Sunday, 27 October 2013

Planetary Interaction - Making Dirt Pay

Planetary Interaction is about mining the planets of the Eve universe and manufacturing a unique group of goods.  There are several levels of manufacturing that can take place on the planet surface as well.  The materials from this are often referred to as Planetary Materials.  They are used in the production of Tech 2 equipment and ships, POS arrays and towers, and a few advanced Tech 1 items like cloaking devices.  Most importantly, they are used in the production of fuel blocks which are needed to keep POS towers running.  As you can see, planetary materials are a necessary part of the Eve economy.

The advantage of Planetary Interaction [PI for short] is that its relatively easy to get into.  There are only a few skills and they are relatively cheap.  The Command Centres used to start a PI network are also cheap as are the upgrades on the planet.  PI makes a good, semi-passive income for a new pilot.  You can also tailor it to your preferred level of interaction.

There are five planetary skills and you can get them all for just under 10 MISK.  These skills are; Command Centre Upgrades, Interplanetary Consolidation, Remote Sensing, Planetology and Advanced Planetology.  More on these later.  However there is one hidden skill that you need.   The person who owns the network needs to have a industrial ship to haul the materials from planet to market.  Fortunately there is a ship especially designed for doing just that.  The Epithal has a special cargo bay that is meant for planetary materials.  The bay is larger than anything that a normal industrial is capable of so its worth the price straight away.  It only needs basic skills to use as well.

Command Centre Upgrades - This skill determines the maximum upgrade level of your command centre.  The higher the level, the more power and CPU your network has to build facilities.  To get the most out of your planets you are going to want this skill at 4 at least.  Level 5 is recommended.  Your network on a planet has power and CPU limitations just like a ship does.  The facilities and links on the planet use up those resources.  This includes how many extractor heads you can manage so it has a direct affect on output.

Interplanetary Consolidation - You start with the ability to manage one planet.  For each level of Interplanetary Consolidation you are able to manage another planet to a maximum of six planets.  Its not essential to train this to level 5 unless you have a complex and interconnected network of planets.  Some end products need the materials of several planets to achieve and that is where the number of planets you have would matter.

Remote Sensing - At first glance people might ignore this skill.  However its very important if you don't want to be tied closely to your planets.  Remote sensing allows you to see the coloured resource overlay for a planet at distance.  This means you can scout planets at long range and check their resource concentrations.  It also lets you position your extractor heads over those resource concentrations.  That means you can restart your mining operations from up to 9 light years away from the planet.  That makes it easier to manage the planet since you would only have to go to the system to move things to the customs office.  Everything else can be done remotely.

Planetology and Advanced Planetology - These skills dictate how accurate the coloured resource overlay is on your display.  Low skills mean the real concentrations might be somewhere else.  Higher skills means the overlay is more accurate.  This is important for positioning your extractor heads so they get the best yield.  Since concentrations move and change based on mining activity, you will use this skill often to move your extractor and the extractor heads.

NOTE:  There are some new skills coming out with the Rubicon Patch in Nov 2013.  I will update this post when they do.

Looking for a Planet
There are two approaches to selecting a planet to do PI on.  The first is look at what you have near you and make what you can.  The other is to decide what you want to build and find planets that can supply what you need.  For both you are going to need an idea of what makes what.  I recommend the following PDF chart which shows the products you can make and the raw materials needed.  It also shows the planets each material comes from.  Eve_PI_Diagrams_v1_4.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Either way you are going to have to look at scans of planets.  To access the planet view do one of the following; Click the planet in space and select the planet view from the overview, use the system menu to navigate to a planet and select "View in Planet Mode", Right click a planet in the solar system view and select "View in Planet Mode" or get the Show Info window on any system in range and right click a planet in the "Orbital Bodies" tab and choose "View in Planet Mode".  This last option lets you search planets from the starmap or from other planet search methods like the People and Places.

Planets have different resource availability based on the security of the system they are in.  High sec planets have the worst yields.  It then gets better as you go from Low sec to Null and lastly, wormholes have the best yields.  To add to the temptation to go into lawless space, the Customs Offices in those areas can be replaced by player owned customs offices [POCOs] which often have lower tax levels since the owners want to attract business.  High sec customs offices are all owned by CONCORD and have a set tax rate of 10%.  more on Customs Offices later.

Below is a image of a planetary scan.  The Colour overlay shows the concentrations of different materials [one at a time].  Clear is extremely low to no resource.  White is high concentrations.  There is a slider bar that can adjust the sensitivity of the scan and you will need this in high sec especially as the yields are low and you need to turn up the gain on the scan to see the concentrations.
The bar in the material list gives you a general idea how abundant a material is on that planet.  The colour overlay gives you an idea how many concentrations there are.  Be aware that concentrations will move as they are mined, either by you or other players.  You can right click on this scan and choose "Show other players networks".  This will show little icons for the command centres of other players.  They are tiny so you will have to look close.  When you click on one the whole network minus the extraction heads will be shown.  Multiple players mining the same resources will deplete the concentration faster.  The planet never runs out of material but it does move around a lot so you will use this view a lot.

There are eight types of planets in Eve and each has five resources available.  Some resources can only be found on one planet type while others are found on several.  What type of resource you want will dictate the planets you need to find.  It also dictates  the type of command centre you must use to start your network.

Landing a Command Centre
You must start off by buying a command centre that matches the type of planet you wish to exploit.  Barren Command Centres for Barren Planets etc.  Command Centres are 1,000m3 so you will need an industrial ship to move them.  As far as I know the Epithal does not take them in their special bay.

Take your Command Centre out to the planet you have chosen.  Warp to the planet at any range.  Then enter Planet View mode.  Its usually a good idea to site your Command Centre near the resources you are going to extract.  This is so the links are shorter and use less CPU and Power.  However the resources are going to move around.  In some cases resources appear in bands around the planets.  Otherwise you may have to make a best guess.  However you are not restricted to placing structures near your command centre.  You may place them anywhere on the planet.  However when you open the planet view or double click the surface it will automatically zoom to the command centre so its best to have it near your structures.

To land the command centre, click on the Build button, then Command Centres. There will be an entry for the type of command centre you need.  Click that and then click on the planet where you want the command centre to be.  This makes a round circle with a symbol in it.  These have been nicknamed PINs. (supposedly short for Planetary Interaction Node).  All your structures on the planet will look like this.  You may have to leave planet view at this stage and return.  The system sometimes has trouble updating that its ready to receive new structures.

Before you go further, click on the command centre.  You will get an info window pop up.  This happens for all PINs.  The CC PIN has an Upgrade button on the bottom left.  Upgrade your command centre as much as you can.  This will give you more Power and CPU to use for your network.

The Work Flow of a Planetary Network
If you are actually mining the planet then your network starts with an extractor.  This will be sited near the resource you are collecting with it.  The extractor uses extractor heads to suck up resources and move them to the extractor itself.  Then the material is sent along a link to the next PIN.  I recommend that you use a Silo for that spot.  I'll explain that when I cover the extractors in detail.  Each raw material turns into a tier 1 material.  There is no reason not to do this on the planet as it saves room and cost.  Thus the next step is to send the raw material to an Basic Industry Facility.  Now if that is as far as you are going then the last step is to send the tier 1 material to the spaceport so it can be transferred to the customs office in space where you collect it.  However its often more efficient to do another step of manufacturing on the planet. That means you should send your tier 1 material to a storage silo.  I often use the one I send the raw materials to as it rarely fills up enough to limit material flow and to save power and CPU.  Again your last step is to send the material to the spaceport for storage until you are ready to launch it to the customs office.

Here is an image to help you visualise it.

Lets have a look at the facilities you can get on the planet.  Once the command centre has been placed, these facilities can be built on the planet by just paying isk.  No need to transport anything.  When you create facilities the cost is deducted from your wallet when you submit the changes.  Prices are relatively low but I don't have a list of costs.

Command Centres - These basically allow you to build on the planet.  After that they just dictate how much you can install on the planet through the upgrade level.  The Icon displays the Power and CPU usage with coloured semi circle gauges.  The command centre can also store 500m3 of stuff but that isn't much in the grand scheme of things.  The last function is that it can launch the product in the command centre into space by rocket.  When you do this there is an entry in your journal under "Planetary Launchers" and you can right click > warp to the can it launched.  This is the cheapest but least efficient way to get stuff off the planet.  There is no way to get stuff down to the planet with a command centre. If you aren't going to use the rocket thre is no point connecting the command centre to the network with a link.

Spaceport or Launchpad - This is a vital structure.  It allows you to send stuff to and from the customs office in space.  Since it can also hold 10,000m3 it often doubles as a silo for the end product of your process.  The Customs Office is your access to the good.  You open it like a POS array or wreck.  Then you can move goods to and from the spaceport.  You should place this Second and near the command centre.  This makes sure you have the CPU and Power allocated for this critical building.

Extractor - This is what pulls the resources from the planet.  It does so by using one of more extractor heads.  These are linked automatically to the extractor and extract from an area based on your extraction program (more later).  You will probably have several extractor heads for each extractor.  The heads must be placed within a certain distance of the extractor so you will be forced to put your extractor close to deposits and then link it to the other buildings.  Extractors have no storage space.  If an extractor is mining and not sending the material somewhere it is being tossed out the airlock.  For this reason I recommend linking your extractor directly to a Silo.  I will explain the process of setting up a mining program and routing material later.

Silos or Storage Facilities - The name says it all.  These things hold stuff.  They have a capacity of 12,000m3 and are able to do one "Expedited Transfer" every few hours.  That is a manual way of moving stuff around your network.  Silos can hold a mix of materials so I tend to use it as a catch-all buffer between operations.

Processors or Industry Facilities - These things take material and turn it into new products.  It uses as set of pre-installed blueprints to select the product you want to build.  When linked and routed correctly the facility will automatically draw needed material from a silo (or extractor but this is inefficient) construct the product and then send it to a destination.  There are three types; basic, Advanced and High-tech.  The basic converts raw material into tier 1 products.  Advanced facilities do tier 2 and 3goods and High-tech do the highest tier goods.  Warning - High-tech facilities can only be built on Barren and Temporate planets.

