Banging my Loki against a customs office

23rd May 2014 – 5.23 pm

We still have a clean, minimalist system at home. That suits me just fine. I'll go next door. Updating my directional scanner on the other side of our static wormhole sees four towers and two haulers in the class 3 w-space system. Core scanning probes are also already out, no doubt having picked up our wormhole's appearance. There's not much we can do about that.

My notes for the system put me here ten months ago. Back then we popped a Retriever mining barge, and five minutes after that caught a Badger hauler collecting planet goo. Maybe there's hope for activity still, even if our wormhole has been spotted. There are three ore sites in the system, which has me feeling optimistic, until I realise they are all in range and no mining barges can be see on d-scan. In that case, I'll look for the haulers.

The towers are different now than they were during my previous visit, the new ones straightforward enough to locate. An Epithal is at one tower, a Tayra at another, and I warp across to see that the Epithal is piloted and potentially active. I sit and watch him for a minute. An Astero frigate warps in to the tower shortly, probably the scout, and the Epithal blinks off-line. Whatever. Let's see what the Tayra is up to.

The second hauler is in a tower around a planet with plenty of moons, so I have to get cracking with d-scan to find him. It's a simple enough process, just somewhat time-consuming, and I am soon enough warping away from the tower with the empty Tayra to continue watching the Astero at the first tower. I'm not sure why I'm doing that, but it's the only visible piloted ship in the system.

I get back to the Astero just in time to see it too blink off-line. At least I know that it has gone off-line rather than warped and cloaked. I suppose I'll scan. All seven signatures are nice and chubby, which will make scanning quick, and there are wormholes everywhere, just one gas site propping up the results. I've resolved a K162 from class 4 w-space, a suspiciously pristine static exit to low-sec, a K162 from low-sec that obviously comes from Verge Vendor, and the Epithal is back on d-scan.

Ignoring the other two signatures, I make a bee-line back to the tower with the Epithal. Or an Epithal. I really need to write the pilot names down. Either way, will the pilot be curious about all these new signatures, or just go wild? Maybe he'll sit entirely inert inside the tower's force field, until a Helios covert operations boat turns up, at which point the Epithal blinks off-line again. Okay, I'll reconnoitre the other two wormholes. An N968 outbound connection to more class 3 w-space and a K162 from null-sec.

Time to get the exits then hit the C4 K162. Or I can warp to the U210, update d-scan, and see the Epithal once more on-line. To the tower! The Helios is gone and the hauler is moving. Only to a hangar, where the pilot swaps to a Nereus hauler. An honest-to-goodness hauler, not some silly abomination of a ship designed to be everything it shouldn't be. How exciting for me! The Helios returns, maybe from the K162 from Verge Vendor, and, balls, the Nereus is swapped back for the Epithal.

Watching the Epithal warp

The Helios disappears properly this time and the Epithal moves once more. Specifically, the hauler aligns for warp, heading towards a distant planet. It's a planet with a tower, I think, but I'll assume he's going for the customs office and follow behind, full of dreams of popping another planet gooer. Yep, the Epithal is by the customs office when I drop out of warp, so I drop my cloak on deceleration, activate my sensor booster, and get a positive target lock.

Ambushing the Epithal at a w-space customs office

I take no chances. I overheat my high rack, start my guns shooting as hard as they can, and surge forwards to give the Epithal a solid shunt. But it's no good. My guns merely graze the hauler's shields, and he turns and accelerates in to warp as I close the gap, away from my three points of warp disruption as if he had to compromise his hauling capacity to increase his survivability. Of course, we all know he had to make no such choice. The ship design is ridiculous for the ship class.

Epithal flees my attentions

  1. 21 Responses to “Banging my Loki against a customs office”

  2. Audibly snorted at the title, much to the chagrin of an elderly female colleague. Thank you.

    By Mortlake on May 23, 2014

  3. Always a pleasure to entertain with my words.

    By pjharvey on May 23, 2014

  4. Penny

    I don't understand why you insist on not fitting for gank.

