Saturday, June 25, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: First Capital Operation

Pandemic Horde had been fighting our Deklein neighbours, Darkness, on and off for a few hours. They eventually brought out their capitals and our leadership thought we should respond in kind. A ping went out to the capital group while I was a dozen jumps in the wrong direction, trying to terrorise locals in my Svipul. I had found a fight with a solo TEST Drake but he was cheating with a Rapid Light fit that nearly killed me. Of course I forgot to take my Blue Pill and didn’t have the right ammunition loaded, but by the time I had corrected these faults he was nowhere to be found. It is a pity - I would have liked a rematch.

Anyway, as I was saying, a ping went out. I docked at a friendly citadel and jumped to my clone in O1Y. At first, I was quite disappointed because shortly after that we were told that our capitals would not be required after all. So I hopped into an Osprey and joined the logi channel. However, a few minutes later a fresh call went out and I decided to abandon my logi bros and return to my Moros. I wanted to play with my capital ship, dammit!

I was soon sitting in the dreadnought, safely tethered on a Fortizar undock and awaiting instructions. The call came and we were soon on the field, watching 150 Hordelings pounding two Apostle Force Auxiliaries. These support capitals have enormous local tanks and the subcap fleet of Feroxes was not able to break them. That quickly changed with the arrival of the dreadnoughts.

I will describe how it went for those of you who have not done much capital fighting. First, we were told to “go siege green”. This meant that we were supposed to turn on our siege modules. Surprisingly, I had remembered to pack the Strontium Clathrates which the module uses as fuel. Siege modules greatly improve dreadnought local reps, damage and e-war resistance, basically turning a dread from a good battleship into a super DPS machine. The drawback of these modules, however, is that they disable all forms of propulsion, including jump drives. You are stuck there for 5 minutes.

We entered siege and turned our guns against the Apostles who quickly melted under the added fire-power. We were then told, rather urgently I thought, to go “siege red”, meaning that we needed to deactivate the siege modules so they did not automatically cycle again. We still had 2-3 minutes to wait before we could make our departure so we spent the time shooting the Darkness Proteus fleet which was dying at a positively alarming rate in the absence of their logi support. Of course, the dreadnought guns (not high angle) had practically zero chance of hitting the cruisers but killboards are killboards and it is nice to have a record of your deeds.

The urgency with which we were instructed to go “siege red” was prompted by the imminent arrival of a White Legion fleet. This would not be good news for any capitals who remained on the field. So we waited, not particularly patiently, for our siege cycles to end and our capacitors to get above 71%. Finally! Just as the first White Legion pilot entered the system I jumped to the out cyno who was safely tucked up next to the O1Y citadel. I even remembered isotopes for the jump drive!

Apostle 1:

Apostle 2:

On a side note, I have decided that the Moros is not the best ship for this sort of thing. It has good tracking but appallingly short range. I reckon it would probably work pretty well against big subcaps with the new high angle weapons but for hitting capitals I think I want a different dreadnought. Or maybe I just need to get T2 guns and Barrage and remember the optimal range script for my tracking computer.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: Undocking for the win

I had just finished killing an Astero and Hound who were intent on doing mischief in the ratting pocket somewhat protected by my magnificent citadel. Unfortunately, a Pandemic Horde Svipul was untethered at the time and also died:




He wasn’t very happy about that so I sent him some ISK and put a thread up in the forums entitled, “Bubble traps and you, or, Don’t warp straight to the gate”. A ridiculously steady trickle of folk warp directly to the out gate and thereby visit the citadel. Which is fine as long as they are tethered and really bad news for them if they are not.

Shortly after this a ping went out for a fleet. I joined, feeling somewhat guilty over not having been out on a fleet for ages. I bought a Vexor Navy Issue from contract and we made our way to Saranen where a Goon Astrahus was patiently waiting to be killed. We landed below the citadel and our drones swarmed upward, enveloping it and taking chunks out of the shield. I occasionally received zero damage notifications which I guess meant we had reached the damage cap.

An Imperium fleet of Hurricanes kept warping in and out, trying (successfully in my case) to alpha poor, innocent VNIs off the field:


That was really embarrassing. I didn’t even have my hardeners on, although with that many people intent on seeing the colour of my blood I doubt it would have mattered. Gobbins had recently posted on the forum that VNI losses were now subject to SRP. Furthermore, somebody left their Geckos behind and I was able to pocket a couple in an interceptor that I hastily replaced my VNI with. I managed to get on eight Hurricane kills in addition to the Astrahus which, despite being unfit, died in a tremendously impressive manner. It first caught on fire, then there were some little bursts of flame, and then it exploded:


I think the explosion even killed some drones. That is good because an explosion that size SHOULD kill drones. I think it should also damage ships to be honest.

A little later I got bored and went looking for trouble in Svippy. I had just hit jump when I spotted the Omen who had cross jumped. By the time I had burned back to the gate he was already over a hundred kilometres from the gate. I aligned to an anomaly behind him and bounced off it back to the gate as fast as possible.

He was 30 km away. I overheated my 10mn afterburner and went for him. He walloped me a couple of times and I changed direction a little to increase transversal. I let him keep chipping away at me to keep him interested and was soon in scram range. I landed tackle before turning the repper on.

He was dying quite satisfactorily, already in low armour, when a corpie warped in on me and started helping. Oh well, I'm not greedy. To be honest, that was more of a rush than the Astrahus! I haven't just gone for a solo roam for quite a while.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: Home Sweet Fortizar of DOOM!

I recall listening to SMA’s State of the Alliance update a few months before Citadel dropped. SMA was at its peak, proud of their achievements in Fade. They discussed their plans regarding citadels, indicating that they would build citadels in every system in Fade to provide the best infrastructure possible for their members.

