Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Year's Resolve

Happy New Year!

Being my last post of the year, I figured I would take the time to share some of my Eve New Year's resolutions with you.  And I would like to invite you to help with the direction of Sleepless.

I have several topics I have slated for the year, but I would like to get your take on what I should talk about in Sleepless.  What I'm looking for is questions, comments, or requests for topics in Sleepless.  In that way, I would encourage you to get my attention in one of three ways.  First, Email me. The second way to get my attention is through Twitter.  Drop me a message @redrickstar.  If neither of those two ways are good for you, just leave me a comment.  You can comment here on Sleepless or on the Eve Forums on my Sleepless in Space thread in the My Eve section.  I love hearing from you, the readers, so that I can continue to deliver content you want to read.  I love questions, and even if its more a comment or perhaps some way I can improve my blog, by all means, LET ME KNOW. 

Don't make me beg.  I will if I have to.

So, now that the public service announcement is over, on to the Resolutions!

1.  I will find more time to play Eve (RL sucks!)

2.  I will remember to overheat my weapons at the appropriate times

3.  I will remember to NOT overheat my mids so I don't burn out my prop and point mods (doh't!)

4.  I will continue to keep notes by my computer for fun stories and mistakes to turn them into learning experiences here on Sleepless

5.  I will try to be nicer to CCP.  Perhaps that way I might actually be featured in a Community Corner.  After all, if a guy who posts shit fits got in, why not me???

6.  I will get off my ass and finish planning this "other" special blog project I've been secretly working on.

7.  I will find more time to play Eve.  Damn you Steam sale!  Damn you Borderlands!!!

8.  I will continue to write good posts that either help you, my wonderful readers, or at least make you think.

9.  Pictures.  More pictures.  And as soon as I can figure out a good screenshot/cropping/editing way so I can hide my location, perhaps I will do more.

10.  I will try to be more understanding of people who I think make stupid the norm (none of you, of course!).  I'm fairly certain that this one will be the first one I break too.

11.  I will track down the guy that stole my very expensive ship and punch him in the face (unlikely).


And that's about  it.  Let me know what your resolutions are, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send me your questions, comments or requests for topics here on Sleepless!

Happy New Year Everyone!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To: The Directional Scanner

One of the most important tools of survival in a wormhole is the directional scanner or d-scan. For the uninitiated, the d-scan is that tab next to the probe scan that lets you see other ships. In wormhole space where there is no local, the d-scan becomes the main tool pod pilots will use to determine if trouble is on the horizon. Therefore, knowing the strengths and limitations of such a tool is vitally important if one wishes to keep his ship intact.

However, this is not always the case. Most pilots I come across just hit the button every so often, not realizing what they are doing or how to d-scan properly. I will be outlining how to use the d-scan, as well as advanced tips and tricks to become even more proficient.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spot on Predictions for Next Year!!

This holiday season, instead of getting fat iskies from dumb sleeper ships; or pwning noobs that don't belong in wormholes; or giggling like a child over killing your shiny new Echelon; I've decided on a different approach. I've pulled out my crystal ball I've had in storage (don't ask how long), and although it smells a bit funny, I've used its power to come up with fool-proof stories and predictions from Eve in 2011.

So kick back, grab yourself an egg nog or brew while I pound back a few whiskey shots and lets get to business. And remember, don't take life too seriously, as no one gets out alive anyway.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Domi-nating Sites

The best fleet for taking out w-space sites is usually made up of T2 and/or T3 cruisers, and/or any BS with logistic support. Unfortunately, T2, T3 cruisers and logistics takes a long time to train for, so how can someone without those particular ships get in a wormhole and take out sites?

For what its worth, you can't get any more bang for the buck then the Dominix.

Why the Dominix?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Walk Softly, Carry Bombs

When asked what I think the best ship for wormhole defense would be, my first answer would be more ships then the other guy.

Of course, that isn't always the best answer. Or the most helpful.

It is however, the most correct.

But usually if you had the most ships your wormhole space would most likely not be in this predicament right now. So what happens when you are down pilots and are being invaded for sites?

Enter the bomber.

Stealth bombers are ships I recommend that every serious WH pilot should have. Why? I'm glad you asked. Sit back and relax, for I am about to let you know exactly why the bomber is (aside from a fleet of caps in a class 2 wormhole) one of the most feared ships in all of w-space.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bookmarks, Bookmarks, Bookmarks

In my corp we've been having a problem with bookmarks. Specifically, the problem is new players we recruit to help in the hole and bookmarks. After asking about, it appears we are not the only one with the problem. So, I've come to help.

