Sunday, May 24, 2009

Clear Skies 2 - amazing EVE Online machinima

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out the amazing Clear Skies 2 machinima. The first one won an award at the Machinima Filmfest 2008 and the second one is even better.

How to kill a pirate frigate with a battlecruiser

I've killed three Hurricanes (1, 2, 3) in the last few days. In all cases, the main obstacle was breaking their tank - never was I in any real danger. I also died in 20 seconds while attacking the fourth. What was the difference?

A Hurricane-class battlecruiser

The Hurricane is a fearsome ship, but as with all large ships a small, fast frigate can prove to be a thorn in its side. If you have a battlecruiser-classed ship and want to take on a few belt rats without worrying about pirate frigates, here's how to do it in a smart manner:

First: never sit on the warp-to-0 point. The rats will follow you or come to you if you warp to 50 or 100. Being far from the warp-in point will give you precious time to decide what to do when an interloper arrives.

Second: Do not carry medium drones only. Be sure to have a full flight of small drones at your disposal. Use medium-sized guns on your ship to kill rats; use small drones to attack hostile frigates.

Third: If you decide not to run, be the first one to attack. The frigate will have to close range; it is then when it's vulnerable. Once it begins to orbit at 1000, all your nice medium turrets will be good only for shooting empty space. This is also a good time to let it have the taste of your 5 small T2 drones.

Medium guns versus an orbiting frigate

When you set your drones on the frigate, it will take its focus from you to the drones (if the pod pilot wants to live - no frigate can tank 5 small T2 drones). It will continue to orbit and point you, but will web and shoot at the drones. This is the time to make your move - you're not webbed and can move as fast as you can (without MWD if you are scrammed). Try to escape or move towards the asteroids. If you have a web, use it on the frigate. It will fall behind and its transversal velocity will drop, which means your guns will be able to hit it. You can also keep watch on your drones - if you see a drone being damaged, recall it to your drone bay for a while. This will force the frigate to shift its focus.

And the last, fourth point: Equip a medium neutralizer. I can tell you that having your capacitor drop to zero while trying to align and escape is a depressing experience. It's also a short and deadly one :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ballot time!

Influence the game we love - vote for your CSM representative! Being a pirate, it's no suprise I voted for Larkonis :) His "bring value to low sec so more people come" program definitely persuaded me. I can haz targets!

Monday, May 4, 2009


A real pirate needs three things: a peg leg, a trusty parrot and a bounty on his head. Unfortunately, parrots did not make it across the EVE gate, and cloning technology has made peg legs a thing of the past. The bounty is what remains and it's with a glad heart that I announce that the evil pirate Mer Mann is now worth 105,000 ISK dead.

The bounty was a surprise to me - there was no bounty (and no tears) after killing the 70M battlecruiser or the 35M rigged Stabber. No, it came from an unexpected source - an Iteron I pilot whom I found in an asteroid belt while playing hide-and-seek with a battlecruiser and who remained there while I unsuccessfully tried to tackle the Cyclone; and who blocked my attempt to ransom him for a paltry sum his ship deserved.

Well, thank you for the cool skull I can now wear; and to all that wish to partake of the riches of my bounty, you can find me in Heimatar low sec :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The EVE Player blogroll

There are many EVE Online blogs on the web, doing a great service in popularizing our favorite game, sharing resources and helping new players to learn the game. CrazyKinux maintains a list of active blogs, which from now on includes In the depths of EVE.

If you haven't seen it yet, check it out! It's also linked in the sidebar.

UPDATE: Ga'len reminds me that I've forgot to mention the EVE Online OPML blogroll, which he is kind enough to maintain and is located here.

Limits of solo piracy

While hunting solo is great fun, it is also fraught with limitations. The ship set-up must, by definition, be universal, as you have no idea what you will find. You are the tackler, the tank, the DPS and the loot hauler - and fitting a small frigate for all that tasks invariably means that some of potential prey will slip through your fingers.

To combat small frigates, my Rifter is fitted with an afterburner and a warp scrambler. The lack of a long-range warp disruptor and a powerful Microwarp drive has cost me many of the more observant targets, who have ample time to align and warp away if they are more than 20 kilometers away from me. To ensure longer survivability in a fight with a bigger ship, I have set-up an active tank with an energy vampire to replenish my capacitor resources - which limits the amount of firepower I can put on targets. I've retreated from a fight with a well-tanked Hurricane recently - after killing his flight of Warrior IIs, I spent the next 5 minutes chipping away at his shield sand failing, eventually giving up.

