Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back To My Roots

I gritted my teeth as my Taranis narrowly avoided hitting a giant Veldspar rock. It was almost impossible to keep a proper orbit around the Caracal I was engaged with and as a result my railguns were doing almost no damage. His missiles continued to explode nearby my ship, causing more and more damage but i refused to let this one go. I had killed many Caracals easily in my Taranis before... there was nothing I needed to worry about and there was no way I was going to let him get away.

[08:12:51] Incursus Guy > you would have killed him by now if you had blasters fit

Some random pilot in an Incursus was watching the fight from the edges of the asteroid belt and had decided to weigh in on things. Screw you Incursus guy, I know what I am doing. A giant chunk of my wing was severed by shrapnel as another missile hit very close to my ship. I could only take a couple more blows before I was done for but this was only a Caracal. I just needed to get into the right orbit and I would be fine. No need to panic. No need to flee.

As I warped away in my pod, I wondered what in the hell was wrong with me. I could have warped away at any time. As I watched my ship slowly disintegrate and saw that I would not have time to kill my target first, I could have done the smart thing and just left the battlefield. Why didn't I? Why is it so hard for me to let things go? I have lost ten ships now in the past week and most of them were due to this same sort of situation. My overconfidence and lack of discretion have become out of hand. I never used to be this stupid about the targets I engaged. I always used to be smart about flying away when things weren't going my way. I need to retrain myself in the art of choosing my targets and not losing my beautiful (and expensive) ships.

As I stood in my hangar back in the station, I looked at what I had left. A Thorax, Crusader and Ishkur. No... I don't deserve any of these. I need to rediscover what I had when I first started pirating and my ships would last me more than a day. Back when I actually made a profit at what I did. I went into the long term storage section of my hangar and hit the lights. They flickered on and before me sat several frigates under large tarps. I called down the hangar tech and told him to get all these ships cleaned up and ready for flight. I slipped a ten ISK note into his front pocket and give him a little wink to indicate I was serious about my request. He rolled his eyes and lumbered away. It is so hard to find good help these days.

Soon, I sat in front of a freshly cleaned and equipped Incursus, Rifter and Punisher. I pondered what to start with and chose the Rifter. While my knowledge of Minmitar frigates is lacking and my skill with operation autocannons is terrible, it could still serve me well. Hell, it would be something new and different to start out with. I jumped back down out of the cockpit I had been gently caressing my ship from (what can I say, I love my spaceships) and found the hangar tech again. He was munching on something that looked like a peanut butter and turkey sandwich. I let him know that I wanted flames painted on the Rifter and some sort of neon skeleton decal applied to my Incursus. I have to intimidate after all. I slipped another 10 ISK into his pocket and he looked dumbly at me again. I sighed and jumped into the Rifter for its maiden voyage.

A few hours later, our first target! An Amarr Prophecy battlecruiser was on scan and being piloted by an extremely inexperienced pilot. We locked him down and engaged in our smaller ships... My Rifter, Golden Helmet's Ishkur and Johan's Catalyst. I targetted and destroyed his drones and got under the range his guns could track me. I was eating through his armor and he couldn't touch me! "A battlecruiser kill while I was flying a tier 1 frigate? This is going to be epic", I thought to myself as one of the anti-pirates in the system uncloaked in a Huginn about 60km away. My heart sank. Minmitar recons, I cannot express the depths to which my hate for you festers. My first instinct was to just stick around and do as much damage to my target as I could before going down but then I remembered what this whole exercise was about. I needed to learn discretion and when to let go, no matter how much it hurts. I turned away from the Prophecy and engaged my warp drives just as the Huginn targeted me. Sadly, I warped away from the juicy kill and my certain death and listened to the fleet channel as Golden Helmet sacrificed himself to try and finish our target off. He didn't manage to... but at least I was still alive.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Big Ships!

I looked out the glass of my Taranis at the weird, elongated guns on the sides of my ship. I was not at all used to flying with rails, but after my recent luck I had decided to fly a slightly safer version of the Taranis that allowed me to attack safely from afar. The setup had proven itself pretty well so far as I had easily defeated a Malediction in an interceptor duel (although he managed to flee with his ship nearly destroyed). I checked the scanner again.... and again... and again... still nothing of significance. I threw a Toaster Strudel into the toaster, put my feet up on the dash and began reading a book about energy weapon operation. I was part way through my snack and a chapter entitled "Dual Pulse Lasers And You!" when a call came in over the comms.

Golden Helmet was asking if I wanted to join in on what he called a "bizzaro" operation. What made it so bizarro? Everyone was piloting big ships! Several battleships, a couple battlecruisers and a couple cruisers. I dropped my lame book, scarfed down the last of my strudel and set a course for home. Soon after, I was undocking in Stonesmasher the Brutix, the biggest ship I owned. This was the second iteration of the ship as the first had met it's demise without ever having seen a good fight. I made several jumps to meet up with my gang and finally I arrived. We were made up of a Raven, Abaddon, Rokh, Scorpion, Thorax, Vexor, Nemesis and two Brutixes.