Those of you in charge of wormhole corps feel free to distribute this link to all your new players. Vets, read this as well as I've come across some of you who don't know about the 5 bookmark copy limit.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Sansha are coming, the Sansha are coming!

With the new expansion forthcoming, CCP is going to introduce a new feature that will have players scrambling against an invasion force of Sansha's Nation. These invasions can happen anywhere, anytime for any reason, from high sec major hubs to null sec back-end systems. There will be no Sansha in W-space from what I can tell. As someone who lives in a wormhole, I'm sure you're thinking “So?”

Does anyone realize how badly people in K-space are about to get their asses kicked?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Hitchhikers Guide to Wormholes: 10 Facts Everyone Must Know

There are some universal truths in wormhole space. You got your scan ship, and you are all set to embark on the adventure of a lifetime into the great unknown.

Hold on there, buckaroo.

There are some very important things you need to know about WH space. Even those of you who have been living in W-space for some time can stand read through this list just in case there is something experience hasn't taught you by now.

1. Security and Paranoia

Biggest takeaway here, is just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean that they aren't after you. Wormhole space is not unlike Null sec with some rather large differences. First, sovereignty means nothing. It does not work, and the one that owns the W-space is the one strong enough to hold it. At any point you can be invaded and podded, your POS destroyed and your hangars looted. The attackers can take over the now empty space or can just move on to plague someone else. W-space is 0.0 for purposes of sec status and Concord. Even if you have a high sec hole in your system that leads to Jita itself, don't expect Concord to fly into your place and save your ass.

It ain't happening.

Its almost Sith-like in its execution. Only the strongest will survive through feats of strength, strong tactics, or shady backroom deals and backstabbing. And no one is coming to save you.

What makes it better (or worse, depending on the situation) is the complete lack of local. What makes Null sec easy in my humble opinion is the fact that local can and does work. Got a 50 man fleet in the other system? Well, there they all are, right in local channel. You can count em. Got a 50 man fleet in a WH? You won't have the slightest clue without d-scan or dropping in unexpectedly on their grid.

The takeaway from all of this? Know how to use your D-scan and use it early and often. And just because your paranoid, if you find yourself doing anything that proverbially leaves your ass hanging out into traffic and you see something not right on D-Scan its time to make like a rabbit. Chances are, you are already too late but fortune does tend to favor the lucky or incredibly stupid.

2. Session Change and Wormholes

If you don't have the session change timer up on the UI, you need to enable it now. Now as in yesterday. In the game hit ESC to bring up the menu. On the General Settings tab there will be a box under General labeled “Show Session-Change Timer”. Make sure you put a check in the box. This turns on the timer. The timer will appear in the top left of your UI now every time you initiate a session change. Examples of session changes include undocking, docking, jumping through a gate, jumping through a wormhole, ejecting from a ship, and boarding a new ship. If you don't know what the session change timer does try docking then immediately try to change ships. You'll get that funny and often amusing message about having to wait cause your halfway on board and you need to wait 20 some seconds til the other half is aboard. That is the session change. This is very important in WH space.

It has to do with WH jump mechanics. Understanding this could save your ship one day. Wormholes act like gates with a couple of very important differences you need to understand. Like gates, “jumping” through them leads you to a gate on the other side in the target system. Similarly, wormholes will spill you into another system at the point where the corresponding wormhole is. However, wormholes can be activated to “jump” through by any ship within 5000 km, which is a greater distance then what is required by gates in known space. Also, wormholes will have a visible “activation” that can be seen on both sides of the hole; both on the side you are jumping from and the destination system. This is expressed in a visible “flash” that can be seen when looking at the wormhole as well as an audible tone.

This is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you are alone at a WH and suddenly see the flash and hear the tone, but don't see anything pop up on your overview, you know that someone is jumping into your system. If you see several flashes and tones, its time to get out of there if you are by yourself and uncloaked. Second, remember that it works both ways. When you are jumping into an unknown WH you could be jumping straight into a camp.

Finally, one more very important point of wormhole jump mechanics you must understand is distance and the 4 minute timer. When jumping through a gate your ship will land in the system the gate links to anywhere between 20 to 30 km off the corresponding gate. When jumping though a wormhole, your ship will land in the system within 2.5 to 6 km off the corresponding hole. Just like gates in K-space, your ship will have a cloak that lasts for 1 minute. The difference is with gates in K-space you can jump back and forth as much as you want (as long as you don't have the session timer, of course). The only hindrance is your ship has to travel the gate landing distance back to within 2500 km off the gate. In W-space travel, there are no such problems. When you land in the system, more often then not you are within the 5000 km needed in order to activate the hole.