Links - Think of these as roads or conveyor belts.  They link PINs together.  They use CPU and Power based on their length and upgrade level.  The length depends on the distance between PINs taking into account the curve of the planet.  Big planets will cause links to be longer.  As a result you want all your main buildings close together and the link to the extractors the only long link.  Links have a capacity.  They can handle a flow of a certain amount of m3/hour.  You can upgrade links if your are moving large amounts through them.  Links don't automatically make things move between PINS.  You have to establish "Routes" which dictate how much stuff goes where and when.  I'll describe this process later.

Basic Set-up - Tier 1 Production
To help explain how to set up your planet I will use a tier 1 production system as a model.  So we are going to extract a resource material and turn it into the first manufactured material.  Place a Silo on the planet near your command centre.  To do this go to the Build menu and click the Storage Facilities option then silo.  Now click on the planet where you want the PIN to go.  This is the basic procedure for placing PINs.  Next to that put a Basic Industry Facility PIN (I'll call these processors from now on) and a Spaceport.  Make them close enough that the link will be short but just far enough away from each other that you can see the link itself.  Now create a link between the Silo and the Processor.  You do that by holding CTRL and clicking on the start PIN, then release CTRL and click on the destination PIN.  This is a shortcut that lets you bypass the menu.  Now link the Silo to the spaceport.  We don't need to link the spaceport and processor because the product will flow back through the silo to the spaceport once the route has been set.  It is possible to trace a route through five different links as long as all the links have enough capacity for the sum of their load.

So why did we set up this bit first?  The reason is because your network can't do without them and you must reserve the CPU and Power.  This is because you are going to want as much mining capacity as you can get and extractor heads use up Power and CPU.

Its now time to site your extractor.  When you go to place the extractor, there will be a shadowy circle around the pin as you go to place it.  This is the range for the extractor heads.  Site the extractor near the resource deposit you plan to mine.  Not on top of it.  You want the extractor heads on top of it.  Just make sure the shadow covers the deposit.  Now link the extractor to the silo.

Every time you make a change to the planetary network the system wants you to confirm the changes by hitting a Submit button.  you will need to do this often.  You have the option of wiping your changes and starting over if you have made a mistake.

The next step is to set the extractor heads and mining program.  Double click on the extractor.  You should get a new window with a bar graph on it.  There are a set of materials on the right side.  Select the material you plan to mine.  This will bring up the colour graph.  Now on the left side is a section labled "Extractor Head Units".  Click on one of the dots and an extractor head will appear near your extractor.  Now the extractor head has a circle around it.  That is the area it is extracting from.  Move the extractor head by clicking and dragging it around.  Note the number on the panel changing as you move the head.  That is a gauge of the material concentration under the head.  If extractor heads overlap they suffer a penalty to their extraction amount.  The size of the extraction area depends on the time period set for the mining program.  On the panel at the bottom right is a slider bar.  This controls how long your extractor will work without being restarted.  It ranges from 1 hour to 2 weeks.  The longer the time period the less efficient the program and the bigger the heads.  Of course very few of us have time to change things every hour so people sacrifice efficiency for ease of maintenance.  For the moment set the slider to 1 hour (there is a reason we are doing this).  At the bottom right of the panel it tells you how much the extractor is getting per hour and for the whole time period.  This will become important later.  Now add a few more extractor heads.  You need to do some adjustments later but you need some material shortly so just a few heads for now.  Now hit the Install Program Button and then the Submit button.  Your extractor is now mining.

While you are now mining, you haven't yet got somewhere for the material to go.  The extractor itself has no storage so you must create a "route" from the extractor to the silo.  To do this click once on the extractor to get the basic info window.  There are some buttons at the bottom of the window.  The second one from the left is the Products menu.  Now that you have selected something to mine this menu will have a product in it.  It will also say "Not Routed" next to the product.  The shortcut to make a route is to double click the product in this window and then double click the destination (which is the silo).  Submit the changes.  Now when your extractor finished its first cycle it will send the goods to the silo.  Now the first batch of mined materials is going to be only 15 minutes after your program is installed so get this done quickly.  Don't forget to submit the changes.  We need some material in the Silo for the next step so wait for a little to go to the silo.

Next we are going to set up the Basic Processor.  The processor has a set of schematics already installed into it.  You have to select the one you need.  Click once on the processor PIN and hit the Schematics button.  You can now scroll through the schematics and choose the one you need.  Each raw product has a single schematic it uses.  When you click once on a schematic it tells you the required material and the output product.  To install the schematic, double click on it or hit install at the bottom.  Now you need to make a route from the silo to the processor and another route from processor to the spaceport.  Click on the silo and click the Storage button.  You should have some material in there by now (this is why we did a short program earlier).  Double click on the material and then double click on the processor.  The route will automatically route the right amount of raw material to the processor whenever the processor needs some.  Click on the processor now and go to Products.  Double click the product and then double click the Spaceport.  This should make routes from silo to processor and then to spaceport.  There is a Routes button on all PINs allowing you to see the routes going through it.  Its worth checking its set correctly.  Don't forget to Submit.  Your processor is now running.

Here is where you must juggle with Power and CPU.  You must now decide how long your mining cycle is going to be and then try to make sure the processor is getting enough material to be running full time.  A basic processor consumes 3,000 units of raw material every half an hour.  Work out how much material you need for it to run for the whole period you plan to mine for.  For example, if you plan to mine for seven days, your processor will consume 1,008,000 units or raw material at full production.  Double click on the extractor and stop the program.  Now set the period to the time you want it. Adjust the extractor heads so they don't overlap.  The total mined amount in the bottom right will tell you if you are getting enough.  If you need more material, add more extractor heads.  This is where you are likely to run out of Power and CPU.  If you are mining a particularly rich deposit, you may be producing more than you need.  That is where you look at putting in a second (or third) processor.  try to balance mining amount to your processing ability otherwise you will have raw materials pile up in your silo.  When you have the program you want and the processors you need, install the mining program and submit the changes.  The system now runs until the program ends.

You should notice at this point that the graph on the mining program panel starts with high amounts early in the program and drops to smaller amounts later in the program.  This is the reason we use the silo between the extractor and the processor. The extractor will mine most of its stuff in the first third of the program then top up the silo for the rest.  Meanwhile your processor is taking a set amount each half hour.  While you could have the extractor feeding straight into the processor, you would be losing all the bulk materials mined in the first part of the program since it has nowhere to go.  The silo provides a buffer that allows for fluctuations in supply.

The material coming out of the processor should be going into the Spaceport.  We do this so there is always room for the raw material in the silo.  When you get to know how the various systems work you can play around with setups to try save CPU and Power.  However I find this configuration most efficient.  The spaceport is your interface with space.  While you can launch stuff by rocket from the command centre, it only does 500m3 at a time.  You want to move thousands of m3 worth of stuff.  That means you must use a Customs Office.

Customs Offices and Spaceports
Spaceports launch goods to the customs offices in space.  They can also receive goods from the customs office.  To do this you must be in the solar system that the planet is in.  You can do this in warp or in a POS or even cloaked.  Click on the spaceport and use the Launch button to open the interface.  Alternately, warp to a customs office and open it like it was a wreck.  You can reach a customs office through the system menu.  They are listed for each planet in the list.  One thing to realise, it is possible to destroy customs offices so they wont always be there.

The customs office interface is two panels.  One side is the contents of the spaceport and the other is the contents of the customs office.  Drag and drop items from one side to the other to set up transfers.  Then hit the transfer button.  This will move the goods and charge you the import/export tax.  The goods will then be in the destination storage.  For the customs office, you can move things in and out like it was a jet can.

Customs offices can be built and owned by corporations.  They can also be destroyed.  The corp sets the tax rates for people with different standings levels to the owning corp.  This means friends can be charged less than neutrals and hostiles can be taxed heavily.  Of course if your taxes are too high someone might just attack the customs office and place their own.  Player Owned Customs Offices (POCOs) have a reinforcement mechanism just like POS to give the owner time to come to the rescue.  This makes taking out a POCO a long process that is likely to result in a fight. In high sec the tax is made up of a portion which is the NPC tax and another portion set by the owning corp.  There is a skill that will reduce the NPC portion of a Tax on the high sec POCOs.  This is highly recommended for the serious PI person.  I'll include the name when the patch updates the with the new skill.

Advanced Concepts
There are two ways you may want to advance the above basic design: Do multiple tiers of production in one go or create a planet that is doing the advance tiers of production and not mining. 

Its very hard to have a system go from raw material to finished product on one planet.  Usually one or more of the resources needed are not available.  Doing raw material to tier one and then tier two production is possible.  Coolant is an example as all the needed resources can be gathered on one planet.  Rare cases allow you to add a tier three production.  Robotics is an example of this but can only be done on the rare Plasma Planets and isn't likely to produce at full rate in empire.  These production systems require the highest levels of Command Centre Upgrades and rich planets.  It also needs some experimentation as you try to balance the mining output with the consumption of your processors.  I tend to send the middle tier of products back to my first silo and then on to the second tier of processors.  Basic processors produce at the same rate that advanced processors consume so there is not likely to much middle tier product building up in your silo.  This leaves your spaceport to collect the final product until you come and collect it.  Remember that product must have room to go at the end spot or its wasted.  You will have to empty the spaceport regularly

The highest tiers of production aren't likely to happen on the same planet as the resource collection.  Many people have multiple planets collecting and processing material and then move the stuff to a production planet dedicated to building.  You will need to transport the material manually.  There are no links between planets.  Also you must land the material on the planet and that requires a customs office and a spaceport.  You can have multiple spaceports on a planet and the customs office has an interface to allow you to swap between them. 

There are a few things to remember when designing a build planet; First is that the High Tech Processors can only be built on Temperate and Barren planets.  That restricts where you can set up those planets. Next is that a spaceport or silo can move goods manually only once every 20 minutes.  This means that you have to plan your network so that you can get your product to the planet and then to the start PINs of each production line.  You will need a combination of Spaceports and Silos to do it.  There is a way to save Power and CPU on links.  You can trace a Route through up to six links but the material adds to the capacity of the links you go through.  This will matter at the end and start links where everything is going through.  Upgrade the links if you need to.

