Wednesday, May 28, 2008

People

Last night started out like many others: totally uneventful and boring. I visited many local star systems looking for targets or goods to scavenge but came away with nothing. Finally on my way back to my home system, I spotted a Tristan frigate in a belt. I did not know it yet, but the pilot of this ship would be with me the rest of the night and seeing as how he is a real person, not just a ship, we will give him the endearing name of "Colombo". I tried to warp in on Colombo several times but he kept warping around very quickly and it took me several minutes to finally land on top of him. I locked him down and engaged and he readily did the same. He was not a pushover but in the end I won the fight, podded the pilot and then looted his wreck. I returned to a nearby station to repair and sell the loot and then un-docked to return to my home system, satisfied that I at least managed one measly kill.

As I scanned the surrounding area again, I noticed that Colombo was back! He had named his ship the same thing as his last one and was now flying around in a Caldari Merlin frigate. He was once again in a belt so I warped in on him a second time, hoping for my good fortune to repeat itself. He was there and he appeared to be waiting for me, wanting revenge. We locked into battle a second time but the outcome was again the same. He put up a fight but my searing blasters were too much to overcome. I podded Colombo (again), took the loot from the wreck and returned to the station to repair and sell the goods.

So again I left the station and decided to continue wandering the system that had just provided me two juicy kills. Within just a few minutes I managed to salvage an expensive cloaking device from another fight between two larger ships and hunt down and kill a Rifter. The Rifter pilot probably could have defeated me but he focused on destroying my drone and that gave me enough time to blast through his thick armor and get the kill.

Finally weary from the fights and almost out of ammo, I made the one jump into my home system and docked up to get a new drone, repair my ship, replenish my ammo and sell my loot. I looked up for a moment at my ships computer and realized there was another pilot around in this system as well... Colombo! He was back again? I finished my maintenance and un-docked and sure enough there he was, waiting outside the station in a Thorax cruiser. "Tsk tsk" I thought to myself. Why had he brought a bazooka to a knife fight? I warped off to safety and attempted to open a private subspace channel with him. Perhaps he would agree to a duel with me and I could fit a Vexor for the fight? Alas, it was not to happen as Colombo ignored my conversation request and permanently blocked all communications from my ship! I expressed my displeasure in the public system channel at his hostility and my desire for a duel but was instead responded to by another pilot who was monitoring the local channels who we will call "Fox".

Fox was bored as well and if Colombo wasn't going to take up my request for a one versus one duel, he would! Fox was a more experienced pilot than myself but he wanted to give me a fair chance by letting me pick his ship. So I suggested a Tristan and he went off and fit a Tristan with cheap T1 gear. It also appeared that Colombo had gotten wind of what was going on and requested that Fox help him trap and destroy me. Fox fortunately refused and let me know that he was still after me. We had our duel and I barely won (mostly thanks to my opponent taking it very easy on me). I spent the next while discussing life in the universe as well as ships and their effectiveness with Fox. He pulled out and showed me his own favorite ship, the Ishtar. The Ishtar is the tech II upgraded version of the Vexor and is capable of carrying and deploying a very large number of drones. Finally when I was done drooling, I docked up for the night still flying the same ship I had started the day with and with several new kills. As I powered down my Incursus for the night, I took one last glance at the other pilots in the system and I smirked as I saw that Colombo was still there...

In the cold lifeless vacuum that is space, you can sometimes forget that behind every ships hull is another living, breathing person. Sure they might be Amarr or Caldari scum, but they are still people. It is nice sometimes to get a first hand reminder of this fact. To my new mortal enemy Colombo, I can only hope we will meet again on the field of battle. To my new friend Fox, I hope that perhaps one day we can fly together (and kill Colombo).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Don't Fear The Rifter

...or actually you should. It is by far the most flown frigate and I virtually never see other serious combat pilots flying any other. I can certainly tell why as every time I engage a Rifter with a semi-competent pilot and a remotely adequate setup I get my ass handed to me. Three times over the past few days I have gone to engage a Rifter in 1v1 combat with my Incursus and I have been forced to flee or been destroyed without causing any serious damage.

Currently my Incursus is fit like so:

3x Anode Light Ion Blasters with Faction Antimatter Charges

1x Webber
1x Scrambler
1x Microwarpdrive

1x Micro Auxiliary Power Core
1x 200mm Rolled Tungsten Plate

1x Hobgoblin II

Soon I should be able to begin using Light Ion Blaster II's and I will be equipped as optimally as possible. I suppose I will have to continue working on my gunnery and fitting skills so that I can do more damage and find some way to compete with my opponents.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yarr!

