my ship's defences. My heavy assault missiles, on the other hand, are ripping through the Nemesis. The pilot realises the error in his ways and backs off, trying to get out of range of my warp disruptor, but I counter his movement and am able to catch up and haul him back. The Nemesis is deep in to structure damage when I get his velocity back to a crawl, unable to break free, and the small ship explodes in beautiful blue flames. I aim for the second pod I have got thrown out to space today, and snare this one too. A few more volleys of missiles is all it takes to have a second corpse appear on my overview.

All the time during the attack I've been checking d-scan for signs of more ships entering the system, but none came that I could see. Indeed, with the death of the Nemesis's pilot I am left alone in this cleared anomaly, and I have time to scoop the corpses, and loot and shoot and wrecks of the Nemesis and Noctis, the latter now over twenty kilometres behind me after the short chase. Once my formalities are complete I re-activate my cloak and sit once again in a monitoring position, watching for changes and reflecting on the fight. I am still amazed the fleet sent only a sole stealth bomber to protect their salvager, particularly after being spooked by a Tengu. I am also surprised that the Nemesis attacked, although I admire his spirit for doing so. I would at least have expected a bomb assault, even though it is rather indiscriminate and would have harmed the Noctis and destroyed some wrecks, but the Nemesis was fitted with a probe launcher instead. But I am immensely pleased with the result. Popping and podding the salvager, and his protection, is more than I thought I'd achieve tonight.

That still leaves the wrecks. There are five cleared anomalies full of loot and salvage to recover. I wouldn't be surprised if a second salvager was sent out, one rather more hardy and with a more threatening guard, but perhaps the fleet of four now being reduced to half-strength prevents them trying to get their spoils, or at least is strongly discouraging. That could mean I could loot the wrecks myself, but just because they aren't going to claim it doesn't mean they won't try to stop anyone else from getting it. I watch d-scan nervously for a while, wondering if more cloaky ships will enter the system to get revenge should anyone try to steal from the wrecks, but all I see is a Buzzard covert operations boat. I don't know if he's come to monitor me, head out to empire space to guide the new clones home, or, as I only consider later, is actually the fleet's scout heading home for the night. I see no other ships enter or leave the system.

A lack of wormhole transits doesn't mean the system is safe, particularly when I'm only monitoring them passively using d-scan. But it all looks quiet, and it would be criminal to let all that profit simply disintegrate in to space dust. With a little trepidation I warp to our tower for the first time this evening, stow the Tengu for my Cormorant salvaging destroyer, and head out to the start stealing back the waiting loot. I don't head for the first anomaly immediately, although I am aware of the approaching two-hour limit for those wrecks, as I don't want to be quite so easy to find if anyone is looking. Salvaging in w-space can be worrying at the best of times, more so when an attack is known to have taken place. I suppose I was the attacker and should feel safe, but I am constantly looking over my shoulder, and that's not easy when salvaging yellow wrecks.

My previous excursion in the Marquis of Granby was only recent, so I have a little practice with burning towards a wreck, looting and cycling salvager modules, and moving to the next yellow wreck, not being able to rely on tractor beams to help me. That was in a class 3 w-space anomaly, though, with fewer wrecks, although I suppose I had ambushed a salvager that night too. Even so, I feel more at threat tonight, because I am in my home system and not roaming elsewhere. I should feel safe here. I clear one anomaly of wrecks, and then a second before returning to the tower to empty my cargo hold of loot. I intended to do so after each site but entered warp to the next before I remembered my intentions and could cancel the warp command. It turned out okay, and I needed to return after the second because my destroyer's hold could carry no more.

I move on to the third and fourth sites, sweeping through the sometimes clustered, sometimes dispersed wrecks, making good use of the bookmarks I made two hundred kilometres out to quickly and safely traverse points fifty kilometres apart. I am updating d-scan as often as my salvaging allows, having to concentrate on finding an at least acceptable path between the wrecks, early on abandoning the idea of mentally calcuating an optimal one, plumping instead for a route that would take as little time as possible and doesn't double-back. Point towards the wreck, pulse the micro warp drive, activate salvagers, loot the hull, select the next targeted wreck, repeat. Target new wrecks along a suitable path if necessary. All the time I check d-scan, but all I see is the number of wrecks diminish.

I have bookmarks to five sites, but I only remember definitely looting four, once more calling in to question my ability to count to low numbers. But I loot and salvage all the wrecks I can find from each site I have bookmared, the only ones finally left being in the started but far-from-completed anomaly the intruders fled from, which resolutely defies to despawn for me to profit maximally. I can hardly complain. Not only do I have two ship kills and two new corpses for my collection, but my salvaging in the warm afterglow has brought back a rather impressive 450 million ISK in loot. That's pure profit, all from the anomalies in our home system, and all without firing a shot at a Sleeper. It has been quite an evening.

  1. 12 Responses to “Profiting from other's efforts”

  2. OutSTANDing. Kudos and hats off.

    By Doyce (Ty Delaney) on Nov 9, 2011

  3. LOl! Really good story! I definitely loled at the end.

    How long did it take those 4 guys to burn through all those anomalies? (IE: how long did you watch them and how long does it take to make 450mil in sleeper space?)

    By Susan Black on Nov 9, 2011

  4. Thanks, guys, it was a hell of an evening.

    Time is hard to gauge in any MMOG, Susan. I think the story unfolded over the course of two hours. I caught the fleet before they moved from the first anomaly, although they had done some earlier, and salvaged the wrecks before they disintegrated, which happens two hours after creation.

