31 July 2011

Negative Security Status

Starwalker realised after the Executed in Egghelende and Hit in Hadozoko that the negative security status had dropped to -4.1. That was much faster than expected and primarily down to killing the two pods. The consequence of this new status was that only 0.5 high security space systems were open and entering 0.6 – 1.0 hisec would result in being chased by the faction police. It was time to relocate to low security space.

This eventuality had already been planned for with the Hauler Alt and Selecting Base for Operations. The move to Essence had been smooth and uneventful. What had not been planned was the desire to have two bases for operations: a primary location for the majority of time and a secondary location to go and hideout or to be somewhere different. The choices were still the same though:
1. Heimatar and Metropolis, in Minmatar space
2. Essence and Placid, in Gallente space
So, the Essence relocation to lowsec was easy as it had already been planned and less was being moved. The relocation to Metropolis would be more painful just because it was further and would involve multiple shuttle trips to move almost everything.

Starwalker had not been unable to travel in hisec before and was curious what would happen if he moved through hisec in a frigate, battlecruiser and industrial. Of course, this happened to coincide with some of the ships that needed to be moved and because they were already rigged they would not be repackaged, as that would simply destroy the rigs.
·         Frigates (Probes and Rifters) seemed to be easy as they simply passed through each system despite warnings
·         Battlecruiser (Drake) was lucky as no faction police seemed to be there at the right time
·         Industrial (Badger) was even luckier as it was webbed twice and hit once by rank 1 security, which hit for 893 and took the badger deep into armour immediately. Fortunately, the rank 3 security missed, otherwise that might have been an embarrassing loss of two frigates and an industrial ship
Whilst this is not a recommended way, the Hauler Alt simply took a low peak time, checked Dotlan EveMaps for jumps and kills and then simply shuttled ships and equipment directly into lowsec without scouting it first.

Net result, Starwalker has relocated to lowsec leaving four salvager ships in hisec. Starwalker is looking forward to the future and life in lowsec.

30 July 2011

Hammered in Hadozeko

Starwalker was still basking in the aftermath of Hit in Hadozeko when another Rebel noted that Stukkler Tian was in system in a Rifter. So Starwalker joined the fleet and set about helping to find and kill this pilot. It turned out to be very easy to find him, as Starwalker saw the flashy red pilot warp to an asteroid belt. Starwalker called the belt and warped in to zero.

Stukkler Tian was there but 20km away. So, Starwalker headed towards him and as the distance closed to around 13km the damage started to come. Artillery fit. The problem became clear very quickly as the shields dropped and the distance remained around the same. Starwalker could not get close. Firing weapons was completely ineffectual at that range and Starwalker called for backup that arrived in the form of another Jaguar (Lhorenzho) and Stilleto (Miura Bull).

The writing was on the wall for Stukkler Tian but he was still hammering Starwalker’s Rifter and it was time to leave as armour was 25% gone. In a shield fit Rifter that is not good. Starwalker over heated the afterburner and tried to burn and warp away. Still scrambled and armour was now 75% gone. Finally, the warp disruption stopped as Starwalker got out of range and then warped away. Stukkler Tian was not so lucky as the guys got the kill (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10211448).

Starwalker reviewed the lucky escape and noted:
1)    Afterburners should have been overheated immediately when approaching the target or at the latest when realising that the range was not being closed
2)    If over heat does not work, try to get close by “slingshot”, burn away and then when being chased turn quickly and burn back to target to get into scramble range, overheating as necessary
3)    When trying to escape Starwalker headed in a random direction away and overheated the afterburners. Better to head away in a direction aligned to a warp out to avoid any realign time
Live and learn.

29 July 2011

Hit in Hadozeko

Starwalker got lucky. Urs Falo arrived in Hadozeko in a Rifter just after Starwalker warped to a random asteroid belt at 50km. The lucky part was that Urs Falo warped into the same belt at zero and started to rat. Could Starwalker close the distance and kill Urs Falo before he saw the danger and warped away? Align and afterburner on.

Starwalker’s heart was pounding as the distance closed... but so very slowly. It was around 28km and within target range but Starwalker held not wishing to alert the Rifter. 20km and Starwalker’s Rifter Lick and a Promise bounced off an asteroid and stopped making progress. Aligning again Starwalker hoped that Urs Falo was too busy with the rats to notice approaching death.

