No Room at the Inn

Wormhole diving and habitation seems to have gotten reasonably popular.  Mostly I’ve been trying to acquire what I think are some of the requisite skills to make a go of it with my two accounts.  While I’ve been acquiring all those ancillary skills that would allow me to be fairly independent (as well as able to defend my territory), I’ve been doing some wormhole diving getting my routine down.

For a mostly-mission runner rock miner player like myself, its been a bit of change of style.  Fortunately, my primary explorer character has covert ops which makes exploration fairly painless, though not without its occasional moments of terror.

After experimenting a bit, I seem to have struck a good balance using 4 Sisters Core Scanner Probes in my expanded probe launcher.  I’m using the Tech II Buzzard with Gravity Capacitor Upgrade rigs so resolving targets with my mostly all 4 scanner skills isn’t too time consuming.  I tried using 5 and 7 but I found it to take a bit more time than managing and moving 4.  Wormholes tend to be fairly strong signals as it is, so I seldom have to reduce the scan radius below 1 au to get to 100% scan strength.

Wormhole diving has forced me to work on my remedial directional scanner education (something that high sec miners and mission runners can successfully avoid almost entirely after the tutorial).  I’m getting fairly efficient in D-scanning down POSes I find in wormholes.  With the 14 au limit on the D-scanner, I’m getting used to checking out the layout of a w-space system as soon as I enter it to see if there are inhabitant.

Most of the time (but not always), the entry wormhole pops you relatively near the inner solar system.  Hence, a quick 360 degree D-scan tends to cover most of the system and lets you know if there are any ships or POSes in the system.

Of course, if the system is a bit far flung or your entry point is askew, a quick visit to the far sides and a D-scan will let me know if there are inhabitants.  And inhabitants (and former inhabitants) a-plenty there are.

Over the course of the last (casual) week, on my scanning runs, I’ve probably scanned down probably 20 wormholes.  Of those, most have been Class 1 or Class 2 (my desired target).  But of those 20, I’ve probably only seen 2 or 3 uninhabited systems.  In addition, I’ve come across three abandoned POSes.

On my last scan for the night, I also came across a vertiable wormhole city in J163138.  Its understandable why too.  That Class 2 system has a pulsar effect that adds 44% to shields.  Caldari shield tank heaven.  As soon as I warped in, I saw my shield “deficit” begin to fill up.  44% is an ENORMOUS boost.  No wonder there were several towers, ship manufacturing arrays, many many hangars, etc.  I didn’t stay long.

Initially, when I would see a Control Tower show up on the D-scan, I usually just exited the wormhole and looked for the next one.  Like a noob, when I saw a Control Tower on the D-scanner, I immediately assumed “inhabited” and bailed out.  Of course, if you don’t see “force field” on the scanner, then its abandoned or out of fuel.

Part of my basic routine, after ALWAYS BOOKMARKING THE EXIT WORMHOLE (which I’m sad to say I don’t remember to do 100% of the time) is generally to locate and visit any POSes which might be in the system.  Caveat, I do this in a T2 covert ops ship cloaked so there is relatively little danger.  So far I’ve only run into (literally) one warp bubble and there was nothing to decloak me nearby, so I just motorboated away and went about my business.

Seems I’m not the only one confused about POS design….  Clandestinely visiting all these POSes is certainly giving me a bit of perspective.  Given the wide range in organization and sophistication (or lack thereof), I’m feeling more comfortable about my general approach.

Still, I’m realizing that the hardest part of wormhole habitation may be actually finding one to live in!  I nearly pulled the trigger today even though I’m not entirely ready with skills and materials.  My goal for initial deployment is to try to find a wormhole to live in with an entrance within one or two jumps of my primary staging system to facilitate logistics.  Taking the advice of other bloggers, I’ve also been looking for a wormhole within a wormhole rather than one directly accessible to hi sec in hopes of finding one unpopulated, but alas, I only seem to find them during the week and past my bedtime….

I had scanned down about a dozen wormholes on Saturday (admittedly not a good day to find solitude in W-space) and finally found a fairly toothsome Class 1.  I wasn’t planning on Class 1 for a number of reasons.  First, you can’t get anything bigger than a battlecruiser through the entrance.  Second, the loot isn’t that good.  Class 1 meant no Orca which means major logistics and lower mining efficiency.

Still, a week or two in a Class 1 would let me get my feet wet in the shallow end of the pool.  Of course, I had planned everything for an Orca-enabled initial deployment (and no corp mates were online of course) so I decided to reorganize to fit everything in ordinary haulers.

