Nice to be back home

So in my previous post I mentioned taking my Ishtar and Nighthawk out on a trip to visit Sisters of EVE agents. This was after quite a bit of hemming and hawing on my part because it was still quite a bit of hassle just to get some measly LPs, but in the end I just decided to disregard common sense and at least get the standings for level 4s first, since more standings are always useful.

Thus began a 20+ jump journey from Amarr space back to soothing Caldari blue. Along the way there were some shenanigans going on at the Madiirmire gate with some battleships, battlecruisers and assorted other ships shooting at each other, however me being me I just gave them the Carebear Stare and moved along. The less time spent in the vicinity of Niarja/Madiirmire/Kaaputenen, the better.

After a few level 2s, I suddenly remembered about the Sisters of EVE epic arc mission, The Blood-Stained Stars, which I had last did more than 3 years ago when I first started playing. The epic arc gives SOE standings, and I remembered having a hard time with Dagan all those years ago in my Cormorant. Hmmm… payback has been 3 years in the making…

Of course, Arnon was another 15+ jumps away in Gallente space. So off I went again… jump… jump… jump… Finally back in Arnon and I started blitzing through the missions with both characters. Apparently only Noork had done it before, as Yannie had negative standings (-0.02 somehow) with SOE. Unfortunately there were quite a few courier missions involving stations 8 jumps away, so there was a whole lot more jump… jump… jump. Except twice I forgot to actually accept the mission on Noork before undocking and travelling all the way, so that was EVEN MORE jump… jump… jump.

Drake just doesn't look menacing

Drake just doesn’t look menacing

After finishing the rogue drone portion of the mission, I was all pumped to take on Dagan. Except a quick check of the wiki showed that I was barely at the halfway point of the 50 mission arc, and I still had to travel all the way to Minmatar and Amarr space before coming back to Arnon. Arrgh ok that was too much jumping for me, so I sincerely assured Sister Alitura that I would meet her contact in Hek, after which I immediately set my autopilot to Simela instead. Why Simela? It had both a level 2 and level 3 SOE security agent, so at least after getting standings for level 3s I wouldn’t have to go traipsing around again.

After another 15+ jumps I docked in Simela, where I spent a couple of days blitzing through level 2s and then level 3s for both characters. This was pretty fun since the Nighthawk and Ishtar are completely overpowered for this level, with the Nighthawk having a passive 476 dps tank and the Ishtar’s sentries providing 660 dps. Didn’t bother looting most of the time but they sure do die fast. I particularly enjoyed doing Blockade and Pirate Invasion a few times. Warp in, deploy sentries and blap blap blap. The Nighthawk was less powerful with weak heavy missiles, but it was practically unkillable.

Breaking the Blockade by blapping

Breaking the Blockade by blapping

After I finally raised my standings to 5 to be able to access level 4s, I was all set to make the journey back to swap to my Marauders when Yannie received notification of a 10 part storyline mission for SOE. Unfortunately it was another 14 jumps in the wrong direction to Sheroo, but what the hell its a storyline mission. So off I went… jump, jump, jump. Oh look, more 8 jump courier missions…

It was while Yannie was doing her UPS routine that I saw tons of people asking for help in Sosh to kill Dagan. Dagan, destroyer of hopes for newbies. So I asked one of them to fleet up with my Ishtar and I warped in to give him a hand. No idea how long he had been going at it but 5 Garde IIs took Dagan’s shields out in 2 salvoes and that was it. So I got my revenge on Dagan after all.

Finally, after everything was over I set both ships on autopilot for the 24 jump trip back to my home base. Of course I disabled autopilot for the Niarja portion and warped to 0 even though my ships aren’t really blinged out. By the time I finally docked I was so relieved to be back in this familiar station with all my stuff. I had originally intended to refit my Marauders to be purely T2 and go do SOE level 4s in Lanngisi. But now that I was back… staring at that 27 jump trip in battleships… suddenly all the motivation went out of me. I could always fly there in fast frigates and buy a couple of T2 fit Marauders in Hek, but Marauder prices have really spiked since Rubicon and it seemed like a waste to do so and leave another 3 billion ISK in assets there.