This is where the 4 minute timer comes into play. Upon jumping through a wormhole you can of course immediately jump back through the same wormhole. This puts you within jumping distance on the side you jumped through initially. However, if you try to jump back through you will find that you have a 4 minute timer that is preventing you from warping back. Repeated jumps back and forth change the timer to 1 minute 45 seconds to 3 minutes back to 1:45. Behold an illustration of a high sec to W-space hole and a ship jumping back and forth:

HS side → W-space (no timer) → HS side (4 min) → W-space (1:45) → HS (3) → W-space (1:45) → and so on

Note that this only counts for jumping through the same hole. For example jumping from W-space to HS then back to the same W-space starts the 4 minute timer. But that timer only counts for that HS hole, if the ship warps to another hole in the same W-space, it can jump through that hole without waiting for the timer to finish.

So why is this important? For normal W-space travel, its not. But these game mechanics will come into play when you find a hole camped, which is something I will talk about in a later blog entry.

3. Spawning of Sites/Holes

Sites when spawned in a wormhole will typically last for a while as long as they are not warped to or completed. Once a site is warped to it will despawn in 3 to 4 days. If it is completed, it despawns immediately. CCP has stated that they did not intend W-space to be a permanent place to live. The respawn rate is slow, so after raiding all the sites in your hole, be prepared to raid the neighbors if you wish to keep doing sites.

Theories abound as to what exactly spawns sites. One is that the sites stay the same in the wormhole and slowly spawn based on the very slow spawn rate. The current favorite is once a site is completed and/or despawns in w-space, that site spawns in similar class wormhole in a different system in w-space. As such, people will warp to sigs in neighboring same class holes to start the timer of despawn even if they aren't going to run them in hopes they will spawn in their hole. This theory of course cannot be proven without confirmation by CCP. Until then, we aren't sure exactly what spawns the sites.

4. Wormhole Effects and You

There are six wormhole effects that can affect your ship and fleet. Experienced WH'ers can tell these effects on sight, as each one has a visual signature in the system along with the star. If you are new to W-space or can't tell them by sight (even I get mixed up sometimes), everyone should have the following bookmarked in their in-game browser:

This site shows what all six look like so you can match it to the visual cue in the system. There are six effects you need to know: Magnetar, Red Giant, Pulsar, Wolf Rayet, Cataclysmic Variable, and Black Hole. This is important for you and the safety of your fleet; for example you don't want to run a shield tank op in a Wolf Rayet. Also note that the WH effects will apply to sleepers, so expect those same sleepers in that Wolf Rayet system to take a bit longer to kill due to the increased resistance.

5. Static Holes

Each system in WH space will have at least one static hole. Some systems will have multiple. A static hole is one that has a letter signature that is NOT k162. A system can have as many k162 openings as necessary. Its entirely possible to find a system with one static hole and five k162 openings. It is also possible on the following day to be in the same system and have one static and no k162s. Go to static mapper or DaOpa's to determine what kind of static hole a system has. I find DaOpa's site particularly helpful as it lists all the possible static signatures along with mass/time and where it leads. If you look up the system in static mapper it will list probable statics as well as activity in the hole. The latter is expressed in the number of jumps through the system, which can give you an idea as to how active the neighbors are.

A system will always have at least ONE static hole. If that static closes for any reason (ie, it was purposely closed or it ran out of time) a new static signature will appear somewhere in the system. This is designed as such to prevent a ship from not having a “way out” of W-space.

6. K162 – Where does it go?

K162's are the back sides of static holes. As stated previously, a system can have any number of k162s. However, unlike static signatures which are so helpful, k162s do not tell you anything about the system on the other side. So the question often becomes, where does this hole lead?

First, start by right clicking on the hole and select “Show Info”. It will tell you where it leads. If the hole goes anywhere in K-space, it will tell you right in the show info box whether it goes to high, low or null sec. However, a k162 that leads to another system in W-space requires a bit more investigation.

First, in the show info box it will say “This hole leads to...” and will end one of three ways: Unknown space, dangerous unknown space, or deadly unknown space.

Unknown space means it leads to a class 1, 2, or 3 wormhole. Dangerous unknown space means it leads to a class 4 or 5. Deadly unknown space leads to a class 6.

Next, look at the wormhole and note the color. If it leads to a class 4 or 5 you can tell which is which by the color. Class 4 is a orange-ish color and class 5 is red. For class 1, 2, and 3 you can do the same. Class 1 is a light blue color, class 2 is a dark blue and class 3 is a white/silvery color. Class 6 is always a deep red color.

The other way to determine where the hole leads is just jump in and look the system up in either static mapper or DaOpa's. However, some times this is not always the ideal solution, and being able to identify the WH on sight is a very useful skill not many possess.