It has been less than a week since I left the life of high security and moved to being a full time pirate. So much has happened in that short time that it all feels like a blur. I have scored nearly 20 kills since I joined my new corp and podded probably almost half of the poor suckers afterwards. My security rating is now -9 and nearing that magical -10 point that I want to attain. I have lost several ships and been podded once myself. I have decided that the Vexor is NOT my favorite ship after all and I still prefer the speedy (and cheap) goodness that only my Incursus can provide. I took part in my first 1v1 arranged duel between Vexor's (and won). I got myself massacred by a skilled pilot in a well equipped Rifter and then aligned with him in a gang soon after. I have accidentally returned to high security space TWICE and both times been caught immediately by CONCORD and destroyed for it. I have, for the first time ever, destroyed ships of a higher class than myself (a destroyer and a cruiser) while flying my frigate. Lastly, I have discovered that it is most certainly possible to fund a life of crime simply off the loot and salvaging of wrecks on the battlefield and I have not had to take on a single mission in quite some time because of it. Here is an example of the loot attained from just a single encounter (although it is possible that I was not actually part of the encounter and simply scavenged these items afterwards):


So many new things in such a short period of time and I must admit that I love it. The thrill of the pirates life is not a myth and it is most certainly for me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Meh

For every good day where your instincts are right on, there will be a bad day where they are totally off. Yesterday I was warping around trying to lock down a Rifter who was roaming the belts. Instead I landed on top of a very experienced pilot in a Drake. I barely managed to get myself out of warp scrambling range and escaped with my ship (but left five Hammerhead II drones behind worth about three million isk). I was very fortunate to have gotten out because this pilot was equipped with a 24km warp disruptor. I waited a few minutes and returned to the belt to try and retrieve my drones, against my gut which said to just leave them behind and take the loss. My ship and its mods were worth two to three times as much as the drones and I was lucky to have escaped with that. Moments after landing back in the belt, the Drake warped back in as well, locked me down and this time finished the job. I had gone against my instincts and lost a perfectly good cruiser for it.

Later on I did some scouting of a local trade route to make sure it was clear for a hauler to move through. In the process, I warped into a high security system without realizing it and lost a fully fit frigate to CONCORD as well. I am not yet used to being forcefully banned from all high security space.

Fortunately I managed to get my supply order filled and now have three cruisers, four frigates and loads of fittings to play with for the next few days. Let's hope I can turn things around and stop getting myself blown up in stupid ways.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How To Pirate

I walked into the stations hangar and boarded my Vexor class cruiser. She was a newly purchased and fit just a day ago. I received clearance from flight control to undock and slowly I piloted my cruiser into the blackness of space. I felt the need to stretch my space legs, so I put McFlippy into warp and arrived in orbit around one of the nearby planets of the Dal system. I powered up my directional scanner and did some sweeps of the area and found one... two... three ships on scan! It appears I had stumbled upon a fight because on my scanner I could detect two Stabber cruisers and one Vexor located at a nearby belt. Drones were deployed so I could only assume they were in combat with each other. My finger instinctively went to the warp button but I hesitated. My instincts and my sense of reason did not agree on this proposed course of action. In my first few months as a pilot I had learned that every time my instincts encouraged me to jump into an obviously bad and outnumbered situation, I would lose a ship for it. I could only assume that at least two of the three ships on scan were in a gang together but if I went for it now, I could land on top of them while they were already in combat and already damaged and unaware.

My hesitation did not last long. Instinct and blood thirst won over as I jammed the warp button and set a course to land several kilometers away from the center of the belt. I came in a small distance away from the fight and barely had time to survey the situation before the Vexor that was being attacked by the two Stabbers gave out and exploded. I turned on my microwarpdrive and began to approach the combat area. I targetted both remaining enemy cruisers and noticed that one was seriously damaged (although his partner was in almost perfect condition). I bore down on the injured cruiser first, locked him down with a web and scrambler and sent in the drones. They made quick work of his ship and now I was down to only one opponent. The pilot did me a favor by quickly flying into my web range where I was able to lock him down and unleash with my blasters and drones. His shields stood strong for a few moments and then faded and soon his ship melted too. I watched his pod warp away and sat for a moment reveling in my victory and the rush of adreneline that combat brings. Once I came back to my senses I looted the wrecks, scooped some stranded Warrior II drones and returned to the same station I had left only minutes before for repairs and to count my loot. The wrecks had contained some tech II modules that sold for several million isk and I kept the tech II drones for myself. All in all, a very good haul for just a few minutes of work. I posted the results of my first one versus multiple battle on my corporations kill board and undocked once again in search of more action...

Monday, May 19, 2008

How Not To Pirate

I set out the other day with the goal of getting myself in as much trouble with CONCORD as possible. I wanted them to hate me. I wanted other pilots to see me as a marked blinky red name on their overview. I needed to pod someone.

I flew down my usual route and found a Carcal cruiser on scan in a belt. There were wrecks around him and I knew today would be a busy day for newer pilots ratting in belts (weekends always are). I flew in, locked him down and destroyed him without a fuss. I targeted his pod, fell into a close orbit and opened a subspace channel with my victim.

"5 million isk and you can go. You have 15 seconds to comply."

The pilot did not respond. I guess I would have to pod him! I went to toggle my blasters and engage my drones and... the pilots pod warped away. I had forgotten to turn on my warp scrambler! I sat there stunned at my stupidity and how ridiculous I probably looked. I certainly was not worthy of that blinky red status yet...