So for now I’m going to enjoy being back home. As a welcome home present, my favourite security agent even offered me Angel Extravaganza! First time doing this in Rubicon Marauders, so out came the Golem and Vargur.

Angel Extravaganza (Bastion style)
Time: 52 minutes
Bounties : 30M
Loot : 29.9M (no implant drop)
Mission rewards : 3M

Total of 75.5M ISK/hour. Surprisingly it took 8 minutes less, even with me fiddling around resetting my PI extractors in the middle of one of the rooms. The big time saver is actually the mobile tractor unit, which works pretty good if I try to keep tractoring in stuff in Marauder tractor range so that the mobile tractor unit busies itself pulling in the further wrecks. The last room was particularly enjoyable as I simply warped in, moved a few km off to allow for plonking down double mobile tractor units, and activated Bastion. The Vargur tanked like a small planet with my XL booster, and I never even went below 60% cap. The cloud of 10 salvage drones busied themselves buzzing around the wrecks constantly being tractored in with 8 combined tractor beams, and by the time the last enemy battleship popped the field was largely clear of everything. Angel Extravaganza is always fun, and now it’s even more easy and fun (would have been better with an implant from the 4th room though).

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Stratospheric prices

I have to admit that I am completely flabbergasted. I previously wrote that it didn’t make sense to farm LPs for the Stratios, because I thought it would be much more cost effective to simply buy the ship using ISK. That has historically proven to be the case for most faction ships. And I was not alone in this estimate, with TMC estimating that the cost price of the Stratios (even after 50% markup) was going to be 293M ISK and that the market was going to be saturated with these ships with the thousands of mission runners grinding LP before the patch.

Well fast forward to today, the first weekend since Rubicon was deployed. The price of a Stratios in Jita now is 470/490 million ISK. In fact, not only has the price not dropped, it has been steadily increasing (with a corresponding decrease in volume) from about 400 million when the patch was released to around 500 million.

Guys it's not supposed to cost this much...

Guys it’s not supposed to cost this much…

Granted it has only been what, 5 days? So, not a long time. But still out of curiosity I popped over into a Sisters of EVE station to check out the manufacturing costs of a Stratios to see if that could be the reason.

That's not a lot

That’s not a lot

Hmm, nope. With perfect manufacturing skills it only comes out to about 10 million ISK in minerals. So even if I consider a 15 million ISK mineral cost and ignore the discounted price in null, at 500 million ISK a Stratios currently gives (500-30-15)/120000 = 3791 ISK/LP which is astronomical given it can be grinded in high-sec.

Another possibility springs to mind. I noticed that in addition to buying the BPC, which doesn’t seem to require any special skills to manufacture (am I wrong on this?) you can buy a prebuilt Stratios for 300,000 LP and 20 million ISK. This is, however, an amazing ripoff because the mineral cost of the ship is so low. BUT, if for some strange reason people are actually buying this prebuilt ship then that could explain the 500M ISK price since that would give a ISK/LP return of 1600 which is reasonable. High, but at least not retardedly high.

It remains to be seen how long these prices will stay… depending on whether people notice the mineral disparity or simply are too lazy to bother manufacturing it themselves for a huge discount. Of course there is also the manufacturing time to consider, at about 4 hours per ship. In the meantime, if there is such a huge discount available if I get the LPs myself then I will start grinding standings with SoE for level 4s. I made my way over to some level 2 SoE security agent in my Ishtar and Nighthawk (originally meant for WH ops but repurposed into another hangar doorstop) and started blitzing through them. In terms of opportunity cost I would still be better off just buying a single Stratios for my own use, but it will still be a while before my alt can fly one yet so I might as well take my time.

