Sunday, March 24, 2013

I am Become Death... (OK, ok) We Have ‘Joined’ Death...

or~ We Do Unto Others, ‘Cause We Can…

Been a while tween posts and TBH looks like I will prolly continue posting at a slower rate than in the past what with RL general stuff, work & life, picking up a bit as we wend our way into spring.

We in HBHI have been playing the learning game in New Eden, well… in Anoikis actually, what most call Wormhole Space or W-Space, WHs or just holes. We have spent over 2 years now learning the ins and outs of life in Anoikis. The give and take of living in a POS, the routines of life in holes… daily scanning, Anoms, Sigs, hole control, PI, sites, getting comfortable with the complete lack of any outside influence as regards safety (IE CONCORD), finding that we are happier in holes for that very reason… freedom. And to top it off, the absolute and very real sense of ownership of a system in Anoikis… and the risk that rides with it.

And finally, as was bound to happen, we were camped by a superior force. In our case it was ‘Surely You’re Joking’ [HAHA] Alliance and thank the Gods it was not a large scale camp or a Merc Op and we got out of it with our skins, pods, ships and mods intact even if doing so depleted our wallets quite severely but we ended up joining with SYJ Alliance which has been all to the good. Now I say Thank the Gods it was not a large camp or an SYJ Merc Op because I recently went on my first SYJ Anoikis POS Bash and Raid. Yup, about 20+ SYJ guys (3 of us from HBHI) and another 20 or so effectives from Alliances and corps we set Blue for the Op took over the Static to a occupied C2 (hole control), staged an Omaha POS then caged (IE to totally cover a POS with T2 Lrg Warp Bubbles) and attacked and reinforced a Large Minmatar POS and a Large Domination POS… then we camped, waited out the reinforced timers… then destroyed them…

…then carefully looted them of any and everything of value. I am become, that which I used to fear… or at least that what caused me more than a few late worry filled nights… a guy in a DPS ship in fleet from a corp and Alliance that bashes and/or evicts small corps in holes for fun and profit.

We have always in the past been a small corp inna hole. At first we lived in a C1 in an Alliance owned Lrg Amarr POS, then sharing a C2 with an Allied corp, then moving up to a C3 but this time alone in a Lrg. Minmatar POS. I was the POS Manager so it was up to me to learn as much as I could about the ins and outs of POSes, which I did and some of which knowledge has spilled across the pages on this blog occasionally.

I learned the differences between the various races POSes and the % here and % there of the various Factions POSes. I decided, and argued my co-Directors into agreeing, that overall the Large Minmatar was the best for outright defense of the T1 POSes and the Large Domination was the best of the faction towers in Defense. ISK drove the final decision as it always does and we went with a Lrg Minmatar. And it has served us well, and still does today. We once more call “Serenity Station” home in the Alliance homehole… though she has been, for reasons unknown to me, renamed “Pandora” (I know not if it is for the movie or that little troublesome box... but as I am no longer POS Manager it is not my concern so meh).

Anyhoo, after we decided on a Lrg Minnie Spike I got even deeper into defense modules and defense strategies and internal modules and Industry and that led to POWER & CPU and Grid Balancing… in other words I got to know and understand POSes very deeply. And this was back pre Crucibble when POS fueling was very different from today…

I’m gonna intentionally digress for a sec here… (steps up onto an old beat up soapbox…)
There were no ‘fuel blocks’ back then, you had to constantly buy, or create via PI, the large variety of products you now use to BUILD Fuel Blocks… but you had to add them into the POS Fuel Bay like adding the parts of a recipe into a blender or a hopper, or, more like having to constantly ship in, or make, all the various goods and services that would be needed to support and run a Real Space Station.

Nowadays you still make or buy the prods from PI somebody does have to make the damn Fuel Blocks for sale… or we can haul out the PI, sell it and buy and haul in the damn Fuel Blocks… or make all the PI prods (except ICE as usual) and then devote a huge amount of our Industrial capacity to making our own fuel, thereby cutting heavily into our normal ammo/droan/ship making efforts etc. So in a way it is more complex, yet not in a good direction… not in a direction that emulates Real Life.

You see I actually liked the old fuelling mechanic as it was far more immersive and realistic in that a Planetary Orbital Space Station would NEED all these various ‘things’ shipped in almost daily… AND things we didn’t (and still don’t today) ship in like food and water for crew and staff… and ship OUT (or shoot into the sun… I mean why not? It’s a big ol nuclear furnace just burning away out there…) like garbage and industrial and human (and alien?) waste products etc. etc. … I liked how the fuels worked and I saw CCPs vision… these were a reasonable number of ‘things’ that reasonably went into keeping a Space Station up and running… not the, IMHO, stoopid Big Blue Jello Shooters we ‘feed’ the POS now.

But sadly the game is in now a state of constant slow nerfing to the point where a monkey with only one hand and blind in one eye will have a shot at being a PvP king… It’s just the way of the world today… ‘everyone’ is told they are a ‘Special Snowflake’ and in order to fulfill that idiotic ideal, everything is getting slowly nerfed and dumbed down until even the knuckle-dragging mouth breathers are happy and have all their entitlements fulfilled… sheesh. (ok, I’m done… steps down off the soapbox)…

So, I essence I had learned a helluva lot about POSes and all. So I planned out a very detailed, uh, plan… for our POS. I wanted a POS players would think twice about attacking. There are 2 main schools of thought on POS defenses in EvE. In Hi and Losec (under a War Dec in Hi) your POSes are at risk… but in Anoikis and Null, they are nothing more than juicy grapes hanging in the ether… and if they have goodies inside… well, they had better be defended and not just by the Defense mods in auto-mode.