Rax and Ruppy

I have been spending a lot of time roaming in my Vexor. I have yet to have even the slightest of trouble with any frigate as my drones eat them alive but with other cruisers it has been more of a mixed bag. Certain popular cruisers such as the Stabber and Carcal have been little of a challenge. Stabbers at least have speed on their side (if not much tank or firepower) but Carcal's don't seem to have anything much going for them. The couple times I have gotten into combat with one, I have destroyed them quickly without even taking much damage. On the other side of the spectrum is the Thorax and the Rupture. A Gallente cruiser and a Minmatar cruiser that seem to share similar attributes in that they are heavily armor tanked, can carry a full bay of drones and can seriously lay down the pain once they lock you in at close range. I have twice been killed by a Thorax and twice killed by a Rupture in the last few weeks. With my current Vexor setup, my strategy is to get on top of people and lock them down at point blank while my small blasters and drones do their damage. I will have to think twice about using this strategy the next time I run into one of these beastly cruisers because they are usually fit for doing nasty damage at close range. The good news from these losses is that I am learning how to adjust my strategy based upon what my opponent is flying.

In other news, I have left my old corporation and been hired by a new corporation who's sole purpose is the art of pirating in low security space. I have moved all of my belongings into a hangar in lowsec. I look forward to a career where my only purpose is the the vicious and unforgiving hunting of miners, ratters and even other pirates.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Taking The Plunge, Fork In The Road, Insert Relevant Cliche Here

I am not sure if it is due to the new recruits my corporation has hired or due to my nagging to corp friends but the past few days I have been able to find gangs to fly with almost every day. While the only thing we have managed to do is lose a Vexor and kill a mining newb in a Probe frigate, it is nice to have backup when I get into fights and greatly expands the targets I can consider engaging. In general, my early career as a combat pilot has progressed well. I am ranked very high on my corporations killboard and while it is silly to measure someones talents and skills by such a marker, it does seem to make some of my corp members take my combat prowess more seriously than they might normally for a new pilot.

Taking The Plunge:

It is only a matter of days before I finally begin moving all of my personal belongings out of high security space and into a station that resides in low security. I am taking the plunge into the life of a complete criminal in New Eden and I will not be welcome by CONCORD any longer. While this will make life a bit harder in terms of buying goods and completing missions for the Federation Navy safely, it will allow me to kill, ransom and pod without any worry about how it effects my security status. Up until this point I have been referring to myself as a combat pilot because I was not very interested in the money or loot involved with the hunt, simply the rush of the combat itself. Soon that will all change. I will be free to act as uncivilized and ruthless as I please and I will no longer be a simple combat pilot. I will be a pirate. I may even purchase and begin wearing an eye patch and wooden leg simply for the menacing effect.

Fork In The Road:

Now that I am able to fly my Incursus and Vexor fairly effectively (although very, very far from optimally) I am trying to decide what direction my future training should take. I have just gained the ability to fly Gallente Battleships but they are way too expensive and skill intensive (not to mention unwieldy) for me to fly anytime soon. With just a few weeks worth of training I could be able to fly Gallente Interceptors such as the Taranis and Ares, although I wonder if I will be as effective solo in a Taranis as I would be in a tech I cruiser such as a Vexor or Thorax. I could spend time and effort training in the use of covert ops frigates and probing and provide a valuable service to my gang as I probe out targets in deep space. The last option I have been considering is just to train skills that will continue to increase my effectiveness in the ships I currently pilot. This would certainly be most cost effective, as my current ships are cheap and the skills I would train to make them more effective would also increase my effectiveness with any future ships. The only mark against this option is that it isn't quite as exciting and will not open doors to me flying anything new.

At this time I am considering going with both this last option and then the Interceptors route, a plethora of training that will take me several months but should culminate in my abilities being significant improved.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pajama Party

Still feeling good about the success I had with my Incursus the other day, I decided to bring it back out solo once again and continue flying it until I got myself popped. Luckily enough that occurred during the very next encounter I got into. I returned back to the same system I have been prowling for the past few days and found a pilot (the same one I had killed in a Stabber a few days ago) sitting at a belt in his Hurricane battlecruiser. I had never faced one of these, nor did I really think my frigate was going to even stand a chance, but I warped in at 100 km anyhow just to take a look. When I landed, I saw that the Hurricane was in combat with another pilot in a Stabber and was also being attacked by a Cruiser sized rat. I had no idea how the Stabber was faring from this range but with the Hurricane already under barrage by a couple ships, perhaps I could pile on some more damage and bring him to his knees? I toggled my microwarpdrive and flew myself into a close orbit around the Hurricane which had by now dispatched the Stabber. I checked his status and it appears he was still at full shields and armor... I had just engaged a fully operational and healthy battlecruiser in my frigate. He ignored me for a few minutes, probably silently laughing in his cockpit as I slowly beat on his shields with my blasters and drone. Finally he opened up with a barrage of drones, missiles and guns and I didn't even have enough time to align and flee before my Incursus was destroyed.

Dissapointed but not surprised, I returned home to pick up my Vexor. I knew that this pilot would just be sitting in the belt again (he had been for a while) and I was not sure what my chances would be in my Vexor, so I fit a module I have never fit before. I fit a Warp Core Stabilizer to ensure that if things went badly (which they might) I could escape without losing my ship. The module unfortunately also has the downside that it reduces the range I can target from and the amount of time it takes me to target, but against a large and completely stationary target it would not really be much of a penalty.

