Saturday, September 19, 2015

It Had to End Sometime...

I have been very luck with my expensive ships.  When I’ve flown carriers or dreads, I’ve done so safely and without incident. 

I use solid practices to move them around.  When I light cynos, I do it off of only stations with plenty of clearance in docking range.  I give plenty of distance between my 5 km sphere and all elements of the station, and have never bumped when I lit a cyno myself.  Before I hit the cyno, I do a quick dscan to make sure no one is inbound, so I know I won’t wind up in some random part of the system.

On very rare occasions, I’ll light a cyno in a system that has no station.  When I do, I watch the traffic for a while before I jump, and if it looks to get a fair bit of through traffic, I’ll use the self destruct cyno (setting your ship to self-destruct and lighting the cyno only during the last 10-15 seconds of the cycle, so the cyno is on grid for the barest amount of time), then immediately warp off to a safe and cloak up.

And, generally, that works really well.  So well, in fact, that I’ve never lost a carrier.  I’ve never lost a dread either, but I don’t fly them frequently enough for that to be a habit, as much as a lucky string of events.

So, I’d say I’m a very safe capital pilot.  Or, at least, I was.  My run ended yesterday.  All tolled, the butcher’s bill was about 4.5 billion isk.

And it all happened because of module positioning.

The Story

I was moving some ships a fairly short distance – 6 cynos – away from Tamo in my carrier.  Because of layout of space, my route included one cyno I’d have to make in a system with no stations.  I typically select only routes with stations I can dock in, but in this case, I didn’t want to have to add another three cynos (and another full day) to my travels, and decided I’d just be careful.

The first few jumps went off without a hitch.  My alt plopped cynos on stations, and I’d dock, refresh my isotopes, and log for the next fifty minutes while my jump fatigue cleared.  Everything was going very well, and I moved my alt to Athounon, a dead-end, out-of-the-way system that was very quiet.

For the next forty or so minutes, I left my alt in system and noticed little to no activity.  One pilot entered for a short time to run a medium plex, then left.  It was completely empty… just as I wanted it to be.  So I logged back in, invited myself to fleet, undocked, and Ctrl+space’d to stop my ship as I positioned my cyno.  Figuring it didn’t matter where I lit it because of the beacon, I went to a safe near the sun.  Hopefully, a pilot in a hurry would notice the distance and positoning and warp right to the sun instead of the cyno, if worse came to worst.  I lit the cyno and jumped into system.

No, this isn’t where things went wrong.  In act, the jump itself was perfect.  I aligned off with my carrier and warped away to a safe near a planet.  If you’ve never piloted a carrier before, they accelerate incredibly slowly, and in fact when they warp off, they’re rarely pointing in the right direction; that’s how long they take to align.  You can be sitting there, watching the velocity creep upwards for up to thirty seconds.  And when you’re carrying around about five billion in goods, that’s a lifetime.

But, eventually, the ship entered warp and was off grid, all with local still remaining empty.  About a minute later, I landed.  Still local remained empty.  I was feeling pretty good about my first free-space jump in a long while.  All I had left to do was cloak up while my capacitor recharged and my jump fatigue expired.  So, I hit F4 to activate my cloak.

Only, my cloak wasn’t in the F4 slot.  It was F5.  F4 was my Cynosural Field Generator.  And yes, I happened to have enough liquid ozone in cargo.

The moment my finger hit the button, I realized I was pushing the wrong one.  I even stopped short on depressing the key entirely, but it was too late.  Up went the cyno.  I was locked in place, exposed, for the next ten minutes, and there was nothing I could do.

“I just lost my carrier,” I told my wife, who was sitting beside me, even though no one was in system at the time.  At that moment, I knew I wouldn’t be lucky enough for no one to notice until the full ten minutes expired.  Even with local being completely clear, I just knew it was all over.

I always wondered how I would react to a really big loss.  You hear about Asakai, and just yesterday a Ragnarok pilot posted on reddit how he was smiling even though he just lost his titan.  Would I do the same, or would it grate on me?  I could predict all I wanted, but I didn’t really know until that moment.