Just as I was about to start loading up my hauler alt who was frantically running around the station trying to fit his hauler for stealth and gather bits, a battlecruiser gang showed up in the Class 1 system.  Of course, I could have just tried to dodge them and get the POS set up, but since I don’t REALLY know what I’m doing, I decided there were probably less foolish ways to throw away a few hundred million isk…

So, lessons learned.  I’m now reasonably prepared to deploy in a Class 1 if I need to.  I should probably not even consider it during the weekend because of the risk.  The more diving I do, the more comfortable I am in navigating W-space, looking over my shoulder, etc.  I was telling my wife, its a bit like swimming in the ocean.  At first it can be terrifying when you consider there might be sharks, but the more frequently you do it, the more aware of your surroundings you become and while not risk free, it certainly become much less terrifying as you become acclimatized.

Placement of POS Defenses

So I Google, and I read, and I Google some more and I read some more… The topic of POS defense placement seems to be either so well understood that noobs like me just need to L2P or is such a closely guarded strategic secret as to be nearly impossible to find online.

To avoid confusion, POS Defense theory is rampant.  Plenty of suggested builds for different locations and uses (hardeners/no hardeners, dickstar/deathstar, etc.) but scant little information about where to actually place said defenses (and more importantly why).  There are plenty of helpful hints like “gun placement matters” and “spread them out”.  Useful stuff when you’re dealing with a sphere.

Not much to go on really, so I’m interested in feedback on where to locate POS defenses.  Part of the confusion/problem stems from the fact that people tend to use rather imprecise language when discussing the topic (see above).  So let’s go with a few consistent terms based on this handy chart:

For reference to places along a parallel or meridian lets use the old “o’clock” system:

Email me for the joke with the punch line "when the big hand is on the little hand"

After much discussion with a few friends and consultation with various online sources, the discussion seemed to come down to two different issues– (1) how much distance between units is advisable and (2) whether to array longitudinally along meridians or latitudinally (generally along the equator).  All approaches recommended units at the North and South Poles (although differing in views on the distance between units).

North South East West Who Knows Which Way is Best

The three general approaches are represented below with the help of a golf ball (the POS force field boundary) and cartoonish WWII era fighter planes and/or whimsical beatles (representing the placement of generic defenses, regardless of type).

Equatorial Configuration (Not to Scale)
Meridian Configuration (Not to Scale)
Spread out configuration (Not to Scale)

Dubious Truths for Which I need Guidance

I’m told that

  • its necessary to spread out the units all over the sphere because although the units can “see through” the POS force field, they cannot hit units.
  • if you don’t defend your ewar units with guns, they will go down.
  • if you place your defensive units too closely together (<10km), they will be susceptible to bombers.
  • its essential to place your units OFF the equatorial plane or your vulnerable.
  • its essential to place your units ON the equatorial plane since that is where the vast majority of attackers will approach.

A final piece to the puzzle.  POS defenses can only be placed in a band between 5km and 15km outside the force field.  With a large tower, that means between a band between 35km and 45km (Ewar is shown here by whimsical tools while guns are represented by cartoonish WWII fighter planes).

POS Placement Radius

“Conventional wisdom” suggests that ewar units should be near the inner 5km boundary and guns near the outer 15km boundary– which would conveniently give one about 10km between units even if they were located at the same “o’clock” position (whether equatorial, meridinal or otherwise).

Now, wise Eve community, what are the collective merits of these (or other) approaches?  My general idea for a WH POS was to adopt a deathstar approach similar to one of the ones that BoB use(d) to protect its Titans:

The Closest I'll Ever Get to Seeing a Titan

Namely, an equatorial approach (with N and S polar units) but generally concentrated at 8 points along the equatorial plane (12, 1:30, 3, 4:30, 6, etc.).

Is this POS defense set up a POS?

What am I missing?  Am I being too AR?

I’m sympathetic to the “spread out approach” but I’m not so sure that longitudinal gives you much more than equatorial. OTOH, I’m concerned that the spread out approach leaves ewar units more vulnerable than if they were closer together.


Plenty of Free Parking

So there I was, minding my own business practicing my seven probe scanning in high sec and I was able to lock down a nice wormhole in my system.  I warp in cloaked to 10km off the WH in my Buzzard to see if there is any activity.

All quiet at this end, no significant disruption by ships so, I call back my probes, reload and hop through.  A quick check of the system on Dotlan Eve Maps (and/or Wormhole Explorer) tells me its a nice Class 2 hole.

I bookmarked the exit and start slow boating away from the hole cloaked while I get my bearings.  Before I drop any probes, I pop open the D-Scanner and this is what I see:

This place needs a valet

Man, that’s a lot of ship maintenance arrays!

I’ve scanned down and visited a few inhabited wormholes and most seem to have fairly pedestrian facilities.  Another class 2 I visited the day before had a large tower, a few defenses sort of hap hazardly deployed and a medium intensive refining array, a Corporate Hangar Array and one Ship Maintenance Array.  Now, each SMA can hold 20 million m3 of assembled ships and drones so thats 180 million m3 of ship storage.

