Wednesday, 23 February 2011

T1 vs T2

Friday evening looked busy, local channels were swarmed with weekend warriors like me so I decided to look for trouble in new area. After spending most of my working day on Friday studying maps of low sec sectors I set  best speed to Essence Region. With my security status now under -2.0 and no real desire to improve it I was going to look for a nice spot somewhere in low/null area to settle permanently and pirate my heart out.

In Akila I met a friend (who shot me down few days ago) who invited me for some training in frigates. Firstly my Rifter was set up against his Sentinel. Despite it's innocent looks Sentinel is a nasty piece of work, I managed to shot couple of his Warriors II but while fiddling with his drones he slowly drain my cap and got out of my web/scram range. Without AB and Armour Repair system working his drones started quickly chipping bits of my armour. To make matters worse I somehow lost drones from my overview setting and had to target little buggers manually. Thankfully it was just a training and at about 50% of my structure we stopped. Later I though that possibly better strategy would be just to ignore drones and focus fire on the ship, it is clearly a "trick" ship and as some examples show can be overpowered with sheer force of Minmatar cannons. After short recess he brought Punisher just to see how my Rifter will perform against T1 frigate and this time I had him in structure in no time with very little damage to myself.

We parted after that exercise and went our ways. Sinq Laison was very busy, I played with local pirate alliance in Raeghoscon for about an hour. At some point there was swarm of Sister Combat Probes in the system trying to pin me down but combination of random safe spots and staying in constant move kept me out of harms ways. Bored with that cat and mouse play I jumped to Essence looking for more suitable targets and the one I could actually engage with at least minimal chance of success.

I really like systems without stations, at least you know everyone in local will be somewhere in space, they might be at POS, cloaked or at safe spot but at least you know they are not docked at station. Onne looked promising and as soon as I jumped there I knew I am going to get a fight. There were 3 guys in local, all with low sec status, directional identified ships as Rifter, Ishtar and Republic Fleet Firetail. Ishtar was out of the equation and jumped out soon after my arrival, Rifter and Firetail looked a bit like me, clearly looking for some action. I quickly set up few observation points and started following Rifter, he also was using safe spots and I changed to Firetail.

Rifter left the system soon after I changed my focus to Firetail pilot. I checked his killboard, he knew his stuff, record showed him almost always flying solo and there was a number of Rifters destroyed on his account. It looked a good challenge and I wouldn't have a problem loosing my ship to this guy. He was ratting on the belt and I noticed 3 NPC wrecks, I wanted to give myself maximum chances and I waited for him to jump to new belt, some help from NPC would be welcome in those circumstances. He probably noticed me on his scanner and waited for few minutes before confidently jumping to next belt. This was a moment I was waiting for, I delayed by few seconds to give rats a chance to acquire aggro on Firetail and engaged my warp drive.

As I landed on the belt he was just finishing 2nd rat, there was nothing left and we immediately locked each other. He was very quick, I was scramed and webbed in seconds and his 150s started spewing bullets into my ship. I expected him sporting large shield buffer and my overheated 200mm autocannons immediately replied with volley of RF EMPs into his direction. My shields went down very quickly but that didn't worry me much, I engaged armour repair system and I knew I can stand up to 150s for some time. What was much more worrying was the fact that despite my opponent being webbed, my guns and rockets made little impression on his shields. Exchange of fire was going on for some time and soon it became apparent that my armour repairer was loosing the battle with my opponent guns, my armour was disappearing  faster than my opponent shields. I was already well in structure when I finally punched hole in his shields and red sliver appeared on his armor status, unfortunately it was all too late. I still had EMP loaded and thanks to native EMP resistance of armour I knew I wont be able to win this encounter. Rifter lasted few more seconds and exploded, after initially catching me in scram and trying ransom, he let me go.