Drake and Vexor with custom paint jobs

Drake and Vexor with custom paint jobs

Rubicon Adventures – Bastioning up

Last night I finally got the opportunity to undock and fly my radically redesigned Marauders. Prices for the new Rubicon stuff have finally gone down to reasonable levels so I undocked my Orca for a supply run to Jita. In hindsight I should have taken the opportunity to unload a bunch of my mission loot instead of flying an empty Orca 14 jumps, but it was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I ended up going on a spending spree and picked up 210 million worth of modules and assorted crap, in addition to my Falcon and deadspace medium armor repper that I had picked up earlier. The list included 3 Bastion modules for 7 million each, 6 mobile depots at 2 million each, 5 tractor units at 16 million each, 4 T2 tachyon beam lasers, 8 IN MF crystals and 8 IN Gamma crystals, and a bunch of fittings and rigs for the Falcon. I was originally going to buy a T2 energy burst aerator rig for the Paladin as well but there were only a few on the market for 50 million, 30 million more than the usual price so I held off on that. I was also going to get a T2 rigor rig for the Golem, but for some reason these still go for 100 million plus ISK so I decided that wasn’t worth it. I usually pop small stuff with the Vargur/Paladin anyway instead of the Golem.

After refitting everything, I drew Guristas Assault as my mission. Nice! I had done this mission a couple of times before and I remember incoming damage being really high, coupled with the super annoying Gurista jamming habit. So out came the Golem and Vargur, both with MJD + MWD. There was a little bit of a snafu where I couldn’t find the Bastion module on my UI, so I ended up warping the Golem back to the station while the Vargur was fighting to figure out what was going on. Turned out the Golem has so many slots the Bastion icon was hidden behind my drone bay panel (yeah I need a bigger screen, or a way to hide those passive modules like ballistic control systems).

The Golem bastioned up right at the warp in while the Vargur used MJD to jump to about 30-40 km off from the Guristas. Pretty handy and I’m quite pleased with MJD + MWD so far. I had a scary moment when I was kinda distracted looking at the Golem and my wife was talking to me. When I finally checked back on the Vargur it was at half armor and the next volley took it down to 30%. In my mind I screamed “HOLY SHIIIIIIIIT” and activated my XL booster… luckily the first pulse gave me back about a third of my shields and very quickly I was back to full. I’m really not used to the XL booster yet and am hesitant to leave it running because so much shield recharge is wasted, but actually I have enough cap to keep it going for 3 mins so I’m not really in any danger of running out. Other than that the mission went without incident. I didn’t time it but I guess it’s pretty stress free with no more annoying jamming, and the Vargur definitely does much more damage close up (and takes much more damage too, but that’s what the XL booster is for).

Thought you had me, didn't you...

Thought you had me, didn’t you…

I didn’t get to try the mobile depot (and I wasn’t even really carrying any extra fittings either) but I did get to try the tractor unit. The first time I dragged it from the cargohold and dropped it into space, then spent about 30 seconds looking around for it. I expected it to look a bit like the pictures CCP had been showing, but hmm nothing around but the Vargur… wait… why is that wreck tractoring another wreck? I finally figured out that the little white triangle was the tractor unit and added it to my “Loot” overview. It’s pretty helpful, although I do wish that it would tractor the furthest wrecks first instead of the closest. That would make much better use of the 125 km range.

Overall I have to admit I like the new Marauders. Jester posted something highly amusing a couple of days back in which he contends that the new Marauders are the newest ISK printing machines. I normally have a great deal of respect for his opinions, but this is just a case of someone who obviously has never flown Marauders and has probably not flown a level 4 mission in a long time. Then again, he seems to think that the new Bastion animations are “really cool”. Uh… what? There are seriously non-CCP people who are impressed with that crap? The new Marauders are able to do missions easier…. not faster. And most veteran players (who can afford a Marauder in the first place) don’t have any problems whatsoever tanking in a pirate battleship. He also contends that Bastion makes Marauders gank-proof and thus easier to bling out. Umm, in my PVE fits my Marauders have about 70-80k EHP in Bastion. You’d need less than 10 Tornados to alpha through that in the blink of an eye, all while the Marauder is completely stationary and unable to warp away even if not pointed. So yeah, the new Marauders aren’t going to suddenly earn you billions blitzing missions because sitting there stationary with no damage bonus is inherently slower than killing everything while moving to the next gate. But it is definitely easier, and especially so for me dual-boxing. Seems to be more a quality of life improvement than any improvement in mission running functionality, but I’m not one of those pilots that care about maximising ISK/hour anyway.