I returned back to the system and the belt and found the Hurricane pilot again just sitting there, waiting for a fight. I flew into a 12,000km orbit to try and keep out of web range initially and launched my drones. They began to eat into his shields and the Hurricane responded by launching his own assortment of small tech II drones and opening fire with his missiles and guns. I started using my own webbifier to slow his drones so I could attack them with my small guns and i managed to kill one before he got into range of me and webbed my ship. A few moments later and he was nearly halfway through his armor while I was almost out of structure and about to lose my ship. I recalled my drones and aligned to warp and just barely escape with about 15% of my structure remaining. It was a good attempt but I simply did not have the right setup to fight this sort of monster. I hung around the system a little bit longer after repairing and managed to catch a Kestrel frigate in a belt. He attacked me and I responded by easily snaring and destroying his ship. After that the system began to heat up with covert ops frigates, interceptors and battleships snooping around and even probing me at an unmarked spot in space. I decided it was time to leave this system for the night and started to warp away down a stretch of low security space I sometimes prowl.

A few jumps away I found a normally empty system that had a Wolf and a Stabber in a belt. I have had pretty good experiences against Stabber's so far... I have either destroyed them or simply not been able to catch them. I have never run into a Wolf or any sort of Minmatar Assault Frigate so I was not sure what to expect other than the fact that he would be packing a lot of guns. I warped into the belt they were at from a distance and found that they were both 150km on the complete other side of the belt. I greeted them over the local channels and tried to discern what it was they were up to. I could not get very good visuals on such small ships from this distance so I could only assume it was some sort of pajama party. Soon after, the Stabber warped away and the Wolf began slowly creeping in my direction. I did a directional scan behind where I had warped in from and saw the Stabber was out there somewhere, probably trying to warp back in on top of me to lock me down. Rather than allowing this to happen, I decided to try and initiate the fight myself. I warped to the area closest to where I had just scanned the Stabber and landed in an empty belt. A few moments after I arrived, the Wolf warped in only 25km away! I sat still and gave him a moment to decide what he wanted to do. He targeted me and began closing distance so I did the same. The fight did not last long and the Wolf never even got through my shields. Almost immediately after the kill a Rapier covert ops frigate landed as well and attacked me. He webbed me from nearly 30km and I recalled my drones and decided not to fight. Even if I did manage to damage him with my drones from this distance, he could just warp away and I could not stop him and if I stuck around, he might have bigger friends on their way. So I left the belt and the system, upset that I did not get a chance to loot the sweet tech II goodies on the Wolf but happy with the kill.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back To Basics

Yesterday was intended to be an uneventful day. I was on my way to my home station to dock my Vexor and sit down with a cold one in my bunk. As I arrived in my home sector, I received a message from one of the members of my corporation. While his usual experiences did not include low security combat, he was interested in going out with me in search of some trouble. I had been planning on laying low due to the fragile state of my CONCORD security status, but I had promised this fellow at some point previously that we would hunt together and I have a serious problem saying no to such suggestions. So I docked at my station, put my Vexor away into my hangar, pulled out my tools and did some maintenance on one of my Incursus's. I made a purchase of Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator blasters in an effort to give myself some serious firepower and equipped it with the usual microwarpdrive, scrambler and webbifier modules. When all was said and done, I had a ship with nice blasters, Federation Navy rated antimatter charges and a Hobgoblin II drone. While I still did not have the expertise or skills to fit any extra armor or defenses, this ship should have more firepower and speed than any Incursus I have flown to date.

I left the station and went to meet up with my gang mate. I tested my ship out on the way and found that I could hit nearly 3000 m/s with the MWD active and hold an orbit of 500 meters at almost full impulse speed. After having flown my Vexor for the past few weeks, having some speed and agility felt fantastic. My tank would be thin as paper and my capacitor wouldn't last long but I could move like the wind (the solar wind of course) and lay down some decent firepower for a short duration.

My wingman arrived with his Vexor, equipped similarly to how I fit my own and we headed out. On our second jump into low security space, we did some scanning and found a Hurricane battlecruiser camping a gate. At first I just ignored it but then began to consider what our odds would be if we could get him to engage us. Incursus, Vexor and gate guns versus a Hurricane? It could be possible. We warped to the gate, targeted and began to orbit the gate camper and at first got no response. After a minute he targeted us back and made some maneuvers to indicate that he was indeed at the controls and aware of us. A few more minutes passed and it became apparent that our target was not willing to take the risk of attacking us so we warped off and continued our search. As a side note, I ran into this same pilot later on in another system and we spoke briefly over the local channels. He let me know that he had his finger on the trigger and was very seriously contemplating engaging us... when I let me gang mate know this he was very upset that we had not stuck around longer to force the fight!