Solo hunting also means that every mistake you make is potentially deadly. I have recently engaged my first Punisher. I decided to do it from a distance and orbited him at 5000 m. The fight was taking an unusually long time and I had to use my nosferatu and armor repairer, but eventualy the Punisher went down. After scooping the loot, I realized my mistake: I forgot to change ammunition to the long range Barrage and was shooting at him with short range EMP, missing most of the time..

My killboard is still dominated by Rifters, but I chanced upon an interesting flashy in Molden Heath low-sec a few days ago. I located a Stabber in an asteroid belt and warped in to check it out. The cruiser turned out to be piloted by an outlaw who turned to me and engaged me. I quickly scrammed and webbed him, settled in a tight orbit and quickly dispatched him. His fit turned out to be very strange - a nano Stabber rigged for range with no tank. Had he stayed at 20 kilometers and keeping me at distance with his microwarp drive, I would have surely died.

I've also lost my first Rifter in a month, going out against my first Sentinel. I knew that Sentinels were tech 2 Amarr frigates with a penchant for neuting, but I figured that my capless guns and Nosferatu will enable me to continue fighting. What I did not know was that Sentinels have amazing drone bays, and the tactic of "kill the drones, then him" turned out to be a suicide tactic. Had I fitted a buffer tank, swapped the NOS for a rocket launcher and concentrated my firepower on the Sentinel, I might have won - as it was, I waved goodbye to the remains of my Rifter as my pod warped away.

Mining in low-sec, silly as the current Veldspar prices make it, is still popular among some of the Empire miners. I've chanced upon a few of them. I found a Retriever in a Molden Heath ice field, but before I could scram him he warped away. I retreated to my scan point and kept scanning. Imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, a Hulk entered the same belt! Of course, it was too good to be true - as I tackled the Hulk, a Rapier force recon ship uncloaked beside me. Thanks to the uncloak-target delay, I managed to flee, offering my congratulations on a well set-up trap in local.

I was more succesful with another Hulk. After killing his drones, I opened the conversation and offered a ransom. The pilot was skeptical at first, but the lack of mining barges on my killboard and the rapidly depleting defences of his ship convinced him to pay the 40 million and I sent him on his way. Who says pirating doesn't pay? :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Double knock-out

I'm becoming very fond of Molden Heath low-sec. It's not far from my base and the configuration is perfect - if you view it on a 2D map, you can circle the whole region via low-sec and then return home. It often provides me with interesting fights - and today was no exception.
The circle of fun

After few uneventful systems, I scanned a Retriever mining ship in a belt in the dead-end system of Sakulda. I warped there, modules flashing, but I was too late - the pilot had already warped away and left behind a chain of secure containers, filled with ore. I knew he had to come back, so I warped back to my scan spot and kept an eye on the scanner. I expected an Industrial, so a Cyclone battlecruiser was a shock. However, after already killing one earlier today, I felt optimistic and warped to the belt.

I had bookmarked both ends of the container chain and warped to the one with the lowest letter. Unfortunately, the pilot cared less for order than I do, and was a hundred kilometers away, already engaging the belt rats. I employed a tactic that has served me well in belt warfare: instead of afterburning to him, I bookmarked the wreck closest to him, warped to the planet and then back to the bookmark. I came out of warp on top of him, tackled him and settled into a tight orbit. The pilot was amused - he exclaimed to his buddies in local that some fool in a frig dared to engage him.

Unlike the first Cyclone of the day and his medium drones, this pilot packed two flights of Warrior II drones. I cursed, but then discovered I could pop them in a few seconds each. A minute later, the drones were no more and the belt was empty save for me, the battlecruiser and a battleship NPC, whose services I promptly enlisted. He had large guns mounted which usually missed me, but he also had two rocket launchers that kept taking chunks out of my armor. I activated my NOS and started the game of armor repairer micromanagement, keeping a watchful eye on potential corp mates of my target.

To my surprise, the game kept going on and on. My readouts inched lower, every cycle leaving my armor a bit shorter. My fire was having very little effect on his shields - they went down, but the combined action of me and the rat was working very slowly. After what seemed like hours, his shields were gone. I swapped my RF EMP ammo for Hail (t2 short-distance ammo with poor tracking but high DPS) and continued the work. Somewhere by the end of his armor, my NOS started having little effect and I concluded that his capacitor was gone.

By the time he was at half structure, I had some 400 effective hit points left. I had to turn off the web to provide more power to the armor repairer. We were both inching toward 0 and I was starting to think I might actually win - when my Rifter blew up.

