The last time I wrote on EVE, I’d mentioned the joys of grinding standings. I’d been slowly but surely developing my Sisters of EVE standing by running a lot of courier missions. And by a lot, I mean “Oh-My-God-This-Is-Killing-My-Soul”. Combat missions might’ve made the process go faster, but my experience in the last level 4 combat mission I’d done made me somewhat wary. Still, it was getting done, and I was creeping up closer to my target standing; I wanted to get to a standing of 8.0 or above, and I was sitting a little over 7.5. That was when a new storyline mission popped.
Things have changed a wee bit since that ugly encounter. The time had been well spent in continuing to skill up combat skills; I could upgrade a fair chunk of my Megathron battleship to tech-2 equipment. Not the guns, naturally-that would’ve been too easy. But the armor hardeners that upped my resistance to various types of attack, the armor plates, and my capacitor rechargers that-in theory-would mean I could fight longer…all that I was now able to use. I was also able to use a tech 2 armor repairer, but the problem with that was powergrid issues; couldn’t get it fit. The differences were marginal enough-at least at first glance-to make me feel that I could live without that.
I believed that a successful level 4 storyline combat mission could get me a lot closer to that magic 8.0. And this time, I did my due diligence. I hopped on the web and reserached the mission, and found out that it would feature drone attackers-not the drones like players use, but frigates, cruisers, and battleships controlled by AI. This meant that EM weaponry would probably be best. Of course, last time around, I’d mentioned that hybrid turrets didn’t exactly give you flexibility when choosing damage; it was thermal and kinetic damage and nothing else. I still hadn’t trained up other weapons of large size (pretty much required for battleships), and I’m not sure I’d have switched even if I had; the Megathron has enough bonuses to large hybrid turrets that I’m not sure I wanted to go without.
My own drones were a different story. I loaded up five EM damage-dealing medium drones, and three light drones of the same, rounding it off with two light thermal damage drones. I’d basically used tech-1 versions that I’d looted from other combat missions. My strategy was going to be fairly simple: drones to deal with frigates and cruisers, and the guns for battleships. This time, I’d loaded up with iridium ammo for range, and antimatter for damage. My guns were still the long-range railguns; in hindsight, I probably should’ve considered blasters, which are shorter range but lots more damage. This is what happens when you ignore the numbers.
Now that I was armed for bear-in theory-and making sure I had enough time for the night’s festivities, I flew into the encounter. Right off the bat, I knew I might have issues; unlike some missions, which could allow you to warp in much further away (which would’ve been nice for a rails-equipped ship), this was “warp to encounter'; there would be little breathing room. My ship warped in, and the attack began. Things got ugly fast; my light drones made fast work of the frigates, and my medium ones had taken out one of the cruisers; but I was taking damage a lot faster than I’d figured. Looking at one of my armor hardeners-a reactive hardener-I could see that it was putting its efforts into dealing with explosive and EM damage. Naturally, my ship was using armor hardeners that dealt with thermal and kinetic. Oops. I recalled my drones, and warped out-but not before the attackers began chewing into my structure.
I repaired the armor damage with my armor repairer, warped to a station, docked to recharge shields and capacitor-and to fit the EM and explosive hardeners. Why take more abuse if you don’t have to? Then I returned to the field of battle. And my reactive armor hardener began applying mostly to thermal and kinetic. Well, the intel had told me to expect “all damage types”. I just didn’t expect to have them adjust on the fly like that. Well, what’s good for the goose….
I cleared out all of the cruisers before warping out again-and this time, more of my structure was getting hammered. Structure is expensive to repair; I could see my profit margins going down fast in this fight-especially since drones tend to drop pretty much nothing as far as loot goes, and I could tell I wasn’t going to have the time to do a salvage job later. At this point, I began to consider new tactics. When I warped back in, the first thing I did was hit the afterburners. I’d installed them on the ship for situations like this-when I’d need to put distance between my attackers and me. Distance was my friend; I could hit targets fairly reliably from 70km away, and still hit fairly hard. The damage of my attackers became less reliable, and the accuracy hurt too. In short, the enemy was apparently set up for close range fighting-and I wasn’t. It was time to fight on my terms, not theirs.
To cut short a long story…it took a fair chunk of time, but in the end, there were a lot of broken drone ships, and my ship had come out on top. The only downside-well, in addition to structure damage-was the fact that I was so relieved it was over that I warped out-and forgot to pick up my medium drones. Oops. Well, it’s not like I can’t find more. Heck, I’ve swiped unattended drones by scanning them down on occasion. Drones aren’t an issue, especially since they were all tech-1 drones.
The standing jump put me well above 8.0.
So now things open up a bit. I immediately created a jump clone at the SOE station, flew my battleship back to its home dock, then jumped into that clone. Then I installed another jump clone. (If I remember right, I should be able to install another later for a total of four clones-my “original” and 3 jump clones.) So that puts me pretty much where I want to be for my big goals.
A truism of EVE is that you should never fly anything you aren’t prepared to lose. EVE is still very much a PvP game, and if a player thinks he can gain by blowing you up in hi-sec, even the punishing CONCORD retaliation won’t save your ship. In lower security regions, players don’t even have to worry about that-they’ll blow you up just because you might do the same to them. Or for the laughs-it’s hard to tell sometimes. Add to that null security space, and the major player alliances and all of that…and you can see where the problems can come into play. Add to that the fact that my clone-until now-had a heap of implants improving attributes, which allow me to train some skills a tad faster. That mades getting my pod killed dangerous-in other wordes, I wasn’t prepared to lose the implants, so even my pod was something I couldn’t afford to lose, in my mind.
That situation no longer exists. With the jump clones, I now have two clones which have no implants; it slows training time, but it frees me up to do fairly suicidal things. Which is, amusingly, the next step.
Way back, CCP introduced wormholes to their game, where you could go into strange space where there was no protection, but also no set gates to guard. The only ways in and out of wormhole space were-duh!-wormholes. And those regions of space always had wormholes, often to other regions of space-even other, deeper levels of wormhole space. They could wind up putting you anywhere. This has appealed to me a great deal, but aside from short visits, I’ve been reluctant to explore them fully. Mainly because if you got your ship killed, you had an excellent chance of being stranded in wormhole space so you’d have to pod-kill yourself to get out. And I already mentioned the implant issue.
Not an issue anymore. So in the not too distant future, my plans are fairly simple: get a fairly cheap frigate with cloaking device and cheap scan probes, find a wormhole (which isn’t too hard, especially since I’d sharpened my scanning skills a long time ago), and see how far down the rabbit hole I can go. It won’t get me any money-the “rats” in wormhole space are way too dangerous for the ship build here-and it won’t get me anything special, but that’s not the point. The point is to get out of my nice, comfortable hi-sec nest and go somewhere new. It may be boring as hell; it may be the wrong kind of exciting (“Ooo, look at the tech-3 cruiser shooting at me! Oops! I’ve been podded!”). It might strand me deep into low-sec or null-sec space. But it’ll be fun-and since I’m not tricking out the ship (not like I’m taking a tech-2 ship or something like that), it’ll be easily replaceable. And when I get back to my home space, whenever that is, I’ll have a tale to tell. At least, that’s the hope.
Soon, my friend. Soon…