This is an example of a build planet.  One of my own.  This planet builds Enriched Uranium and Robotics.  The input materials are Precious Metals, Reactive Metals, Toxic Metals and Consumer Electronics (made elsewhere).  To make this system work I have to use Expedited Transfers.  I used Silos instead of Spaceports for the input of the Enriched Uranium sequence because I was low on CPU (those spaceports use a tonne).  When I arrive at the planet I have a hold full of material.  I launch the robotics from the end Spaceport, then use an Expedited Transfer to move the Enriched Uranium tot he end spaceport and launch that.  I then drop Precious Metal to the Precious Metal Spaceport and Toxic Metal to the Robotics Spaceport.  I then use expedited transfers to move these two goods to the silos at the start of that run.  Since I do it this way I don't have to wait for any timers.  I then fill the Consumer Electronics, Precious Metal and Reactive Metal silos for their processors.  The whole system is finished in about a week.  I come back and collect the goods and start all over.

Wind up
For starting pilots, PI can be a source of regular income that is semi passive.  Whoever you aren't going to get rich in Empire from it without working on the higher tier items.  However when you move to Null Sec or a wormhole this becomes a very viable income source well worth exploiting.  At the very least you can refuel your towers with it.  Market research will tell you what sells and what doesn't.  POS fuels are a regular and consistent income but highly competitive.  It may be worth finding someone who makes fuel blocks and doing a supply deal with them.  Remember this is a collaborative game.  You don't have to make everything yourself.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Odyssey Update to Exploration Post

The Odyssey Patch brought in a lot of new things.  Exploration got a serious make-over.  I have gone back and re-written my original post about Exploration so that the new system is properly covered.  I'm still looking for a good video tutorial of scanning however.  The ones I've seen don't really cut it.

If you want to reread the Exploration post check this link

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Rules of Engagement - When You Can Attack

As people start off in Empire high security space, they need to understand the rules for attacking people in that space.  When you eventually go to null sec, the rules on who you may attack are set by the corp/alliance you are in or sometimes the owner of the space you are in.  In Empire there is a Crimewatch system which attempts to protect Empire citizens.

Overview Settings
Ok so why do you need to look at your overview settings to understand when you can attack.  The reason is because the overview settings dictates the visual warnings you get about attackable targets.   The Overview settings are accessed by clicking the horizontal lines next to the word "Overview" on the overview itself.  The menu option you want is "Open Overview Settings".  Go to the "Appearance" tab and look at the "Colourtag" and "Background" sub-tabs.

These tabs are in a priority order from top to bottom.  That means if someone satisfies a condition high on the list, that condition will be displayed while lower conditions are ignored.  You move the conditions or states up or down the list by dragging them.  You turn them off and on by clicking them.  The Colourtags are the little square indicator that shows up in chat channels, in the overview and on the ship icon in space view.  Background paints the ship and the overview entry a solid or flashing colour.

High Sec Rules
In high security space (high sec) there are only seven conditions under which you are legally allowed to attack someone;
  • The target is a member of your player made corporation.
  • The target is a member of a corporation you are at war with.
  • You are in the militia and the target is a member of the enemy militia.
  • The target is a Criminal.
  • The target is a Suspect.
  • The Target is an Outlaw.
  • You have been attacked by another player.
Note that being part of a fleet DOES NOT allow you to attack fleet members.

Each of these conditions are indicated with overview backgrounds and tags in the chat channel.  The background and tags are as follows;

State Overview Background Chat Tag
Corp Member Green Green box with star
At War Flashing Red Red box with a star
Enemy Militia Flashing Orange Orange box with a star
Criminal Solid Red Flashing red skull
Outlaw Solid Red None
Suspect Solid Yellow Flashing yellow skull

Due to the way these new states have been brought in, you may have to look at the priority order the tags and backgrounds are set to in your overview settings. For some unknown reason, CCP has made the Suspect indicator the same colour as the "Security rating below 0" indicator. I recommend changing the colour or turning off the Security Rating indicator to avoid mistakes. This is done in the overview settings.

Becoming a Suspect
 A pilot can become a suspect without CONCORD getting involved.  The most common ways to become a suspect are;
  1. Steal from someone else's wreck or can.
  2. Attack someone in low sec.
  3. Help someone in a fight using remote assistance modules (like repairers and remote tracking enhancers).
  4. Help someone in a WAR using remote assistance modules (like repairers and remote tracking enhancers).
  5. Attempt to repair a POS belonging to a corp (not yours) that is in a war.
  6. Have someone activate "Kill Rights" on you.
What happens when you become a suspect is that you turn yellow and have a flashing skull on other people's overview, chat channels and space view.  You will remain a suspect for 15 minutes from your last crime.  This state means that ANYONE may attack you.  A suspect's Pod may be destroyed without penalty.

Becoming a Criminal
If a pilot becomes a criminal in high sec space then CONCORD will appear and destroy them.  They wont be able to initiate warp, dock or use a wormhole or stargate.  If you become a criminal in low sec and move to high sec while still in a ship, CONCORD will spawn and kill you.  If you undock in a ship while you still have a criminal flag then CONCORD spawns again and the station guns will also attack.  Anyone may attack a criminal and pod them without penalty.  Becoming a criminal incurs a security status penalty.  Your wreck and any jetcans you tried to make during the criminal flag will be automatically abandoned.  You do not get insurance on ships destroyed by CONCORD.

The ways to earn a criminal flag are;
  1. Attack any target in high sec, directly or indirectly, that you do not have the right to attack.
  2. Attack a pod in low sec that you don't have the right to attack.
  3. Assist a ship or pod with the Criminal flag.
Another Type of Criminal - Outlaw
If your security status drops far enough you will acquire the Outlaw status in certain systems.  An outlaw can be attacked without consequences.  Also the security forces of the state will attack them.  Here is where you can travel with different security status;
  • Players with -2.0 or worse will be attacked and attackable in 1.0 systems
  • Players with -2.5 or worse will be attacked and attackable in 0.9 systems
  • Players with -3.0 or worse will be attacked and attackable in 0.8 systems
  • Players with -3.5 or worse will be attacked and attackable in 0.7 systems
  • Players with -4.0 or worse will be attacked and attackable in 0.6 systems
  • Players with -4.5 or worse will be attacked and attackable in 0.5 system
  • Players with -5 or worse may be attacked anywhere but there are no security forces in low sec to annoy them.
Outlaws appear with a red background in space and overview.  The fact that they are an outlaw is announced to the whole system when they enter a solar system.  Outlaw pods wont be attacked by NPCs.

Corp Members
You are allowed to attack members of your own corp.  This only applies if its a player made corp.  This creates a weapon flag but nothing else.  You wont be attackable by out of corp people.  This DOES NOT apply to alliances.

This allows corps to do training or play games (such as Can Ball - see my last post).  Also you can test out things with your corp mates without losing ships.

The fact that corp mates can attack fellow corpies is something to be careful about.  There have been many cases of people joining a corp and waiting for someone to undock an expensive ship.  Then attacking the ship and walking off with whatever loot they can.  CEOs and recruiting officers need to be careful.

Wars and the Militia
These are special cases which deliberately allow combat between involved parties.  I will try to cover them in a future blog.  However for the moment you need to know that an enemy war target or militia target is allowed to attack you or your pod at any time.  You are allowed to do the same.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Rules to Can Ball

Can Ball was the brain child of columbio, one of my boffins of long standing.  He's moved on now but I have carried the ball and developed rules and tried a few games.  Now I'd like to share the game with the Eve community and get help formalising the rules.

You can think of Can Ball as football in space.  Doesn't matter which game you call football.  It has similarities to all of them.  Essentially, we use a jetcan as a ball.  Abandon it so anyone can tractor it.  Then use tractor beams to move the ball across a goal line.  Players tackle the ball carrier using ECM, Webs and other Ewar.  You pass the "ball" by disengaging the tractor and telling your receiver exactly when to active his tractor.  Remember, a T1 tractor beam moves a can at 500m/s (600m/s for T2) so its not a matter of getting in a super fast ship and racing for the line.

I have chosen to go with tech 1/ meta level 1-4 gear so that anyone can get into a game.  I see that there is a good chance people will try a tech 2 game but I'm a little worried about the sensor strengths of tech 2 frigates.  This is something to test.

Setting Up the Field
I asked CCP if they could spawn objects to use as goals.  There are some structures I've seen which would be perfect.  They however, declined.  I then went about making a field with Small Secure Containers.  They are so annoying to place that I had to give up on "goals" and went with a "goal line".  This is the easiest to set up but I do hope that if Can Ball becomes popular then we might be able to get real goals.

You need a minimum of 5 small secure containers and the anchoring skill.  Anchor one container to mark the centre of the field.  This I call "The Spot" and is where the game starts.  Draw an invisible line 75 km from the spot and anchor a can at either end to make a goal line.  Do the same in the other direction.  The image to the right is better at describing than I am.  The goal line cans should be at least 20km apart.  If you have the patience, try to make a line out of cans so the goal is more defined.  However I found that very difficult to place the cans.

I've found that making a team play into the sun is a bit unpleasant.  For this reason I put the field at the last planet in the system and make it go sideways so no-one is constantly staring into the sun.

Setting Up the Ships
As I said before, I have gone with tech 1 and meta level 1-4 gear so that the game is cheap and easy to get into.  It can be played with relatively rookie pilots and the ships wont get blown up so you can keep costs down.  Advanced players can try tech 2 ships and gear but you should have the whole game declared tech 2 or tech 1.  I personally don't want to see people using faction gear in these games.  It would get way too expensive.  However if a league forms that may be an option.

