Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

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Aaric Altair

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Post 2013.06.13 03:37

Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

To be honest, the new minigame + spew mechanic made me really leery of using a Covops for exploration. "Your Cloak is your Tank" immediately came to mind, and with the new mechanics, you spend a lot more time decloaked. But they are the best ships for exploration. Now, I'm starting to see gankers take advantage of this covops nerf by using the following tactic.

Stealth Bombers/ Proteus sits in an exploration site. When the explorer decloaks to hack the site, the ganker decloaks, scrams, and then scores an easy kill. In all my time exploring, I have never seen this tactic employed before, but with the increased interest in exploration (and thus more people visiting exploration sites), I am seeing it more and more. I've seen bombs, torpedoes, and even rockets used in these stealth bombers. Thankfully I've only lost one ship to this tactic, but I've seen it used on others, and seen it in the killboards.

So what can us Low-sec/Null sec explorers do?
Potential counters:
-Explore in a T3. I have no experience with this myself.
-Check the combat history of the system, if the tactic has been employed in the past, move on. Increases the amount to time needed to explore, and odds are good that checking dotlan will be inconclusive.
-Explore in a gang. Not really an option for the PVE explorer. It probably won't save you, will attract PvP attention, and splitting the already pitiful amount of money gained from exploration will render exploration completely worthless.
-Dual box, 1x Covops, 1x cloaky combat ship. i.e.stealth bomber, T3, Recon Cruiser. After each site, transfer the loot to the cloaky combat ship. Other than being in a Falcon, there is not much you can do to save the Covops, but at least you won't lose all the loot.
-Fit 2x Warp core stabs. 10+ seconds lock time <20 km lock range. CPU is tight or impossible without a CPU module or rig. Increases the amount of time uncloaked, but you can warp out in most cases.
-Fit a venture for exploration. Natural +2 to warp strength, but seriously limited exploration abilities. Very CPU limited, No Warping cloaked.
-Use cheap t1 frigates. No warping cloaked, CPU issues, reduced virus strength.
-Convince CCP to introduce a line of dedicated exploration ships (like the mining barge/exhumer tree). Have t1 and t2 variants with frigate, cruiser, and battlecruiser size ships. Give the t2 ships the ability to warp cloaked and give all of them bonuses to warp strength (or a by level reduction to the effects of warp core stabilizers), virus strength and virus coherence. Don't bonus the turrets (so as not to eclipse the value of combat ships) but give them some combat ability for combat sites.

While this tactic is not likely to replace gate camps, it nevertheless represents the biggest danger to the covops explorer. TBH, I'm probably going to rethink my use of the Covops ship, because losing one ship is enough to wipe out my profits for several hours to several days of work (with the market crash).

Any other potential counters?
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Bosozoku Kane

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Post 2013.06.13 03:46

Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

I don't have a huge amount of experience with low/null explo, but I never found a cov ops to be a good choice for explo ever. I always used T1 frigates.
1) They have some tank, even if it is minimal.
2) They have some gank, even if it is minimal (used drones for rats).
3) They are cheap
4) They still get bonuses for scanning and, in the new system, virus strength.

They are also quick to align and can avoid gate campers in many cases.

A couple of ideas:
1) Fit ECM drones instead of gank drones in a T1 exploration frigate to try to help you get away.
2) Fit AB instead of MWD if you keep getting scrammed, so at least you can move. It also won't increase your sig radius so locking you won't be as fast.
3) Fit a simple cloak T2 while you are scanning if you need it. If you are at a safe, d-scan can show you combat probes in system, then you know it is time to GTFO.
4) Drop your loot off at stations regularly so you don't get blapped with anything in your cargo.

Again, I do not have a huge experience, I moved to W-space rather quickly, but perhaps these ideas might be helpful.
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Media Assassin

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Post 2013.06.13 04:11

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

I depend on the local crutch, simply don't run sites with people in local. Not like it matters anymore, with the most recent nerf (the change to the despawn mechanic) you are not going to find shit anyways.
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Aaric Altair

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Post 2013.06.13 22:54

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Despawn change?