7. Determining Mass/Time of a Wormhole

Each wormhole has a mass and time restriction. The only wormhole with a ship restriction is class 1 wormholes, which only allow battlecruiser and below. Class 2 through 6 have no ship restrictions, just mass limitations. All wormholes will have a time limitation.

How do you determine how much mass or time a wormhole has left? There is no exact answer but there is a way to get a good estimate based information in the show info box.

First, time. Wormholes were designed by CCP to be constantly changing to keep W-space interesting and more fluid. Therefore, most wormholes will only last about a day. The more common wormholes in the lower class holes will last 16 and 24 hours, where as some holes in more deadly w-space can last 36 or even 48 hours. In the show info box will be line that tells you the time status of the WH:

“Life cycle has not yet begun” means you are the first to have just found it and warped to it. Mark the time you found it down, that hole will last the full allotment of hours from the time you landed on grid. After that it gets a bit hazy. “Probably won't last another day” means the wormhole has greater then 25% of total time left. Meaning if its a hole that lasts 16 hours, you have more then 4 hours before it collapses. “Nearing the end of natural life” is a big red stop sign. This means the wormhole has less then 25% and there is no telling how far along it is. It could be two hours, it could be two minutes. If you are concerned about a WH time and set to warp to and check it every hour on the hour, you will know within 1 hour from when it goes end of natural life (EoNL) of its collapse. There will also be a visual cue. When looking at the wormhole, it has a ripple effect or “waves” that emanate from the center of the hole and work outward. As the hole slowly runs out of time, these “waves” go from slow, steady and calm to fast and dynamic. If you see a hole that is EoNL and the waves are going crazy, you best not jump in unless you don't mind being trapped on the other side.

Second is mass. Mass can also be determined by the show info box and is the way that experienced wormholers “close” holes. If the hole “has not had its stability reduced”, then it has greater then 45% of its mass available. “Has had its stability reduced but not to a critical degree” means the hole has less then 45% but more then 10%. If the wormhole is “on the verge of collapse” this means it has less then 10% of the available mass. This will also have a visual cue as the wormhole will physically get “smaller” as it loses mass.

Think of mass as a running total. Every time a ship jumps through, the mass of the ship (including all of its modules, as armor plate adds significant mass) is subtracted from that running total. Closing a WH is usually accomplished by jumping a large battleship through and staying cloaked on the side they don't want to be on. Then the closers will run battleships back and forth through the hole, waiting for the moment til it gets less then 45%. At this point its simple math. Take the holes' total mass and multiply it by .45. This will give you the approximate mass it has left, and subsequently, how much you have to run through the hole to close it. Closers will then (while keeping the BS on the wrong side of the hole cloaked) carefully run ships through it til it hits around 5 to 10% critical. Usually at this point, the cloaked BS then uncloaks and squeezes through the hole, closing it behind him.

This is not without risks, so if you are going to do this, make sure you have the exit bookmarks or a scanner. Or both. Never hurts to be prepared.

So how do you determine the exact total time or mass? First, you need to be on the static side (the non-k162 side). Note the static number and look the hole up in DaOpa's guide or Static Mapper. Notice a pattern here yet? Either one should tell you exactly how much mass and time that particular wormhole has. From those base numbers, you can calculate how much you have left.

8. Know your sites

If you've completed the scan tutorials this is not difficult. Remember Gravimetric are rocks and Ladar is gas and both require the appropriate mining skill after a short initial sleeper clear.  Magnetometric (mag) and Radar are more powerful combat sites then anomalies (or anoms for short) you'll find in the same hole. These require a more dedicated clear and specialty equipment. Remember, Mag sites use analyzers and Radar use hacking. Even experienced guys get them switched up. You don't want to be the guy that shows up to open the cans with the wrong mid slot mod.

9. Know the trigger: All about Sleepers

Sleepers are the pve threat inside of w-space. Sleepers are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter then any pve enemy you have ever faced inside k-space. Some sleeper ships are equipped with MWD and can close distance quickly. They are all intelligent, with the most advanced AI CCP has ever created that allows them to switch targets at will. Sleepers know who your logistics pilots are and will punish them. Drones are not immune, as sleepers will target and kill them. They hit like trucks, their weapons doing Omni damage so don't go in to fight them with a resist hole. Starting at class 3 there are some sleepers with the ability to scram. By the time you take on class 5 and 6 sleepers every single one can scram and web. Sleepers can be found in all sites in w-space, from anoms to radar to ladar sites.