Only 18km away and Urs Falo seemed to be fully absorbed with the two rats, was it time to start the lock? No, wait. 15km away, now it was time to start. Lock started, less than 10km, away – locked and then scrambled. It was on. Autocannons started blazing away and Starwalker’s heart was still pounding. The target shields and armour melted away very quickly and then structure.

It was over. Urs Falo stood no chance and his Rifter exploded into a fireball of death (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10211241). The pod appeared in the aftermath of the explosion and Starwalker targeted it but too late, it got away.

25 July 2011

Executed in Egghelende

The call had come to head down to Amamake and see what trouble could be found. It would be rude not to answer, so Starwalker headed over there in the trusty Rifter “Lick and a Promise”. Unfortunately, Lick and a Promise had seemed to be developing a few rattles after the encounter with rats in Ladistier but the additional duct tape seemed to be working fine.

Jumping into Egghelende Starwalker saw Red Unit, piloting a Tristan warp away. It was time to hunt. Miura Bull came into system too as the search began and then by chance, Red Unit landed near Miura. Immediately the Tristan was pointed and an easy kill (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10209655). As the Tristan evaporated from existence the pod appeared and Starwalker decided to execute the pod too (http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=13872430). Nice easy kill, good start.

Interestingly, there was a capsule only 25km away just floating in space and Starwalker decided to head over to it, assuming it would leave. After all, if the capsuleer was watching events then Aelita Rotsuda had just seen Red Unit podded. However, she didn’t leave and was also podded (http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=138724).

After warping back to a safe, the hunt for the next victim started and an Imperial Navy Slicer came onto the d-scan. The scan resolved to a belt and Starwalker called the belt and warped in but the Slicer was micro warp drive fitted and just out of range. A couple of other Rebels came in to try and catch the Slicer but it was too fast. However, the Slicer was looking to play as it kited around just outside of range. This quickly grew tiresome for the Rebels as it was clear that the Slicer would not engage.

It was a different story with a Drake that was ratting. It was pointed and the Rebels converged onto it in their Rifters. The Drake was fighting for its life and the missiles were hitting targets and lots of Warrior II drones filled the area. Starwalker engaged the drones but was quickly taking lots of damage from the drones and not killing them anywhere near fast enough. Shields dropped to zero and quickly the armour started giving way and was down to 25%. This was not good, time for Starwalker to leave and he warped to a station to dock and repair.

Going to the station was not the brightest idea as the station opened fire and Starwalker took even more damage but it was only one hit and the repairs were done. Other Rebels called that they could not hold much longer and to get back fast. Starwalker headed back to the fight and arrived almost at the same time as another Rebel but just too late. The Drake was no longer scrambled and was able to warp away in structure. Close but no kill.

Rebels decided it was time for a break and dock up. Starwalker docked in a random station and Miura Bull demonstrated a bit more experience by selecting the quieter Aliette system to dock. Live and learn.

24 July 2011

Late Night in Ladistier

Starwalker was roaming the star systems looking for trouble but it all seemed very quiet. There was a big gate camp of around 15 battlecruisers and similar in Aeschee from Onne but the Rifter passed through without incident. Jumping into Ladistier there was only one other pilot in local. This might be interesting, time to look for him and say “hello” – with 150mm autocannons and a few rockets for good measure.

Selecting a random asteroid belt, Starwalker warped in to settle into using d-scan and also to setup a safe. There were three rats: battleship and two cruisers but they were not the prize. D-scan came back with nothing and the reason became obvious quickly, Starwalker was alone in Ladistier with only some rats to keep him company.

By now, the rats were showing some interest and started to target the Rifter. Starwalker hadn’t come for rats but decided that the battleship might drop something worthwhile and so waited for the two cruisers to arrive but they were not coming to play – they had warped away and now the battleship was too. Presumably they were on a timer roaming between the belts.

Starwalker warped to another random belt looking for the rats and there was the Serpentis battleship. The battleship was completely ineffectual and the only task for Starwalker was to reload the rockets as this was consuming lots of ammunition. It was clear that non-faction ammunition would be better for ratting for the more cost conscious.