The ship setups are as follows;
  • Tech 1, non-faction frigates only.
  • No weapons that do damage.
  • No drones.
  • No Rigs
  • Choose a Tech level for modules.  Eg. Tech 1, Meta 1-4, Tech 2, or Faction
This leaves a lot of equipment left to use.  Here are some comments on various useful modules;
  • Small Tractor Beams - These are your hands.  Be aware that they will only move a can at 500 m/s.  only one tractor beam can activate on a target at one time.
  • ECM - If you want someone to drop the can then the best way is to break their lock on.  Of course they will expect this.
  • ECCM - Ahha.  Their going to try break your lock.  This will make it harder.
  • ECCM Projector - Help your team-mate avoid dropping the ball by boosting his sensor rating.
  • Energy Neutralisers and Nosferatu - Drain the targets cap so much they can't keep their AB/MWD or Tractor running.
  • Stasis Webifiers - Stop them going anywhere.  This gives you time to break their lock or drain their cap.
  • Warp Scramblers - Useful for shutting down MWD.
  • Sensor Dampeners - Make it hard for people to target their team-mates or opponents.
  • Afterburners - You'll find you have to travel slower so you can tow the can around.  MWD will make most ships too fast.
  • MWDs - Ok so you can't easily tow a can with a MWD going but its a big field and position is important.  There is a good argument for dual prop.
  • Capacitor Boosters - They are going to drain your cap and MWDs are expensive to run.  This may give you the cap you need.
  • Capacitor Batteries - These now have an anti Neutraliser/Nos effect which may make the difference in a head on rush.
  • Speed and Agility Mods - These are pretty obvious.  Lots of running in a sport like Can Ball.
  • There's more but that's for you guys to work out.....
There needs to be a Referee with a tractor beam, ship scanner (or two) and some random ammo or veldspar todrop as cans.  He wont have to move so that's about all he needs.  He can use the Look button to zoom to a goal line container and see if the ball has crossed.

Team Size
 I recommend six players a side to begin with.  To many and no-one will maintain a lock or move anywhere.  You could do it with three a side if you are short on numbers.  The size of the team can be a little flexible but must be agreed upon with the other team before game time.

I think 15 minute halves are good with a ten minute break.  This mean that empire teams will retain their aggression counters for the second half and shouldn't run out mid game.  However this is up to discussion as you may find there isn't enough time for many points in 15 minutes.  The Referee is in charge of watching the time.

Important Step for Empire Games
If you are playing in Empire anywhere and your opponent is not in your corp then you have to get aggression timers on everybody.  Both teams meet at the spot and each person jettisons enough ammo/veldspar for all the other team members.  Players then proceed to steal from each of the other team's players.  The team captains confirm with their team that all opponents are red then confirms to the Referee that they are ready to play.The counter will reset every time you aggress each other so you should be able to play a half without issue.  If necessary, do the same thing at half time.

Important Note:  As of Retribution, stealing has become a global offence and anyone can shoot you for taking someone's stuff.  If playing in Empire you had better set up your field at a safe spot somewhere so you don't get interrupted.  Be careful who you invite to watch too.

Starting the Game
At the start of the game the Referee scans the members of both teams with a ship scanner to see if they have obeyed the fitting rules (hence the ship scanners).  Anyone caught not complying is suspended for the game and their team will have to play short handed.  This avoids people trying it "in case I get through" since the scanners aren't perfect.

Both teams start the game at their goal line.  They may target each other and the can but not the other team.  Range will probably stop this anyway.  The Referee drops a can at the spot and abandons it so that everyone can tractor it.  It adds flavour to rename the can, "ball".  The Referee call go and both teams are free to run for the can or whatever.

When a goal is scored, the can is popped (remove the ammo) and the Referee makes a new can at the spot (this means the Referee doesn't have to move).  The teams quickly return to their goal lines and awaits the restart.  The Referee confirms with the team captains that the opponents are still red and then starts the game again.

Scoring a Goal
You score a goal when the can crosses the goal line.  The Referee can see when the ball has crossed by zooming to the container than makes up the goal line and sighting across to its partner.  The Referee announces the goal and the game starts again.  Extra cans on the goal line would make this easier for Referees and players to see but I've found it very hard to make a straight line.  If CCP ever gives us goals that would work wonders.

Miscellaneous Rules
There is no "out of bounds".  I don't see the ball moving to far left or right except when "passed" to another player.  The Referee can call a halt if it gets silly.

Players are free to target any other player (once play starts) and use any legal module on them.  Its not necessary to target/tackle only the player with the ball.  This gives players the option of blocking opponents and supporting the player with the ball.

The Referee can penalise a team for their players taking too long to get back to their goal line.  Suspension of the offending player for 5 minutes is a good option.  The Referee needs to make allowances for ships without MWDs though.

It is easiest if you have a VoIP system like Teamspeak, Mumble or even Eve Voice to allow you to talk to each other.  You will need two channels, one for each team, and the Referee will need to be able to "whisper" to both channels.  I'm not sure if Eve Voice can do this but i know TS3 and Mumble can.

If unable to share comms, the Referee can make a common chat channel that all players are in.  People will just have to watch for the Referee's calls.  Players wont talk in this channel except to confirm with the Referee that they are ready and the enemy is red.

To be honest a team is going to need voice comms to play this game.  Eve Voice is your basic option and a chat channel to the Referee.  You will find the game needs good communication skills to the team as it is often hard to see who has the ball.  you will also have to verbally co-ordinate passing the ball.

I hope players will enjoy playing this game.  I see it as something a corp/alliance can get together and play to improve their communication skills and teamwork.  It is also intended to be new player friendly with low skill requirements and costs.  This provides a friendly competition that people can do in Empire. 

I'd like to see a league form if the game gets popular.  However I can't organise it.  I don't have the organisation skills.  I'm told the game is actually fun to watch too but that's for you guys to decide.  If enough people get into it, we may be able to get proper fields from CCP.  Lets hope.

 If you have comments of suggestions for rules changes or issues with game balance please add comments to this post or send your ideas to  I want to hear what you thoughts are.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Fine Print on Contracts

Contracts have several advantages over the market.  They are the only place you can sell researched original blueprints or blueprint copies.  You can sell rigged ships or fully fitted ships.  Kits and collections can be sold.  I used to make money selling bookmarks.  Contracts can also be set to be private, corp wide, alliance wide or Eve wide. There are a lot of possibilities with contracts which is why they are the most abused mechanism in the game.  Scammers use them extensively to con pilots out of money and items.  You need to know what you are looking at to avoid these scams.

The Contract Window
The Contract window has three tabs.

The Start Page gives you information on recent contract activity, contracts assigned to you or your corp, how many contracts you can create a the current time and any contracts that need attention.

The My Contracts tab will show you contract assigned to you and issued to you.  There are filters to help sort your contracts out.  You can drag a contract from this page to a chat window to provide people with a link to the contract.

The Available Contracts page is the giant search engine for all the contracts in the game.  The search filters at the left can help you  filter the results to find what you are looking for.  You can drag a contract from this page to a chat window to provide people with a link to the contract.

At the bottom of all three tabs is the Create Contracts button.  Another way to start the contract creation process is to right click on the selected items (it can be a group) you want to sell or courier and select the "Create Contract" option.

Types of Contract
There are three basic types of contract; Item Exchange, Auction and Courier.  We'll cover each in sequence.  First you will find the contract button on E > Business > Contracts from the neocom.  If you use contracts a lot drag the link onto the neocom for easy access.  If you want to trade something for something then you want an item exchange contract.  If you want people to bid on a item you are selling then an Auction contract is for you.  To get something moved from one place to another, use a courier contract.

Contracts can be linked in chat windows by dragging the contract from the contract summary window to the chat window.  Be aware that the text can then be edited so the text you see in local can be a complete lie. The link is a link to the contract and will show the contract itself not the contract window.

Everybody can make one contract.  To get more contracts you will need to train the Contracting skill.  If you want to make many contracts on behalf of your corp then you will need the Corporation Contracting skill.  There are no other skills that effect contracts.

Item Exchange Contracts
These are the most used and most abused contracts in the game.  I'll deal with the scams later.  Here are the steps to set up an item exchange contract. 

  1.  Push the Create Contract button on the Contracts Window.
  2. Ensure the Item Exchange radio button is selected as shown right.
  3. Select the Availability.  If you want only a single person to access the contract then select Private and type the name into the box.  The system will pop up a selection window if there are multiple matches.  You can drag a person from chat to this name box.
  4. If you are making a contract on behalf of your corp then tick the "On Behalf of..." check box.
  5. Click on Next.
  6. The Pick Items window will give you a pull down box to select the station.  If it is a corp contract there will also be a pull down box to select the hanger (including Deliveries hangar).  This allows you to contract things a long way from your current location.
  7. Check the items you want in the contract.  These may be containers with things in them, fitted ships or just about anything in the inventory.
  8. Select Next when everything is selected.
  9. The Select Options screen is where you set the price.  If you are buying something you would have skipped the last step and would now put a value in the "I will Pay" box.  If you are selling something you put a value in the "I will receive" box.  Don't use the "Base Price" button.  Its estimates are never very good.
  10. Set the contract duration from the pull down list.  Two weeks is the longest time period.
  11. A description may help buyers choose your contract or explains something about the contract.
  12. If you are buying something then you have to tell the contract what you want.  Click the "Also request items from buyer" check box.  This will give you a new panel.  Type the item you want in the "Item Type" field.  The system will prompt you for the exact name.  Then insert the quantity.
  13. Click on Add Item button.  The item should go to the list under the "Item Type" field.  If there isn't anything here then it wont be on the contract.  Don't miss this step when buying or trading.  You can now add another item.
  14. When done click the next button.
  15. The last screen is a summary screen showing the details of the contract.  Check the details carefully.  Make sure you know what is being given and what is being received.  Check the prices are right.  Check the recipient is correct.  If you are happy with it then click "Finish" and create the contract.
Public contracts can be seen anywhere in Eve.  This is a great way to sell something that is rare or unusual because you are not restricted to your current region.  These contracts have no wait time on them.  You can issue a contract and have it accepted immediately which is convenient if you want to transfer something to someone else over a distance.

Contracts of all types have a limit on how many items can go into them.  To get around this, put your items into a container of some kind then contract the whole container.  The items in the container will be listed in the contract.

Items or money listed in green are things you will receive.  Items or money listed in red are things you will pay or trade to the contract maker.  Be careful to check this as many scams rely on you not knowing the difference.  The most common is the "I'm giving my money away for one trit..." scam.  The contract will really sell you one tritanium for a large sum of ISK.  The money will be in red and the item in green.

Make sure you check your prices too.  Check the number of zeros and the placement of the decimal point.  Do this for contracts you have made as well as ones you are considering taking.  Another favorite scam is the missing zero scam.  Someone will link a contract in local saying "selling 500,000 tritanium at 5 each" and when you look at the contract they will have left out a zero in the quantity or added one into the price.  

