Sunday, March 7, 2010

This Weekend's Class: Wormhole 101

Neither rain nor slow nor a wardec by the Privateer Alliance will keep the students of Eve University from their studies. But I still was pleasantly surprised when the Wormhole 101 class went on as scheduled yesterday. Our instructor was Automa from Everset Dropbears, a corporation formed from the members of Eve University's now defunct wormhole program Division 6.

One of the best things Automa taught us was about the resources for exploring wormholes. The 5 he listed were:

Allakhazam's Page on Wormholes
Dotlan. Especially the link http://evemaps.dotlan.net/system/#name of wormhole system
Eve Survival Guide
Islands Among The Stars: A Guide To Everything Wormhole
Ivy League Policies

The last is important for Unistas because wormholes are the only PvE content that students can do during a war. But anyone going into a wormhole is assumed to be going into a PvP area so wormholes require the same type of fleet that form during wartime conditions.

For those who don't know, wormholes are kind of like jump gates, except that there is no gate surrounding the jump point. Oh yeah, and your ship is going into null sec space. And that pilots must be careful, because the wormhole might not be there when you pass through. And when the wormhole reappears, you won't know where you will end up. But besides that, just like a jump gate.

CCP is not totally heartless about wormholes and gives clues to the stability of the wormhole. That's why pilots should have the link to Allakhazam available; the page has the codes for what each phrase means when you "show info" on a wormhole.

The first line is standard, so don't worry about it. The second line is an indication of the class of wormhole system is on the other side of the wormhole. According to Allakhazam, the phrases mean:
  1. This wormhole seems to lead into unknown parts of space (Class 1, 2 or 3)
  2. This wormhole seems to lead into dangerous unknown parts of space (Class 4 or 5)
  3. This wormhole seems to lead into deadly unknown parts of space (Class 6)
The third line indicates the amount of time the wormhole will naturally exist if no one collapses it by moving ships through it.
  1. This wormhole has not yet begun its natural cycle of decay and should last at least another day. (72 hours)
  2. This wormhole is beginning to decay, and probably won't last another day. (16 to 48 hours).
  3. This wormhole is coming to the end of its natural life cycle. (4 hours)
The last line describes how close to the wormhole is to hitting the limit of the total mass that can pass though it.
  1. This wormhole has not yet had its stability significantly disrupted by ships passing through it. (90-100% remaining)
  2. Some ships have passed through this wormhole, but not effected the stability. (51-89% remaining)
  3. Some ships have passed through the wormhole, but not to a critical point (11-50% remaining)
  4. This wormhole has had its stability critically disrupted by the mass of numerous ships passing through and is on the verge of collapse. (10% or less remaining)
After checking out the wormhole, if you want to go into it, create a bookmark and then enter. Upon entering the wormhole, you have up to 60 seconds cloaked as long as you don't move. During that 60 seconds you can do the following.
  1. Look on your overview for ships. If there are ships around, the wormhole probably isn't safe and retreat may be the best course of action.
  2. Use the directional scanner to see what is in the system. You may find some interesting things. The class found a POS. Fortunately for our little pod fleet it was unoccupied.
  3. Look up the system in Dotlan. The system is in the upper left-hand corner by your name, so just insert that in the link to see what is in the system. Click here to see the system we entered. There is a lot of good information.
  4. Finally, if the system is one you want to explore, bookmark the wormhole. If you don't want to explore, just exit.
Once in the wormhole, just like known-space (k-space) scanning, you can find 5 types of sites. Cosmic anomalies lead to combat sites, which normally have 3 waves of 4-8 Sleepers. Cosmic signatures lead to 4 different types of sites:

Gravimetric - regular mining, but since wormhole systems are 0.0, pilots will find the null sec asteroids. There is usually only an initial spawn of 3-6 Sleepers that appear approximately 20 minutes after the first ship arrives at a gravimetric site.

Ladar - gas harvesting sites, but better because the gas is used in T3 production. There is usually only an initial spawn of 3-6 Sleepers that appear approximately 20 minutes after the first ship arrives at a ladar site.

Radar - hacking and code breakers required. There are usually 4 waves of 4-8 Sleepers.

Magnetometric - archaeology & salvaging required. There are usually 4 waves of 4-8 Sleepers.

The above mentions Sleepers. What are called Sleepers are really drones. Very nasty and powerful drones. Sleepers have an omni-tank with 70% resists across the board, do omni damage, hit hard, will probably be faster than you, will scram and web you and, at higher levels, are prone to remote repping and having gun batteries.

Sleeper tactics are also more advanced than that of the regular NPC ships/drones in k-space. Sleepers see drones as a major threat so will always attack them unless something like a group of RR battleships are around. Gallente ships will have a hard time soloing in w-space without their drones. Sleepers also see electronics warfare modules and remote repair as major threats. So remote repping battleship groups can draw aggro and allow the rest of the ships and drones in a fleet to attack Sleepers virtually unmolested.

Oh, one other important item of information about Sleepers. They do not attack pods. So for the class, we flew from Aldrat to the site of the wormhole opening. The trip wasn't far, but we were at war with Privateer Alliance. Thankfully they did not have any of the local systems picketed so our fleet with (I think) 38 pods was unmolested.

So what should a pilot thinking of engaging in wormhole operations possess? According to Automa, a pilot should have trained Astrometrics IV, Astrometric Pinpointing III, Astrometric Rangefinding III and Battlecruiser IV if flying a battlecruiser. In addition to fitting a tech 2 tank on your ship, a core probe launcher (and preferrably a Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher) is a good idea in order to get out of the wormhole if the exit closes behind you.

When fitting a ship, a pilot should concentrate on the following areas in this order:
  1. Getting all resists above 70%. Your ship needs to match the capabilities of the Sleepers.
  2. Buffer tank. You need to be able to absorb the alpha strike of the Sleepers. They hit HARD.
  3. Self-repair. You don't want to leave the wormhole once inside.
  4. Range/Damage dealing.
Finally, although Class 1 and Class 2 (and even some Class 3) wormhole systems can be soloed, the really good loot comes from the more difficult systems that require a fleet or small gang. The roles in a wormhole fleet are:
  1. Scout
  2. Salvager
  3. DD
  4. Support
The best scouts are, as could be expected, covert ops ships, although the tech 1 frigates with scanning bonuses can also be used. The salvaging role requires a ship that not only has enough high slots to fit some salvagers and tractor beams but a large cargo hold as well. Hurricanes are very good for this role. DD (known as DPS in other games) is pretty self-explanatory, although ranged damage is best. Drakes are currently the best battlecruiser for this role. And finally support is for logistics, like repairing ships during and after fights.

Note: Any errors in the above are probably a result of bad note taking on my part during the class and not the fault of the instructor.

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