For reference, an Orca has a volume of 10.25 million m3, a Hulk only 200k, a Drake only 252k m3 and a Raven only 486k m3.  Hell, even an Obelisk only occupies 17.5 million m3.  Even Carriers and Dreadnoughts are even under 1.5 million.

They only had three corporate hangar arrays (1.4 million m3 storage each).  Even if they consciously violated Letrange’s sage advice, that still seems a bit excessive for a class 2 wormhole.

Being a complete POS and WH habitation noob, I’m sure I’m missing something.  Someone please enlighten me why you’d need space to store the equivalent of 370 battleships in a class 2 wormhole system.

Progress in Spaaace

Back in Eve now for the last week and resuming my WH colonization plans.  For an EASK like me, if you have a goal, Eve can be a veritable candy store of achievement.  The irony being that in a “sandbox” game without explicit goals and with time-based skill progression, I’m getting dozens of minidings evidencing my progression.

The sense of progression and achievement in pursuit off a goal is addictive.  Of course, its not just skilling up and that delicious “Skill Training Complete” audio cue.  Having formulated a plan for WH exploration/colonization means about a million other things need to be thought about, analyzed, deconstructed, rationalized and put into some kind of structured action plan.

A quick example.  The WH project means I need a POS.  Like all things Eve, setting up a POS requires isk, skills and a plan.  What kind of tower, what kind of defences, what kind of modules, how to arrange them, how much fuel, what skills are required to set it up and of course how to haul it all from a staging point into a wormhole and set up before someone pops you.

Over the course of the last week, I’ve managed to collect all the pieces for my desired POS.  Knocking off each one is a miniding.  While running to and fro, I’ve been working up all the necessary skills to anchor the modules, control the defences, mine and refine ore thats not commonly found in hi sec space, etc.  All the while engaging in some other isk productive activity.  At this point, I’m down to collecting fuel, ammo and supplies (which includes ships and WH appropriate fits– another area to research).

And of course, there are spreadsheets.  Spreadsheets are not bad.  Analytical problem solving is not bad.  As a matter of fact, that’s probably the most satisfying part of getting back to Eve.  And unlike most other MMOs, there isn’t really one best way to do anything which means creative problem solving can be rewarded.  Brute force, cleverness or guile can all be effective solutions to problems.

For the task at hand, I’m wrestling with getting all the POS kit into digestible bites for quick but safe deployment.  My gut says, don’t drive the Orca into the WH until the tower is up.  On the other hand, I could carry so much more in one trip… But the cargo to mass ratio is lousy compared to disposable industrials….

Finally, the other sense of “progress” that I’ve been getting is honest to god real skill.  Scanning down WHs and other sites can be a bit of an art form and I’m beginning to get more efficient which is a good feeling.  I spent some time scanning down a grav site in a high sec system that was all but impossible to get to 100% scan strength even with skills at all IVs.  A good feeling to get it locked down and to pull out a small but satisfying amount of Hemorphite.

Likewise, I found a WH to a populated class 2 system.  Very interesting to see their set up and to play covert ops cat and mouse while I scanned down their POS and took a peek.  More experience needed here.

Back. In Space.

Tap tap.  This thing still on?

Funny things happen when life goes a bit sideways.  Things like not blogging.  Any who, without much going on in the gaming universe of late, I’ve been itching for something new.   As Wil has been reporting, our WoW instance group is nearing 60 on the Horde side and have nearly completed our pre-Cataclysm Tour d’Azeroth.

Where we’ll go once we hit 60 is anyone’s guess.  There’s been some exploration in other games including a number of FTP offerings, but nothing is a clear front runner at this point yet.  I was about to take up knitting or something else productive when simultaneously I started reading more about Eve’s upcoming Tyrannis expansion and Tobold’s interesting series of posts and comments on his recent foray into Eve.

Ah Eve.  I was expecting the siren song of Eve to call me back to the icy depths in the fall after a summer break, but my work schedule just didn’t put another MMO in my life.  All the Eve discussion coupled with a lack of compelling gaming options finally pushed me over the edge.

Of course all the discussion about making your own goals really hit home.  When I was last in Eve in earnest about a year ago, I was immersed in planning a wormhole POS excursion.  Alas, I hit the wall before I could launch it, but now I’m reinvigorated and proceeding apace.

Generally, I’m an empire carebear, playing my multibox version of sim-space but the idea of small group wormhole operations is captivating for me.  Planning, logistics, training, exploration, danger, gas clouds, roid rage– only back two days and already I’ve got half a dozen spreadsheets going…  All good stuff and exactly the kind of stuff that has been lacking in my gaming life– self directed compelling goals in the proverbial sandbox with landmines.

To get our feet wet, I think we’ll set up in a Class 2 wormhole and see how it goes.  Once we’ve got that figured out, then we’ll consider something more challenging.  Stay tuned.