The entire gang was at the gate, ready to jump into the system where our potential targets were. Golden Helmet, as our fleet commander (I've always wanted to say that) ordered the "smaller" ships to jump into the system and fly to a belt. All the cruisers and battlecruisers including myself did so. We deployed our drones to try and trick anyone scanning into thinking that we were in combat with each other. We saw many targets on scan but after several minutes, none came to the belt to engage us. I warped away to check out where the ships on my scanner were and found them sitting outside a nearby station... just in time to watch them all warp away to the belt I had just came from! The signal was given for all ships to jump in and warp to the belt and I turned around and warped back in myself. I arrived in time to see a huge melee in progress. Our ships as well as a Myrmidon, Tempest, Hurricane, Zealot and two Rapiers were in combat. GH called out targets to us and we quickly took down a Thorax, Tempest and then the Myrmidon while they did the same and we lost a Raven, Brutix and Vexor. When the dust had settled, we were left standing on the center of the battlefield as the rest of their ships had either fled to the edges where we couldn't catch them or had departed altogether.

We quickly aligned and went to safe spots in space ourselves before any other ships could arrive and re-engage us in our weakened state. We had come slightly ahead ISK-wise during the battle and we were the ones left standing in the belt, so I suppose that meant we had "won"? Happy with the fact that my ship had finally seen real action and even survived it, I patted Stonesmasher's console. "Good ship!" I said as I got up and went to the mini-fridge. This calls for a Toaster Strudel! I put it into the toaster just as another message was relayed over fleet comms: The belt we had just come from was showing several more potential targets! An Armageddon, Megathron and several other ships. After some debate, the order was given to warp to the belt and engage the Armageddon. I jumped back into my seat, punched my Brutix into warp and landed on top of yet another crazy scene a few moments later. I turned on my microwarpdrive, launched my drones and made a bee-line for the 'Geddon. As I approached, he targeted ME and began blasting right through my shields and armor! What a jerk! I toggled my own blasters and turned on my defensive modules (this was a defensively fit, armor tanking setup) and watched the fight unfold.

The battleship we were attacking was getting low into his armor but not quite fast enough. Our own ships were dropping quickly and while my own tank was holding up very admirably to the onslaught of an Armageddon, it was slowly giving in. I watched Golden Helmet's glorious Abaddon shudder and explode into a massive ball of fire. I watched Inertial's lame Armageddon crack and split into enormous pieces as it gave in to enemy fire. I saw Obanin's Rokh implode as it was riddled with missiles and projectiles and lasers. Finally, I heard a loud creak and then a crash somewhere in the depths of my own ship. A burning smell filled my nostrils... was it the ship or my now burned strudel? Stonesmasher popped and I warped my pod away to safety.

We had taken heavy losses and lost the fight but I can't say I was upset. It was something fun and different. Also, after insurance kicks in, the Brutix really was not that expensive to lose! Just don't tell my insurance agent...

Monday, July 28, 2008

How I Pissed Away All My Money

Loss #1: Attacked a Drake, Catalyst, Caracal and Procurer. Killed the Procurer and fled with my ship on fire. Got greedy and flew back to try and kill the Caracal. Lost a rail fit Taranis.

What's to blame: Vodka and Cranbury Juice
Approximate Cost of Loss: 15 million ISK

Loss #2: Attacked a Drake and Ares. Tackled the Drake and waited for backup. Backup arrived and we got the kill but I lost my Ishkur.

What's to blame: Vodka and Cola (I ran out of Cranbury Juice)
Approximate Cost of Loss: 24 million ISK

Loss #3: Attacked a Harpy. Got beat down into structure and started to fly away. Got greedy and re-engaged. Lost a blaster fit Taranis.

What's to blame: My inability to flee from combat when I should
Approximate Cost of Loss: 17 million ISK

Loss #4: Attacked a Crow. Couldn't catch it so I flew away. Went to a gate a few minutes later and forget I was currently flagged with a criminal timer. Guns demolished my Crusader which had never even gotten a kill.

What's to blame: My absent mindedness
Approximate Cost of Loss: 18 million ISK

Loss #5: Was attacked by a Kestrel at a gate. Killed it. Was about to warp away when a pilot in an Enyo jumped into system. The Enyo targeted me so I immediately targeted him back and we started fighting. I was winning the fight at first but began to notice my ship taking a LOT of damage. Noticed next that my drones had all died and I was out of capacitor energy. Lost my Vexor while the Enyo was still in structure. Realized afterwards that I had accidentally engaged first without letting the Enyo take the first shot. I had died to the gate guns, not the Enyo.