We have exchanged gf had a quick chat afterwards and he confirmed that he had large shield buffer with EM and Thermal rigs on his ship. I plugged his fit into EFT just to check how it compares with Rifter and it is clear I had no chance, he would have to mess things up pretty badly in order to lose this fight. His Firetail is faster and has alot more of EHP than my ship. My 5th Rifter was lost but I only just started enjoyin this new EVE experience and decided to extend this experiment by another 50 or so Rifters :).

Friday, 18 February 2011

Patience is a Virtue

I have a cat, his name is Angelo, hes a gorgeous 3yr old black furball. Anyone who has/had a cats and played with them knows that cats like to play 3 different games. There is a chasing game, everyone has seen cat chasing a paper ball or a laser light, there is a wrestling game, that game often leaves scratch marks on your hands, and then there is a "watching" game. Cat can sit for a long time without moving a muscle in his body and just watch his prey waiting for this perfect moment to catch it. I really can not figure out when is that perfect moment for Angelo but I had 2 of those moments not long ago in Genesis.

Undeniably piloting skills, knowledge of ones ship and it's abilities are some of the most important aspects of PvP in EVE, there are however other aspects that are not often spoken about. Research, preparation and patience play a big role and will often make a difference between coming back home with couple of corpses in your cargo or coming back in a pod.

While researching few pirate corporations which I knew are settled in my neighbouring low systems I was looking for where they hunt, where they score solo kills, what targets can be found in different systems. One small low sec pocket Between Zarer and Hesarid caught my eye in Genesis system. I haven't been there before and some pilots reported solo kills in that area, targets were always soft and I noted 5 recent solo kills between 2 guys from local pirate corp.

My Rifter was loaded with supplies for the evening and I instructed ship computer to set best speed to Sibe. I have met some familiar faces on the way to my new playground but nothing worth mentioning happen. My usual routine in new area is to prepare observation spots on all celestials. After making some bookmarks I familiarised myself with inhabitants of this place. Literally all of them had high sec status, and BattleClinic killboards showed mostly loses with just a couple of kills in large fleets.

In Hesarid one pilot was parked at POS and I was about to go back to Toon which was more lively with about 10 pilots docked in station when 2 more ships jumped through the gate. Usually when carebears see someone with low sec status in the system they just dock or hide in safety of a tower shield, but those guys were all from the same corp and it seems they were called as a support for the guy sitting at POS. Three of them threaten me in local and asked me to leave or they will shot me down, I answered that I claim this system and either they leave or I will shot them down to which I didn't get any answer.

Ishkur and Myrmidon showed on directional, my Rifter was not a match for those 2 together. As they had amost zero PVP experience I was tempted to go after them, shot their drones really quick and try to do some damage but in the end I figured that would be pushing my luck waaay too far, all they needed is any kind of point and neutraliser to take me down. They probably thought themselves very smart parking at anomaly above my, sadly they stayed together all the time and there was not much I could have done to split them.  POS pilot was in Cormorant and didn't want to come out to play at all. I was patient, I had all evening and dedicated those 4 systems to be my hunting ground for the evening so I sat on my observation spot and watched and waited, after about 15 minutes 3 of them gave up and left the system.

Slightly disappointed I jumped back to Toon. There were only 3 guys there, all docked, again I decided to sit quietly and dont look threatening (hehe). After couple of more hours with nothing to report, directional in Toon blinked with one target. Moa undocked from station and headed somewhere, directional started searching space for her destination and to my surprise found her on local plex. Looked like my patience was about to be rewarded with big fat slow prey. I landed about 20 km from her and overheated mediums, in seconds warp scrambler disabled her propulsion system and 200mm Autocanons crackled sending volley after volley into her soft underbelly.

After extracting pilot capsule from her intestines I tried to catch pilot for some ransom but he was switched on and instantly warped away to the safety of a station. Moa had disappointingly bad fit and apart from kill satisfaction I didn't get anything of a value from her. 