Rubicon fits

The latest EVE expansion, Rubicon, has launched today. I didn’t play around with fits too much on the test server because the changes were perpetually in flux. Now that it has launched, I downloaded the updated EFT to play around a bit with my Marauder fittings and the Stratios. Unfortunately Bastion module prices are ridiculous now so I intend to wait a bit before trying these fits out. The mineral price of the module is about 4-5 million, but the modules are selling for 18 million in Amarr. I’m not going to buy the 50 million BPO just to make 3 modules and I’m pretty sure the prices will go down since it’s a 1 per ship thing and there aren’t THAT many marauder pilots.

Paladin

Paladin is a real monster in Amarr space. With the 2-slot tank, I get a 352 dps tank out of Bastion and a 1006 dps tank when Bastioned. Pulses with Scorch give me 80/96 optimal/falloff range out of Bastion, 95/113 in Bastion for 821 dps. I can switch to Conflag at 32/50 in Bastion for 1150 dps.

I love Scorch

I love Scorch

If I use Tachyons, I can get significantly higher numbers. IN MF crystals give me 973 dps at 70/115, while IN Gamma gives 892 dps at 87/132. However, in exchange the fitting with Tachyons is pretty tight (have to downgrade a tractor beam to tech 1, or use a faction heat sink for not much gain). Also, the capacitor use with IN MF Tachyons is more than double that with Pulses. It’s still sufficient but may run into trouble in missions with heavy neuting.

Although Tachyons ain't bad either...

Although Tachyons ain’t bad either…

Right now I’m still undecided given I normally use the Paladin to pop smaller stuff while the Golem shoots battleships, so pulses may still be the way to go since they fire faster. Both fits have dual prop since they can actually shoot 100km out, so MJD might be useful as a get-out-of-point card.


Golem

Bastion freed up 2 mid-slots and I swapped in one of my faction invulnerability fields as well as my new Gist X-type Large shield booster. This gives me a respectable 402 dps tank outside Bastion, which jumps to 1081 in Bastion. With the free slots I put in another target painter to help with orbiting frigates that don’t get popped by the Paladin/Vargur, and a MJD. Golem benefits the most from the MJD sniping style since cruises have no range limit, but in exchange there’s no way to really pump up the damage short of using Furies or faction ammo, which I don’t like as I’m lazy to resupply. Also swapped out the AB for a MWD for greater speed when out of Bastion.

No damage increase :(

No damage increase 😦

Vargur

Vargur gets the short end of the stick with regards to range. To make it feel a bit better, I’m going to plonk the 700 million Gist XL Booster on him and go with a 2 slot tank with a faction invulnerability field. This gives me a 4 min 695 dps tank vs Angels outside Bastion, and a totally ridiculous 1923 dps tank in Bastion. Switched out the damage control for another gyrostabilizer, and for now I’m probably going with triple Tracking Computers. Not sure how useful MJD would be for the Vargur, since it can’t shoot that far, but if I find that the third TC isn’t much benefit then I might put a MJD on just for convenience.

I like big numbers

I like big numbers

Stratios

The news that the Stratios lost 25 mb bandwidth took me by surprise and honestly took a lot of my desire for this ship with it. But playing around in EFT the figures seem to be reasonable, although I think it would be hard pressed to complete any harder sites solo. The Garde IIs give me 531 dps at 52/64 optimal/falloff. CPU is really tight though and I don’t think my rigs are ideal. I plan on carrying a mobile depot to refit to relic/data analyzers as needed. Ideally I’d want Yannie in this ship scouting ahead in low sec with the Ishtar following behind. However, that means I have to train Yannie in Sentry drones as well as Amarr and Gallente Cruiser, so that’s probably a long time away. Stratios prices are ridiculous now anyway so we shall see.