I quickly gave my pod the order to warp away and typed a "gf" in local, when I noticed that my opponent was sitting beside me in a pod of his own. It seems that his final salvo and mine (aided by the BS rat) were so close that we both died at the same time.

I docked in a nearby station and looked at the kill mail. The mystery of his powerful shields was solved - in addition to powerful shield defense and damage augmentation modules, his ship was rigged! Battleclinic places the vaue of his ship at 75M ISK - not a bad exchange for a 7M Rifter!

The power of NOS

When I first started flying the Rifter, my skills were so low I had problems with all aspects of fighting: from warping around the solar systems and catching targets to tracking and hitting them. Even when I knew what to do, I often couldn't. To remedy that, I made improving those skills a priority. After my damage potential improved, the buffer tank became the problem - I only had a limited time until I had to run (or die). When I could fit an active tank, the capacitor became the bottle neck - the pulsing of the armor repairer is practically an art form :) I decided to try using an energy vampire to remedy that, which required another week of training so I could fit it on my Rifter. Finally, I could use the NOS - I fitted it to the ship and embarked on a voyage to Molden Heath low-sec to test it out.

After some uneventful scouting, I hit paydirt: first a 2 versus 1 with two Rifters (first, second) in Heild, and then I found a Mackinaw mining an ice belt. The NOS gave me confidence against his drones; my previous experience has taught me to keep a scramble and orbit around the main targets while I web and pop the drones one by one. Despite my armour getting critically low at one point, additional capacitor energy I was able to syphon from the target enabled me to repair the damage. After the drones were down, I opened a conversation with the mining pilot and ransomed him for 40 million ISK - doubling the ammount in my wallet and recouping all the costs I had buying and fitting my Rifters.

Mackinaw mining barge
(image courtesy of EVE wiki)

The day finished with a consensual fight with another Rifter in my home system. As he had only Tech 1 guns fitted, the extra range afforded to me by Barrage proved decisive and his ship went up in a cloud of smoke.

My successes with the NOS Rifter boosted my confidence and I engaged a Cyclone battlecruiser today; the fight was long and at moments it was touch and go, especially when the BC used his afterburner and web to increase distance while I was busy webbing and killing his drones and a volley wiped out half of my armour - but after 17,500 of damage, I won and chalked up my first BC kill.

Cyclone battlecruiser
(image courtesy of EVE wiki)

I'm so satisfied with the way my Rifter handles that, for the first time in a month, I'm back to studying learning skills. I think my next learning challenge will be overheating - it's just so useful.

Here is the fit of my NOS Rifter (cca 7M ISK in value) - try it out and tell me what you think!

[Rifter, Rifter PVP Active AB NOS]
Small Armor Repairer II
Damage Control II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Monopropellant I Hydrazine Boosters
X5 Prototype I Engine Enervator
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
E5 Prototype Energy Vampire

[empty rig slot]
[empty rig slot]
[empty rig slot]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stand up and deliver!

While fun, the killing of ships can hardly be described as pirating - it's more smashing. As all the ships I've managed to engage so far were cheap T1 ones, I've never bothered with ransom demands - and, as such, was not really a pirate.

That all changed yesterday when I spotted a Hulk mining in a quiet low-sec system. I pinned him down to a belt, warped in, but failed to tackle him as the pilot was wise enough to mine far from the warp-in beacon. The Hulk jumped to the gate and I was left alone with a few wrecks and two jetcans full of luminous Kernite - much too much for my Rifter's small cargo hold. I saw that the Hulk pilot was waiting at the gate, so I decided to try and lull him into security. I bookmarked one of his cargo containers and left the system through another gate.

Nervously, I waited a few minutes, then jumped in and warped directly to the can. Unfortunately, while the pilot was in the system, the belt was empty. Some warping around found him on the scanner - unfortunately, he had already switched to a Mammoth transport vessel, and soon after that he left the system. I followed him and jumped to the high-sec system, then waited on the gate cloaked. A few seconds later, the pilot appeared on the overview and jumped through the gate. I immediately jumped after him and warped to the can again, catching him in the act of moving the ore to his hold. I tackled him and opened conversation with the pilot. He delayed a bit, but a round of EMP proved persuasive enough. I demanded a ransom - a paltry million, but I figured that the industrial and the ore were not worth much over a few million. 30 secs later and after some more EMP nudging, the pilot complied. I disengaged my lock, wished him a safe flight, and left the system - no more a smasher, but a pirate!