During the fight I noticed that Cormorant pilot I saw earlier in Hesarid showed in local for few seconds and disappear. Aftaer loosing my GCC I made my way to Hesarid again hoping I may catch him there. You can always count on a noob, he came back and was ratting happily on a belt nearest to gate exit. Pilot of the Cormorant only managed to say "You again..." before his ship exploded and I delivered him safely to his cloning bay. Cormorant fit was just as bad as Moa but slightly more expensive and after long waiting whole evening turned out to be rather good. With full cargo hold, 2 kills and significant dent on my security status I headed home without any further interruptions.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Hunter hunted

It's not National Geographic people nor is it a game from 90's, rather is a short story how I managed to fell into 2 traps one after another. 

As usual I went looking for trouble to Genesis region, one lucky industrial in Dom-Aphis who was onlining POS defenses managed to escape into safety of the tower shield in structure, slightly frustrated I left the system heading north.

Most of the inhabitants of the area was sitting in stations, only in Assez which is often more busy system in this pipe couple of BC was camping exit to high sec in Serren. I noticed on  the map single low sec system called Ahbazon and decided to check it out. To my surprise it had 12 people in local and directional started spitting potential targets. Most of the reported ships was of course parked at POSes but I noticed an Omen in one of the belts. 400mm fitted Rifter is in my opinion not an ideal fit for Ammarian Cruiser but after assessing locals I decided to give it a try anyway, chances are he is PvE fitted and if shit hits the fan I can always fly away. 

As I landed on the belt, cruiser was just warping off, I followed him to few celestials but eventually he managed to shake me off. While I was rather annoyed with this turn of events my confidence grew. I analysed situation, all pilots in the system were from different corps, this guy was ratting solo and run away from me, conclusion was - I am only bad apple in this basket. I went back to directional and spotted Wolf in a belt right next to me, Wolf does not have a web and worst case scenario I will just run away from him, my decision was an instant and Rifter warp drive spatted bright burst of flames. 

I engaged Wolf overheating all my systems instantly, he replied with fire and disruptor, I should have read a warning sign better and gtfo from there but my confidence was high and adrenaline rush held me in place. My plate was holding pretty well against this AF, our armor was going down at similar rate and I was pretty sure it will be a very close race into a structure for both of us. I kept close distance knowing that Wolf has better faloff than my Rifter, about half way through the armor 2 more ships landed on the belt, the same Omen who was earlier running away from me and a Crusader. For a split second I hoped they may help me but it turned out not to be, I didnt even try to escape and kept firing at Wolf but very quickly I was heading to the station in my pod. 

We had a chat afterwards and they said it was a trap. I still don't know why Omen was running away from me but really it doesn't matter, shame we couldn't finish duel with Wolf, it would be interesting to see how my Rifter stands up to this more advanced ship.

Next day I aimed for a different low sec pipe starting in Kador ending in Domain, after checking it out few days earlier I wanted to explore the area a bit more. Few familiar names with low sec status flying cruisers and battlecruisers was on the main route and I expected this trip to be short and uneventful. In Bersyrim directional detected a lone Harpy on celestial, quite excited with prospect of fighting another AF I warped to the planet he was sitting just a split second too late, we started playing this cat and mouse game for a few minutes, I am getting better at this and I followed him exactly and not loosing him even for a moment but every time he managed to escape before I landed a point on him. 

My frustration with this slimy character grew with every unsuccessful attempt at pointing him him. I noticed a local pirate entering the system, I knew he was flying Rapier as I have seen him en route here. I decided to catch this Harpy and fight it at any cost however and kept my chase. He headed for a sun and I followed again without loosing him out of my directional, as we landed at 0 and finally my scrambler was locked on his ship and held him in a place. 