Auction Contracts
Auction contracts are for selling thing in a process where people bid against each other for the item.  You set a start price and other pilots bid steadily increasing amounts to win the contract.  This is often a good idea if you don't know the exact value of something as it will tend towards the current sale price.  You can set a buyout price which allows someone to purchase the contract outright if they meet your price.  I see no point in making the buyout "reasonable".  Put in a high value so that if you have greatly underestimated the item's value you are covered.  If you want someone to pay the buyout then make an item exchange contract.

The steps to make a Auction Contract are as follows;
  1.  Push the Create Contract button on the Contracts Window.
  2. Ensure the Auction radio button is selected as shown right.
  3. Select the Availability.  You should not make auction contracts to a single person.  This will mean the person will never be outbid and will win with the minimum bid.  Auction contracts to your corp or alliance are ok though.
  4. If you are making a contract on behalf of your corp then tick the "On Behalf of..." check box.
  5. Click on Next.
  6. The Pick Items window will give you a pull down box to select the station.  If it is a corp contract there will also be a pull down box to select the hanger (including Deliveries hangar).  This allows you to contract things a long way from your current location.
  7. Check the items you want in the contract.  These may be containers with things in them, fitted ships or just about anything in the inventory.
  8. Select Next when everything is selected.
  9. The Select Options screen is where you set the price.  Set the starting bid in the first box.  You may then choose to add a buyout price.  If you leave the field as 0 then there will be no buyout price.  Don't use the "Base Price" button.  Its estimates are never very good.
  10. Set the contract duration from the pull down list.  Two weeks is the longest time period.
  11. A description may help buyers choose your contract or explains something about the contract.
  12. When done click the next button.
  13. The last screen is a summary screen showing the details of the contract.  Check the details carefully.  Check the prices are right.  Check the recipient is correct.  If you are happy with it then click "Finish" and create the contract.
Once someone bids on an auction contract, they will receive a notification when someone has outbid them.  Hopefully this encourages them to bid again.  Auctions you are bidding on appear in your journal in the "Contracts" tab.  The last day of the contract the system says that the contract has "Less than a Day" on it.  This reduces the amount of sniping that can be done as you are never sure when the contract is done.

Auction Contracts suffer the same scams and exploits as item exchange contracts.  They can also be bid on by an alt of the owner.  Don't get into bidding wars unless you really want the item.  Someone may be playing you.

One common scam for auctions is the BPO/BPC switcharoo.  They advertise that the auction is for a BPO of some value.  When you look carefully at the contract you will see that the item is actually a BPC.  They often mix BPCs in among some low value BPOs to try hide them too.

Courier Contracts
Why move stuff yourself when you can pay someone else to do it.  Consider how much money you could make in the time you took to drive your freighter to somewhere and back.  Since at the moment miners can make about 13 - 18 MISK per hour the time wasted driving the freighter is costing you.

When you create a Courier Contract, you ask the courier to accept a "collateral".  This is an amount of money that should cover more than the value of the goods.  I work on 130-150% of the cargo's value.  This amount is deducted from the courier's wallet when they accept the package and returned when they deliver it.  If they fail the contract somehow, the collateral goes to the contract owner in compensation for the lost cargo.  This makes Courier Contracts the only way in Eve to insure your cargo.  You should realise that people will try to gank a freighter that has more than about 4 BISK in it.  Contracts with huge collaterals should be avoided.  If you need to, split the load into smaller batches.

Obviously you got to pay the Courier.  The "Reward" is up to you.  While people wave figures like "500 KISK per Jump" that is not necessary.  I get stuff delivered from my local trade hub for 400KISK over 5 jumps.  You can get stuff moved between trade hubs very cheaply as the freighter pilots look to fill up their holds.  Consider paying a local courier to move items to a trade hub in small batches and then send a big batch between trade hubs in a freighter sized package.  Reward should be based on distance and cargo size and only a little bit on collateral.  Consider how far away from the trade routes the start and end points are.  Check what size the cargo is and whether it needs a freighter or an industrial.  Be aware that pilots won't like to transport valuable goods in industrials due to suicide gankers.  If you want your contract to happen faster then pay more for it.  

The steps to make a courier contract are;
  1.  Push the Create Contract button on the Contracts Window.
  2. Ensure the Courier radio button is selected as shown right.
  3. Select the Availability.  If you want only a single person to access the contract then select Private and type the name into the box.  The system will pop up a selection window if there are multiple matches.  You can drag a person from chat to this name box.
  4. If you are making a contract on behalf of your corp then tick the "On Behalf of..." check box.
  5. Click on Next.
  6. The Pick Items window will give you a pull down box to select the station.  If it is a corp contract there will also be a pull down box to select the hanger (including Deliveries hangar).  This allows you to contract things a long way from your current location.
  7. Check the items you want in the contract.  These may be containers with things in them, fitted ships or just about anything in the inventory.
  8. Select Next when everything is selected.
  9. The Select Options screen is where you set the destination, collateral and Reward.  Type the destination system name into the box and click search.  You will get a list of stations that match the search.  Pick the desired one and select ok.
  10. Set the Reward value.
  11. Set the Collateral.  This should be 130-150% of the cargo's value.  Make sure you allow for the value changes due to region.  Some things are worth more in some regions than in others.
  12. Set the contract Expiration from the pull down list.  This is how long the contract is offered for.  Two weeks is the longest time period.
  13. Set the "Days  to Complete".  Its a good idea to give 2 days or more on freighter contracts.  This is a rough guide to how long the courier has to deliver the goods.  If after the time period listed, the contract has not been completed, then the contract owner can claim the collateral.  However a courier can deliver the goods after this time period if allowed to by the contract owner.
  14. A description may help buyers choose your contract or explains something about the contract.
  15. When done click the next button.
  16. The last screen is a summary screen showing the details of the contract.  Check the details carefully.  Check the prices are right.  Check the recipient is correct.  If you are happy with it then click "Finish" and create the contract.
Courier contracts must go from one station to another.  Be very wary of courier contracts going to null sec.  You may discover the station wont let you dock or there is a pirate camp waiting for you at a gate. I'd avoid them altogether.  Also be wary of contracts will high collateral on them.  They are often traps.

Freighters can easily end up with billions of isk in their hold.  They have to be careful of suicide gankers scanning them and deciding its worth sacrificing multiple ships to get at the cargo.  Thus couriers appreciate it when you help them hide the cargo from pirates.  Put your shipment into a container like a general freight containers or similar.  Then put the container in the courier package.  While the courier can see the contents of the container, pirates using a cargo scanner will see only the cargo container and not anything else.  You can then note in the contract description that the cargo is unscannable and thus safer to carry.

Being a Courier
If you have a ship that can carry cargo then you can move courier contracts for some easy money.  Be very wary how much money you are putting in your ship.  If a cargo is worth more than the ships needed to blow you up then its not safe.  Also check that the contract wont take you into or through low sec.  Lastly check that you have enough cargo capacity to carry the package.  Common courier contract scams ask you to carry a package none of the freighters can carry.

When you accept the contract, the collateral will be deducted from your wallet and a package will show in your Items hangar.  Don't forget to put the package in the ship.  You can look into the package but if you "Break" it then you fail the contracts and forfeit the collateral.  When you get to the destination, put the package in the Items hangar and right click on it.  There will be a "Deliver" option.  When you deliver the package you will get your collateral back and the reward.

Contract Scams
If you want to see a lot of contract scams then go to your local trade hub and watch local chat.  At least half the contracts linked are scams.  In Jita you can expect 90% of the contracts to be scams.  Its worth looking at these to see if you can recognise the scam but keep your mouse away from the Accept button.  I'm going to list a few of the scams I've seen in my time in Eve.
  • Link in local chat says "500,000 Zydrine for 500 per unit" or similar.  When you look at the contract you see that there is only 50,000 zydrine and it works out to 5000 per unit.
  • Link in local says "PvP fitted Tengu".  The contract has a tengu hull, some fittings and some subsystems skill books but no subsystems making the contract worth a lot less than advertised.
  • Link says "Buying plex for 400 MISK".  When you look at the contract its selling you a plex AND buying one too.  I believe it will take the plex you just bought or one you already have.  You end up paying for nothing.
  • "I'm leaving and giving my isk away for one tritanium...".  The contract is actually selling you one tritanium for 300 MISK or more.
  • "Selling Faction Modules Cheap".  The contract has several faction modules that are rare or not available in your current region.  There is usually a single item in the contract that has a buy order on the market for more than the contract price.  That is the contract has a Serpentis EM Hardener at 700 MISK and there is a buy order for that hardener for 900 MISK.  This exploits the margin trading skill.  The owner of that buy order has emptied his wallet so that he cannot pay for the item.  The buy order just disappears leaving you with an item you wont be able to sell at the price you paid.  This is also done with tech 2 rigs.
  • Courier contract goes to null sec.  The destination station is alliance owned and you cannot dock at it.  You loose the collateral.
  • Courier contract has a huge collateral.  Someone will get a notification that you have accepted that contract and will have a ganking fleet waiting for you on the way.
  • Link says "Navy Raven selling cheap".  The ship in the contract is a normal raven.  Lots of variations on this scam.
  • Link says "Original Blueprint ......". Contract actually has a blueprint copy.
  • Courier contract goes through low sec.  Usually sized for a freighter.  Someone is waiting for you.
There are a tonne more.  People are creative about scamming.

The Other Way to Start a Contract
There is a simple method to start a contract without opening the contract window.  Select the items you want to put in the contract and right click.  There will be a "Create Contract" option.  that will swing you right into the contract creation screens with the objects already selected.  You can do this from your Items hangar, Assets screen, Corp Assets screen or just about anywhere you see items as long as they are on a station.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Benefits and Mechanics of Fleets

Forming a fleet is a standard way of working with other pilots.  It provides a number of benefits to the fleet members which give you an advantage over other pilots.  It also allows a few important functions which permit pilots to help each other. Its important to realise straight away that being in a fleet does not change aggression rules.  If you attack someone in fleet who is not in your player corp, you will be CONCORDed.

Forming a Fleet
There are a number of ways to form a fleet.  The easiest if to right click on a person in chat and select "Form fleet with".  You can also do that to your own character and form a fleet of one (there are reasons to do this which will become clear later).  If you are already in a fleet you can invite people to fleet by right clicking on them and selecting "Invite to fleet".  You will then be given a menu to choose where in the fleet to put that person.  The Leadership skill dictates how many people you can have in your squad.  You get 2 per level to a max of 10 in a squad.