Local increased by one and the battleship was still only in shields - Starwalker checked a nearby celestial to warp away to if needed and spammed d-scan. No point in trying to fight both at the same time. Starwalker would fight but not at a disadvantage by choice. Local decreased by one, just passing through.

As the battleship was halfway through armour another pilot came into Ladistier and this time they stayed, in a Hawk. Then another Rifter and a Wolf came in too. Starwalker felt vulnerable ratting but also relished the opportunity of a fight. The Hawk would be missile fit, probably try to kite around 15km or more to avoid close combat but it could easily succumb to the Rifter in close quarters. The other Rifter would be a slugfest to the last man standing and the Wolf would be avoided. However, were any of these pilots together? 2v1 was not good odds.

Finally, Starwalker was able to loot the wreck and turned to find the Rifter or Hawk but they had all gone. What a disappointment. He wanted a real fight but instead he found the remaining two cruisers. They were a little harder to kill and inflicted some minor damage but nothing serious or anything that would change the outcome. It was now late and Starwalker headed back with a full load of loot and nearly a million ISK from bounties.

23 July 2011

Tank and Miscellaneous Skills

Starwalker noted that there were a number of Core Ship Skills that needed to be trained to level 5 and many of these relate to the tank. However, there were a few others that needed to be added:

·         Repair Systems – 5% reduction in armour/hull repair cycle time i.e. armour repairing systems
·         Shield Operation – 5% reduction in shield recharge time
·         Energy Systems Operation – 5% reduction in capacitor recharge time
·         Tactical Shield Manipulation – 5% chance to reduce damage penetrating shields i.e. invulnerability field shield hardener
·         Energy Grid Upgrades – 5% reduction in CPU needs for power upgrades i.e. shield power relays
Similarly, directly related to fitting more tanking strength would be armour and shield rigs with associated rigging skills.
·         Jury Rigging – required for rigging
·         Armour Rigging – 10% reduction in armour rig drawbacks i.e. Small Trimark Armour Pump I adds 15% armour at the expense of maximum velocity
·         Shield Rigging - 10% reduction in shield rig drawbacks i.e. Small Core Defence Field Extender I adds 15% shield capacity at the expense of increased ship signature radius
Starwalker sat back from the Neocom console after studying the long list of compensation skills such as Thermic Shield Compensation or Explosive Armour Compensation. No doubt these skills would need to be added to the queue at some point but not yet. The list of skills in the training plan was already long and time consuming - these could wait. Similarly the drone skills would also wait such as Drones or Combat Drone Operation, they were not much use to a Rifter or a Jaguar.
However, there were still some miscellaneous skills that did need to be added to the training queue:
·         Thermodynamics (allows overheating of modules) – reduces heat damage by 5%
·         Nanite Interfacing – 20% increase in damage repair per second of Nanite Repair Paste, used to repair heat damaged modules
·         Nanite Operation – 5% reduction in consumption of Nanite Repair Paste
·         Weapon Upgrades – 5% reduction in CPU need for weapon turrets, launchers and smartbombs
·         Advanced Weapon Upgrades – 2% reduction in power grid needs of weapon turrets and launchers
Starwalker had finished his training plan that would take months to complete and knew that even then there was a long road ahead. Plans would need to be thought about for:
·         Other ship classes within the Minmatar race such as cruisers, heavy assault cruisers and battleships and so on
·         Specialist ships like covert operations, interdictors and so on
·         Other race ships from the Amarr, Gallente or Caldari like the Ishkur, Taranis, Harbinger, Abaddon, Tengu and so on
·         Skills for implants, boosters and so on
The list seemed endless. However, the path was clear for now and the best way to make progress was to start and take one step at a time. Starwalker closed the console and considered what to do next. It was time to see who was out and about. Black jacket – check; sunglasses – check; ignition – check. The Rifter slid smoothly from the dock and into the dark of space.

22 July 2011

Gunnery and Missile Skills

Starwalker noted that there were a number of Core Ship Skills that needed to be trained to level 5. Given the time still required to complete that training it would be good to intersperse gank and tank skills too. Basic T2 tank skills had already been trained so it seemed obvious that the right skills to interweave would be DPS - gunnery and missile.