Retriever (image courtesy of EVE Online wiki)

It seems the first time is really the hardest - I found a Retriever mining before the downtime today, flown by a less savvy pilot who stayed too close to the warp-in beacon. EMP again proved very persuasive and I left the system 3 million richer. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hide and seek

It's been a fun couple of weeks. I really enjoy the "jump in ship, make a sweep, kill, dock, log-off" aspect of belt piracy - no numbing missions and no corp hassle.

My skills have markedly improved in the last few weeks - finishing Minmatar Frigate V was really worth it, both for the extra damage and for the extra tracking. I've also changed from a buffer tank to an active one - while fitting a bigger plate does bring hit-point benefits, it's a drag having to repair after each fight. I've also swapped the Microwarp drive for an Afterburner, as I have found it to be much, much better in practically every circumstance, except quickly closing in on a target. However, the difference is not that great - and the ability to dictate range in all fights, which the AB provides me, is invaluable.

My score is currently 11 kills and 4 losses - all but one solo kills. My victims include a Stabber, a Rupture and an Ishkur - I've even boldly taken on a Hurricane battlecruiser yesterday and would have had him, had one of the belt rats not turned his attention to me.

All these fights have taught me the basic algorithm of Rifter combat:
if (victim=frigate) then use Barrage, set orbit=6000;
if (victim > frigate) then use RF EMP S, set orbit = 500;

That's pretty much it, range and ammo-wise. EMP has proven to be an extremely versatile ammo, which works well against both shield and armor tanked opponents - and, for somebody still confused by the many ship types and their typical loadouts like me, that is especially helpful.

I'm currently working on the skills to use an energy vampire. The DPS from the rocket launcher is minimal (10 DPS), and some extra capacitor for the Small armor repairer II would come in handy, especially when fighting bigger ships. We'll see if it works!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


It has been a week since I've graduated into the Rifter. I've had ups and downs - my score is currently at 4 lost, 4 killed (2 Rifters and 2 Thrashers). It has been a week mostly spent scanning and warping around - I might have picked out the wrong part of low sec to set my base in, as the ratio of fish to shark is decidedly slanted toward the sharks.

I was feeling optimistic and decided to engage a Caracal in Eifer. I was going down faster than he was, when a Myrmidon showed up and made minced meat out of us both. In retrospect I could have escaped - he targetted the bigger ship at first and once the Caracal died, I wasn't scrambled any more.

A few days later, I espied a Thrasher in a FW complex. I saw that there were some rats around him and thought to enlist them to my aid, but soon learned that FW NPC rats behave differently from belt rats and that the Thrasher was PVP fitted. Rifter #3 bit the dust.

I had my first Rifter vs Rifter fight, too - my T2 guns tipped the scales in my favour. Unfortunately, the fight was a bit too easy, and I did not realize the stupidity of using Hail. The lesson was driven home a few days later, when another Rifter duel taught me to always start with Barrage (if the enemy has long range weapons, I can close and he can't hit me while I switch to Hail) and the value of an afterburner in consensual fights. I've fitted an AB to my Rifter now to be better able to dictate distance.

Today was a fun day - a few jumps found me two juicy targets in Eifer, a Thrasher that did not even shift his fire from the rats to me, and a Rifter. I've played the belt jumping game with its pilot for some time and never could lock him. I decided it was time for some psychological warfare - when he left next, I killed the belt rats and bookmarked the cruiser wreck. I was sure that the pilot would come back to loot it. I jumped back to my bookmark 30 seconds after I saw the Rifter re-enter the belt. To my surprise, the pilot locked and attacked me - perhaps the killing of the rats persuaded him that I'm just another ratter or perhaps he just had enough. Despite an interesting fit, I was able to dictate range and stayed outside of his short range guns, killing him. Both of these pilots had their holds full of other stuff - skill books and loot. If you rat in low-sec, be sure to deposit all valuables at base first!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

First kill

The Rifter did it! I got my first kill today - a Thrasher, no less. After a game of scan-and-run, he faced me down in the third or fourth belt and died valiantly.

The combat log proved very convenient - I started with Barrage, but after a few wrecking shots decided to change my orbit to 500m and ammo to Hail. After that, I took no more damage.

Unfortunately, I did not get his pod - I clicked the scrambler module before the targetting was complete, which resulted in the "can't target" bug. Oh well, next time.

First impressions

After a month of training, I was finally able to fly my Rifter out for the first time yesterday. I've spent a few hours making bookmarks in the neighboring systems and looking for potential prey.

