Friday, 20 November 2009

Get Rich Or Die Trying'

Wormholes, wormholes, wormholes...
The places with no blobs, no local chat, juicy targets and unpredictable exits. I've been visiting them quite often in the last few months when lowsec became too blobby or empty.
After scoring kills like this, this and this in unknown space I've decided to share some tips on wormhole piracy with my readers.
So, what do you need to kill stuff in those weird places? First, of course, you have to find those wormholes. If you are new to probing, check out this great guide by pirate-turned-merc Hallan Turrek.
Is it possible to use the same ship for probing and killing? I'd say yes if it's a force recon, I've used a Rapier to both scan down holes and then kill smallish stuff inside. But probing becomes longer and the Rapier's firepower and tank are insufficient to kill a battlecruiser or a battleship under Sleeper fire so my favourite approach is to fly with a wingmate in a covops.
Now that you found a nice-looking wormhole, read its info (00sage00 has some nice resources here), bookmark it adding a date (you don't want to end up with dozens of identical bookmarks) and get in. If you are a scout for someone else, it might be convenient to have them warp to the 'hole and bookmark it as well to make a potential incursion easier.
Once inside, look around for bubbles (this is 0.0 after all) and check your directional scanner for targets. If it returns any targets, try warping cloaked to a planet outside of scan range and lay your probes there. Don't forget to bookmark the wormhole again before leaving it: you don't want to waste your time reprobing it.
Your targets could be miners, plex runners or other explorers like yourself. Killing miners is fairly easy (you might want to equip several scrams/disrputors), but you need to be well tanked to take on w-space plex runners. Apparently, as soon as you scram, web and neut/nos them, Sleepers will see you as a major threat and will switch fire onto you.
Another important thing is to bookmark the inner side of the hole with your killer ship to avoid getting stuck in case something happens to your prober. Also, if the prober is switching into a combat ship, make sure the hole is not going to collapse shortly ot you have at least one other wormhole probed out.
Unfortunately, more often than not you will find empty systems, occasionally with people sitting at a POS. Don't hesitate to go deeper by scanning 8AUs around every planet. Also, return to empty wormholes later to see if their inhabitants come out of their caves. The Orca kill linked above followed several hours of spying on a mining group during which I bookmarked their belt but made them aware of my presence. When I returned later, though, I was able to make a surprise landing on top of them.
To sum it up, patience and proper preparation is your best friend when dealing with 'holes. And those patient and prepared will be rewarded.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

[OOC] With My Mind On My Money And My Money On My Mind

"Money over power, power over money, beeyatch!"
Warren G

Aspiring pirates are often concerned with the issue of financing their activities: they are afraid of losing more isk than they make and want to have alternative income sources. And experienced pilots have different viewpoints on how to finance their PVP habits. Some try to live by what they earn through ransom and loot, flying cheap insurable hulls, while others say it's more fun to fly expensive ships and add isk to their accounts by other means such as selling time codes, running missions and complexes, trading or research.
I myself have tried many options. In the beginning of my pirate career, I had tried to maintain a high enough security status to run missions in hisec: that was enough to finance my Rifter losses for quite some time.
But then missions started giving much less of a security status boost and I decided to try nullsec ratting instead. It didn't take me long to fail at it and lose a Raven to an Arazu and a Falcon. Screw it, I thought, and decided to train up alts for mission running and hauling while letting Nursultan's sec status drop.
Now, training a new character to fly battleships takes time and I started selling time codes to support my PVP losses in the meantime. As I moved on from Rifters to Wolves and Jaguars, I had to sell more and more GTCs to finance my losses. Fortunately, at about that time I managed to acquire (for free) another character which was very easy to train for a prober. This has greatly increased the range of targets available to me and allowed me to have better intel before engaging in combat.
However, I still needed isk and continued selling time codes. Finally, in late May, once I skilled up to fly Tech 1 cruisers, I decided I'd try to finance myself without real life cash. I started picking fights more carefully, ransomed as much as possible and also began running 2/10 plexes (which themselves often provided opportunities to kill stuff).
Slowly but steadily my wealth started building up. After this kill, my isk balance jumped to about 1.5 billion - up from about 400 million I had at the moment I decided to stop selling GTCs.
With so much money, I once again started engaging in riskier fights using more expensive ships and, after the loss of a couple Vagabonds and my alt's Rapier, my overal wealth dipped below the 1 billion mark.
Once again I restricted myself to flying insurable Tech 1 hulls, cutting losses to a minimum and looking for ways to replenish my balance. I also doubled my wormhole exploration efforts, diving deeper into unknown space in search of targets or exits into other pockets of low- or nullsec.
Yesterday, I scanned down a wormhole in Siseide, which was empty but small making further probing convenient. Soon, I found an exit into a lowsec system, Ohkunen. The system was empty save for a few people who were either docked or inside a 2/10 Guristas plex. I jumped to the neighbouring system, Obe, which had a nullsec entrance gate. With nothing on scan in Obe, I decided to scout P3EN-E and stumbled upon a Dread Guristas cruiser in one of the belts.
I quickly brought Nursultan over in a Jaguar, killed the cruiser and picked up a Low-Grade Crystal Epsilon implant worth 125 million in Jita.
Not bad, I thought, making my way back through Ohkunen, when another Jaguar appeared on scan. I warped to the plex hoping to find it there but activated the gate just as it appeared in front of me. Still, there was a chance the pilot would follow so I sat at the warp-in point waiting. The Jag did jump and was game for a duel. Unfortunately for him, my setup proved to be better suited for the fight (he had an anti-Guristas tank). This is even better, I thought, scooping up the loot which included a Dread Guristas Warp Scrambler.
Hours later, I decided to check the same wormhole system again. A readout from my directional scanner contained just one line: Vargur. OMGWTFBBQ11111111, I thought as my launcher spat out four combat scanner probes. Check the scanner again, it's still here. Nurs, board something that can break his tank! 8AU, 4AU, 2AU, 100%! Let's get it.
I landed 30 kilometres away from the Minmatar marauder, a Tech 2 battleship designed to withstand heavy fire and loot the dead enemies on the spot. Overloading my midslots, I rushed towards the Vargur and pointed it. Activating my guns, I started a private conversation with its pilot and asked for 1 billion in ransom. "I don't have that much," he replied. Bad luck (for him).
But the fight was not an easy one. Although Vargur's large artillery cannons could not track my battlecruiser, bloody Sleepers had decided I was also a threat (haven't killed a single Sleeper in my whole life, honestly). My shield and armour were being destroyed almost at the same rate as Vargur's shield. I overloaded my guns when his shield approached 30 percent and successfully broke through the top regeneration point but my own armour was approaching zero.
Somewhere at about that time, the Vargur pilot said "Please let me go for 400 million". Sorry mate, too late, I thought - can't wait for the payment under Sleeper fire. Plus 400 million is really not enough for a ship whose hull alone costs twice as much.
Finally, as my hull integrity dropped below 10 percent, the Vargur blew up. I let the panic take over me and warped out without scooping the loot. However, as I brought my prober to the wreck it got decloaked and barely managed to escape heavy Sleeper fire. One last time, I told my beaten up Hurricane, sending it back to the site. Just in time - a Helios covert ops frigate was approaching the juicy wreck but left as soon as I started targeting it. I grabbed the loot and warped to the exit.
Only then did I look at my cargohold and the killmail and realised the Vargur had dropped a 500-million isk (don't believe killboards) Pith A-Type X-Large shield booster.
Phew, I think I have some isk to spend now.