And here we are a few months later. I bought a citadel and installed it in Fade! Not one of those plebeian little Astrahus ones (although I'm sure they have their place) but one of those large Fortizar ones.

A thread went up on the Pandemic Horde forums stating that members could now ‘adopt’ (read ‘donate’) a citadel. In return, you chose the fitting and where to place it. The fittings would be provided by the corp and, most importantly, so would the defence that would inevitably be required. Why, I decided, not? Sure, it'll get lost eventually but it will be an experience.

I looked at my wallet: 24B. I looked at the market: no Fortizars for sale. I looked at contracts: the cheapest Fortizar was 20B. So I bought it. (By the way, why are people putting them on contracts instead of on the market?)

It was installed a couple of days later, a thousand kilometres off the gate leading to the region’s ratting and mining constellation and in line with the only other gate in system. I had been very specific when stating my fitting requirements: “One of those nasty ones sitting on a stop bubble just off the gate with the smart bomb thing. Like the one that killed my alt last week. Bastards.” The Fortizar is magnificently named “Served by Zappity's Buyback” which is a not-so-subtle double entendre since a) it was funded entirely out of profits, and b) anyone who lands in the trap is going to get served good. It also happens to serve as an advertisement for the program but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

The first thing I killed was a Svipul that demonstrated a deplorable lack of caution by warping gate-to-gate. He landed in my bubble and tried in vain to burn away. I activated all the smart bombs (I think they are called Point Defense Whatsits) and the Svipul died! And then got podded! Ha! That'll learn him.



Most unfairly, I didn't get on the killmail even though I was controlling the structure. That really isn't on. CCPls fix.

Over the coming days, my magnificently placed bubble got on more kills, and the next time I was controlling the Fortizar I killed a couple of Goon bombers who were trying to catch up with their fleet. I haven't yet caught a whole enormous fleet like I really want to but my time will come.



Most of the time I am forced to gaze upon plagues of interceptors warping straight through the trap. I had my epiphany: anchored bubbles that are being entosed should stop interceptors. It's just logical because that way I would catch more people.

I also took my carrier out for the first time. It was a very boring POS bash but it was only one jump away and I had nothing else to do. Anyway, I really wanted something low pressure to get used to things. I realise that the correct ship for the job was my dread (awww, little Zappity is growing up so fast) but I had not yet brought up all the fittings. So I jumped my Nidhoggur to the cyno and went to town on the structure:


I managed to get the killing blow by saving one of the fighters’ rocket salvos for the last percent. I also learnt that when you cyno away and forget your fighters (honestly, what a noob) you cannot cyno back in and reconnect to them like you can drones. It is very annoying. Finally, you need ~70% cap to jump to a cyno, regardless of how much fuel you have. I did know about this but have never had that problem with my jump freighter since I am always jumping straight into a station. I need to carry a mobile depot and a refit.

It is all very exciting. But I still want to catch a whole fleet with my citadel and CRUSH them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Zappity's Adventures: Buyback War!

You, astute reader, will have noticed that I did not comment on the progress of the Buyback War in the last post. It was something of a disappointment, mainly because I was just too victorious. Maybe that has something to do with the north.

It goes without saying that I decided to go with the ‘crush them’ option. I raised my payout back up to 100% under a “Welcome to Fade” introductory offer. This was very good timing because the die hard UVHO folk (the ratting and mining deadend system in Querious) had finally been dislodged from their abode and were making their way up to Fade with heavy hearts. My magnificent rates were there to greet them! Win-win!

I dropped a few mobile depot adverts around the stations I operated out of. People kept killing them but the timers are long enough that this doesn't really matter. I charitably assumed that the destruction of these belongings was performed by Goons camping our system rather than disgruntled competitors. I made sure to turn over the contracts fast, clearing them in the morning and evening. And, finally, I was polite and helpful to people who were having difficulties, even on the rare occasion that their difficulties were not caused by me buggering up.

Eventually, this buggering up became a bit of a problem. I was getting about a hundred contracts a day, and the manual processing was becoming too much and quite error-prone. I lost count of the times I had to beg people to return ISK I had mistakenly sent. I also occasionally messed up and sent people too little ISK, especially when they submitted multiple contracts at the same time.

The final straw came when I did a batch of contracts in which were significantly undervalued. There was a temporary problem with the site in which some modules incorrectly registered zero buy value. ( is a really great site and fantastic service for the community btw but I felt really bad in consequence.)

Now, please feel free to skip the next paragraph because I am go to explain how my scripts work. This is primarily because it took me ages to get them right and I am very proud of the outcome if not the execution. I program metabolic pathways instead of scripts for a job and am therefore bad at this sort of thing.

First, I pulled Zappity's contracts from the API, selected the ones which were assigned to her, rather than buy her, and flagged the ones which were evilly located at non-buyback locations, even though I often take them anyway. The script then pulled the items from each individual contract and built a list of items that hadn't had their prices updated in my local database in a while. The prices, once updated at the fantastic, were then used to calculate the value of the entire contract and report a breakdown of each item with Jita buy and sell prices, total buy and sell value, and adjusted price according to my current buyback rate. It also flagged whether there was a price already included in the contract (very infrequent) and, if so, whether it was reasonably appropriate in terms of magnitude.

This made things a lot easier. I now scrolled down the page which displayed the items in each contract with flags if an abnormal price appeared, pasted the adjusted amount into the Send Money box, accepted the contract and moved onto the next one. The only drawback is that I didn't have an link to paste into the description. But the values are very close and nobody has complained yet.

The success of my campaign did lead to a bit of a problem, however. I had started accepting ore and minerals and now had an enormous and very difficult to move stockpile!