I think I'm going to switch to a t1 frigate and save my covops for scouting.
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Bosozoku Kane

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Post 2013.06.14 00:03

Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Yep. Maybe :ccp: saw the prices of explo items going down and thought they need to kill more explorers.
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Lamhoofd Hashur

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Post 2013.06.14 20:07

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

I've been running some exploration sites (mainly data/relic sites) in sov null lately and will give my comments on your proposed counters.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Explore in a T3. I have no experience with this myself.


Not worth it, T3s attract a lot of attention and are fun to gank. If it dies the cost of replacing it are a lot higher as well. No (extra) bonuses, compared to a cov ops, to the minigames.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Check the combat history of the system, if the tactic has been employed in the past, move on. Increases the amount to time needed to explore, and odds are good that checking dotlan will be inconclusive.


This information is already outdated as soon as you find it on dotlan. You can find the really busy systems easily yes, but there aren't that many.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Explore in a gang. Not really an option for the PVE explorer. It probably won't save you, will attract PvP attention, and splitting the already pitiful amount of money gained from exploration will render exploration completely worthless.


2 People is probably optimal, since you need to catch the cans as soon as they are spitted out. With two you might be able to catch more including the blueprint you saw with your cargo scanner ;).

Aaric Altair wrote:-Dual box, 1x Covops, 1x cloaky combat ship. i.e.stealth bomber, T3, Recon Cruiser. After each site, transfer the loot to the cloaky combat ship. Other than being in a Falcon, there is not much you can do to save the Covops, but at least you won't lose all the loot.


Is an option yeah, but only to store loot.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Fit 2x Warp core stabs. 10+ seconds lock time <20 km lock range. CPU is tight or impossible without a CPU module or rig. Increases the amount of time uncloaked, but you can warp out in most cases.


Based on my corp mate experience this is a really good way to go. He got out 5 times because of the warp core stabs.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Fit a venture for exploration. Natural +2 to warp strength, but seriously limited exploration abilities. Very CPU limited, No Warping cloaked.


Not an option. No decent scanning abilities.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Use cheap t1 frigates. No warping cloaked, CPU issues, reduced virus strength.


Might work in low, not in null. Besides this you want the virus strength for the tougher cans.

Aaric Altair wrote:-Convince CCP to introduce a line of dedicated exploration ships (like the mining barge/exhumer tree). Have t1 and t2 variants with frigate, cruiser, and battlecruiser size ships. Give the t2 ships the ability to warp cloaked and give all of them bonuses to warp strength (or a by level reduction to the effects of warp core stabilizers), virus strength and virus coherence. Don't bonus the turrets (so as not to eclipse the value of combat ships) but give them some combat ability for combat sites.


Cov ops can perfectly do this already ;), except for the combat sites. Most of the combat sites however you don't want to do right away with a exploration ship. The only ships which might be slightly capable of doing this at the moment is the gnosis.
Former SPO - Former WHC Liaison - Former ILN Lieutenant
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Boone Carnive

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Post 2013.06.18 14:22

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Many cov-ops bombers struggle with the small sig rad of a frigate. If you're carrying anything offensive lighting an AB and going on the attack MAY assist in getting the bomber to back off rather than pursue you for the kill. Admittedly I'd struggle to carry anything offensive. Still may be worth a try, bombers know that they have a paper tank.
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Zekken Aivoras

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Post 2013.06.18 17:43

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

One tactic I've shamelessly stolen picked up from Media Assassin that works great for extended exploration excursions to deep sovnull is to anchor a secure can near where you are running your sites and run the sites in a Covops, dumping your loot in the can as you go. When the cost of the loot is appropriate to be cashed out, come back with a cloaky nullified T3 only to haul your loot back to empire.
EVE University Graduate, former Mentor, self proclaimed Null Sec Campus champion, and Oreo consumer.
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Janna Windforce

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Post 2013.06.19 12:37

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Boone Carnive wrote:Many cov-ops bombers struggle with the small sig rad of a frigate. If you're carrying anything offensive lighting an AB and going on the attack MAY assist in getting the bomber to back off rather than pursue you for the kill. Admittedly I'd struggle to carry anything offensive. Still may be worth a try, bombers know that they have a paper tank.


Don't fall for this excuse, dual rigored dual TP bomber, specially fit for you with passive targeter (so you don't get disrupted in your minigames by beeping sounds) can wipe your frig and still have AB+MSE T2 or MSAB if you decide to throw pebbles back.