You can also create a fleet by opening the "Fleet" window from the Neocom.  At the top of the Fleet window next to the word "Fleet" is a menu that will allow you to form a fleet.  Your next option is to create a fleet advert.  This is great for allowing a large number of people to join your fleet without you clicking on them all.  Go to the Fleet Finder > My Advert and hit the Create Advert button.  There are a number of options there.  Choose a name for the corp and who is allowed to join.  I suggest you also click "Hide Details in Advert" so people can't scope out your fleet from the adverts section.  Submit and you now have an advertised fleet.

People can now search for your fleet in the Find Fleets Tab based on the options you provided.  They may join by Right clicking the fleet in the advert and select "Join Fleet".  The real power of an Advert is that you can drag the advert from the Fleet Finder into any chat window.  This creates a link for people to join the fleet easily and quickly.

The Fleet Window
When you create/join a fleet, two new windows come up.  One is a chat window and we'll always call this "Fleet Chat".  The other is the real "Fleet" window.  It has the tools for managing the fleet.  I have the window set to show the fleet hierarchy.  To get this view check the Fleet Menu which is the little lines next to the word "Fleet"  at the top.

The Hierarchy shows the squads, wings and Fleet Commander of the fleet.  It also shows who is Boss (the guy with the options) and who is boosting the fleet and whether its working.  Most people will just need a single squad.  A squad can hold ten pilots, one of whom is the squad commander.  A wing can have 5 squads.  A fleet can have 5 wings.  This means a fleet can have 256 pilots in it counting commanders. Now anyone can hold one of these Command positions and anyone can make a max size fleet but you need to have certain skills to provide bonuses to your fleet members.  More on this in the Fleet Boosting section.

The Boss has the options to create wings and squads, name them and move people around using a right click menu in this window.  It is also possible to set "Free Move" on so people can move around the fleet themselves.   The Boss also controls which pilots are boosters.

You get a context menu if you right click on someone in the fleet hierarchy.  This included the "warp to" options that make fleets so versatile. 

Benefits of a Fleet
A fleet provides a structure to permit various benefits.  Here is a short summary of the advantages of being in a Fleet.
  • Communications - The fleet window provides a set of "Broadcast" messages which show up in the Fleet History Window.  Some Broadcasts also show an icon in the space view as well.  Eve Voice is now plugged into the Fleet system so you can have VOIP communications if you don't have your own server.
  • Fleet Boosting - There are a range of skills and modules that provide benefits to fleet members if you are set as a fleet booster.  These range from more armour to longer warp disruptor ranges.  You'll find the skills in the Skills > Leadership section of the market.
  • Manoeuvrability - You can warp to fleet members in the same system.  This allows you to go to missions and complexes you don't have a bookmark for.  It also allows you to warp straight to the fight when someone starts yelling.  
  • Jump Ship Manoeuvrability - Jump ships must be in fleet with the Cyno Pilot to jump to his cyno.  Also pilots that wish to use a jump bridge from a titan or Black Ops ship must be in the fleet.  These are advanced items which most rookies wont need to worry about for a while.
  • Loot Logging - The History window can be set to show you what loot everyone in the fleet is picking up.  Just in case you don't trust them.
  • Fleet Warp - If everyone in the fleet aligns to the destination and the Commander selects "Warp Fleet/Wing/Squad" then the whole fleet will form into a single warp tunnel and move at the speed of the slowest ship.  Thus they will all arrive at the same time. This is often critical in PvP.
  • Overview Filter Options - Fleet members are marked with a Purple star.  You can set the overview to not show fleet members so there is less clutter.  This is standard practice in big fleets since your companions are going to be closest to you and you want to see the enemy.
  • Advanced Drone Options - You can set your own drones to "Assist" or "Guard" another fleet member.  Assist means your drones will attack whoever the friendly attacks.  Guard means the drones will attack anything attacking your friend.  Carriers can also assign control of their fighters/fighter bombers to other pilots to use like drones if they are in the same fleet.
  • Tracking - Its possible to see where all fleet members are in the map if you select the "My Information > My Fleet Members" option from the World Map Control Panel.  
  • Management - The Boss can pull up a list of all pilots in the fleet showing ship, location, docked status, and leadership skills
  • Monitoring - You can get a "Watch List" of pilots in the fleet.  When you add pilots to the watch list you can see their vital stats (shields, armour and hull) when in the same local space in a similar display tot he drone window.  This lets you see how the rest of the fleet is fairing.
  • Shared Wrecks - When you kill rats the wrecks will be white to all members of the fleet regardless of corp.  This lets you tractor and loot wrecks without "stealing".
 As you can see, being in a fleet is a good idea if you plan to work with other pilots.   There are some things you just can't do without it.

Fleet Boosting
The Leadership skills allow a pilot to give benefits to fleet members.  There are also modules called Gang Warfare Links which increase fleet effectiveness.  The Leadership skill allows 2 people / level to join a squad and ensures everyone in the squad gets the fleet bonuses.  The Wing Commander skill allows the creation of one squad per level and ensures that all squads in the wing get the fleet and wing bonuses.  The Fleet Command skill allows the creation of one wing per level and ensures all wings under him get the fleet bonuses.  The booster with the highest bonuses in the command chain is the one who applies.  They do not stack.  You should choose your squad and wing boosters carefully to ensure everyone gets the right bonuses.  The bonuses for a fleet only apply to the fleet elements that are in the same system as the booster.

Strictly speaking, your commanders and your boosters do not have to be the same people.  You can assign a person with Wing Commander 5 to lead a wing and assign the Wing Booster position to someone else in the Wing.  As long as the wing commander has enough skill to cover all the squads in the wing, the booster's bonuses will be spread throughout the wing.  You can assign and revoke Booster roles using the right click context menu.

The way this works, a squad member should get 3 sets of bonuses.  The bonuses from his squad commander, the bonuses from his wing commander and the bonuses from his fleet commander.  It pays to have each level specialise differently so they aren't cancelling each other out.  This applies mostly to ships with gang links as they usually need to specialise in a particular type of bonuses. Remember that only the highest rating in the chain applies.

There are Leadership skills to increase Armour, Shields, Mining Yield, Agility and Targeting range.  The Gang Links have a number of other effects but require leadership skills to use.

Battlecruisers, Command Ships and some Strategic Cruiser setups are specialised in providing fleet bonuses by running gang warfare links.  They can increase a fleet's potential greatly when assigned as boosters.  There is no point running a gang warfare link if you are not a fleet booster. 

 There are two ways of sending "Broadcasts" to the fleet.  There are the little buttons at the bottom of the fleet window and there are more options in the right click context menu.  These broadcasts are displayed in the History window and also in space over the icon for the selected item.  For example, in the image right I have broadcast the Trafficker as a target and it has shown in the History and an icon has appeared above the target.  The overview will also show and icon and you can set it to pop the broadcasted target to the top of the overview temporarily.  Broadcast messages can be right clicked to get a context menu as shown.  You can also choose which broadcast you see.  Its common for Logistics pilots to filter out the attack broadcasts so they can concentrate on the armour/shield requests.  In a fleet of 250+ pilots the last thing you want is a confusion of voices on the chat channels.  The broadcast menu is heavily used in these situations.  It also avoids having to sort through the Overview for the target you need.

The Watch List
The watch list allows you to monitor the health of about 10 people at one time without targeting them.  The subject's shields armour and hull are shown as bars the fill in red as they take damage.  To add or remove people from the watch list, right click on them in the fleet window or watch list and look for the context menu option.  You can also right click on a person in the watch list and select the "warp to" options.  If you right click on a squad commander in the fleet window you can get an option to add the entire squad to the watch list.

Cynosural Beacons
Its unlikely that a rookie will get into a cap ship any time soon but you may be asked to to light a Cynosural Field (cyno) for a capital ship to jump to.  These things are a beacon that the jump ship locks on to for the jump.  You must be in fleet before you activate the cyno field.  If you mess this up you will have to wait 10 minutes for the cyno to go down before you can fix it.  That's embarrassing.You can broadcast the cyno beacon using the fleet menu on the fleet window.  The message shows in the broadcast history.

Be aware that cynos disable your engines and you can't move or cloak until the cyno goes down.  Also the cyno is displayed in the overview of everyone in system and they can warp to it if they choose.  For that reason people tend to use cheap ships.  There is no reason to waste a safespot on a cyno spot.  Use a planet.

There are some advanced options in the fleet menu and context menu that you can work out fairly easily.  Remember that the right click is your friend.  Also remember that the set of lines next to "Fleet" in the fleet window is the fleet menu.  Many of the options are self explanatory.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Fitting Your Ship - General Principles

What's a good Fitting? is a question many new pilots ask.  The problem is there are so many modules that there are literally thousands of options which will work and a million that are poor fits.  Rookies often forget to say what the fit is for as that makes a big difference as well.  Fitting a ship is the subject of many debates in Eve and you will always find someone claiming their new fitting is better.  In this post I hope to give you the general principles so that you can design your own fits.

The Basic Steps
There are some basic steps to follow to design a good ship fitting.  Here they are with a short description;
  1. What is the role of the ship?  You must decide what the ship is intended to do.  The design process for a level 4 mission is completely different from preparing a PvP ship.  Define the limits of what the ship must do first.
  2. What are the ship features and bonuses?  Each ship has a set of bonuses in the description and a unique set of characteristics.  It is best to design the fitting to suit these characteristics to get the most out of the ship.  For example, fitting a Dominix as a railgun platform completely ignores the huge drone potential of that ship.
  3. What type of tank should you use?  Ships often lean towards one type of tanking.  Also the different roles also lend themselves to a particular style of tanking.  Mission Runners and Complex Runners (plexers) often require a tank that runs permanently (perma-tank) while PvPers need a tank that will withstand a lot of damage over a shorter time.
  4. Who is the Enemy?  You need to design your weapon systems to suit the likely targets you will face.  Using large guns on frigates is going to cause you trouble.  Using frigate guns on battleships will take a while.  How close are you going to get to the enemy?  It is extremely frustrating to have super damage close range guns and never being able to get close enough to use them.
  5. What auxiliary equipment will enhance my ship?  PvP ship usually need a warp disruptor or warp scrambler.  Plexers may need a codebreaker.  Mission runners may want a Ewar module or two.  These are usually the last slots filled in on a ship.
Ship Roles and Requirements
We'll look at a few of the more common roles ships have in Eve and discuss a few of the design requirements you will have for those roles.

