i’ve posted some of the information of this little adventure in reddit but i think its worth sharing for those new players that want to take a look at J-Space. this prospect must not be new to most people on the community, but most of the guides tackle a completely different approach so i set up on doing something in the other direction.
A bit of backstory:
my first experiences as a wormhole player were mostly as nullsec scout looking for high sec connections. however, the more i got acustomed to the mechanics of them gave me an interest in settling there. first actual tests at surviving in low class holes (C1 and C2) were mostly daytripping in a T1 battlecruiser or heavy defensive build cruiser.
it was a tedious task to move around knowing the dangers that T3 cruisers and other more advanced and skilled ships could do, the profit compared to the cost of the ship didnt make it appealing too. so i abandoned the prospect in favour of saving my money for high sec PvE.
the advent of alpha clones opened a window that i hadnt seen since i first started playing this game long time a go. having an adventure without caring for gametime meant ISK was less of a necessity and more like a resource i could spend and gain again. no more worrying about having to make 60 million ticks doing forsaken hubs in a null sec alliance for several days to pay a monthly sub, i could just take my alpha clone and do whatever i could come up with, no matter if i was missing skills compared to other players.
this is where the idea of the frigate solo adventure in wormhole space came from. try to take the cheapest and less skill consuming vessel and try to make a living in a place where the supposedly most basic ship is a medium sized vessel or a T3 destroyer.
The experiment itself:
seeing that this character was made before the Lifeblood skill changes, i had only the base 5 million SP of the original alpha clone program, the cost of alpha injectors meant i could only afford a few to improve some of the important stuff like Drones and some of the skills that werent able to be improved past lvl 1-2 in the old alpha clone skill lists.
the original focus of the experiment was to be able to survive in a C13 (Shattered Wormhole) by using a specifically fitted combat frigate with armor focus to make full use of the Wolf Rayett-like effects of the system. however, the low number of these meant that finding one was a rarity and not worth the time to find (they would be probably camped completely by other players with higher skill points and ships).
thus i opted the change the approach to use C1 or even C2 holes instead. the following parts explain the decisions led around the adventure and some of the results obtained along the way.
1. The Ships:
contrary to the usual guides about wormhole PvE, the adventure envisioned the use of frigates solely, more specifically the combat frigates. in order to keep under the constraints of the 5 million cap of my character, crosstraining wasnt an option due to having to rely on injectors to bring the skill up to lvl IV compared to the avaliable racial frigate skills.
the main forte of frigates compared to cruisers or battlecruisers is being able to sigtank the sleeper drones (dont recommend C2s tho, battleships still have enough precision to one shot you for some reason i cant understand even at full speed).
also, higher agility in order to escape in case of potential hostiles in place. this at the cost of lower DPS, if you intent to come and clear sites at the same times as shown in spreadsheets, you’re gonna have a bad time.
they are also cheaper to replace.
i used all three Minmatar combat frigates in this case (Rifter, Slasher and Breacher), testing both long range and close ranged profile along with shield and armor tanking fits at the most basic anomalies both in C1 and C2 holes.
having a lower signature radius along with faster speed meant i could both evade hits from the sentries and cruiser spawns along with being harder to pinpoint from other players.
however, capacitor and general hitpoints meant a certain weakness in case of going against neuting spawns. even at cap stable lvls it was evident the ships werent designed to keep up in certain situations where a cruiser could have come on top.
despite this i consider the choice a valid one for the experiment. thus my recommendation is to stick to leveling the starting racial frigate up to lvl V if possible, this means you can save the rest of the skillpoints to hone on the weaponry and defense along with subsystems like targeting, agility and drones if needed.
if focusing only in small vessels it should be possible to add the rest of the racial frigates to open other options. specially pirate ships if money allows it.
2. Weapon Choices:
having close to perfect gunnery and/or missiles/drones is required. the closest to 100 DPS or above the better. mostly because it alleviates the time it takes to run a site. however this isnt mandatory, using Meta4 weapons along with T1 drones and ammunition is perfectly fine.
thanks to the diversity of Minmatar weaponry i was able to test different weapon platforms against the sleeper drones:
- in terms of gunnery:
close range weapons are better. frigate spawns are close rangers for the most part and they are pretty fast (sleeper drones in general are pretty fast) so having big tracking means you can actually land the shots compared to long range weapons which even at a frigate lvl fail frequently. thus gunboats may opt for blasters, pulse lasers or autocannons. if you can get extra range bonuses from the ship is even better then.
- in terms of missiles:
since missiles have practically a 100% accuracy at this size, both rockets and light missiles are possible, depending on flavour you may favor one above the other. i opted for light missiles in this case. the signature radius of sleepers is more in line to normal ships so it doesnt matter how fast they move, the missiles will hit them regardless. the only possible downside is that missiles and rockets occupy more cargo than turret ammunition so take that in account too.
- in terms of drones:
its well known that drones dont fare well in wormholes because sleepers actualy primary them even when just coming up from the bay. however, if you take the frigate spawns first, you can safely take them out to focus in the larger targets, cruisers and sentries wont focus on light drones. not being able to take the drones out may hurt the dps and completion times for certain hulls (mostly the Tristan, not sure if the Worm or the Astero too) but unless you have extra bay to stock on them, its better to take the threats out before deploying.
outside of that points, the damage types dont matter (sleeper drones have omni resists so they can receive damage from any type). lasers are technically the best bang for your buck because the T1 crystals can work indefinetly and dont occupy too much space but i was pretty capable to carry everything i needed if knowing how much ammunition you could require for the site.
