I got it into my head a few weeks ago that for true success in EVE Online, I really needed to take control of my consumables. Ammo is no problem; I have that covered. Anyone can make normal ammo right out of the box, day one (and they probably should). But my real need was for Tech II drones.
I fly Gallente ships, and if you fly Gallente, you probably have a hold full of drones. Drones to repair ships, drones to mine, drones to disrupt enemy targeting, drones to snipe enemy ships, drones to kill annoying frigates… there’s a drone for every purpose imaginable, but sometimes the drones just have to take one for the team. Long story short, in huge messy fire fights, I sometimes lose drones. At half a million ISK (minimum) each, losing drones can get expensive.
Making them myself seem like the best alternative. What goes into making Tech II drones?
Turns out there are no original blueprints for Tech II drones. You must “invent” copies of Tech II drone blue prints from Tech I blue prints. Okay. I purchased the Tech I blueprint for Hammerhead I drones. Now to find a place to install it and then wait a couple of hours?
Nope. First you need datacores. These may be bought from the market, OR you can hire research agents to make them for you. The drones take Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering datacores. To get an agent to make them for you, you must train up some relevant skills, gain standings with that agent, and then they will start research for you. And by they, I mean the one agent you can deal with at a time. You can’t have multiple agents working on multiple datacores unless you train ANOTHER long set of skills.
Which is where I am now.
I moved my whole operation from Aunia, safely nested deep in Gallente space with a major trade hub only two jumps away, to Mandoo, an obscure system at the edge of Amarr space famous mainly for a one-time-only NPC mission that can increase your security status above 5.0. Mandoo is also noteworthy for being a major system for CreoDron, suppliers of starships to the Gallente Federation for decades. They also offer Level III missions, which is why I chose that system over, say, Yona, where my one research agent is working tirelessly to provide me with Electronic Engineering datacores.
Mandoo is a little remote, and it has a very nasty lowsec system, Vecamia, right on the route from Aunia to Mandoo. I have never gone through Vecamia without seeing a ton of shipwrecks, victims of predatory gate camps. How to get all the ships and other stuff I’d need from my Aunia home base?
Well, my alt had just finished training up Cloaking IV, which gave her the ability to fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device to her Viator…. Trip after trip, I snuck the Viator invisibly through Vecamia, hold full of repackaged ships and other supplies.
NOTHING beats a good gate camp like being undetectable.
Doing missions for CreoDron increases standings, which open up more agents, better agents, researching more things for you. Normal missions increase standings only a little bit, but every sixteenth mission you get a special, “storyline” mission. These increase your standings substantially. You don’t want to decline a storyline mission if you can at all help it.
I was excited to break the tedium of CreoDron’s courier missions (which I run mostly on autopilot in my Comet) with a REAL mission from the storyline agent. Go to Evaulon, pick off some troop transports, done! The mission was timed at 40 minutes for an early completion bonus. 40 minutes is about on par for courier missions or combat missions with a single objective and not much fighting expected.
I programmed the route into my autopilot. Evaulon was 22 jumps away. Even making it there in 40 minutes would be a stretch. Further, the route went not only through Vecamia, but ended in a long, 10-jump stretch of low security systems which went through at least one other infamous gate camp system.
Lowsec is fairly dangerous if you’re in a system that borders highsec, but once you’re deep in, low sec is often sparsely populated. But should you stop in a system for long, say, to mine a juicy asteroid belt or do some ratting, then the hunters that constantly patrol the lowsec systems will notice you and come after you. You can find your formerly empty lowsec system quickly filling up with people who only want to see you dead.
There was a slightly longer route available that avoided Vecamia and many of the lowsec systems on the far side, but I knew I would need help on this mission. I roped in Scipia Mortalis and corpmate Toldain to ride shotgun as we went deep into dangerous space.
I was eight jumps from Mandoo before I realized I hadn’t actually ACCEPTED the mission yet…. so back for that.
We met up in Ichoriya, the last highsec system on the route. Toldain had already scouted what Dotlan had pegged as a dangerous gate camp system ahead of time, and found it safe. We had no troubles on our way to Evaulon, so we warped directly to the mission.
The mission — Troop Build up – Lai Dai Corporation — wasn’t listed on any of the mission sites we knew of. The objectives were simply to take out some troop transports, ships which don’t typically fight back. I was in the only “tank” ship, my Dominix battleship, so I grabbed the aggro and set my drones to taking down the enemy battlecruisers while the others started on the transports.
Wave after wave of enemies popped. We all had to warp out to save our skin (and armor) more than once. Meanwhile, the system that had started out empty aside from us, was filling up with people. All from the same corporation.
It was clear that we were about to be hunted.
We dropped any idea of clearing the entire room and went back to focus purely on the troop transports. My armor was slowly being eaten away as transport after transport exploded. When the mission was marked completed, we warped to a spot above a planet to regroup. Seconds later, a hunter warped on top of us. We fleet warped to a stargate and out of Evaulon entirely.
Seriously, though — 40 minutes for a 22 jump system followed by a REALLY NASTY firefight in a system where you’re sure to become hunted? Something’s wrong with THAT picture. And of course I didn’t get the early completion bonus…. or any of that juicy salvage, either.
I DID get the standings increase. A couple more missions like that, and I’ll be able to get Level IV missions from CreoDron, and I won’t have problems with research agents ever again :)