Still interested in taking them on? Excellent. Sleepers only have two bars, armor and structure. They have no shields, and any WH shield effects will consequently have no effect on them. Sleeper resists are 70/70/70/70. This means there is no one type of ammo better then another, unlike k-space rats. So use whatever ammo does the most damage for the range you wish to engage. ECM does work against sleepers, but don't bother with a multi-spectral jammer. Any racial jammer will work on sleepers, so use whatever one is the strongest.

Bookmark what I call the Sleeper Bible:

In the bible you will find all the sites broken down by class of wormhole. It will also tell you what the trigger is. Be sure to clear the wave without killing the trigger or things will get really bad really fast if you are not prepared for it. Also, know your escalation points. If you think you can just warp your carrier or dread in and take the site down you will be in for a rude surprise. Starting in class 4 sites the sleepers will escalate by warping in 6 sleeper battleships for the first carrier or dread you warp into site. Each carrier or dread you warp in after that spawns an additional 8 sleeper battleships. If you want to use this effect to farm them, note that each type (carrier and dread) can warp in two different ships for a total of 4 additional waves, six, eight, eight, and eight. Bringing a third carrier or dread when you already have two in will not spawn an additional wave.

10. Don't Leave the Grid!!!!

This part is so important I gave it its own number. Sleeper combat sites like anoms despawn as soon as the last sleeper is clear. If your salvaging, make sure you have the bookmarks to all the areas where the wrecks will be, as you won't be able to scan it down again. As soon as everyone leaves the grid, the site vanishes, leaving just the wrecks which can't be scanned down.

The mining sites will stay up for a few days after the sleepers are clear. The sleepers in these sites do not respawn.

Here's the really important part. Mag and Radar sites will despawn as soon as one of the cans are tampered with. The only way to prevent this is by having someone on grid. If you tamper with one of the cans then leave, the entire site will despawn within a minute, which includes the cans. Do not leave the grid when hacking/analyzing the cans. Make sure someone stays on grid until the job is done, otherwise you could lose hundreds of millions of isk.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Getting Prepared for WH Space

Interested in wormhole space?

Of course you are, otherwise you would not be reading this blog.

I get the question from the new guys all the time. What kind of things do I need to bring into a wormhole?

My answer is always complicated.


In reality, it depends on the corp, your skills and the role you wish to play in the wormhole. However, in general, I can recommend the following skills: (those of you adequately skilled can skip this part)

If you are just starting, the first recommendation that anyone makes is the learning skills. My suggestion is the base learning skills to 4 and the advanced learning to 3. If you know your going to be playing the character and training a lot, I would suggest advanced to 4. Training any learning skill to 5 takes years to see any benefit from wasting the time to learn that particular skill.

Next you want good fitting skills. Hammer's Blog did a short blurb about this that is very helpful. Anything that allows you to fit more on your ship and get more bang for the buck is pretty key.

Now comes the scanning skills. If you don't know how to scan, go back to the starting tutorial guys and do the scanning set of missions. It is very helpful and will give you the knowledge you need to succeed in a wormhole. As far as scanning skill levels go, you need at the bare minimum Astrometrics 4, Astrometric Rangefinding 3, Astrometric Pinpointing 3, and Astrometric Acquisition 2, maybe 3. Advanced users and those of you wishing for combat probing will need all those support to at least 4 and should all be 5.

After that it really depends on what kind of activity you/your corp wish to do in a wormhole. If you want to build/research/etc you need those appropriate skills. If blowing up sleepers is more your thing, a heavy dose of combat skills is necessary. Looking to strike it rich with ABC ore? There is plenty in WH space but you need the skills to extract it from the rocks.

Ideally, don't expect to just create a new character and jump right into a wormhole. You need a significant amount of training to be functional as well as helpful. And the game experience you learn along the way getting said training will be invaluable.


What kind of ships should you bring into the hole? Well that is complicated too but easier to narrow down. First and foremost, anyone serious about living in WH space needs a scan ship.

Follow along the checklist:

  • Scan Skills (see above)
  • Whatever race you fly Frigate 5
  • Juryrigging 3
  • Cloaking
  • A set of Sister's Probes
  • A Sister's Launcher

Got all that? Great. Get whatever race you fly's scan ship (Amarr – Magnate, Caldari – Heron, Gallente – Imicus, Minmatar – Probe) and fit it with an Expanded Sister's Probe Launcher, two Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade rigs, a cloak, MWD, and some nanofiber internal structures (nanos) or fitting mods if you don't quite have the skills. If you have room, toss in a cap battery or some cap rechargers. Throw the sisters probes in the cargohold and your good to go. In general you need at least 5 of the core scanning probes and as many combat probes as you can use based on your astrometrics. Why cap battery? Because MWDs reduce your cap and some WH systems are abnormally large, meaning if the WH's are on opposite sides of the sytem you might have to jump multiple times to get there. A medium cap battery (if you can fit it) will help alleviate that problem by giving you more cap to jump with. Even a small cap battery will help. But if the MWD drops your overall cap, why do you want to fit it? Because this is WH space, and bubbles can and will mess you up. The faster you can get out of the bubble to warp out, the better. Remember, this isn't a combat/mining/analyzing/hacking/whatever ship. Its a scanning/scout ship. Get in, get out, get better.