I mourn for Garde 5...

I mourn for Garde 5…

How to lose more than 450 million in an instant

A few days ago the market for one of the mindlinks I trade in went a bit bonkers. The average price reported in the market seemed to have tanked to ridiculous levels, causing warnings whenever I updated my orders. Being a bit curious, I looked at the historical prices to see what happened.

The bio says it all

The bio says it all

On 12th Nov, it looks like someone sold about 10-15 mindlinks for 45,000 ISK instead of 45,000,000. Looking at my journal history it appears I was the beneficiary of 2 of these free mindlinks. A quick glance at the bio page of the “victim” provides insight into how this could have happened. Typing is still a valuable skill, train it to at least level 4… although this guy must not have even injected the skill book if he could fat-finger three 0s.

Welcome change

CCP Ytterbium just posted that High Energy Physivs IV has been dropped from the skill requirements for the Bastion module. Instead, being able to fly Marauders will let you use the Bastion module as well.

This is something that I asked for in the Marauder threadnaught as well, because High Energy Physics IV simply made no sense and served no purpose other than being an arbitrary skill that needed to be trained. It did not benefit the performance of the ship in any way. Furthermore, one of the major downsides of Marauders has always been the extremely lengthy skill training times. In fact, some people have noted that a new player can get into a carrier faster than they can get into a Marauder. Since Bastion mode is being made an integral part of Marauders, in effect leaving High Energy Physics in would just mean adding yet another skill to the list of Marauder pre-reqs.

Of course, this being the Internet and all a couple of retarded pilots were quick to defend the inclusion of HEP 4 when I mentioned this in the Marauder feedback thread. One German idiot even went so far as to say he agreed that HEP 4 made no sense and was an arbitrary choice, but still it should be the skill requirement for Bastion. Say what? It makes no sense, but it should still be there? Impeccable reasoning on display right there. His rational was “you can always undock and fly a Marauder without Bastion”. I can also undock and fly a stealth bomber without a Cov Ops cloak, guess how good an idea that is.

My guess is, despite CCP’s clear-cut warning that Bastion skills could be changed, he was one of the many silly people that went ahead and trained HEP 4 early on. Guess reading is still a helpful skill in life. One person even posted that he can’t stand it when CCP “gives warnings that only serve to cover their asses later on”. Poor CCP, it really reminds me of those appliance manufacturers that have to make warning labels saying “Do not stick tongue in socket” because otherwise they’ll get sued by some idiot.

Exploration diaries – Part 5

A couple of nights ago, I logged on for a quick round of exploration since I didn’t have much time. There were 3 signatures in my base system, which got resolved into a combat site, a data site and a relic site. On a side note, man that relic site was hard to scan down. I had to go down to 0.25 AU probe radius and still had to fiddle around with placement a bit before getting a warpable hit. Nothing besides a few decryptors and another Target Spectrum Breaker BPC, but the combat site turned out to be one called Blood Vigil which I had never done before.

Warped the Ishtar in and BLAM all shields stripped in the first volley. Was pretty scary but it’s ok, the Ishtar is armor tanked. After pulling a bit of range and dropping Garde II’s it was over quickly. But what’s this?

“Among the information your scanners pick out of the badly damaged station manager ship are logs containing a conversation indicating that the manager himself had an RRhideout not far away where he spent his free time doing whatever perverted things Blood raider hotshots do when they are on a vacation.”

Ooo another escalation! And it’s not a Rogue Drone one, so it might be decent. After a whole lot of jumping around doing 3 high-sec escalation stages, I end up with the last stage being 12 jumps away, 3 jumps into low-sec. But this time I will brave the perils of low-sec in my dogged pursuit of Blood Raiders! And phat lewt of course.