The next system we warped into is one of my favorites. We flew and scanned around for a bit but were not able to find much. Refusing to give up on my favorite spot, we kept going, scanning ships that were coming and going... Harpy, Ishkur, Rifter, Incursus... all sorts of smaller frigates we could engage if we could only catch them at a belt. Finally I scanned a Rifter at a belt and warped in to find him 100km off the center. Warping in at that distance is a move most pilots make when they are interested in scouting the area but not necessarily looking to commit themselves to a fight. I aligned to the pilot, turned on my microwarpdrive and rocketed towards him at full speed. He made no movement to indicate he was even at the controls... perhaps he was in the bathroom? Or perhaps he was watching and waiting for me to get into range so that he could pummel me with the guns and missiles that a Rifter tend to carry? After a few moments I got into range and immediately scrammed and webbed him and attempted to drop into a close orbit but I was moving way too fast and overshot him by several thousand meters. He had opened fire on me as soon as I was in range and I saw my shields drop quickly as missiles exploded against my ship. I was instantly worried about how quickly my tank would fail in this sort of setup and already my energy capacity was running low. As I turned to try and get back close to him he webbed me as well and suddenly I was right where he wanted. Out of the range I needed to use my guns but right in range for him to continue slamming me with missiles. I shook off the feeling of dread and toggled my microwarpdrive for just a moment to try and give me the speed to close distance... 5000 meters... 4000... 3000... finally I was in range to start laying down the hurt so I opened up with my blasters and watched them tear through his shields and armor in only a few volleys. He was almost through my armor but already it was too late. Right as I finally ran out of capacity and as he was just starting to damage my structure, the Rifter exploded and I breathed a sigh of relief. I glanced at my setup and thanked myself for spending the extra money on my guns and ammo and also kicked myself for forgetting to deploy my drone. The Hobgoblin II i was carrying could have been damaging the Rifter for me the entire time I was out of range with my guns.

A few minutes later after I had looted the wreck and was floating around far off the edge of the same belt, the pilot warped back in in his new rookie ship. I was not interested in engaging him now so I just continued floating along. He opened a channel with me and we discussed our encounter for a few minutes. It turns out he only graduated into the role of combat pilot about a month ago and was interested in the same sort of lifestyle as myself. I told him that he was welcome to contact me anytime and we could fly as allies in a gang rather than opponents in a belt.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gate Camping

I woke up in the station this morning and groggily sat down at my ships computers. I checked the messages going by on my corporations subspace channel and examined the recent activity on our kill boards. Several of my fellow corporation members were gate camping in a bizarre low security system that we like to frequent. It is low security but has only one entrance into it and the system just outside is high security space. There is only one way in and out and it is through CONCORD controlled area.

I hopped in my Vexor and flew over to see how things were going in person. Just before I arrived, they had caught and destroyed a Dominix battleship and then a Brutix battlecruiser. They were camping with multiple battleships and battlecruisers so that they could easily tank the gate guns and I realized that there was no way I could take part in the action without flying something tougher than my Vexor. I was extremely reluctant to pick up my Myrmidon for use in low security combat... I had just recently lost one due to a stupid mistake and I do not make nearly enough isk to afford losing another but what fun is life without a little risk? I flew back to my home station, refitted my Myrmidon so that it would be able to handle the fire of CONCORD gate guns and I returned to camp the gate with my gang. It was a very powerful feeling to be able to dictate who could and could not enter the system and it was a side I am not used to being on. I am way more familiar with being the little fish attempting to escape the camp.

Soon after I arrived with my Myrmidon, our scout on the other end of the gate informed us that another Dominix battleship was warping into the system. The Dominix is a relatively cheap drone boat and is something I hope to be flying in the near future. The pilot warped into the system and we quickly locked him down and killed him. My ship was able to handle the guns for the duration of the short fight and for a period afterwards but even in my heavily tanked battlecruiser I needed to get away from the gate guns pretty quickly before they wore me down. I also lost a few expensive drones to the guns. By examining the modules we found on the wreck it appeared that the pilot we had killed was inexperienced, poor or just stupid. The modules we found on his wreck were not nearly sufficient to effectively pilot a battleship. The loot on his wreck was nearly worthless but the real upside was that this was my first gate camp kill, my first real kill using a battlecruiser of any kind and only the third battleship I have been part of destroying since I started my career as a pilot.

On a related note, I have been informed by CONCORD that I now only have permission to fly in 0.5 and 0.6 rated high security systems. I seem to be on a slippery slope and can only wonder how much longer I will be able to live in high security space before I am forced out permanently into the wilderness that is low-sec.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

Combat and pirating in the universe of Eve is commonly dramatized and exaggerated. Most common folk believe that it is non-stop action with every minute packed chock full of close solo duels. This is not true. A large majority of the time is spent wandering around looking for a fight but not being able to find any targets. When you do finally find someone worth attacking they are usually part of a gang, in a considerably stronger ship and/or smart enough to flee before you can lock them down. It has now been a little longer than 60 days since I graduated and became a full time pilot and in that time I have picked up 24 confirmed kills and 13 losses. If you remove rookie ships and capsules from that count, it is more like 20 kills. That is approximately one kill every three days that I have been in action. What I am trying to explain here is that kills are not common and they are not easy to attain. It takes time, effort, skill, awareness and luck to pin down and defeat an opponent so when it happens it leads to quite a rush and sense of accomplishment.

The last stat I will throw out here is that 11 of my 20 true kills have been solo. These are the truly exhilarating ones. You and one other pilot locked into a struggle to the death. Two of these eleven kills occurred this night in a small pirate system near my home. It is usually loaded with large ships and gangs that I do not dare engage but for some reason tonight it was loaded with frigates, destroyers and cruisers itching to fight. I was roaming with the Vexor setup that I have detailed in earlier records and up until the end it proved to be extremely effective. My first victim was an older pilot than myself flying a Caldari Comorant. I had been trying to scan her down to a belt but had been unsuccessful. I warped into one belt and sat for a moment pondering my next move when she warped in directly on top of me. Needless to say, a destroyer is no match for a plated cruiser and I very quickly destroyed her and looted some nice faction ammo and T2 modules from her wreck. It was a nice rush getting a kill on a destroyer but it was not even a contest and I wanted more so I continued to scan and warp around the system. Rifter, Stabber, Carcal, Myrmidon and several other ships were on scan. Targets ripe for the taking.