    You have the choice of what fights to engage in. Your prey does not.

    Oh well, others are still getting the kills you used to.

    By Foo on May 24, 2014

  5. I don't have the choice of fights that you suggest I do. I don't leave my system knowing what I'm going to find, let alone engage, so I have to fit my ship for a breadth of situations. The mobile depot doesn't really help. That's designed for navigating through dangerous space and refitting at a destination, not for remaining covert and adjusting when a target is spotted.

    I know that you don't understand why I don't fit five points of warp disruption, significantly compromising my fit in order to catch one class of ship, because you don't see the absurdity of needing five points of warp disruption for one over-engineered, cheap, basic, industrial ship that doesn't have diminished capability as a result of fitting four warp core stabilisers that lets it remain stupidly safe in very dangerous space.

    By pjharvey on May 24, 2014

  6. As a carebear who regularly pads people's killboards with my dead mining ships, reading your frustrations over trying to kill lowly Epithals makes me happy happy happy. I have zero sympathy for ya, bro. Mebbe try to blap something else?

    By Amari on May 24, 2014

  7. I go for damage rather than tackle when trying to catch an epithal, and hope I canpop it before it warps. Works sometimes and not the others but sure beats trying to juggle ship fits.

    By amarrahh on May 24, 2014

  8. Dangerous space is meant to be dangerous for everyone, not just those in combat ships.

    By pjharvey on May 24, 2014

  9. @PJ; no I don't see it as absurd.

    What I see is that an industrial ship fitted to escape can do so from a default ship, and there is a very easy counter.

    Rock, paper, scissors is an interesting change. With rock being DPS T3, paper being Epithal, and either 5 points or high alpha being the scissors.

    You would prefer to move back to any rock, any scissors beats paper; far less interesting. You want one optimal fit does all. I do not.

    It removes the gank fit from the 'reasons to fly' list

    We both share the same frustration, though to different degrees, that there is currently no reasonable alternative to at least 3 WCS (the 4th being a DCU to protect against some gankers)

    Personally I think it would be better game design so that a high DPS ship have even more options to take out an epithal.

    So my proposal is a WCS having a longer time time to enter warp.

    All of the above said, I encourage you to give your 2 ISK worth about the upcoming deep space transport changes. You might end up longing for the days of Epithals.

    They look to potentially be an 170M Epithal replacement - DST replacements - currently being officially kicked around the forums. These address some of your previous concerns about unbonused ships surviving, but not in a way you will like.

    As in CCP are making a T2 bonused deep space transport to be safer than the Epithal, with the same cargo space.

    By Foo on May 25, 2014

  10. DSTs should be safer than T1 industrials, because they cost roughly 100x as much. Of course, they are also going to be rather painful to lose for the same reason.

    As for your "fitted for escape", that's the problem. Epithals are all "fitted for escape" because they lose nothing by doing so. No other ship in the game is comparable; they all have reasons to use low slots for stuff other than warp core stabilization. Well, the new DSTs are somewhat comparable. I guess they are going to make the same mistake twice. Seven lowslots. Ugh.

    By Von Keigai on May 25, 2014

  11. When hunters decide that they want to hunt planetary gooers/transports by default and keep their pvp fit in their cargo hold, they will render the 4wcs fit useless.

    Until that happens, or the nerf bat gets thrown at the epithal, we at least agree that they are going to be 4wcs fit.

    By Foo on May 25, 2014

  12. To all those who say 'serves you right you evil pirate' etc.
    Keep in mind, if everyone can safely do PI the prices go down, so yea you're safer but you're also prolly making less isk.
    Personally I think risk was already very low, I have been doing PI for a while and have not once been caught, so i'd rather not have 4 stab epis for everyone and have my competition be blown up more often.
    (I also shoot any epis i can. Have a 5 point bomber for it and all)
    Just a thought.