Tapping away at the Neocom console Starwalker selected the key gunnery skills for the Rifter or potentially the Jaguar in order of importance:
1.    Small Projectile Turret - 5% bonus to damage
2.    Rapid Firing - 4% bonus to weapon turrets’ rate of fire
3.    Surgical Strike - 3% bonus to damage
4.    Small Autocannon Specialisation – 2% bonus to damage
5.    Gunnery – 2% bonus to weapon turrets’ rate of fire
6.    Motion Prediction – 5% bonus to weapon tracking speed
7.    Sharpshooter – 5% bonus to optimal range
8.    Trajectory Analysis – 5% bonus to falloff range
9.    Weapon Upgrades – 5% reduction to CPU fitting requirement
10.  Controlled Bursts – 5% reduction in capacitor need 
In time probably all these skills (and more) would be trained to level 5 but right now prioritisation was needed. That prioritisation would identify those skills that would be maximised first and focus on direct damage. The first 5 skills were added to the training plan for completion to level 5 and the remaining skills to level 4.

Now it was time to move onto missile skills or in particular rockets for this shield fit Rifter:

Tapping away at the Neocom console Starwalker selected the key rocket (unguided missiles) skills:
1.    Rockets – 5% bonus to damage
2.    Rapid Launch – 3% bonus to rate of fire
3.    Rocket Specialisation – 2% bonus to rate of fire
4.    Missile Launcher Operation – 2% bonus to rate of fire
5.    Warhead Upgrades – 2% bonus to damage
6.    Missile Bombardment – 10% bonus to maximum flight time
7.    Missile Projection – 10% bonus to maximum velocity
8.    Target Navigation Prediction – 10% reduction in target’s velocity
The first 5 skills were added to the training plan for completion to level 5 and the remaining skills to level 4.

The definition of the training plan was now finished, what remained was the time required to actually complete that skills training. As recommended based on the 3 month review, it was focused on the key objective of maximising skills for the Rifter and these core skills would form the foundation for other ships.

18 July 2011

Solo Thrasher Kill

Starwalker knew that he had messed up with the Punisher that got away but was pleased to have found a fight after what had seemed like ages. After some nanite repairs and a quick jaunt away, Starwalker returned to Adirain. Just as he jumped in WirtuEks Deninard was there with a Thrasher and just warping away. Just like buses none come for ages and then two come close together. The Thrasher was a dangerous frigate killer but given a young pilot it was a chance worth taking. Target acquired, hunt on.

After warping around and looking for the Thrasher with d-scan it seemed to be back at a Stargate. May be it was hunting too? Starwalker warped in at 100km and saw on grid that the Thrasher was 254km away. Just as he started to burn towards it the Thrasher warped to the gate. Maybe the Thrasher was looking for a fight? On a hunch Starwalker started to burn away from the stargate to get 150km away from it and checking for the Thrasher. The Thrasher was closing the distance, the fight was on.

Once the range had been gained from the stargate Starwalker turned and burnt towards the Thrasher. Lock, orbit, scramble, fire - check scramble, just in case. The Thrasher had not fired as the distance closed so this was going to be a brawl and Starwalker hit overheat to maximise damage. It was close, very close.

The Thrasher was into deep armour but the Rifter shields were nearly gone. The Thrasher entered structure but now the Rifter armour was disappearing in great chunks and suddenly no capacitor, the Thrasher had drained it and could now get away but it would be suicide to try now. This was do or die and given how close it was to killing the Rifter it decided to stay to try and finish the job.

It didn’t, it exploded (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10174318) just as Starwalker entered structure. This was a long awaited and very satisfying kill. However, checking the killmail Starwalker realised how lucky he was as if the pilot had used faction ammunition or fitted a damage control II it would have been a different story.

Punisher that Got Away

Starwalker arrived in Adirain with local showing only a few pilots in system. Whilst roaming and running had been usual, Starwalker decided on a different approach this time and that was to stay in system (or a few) and lurk. The idea being to wait patiently in local until a suitable target appears in local and then to hunt for it.

Braza 2hot4u was in local and in time it became clear he was flying a Punisher - target acquired, hunt on. Starwalker hit the directional scanner as he guided his Rifter away from a random asteroid belt and by chance, that very same Punisher warped past to that belt. As Starwalker warped in his heart started pounding and he arrived right on top of the Punisher ratting.