So I created a diagram for the Def Mods layout, How many and what kinds of mods, their locations and overlap, ammo types and loadouts and most importantly of all, Grid Balance. How many of what kind could be OL during Peace Time and how many and which ones to OL in Time of War. I wanted the best possibly ‘passive’ ‘Auto-Mode’ defense our POS could have while balancing the needs of Industry, mod and ship storage… in the event of an attack… by people like us. Sheesh.

This was the core of my worry and angst… and what I have become. I knew our POS was at risk, I knew ANY POS can be taken down, remember the edict… “Don’t anchor what you can’t afford to lose.” All I wanted was a POS so heavily defended that (1) it would scare off, or at the very least give pause, to them as would think to attack us and (2) it would survive long enough for us to login and manually fight back. My biggest worry was not Mods or ammo or even Grid… it was the same thing we used against the guys in that C2 to the greatest effect… time.

The guys in the C2 were Japanese. To say the least their prime OL is not the same as ours. This is the worst case for Anoikis dwellers, when your enemy is up and active either when you are asleep, or worst, in the middle of your workday. There are players who will sacrifice their sleep, but few who will call in sick and none who can ‘afford’ the lost time, just in the name of the game. Hurrying home to login and finding your POS(es) gone, your faction defense mods gone… to find everything you worked so long for, that your spent so many hours creating all gone and listed on someone’s killmail… it would have been, it must have been… simply crushing.

Two Lrg POSes in a C2 with a stat Hisec entry… one T1 Lrg lightly defended and the other, a faction Lrg POS quite heavily defended and with multiple Faction Defense Modules. The problem was… they were filled with yummies, Industry mods everywhere. Wayyy more than I had ever felt was reasonable in our POS. And so, they were accessible with a Hisec Static, owned by small corp with a PvP record none would envy… and with a very high probability of lucrative loots, what Anoikis Merc worth his weight in gooey nano-ribbons could say no? The leadership setup scouting, warpins, safes, and watched and learned their schedules, ships, and routine… plans within plans were laid.

The wind up of all of this was that on a recent Sunday afternoon I found myself in my Navy Issue ‘Phoon, in fleet, sittin on the edge of one of the Lrg T2 cage bubbles and firing on that Lrg Domination Control Tower… until it exploded. I was in on the reinforcing of the first T1 POS but missed the take down that morning however I made the second timer on the Domination POS. I was involved, active and shooting shit or awaiting orders all three days of the Op and glad to have the chance to do so. I learned a lot and got to experience some really fun moments and, of course, the obligatory totally boring hours of waiting out the timers… sheesh.

The lessons I learned?
(1) EWAR -I now know why the Dick Star got its name… EWar can be a blue balled bich. Even with no one awake and actively running defense mods the POS in auto mode was crippling our attack and we even lost one ship due to a scram and jam. Logi was unable to assist and so he popped. Now keep in mind this is only one loss out of a fleet of near 40 ships… for the whole 3 day op.
(2) LOGI – I learned that Logi is THE reason any POS can be taken down. Good Logi support for a fleet against a POS in auto-mode can totally counter the available DPS. To counter that you would need manual control and sustained focus fire from the Def Mods and even then you would have to have the targeted ship nailed to the floor with webs and long & short points.

In a way it was a comfort to learn I was right in my base assumptions about the way I had setup our POS defenses. I went for a half-n-half Dick/Deth Star. The point being that once we had enough guys OL and manually running the def mods I was going to have EWar concentrate on jamming out the attacker’s Logi and Web/Points/Guns focus firing on the biggest DPS boats on grid one at a time. Had the guys who owned these POSes done that, it would have made a major difference.

But… would it have ‘won’ the battle? I don’t know… the truth is there is no way to know. If they had upped their defense would my FC have bat-phoned for more help? I believe so… then would the defenders have upped their defense by bat-phoning for help of their own?

All I can say is they didn’t bat-phone while we were there for three days… not once did they log on in any numbers and ‘actively’ defend their towers… All they did actually ‘do’ was to OL all the Shield Hardeners and a few extra jammers and damps. They had a total of 13 Shield Hardeners anchored and the normal setup for a Lrg. Domination POS would be x2 EM/x3 Thrm/x4 Exp/x4 Kin to bring the total resists to 71/68/68/68. As Shield Hardeners have stacking penalties any more than this would be a waste of Grid.

So did the Hardeners help? Hell yes, cut all our DPS by 1/4 to 1/3 or more. That’s what they are for after all. But they didn’t ever really put up a defense that I saw… I never once saw focused fire from more than 2 or 3 mods and the one time I saw 3 on me at once, it was all different jammers. With Logi able to easily rep back the Gun DPS (with the POS in auto-mode) the only really effective def mods were ECM.

I was actually a little surprised at how effective EWar actually was initially… but once the defenders began OLing extra jams and dampners the FC simply ordered enough ECCM brought in that we could all warp to the Orca and refit to x3 ECCM in the mids and back we all went with a greatly reduced susceptibility to jams… and so I now know that EWar effectiveness can be greatly reduced… in auto-mode. I cannot but help wonder if it would be as effective under manual control and focused targeting by multiple jams…

So, DPS can be negated by effective Logi and EWar can be greatly reduced by ECCM… at least against a POS running in auto-mode… I still want to know how it would go against a POS that was effectively manually defended with a real Death Star’s worth of Defense Mods OL and fully loaded… I almost hope I never personally find out, cause it will mean our POS in homehole will be under attack and considering the defenses SYJ can bring to bear, if an enemy is just sittin on our POS bashing it would mean we would have already had a pretty rough time of it indeed…

I don’t ever wanna be those Japanese players with rich POSes inn a hole… I’d rather be in League with Death.   =]

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

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