Saturday, 22 March 2014

Article: Know Your Mark

A cautionary tale about over-eagerness and its disastrous results

One of the main sources of income in Null Security space are anomalies. These sites, which are automatically scanned by Player ships once they enter a system or undock from a station, offer ISK in the form of spawning waves of NPC ships, whose bounties can, in total, amount to quite a substantial figure. This is especially true of systems with low enough "True Sec" value, who get a wider range of anomalies. The sites themselves re-spawn at a set rate, allowing to "Chain" several together for maximum monetary yield.

Those who run these anomalies, called "Ratters" usually invest in ships with high tanking and damage output. The Carrier class of ships is the one most often utilized, due to its ability to ignore most of the NPC ships' damage, while maintaining a decent damage output of its own. Others may opt to use several Battleship class ships on multiple accounts together, in order to do these anomalies at a faster rate, thus increasing their income. Drone boats have been mostly favored in that setup, as NPC ships would not target the Player's drones with more than one Player ship present, thus splitting the damage and allowing for the drones themselves to engage the targets with minimal Player intervention.

Some Players though, prefer to use expensive ships, specifically Marauder or Pirate Faction class Battleships. These ships, which usually cost four to five times the price of their brethren, have a slew of bonuses which allow them to tank and damage far better than other ships, to twenty or even thirty percent degree. They are mainly flown by Players who prefer to do said anomalies solitary and most efficiently, or because of skill constraints. 

Often times, these ships are fitted with expensive Faction or even Dead Space modules, whose bonuses are much higher than the Tech II variants, and at times easier to fit. This is done partly for the "Bling" factor, i.e. as a display of wealth, and due to increased bonuses to damage, tank and tracking or just capacitor stability, which makes the activity easier and less stressful to handle.

Thus, this class of ships is very attractive for "Roamers", Players who cross the vast emptiness of space in search of a decent fight or an expensive kill. Part of it, is of course, the "Smug" factor. Getting an expensive kill can offset many a losing streak, not to mention do wonders to a Player's efficiency. The other factor is the drop. Every Player ship destroyed has a chance to drop some of its modules. If enough expensive modules drop, the incursion can be proven to be quite profitable, and able to fund more ships in the future, granted the Player manages to escape to High Security space with his loot.

All of this was surely in the back of Exclevori's mind, of Asturm Fidelis, Apocalypse Now(dot) Alliance, when he flew alongside his CEO, Dragoshi Drambuie, to the Catch region. Dragoshi made quite a name for himself roaming the adjacent regions to Providence, picking a fight with the various members of the Stain-Wagon Coalition.

However, for the most part, the journey proved to be unremarkable, as the pair jumped from one empty system to the next. They were ready to despair and set course to deeper, uncharted territory when something quite unexpected happened - They stumbled upon a populated system. With four Machariel class Battleships showing on the directional scanner in the HP-64T system, Catch region, hopefully still oblivious to their presence, the pair split up in order to find their victims, covering the most profitable anomalies in the system. 

Warping to zero in a Forsaken Hub, Exclevori landed right between the four Machariel class Battleships. Screaming on their coms for Dragoshi Drambuie to warp to him, Exclevori didn't notice one important piece of information - The Machariels were using smartbombs. 

Smartbombs are modules that do moderate damage around the Player's ship at regular intervals. However, the damage itself is quite anemic compared to missiles or turrets, and its range is very short. Yet with four Machariels using smartbombs together at the spawn point, it is guaranteed that the NPC ships will be destroyed before they manage to move away from the smartbombs' range. Not a traditional choice for running anomalies, but one that requires even less attentiveness than a drone based setup.

While Exclevori was too excited to notice, Dragoshi Drambuie, who landed a bit further than him, and had his friend on the fleet's watchlist, saw immediately the peril Exclevori was in. Shouting to him to burn away from the Machariels, his warning proved too late, as Exclevori's Stabber class Cruiser was taking damage from the Machariels' smartbombs. Quickly, it succumbed to the damage.

Unable to break the tank of the Machariels by himself, Dragoshi Drambuie had to warp off as well, leaving the enemy's ships to continue their activity unmolested, probably not even aware of what has transpired.

If anything is to be learned from this story, is that one should always choose his victims wisely, and never give in to excitement, or else end up in his pod.

Special thanks for Exclevori of Asturm Fidelis, Apocalypse Now(dot) Alliance, for giving me this story

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