And, even though a couple of curses sped from my lips, the frustration and anger really lasted only a few moments, soon replaced with, “I can’t believe it!” and a wry smile of disbelief.  That smile lasted through the first pilot entering local and warping to a faction warfare complex in a Catalyst at around 3 minutes of my cyno.  At 5 minutes, a second pilot entered local, though no ship showed up on my dscan.  At 7 minutes, a third came in.

How long does it take for a fleet to form and attack me?  I didn’t know.  My drone bay was filled with plenty of small, medium, ewar drones to kill or break the lock of one or two tacklers, so the real risk was in someone nearby being ready to flash-form to kill my carrier.  And with Psychotic Tendencies and Snuffed Out nearby, odds of that were actually quite high.

And then, with 100 seconds remaining on my cyno, a Loki decloaked and immediately lit a cyno.  I started locking him immediately, but a carrier locks slowly, and I knew it’d be too late.  The ships came pouring in.

Snuffed Out brought the red carpet.  Sixteen black ops battleships came streaming out of that beacon and began chipping away at me.  The cyno dropped shortly after and I started looking for scrams and points to primary, but by that point, it was too late.  Nor did they bring smaller ships I could at least take some pleasure at killing.

The result was that killmail above.  Ten ships in cargo (there were two Rapiers and two Confessors) made this a brutal loss, my worst in Eve.  I could throw out some, “Already replaced”, which most of the ships are, but the cost of them is going to take quite some time to recoup.  It hurts.

But, that’s Eve.  Without the pain, the pleasure isn’t as enjoyable (insert obvious joke here…).  We live, we learn, and we go on!

The Lesson(s)

In Eve, there are hundreds of decisions we make each and every day that we take for granted.  Good PvP habits and paranoid travel habits are just some of them, but because they’re so common, they’re easy to overlook.

Before I fly in any ship, I make sure my modules are positioned correctly.  I tend to place offensive modules in my high rack, with those I activate first to the left and subsequent ones to the right.  Tank modules, which I activate once and leave on for my entire time in system, go on the mid rack, and passive modules and specialty modules go on the low.

In this last category also go probe launchers and occasional modules like triage, siege, and cyno generators.  Essentially, all the stuff I don’t want to accidentally press.

But I got lazy.  I was moving those ships through five carrier jumps, and did so over a few days.  During my off time, the module slots shifted (this happens from time to time, I don’t know why) and, instead of inventorying my carrier each time I sat in it again, I assumed the slots were the same.  I didn’t check to make sure my slots were correct before undocking to jump to my next cyno.

It just so happened to be the system without a station, where I’d need to cloak up.  And instead of hitting my cloak, I hit the cyno, which wasn’t where I normally keep it.  I forgot to double check my slot layout and paid a very steep price for it.

It may not be my Asakai, but it’s likely as close as I’m going to get without owning a super.  I made an assumption I normally don’t make, at the worst possible time.  As a result, I became content for someone else.

It’s a lesson I aim to never have to repeat, and it’s one that genuinely hurts, even as I was smiling through the whole thing.  I knew, from the moment that cyno lit, that I and all my ships in cargo were dead. 

And the really awful part was that when that Snuff fleet landed, my cyno cycle was a minute and a half away from ending.  But then, if I had gotten out, perhaps the lesson wouldn’t have been as memorable.

And that, perhaps, is the bigger lesson.  It’s often easy, when talking about the game, interacting with people, and discussing topics, that Eve is ultimately about players trying to kill you.  They’re out there, all the time, trying to find ways of obliterating your ship (or your ship of ships, as it happens).  That neutral in local really is trying to kill you too.  So is the hauler going back and forth.

And apparently the response time is 8.5 minutes.  If you can’t correct your mistake in that length of time, you better brace for a rough time.

P.S. Well done to Snuff and allies for forming quickly, bringing a doctrine that gave me nothing to shoot at, and professionally taking care of business.  It was masterfully done.

Incidentally, is anyone selling a carrier?


  1. That was a very good read. Thank you for playing this game and being a hero of the stars.

  2. Being able to light cynos from a disposable ship is a cheese mechanic. What's the point of it?

  3. OK... I live inna hole, I dunt fly carriers meself but we have built and operated 3 so far in my EVE career so I am familiar with their use, at least in holes, but what I want to know is...