I managed to scan down the Stabber and warp in on him in a belt but he used his speed to keep me out of scram range and warp away. Disappointed, I went back to scanning and eventually managed to track him down again. I warped into the belt and this time he engaged me, closing all the way down to less than 2,000 meters which is exactly what I wanted from such a fast and fragile cruiser. He realized he was in trouble when his armor was almost depleted and mine had barely taken any damage. He tried desperately to gain distance but it was far too late. He popped and I picked up some more loot for my cargo bay.

Once again I resumed my scanning and searching but it wasn't even necessary... the Comorant pilot from earlier was back in a Carcal and had warped 100km away from me at the same planet I was currently scanning from. We flew at each other and engaged into combat. I launched my T2 Hammerheads and quickly brought the Carcal into structure while I was still barely even into my armor. I was overjoyed that I was about to pull in my 3rd solo kill of the past hour but it was not to be... she warped away on the brink of death due to a Warp Stabilizer module. As angry as I was for losing the kill, I could not help but admire the pilot for being smart enough to equip a module that would let her escape her certain death.

Again I went back to the scanning and searching and warped into a belt where I thought there were ships but there was nothing. I sat and waited a few moments and in warped the Rifter I had been scanning earlier! I attempted to fly to him and lock him down but he fled to a belt nearby. I scanned the belt and saw what appears to be several ships but decided to follow anyhow. What I encountered in the next belt was a cluster of ships that were solo or parts of different gangs. While I felt confident I could compete with a group of cruisers and frigates, there was a Myrmidon battlecruiser here piloted by an accomplished pirate named Jed Stark and I did not want to stick around to see what he would do. I warped to the first object in space I saw on my ships screens and wound up just outside a planet. Several other ships soon began warping in nearby... I was not sure if they were following me or attempting to flee as well. In the confusion I managed to get scrambled and webbed by Jed in his Myrmidon and my Vexor was destroyed. I escaped with my pod intact and flew home, reflecting on what was by far the most active and exciting solo experience I have encountered since becoming a full time pilot.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

McMermie Down

For this story and its title to make sense, I will need to first provide this key background information:

I name all my ships with the prefix of "Mc". I have had McChicken, McRib, McPlapper, McPleeper, McCargo (my Iteron hauler), McMiner (my short lived Navitas mining frigate), McVexx, McMakkie, McEnyo and several other Mc-names in my short career as a pilot. Of all these ships, my most expensive and most prized is a Myrmidon battlecruiser named "McMermie". I never fly McMermie into combat in low security space or anywhere else where she will be at significant risk. She costs way more than I can afford to replace and she is what I use to generate money. I use her during my day job working for the Gallente Federation Navy doing an assortment of jobs from simple courier assignments to wiping out large mercenary pirate forces. While this may sound dangerous, never is it anywhere near as dangerous or unpredictable as low security space combat with other skilled combat pilots.

With all that in mind, I was going about my business doing some missions for the Fed Navy. I had just completed one and was rewarded for my job by my agent with well over 500,000 isk, a sizable sum for someone of my stature. I accepted a new mission but before heading out to take care of it, I noticed a conversation taking place in the local subspace channels of the system I was currently located in. A few pilots were discussing the missions that they were also assigned and taking on for other corporations in the same system. I began taking part in the discussion as a friendly co-worker would and wound up inviting another pilot to join a fleet with myself so that we could take on some missions together. My intention was NOT to actually honor this agreement to complete missions but to use the coordinates provided by our fleet to warp to the pilot and kill him/her. The pilot took the bait and joined me and I proceeded to fit McMermie with some appropriate modules including a warp scrambler, a webbifier and some expensive Tech 2 Hammerhead drones.

It is important to note that when pilots have officially committed themselves to be members of the same fleet, they can attack each other in high security space with no repercussion. My corporation members and myself use this fact to our advantage so that we can test our ships and setups against each other without CONCORD caring. In this specific situation I was going to take advantage so that I could "gank" an unsuspecting pilot who was also flying a Myrmidon. So I warped directly on top of my target, targeted, warp scrambled, webbed and launched my drones. I let out an internal cackle (not quite as impressive as a real, out-loud cackle) as I had just suckered this poor unsuspecting.... wait... why did my security status just get lowered? Why did a CONCORD ship just warp in and begin attacking me??? Within moments my beloved, expensive, irreplaceable Myrmidon McMermie was blown into a million pieces and my mouth sat agape.

After warping away and returning to my base, I entered in a conversation with the pilot who had just witnessed me causing my own destruction. He/she informed me that they were not a newb nor an idiot and knew the instant I warped in what my intentions were. They had left my fleet before my attack had begun and I had not realized it. When I did engage, CONCORD took notice that I was attacking an innocent pilot that was not in my fleet nor my corporation and demolished me and my expensive ship as punishment. I congratulated the pilot for being smart and perceptive and informed him/her that she should check my wreck for some valuable named railguns and drones and flew off to sulk.

