Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Running High-sec anomalies for fun and profit

If you travel through high sec you've probably seen at least a few low-traffic systems that had a lot of cosmic anomalies in them, piled up and unloved. They seem too easy to be worth running and don't pay very well, so why bother? Well, I found a few good reasons; there's a lot of valuable loot connected with these anomalies and you can easily run them in 2-3 minutes a piece.


Most high-sec anomalies have a chance, I'd say about 5%, to escalate to a more lucrative mission, the kind you'd usually have to probe down. For example a Serpentis Refuge can lead to a Serpentis Narcotics Warehouse (3/10) and a Serpentis Den can lead to a Serpentis Hydroponics site (5/10).  These have a good chance of dropping much better loot, and only you know the location!  The escalation will be between 2 and 10 jumps from the original anomaly and can be in ANY security space. If you're lucky it will be in high-sec and you can run your mission without the threat of being jumped by pirates (see Jonny Pew video on this subject).

You'll know you got the escalation when you kill the last rat if you see a pop up message with the name of the site you've got a lead to. Then you look in your Journal (Alt+J) under the Expeditions tab to see what system it's in.

I had a lucky streak a few nights ago; my favourite high-sec target systems (0.5 and 0.6 security level) were crammed with Refuge and Den anoms. I cleared them in a couple of hours and had SIX escalations for my troubles (including one in high-sec). With only 24 hours to run them, and not fancying the prospect of dragging a big ship through lowsec, I offered them to corp mates. Nobody wanted them either, so I turned to Tweetfleet, the Eve-wide slack chat. Two people contacted me and I contracted them bookmarks to the sites (I had to travel to each one first and make the bookmarks) in exchange for a total of 170M ISK. That's a great result for a couple of hours of high-sec ratting!

Faction Rats

There's a small chance, much smaller than the chance of escalation, that the anomaly's waves of targets will end with a special rat making an appearance. This would be a Shadow Serpentis or Dread Gurista or Sentient Drone, for example. They will not be hard to kill and will contain special loot -- no travel necessary for this payout! The loot will most likely be a cheap tag (<200k isk) and 1000 rounds of faction ammo (e.g Shadow Iron Charge S), or Drone goo which isn't worth much. BUT I've also had three shiny drops, so the odds are you can find them too - I got a Serpentis Warp Scrambler (100M), a Rogue Drone 46-X and 43-X chip, which can be turned into an Astero BPC and Stratios BPC respectively. Or, y'know, sold for 65M and 235M instead. These happened during, I'd estimate, about 70 anomalies over a couple of weeks.

Loot and Salvage

At first I was very thorough about cleaning up these sites, hoping for a chance for valuable loot from the regular rats, but it never happened. Each Refuge or Den is worth about 200-300K in salvage and loot. The best item was a BZ-5 Caldari jammer, of which I found a few, worth about 300K. Drone sites such as a Gathering (4/10) are worth about 500K in salvage. After a while it didn't seem worth the time, but the most efficient way to do this, if you must, is to bookmark one wreck in the middle of the wreck field as you fight through all the sites. Then switch into a salvaging frigate with a Mobile Tractor Unit, salvage drones and salvagers. Warp to each bookmark in turn, and use the MTU, drones and salvagers as quickly as you can. Pro-tip: press "F" with NO targets locked to let the drones repeatedly find their own targets. You can also lock the farthest-away wrecks and force them to go out there, leaving the wrecks closest to the MTU for you to salvage.  If you have multiple MTUs, just drop one at each site and loop back to the first one for salvage and pickup. I'd assumed the Medium wrecks would have a better chance of good loot than the Small wrecks but that doesn't seem to be the case.

What Ship Did I Use?

This is a railgun Vexor with sentry drones and a flight of light drones in case the rats get close. You warp to 30km on the anomaly, deploy sentry drones then start shooting and DON'T MOVE! The light/heavy missile batteries will hit you hard a couple of times but they're your first target and will die fast. The rats will be around 30km from you, plus or minus 10km. It's a matter of luck how far you'll be from them; most of the time it's around 30km, but if it's 20km that's a bit too close; try and move away to about 25-30km before stopping. When you're standing still your rail guns will do a lot more damage...I think it's double what I was doing when I was orbiting my sentry drones.

The italicized items should be tech 2 variants if you can use them - I used meta versions because that's what I had lying around in hangers. I've never actually EFT'd this fit; it just sort of grew and evolved; hence the mix of armor and shield tank :)

Honestly, the fit is probably still TOO defensive; one by one I'm changing it by removing defense modules (ENAM, armor repair) and adding offensive ones (tracking/damage enhancers). The rats in these anoms are weak and your best defense is a good offense; kill 'em quick. The guns will hit (for me) between 18-38km (antimatter) and 25-40km (Uranium). The Gardes will hit between 18 and 48 km. This covers 99% of what you'll need, and you have Iron ammo (55km optimal) for the long-range shots and the light/medium drones in case the waves of frigates get past your defenses.

You'll never be scrammed or webbed, and most of the time you won't reach armor damage. I've gone with tracking speed scripts instead of range increase. The sensor booster speeds up the process of locking targets, which is handy because you'll be chewing through them fast. I have the drones set to Aggressive and unchecked Focus Fire, so they can spread damage if they want to.

If a number of rats get closer than 18km or so, pull your sentry drones in (it will be instant since you're right next to them) and deploy your light/medium drones. Move away if you wish, and let the drones clear the threat. Once you're safe you should recall them, stop the ship and deploy the sentries again.

The rigs are what I had previously installed on this hull for a different fit. I think I still need the Overclocker, but the armor pumps would probably be better replaced with offensive rigs instead.

[Vexor, Vexor]
Damage Control II
Magnetic Vortex Stabilizer I
Medium Armor Repairer II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II

Tracking Computer II
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II
Alumel-Wired Sensor Augmentation

250mm Prototype Gauss Gun
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I

Hobgoblin II x4
Hammerhead II x3
Garde II x3

Uranium Charge M x3365
Antimatter Charge M x2398
Optimal Range Script x2
Tracking Speed Script x1
Iron Charge M x2000

You could experiment with variations; for example make it work at 50km with different sentry drone and ammo, then warp to 50km on the anomaly and see what happens.