    Why in he hell did you have Cyno generator ON your carrier???

    In my granted limited experience you NEVER ever ever ever put a self-tackle mod of any kind on something you dunt wanna lose (Bastion mods on Marauders being the exception).

    And... where was your back up??

    I even remember a discussion about this years ago... you dunt ever need to cyno 'to' a capitol itself as fleet warp takes care of that nicely so you will never use it on a capitol... and then, and this was in the discussion... there is the potential for a missclick... such as you experienced. Plus personally I am anal as all hell about mod placement... And we NEVER used capitols without fleet support either on grid or in jump range... ever.

    But man I cannot help but be really really curious... why would you put a cyno beacon ON a capitol in the first place???

    And I too doff my hat to you good sir... and I applaud your candor.

    1. In the Imperium, we got in the habit of fitting cynos on our ships to call in back-up when necessary. There are a lot of blues around, and you never know when there might be forces to come help, so you fly with it on. Sometimes, you can't get a mobile depot out fast enough and stay within range long enough to refit.

    2. So you guys don't use Fleet??? I mean seriously. Yer moving a capitol ful of ships etc. Billions of ISK on the line... you join the standing fleet (you do have standing fleets right??) or you make a fleet, make sure at least those in you corp if not other Alliance members are in fleet THEN you do the move etc. But popping a cyno for support? Seriously?

      I am sure you know this but with fleet people can warp directly to you and you don't have to let the whole rest of the GAME know exactly where you are...

      Lighting a cyno ON a cap is... is... is... I don't have the words for how not smart that is.
      (1) EVERYONE in the GAME fiend and foe alike can warp directly to you and,
      (b) you are self tackled for TEN WHOLE MINUTES.

      I spent a few months in null, SYJ ran regular cap escalation fleets with dreads and carriers in Basition (the old C6) and we have built and flown carriers in lower class holes... Now we of course don't use cynos in Anoikis as they don't work there like they do in Empire but even with that we KNEW that you NEVER put a Cyno ON a capitol.

      Tal you play a very different game than I and I can only assume or hope there are somekinda reasons that make sense to someone for this... but to me, this is like talking in local... you just quite simply don't ever do it. Far too many huge costly cons to the few worthless pros.

    3. Believe me when I that fitting a cyno to your carrier is standard operating procedure for carriers in the Imperium. You get tackled and want friendly carriers to jump to your rescue, you light a cyno. You don't sit around and wait for someone to burn 10 jumps to where you are tackled.

    4. Turamarth, unrelated, but I had fun evicting SYJ out of bastion and renaming it to "the office". It now sits mostly empty and quiet. It's been awhile since I had even heard anything about SYJ. They still alive?

  4. Bad habit is tu have such module in f slot. I also keep cloak far away in the layout to be clicked by mouse. Too much risk to decloak by double clicking when u see gang on the gate and cloak does not turn on on the first hit

  5. EVE is a cruel mistress - one misclick and you were rewarded by the most costly and long ten minutes in your EVE career. I guess however that feeling you felt in the pit of your stomach was part of the reason you play EVE. I'm not aware of many other games that give you that same tangible doom and loss.

    (I understand why you had a Cyno fitted. It makes sense when playing in such a large group like that.)

  6. Something every carrier pilot should learn to do is keep the liquid ozone split into two stacks. The cyno won't activate unless there is enough in a single stack to light, so keeping two stacks of 400 and then combining them if you need it is good practice.

  7. First off, thanks for sharing your painful learning experience.

    I see the "you should have" posts are rolling in. As someone who cannot fly capitals yet, I'd be interested to see all of these "everyone knows" pieces pulled together. Perhaps a future article?

    1. Maybe. I think I may be using capitals a lot more. Right now, I wouldn't feel qualified to make a capital guide.

    2. Maybe. I think I may be using capitals a lot more. Right now, I wouldn't feel qualified to make a capital guide.

  8. The mistake you made , was not that you misclicked, it was that you clicked alltogether. You thought your cloak was going to save you. Its not; its like a warp core stab, on ships that are not meant for it, it gives a false feeling of safety; but in fact its a kill waiting to happen.