A quick refit of my Ishtar is in order, so I pop in a Improved cloaking device, a medium remote armor repairer, switch out the AB for a MWD and popped in a medium CCC into my spare rig slot. I was planning to take out my faction OTLs and deadspace armor hardener, but forgot to in the end so my Ishtar was pretty pimped out for a low-sec adventure. Meanwhile I also jump my alt over and boarded her Manticore to act as a scout. Didn’t bother putting anything in the highs except for the Cov Ops cloak, but did put on 2 sensor dampeners and a target painter with the vague idea that she might be able to help a bit in the site.

After the tedium of jumping 9 gates, I finally reach the first low-sec system. The Manticore jumps in first with bated breath… to find nothing. No, wait something just appeared. Is it a camp? Er… Anshar… isn’t that a jump freighter? While I contemplate decloaking the Manticore to give the Anshar pilot a scare, it disappears. I guess it jumped to a cyno. There are about 6 people in local but the gate seems clear, so I warp the Ishtar to the gate while the Manticore makes a corp safe spot bookmark. I then jump the Ishtar through and to the safe spot while the Manticore makes a perch bookmark 150+ km from the next gate.

In the next system there’s no one else in local, so I decide to pop open the discovery scanner to see if there’s anything interesting. HOLY MOLY that’s a lot of Sansha anoms. On a whim I decide to try one out and warp the Ishtar to it while the Manticore hangs around at a safe spot. The anomaly is called Sansha Port, and it turned out to be markedly different from hi-sec anoms. For one thing, the NPCs take much longer to die. I’m getting the hang of the Ishtar kiting style now, and basically MWD out to about 60 km right at the start before farting out a cloud of Garde II’s. Initially I was afraid to go too far from the sentries as I thought that the NPCs would quickly switch targets to them since my Ishtar isn’t doing anything at all, but somehow they remained content just plinking away at the Ishtar while the drones happily continued blapping unmolested. And it took a lot of blapping, because there were even battleship spawns. It seems that even with 664 dps with 64 km optimal, it takes a while for a lone Ishtar to finish these anoms.

After finishing it (and filling my cargo hold with loot from the BS wrecks) I decide against trying to do the rest of the anoms since it takes too much time and my main goal is to finish the escalation. Repeating the whole bookmarking routine eventually gets me to the target system, which thankfully again has no one in local besides myself. Seems like this is a quiet part of space, although it’s not a dead-end low-sec pocket or anything like that.

How does a tiny gray lump hold that many drones?

How does a tiny gray lump hold that many drones?

The site itself was relatively uneventful. I warped my Manticore to the site as well and sat there cloaked, but ended up giving myself a scare when the Blood Raider ships happened to pass within 2000 metres and decloaked it. Fortunately nothing targeted it and I was able to scoot away and recloak. The final Blood Messiah battleship was eventually dispatched and he dropped a Centii A-Type EM Plating worth about 6 million. A bit of a letdown, but I guess I can’t expect great loot drops all the time. I think I ended up with about 33 million in loot from the whole escalation chain plus random anoms, including a low-grade Talisman Alpha implant.

This represents the first time I’ve been in low-sec with a combat ship, and the first time I’ve actually done anything in low-sec besides just warping around. Definitely more quiet than I expected, but even so I’m not sure whether there’s a point to doing the plethora of low-sec anoms I found. Maybe if I bring a Stratios in as well I would be able to do them faster while still being able to scout, but the rewards don’t seem commensurate to the risk. I could just run level 4s much faster and with practically zero risk. Another interesting possibility would be to make use of my alt’s Caldari Cruiser V skills to train Recon Ships and bring in everyone’s favourite cloaky, the Falcon. Since I have zero intentions to PVP and just want to GTFO, having a cloaky Falcon hanging around to jam off anyone who managed to point the Ishtar could be very handy. Wouldn’t let me do the sites any faster though… hmm.