At the same time pirate in Rapier decloaked 10 km away. He released swarm of Hammerhead II and pointed me, I think he was also shooting but with AB running I was too quick for his guns and drones, he did not neutralised my cap and I though I have a fighting chance. Harpy was going down and was going down fast, my victory was almost certain, my armour was holding firm while his was falling apart under my overheated guns and rockets. Maybe 15 more seconds of that and he would be heading to the station in a pod but as I started relaxing Zealot landed on top of Rapier and in 2 volleys I was out of armour. To make matter worse Rapier neuted me and now without AB his drones started chipping away my structure, my end was inevitable.

We had a long chat after that, turned out there was a larger fleet in the area spread across many systems and my faith was predetermined long before I realised that. Harpy pilot was a trainee in a local pirate corp and he wanted to show his mates how he can kill Rifter, we had a chuckle about that and they admitted that without support from Rapier and Zealot he instead of me would be now heading home in a pod. Despite loosing my 2nd Rifter without one kill to my side I was rather pleased with my performance.

Hunter became a hunted twice in a row, such is life of a lone hunter, sometimes you bite more than you can chew. Rapier pilot asked me to join his corp, they have a trainee spot open and said they will be happy to take me on. I am still considering this offer but there is a certain romantic charm in going on a solo hunt and I get more buzz from not knowing what's behind next gate than from relative security granted by corporation intel. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Flying a dual rep Rifter

I have found this fit somewhere and decided to give it a try, dual armour rep on frigate is a tricky business but hey its a learning exercise so why not.

Next day after scoring 2 good kills I went again my now well known route. To my surprise, in Cheneya system which is usually empty was 6 pilots, turned out one of my previous day victims was there with his corp. We have exchanged greetings and I started assessing situation.

After checking all guys in the system and confirming them to be bunch of harmless carebears I proceeded with scanning the system to find out what they are flying. Apart of usual ships which I have known to be parked in the POSes I noticed 1 Maelstrom, 2 Drakes, 2 Caracals, Manticore. Charging on them in lone Rifter is probably not a smartest of the moves but I figured if I can catch Manticore alone, I could probably pop it and dissapear long before reinforcements arrive.

They were moving from one celestial to another, I followed Manticore staying on my observation spots in the system. Eventually Manticore and Maelstrom ended together up on a belt with rest of the group out of scanner range, that was the moment I was waiting for. All systems of my Rifter were overloaded on landing, I came out of warp 5km from Manticore and Maelstrom, it was very quick fight, Manticore was hitting the armour when Maelstrom sent 5 Warriors II on me. 4 more ships appeared on directional as I engaged my warp systems but when they arrived there was only frustrated Maelstrom pilot and a pile of rubble which used to be fancy stealth bomber. Not wanting to risk facing rest of that crew I left wreck without looting it.

My appetite grew after this initial kill and I resumed that cat and mouse play trying to catch one of the Caracals solo. Working hard on my directional I have noticed them trying to set a trap on me, they left one of the Caracals on the belt and stationed rest of the group on nearest planet. Just a moment later local ticked up by one notch, a pirate from a corp to which I lost my first Rifter came in Vaga and quickly found single Caracal parked between asteroids. I decided to snatch the killmail even risking loosing Rifter should Vaga pilot turn on me before finishing Caracal. He either decided me to be friendly or unworthy his attention and without even locking my Rifter let me warp off soon after Caracal went up in flames.

After that loss their little group decided that is enough PVP for the day and went their merry way. It seems they forgot to loot Manticore wreck and I picked up few nice bits for sale from its wreck. Warmed up and in a good mood I have set course for Genesis.

I went up all the way to Gonditsa where my directional spotted  low sec gate camp, there was 3 wrecks on the gate and 5 ships BC and BS with GCC so I turned back and set best speed to my home in Dresi. In Iaokit on the gate Solo Pilgrim targeted my Rifter, instead of immediately burning back to the gate I was being very noosy and wanted to check out this character that targeted me. Before I realised what is happening I was out of cap and 5 Warriors 2 were tearing my ship apart I popped cap booster in and aimed at gate but it was too late. My Rifter exploded seconds later and now only in capsule I returned home.