Target lock, set orbit, start damage control, autocannons, rocket and scramble. The Punisher shields dropped very quickly as expected but the armour was not dropping quite so fast and its repair cycle seemed to be limiting damage. Time to overheat guns and rockets and the results were soon seen as armour dropped to zero and the Punisher entered structure. Strangely the range increased as the Punisher entered 50% structure. Starwalker thinking the Punisher was warping away hit the scramble again and inadvertently turned it off. The Punisher did not need an invitation to leave and warped away immediately.

The Punisher should have been killed instead it was the one that got away. It was the first but it probably wouldn't be the last. It was a disappointment but the good news was that it was the first fight in ages.

17 July 2011

Roaming and Running

Starwalker surveyed the dark space and gleaming points of light as the Rifter cruised around Old Man Star and the surrounding systems. This was not first the time that he had been here nor would it be the last time, however, was the Rifter the wrong ship to be roaming in?

Thinking back, Starwalker noted that:
1)    No fights had been had in any of these lowsec systems
2)    Running from assault frigates and battlecruisers was almost normal
3)    Sometimes, playing chase me was dangerous fun
4)    Very few or no other frigates seemed to be in system at the same time
5)    Those few other frigate pilots tended to be much, much older or very red
6)    Some pilots were clearly doing small gang roams
7)    Transport ships hidden in deep safes and at least one encounter at a POS
One notable highlight was playing chase me with Taurean Eltanin in a Vengeance and some other Tuskers in ships like Jaguars. However, not wishing to be immortalised in Eltanin’s blog as his next victim, after a little running around, Starwalker eventually jumped away and found Rixx Javix in the adjacent system. Cool, two of New Eden’s finest bloggers so close together – would they find each other soon?
Back in the present, Starwalker hit the directional scanner, just to check what was out there, nothing interesting, and then continued to think about the lack of fights. Perhaps the real problem was with Starwalker himself?
1)    Where he was looking for fights
2)    Over rating other ships, in particular assault frigates
3)    Under rating his own Rifter and pilot strengths
4)    Being too specific in types of targets and pilots to engage
Quick check of the directional scanner again and the usual array of assault frigates and battlecruisers. Perhaps it was time to throw caution to the solar winds and take on that Jaguar, then again, why throw a Rifter away needlessly? To engage a decent Jaguar pilot in a Rifter would at least require maximising key skills first and hoping that surprise would be a winning factor.
Starwalker set a course for home and hit warp, he would die another day, not today. His skills were simply not ready yet to engage more experienced pilots in better ships and hope to win. Perhaps the real problem was simply lack of patience.

Cost Effective Ship Fitting

Starwalker considered his ISK balance and noted that he was still ISK challenged. There simply was not enough ISK to buy small fleets of ships and fit them with no consideration of cost. Indeed maximising ship performance with good equipment selection and fitting whilst minimising the cost of the hulls and fittings was still a key consideration.

Inevitably this leads to making compromises – selecting a lower performing item because it costs considerably less or modifying a fit to accommodate the exclusion of very expensive item(s). Starwalker mulled it over and brought two similar fits onto the Neocom console. The first fit used an expensive Internal Force Field Array and was the main reason that it came in at just over 42m ISK:

The statistics look good, apart from the cost:
·         DPS – 159
·         Effective HP – 4271
·         Speed – 1154
·         Capacitor stable at 86%
However, the cost is a factor and this shield tanked Rifter could come in at considerably less ISK with some modifications. Starwalker compared it to the second fit on the console:

The statistics looked similar and the cost is now around 15m ISK:
·         DPS – 155 versus 159 or a ~3% loss
·         Effective HP – 4286 versus 4271 or a ~3% improvement
·         Speed – 1154 is the same
·         Capacitor stable at 86% is the same
Starwalker knew that this was an easy choice. No fight had yet been decided by a 3% difference in performance and so the best bang for buck was the second Rifter fit. Others might choose differently but Starwalker’s wallet had the made the final choice. Selecting the second fit, Starwalker quickly placed the market orders to fit his small fleet of Rifters.

16 July 2011

Improved Drake Fit

In Close Encounters of the Bait Kind and similar the inadequacy of the current Drake fit was highlighted. It was time to improve that Drake fit and skills would be looked at separately, as training would take longer anyway.