3. Tanking Choices:
Minmatar can go either shield or armor apart from speed tanking. while going fast works with the other racials, you may want to focus on the bonuses of the specific ship in those cases too.
im pretty sure that all the other frigates can get the job done at the proper sites, however, i found myself favouring active tank with a cap stable fit. passive shield is possible but a bad move in speed can mean to get big hits and thus break the tank, this doesnt happen with active tanking which can keep going on as long as you dont get capped out or heavily focused.
in general terms the damage of sleepers while moving at this speed is low, sometimes you may get hits shredding 100-200 damage on you but as long as you reaming on full AB speed it can be repped/boosted quickly.
4. The Sites:
this is the tricky part. i analyzed all the sites from Rykki’s Spreadsheet both in C1s and C2s. i was only capable of doing Perimeter Ambush Points with the frigates because the only threat in the anomaly is a webbing frigate that can be taken down quickly. thus the rest of the site is open for players.
the other sites have neuting spawns, and in the case of the Perimeter Camp, they are the main wave trigger which means either you get capped out or kill them and spawn more of them. this is too much for a frigate and thus this sites are actually designed for cruisers and up.
not even Amarr ships would be able to do those IMO. and Cap Batteries cant help in that case.
in terms of C2s the Perimeter Hangar anomaly seemed the easiest (it has 2 neuting frigates at start). however, the battleship spawns seem to have such a precision that they are capable of one shotting despite of small signature radius. so it has been marked as unviable.
thus the only recommendation i can give is that along with Perimeter Ambush Point you kill the spawns in wherever ore or gas site is possible according to the guides, that doesnt have heavy neuts or webs (2 neuts are manageble if they are frigates and you can warp out, 1 web is more than enough, dont risk it).
5. System Effects:
im not well versed on this. however there’s already guides that show the bonuses from them; barring Magnetars and Cataclysmic Variables the other spatial phenomena can be helpfull depending on the ship
Wolf Rayet is better for armor based hulls
Pulsar is better for shield focused hulls
Black Hole bonuses missile hulls
Red giant doesnt give anything for frigates except perhaps, smartbombs, but the overheating tradeoffs seem good for certain situations.
the reason i take out Cataclysmic Variable is because it cuts local reps and debuffs capacitors in exchange to favour remote reppings. thus is more focused for people going in groups and not for the solo player.
Magnetar on the other hand gives a flat damage bonus at the cost of nerfing the precision of all the weapons systems along with targeting range. unless i see a favor for this in short range weaponry this doesnt seem enticing enough, perhaps a more experienced wormholer could correct me in this part.
6. How the money is made:
originally i came only for the anomalies. killing the sleeper drones for the blue loot that can be sold at NPC stations for a flat reward. however, with proper cargohold management i was able to bring up a single salvager, a relic and a data analyzer. thus being able to not only kill the npcs for their loot but also to salvage their wrecks and do some exploration sites (the pirate faction ones) for extra rewards.
all of this in a single vessel, so please take in account the cargo capacity of the ship beforing going out. the full package of essentials should also include a Mobile Depot, armor and hull repairers, and a Probe Launcher with probes to scan down stuff.
i also added a scram and a web modules in case that i could make a profit out of hunting explorers or even tackling ratting vessels or so.
the only missing profit is mining, but the volumes that are spawned at the gas and ore sites are too big to be hauled in a frigate outside of the Venture unless you bring a hauler companion.
the total profit i made from a single day in my current location rounded between 40-60 million, several times the cost and upkeep of the ship itself. this only doing the ambush points (and i took the extra activities later so it should have gone to 70 or 80 million).
this is a bit over the total amount of money done with a VNI in a forsaken hub anomaly. but since the intent wasnt to get dank ticks, i think it counts as an OP Success.
7. Pending Stuff:
for now i have passed more than one day in that hole, and im sure i’ll have to either move on or wait until new anomalies spawn. there’s plans to upgrade from the current vessel to a navy or faction frigate. the Dramiel being the most promising, however, i have to factor the cost.
another option would be to test how would a T1 destroyer fare in the same sites. while it would be cheaper and with bigger damage, i fear the increase in signature radius and the lesser speed compared to frigates would make them not viable for this kind of activity.
the other option is improving the current ship with some faction modules, increasing the cost of the fit and thus becoming a juicier target for a bigger improvement in efficiency.
surviving in a WH with only a frigate as an alpha clone can be done. with roughly 100 DPS it should only take a mere 20-30 minutes per site. and doing stuff apart from looting is totally doable with knowledge of the volume occupied and the cargohold.
the amount of stuff that can be carried may be a limiting factor but its scaled to the size of the vessel. doing larger profit would mean jumping into a bigger hull and thus being much less mobile and much bigger target for ganking.
the content doesnt requires to erect any kind of structure to be done and thus its well adapted for the more nomadic players. however, it limits you to the most basic wormhole class and a few specific sites due to the inhrent risks of capacitor and speed disruption.
despite this, i would encourage new players to look into it if they want to get the most of wormhole space outside of exploration or mining. its possible for the small ship player to thrive, dont let the ISK per hour thinking say otherwise, you can do it.