    By Mick Straih on May 25, 2014

  13. You want one optimal fit does all. I do not.

    And yet you have no problem with the Epithal.

    I think I've been quite clear that I don't want, or expect, one fit to do all. I have publicly gone from having a long point, to a scram, to a faction scram, increasing my risk—from needing to engage at shorter range—and increasing my cost—about 100 million ISK for a faction scram compared to a couple of million—to adapt to the targets available to me.

    Even with these adaptations, when haulers got away from me—before the Epithal—I was never angry or frustrated that they did, because I knew they made a choice, one that compromised their capability. Now there is no such compromise. Adding a warp core stabiliser adds survivability to the ship without in any way removing capability.

    As for the coming changes, CCP seem to be sticking with design of adding specialised bays to ships. This is a dubious decision, because option and choice has traditionally come through different fittings and the use of modules, in this case, primarily expanded cargoholds and warp core stabilisers. Removing the need to fit one type of module without removing the fitting slots they took up allows for a different type of module to be used without compromise. The problem is exacerbated when you consider that neither module suffers from stacking penalties.

    The specialised bay removes any need for cargo expanders, which removes the balance between cargo capacity and warp core strength, and the drawback for fitting WCS to industrial ships no longer applies. I've been through all of this before. You didn't agree with me then, you won't agree with me now. You don't even seem to agree that industrial ships should be valid targets in dangerous space, a notion shared by other players, like Amari above. No wonder, if CCP continue to design industrial ships to both withstand and repel more and more types of attack.

    By pjharvey on May 25, 2014

  14. Alas it seems the best thing you can do these days against Epithal's is to bring a friend with an interdictor and send them and the pod back to HS.

    It's a shame all PI runners have been reduced to Epithals, the previous mix of all sorts made it so much more interesting.

    I guess we're just going to have to adapt as CCP is clearly going down the path of more escapable ships. I've already got a dual scram interceptor purely for catching ventures.

    I've come close to swapping out my web for a 2nd 3-point scram a couple of times. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate the cargohold and see if I can squeeze in a depot as well as the medium bubble.

    By BayneNothos on May 26, 2014

  15. I doubt we are going to change each other's mind. What I will ask is that you read my words before incorrectly summarising them.

    When was the last time I chatted about the Epithal without suggesting my own nerf? In this conversation I suggested a nerf, and have been suggesting it for a long time.

    I agree that there is an issue. I disagree with your solution.

    CCP is clearly looking to give haulers more dedicated space without requiring cargohold extenders, with them explicitly stating so for the DST changes.

    It's a buff to me, I am only going to fight it so much.

    However, while I selfishly am very happy with the current state of Epithals, I can understand that it also makes my competition safe as well. I want an element of skill and luck required to keep Epithals safe. Similarly I want an element of skill and luck to successfully hunt us.

    From a design perspective, I want to get away from between 30% & 70% of ganks. Neither extreme really suits either party.

    I am very happy knowing that there are stealth ships out there that eat Epithals. At the moment that appears to be stealth bombers. I do not remember the last time one of our corp members survived one. Von Keigei took a Manticore out for a successful hunt recently. Low cost, and doing much better than a T3.

    I would like to see you in a SB just to see what is achievable. My attempts at hunting are laughable, but I did go successfully hunting for WCS fit FW farmers, even if it did take me many ships to succeed.

    My understanding is 2 fold; (1) SB appear to burn Epithals before they can enter warp, and (2) SB have plenty of mids to fit 3 T2 scrams. I don't know that all 3 are needed.

    The outcome I would *like* to see (and you probably wont) :
    * WCS fit Epithal survives against a PVP fit T3. My preference is that this is *even* when you have 3 points.
    * WCS fit fails against DPS fit ship; regardless of whether that be stealth bomber, recon, or T3. What little pew pew I do is in armor. So for me this means less tank, more damage mods; but it could also apply to damage rigs.
    * Epithal fails vs standard fit of some other ship. At the moment the ship that ship seems to be Stealth Bombers (they appear to alpha us off the field)

    *How* I propose this is fit is a WCS stacking penalty on entering warp; that is, you can shrug of tackles easy, but to do so means you have increased mass. I *think* this would work well for FW as well; being the other group to be significantly unhappy about WCS.