This will be your base scanning ship. You should work on getting covert ops 4 as soon as possible to get into the race's covert ops scan ship (5 again, is better), which allows you to use covert ops cloaks; this allows you to warp when cloaked which is really important when scouting other wormholes.

Don't blink about the price of the sisters launcher and probes. They give a passive scan bonus that will help you far more then the small price to pay. If you start in a regular frig you can transfer them over to the covert ops once you've attained the training to use it. Also, a quick note about probe launchers. They come in two flavors, regular flavored probe and expanded flavor probe. Regular probe launchers are easier to fit on ships but can only use core scanning probes. Expanded can fit more probes and can use all three types (core, combat, and deep space) but at the cost of higher fitting requirements, in this case, more cpu. On a scan ship you should have the cpu to make it all fit, so go with the one that allows more versatility.

After this first initial important ship, bring in whatever helps the corp. If the corp does mining, then you'll need ships for that. Corps taking down sleepers will need appropriate team tanked BC, BS or T3 depending on how your corp does business. PVP corps require some different ships. Remember, fly what you are good at, don't try to be a jack-of-all trades. Pick a ship to focus on and get it down, then learn the next one. In the next coming weeks I will talk about ship setups for PVP and for PVE operations.

Now get out there and practice scanning!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nerf Drake RAWR!! Wait... what?

This is a wormhole blog and I hate to start out with a prima facia non-wormhole post, but this does have bearing in WH space.

There has been an interesting conversation brewing on the scrapheap challenge forums I've been following for the last few days. I've even read a take in one of the various blogs I frequent. I find it fascinating that when confronted by hardship in the game, the first (and often final) knee-jerk reaction is to scream nerf, petition for said nerf, start troll hate mail, etc.

Let's get the record straight right now. I hate the fucking drake. Its like a fucking cockroach that just won't lay down and die. I swear if a doomsday weapon went off in every known and unknown corner of space only these ships would be left. Hell they even look like cockroaches. I swear, the Caldari people have no idea what “aesthetics” means.

But this time, I actually don't think its the Drake's fault.

And as painful as that is to admit, I did a bit of research to back it up. I set out to prove it needs a nerf and instead think I may have stumbled about the cause. Or at least one of the causes.

Its game mechanics. More specifically, its shield tanking.

Let me explain. First I set about in Eve HQ's fitting tool (I find it gives better numbers then EFT, although the test would work the same in EFT) to build two theoretical ships. In the Battlecruiser class, each race has what I generally refer to as its “tank” and its “gank” style cruiser. Some are obviously more popular then others. For example the Amarr have the Harbinger which is more “gank” and the Prophecy which is more “tank”. Those of you who don't know why I refer to these ships as such, check each ship's bonuses. The Harbinger gets bonuses to damage only, whereas the Prophecy gets a bonus to armor resist. Similarly, the Minmatar has the 'cane for “gank” and the Cyclone for “tank”.

I'm focusing on the Gallente battlecruisers here because I have the most experience with them. Interestingly enough, both the Gallente ships get tank style bonuses; a 7.5% increase in armor rep effectiveness/amount per level. However, most would argue that the Brutix is more of the “gank” and the Myrmidon is more “tank” due to slot layout.

My two theoretical ship builds were a Drake and a Myrmidon. Each was fit to their standard with T2 only and my goal was to maximize 5 areas of the ship: dps, tank, ehp, range, and cap stability. I realize they don't come with points, prop mods or the like. These are merely theoretical setups. Please don't flood my comments with how I fail at fitting ships.

The Drake I fitted for heavy missiles and passive shield tank. This afforded me all five of the target areas easily. The Myrmidon I fitted for an armor tank with drones and Arty's, as they don't use cap and the Myrmidon gets no bonus to any type of guns. First I'll list the fits, then run the number by you. This is all with level 5 fitting skills. The drake setup I'm going to list requires a simple 3% cpu implant, something you can get around by fitting lower requirement meta 4 mods if you so desired.