Starwalker reviewed the fitting information for the Drake and knew that he wanted to primarily improve the damage per second (DPS). Whilst the T2 tank was good it was the Heavy Missiles that let the gank down by providing only around 240 DPS. The drones would be on top of that but drone skill was only at the level of allowing three drones in space. In short, DPS was not good.

Ultimately skills would need to be trained to really maximise the DPS output but there was a simple change that would produce an immediate 33% improvement. It was also an easy change to make – to switch to heavy assault missiles (HAM).

Starwalker sat down at the Neocom console and reviewed the changes:

So 322 DPS was much better than the original 241 DPS but just for comparison, if all relevant skills were at level 5 for this same fit, then the DPS would rise to 421 and to 497 with HAM Launcher IIs fitted.

Starwalker hesitated to add the general missile skills to his training plan. It seemed to diverge from Plan A - to use mainly Minmatar ships like the Jaguar, Rupture and Hurricane and of course the Rifter. However, at least adding Heavy Assault Missiles would make sense as this would also ultimately benefit any future Hurricane fits as HAM could be added to the complement of projectile turrets. Starwalker confirmed the training and got up.

The training seemed to take forever but meanwhile the Rifter was in the dock making its siren call for a roam. Black jacket – check; sunglasses – check; ignition – check. The Rifter slid smoothly from the dock and into the dark of space.

15 July 2011

Close Encounters of the Bait Kind

Starwalker heard the call for backup from some Rebels cruising Elarel, who were looking for trouble and had found an innocent looking Myrmidon, piloted by Johannii, that was simply belt ratting and minding its own business. It was agreed that this might be bait but worth having a go anyway to see what happened.

Starwalker’s Drake of gross inadequacy was wheeled out again and joined the Rebel Jaguar and Harbinger. Starwalker made a mental note to review fit and skills and do something about the fit rather quickly as the skills would take longer.

But no time to think about that anymore as the Jaguar sped in to provide the tackle and called for backup. The Harbinger and Drake arrived on scene to find the area swarming with drones but worse than that the Myrmidon had also called for backup and that had arrived in the form of a Megathron.

This was no time to complain about bringing knives to a gun fight and Starwalker engaged the Myrmidon as a swarm of Hammerheads, Hobgoblins and Ogre’s started for the Drake. It was not long before the closing trap had finished off the Jaguar (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10117416) and Harbinger (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10117417). Now with the main meal done they were looking for dessert, a nice tasty Drake. The Drake missiles had been going continuously but seemed rather ineffectual whilst its shields were nearly 50% gone as the drones continued to pummel away. It was not looking good.

The Myrmidon moved into close combat orbit range and started to apply its scramble and some more hurt with its Light Neutron Blasters. Starwalker could see the writing on the wall. With the Myrmidon this close he turned on his Small Neutraliser II as it might help to drain its capacitor and if that happened then the scramble would drop and so would the armour repair. Starwalker aligned to warp out more in hope than any certainty of getting away. The Megathron was still around 38km away but did not seem to be applying much direct damage, instead relying on its drones to do the work. Strange. However, shields were now at 75% and whilst the Myrmidon was 25% into its armour it was not obviously going down.

Suddenly the lock on the Myrmidon was gone, it had moved away. Starwalker warped immediately and was away. The Drake had avoided what seemed like inevitable destruction, getting away from a close encounter of the bait kind.

Starwalker reviewed the battle and had questions that would probably remain unanswered:
·         Why had the Megathron not applied any direct damage? Surely it should have, perhaps zanchen was too new or didn’t want to lose the battleship and keeping range provided a quick exit if things went bad
·         Why had the Myrmidon warped away? Applying the small neutraliser would surely have not worked that fast against a battlecruiser unless the Myrmidon was already close to exhausting the capacitor
It was a mystery and probably would remain so but Starwalker had no more time for this. It was time to turn toward the task of improving the Drake fit.

11 July 2011

Close Encounters of the Fight Kind

The message was short and sweet - new Rifter is ready. Starwalker stepped out to the balcony to be greeted by the beautiful lines of the Rifter floating in the space station dock. The symmetry of the ship design blended seamlessly with the armaments and the autocannons looked ready to spit fire and death. This was a ship that demanded to be flown to the edge, beyond it and back. It was time to take it on its maiden flight.