Less than an hour I returned to my base of operations in a brand new Myrmidon named "McMermie II" that was equipped and ready for action. Thankfully I had some isk saved and in combination with the insurance for my lost ship I was able to replace almost all of what I lost, but it was not cheap. The pilot who I had tried to sucker and saw me embarrassingly destroy myself even asked later on if I had managed to acquire a new ship and seemed genuinely pleased to know that I was able to replace it. It is amazing how even after you try to take advantage of someone and destroy their most prized possessions, they can still be polite and concerned about you. Much respect to you Thokullina...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sacrifice in OMS

The more that I fly my Vexor and the better my skills become, the more I tweak and adapt my setup to best suit my play style and what I am finding effective. My current setup right now is:

4x named small blasters (depending on what is available/cheap)
1x small nos (t1 or named depending on what is lying around in my hangar)
1x 10MN microwarpdrive
1x webber
1x warp disruptor (any scram with a range of 20km+)
1x 1600mm tungsten armor plating
1x energized adaptive nano membrane (adds to all armor resists)
1x energized reactive nano membrane (adds to explosive armor resists)
1x damage control II

5x hammerhead II
5x warrior II
antimatter hybrid charges (faction charges if i feel like spending the extra money)

The most significant changes of late are:

(1) The addition of small blasters in place of my old setup that contained 3-4 nosferatu's and some medium railguns. I find that with my tank being almost completely passive that there isn't really a reason for me to be going overboard with the nosferatu and I also found that using medium railguns was pretty useless as the range and damage are not optimal. I can only fit small blasters which means I do not get the Vexor's medium gun bonuses but their extra damage is still helpful and I manage to lock people up at close range in a majority of the fights i get into.

(2) The addition of the energized reactive nano membrane in place of the small armor repairer. This is a little bit of an inconvenience and a gamble as I have to dock up and pay or equip a repper in order to fix armor damage, but it allows me to have decent and balanced resists. These resists coupled with the 1600mm plate give me a pretty decent buffer before I go down in flames.

I took this setup out to Old Man Star again last night with a small gang including another Vexor and an Arazu. We found plenty of targets as usual although some were larger than we could consider. Several times I warped into a belt and found a certain pilot in a Caldari Carcal cruiser sitting at 100km from the center. We checked and found that a few other pilots currently in the system were also in his corp so he obviously was not alone. I approached him to evoke a response but he simply flew away from me to maintain the range rather than calling in friends or engaging. Finally I encountered him again in a belt and attempted to engage. He committed and we locked into combat. I launched my Hammerhead II's while he pummeled me with missiles and we locked up into the usual close range webbed orbit. His shields were going down excruciatingly slow but I just attributed this to the fact that Caldari ships are usually shield tanked. Once I could get through those shields, the rest should be easy.

While this 1v1 struggle was going on, we had both informed our gang mates that we were in combat and both of our gangs were warping towards us at breakneck speeds. The Caldari pilots gang began to land on me and I was engaged by a Crow interceptor, then a Thorax cruiser and then an Arazu cruiser. My own gang mates warped in and then immediately fled when they saw the opposing gang. While I didn't understand at the time, they informed me that when they landed in the belt there were enemy battleships arriving as well! I attempted to flee in vain but was webbed and scrambled so I had no choice but to go down with my ship. The only thing I was concerned with now was finishing off this Carcal pilot before I was popped myself. Down and down my armor and structure went. Down and down his armor and structure went. Just as my ship began buckle and burst, the Carcal exploded into fiery flames. I warped my pod away and checked the kill mail. I had been under fire by four different ships but still lasted long enough to destroy the other cruiser which was piloted by a skilled pilot and equipped with very respectable equipment. I lost my ship but was extremely satisfied with the exemplary effort and sacrifice she made for my kill count.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tech 2, Old Man Star, Assault Frigates, Security Status and more!

My Gallente drone education has been advancing quickly. I recently purchased and began using tech 2 scout drones for increased damage, speed and durability. The price is much, much higher at about 750,000 isk per Hammerhead II medium drone, but when flying my Vexor where the drones are 90% of my DPS it is well worth the cost. With this increased cost in drones, it is now we over 10,000,000 isk per fully equipped Vexor cruiser, even if I only put in five Hammerhead II and and five Warrior II drones without any backups. Fortunately I have also begun taking on more difficult missions for the Gallente Federation Navy and in turn have received an increase in salary to the point that this isn't an unreasonable amount. I am extremely relieved that the Fed Navy and it's agents are not concerned with my CONCORD empire security rating because it took a huge nose dive just recently.

A well known and talented pirate once gave me advice about a region of space that they frequented for their pirating activities. Back during this time, I was still flying an Incursus as my ship of choice and while I had participated in several gang kills, I had never had a solo kill of any kind in my frigate or any other ship. So I packed up an Incursus and flew to the region of space that had been recommended to me and entered the first low security sector I could, a system called Old Man Star. OMS it turns out is an extremely active system and has become by far my favorite. We take trips to it these days through all low security space. It is about 20 jumps through areas that are usually uninhabited and when we finally arrive in OMS it is almost like our reward for having had the patience to warp and scan through the boring areas. There are always pilots looking for combat and usually the match-ups are reasonable being other cruisers and battlecruisers. My first solo kill ever occurred on that night I flew my Incursus in, found an Imicus ratting at a belt and killed it.