    However, I engaged the Noctis and Nemesis earlier than the two hours, because of the fortuitous interruption, and waited perhaps half-an-hour afterwards to help ensure the system was quiet before salvaging. And salvaging itself took longer for them being yellow wrecks and my piloting the destroyer than it would have for a Noctis with corporation-owned wrecks.

    Essentially, I waited as long as I could without risking losing the wrecks to space. But, ignoring the complications, a fleet of four competent pilots sweeping through a class 4 w-space system rich with anomalies could pull in 450M ISK in probably an hour or so. In comparison, Fin and I can ransack a class 3 system for around 250M ISK per hour in our Tengus, which was increased by maybe 25% when swapping a Tengu for a Golem. The marauder chewed through the battleships and salvaged as we went. That was a nice boat to have to lose.

    By pjharvey on Nov 9, 2011

  5. Nice job, I had invaders yesterday too but was helpless to attack them as all of my combat pilots are out of the hole. I did manage to sneak up on their noctis one time with my cov ops boat, but he flew away before I could close distance. I felt pretty hopeless with no one there to engage with so I moved my combat probes in close to them until the left my hole and I scanned down their wh. I parked my cov ops there and watched them for a while they sent in a manticore and a cov ops. But since I didn't have my anoms bookmarked I couldn't get to the site they were at and they kept cloaked whenever I got a hit on combat probes. I suspect they either looted the remaining wrecks or they expired. Dotlan shows about 150 npc kills for yesterday, and it looks like I have about 5-10 less anoms than I had. I didn't eve have enough people there to close their hole to me so it was a frustrating . I think we may be moving out of wspace till after the pos fuel changes.

    By Zandramus on Nov 9, 2011

  6. I do so love a happy ending.

    By Planetary Genocide on Nov 10, 2011

  7. What I like to do as a countermeasure when running Sleeper anoms is to keep moving. I bookmark say, six sites. Then I warp to the first one, kill a spawn, warp to the next, kill a spawn, etc. Along the way, I make additional BMs. I do the same when salvaging. I do lose some anoms to despawning as a result, but it it hopefully makes me a harder target to find. Does it work? It seems to. It could just be more trouble then it is worth and only provides an illusion of an extra layer of security. Of course, a well executed ambush like the one detailed in the post would put paid to a mobile salvaging plan.

    By JamesT on Nov 10, 2011

  8. Hats off Penny, hats off! 07

    By Afandi on Nov 10, 2011

  9. I know this sounds silly (cause they left a site half done),

    But their tactics sound so fail, I wonder if they left cause they were too tired to continue?

    Then again a solo SB (something that really needs to stick to the only thing its good for: ganking industrials)
    as escort is fail no matter what way you cut it so, maybe they were actually that stupid.

    By Easy Eve on Nov 10, 2011

  10. Might I suggest that the first Anom's wrecks went poof?

    By Ed on Nov 10, 2011

  11. Whee, reverse order!

    Ed, bookmarks are time-stamped so I had a good idea when they would disintegrate, but it's quite possible I got it a bit wrong and lost the first site, particularly as I didn't salvage it first in case I was still being watched.

    Careful about suggesting solo stealth bombers are only good against indies, Easy Eve, as others have tried to educate me about their ability to take on battleships. As for the fleet's tactics, what astonishes me most is that they were spooked by a Tengu, so they should have fully expected a Tengu, against which a solo stealth bomber will always lose. I honestly don't know what they expected their Nemesis pilot to do. Which, by the way, was not to bomb me, as it was fitted with a probe launcher instead. That initially seemed a strange choice too, until I realised that they probably didn't want to throw a bomb at their own Noctis full of loot.

    Thanks, Afandi and PG. Nights like this don't come along often, and I enjoyed every unfolding minute of it.

    JamesT, that's an interesting way to approach running anomalies and would definitely make you harder to track. Eventually, I believe a savvy pilot would sit still and wait for you to drop out of warp on top of him, but the unfamiliar strategy would certainly confuse initially.

    Zandramus, whilst w-space certainly is better for small fleet combat it still can come down to a matter of numbers, and I know how you feel when there are ships you ought to be able to defeat if only you had an extra pilot or two with you. Still, there are nights when you are outnumbered, and nights when you outnumber your targets. We have to accept the first and make the most of the second.

    By pjharvey on Nov 10, 2011

  12. @pjharvey
    Well despite how long I've been playing Eve, I'm admittedly a bit of a PvP noob, and closet carebear.

    And for sure SB vs BS gives distinct advantage to a SB... fleet.
    But I honestly can't think of any situation where a solo SB is a hard counter.

    As for the Tengu spook; my fragile theory that they never saw it, but just hit the sack out of need for sleep.

    But I'm more inclined to side with your assessment, just offering an alternative theory.

    Oh, BTW thanks for this blog!
    I just resubbed over a month ago, and have moved into a WH.
    These stories are EXTREMELY helpful.

    As to whether your tactic is effective for same reason sasquatch repellant would be; or because its genuinely viable, would be up for debate intense 'to the death' debate.

    By Easy Eve on Nov 10, 2011

  13. Yes, it's possible a dual-boxing member of the fleet had to leave abruptly, causing their departure mid-way through clearing an anomaly, and also explaining why the Noctis had a single escort.

    But, despite the length of my posts suggesting otherwise, I have to force myself not to speculate on every possibility for other pilots' actions. They will remain opaque to me, unless they happen to read the post, and so I try to restrict myself to the most likely scenario based primarily on my own observations, which is pretty much all I can rely on.

    I'm glad you're enjoying my posts, it's good to know you find them helpful. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    By pjharvey on Nov 13, 2011

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