Monday, September 29, 2014

The Dark Arts - Starbase Theft

The usual disclaimer: I make no claim to be an expert on this or any subject. I'm just a 3 year old permanoob-at-heart exploring the dark side of EVE and sharing some of my experiences and lessons learned.

It's been awhile since I have written one of these guides, or blogged at all, in fact. I just came back to the game after a few months off, sold my PvP main and rolled a new character for a fresh start in the game. After 4 days in the game my new main character was able to steal a player owned starbase (POS) and everything in it, to the tune of about 1.2 billion isk. It was a new experience for me and I made a few mistakes, so I figured I would write up a step-by-step guide for anyone else looking to steal POSes for fun and profit.

Target Selection 
There are a few different ways that you can go with this. The most lucrative targets are likely going to be established wormhole corporations. Wormhole corporations by necessity keep most of their ships and assets at their POSes. However, if they are even slightly competent they will know better than to give full POS roles to brand new members. This doesn't mean that it is impossible, it's just a question of how much time and effort you are willing to invest.

Terrible new wormhole corporations are certainly very likely targets. If they have inadequate leadership or are very new at living in holes they may be inclined to give out roles easily. The primary challenge for younger POS thieves in this situation might be moving stolen ships out of the hole.

Another likely target is small highsec industrial corporations. Recent changes to industrial mechanics have resulted in these terrible, nearly universally incompetent corporations throwing up POSes left and right. Try to find a relatively young one with an inexperienced CEO. If they don't ask you for an API key when you apply, then there is a good chance they will be lax about assigning roles as well. These corporations are likely to be much faster and easier to infiltrate, but likely less profitable as well.

Gaining Trust
Again, there are lots of ways that you can play this. The key is to immerse yourself in your character and do all the things they would expect you to do. If it is a mining corp, then mine. If it is a PVE corp, then PVE. No matter how torturous these activities may seem, keep in mind that they are a means to obtain your goal - being assigned roles.

The next step is to identify what your corporation needs in a new member and mold yourself into exactly that. An easy one is to offer to be a fleet commander. Most small EVE corps are desperate for FCs - anyone who steps up to that role is likely to quickly earn the trust of his directors. Make yourself indispensable and then make your case.

In my case, I joined a highsec mining corp, took note that they had no mining fleets scheduled on the calendar, and offered to be that guy. I sent off a mail to the CEO to the tune of, "Gee boss, my long term goal in this game is to be an FC. I know I'm new here and don't want to step on any toes, but would it be ok if I led a weekly mining fleet on Sundays and gave the ore to the corp?"

I quickly got a "hell yes!" and then pushed it a little further. "Great boss, I just need a few roles to make this work..." Within a few hours I was all set.

Roles and Skills
In order to take the tower and modules themselves, you need the role Config Starbase Equipment. You may also need Hangar Access to loot any Corporate Hangar Arrays that may be online at the POS. If you can't get those roles, another possibility is to get Starbase Fuel Technician, which will allow you to empty the fuel from the bay and cause the shields to go down, allowing you to destroy the POS modules for their loot drops. Beware doing this while other members with POS roles are online, though, as they will get a notification that the tower is low on fuel.

Don't forget to ask for any other roles that you might need to keep your backstory straight. I asked for Communications Officer, for example, so that I could put my scheduled fleets on the calendar. I also hinted that corp roles can be confusing and that maybe they should just give me the Director role to keep things simple. Unfortunately, they didn't go that far. There are a whole host of fascinating things that can be done with a director role.

As for skills, I found out the hard way that in order to unanchor the POS and it's structures, you will need to have Anchoring trained at least to 1. You will also need to be able to fly some sort of industrial ship with your in-corp character, and having a friend or an alt with an Orca or Freighter to haul away bulky fuel, arrays, and other cargo will be of great help as well.

The Heist
The best time for this is when you are the only person in corp who is online. If that isn't possible, try to do it when nobody else with POS roles is around, and they are all otherwise occupied or afk. Most of this can be done with other members online without necessarily alerting them, but bear in mind that it will take some time to complete the heist.

If you have corp hangar arrays, SMAs or silos that you wish to loot, make sure to bring one or more Enormous Freight Containers. Launch them close to where you will need them and loot all structures first. Ships inside of Ship Maintenance Arrays can be ejected and flown to a station or other secure location.

Your first step should be looting all arrays inside the shields, then offlining them.  Then make sure to unanchor all arrays before you proceed - you will not be able to do this once the tower is offline. Next, offline the control tower itself and loot its fuel and strontium bays. Then immediately unanchor the tower - this is the slowest part of the process and may take up to an hour to complete.

While the tower is unanchoring, the shields will go down and any assistants or alts you may have can  enter the area. Begin making off with the loot and scooping modules to your cargo holds and dropping them wherever you want them. Be aware that out-of corp haulers used for this in highsec will incur a suspect flag, making them legal targets for everybody.

Once the tower is offline, scoop it up and steal that too. Then the final step, anchor a mobile depot named with a message to taunt your corpmates when they warp to their POS and find it utterly disappeared. I executed my heist, for example, on the eve of my CEOs birthday. I had promised him a birthday surprise, so I named my depot "Happy Birthday from the Belligerent Undesirables!"

Happy birthday from the Belligerent Undesirables!
The Aftermath
It's a safe bet to assume that at this point your time in your chosen corp is likely to be limited, so you might as well take anything else that you can. If you have access to the corp wallet or hangars then empty them. If they left shares in their wallet, take those too, and then go to your corp screen. If you have a director role and control all the shares then you can force a vote for CEO and steal the corporation itself.

Once you have stolen everything that isn't nailed down, the next logical step is to hop in a combat ship and go on safari. Use the map (f10) to find "corp members in space" in the information folder, and go and kill anyone else who might be online, and/or hold them for ransom. There are plenty of great safari guides out there, so I won't get into too much detail about that.

Suffice it to say that unless you have successfully executed a hostile takeover, at some point you will be booted from the corporation. Then you go find another one, rinse repeat.

POS theft is hilarious good fun for all ages. It's another way of enjoying the general theme of corporate infiltration, which is a cherished part of sandbox gameplay in EVE online. As has been said before, and will be said again, EVE is one of the few games where you are encouraged to "Be the Villain".

Many forms of villainy might require more SP or connections, but this one is very newbie friendly. The only challenge for new players may be physically hauling away large quantities of loot without a freighter or Orca, which is easily dealt with if you have friends. The character that I used for my theft was only 4 days old, invested less than 3 million isk getting set up for this, and profited well over a billion. In fact, he is still in corp and may make even more isk from loot and ransoms before this is over.

As always, get out there and steal and murder - play EVE the way it was meant to be played.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Retiring my PvP main

This is me shamelessly using my blog to advertise my character sale. I'm selling off my main, Kalim Dabo. Most of this blog has been about him. He's a pretty well rounded PvP pilot with some extra skills, like probing and mining.

Kalim has been my main since I started playing. However, I basically only use him to fly T1 frigates, so I don't really need most of his SP.

Some time ago, as regular readers will recall, I started a new character as an experiment, to see how feasible it would be to solo wardec people with a 1 week old newbie character. I found that I was actually very successful There are certain advantages in highsec piracy that come from having a very young character with a clean history and API, and it doesn't take long to train back up to fly an Incursus or something very well, which is all I was doing with Kalim anyway.

So I'm going to get a fresh start, with enough isk to keep me in frigates and pay wardec fees for some time to come. If you are interested, check out the advert at