Once again I log on relatively late in the evening. Quickly do the rounds of the extractors then cloak up in my Loki to sit outside the HS wormhole which is due to pop any moment. This is a technique used by pro wormhole residents to establish an exact time of spawn for a wormhole. This enables us to estimate with great accuracy when a wormhole will de-spawn. Useful information if you want to know if you have enough time to haul that stuff to point X and get back in time.
As I'm chilling with some soup, chatting with Cozmik who has moved all his ships out of the wormhole, in pops a neutral Probe. Blink Blink. And he sits there. Oh lookie sisters scan probes on d-scan... Right! upcoming lesson. I warp off to a safe spot and warp back to 20 on the wormhole, uncloaking in warp. Start targeting as I land and activate point and artillery.
Insta-wreck. Start targeting pod and re-activate artillery. Insta-corpse. I'm really rocking this projectile alpha. So I look at the fitting in the kill mail... An armor repairer. Salvager in the 2nd high slot. Ok lesson time.
Let's look at what happened and try to analyze where the pilot made his mistake, shall we. What to look at first? The fit or the tactics? Well since I'm a fairly strong proponent of fitting for the tactics let's look at that first.
His tactics: Jump thru a wormhole, launch probes, start probing for astrometric anomalies and signatures.
There are just a few problems with these tactics.
1) Your survival depends entirely on your ability to jump back to high sec to get out of trouble.
2) If you're moving scan probes around you're not paying attention to either the d-scan (it's on another tab) nor is your attention necessarily going to notice a ship appearing on grid in the overview.
3) There are ships out there that can one shot a Probe (oh, like, say, my Loki...)
Now don't get me wrong I'm a big proponent of using the Probe as a cheap exploration vessel. But let's take a look at how I usually do it with my alts (my main uses a Cheetah or my cloaky Loki - which is expanded probe launcher fit)
1) Jump into system and hold cloak while hitting the d-scan and checking out the near 14 au for signs of activity.
1a) if there's something on grid - wait 30 seconds and jump out.
2) Bookmark the wormhole
3) Warp to a random planet at a random distance.
3a) At this point I either cloak up and see if things stay calm or
3b) head off in a random direction at max AB popping 4 probes out then cloaking up after a bit of separation from the probes.
4) Once safely cloaked up move the probes off to some random deep space point without fiddling with them. Once they are no longer a sign post pointing to the general location of my cloaked Probe I can fiddle with them
5) Keep moving under cloak away from the warp in spot (preferably in some off-plane direction)
6) Calmly probe out the signatures I'm interested in.
There's also some general tactical information about small ship maneuvering it helps to keep in mind when designing a fit for a frigate:
1) Your tank on a frigate is laughable. Your survival depends on not getting hit and/or reducing the effectiveness of things trying to hit you.
2) My tour in Faction Warfare taught me that properly fit, most frigates can warp off before opposing larger ships can lock them up.
3) By proper fit we mean Inertia Stabilizers (preferred in this case) or Nanofiber Structures and nothing that isn't absolutely necessary making the signature bigger.
So with this in mind, here are the parameters for a Probe fit that matches the tactics I want to employ:
1) Expanded probe launcher - well this is the reason for the fit so we need this
2) Two gravity rigs (again this is for the primary purpose of the ship)
Now we address survivability:
3) Cloak - a simple prototype cloak is all that's necessary
4) An afterburner in one of the mids. A mwd would be better but I know from experience that I'd be sacrificing a low slot or a rig spot to enable it to fit. This is sub-optimal. As an added bonus the AB does not cause sig bloom (which allows other ships to lock you faster as a side note).
5) Two inertia stabs in the lows. (some people prefer nanos - I prefer getting to warp faster)
6) Something in that 2nd mid (I usually go for a rock scanner)
7) A pair of Warrior I drones. (or nothing - they will probably never get used)
The ammo load-out usually consists of 8 core probes and 8 combat probes.
Used intelligently this should be the last ship you ever buy a scanning alt. And even if you screw up by the numbers and get it popped it's not like it's horribly horribly expensive.
Remember this is EVE. In wormhole space, they ARE out to get you. It's nothing personal (although flying stupidly DOES offend us). The question is not are you paranoid, it's are you paranoid enough?
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