Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I Did Mining Missions ... And I Liked It!

On Sunday, I decided to just not think about writing about the "great" issues of the day and instead play EVE for a few hours. For my industrial alt, I needed to pick up some skill books in Domain as well as a load of kernite for the next time a level 4 storyline mission came around. So I hopped in my Prospect and headed off to slaver space.

I could complain about how CCP favors the Amarr over the Minmatar. In the Minmatar Republic, kernite is only found in low sec, while in Amarr the ore is found in systems with a security status of up to 0.7. A very nice perk for high sec mission runners in Amarr, as the level 4 storyline mission that gives out +4 learning implants requires 8,000 units of kernite to turn in. Normally I would mine the ore locally, but since I needed to buy the Medium Beam Laser Specialization skillbook, among others, doing a little high sec mining helped justify the trip.

Have I ever mentioned I don't like mining in high sec? Fortunately, filling up my Prospect's 10,000 m3 ore hold didn't take very long. I even attracted some attention.

Missed Me
A Sansha's Nation frigate decided it didn't like me mining and started doing its best Star Wars' stormtrooper imitation. I shouldn't gloat too much. I was in a tech 2 expedition frigate running a signature tank orbiting a rock at 1200 m/sec. Seeing my shields drop to 96% didn't fill me with anxiety.

After that fine reminder of why I don't like high sec, I decided to do something a lot more fun than hanging around high sec: low sec mining missions. So I cut though bad parts of EVE like Huola, Kourmonen, and Amamake back to the safety of Metropolis low sec where my agent resided.

The first mission offered was the level 4 ice mining mission that never has NPCs. A perfect mission for an Endurance, if I had one. One of these days I will build one (I invented a couple blueprint copies), but for now my trusty Procurer works fine.

The drawback of using the Procurer is the slow speed of reaching the ice. Even fitting a microwarpdrive, the ship required a minute-and-a-half to cross the 6 kilometers of space from the warp-in point before I could begin mining. But once I'd run a cycle or two on my ice harvester, a red triangle appeared on my overview and I was quickly scrammed and webbed. What?!

While the mission contains no NPCs, that does not stop ships from Mordus' Legion from dropping in occasionally. I even lost a Procurer once when a Mordus' Legion cruiser dropped in on me when running the same mining mission. Thankfully, this time I only faced a frigate.

Mordus' Legion NPCs are nasty little ships, especially when you forget to turn your hardeners on. Oops. Once I did that, the damage stabilized around 25% of my shields. Not bad, and in the tanky mining barge something I could live with.

Did I mention that the NPC mercenary ships have a better artificial intelligence than the average belt rat? Once the AI determined I could tank the incoming fire, the NPC ship switched fire to my drones. I initially sent 5 Warrior II drones to attack the frigate, with 3 Hobgoblin IIs and 2 Warrior IIs in reserve. Due to the damage I began rotating the Warriors out and the Hobgoblins into the attack. I lost one Warrior II with two others taking hull damage before I could get them to safety. Still, I managed to defeat the NPC.

When the fight began, I was the only ship in the system. But near the end of the fight, a factional warfare pilot entered the system. I had to defeat the NPC because I was tackled and couldn't get away otherwise, but with the fight won, I faced a dilemma. Do I dock up, or do I cross 16 km of space at 71 m/sec to loot the wreck?

Why the decision? Because in the wreck of every Mordus' Legion frigate hanging around low sec belts is a Garmur blueprint copy. I decided to go for the loot, so I fired up the MWD and started clicking on the directional scanner hoping I would not see the probes that would reveal my mission dungeon. I needn't have worried. The other pilot jumped out of the system shortly after I looted the wreck. The next decision was automatic. I warped to the station and deposited the blueprint and the 8 units of mission ice sitting in the ore hold. I then finished the mission by mining the remaining 12 units of ice without incident.

Mining for blueprints
Of course, I wanted to do another mission. The next one, involving gas harvesting, is one I refer to as "The Benny Hill" mission. When run in a sig-tanked Prospect, I wind up with 9-12 NPCs chasing me and Yakety Sax running through my head.

Actual Game Footage (not really)

The mission ran pretty much as expected. I orbited the gas cloud at speed with nine NPCs chasing me around getting my shields down to 75%. As I often do, I didn't bother docking up when neutrals entered the system. Normally if multiple people are in a factional warfare system, they won't bother going through the work to scan down a mission site when others are available to fight. Except this time, a Bifrost warped into the site when I only needed 17 more units of gas to complete the mission.

I really wonder what the scene looked like to the pilot. A frigate huffing gas getting chased around by nine NPCs. However, at the time, all I saw was a command destroyer land about 35 km away and I quickly warped to a station. I then warped back cloaked to the site and found the destroyer gone. After about 10 minutes, the system emptied out and I finished up the mission.

I think the reason I enjoyed myself Sunday was that low sec offers the possibility of random events. High sec is so static and predictable. Perhaps if CCP finally works off the technical debt of the old way of creating missions and we start to see more variety in missions perhaps less people will complain about the PvE content in EVE Online. Then again, that will just result in the player base complaining about something else. EVE players not complain? I don't think that is possible.

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