6x Heavy Missile Launcher II with Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missiles

3x Large Shield Extender II
2x Invulnerability Field II
1x Shield Recharger II

2x Ballistic Control System II
1x Damage Control II
1x Shield Power Relay

3x Medium Core Defense Field Purger I


6x 650 Artillery Cannon II with Tremor M ammo
1x Drone Link Augmentor

5x Cap Recharger II

2x Medium Armor Repairer II
1x Damage Control II
1x Armor Explosive Hardener II
2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II

3x Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I

2x Ogre II
2x Hammerhead II
1x Hobgoblin II

Looking at each ship's numbers, its easy to see why people are jumping to conclusions about nerfing the Drake. With all level 5 skills, these two ships are hardly what I'd consider equal.

The Drake has 88,463 EHP. This can be bumped to over 100k when Field Extender Rigs are applied instead of the Purgers. The Drake's passive shield tank against Omni-Damage is 487.68, which is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. It has solid resists, 66% EM, 79% Kin, 72% Therm, and 83% Explosive. It can spew missiles just over 84km away for 2,870 points of alpha and 467.19 dps. Because nothing is draining the cap except the shield, its entirely stable at 69%.

Those are the type of number that make people love this ship. Considering that setup is less then 100 million isk, its easy to see why haters gonna hate.

On the flip side, the Myrmidon only has 41,883 EHP – less then half of the Drake's. This was because in order to get maximum tank to match the Drake, I couldn't afford to fit plate. Furthermore, because of the guns and armor reps, I don't have enough grid left to fit even 800mm tungsten plate. 1600mm plate can fit on the Myrmidon, but only at the cost of dps and tank, a trade off I wasn't willing to make. Even if I managed to somehow shoehorn in 800mm plate, its EHP would actually DECREASE due to replacing a resist mod. Armor resists are on par with the Drake's shield – 75% EM, 67.5% Kin, 67.5% Therm, and 76% Explosive. The dual armor reps can run indefinitely, bringing its tank vs Omni-Damage to 488.78 dps. With Tremor M ammo, Optimal is 43,470km with 21,875km falloff. That means the guns zero out at 87,220km which is slightly better then the Drake until you take into consideration falloff mechanics and how they actually work. At 80km where the Drake will pound you for its full 467 dps, the Myrmidon is in deep, deep falloff and only getting a small fraction of its dps from guns. Using the holy EFT warrior trinity of Ogres, Hammers and Hobbies (oh my!) the Myrmidon squeaks out only 391.12 dps, and that's only when your in optimal. Drone control limit is 80km, and seriously, have you ever seen ogres chug 80km away? And you thought you got eye bleed from missions. If you switched to sentries, the dps actually decreases to 346.40 with Guarde II as does the effective range, although the advantage of sentries is instant damage on target instead of the eye bleeding speed of the Ogres.

So what does this all mean?

Well the tl:dr version of all that is the Drake pretty much trumps every category. Lets review:

EHP: Advantage Drake
Tank and Resists: This one is closer but neither one tips the scales here, Tie
DPS: Both for alpha and dps, Advantage Drake
Range: Due to falloff mechanics, Advantage Drake
Cap: Since both are stable, we'll call this a tie

Looking at the numbers and comparing them, its easy to see why the masses are chanting “nerf Drake” or “buff Myrm” or whatever.

But I would actually hypothesize that it is not the Drake that needs the nerf. Its shield tanking.


  1. With the exception of the Battleship class, a ship can be fit with the “next” larger size up Shield extender mod for a paltry fitting sum. With level 5 fitting skills, a LSE II only costs 46 CPU and 123.75 powergrid, well within Cruiser and Battlecruiser standards. The armor equivalent, 1600 mm rolled tungsten, costs 28 cpu and a whopping 500 powergrid, 4 times the cost of the LSE II!
  2. And its not like the 800mm Armor plate is any better. It costs about half the cpu at 23 but the powergrid cost is 200!
  3. A LSE II will provide an additional 3281 hp to the shield. That 1600mm tungsten plate? 5250 hp to armor. Of course you pay for that extra in the form of 326.25 more powergrid, which on a battleship is easy to come up with but find most cruisers lacking unless fitting mods are used. It is worse for 800mm Armor. It only provides an extra 2625 hp at greater power cost then the LSE II.
  4. LSE II increases passive tank because of the way shield recharge mechanics work. Because you increase the number of total shield hit points but keep the shield recharge time the same, you increase passive tank. Ships fitting shield extenders are essentially double-dipping, improving total EHP all while increasing tank, something that armor can not match.