Old Man Star beckoned and the call was answered. Starwalker’s Rifter jumped into system and darted to an asteroid belt. The directional scanner started listing the ships in system and the usual array of assault frigates and battlecruisers populated the list. Starwalker headed to the next belt, checking the console and sound of the engines everything looked and sounded good. Time to check what this baby could really do, afterburners on and the Rifter accelerated. The speed climbed smoothly to over 1000m/s as the Rifter tore along the line of the belt.

Quick check of d-scan and nothing, hold on a moment – a crow and gaining fast. It was a micro warp drive fit and only 38km away. Starwalker did not hesitate; he immediately banked towards the nearest stargate and hit the warp button. The crow, piloted by Volos, would no doubt be fit for a range fight and Starwalker was fit for in-close combat. He also knew that his dogfighting skills were simply inadequate at the moment to be able to get in close unless he got lucky. But it was too late. The crow had closed the distance in the time it took to realign and had locked incredibly quickly and applied the warp disruptor.

Bloodclaw light missiles slammed into the shields and Starwalker immediately applied the lock and tried to scramble but the crow was around 16km away and out of range, including of the autocannons. Starwalker approached the crow to try and get in close and apply some hurt but the crow was moving away again fast. It was surprising as the Rifter was going to be in trouble but the reason became obvious a Claymore had arrived on the scene. Starwalker aligned and warped before the Claymore could get a lock, even though it landed only 3km away.

A couple of close encounters but the Rifter was still intact. Burn marks and a few dents now adorned the ship but no doubt it would acquire more of those before it too became a fireball and died in a blaze of glory.

10 July 2011

Core Ship Skills

In Close but no Kill Starwalker noted that his Drake was barely fit for purpose. This battlecruiser had seen action for mission running and got the job done but against live targets it was only adequate at best. Its tank and gank was simply too low. Similarly, Starwalker noted that the Rifters are much better currently because more of the relevant pilot skills are trained to a higher level and more ships are properly fit for purpose. Last but not least, the frigates are far more expendable than battlecruisers because of the ISK replacement cost.

Starwalker moved to the Neocom console in his Captain’s Quarters and checked his ISK balance, less than 10 million. It would be some time before there was enough ISK to have a fleet of expendable battlecruisers. As Starwalker sat there contemplating the future and sipping some Quafe he decided that waiting a while was not necessarily a bad thing as there were many skills to be acquired too.

Thinking about that further Starwalker listed some of the core ship skills that needed to be maximised to Level 5 and applied to any ship and added them to his training plan:
·         Electronics – 5% bonus to CPU for each level
·         Engineering – 5% bonus to Power Grid for each level
·         Energy Management – 5% bonus to Capacitor Capacity for each level
·         Shield Management – 5% bonus to Shield Capacity for each level
·         Hull Upgrades – 5% bonus to Armour Hitpoints for each level
·         Mechanic – 5% bonus to Structure Hitpoints for each level
·         Navigation – 5% bonus to Speed for each level
·         Evasive Manoeuvring – 5% bonus to Agility for each level
Learning other electronic, engineering, navigation or mechanic skills would be dependent on ship or type of fit and typically add improvements (Repair Systems...) or make something easier to fit (Weapon Upgrades...). Starwalker did a quick calculation and realised that to complete the skill training of even this short list would take around two months. What would be the best way to do this learning and include the other keys skills for gank and tank?

That was a question for another day, it was getting late and looking at this would take some time to come up with an answer.

9 July 2011

Encountered a POS

Starwalker wandered through various lowsec systems looking for an inviting target. Old Man Star had the usual array of assault frigates and battlecruisers and so his Rifter jumped through to Ladister in search of prey rather than being the prey.

In Aeschee there was only one other in local, an Iteron Mark IV, which seemed interesting and Starwalker set about finding it with the directional scanner. It was soon obvious that the Iteron Mark IV was not at a celestial. A quick change to a probe allowed the Iteron to be probed down and bookmarked. Now, time to switch back to the Rifter to warp in for the kill. This was looking good and should be an easy kill.

The round trip journey seemed very slow and the only concern that dampened the excitement was that the Iteron would simply have moved on. Finally, back in Aeschee, warp to bookmark, now only a few more seconds to go...