    Tweaking numbers would be left to a number cruncher better than I.

    Another nerf I would be willing to accept: Faction WCS priced similarly faction scrams, that provide 2 points of stab, with Epi's only being able to fit 2 WCS (reduced to 2 low slots? Hard limit on number of WCS being able to be added to ships?)

    I doubt I would use faction WCS normally; The last few times I have died, it's been on wormhole camps and not at pocos. This includes dc'ing in a viator, just as I entered wormhole, straight into a camp that I thought there was a chance of being there (hence the viator).

    TLDR; while there are cheap stealth ships that eat 4 WCS Epithals for breakfast, I consider the current position of Epithals reasonable. WCS having a stacking penalty to agility/mass to increase time to warp seems reasonable.

    By Foo on May 26, 2014

  16. What you aren't acknowledging is that what used to be a battle of cat-and-mouse no longer exists. It used to be that both sides, hunter and hunted, had choices to make. How many points of warp disruption does the hunter fit? What fitting choices do you make to accommodate the points, including accounting for the likely range of engagement? For the hunted, how much cargo do you fit for? Are you better off making one trip being vulnerable or many being safer? All of these decisions, going backwards and forwards as trends change, have been removed. Now it is only the hunter who has a decision to make. It's a completely one-sided affair where before the other player was an unknown quantity. And it is a decision, not a choice. Do I fit to catch Epithals or not?

    What choices do you make when fitting the Epithal? What choices are there to make now? What happens when all you meet are stealth bombers with five points of warp disruption? What do you do to counter that? There is no paper-scissors-stone that there once was. If you know you're going to lose your ships if you get caught, you can't swap the WCS for more cargo capacity to make fewer runs, because there isn't that option. The current design decisions are forcing a trend for one-fit ships, exactly what you don't want to see, which is why I can't understand your acceptance of the Epithal.

    By pjharvey on May 26, 2014

  17. Epithals are not hard to kill, multiple points or just bump them out of alignment. You have 10 seconds to catch them, if you are not at the right range don't try it.

    Have done Pi for a long time and the only thing that would worry me are interdictors.

    By Trib on May 27, 2014

  18. I am not sure I ever participated in this cat & mouse game, but not for want of trying.

    My lowsec PI career is full of dead iterons with many different fits. Max WCS. Max tank. Max evasion. Mixes of the above. Granted that I could not fly an iteron V for much of that.

    I still have this instinctive belief that being on grid with a hunter means I have lost a ship hull.

    So, my 'primary' tank is not being on grid with a hunter, as a rule I am not too bad at it when doing PI. Flying via a safe or a moon works. Some of my safes are nearly 'in line' with planets that I don't do PI on, so I am misdirecting cloaked hunters.

    Against some fits and ships, I still expect to lose a ship if I land on grid with them. I know that there are successful hunters, and am content with that.

    When we see more 5-6 point SB's attack Epithals, I will look at AOE ECM, max tank and evasion fits; and try to get our align time down. Yes I know ECM on an unbonused ship is horrible, but better than guaranteed dead.

    I also see high dps ships finishing off Epithals; potentially requiring a mixed tank.

    That is, I see room for evolving Epithal fits as hunter choices change.

    What I like about the current state is that, against some default fits, I now survive. So, at the moment I see that hunter problems should be solved by hunter flexibility.

    By Foo on May 27, 2014

  19. I still have this instinctive belief that being on grid with a hunter means I have lost a ship hull.

    As it should be, more times than not, if the target is in an industrial ship.

    Targets don't just drop in to our lap. We have to find them, stalk them covertly, and chase them when they become vulnerable. This almost always takes a fair amount of time, patience, and some element of risk, and often results in not finding targets in the first place. Our reward is a kill. A soft kill, but a kill all the same.