Of course, shield tank proponents are quick to point out the single disadvantage of shield tanking, signature radius. But is this as big a drawback as we are led to believe? The Drake I have fitted with 3 LSE II brings is signature radius up for sure. But considering they are “large” mods that should be more in line with “large” ships of the BS class, its not nearly enough. It takes 3 such mods to bump the Drakes sig radius to 406, which is 6 over the sig of a large turret. For comparison, an armor fitted Dominix has a sig radius of 420. Each LSE II only increases the sig radius by a mere 25, hardly a drawback when one considers they are fitting battleship class armor buffers to cruiser style ships. Armor tanks suffer a penalty too, one to speed when speed mods are used (mwd or ab). And in general, most people will point out the drawback to speed is greater then the enhanced sig radius.

By trying to maximize trans and keeping both ships at optimal + 1 falloff of a Dominix sporting Ion Blaster II with Antimatter, the Dominix only has a 53% chance to hit the 406 sig radius Drake. Which is exactly what one would expect, seeing how the sig radius of the Drake is larger then the turret and at optimal + 1 falloff you have 50% chance to hit. For comparison, consider the Zealot. When put in the exact same spot/speed of the Drake with same trans, you would expect a much lower chance to hit considering the Zealots tiny (in comparison) sig radius of 125. The real world answer however, is somewhat disappointing at 38%, a mere 15% less then the Drake. This of course is a theoretical number in this situation, but still telling nonetheless.

So what is the takeaway from all of this?

I don't like the Drake, granted, but to say it needs a nerf I feel is a bit premature. Besides, I have always applauded the ability for lower cost, lower skill solutions to dominant situations in the game. In this case, Drake fleets are being used as a counter to the prevalent armor HAC gangs. The main portion of tears seems to be coming from the pilots flying those expensive HACs; and the thought of all those tears makes any pirate salivate. My guess is they are pissed a ship costing less then 100 mil is a solid counter to their far more expensive ship, both in isk and training time. The interesting thing is the armor HAC gangs were a direct counter to sniper BS fleets. I wonder how long it will take someone to figure out the sniper BS fleet is the direct counter to the Drake fleet. And we go 'round the circle again....

My take on all of this is shield tanking seems to be a bit too powerful. It probably explains the dominance of the Tengu as a weapons/tanking platform as well. It needs to be brought more in line with armor tanking, but to do so CCP is going to have to change some fundamental items that provide a baseline for all ships tanking in the game.

Considering their focus on shit like walking in stations, they will most likely not get around to balancing this and instead just nerf the Drake cause its easier.

I do have some thoughts on how to bring shield tanking more in line with armor. My first suggestion would be to increase sig radius penalty. 25 is just not enough for a LSE. I don't know what the exact number is, but I'm sure a 5 to 10 increase would be sufficient. Next, increase powergrid cost for all shield extenders. This will bring them more in line with armor plates. Third, and most importantly, introduce a shield recharge penalty by a set percentage. The main reason shield tanking works so well is by fitting extenders you can simultaneously increase both EHP and passive tank. It also makes shield recharger mods mostly useless. By introducing a recharge penalty, you bring them more in line with armor plates, which add more HP but don't change the “tank”; in this case is the shield recharge rate. After these changes are made you can increase the hp bonus to shield for all extenders, or, if PG cost stay the same introduce a new class of extender, and XL version if you will for the battleship class.

Fucking Drakes.

EDIT:  I just realized I left this part out.  I originally did an armor tank comparison with the Drake vs the Prophecy, figuring the Amarr armor tank would make for a better comparison vs Caldari shield due to both ships getting resist bonuses to their respective tanks.  In short, it didn't go well.  The Drake blew it out of the water errr space without it even being close.  The Myrm was the closest comparison on those items I was looking at.  In fact, when I changed the Myrm fit around and added 3 LSE II and 2 Invulnerability Field II and Shield Power Relay II in the lows I had a Myrm that not only did the same damage as the armor tank version, but it had more effective hit points AND tanked over 900 dps.  After I got done I thought it was extremely strange that I could get a better tank out of a ship that got the opposite bonuses.  Its not the Drake... its shield tanking.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One man's lone adventure in the dark.....

Okay so maybe not that dramatic.

Welcome to Sleepless in Space!

Here you will find posts dedicated to Eve Online.  I will attempt to hit this up weekly and fill it with information, how-to, and general knowledge about Eve and in particular, wormhole space.  Here you will find interesting tidbits about the state of the game as well as how to not get your ass shot off in a wormhole. 

Yes, I know, there are many of these blogs about.  I will do my best to talk about whatever is pressing, as well as offering hints and tips to living in WH space.  I also encourage you to hit me up via email or comments if there is something you'd like to see talked about here in Sleepless.