Mission Runner/Complex Runner
One of the first requirements of these ships is the ability to withstand damage over a long period of time.  The amount of damage is not huge, PvP does a lot more damage than missions.  However you can be in a mission or complex an hour or two and you don't want your tank running out.  The tanks that seem to work for this are Active, Passive and Speed.  We'll discuss tanking styles later.  Normally a mission boat will sacrifice overall damage output for a stable, permanently running tank.

The next thing a mission runner or plexer must deal with are frigates.  As you use larger weapon systems you will find they have a reduced effect on frigates.  The nasty fact is frigates often do the Ewar things to you that make life dangerous.  The are also often the warp scramblers in missions and plexes.  Its no exaggeration to say that it is frigates that get you killed.  You must find a way to kill the frigates fast.  Drones are the most common solution to this issue and you should always carry a flight of scout drones for this purpose.   If you have a high slot spare, consider fitting a small anti-frigate weapon to assist your drones.

Mission runners should avoid trying to fit salvaging gear in place of weapons.  Better to be able to deal with the rats first and come back later with a salvaging ship.  There are a few exceptions to this rule like the Marauders but on the whole you should be ready to fight.

Mining and Hauling aren't as safe as people think they are.  People will still attack you in high sec for any of several reasons.  Thus every ship should have some kind of tank on it.  Haulers, Barges and Exhumers lend themselves to shield tanks.  A bit of buffer and a little shield boosting and some resists make a much tougher target.  If you find that your area is being haunted by gankers then try one of the tougher mining ships or the tougher transport ships.

Mining ships should split between yield and tank.  There are Mining Laser Upgrades and Ice Harvester Upgrades to increase yield.  Find a medium between the two and you will lose less ships.  There is no excuse to lose a barge or exhumer in high sec to rats.  They should be immune with the right tank.  Other players are your issue.

Transporters should consider tanks they don't have to turn on if they autopilot a lot.  Passive resistances and shield extenders will make you harder to blow up.  However the best way to avoid gankers is to disguise your cargo.  If you can, put it into a container and then put that container into a courier package (you will need an alt or friend for this).  Gankers wont be able to see the goods and will leave you alone.  If you are going to low sec then consider the cloaking transports like the Viator.  They should be uncatchable in low sec.  Otherwise consider sacrificing some cargo capacity for a couple of warp core stabilisers that will make it harder for people to catch you.

PvP- Fast Tackler
The purpose of a tackler is to catch the target with a warp scrambler or warp disruptor (often called a "point") and hold them long enough for a bigger ship to get their point on the target.  They are fast ships relying on speed mostly to avoid damage.  Usually they have a little buffer tank and a lot of speed modules like overdrive injectors and nanofibre internal structures.  They always have some kind of point.  Weapons are completely secondary to their role and are just used to get on killmails.  A damage control is a good option for these ships as it turns your hull into a reasonable tank as well.  You also must have a Microwarpdrive or you can't catch targets fast enough.  Afterburners work in some situations but MWDs are the standard.

Some tacklers also use a stasis webifier to hold a target still.  These have the disadvantage of bringing you into web range as well.  If the target has a web then you are probably going to slow down and get shot at.  Same for warp scramblers, as they will turn off your MWD.  You should probably look at a stronger tank to use webs and scrams in combat.

PvP - Small Fleet/Solo Roaming
There are so many variation to this its difficult to be specific.  There are a couple of design principles that are common at the moment though.  First is you must have a point.  A warp disruptor is best unless you plan to get really close and can swap to the scrambler.

Next you want to do a lot of damage quickly so damage modules are a common fitting.  Remember that stacking penalties make the third module only a little helpful and the forth nearly pointless.  Next the current flavour of the month is to fit a large buffer tank with resists.  These are good in empire space as you can easily dock and repair yourself for the next fight.  They are a little harder to manage in Null or WH space.

People often sacrifice manoeuvrability for tank but this is a bad habit. To control a fight you must control the engagement distance so your weapons are in the correct range band.  There is also the fact you may want to run away from a big gate camp.  An afterburner at least will help you do this.  People using close range weapons should use MWD or risk being ineffectual.

Having a trick up your sleeve is very useful in a fight.  The two most common are energy neutralisers and ECM drones or modules.   A weapon disruptor could ruin things for a blaster or autocannon boat.  A smartbomb can clear enemy drones fast.  A fleet fitted with sensor dampeners can really frustrate an enemy.  Your creativity comes into play here.  Spend some time looking through the Ewar and Engineering modules to see what is useful.

PvP - Large Fleet Op
When joining a large fleet op you pass the responsibility for keeping you alive to the logistics team in the fleet.  That means no local armour or shield repairers.  There is no way a single ship can repair fast enough to beat the DPS of a fleet of 30+ enemy ships.  However a set of 28+ large repairers on 7 logistics ships can do it.  You need to give the Logistic team all the help you can though so the standard fit is a large Buffer with resists.  The whole fleet will have the same type of fit.  People in a ship with the wrong tank will be left to die. A "Buffer Tank" is lots of hitpoints.  Always in either shields or Armour.  Never both.  You will use modules that give you more hitpoints and resistances to reduce incoming damage.

Normally your corp or alliance will specify the fit you must use on big ops.  They will typically have an AB or MWD, some Buffer tank with good resistances and some damage modules.  Points are usually passed to specialist tacklers (in null sec these are almost always interdictors).  Its important to use the fit specified as it allows the FC of the fleet to know exactly what his fleet can do.  Alliances often shame people who turn up in the wrong fit.

Tanking Methods
There are a number of tanking methods available to a pilot.  Choosing the right one is part of the fun.

Active Armour Tanking
Armour tanking uses a repairer combined with resistance modules to maintain the armour of a ship.  The shields are ignored as just a time buffer.  Use a repairer that is the same size as your ship; small for frigates and destroyers, medium for cruisers and battlecruisers, large for battleships.  Resistance modules should at least fill the resistance hole in your armour or be tailored to the enemy you expect to fight.  For example my mission dominix uses kinetic and thermal hardeners when fighting Serpentis rats to match their damage types.  Higher resistances are usually better than more repair ability as it reduces the damage you must deal with.  There are three levels of resistances to use; plating, energised plating and hardeners.  The hardeners are active modules meaning they use cap but the others are passive. Hardeners give the best resistances.

Armour tanking modules use up low slots on the ship.  So do most of the power modules.  This is an important matter as you have to sacrifice some protection to power that protection.

An active tank uses up capacitor.  In a PvP fight you may only need a couple of minutes of repair.  In a mission or a complex you will need constant repair for ages.  Thus part of your tank is how you are going to pay the capacitor bill for it.  The modules that increase capacitor recharge are; Capacitor Power Relay, Capacitor Flux Coil, Cap Recharger, Capacitor Batteries and Power Diagnostic Unit.  Each works slightly differently so read it carefully.  The Capacitor Power Relays and Cap Rechargers are the best for armour tanks.  You can passively increase capacitor recharge by fitting a Capacitor Battery and you can use a Capacitor Booster to use booster charges to inject cap into your capacitor.

There are rigs which will also enhance your armour tank and capacitor recharge rate.  The Capacitor Control Circuit rig has no down sides to it and are a good investment for a mission running fit.  Armour rigs vary so you will have to read them carefully.  They typically affect your ship speed.

Active Shield Tanking
This kind of tanking is the same as active armour tanking but using the shields instead.  The principles are the same except that shields also recharge themselves a little normally (one advantage over Armour).  Shield Boosters come in five sizes of which four are for subcaps.  This gives you a little more flexibility with fitting.   There are two grades of resistances; amplifiers (passive) and fields (active). 

Active shield tanking has the same power problems as active armour tanking.  The notes above apply here as well.

A new kind of active shield tanking came out with Inferno.   The ancillary shield boosters take cap booster chargers and inject the value of the charge straight into your shields (ie a cap booster 400 charge will inject 400 hp into the shields).  This is basically skipping the capacitor altogether.  The down side is the booster takes a minute to reload so you will run out of tank eventually.

Passive Shield Tanking
Passive tanking uses the shield's natural regeneration as a tank.  There are modules you can fit to increase the recharge rate of the shields.  You can also greatly increase the recharge rate by increasing the HPs of the shields by fitting extenders.  A truly passive tank uses no modules that require power but most people fit a few resistance fields anyway.

The shield recharge rate is based on a bell curve with the peak recharge rate at about 30% shields.  At that point your shields are recharging about 3 times the rate than at 90% shields.  This sweet spot is also the warning point.  If your shields drop below this point then its time to leave.

Passive tanks are largely immune to energy neutralisers and vampires which is a big advantage in PvP.  The main disadvantage is there is nothing you can do when your tank is broken and you find out that it is broken at 30% shields.

Buffer Tanking
A buffer tank is just what it sounds like, a buffer.  Take one tanking type (armour or shields) and put HP modules on it and some resistances.  The idea is to make it take time to kill you.  This is either to give you time to kill them or to give your logistics team time to repair you.

This is the common tank for massive fleets where there are 10+ logistics pilots waiting to repair you.  Its largely immune to neutralisers and takes little effort to manage.  The problem is it is limited.  Eventually you will run out and die.

Speed Tanking
This requires some piloting skill to make it work.  If you move fast enough then enemy guns can't track you and enemy missiles can't catch you.  You don't have to be going like a bat out of hell.  My ishtar speed tanks Serpentis battleships at about 530m/s.  This kind of tanking is often combined with another.  Eg the aforementioned ishtar has an active armour tank but can punch above its weight by speeding out of the way of the heavy hitters in a complex.  Interceptors are almost always speed tanks with a little buffer.  You should be careful though relying on speed.  A stasis webification tower or a frigate with a web can spoil your tank and make you take damage you can't handle. 

Direction of flight makes a difference in this kind of tanking.  Never fly directly towards or away from the enemy.  That allows guns to track you more easily.  Flying perpendicular to their fire is the best way as it maximises your angular velocity.