Starwalker hoped to find the Iteron Mark IV sitting in a safe spot with the pilot asleep at the controls or similar. Unfortunately the Rifter dropped out of warp to a giant bubble and the POS (Player Owned Structure) was active with online defences. Within seconds the POS guns opened fire and the Rifter had to leave straightaway with the shields already down to 25%.

What an anti-climax and disappointment. Starwalker thought the POS encounter was very unfriendly and not what he wanted to find but then again he had hoped to find the Iteron unattended when he could be unfriendly. So, no real complaint! J

8 July 2011

Close but no Kill

The recent war declaration against World Forge Industries resulted in additional activity from R1FTA Rebels to find some targets. World Forge Industries had their own ideas about the war and implemented a strategy to:
·         Provide no easy kills to R1FTA
·         Restrict movement by individual ships
·         Only mine in one system
·         Active security force
The security force was camped in Arant but was largely ineffective as Rebels searched out targets elsewhere and found them. Starwalker, Zodiac Black and Duke Thunderhorse found targets around Uedama and both of them managed to get a kill but Starwalker was disappointed to miss out. He was close by but got no kill, arriving just too late on both occasions. Shame.
It looked like a fight was brewing with the security force in Villore and their leader was in a Machariel battleship. It was decided that a swarm of Rifters would be great fun but might be too slow to get the kill before the arrival of more security force members. So, a few Rebels decided to get into their battlecruisers. Starwalker dusted off his Drake but realised that the damage (per second) dealing was low, only around 250 DPS. However, the Drake was added to the pot with the intent to primary the Machariel and see whether it could be brought down.
Trying to get eyes and a warp in point on the Machariel was problematic and before the problem was solved it docked, leaving its wing man, another Drake, alone. Attention shifted to the Drake and a couple of Rebels warped in for the tackle. Starwalker, feeling the excitement thought the order to engage had been given and arrived on site – too early. The tackle was not properly in place and the war target simply decided to dock and it was all over with no kill. Rebels circled the station menacingly for a while but it was clear that the security force were not intending to come out and engage. Time to dock up and get some shut eye.

7 July 2011

Logistics: Hauler Alt

There are a number of guides available for creating a hauler alt. Starwalker now has a Minmatar clone called Starstepper. This decision was based on one of those guides recommending the Mammoth, which only required training to level IV. Gallente ships would offer a larger hauling capacity with the Iteron Mark V but also a longer training time to get there.

Starstepper did a neural remap to emphasise Perception and Willpower – the two key attributes to reduce training time for Industrial IV and completed the training:

·         Minmatar Frigate III, a pre-requisite for Minmatar Industrial
·         Hull Upgrades II, to fit four: Expanded Cargohold II
·         Minmatar Industrial IV, to fly the Mammoth
Starstepper will be able to complete any buying and hauling operations in hisec if Starwalker is restricted to lowsec, at least until battleships need to be purchased and moved.

6 July 2011

Another Rifter becomes a Fireball

Starwalker was cruising an asteroid belt looking for trouble and it found him this time. The annoying rattle on the right was still there but maybe it would last one more fight. A Myrmidon battlecruiser had seen Starwalker's little Rifter in the belt and it had gone red but taking on a battlecruiser was a little ambitious in a frigate.

No guts no glory. Starwalker moved into orbit, opened fire and pointed the battlecruiser piloted by DeathScythe3. It started well but the Myrmidon released its flight of Warrior II drones. The warriors rushed in and started to apply the pain. The Myrmidon was starting into armour but even though the warriors missed regularly they also hit regularly and the shields were nearly gone. In a shield Rifter that is not good.

Starwalker decided it was time to leave and hit the warp button – to no effect. Halfway into armour Starwalker hit the warp button again, now desperate to escape but there was no escape and Starwalker's trusty little Rifter became a fireball (http://r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10071447). The Myrmidon was clearly also out hunting and had found its prey.

Starwalker warped his pod out and back to base and on the long trip home considered what he had learnt:
·         Check the pilot's killboard before engaging. This would have shown the pilot had lost many ships but also killed a few, so very likely to be setup for PvP. This would probably have been enough information to decide to not attack a battlecruiser in a frigate
·         Once engaged, kill any drones fast. It was the drones that were really applying the pain and Starwalker left it too late to start attacking them.
Starwalker's final thought – no need to worry about the rattle on the Rifter's right anymore