I don't think I will be flying dual rep Rifter much, it seemed very fragile and required more attention than heavy plated one, I had identical one already fitted so there was no harm trying again but I knew already this is not a fit for me, not at that stage of my pirating career.

Just want to mention that this blog was added to EVE Online blog pack at CrazyKinux's Musing!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

First Steps

Day after loosing Rifter No 1 I headed for Genesis region again. Bordan and neighbouring systems were disappointingly empty and quiet and I quickly jumped to Dom-Aphis. There was only 2 other pilots in the system, both with high sec status, I checked killboards and they appeared to be harmless with only few kills from 0.0 blob fights. One of the pilots in Caracal was few kilometers from gate, he locked my Rifter but I ignored him knowing that shooting me here would be his suicide.

My Ship was slowly orbiting gate as I gathered info on those 2 pilots, suddenly red blinking light on console waked me up. Caracal pilot send volley of his rockets in my direction, gate cannons responded immediately and I had just a couple of seconds to stop this criminal from escaping. Luckily he was only about 5km away from me, almost instinctively my fingers landed on console and engaged warp scrambler, at the same time afterburner roared with full power sending my Rifter on tight orbit around now almost certainly doomed Caracal pilot.

Memories of my previous unfortunate encounter on this gate were somewhere at the back of my mind but this was completely different set of circumstances. Caracal was alone and he was much weaker than Rapier, my only worry was that this Rifter had active dual armour rep rep fit and if this Caracal has neutraliser he can mess up with my plans. His doom was inevitable, combination of my weapons and gate cannons was ripping through his shields, he didn't have neutraliser and soon met his inevitable end. Pilot warped out in capsule in general direction of the sun and I proceeded with stripping Caracal wreck from remaining valuables.

Towards the end of that quick encounter second pilot in the system landed on gate in a Hawk and looked like he was trying to help me too but as soon as Caracal became a pile of rubble he warped off. My security status was at that point still positive so there was no harm in trying to catch Caracal capsule and convince him to donate some ISK in exchange for not sending him express to cloning bay.

Directional detected Hawk and Capsule in the system, Hawk was more risky but potentially better for my killboard than capsule. He was sitting on a planet and looked rather surprised when I landed on top of him and instantly scrammed and webbed his ship. After meeting little resistance his boat exploded, this time I was quick and held his capsule in my scram. He wasn't interested in funding my pirating fun and was instantly delivered to his clone bay courtesy of yours truly.

First steps were made, for the first time my security status dropped below 0 and I have now officially joined ranks of outlaws of New Eden.

Friday, 11 February 2011

On choosing targets

For my first 5 Rifters I pretty much decided not to choose and pick targets but attack anything that stands on my way if I have at least slim chance of having a fight, Fighting large gate camps and CONCORD falls outside of this rule.

This approach has both advantages and inevitable drawabacks. Main drawback is that you going to loose ships, first few days into my venture to lowsec costed me 3 well fitted and rigged Rifters. There is sometimes also an element of frustration when you realise than you have bitten more than you can chew or when you learn that your chosen target is a bait and has few buddies who just waiting for you to take a bite. Those minor problems are however quickly overshadowed by satisfaction you get from good fight and some nice killmails.

Genesis region looked inviting again, after checking map for recent kills that may indicate low sec gate camp I jumped to Dom-Aphis. On exit was one Rapier who quickly targeted me, local chat indicated he has corp mate in the system. I blame that on my eagerness for fight and inexperience when I decided to take him on if he aggros, sporting 400 plate on my Rifter I though my web and scram should keep him long enough for gate guns to finish him off. He slowly approached me I targeted him back and he opened fire. AB on and after a moment of hesitation my guns returned fire and Rifter set tight orbit around my agressor.