Just yesterday we took one of our trips to Old Man Star. We traveled through the many low security jumps as always, hoping to find something there but as usual came up empty handed. We were a gang of mostly smaller ships: an Ares interceptor, an Arbitrator cruiser and two Vexor cruisers including myself. We landed in OMS and immediately scanned out several potential targets in belts. I scanned around myself and found what appeared to be a Gallente assault frigate in a belt. It was an Ishkur, a small drone carrying frigate that was smaller but similar in function to my Vexor (although about three times as expensive for the ship itself). I warped in at 100 km and the Ishkur was sitting there waiting. I was sure this was just a baited trap so I sat tight. The Ishkur started flying towards me and I decided I would engage. Even if it was a trap an Ishkur wasn't something I couldn't handle and I had my gang to call in. We mirrored tactics by launching our drones, microwarpdriving at each other and then locking into a close webbed orbit. The difference between our tactics was that I focused all my firepower on the Ishkur itself, including my small blasters, where as the Ishkur focused its guns on trying to destroy my drones. Most of the battle was over before my gang mates even warped in. The Ishkur had barely destroyed ONE of my Hammerhead II drones and was barely even into my armor when he popped. I grabbed the loot and his drones and noticed that a large majority of what he had equipped, drones, guns, ammo and more were all tech 2. For the uneducated, tech 2 gear is expensive and very difficult to use, requiring a very significant amount of education but it is also very effective.

This experience was a bit of a discouraging testament towards assault frigates. The Ishkur is one of the most praised of them all and the pilot obviously had more skills, experience and equipment than myself yet I managed to easily defeat it. Even if the pilot had kept me at further range and tried popping my drones, I had backups to deploy and his Hobgoblin II's were not doing damage nearly fast enough to have out damaged my Hammerhead II's. I can take more damage, fit bigger modules and fit bigger drones and my ship costs significantly less before fitting. Last I checked, an Ishkur ran about 12,500,000 isk and the last Vexor I bought was 3,750,000.

So we spent some more time in OMS after that and also managed to kill a Rupture cruiser although his friend in a Vexor escaped thanks to warp stabilizers. We destroyed the pod of the Rupture pilot and as an unfortunate result I am now not welcome in half of the empire sectors. I am going to have to spend some time convincing CONCORD that I am not a security threat before I am allowed back into the highest security areas including nearby trading hubs. It is a pain but a small price to pay for the rush that combat brings.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wasteland

For the third time in the recent few days, I went and bought and fitted a new Vexor. I found a cheap one a few jumps away and then took it over to the trade hub of Dodixie to get it fit. According to my ships computer, the system was packed with nearly 250 pilots bustling about! It is such an extreme to go from the barren wasteland that is low security space to an empire trade hub such as this just a few jumps away.

I fitted my Vexor a little bit differently than usual, opting for several small close range blasters as opposed to my usual array of vampire energy weapons and railguns. I also opted to fit my drone bays with an assortment of large, medium, small and fast small drones as opposed to my usual assortment of only medium and fast drones. To be more specific, I am now carrying 2 Ogre's, 2 Hammerhead's, 1 Hobgoblin and 5 Warrior's. I used to only carry Hammerhead's and Warrior's. I will have to see if the reduced speed and increased damage of Ogre's has any affect on my damage output.

Later on that night, I took my newly fitted friend out for a spin. We did about 20 jumps through low security space, looking for some fun. After a long trip I returned home without having found anything interesting other than a Revelation Amarr dreadnought floating around in one of the nearby known pirate systems. It is extremely discouraging how lazy all the other pilots in the universe are. In space there is no night and day. There are no business hours and there are no weekends. So why do they all insist on retiring and going to sleep in unison based upon the universal clock? Because of this outdated and obsolete system of time, I am left alone at "night" during my prime operating hours with no one in my corporation to fly with and no one in any other corporation for me to engage.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Bad Trend

I took a newly fitted Vexor up to one of my favorite low security systems to look for some action. I found what could only be described as a treasure trove of targets. Within an hour I had warped into belts on top of four different potential targets including a Vexor, an Exequeror, a Celestius and a Cyclone that was being piloted by a pilot with only 10 days experience in the game. Unfortunately for me, the first three cruiser targets all managed to warp away before I could lock them down and I warped away from the fourth target (the Cyclone) in fear before checking his pilot stats. When I attempted to return to the scene of his belt ratting and engage, he had already left.

Extremely annoyed at myself for not being able to take advantage of any of these situations, I warped to a stargate to exit the system. I landed on top of a blinky red Thorax! Surely with the element of surprise I could possibly kill it. I targeted and locked down the Thorax and began my attack. A few moments later I was dead and warping away in my pod while he was not even through his shields yet. I checked the kill mail and realized two things:

(1) That was not a Thorax. It was a Cynabal.

(2) That was no random pilot. It was a pirate with a -10 security rating and nearly 1500 kills named Garmon.

So impatient was I to get some action after letting the past four targets get away that I didn't even take the two seconds to identify my target pilot and his ride and it caused me to basically throw away my ship. That is now three Vexor's down in a mere four days. I don't like this trend of no kills and losing expensive (relatively to me at least) cruisers. I am going to have to learn to stop throwing myself into situations I know are bad just because I am impatient and want some action.