Speed tanks rely on either and Afterburner or a Microwarpdrive.  You need to be able to run that AB or MWD full time or you'll get popped when you slow down.  They often have several speed modules fitted too.  Be wary of enemies using webs or warp scramblers as they can kill your speed.

Weapon Systems
On the whole, weapon systems should all be of the one type.  Some ships are designed to mix missiles and guns or guns and drones but you shouldn't mix long and short range guns on the same ship.  This mean you only get half your damage potential at any range.  It is better to make all your weapons standard and fly at the right range to use them all.  There are a few exception to the rule.  For example you may want to fit an anti frigate weapon.  However most successful ship designs use all the same weapon.

You should use the weapons that the ship has bonuses for.  Most ships have bonuses listed in their description and many are for particular weapon systems.  Choose the right weapons to get the most of your ship.

Select your weapon based on your desired engagement range.  Many Gallente pilots try to use blasters in missions only to discover they can't get them to hit.  Blasters are very short range weapons and not really suited to PvE.  Choosing an engagement range also has to do with how fast your ship is.  If you are slow then you better have long range damage projection.

There are three variations of weapon for each class. For example, for medium railguns there are 250mm Railguns, 200mm Railguns and Dual 150mm Railguns for cruiser size ships. While the 250mm have the biggest punch and range, they have trouble with tracking a target. As you come down the sizes the rate of fire and tracking speed increase making the Dual 150mm Railguns the best tracking of the set.  Don't be afraid to downgrade your weapons to either get better tracking or make more fit on the ship.  Often the lower grade weapons are better for the situation.

Ammo type makes a big difference to how weapons work.  You should check the stats on the ammo types for your weapons.  Its often a good idea to carry several ammo types to allow you to adapt to any situation.  For example I once rescued one of my boffins who had only short range ammo and had got webbed by a tower 50km away.  He had no way to attack the tower or the frigates that had scrambled him.  Some long range ammo and some scout drones would have made a big difference.

Drones are a common method of dealing with frigates.  Battleships should always carry a flight of scout drones.  However the drone ships like the Vexor, Dominix and Ishtar are impressive in their versatility. I've used my Dominix for almost all the Gallente level 4 missions.  Heavy drones or sentries can put out an impressive amount of damage.  The main complaints against drones are that they can draw aggression, get killed or take time to switch targets. There are now new modules to increase drone speed, range, accuracy and damage output (finally). 

Electronic Warfare
Electronic warfare tends to work very well against players and poorly against rats.  Here is a list of the different types and some notes about them.  Some ewar modules use "scripts" as a kind of ammo.  Scripts are for one or the other facet of the ewar module.  For example a Tracking Disruptor will have a script to affect target tracking and another script to affect target optimal range.

Sensor Dampening
Sensor dampening either increases the time a ship takes to lock on to a target OR it reduces the targeting range of the ship.  The second mode is most often used.  Its possible to dampen someone's targeting range to 5km or so if you have enough dampeners.  The problem is that if you are getting close to the enemy then the issue is moot.  You also usually need a lot of dampeners to get the targeting range down for long range ships.

If sensor dampening works against rats then I haven't seen it.  Rats seem to have huge targeting ranges and fast lock ons so this just doesn't work.

Electronic Counter Measures (ECM)
ECM breaks the target's lock on a ship and blocks them from re-targeting for 20 seconds.  Its extremely effective if you can get it to work.  Your chance to jam a target is equal to the strength of the ECM unit (against that sensor type) divided by the sensor strength of the target.  Each module activated on a target gets a "roll" to jam.  Same with ECM drones.  There are four sensor types, one for each race and you need to counter the sensors type of the ship you are facing.  The normal ECM modules are very strong against one type and very weak against the others.  There is a multispectral ECM unit but its not as strong as the racial ones.

ECM works against rats but when the rat re-targets it will target the jammer.  That's not always what you want.  An ECM boat in a mission is in trouble.

Drones have four different sensor scores so they must be jammed against each one.  This makes them almost impossible to jam. 

Tracking Disruptor
These modules either ruin the tracking of guns or reduce the optimal and falloff range of guns.  They have no effect against missiles though there are rumours that this may change.  I think these are under used.  That's largely due to the large amount of PvP drakes wandering around.  However they "always" work against gun systems.  They are especially effective against blasters and autocannons.

These modules work against rats.  Especially the range disruption.  The result is a reduction in the DPS incoming but since you can only disrupt one ship at a time this is a small amount.  Rats are not smart enough to change their range when they are disrupted so they always work.  Throw it on a rat battleship and take its damage out of the fight.

Target Painting
Target painting increases the signature radius of the target.  This makes it easier to hit with weapon systems larger than the target.  For example, if you target paint a frigate it will be easier to hit with cruiser missiles or guns.  Its is of no advantage to frigate guns and not a lot of use against battleships.  It always works if there is a size difference between target and weapon so battleships often carry them to help against cruisers and frigates.  Make sure you turn on the TP before your guns so your first shot gets the bonus.  I think it will even help heavy and sentry drones against small target but I haven't been able to get data on this.

Works fine against rats.  Works well against you too.  If you are a HAC, Strategic Cruiser or smaller then being target painted is going to make any battleships in the field hit you more easily.  Get rid of them.

Many pilots neglect the speed of their ship and to be honest in missions a patient person can get away without it.  It wasn't until I went to null sec and started using an Ishtar for complexes that I realise how important movement was to your tank and survivability.   The smaller your ship, the more important it is.  I have heard of people tanking complexes in a fast frigate because the enemy can't lay a finger on them.  Killing targets is a bit slow but there are options.

Afterburners use a modest amount of capacitor to increase your speed by 100 - 150% (depending on module).  You can usually arrange enough cap to run an AB easily.  They make mission and complexes tolerable when there is a commute between gates.  On a small hull like a HAC or Strategic Cruiser, they can move you fast enough to avoid the fire of most battleship guns allowing you to tank more stuff.  In PvP they will greatly increase your chance of getting back to a gate to avoid a camp or controlling the range of a fight.

If you feel the need for speed then the Microwarpdrive is for you.  It gives you a 500% bonus to your top speed.  However its not perfect.  It doesn't increase your acceleration or ability to turn.  That's your ship agility that does that.  It also uses a tonne of capacitor to run.  To top it off the module reduces the capacitor total just by fitting it.  The last drawback is that your signature radius flares out 500%.  That means its easier for people to hit you with large weapons.  The last nasty surprise for MWD users is the warp scrambler.  If someone hits you with a warp scrambler then your MWD shuts off immediately.    Having said that, a MWD can make you almost untouchable by conventional ships.  Special frigates can catch you but you'll fly rings around a battlecruiser.

Modules You Need to Know About
There are a number of modules that are either useful or dangerous and your should be aware of them.  Here is a short list of the ones I can think of.

Damage Control - These amazing little devices are magic.  They give resistance bonuses to all damage types on shields, armour and hull.  They are the only module that gives hull resistances.  The resistances you gain are also immune to the usual stacking penalty.  They use a tiny amount of power and are a low slot fitting.  Some pilots swear you shouldn't undock without one.

Warp Core Stabilisers - A "Stab" counters one point of warp disruption.  That enough to escape a warp disruptor.  Two will escape two warp disruptors or a single warp scrambler.  The down side is they halve your targeting range and speed.  That's not important on a transport though.  Highly recommended for low sec operations.  They cannot save you from a warp bubble or a heavy interdictor though.

Damage Modules - These are modules that increase the damage and fire rate of your weapons.  There is a different type for each weapon group.  They are; Heat Sink, Gyrostabiliser, Magnetic Field Stabiliser,  Ballistic Control System and Drone Damage Amplifier.  There is no point fitting the wrong module.  Read the description carefully. 

Warp Disruptor/Warp Scrambler - An essential tool for PvP, these modules shut down the target's warp drive.  The scrambler also turns off MWDs and is double the strength of a disruptor but has shorter range.  They are usually the first module activated in a PvP fight.

Capacitor Booster - These modules take charges like a Cap Booster 800.  When activated the module injects an amount of power equal to the Cap Booster rating into your capacitor.  IE a cap booster 800 injects 800 points.  They are often used to artificially sustain a tank when there isn't enough skills or modules to do it.  People run double and triple repairer fits using these.  The charges are bulky and you usually can only carry a few at a time.

Cap Rechargers - These modules increase your cap recharge rate.  No down side other than using a slot.  Great for armour tanks who don't make a lot of use for mid slots.

Smartbombs - These are usually anti-frigate or anti-drone weapons.  The do damage in an area effect blast.  They use a lot of cap and are very risky to use in high sec as you can accidentally hit structures or people that you aren't allowed to hit.  Then CONCORD shows up.

Rigs - There are rigs available for most things.  Your ship can use between two and three rigs and they are like implants for your ship.  If you aren't using rigs then you should be.  The most useful rig there is is probably the Capacitor Control Circuit which increases capacitor recharge rate.

Cargo Scanner - You aren't likely to use it but you need to know it exists.  This module may be activated on anyone as it is not an attack.  It reports everything in the ship's cargo bay and the containers in that cargo bay.  It can't see into a container that is in a courier package.  Gankers use this on trade routes and busy stations like Jita to find people moving expensive cargo in cheap ships.  If the cargo is worth more than the ships needed to blow you up then they will kill you and loot what they can.  It takes only one tornado to kill an normal industrial so that means cargoes over 100 MISK are a risk.

Cloaking Devices - There are three levels of cloaking device.  The Covert Ops Cloak is the only one that can cloak and warp and can only be fitted to certain ships.  Cloaks will not work if ANYONE has you targeted.  They usually slow you down a lot and have a targeting delay after de-cloaking.  They also make targeting a ship take longer.  Its possible to de-cloak a target by flying within 2000m of them.  This means that its not as good at getting away from baddies as we'd like.  However, if you are cloaked in a safe spot it is impossible to find you.

Co-Processors - This is a low slot item that increases the ship CPU by a % amount.

Reactor Control Unit - This is a low slot item that increases the ship powergrid by a % amount.

Micro Auxiliary Power Core - This low slot item adds between 10 and 13 powergrid to the ship.  Intended for frigates and destroyers.

Power Diagnostic System - This low slot item increases shield HP, shield recharge, capacitor recharge, capacitor amount and powergrid amount.