P.S.: waiting until the cans pop and then launch a bomb followed by paints results in ultimate greedom test for the explorer :lol:
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Rhigor Mortis

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Post 2013.06.21 05:45

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Iv'e been doing alot of exploration and have after getting ganked several times by cloaked ships I have decided to use WSTABS. Always nice to be able to give would be ganker the middle finger as you calmy warp off.

I've been doing alot of sites in low sec . Data/Relic sites around the NSC (EZA) seem to be far and few between.

I keep several Herons at a station close to where I explore. I always go there in my capsule and pod myself back to EZA. Once I get enough loot in station, I will either contract to Black Frog or get a blockade runner to move it to Jita.
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Aren Dar

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Post 2013.06.21 06:24

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Aaric Altair wrote:Despawn change?
.


They don't appear to despawn if they are half done - so a lot of the time people cargo scan and then just hack the cans with valuable stuff in it - leaving the junk behind.
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Tavob Gatrak

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Post 2013.07.16 04:14

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

[quote="Aaric Altair"]To be honest, the new minigame + spew mechanic made me really leery of using a Covops for exploration. "Your Cloak is your Tank" immediately came to mind, and with the new mechanics, you spend a lot more time decloaked. But they are the best ships for exploration. Now, I'm starting to see gankers take advantage of this covops nerf by using the following tactic.

How bad of an idea would it be to do Low/Null without a cloak? esspecially if you can only use a T1 cloak?
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Chuck Maverick

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Post 2013.07.16 11:08

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

Zekken Aivoras wrote:One tactic I've shamelessly stolen picked up from Media Assassin that works great for extended exploration excursions to deep sovnull is to anchor a secure can near where you are running your sites and run the sites in a Covops, dumping your loot in the can as you go. When the cost of the loot is appropriate to be cashed out, come back with a cloaky nullified T3 only to haul your loot back to empire.

Alternatively use freight containers.

All the benefits of a secure container (they persist in space), but unlike secure containers they don't appear on d-scan and therefore minimize the chance of someone narrowing down your safe with d-scan and dropping combat probes right on top of you.
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Zei Zen

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Post 2013.07.16 11:12

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

I've found two Warp Stabs the only way to protect in Explo in Low-sec. The only way to not lose the CovOps is to not be in the fight in the first place.
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Marion Xadi

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Post 2013.07.24 19:24

Re: Solo Exploration in Low Sec and Null Sec

There are couple of safeguards I've been employing:
Ideally, I try to find systems with no one else in local. I may have to go a bit deeper into nullsec but it's worth it for the added saftey.

If there is someone in local I still have some options:
Find out as much about them as possible.
Check their info. If they belong to a corp with a name like "31337 Ganxor Squ4d", I usually move on. If they're +5 or +10 to the Uni it's probably safer (but I tend to move on if a friendly explorer got to a system before I did out of courtesy)
Park yourself in a nice safe spot and deploy my combat scanner probes. If I can't find them they may be cloaked. I may notice that they're flying a BS and located at an anomaly, in that case you're probably busy killing rats and you're more likely to be safe (don't get too relaxed though).

If I do want to explore a site and I know there's a potential threat in system I approach carefully. I make sure that my overview is set to show hostiles and that my D-Scan will show probes.
First I get within cargo scanning range of all the cans while staying more that 2k away from everything else.
Now, while carefully watching my overview, I decloak and lock all the cans and then scan them down.
That let's me know if the potential loot is worth the risk.
Assuming I've found at least one can that's worth it I will orbit it at 2500m. I'm still watching my overview like a hawk and spamming D-scan.
Then I'll hack the container. If there are potential threats in the system I tend to rush through the minigame. It's better to loose some loot than risk loosing the ship. If I see anything sketchy (either a ship or a probe) I immediately cloak up, run in a safe direction and cycle my MWD. I don't wait to figure out who they are. I just run and hide. Since I'm more than 2k from the can I am able to cloak immediately.
Once I've found the final node of the minigame I approach the can before opening it. That way I have an easier time of grabbing all the loot.
With this tactic I still spend the same amount of time uncloaked but I minimize the time where I can't immediately recloak.

Your mileage may vary but this has kept me safe so far. You'll never be 100% safe but you can be a bit safer.
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