    Apparently, this effort is not being recognised. Industrial ships are becoming ever more hardened and designed to be able to escape, whilst carrying more then ever before. I have yet to see any justification for industrial ships being able to survive a basic-fit combat ship, except that pilots don't like losing them.

    'Epithals are not hard to kill', writes Trib, even though he's 'done Pi for a long time and the only thing that would worry me are interdictors'. Industrial pilots should be worried about every combat ship in lawless, dangerous space.

    By pjharvey on May 27, 2014

  20. industrial ships being able to survive a basic-fit combat ship

    This is the rub; it's industrials surviving that appears to be the issue. The fact that it's the current default fit makes it additionally galling.

    Not landing on grid with a hunter also takes a degree of effort.

    My best justification for haulers surviving the current hunter fits is that I see there can/should be gank fits even in dangerous space.

    As an aside, if If Trib is only worried about dictors, then he will end up with a few lost hulls soon enough; *provided* more hunters adapt.

    I wish you would try taking out cheap gank SB's on roams instead of insisting on blingy T3's. Whether you do or not is entirely in your hands.

    You wish that all t1 haulers became (again) easy prey, at least when you can find them. The only way to get this changed is to play the meta game and convince CCP to stop encouraging industrialists out of highsec.

    I don't need encouraging out of highsec; I was in wormhole space doing PI industry back in the good/bad old days.

    In my opinion, in the meta game, you will have better luck working with CCP, moderating what you see as their excesses, rather than putting yourself into the 'haters gonna hate' category. A perfect opportunity will be when the T2 DST comes out. You will be able to argue those that want safety should use T2, those that want cheap/easy to train should use T1.

    Though I somehow feel that if T2 DST's did become standard, that would not make you any happier.

    By Foo on May 28, 2014

  21. I wish you would try taking out cheap gank SB’s on roams instead of insisting on blingy T3's.

    I'd rather not hugely inconvenience myself by scanning my way through w-space in an unbonused boat, particularly when most days don't even include finding a potential target and consist solely of scanning.

    It's not about flying 'bling', it's about flying a scanning boat that is also capable of engaging targets. Cov-ops can scan but not engage much beyond itself, a Stratios is about as expensive as a strategic cruiser, and then you have strategic cruisers. I'm not given an abundance of choice.

    I could scan in one boat and swap to another when a target is found, though that's if I want to miss most opportunities. I started w-space life scanning in a cov-ops and roaming in a stealth bomber, but it can take a good five minutes to cross several systems to get home, swap ships, and return to where I was, at which point the target has finished more often than not. There's a reason I no longer do that.

    You will be able to argue those that want safety should use T2, those that want cheap/easy to train should use T1.

    I have been arguing just that, in previous threads, and pointing out how the Epithal and its ilk ruined this argument because it could hold more and have greater warp strength. People disagreed with me then too. The solution of making the T2 transports bigger, harder to kill, and with greater capacity for warp core strength only exacerbates the whole issue, and further justifies industrialists in to thinking they deserve to be able to operate in dangerous space without taking any special operating precautions.

    By pjharvey on May 28, 2014

  22. Many of the issues around the hauler updates is that it's removing solo play for Hunters.

    I could just go scout with my alt, sit in POS with my main and swap out to what I want to hit the target. It's not even a great difficulty to me. But I don't like the idea that in order to take down soft targets it's a requirement to run multiple characters or gimp my ship so heavily that it's useless against any other targets.

    The current form T2 DST's main issue isn't the stab bonus, it's that it's going to increase neut usage as it's pretty much the only way to take one down is to cap it out. Most W-Space PvP is very much bring a Neut Legion or a Neut Armageddon to have a chance as is. Small Gang warfare is very sensitive to force multipliers like E-War and Neuts and increasing the prominence of any of it is going to ahve big ripple effects through out w space.

    By BayneNothos on May 29, 2014

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