A stable of Rifters

While the Heimatar/Ingunn low-sec seemed full of targets at first glance, I was disappointed to discover that almost all of them were macro haulers. If you're a fan of gate camping, the Ingunn system is the place for you - a steady stream of traffic goes through both gates all the time.

After learning to ignore all the industrials, freighters, newbie ships and shuttles on my scanner, I found a Hulk mining in Hrondedir. I quickly jumped to the belt he was in, scrambled him and started with my attack. Within seconds, the pilot unleashed a horde of Hammerhead II drones on me. Fortunately, medium drones have a harder time hitting small targets like frigates, so I did not die in a matter of seconds. I tried shifting my fire to the drones, webbing them one at a time, but my skills are just too low at the moment to kill them fast, so the Hulk pilot was able to take them in, causing me to lose my lock. With my Rifter in low structure, I bailed and docked for the duration of the aggro timer.

A mining Hulk (image by Ancient Gaming Noob)

I went for a quick spin to the Molden Heath low sec, again finding little targets. A cyno frigate seemed like an easy kill, but I didn't notice the nearby gate sentry guns and my first Rifter went down.

Trying to get to the wreckage with a new ship was an education in aggresion timer dynamics, too - fire from stations and sentry guns taught me to just stay put for the duration of the timer next time.

I found a Catalyst ratting in Istodard, but the pilot was alert and warped out before I could get into scrambler range. If this happens again in the future, I'll try fitting an AB+disruptor instead of the MWD+scrambler combo and see if that works better.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


A life of a capsuleer is shaped by his decisions. They start with the first click on the character selection screen and continue until the last "Warp-to" mash before being podkilled - then start again. The wealth of options is what makes the game so appealing to me - and to others, similarly spellbound by its intricacies.

I have decided to weigh in on the side of entropy. However, while dying is extremely simple in EVE Online, destroying others is much more difficult and there is much learning involved.

Learning in EVE comes with a steep price - especially learning how to solo PVP. A cheap, yet sturdy ship was needed. I settled on the Rifter - hailed as the best PVP frigate and with a lot of resources on fitting and flying one (I recommend Wensley's Rifter guide).

Minmatar Rifter

As I know that all of my initial ships will be lost, reasonable price is important, so I set up a trading alt in Jita and placed buy orders for 15 Rifters' worth of fittings. Incidentally, the ensuing game of "let's place my buy order 0.01 ISK above his" showed me how complex the market system in EVE really is and I'm still fiddling with the buy orders to get the implants and some of the fittings I need (T2 autocannons and artillery being especially tricky, it seems). Sneaking fittings into my low-sec base in a frigate will not be a problem. Getting the actual ships there, however, was - a packed Rifter takes up 2500 m3, and several trips in an Industrial would surely end badly. In the end, I remembered that every problem in EVE Online can be solved with money - a buy order for Rifters with an exorbitant price saw my ships arrive in a matter of days.

The matter of initial base was a complex decision, too. I know that after the security status drop, I will be barred from entering empire space. After nosing around low-sec for a few weeks (and seeing the carnage that is Sinq Laison/Heimatar low sec (check out Amamake stats), I decided on the Heimatar/The Forge/Metropolis low-sec patch and found a station with cloning facilities close to high-sec.

The final issue to be decided was the matter of jump clones. I've seen the value of learning implants, so I bought a set of +3s early on (+4 learning implants require Cybernetics 4, which I deemed too time consuming for the beginning - but will invest in them eventually). The loss of them would be a big blow - I prefer to lose ISK on ships. A jump clone with lesser implants would be preferable - but how to create one without grinding missions for a NPC corporation? The solution was fortunately very simple - Estel Arador's free jump clone service enables all capsuleers the ability to create jump clone in one of the many stations. I had my clone less than 24 hours later.

In less than I week, I'll see where my initial decisions will take me. I can't wait!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


He waits.

It hasn't been long since he came out of the academy, the voices of his old teachers still fresh in memory. He was expected to get to work immediately, dispatching enemies of the empire for meager pay. But thanks to an old friend, veteran of hundreds of missions, he has escaped the drudgery. He is now holed up in a science station, devouring book after book, his mental horizons expanding with each orbit of the station around the sun.

He waits.

He picks up the next book. Although every fiber of his being yearns for the knowledge of warfare, he is patient, and selects another of the books aimed at expanding his mind. The time for martial arts, intricacies of ship mechanics, electronic equipment and starship mastery, will come. But for now..

He waits.