Almost instantly Pilgrim appeared about 10km from gate, turns out his buddy was there all the time, sitting cloaked waiting for someone to take a bait. Rapier lost his shields almost instantly and his armour quickly started crumbling, mine wasn't looking too rosy either but I still had him on 1.5km webbed and scrammed and I though there is still a chance to trade my Rifter for a killmail of that Rapier. Weapons systems glowed from overheating and almost at the same time I realised how badly I misjudged situation. Pilgrim took a couple of seconds to acquire target and then neuted me to the oblivion and back, I lost web and scram on Rapier, lost my AB and my ship was also webbed and scrammed now. I could only watch them finishing the job with Rapier getting away close to the structure. We have exchanged "gf" and had a brief conversation afterwards, they even invited me to their corp but since leaving one not long ago and wanting to do some stuff solo I declined.

Lessons learned, when there is 2 guys from same corp with low sec status in the system and one of them is attacking you on the gate, it's a trap and you should gtfo. Anyway it was a good experience, limitations of my frigate became more apparent to me, in particular importance of capacitor even for projectile weapon boat can not be underestimated. Damage was also rather underwhelming, my expectations were higher when fighting cruiser sized boat, perhaps I need to experiment with ammo, I wasn't really sure really what to load when, EMP or Barrage?

Despite that setback my plans remain unchanged, anything that stands on my way will be attacked and more than likely only one of us is gonna make it out in one piece.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Change of direction

Let me start by saying that 0.0 is good, in it's own way it can be also fun. I have lived in Fade for last few months and for the most part it was enjoyable experience. Isk is good, I got to the point where I could easily buy new Maelstrom from corp every week and fit it. My KB stats have significantly improved since I started participating in fleet battles and CTA.

Despite those positives more and more often I have found myself sitting in the station spinning ships rather than having fun, something wasn't right. I came to realisation that my living in Fade was a bit like having secure, well paid employment. Since I have a fairly secure and reasonably well paid employment outside the game I wasn't necessary looking for one in the game, it was time for me to move on.

So I started considering my options. My play style doesn't really fit well in corp/alliance 0.0 life, I tend to go afk suddenly and for long periods often without warning, sometimes I don't log in for days. While hunting in small fleets or large scale CTA are often fun, nothing gives me as much buzz as going solo.

In my last days I ignored CTA and fleet ops and mainly went out solo wandering in Fountain, while I didn't score any kills it was more enjoyable than sitting for an hour on the POS waiting for bridge. Decision was made, I am moving out of 0.0. Still without clear direction as of what I will be doing in EVE I started moving my assets to Torrinos. I managed to move about 15 ships and 4 Hoarders filled with various crap, whole operation took me about a week and I made it without a scratch. It really is surprising how people are able to die to a gate camp in Torrinos, someone even lost Orca warping directly from station and landing in a bubble gate, I just sat in my Hoarder out of the grid shaking my head in disbelief, camp was even announced on local intel channel.

I left my corp, thanked guys for fun times and wished them all the best. For few days I was even thinking about selling my character, my skills are all over the place, I am a Jack of all trades but I decided to focus on one thing. I did put myself on character Bazaar, there was couple of offers, money earned from sale would allowed me to train new char to reasonable skill levels for free but in the end I decided not to sell.

I ended up building 5 rifters with my industrial alt and have drawn rough plan to go to local low sec and attack anything that comes my way. I started in small low sec pocket few jumps away from my new home in Dresi. 5 people in local all from the same corp and nothing on directional, almost certainly corp of industrial alts. As I scouted neighbouring systems I stumped upon this Bestower who was too slow picking PI goods from a planet.

Feeling very smug that I killed defenseless industrial I went ahead sightseeing neighbouring low sec systems, in Dehrokh 3 Hulks warped off the belt as I landed on it, I need to be quicked with scanning next time. I went towards Genesis region more to get the feel of the place than to fight, its a quiet place but I have seen couple of ships disappearing from directional soon after my arrival, there is a definitely a chance to catch something here, Ill be back for that.