What's to blame: My lack of goddamn patience
Approximate Cost of Loss: 16 million ISK

Approximate Grand Total Lost in 36 Hours Time:

90,000,000 ISK


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Near Death and Rebirth

Nine Percent

It felt good to be back in my Taranis again. I had recently taken a bit of a break and spent several days holed up in the station, working on a publication. What? Yes, of course I know how to read and write. I am an educated pirate!

I directed myself down a familiar stretch of systems looking for targets but was coming up with nothing. I approached the Mara gate and requested permission to jump through. "You again?" Charlie asked me. "Man, I hate that guy" I thought to myself about the gate operator who seemed to be on this gate all day, every day. As the jump initiated, I was thrown from my peaceful spot in space into a situation of extreme violence. In Mara, right next to the gate, a pirate in a Caracal was attempting to kill an innocent Osprey pilot. Seeing that the Caracal was preoccupied, I quickly pinged the system gate for permission to engage.

"Tranny Taranny, you are cleared to engage. Our security guns will not interfere" said Steve over the comms. "Man, I like that guy", I thought to myself as I approached and locked down the Caracal. I turned on my blasters right as he destroyed his own target and within a few moments his ship was a wreck as well.

After the dust had settled, both pilots were still sitting right in front of me in their pods. Well why not try to ransom? I targeted and scrambled both pods (I just happened to have two warp scramblers equipped for reasons I will not go into now) and suddenly received a massive blow to my shields. I checked my ship systems and realized that my shields had been vaporized, my armor had been torn and the very hull of my ship was already being damaged! How in the world were these pods attacking me? Did they have some sort of crazy super doomsday pod gun?

Then it hit me. I had engaged un-flagged pilots near a gate by scrambling the pods! I quickly aligned for warp as the gate guns continued to maul me and closed my eyes and accepted the inevitable: I was about to be destroyed. "Fricken Steve. I hate that guy" I thought to myself as I waited for the end.

I waited.

Nothing happened.

I opened one eye first and looked out the glass to see space flying by... I had made it into warp! I did a system diagnostic to see how I had survived:

Shield Integrity - 0%
Armor Integrity - 0%
Structure Integrity - 9%

I am an idiot. Fortunately I am a lucky idiot.

"Flight Of The Crusader" and "Stonesmasher II: The Revenge!"

I have finally completed my education in the operation of Amarr frigate type ships. This means I can fly frigates, assault frigates and interceptors of Amarr make. Unfortunately, of all these ships there is only one I actually want to fly and have been training towards, the Crusader.

I have fit and taken the maiden voyage in my first Crusader interceptor but I do not yet have the proper skills or know-how to equip and operate all energy weapons. Specifically, until I can use tech II small pulse lasers, the Crusader does me no good. So I docked her back up without having seen much action and having no kills. She will have to wait another week until she can be flown the way she deserves.

In addition to this new member of the family, an older member has returned. Stonesmasher II has been purchased, fit, and taken on her maiden voyage as well. Let us hope that she lasts longer than her previous incarnation.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Newb Pirate Guide (Chapter III - Skill Training For A Newb Pirate)

Chapter III - Skill Training For A Newb Pirate

So the bottom line is that there are a TON of skills in Eve. To go over every one that could be effective in combat is an entire guide in itself. Because of this, I am going to only highlight the most important combat skills to get early, the general area of skills to specialize in as you progress and some tools to help pilots be more effective at training the right skills.

(a) Mandatory Skills for Combat/Pirating

i. Propulsion Jamming I - Why? Because this skill gives you the ability to equip Statis Webifiers and more importantly, Warp Scramblers/Disruptors. If you cannot lock your targets down, then there isn't much point to the fight, now is there?

ii. High Speed Maneuvering I - Requires Navigation IV and Afterburner IV. This skill is required to fit a MicrowarpDrive. In 99% of situations YOU WILL NEED A MWD ON YOUR SHIP. An afterburner is rarely acceptable unless you are flying support or long range ship in a gang, and even then it is iffy. Speed is life. (NOTE: After I wrote this, the latest dev blog came out detailing some potential nerfs to MWD's. If these things are actually implemented it may make my previous statements obselete)

(b) Suggested Skills to Train Early for Combat/Pirating

i. Learning Skills - This one is arguable. Training these skills will pay off both immediately and in the long run by increasing your stats and thus making other skills train faster. However, to max them out takes time and a serious commitment. I have personally trained all the basic skills for Perception, Willpower, Memory and Intelligence to IV and the advanced skills for those same stats to III. This is what a lot of people suggest as the "minimum" to train immediately when you start you character. The truth is however that Eve is a rough game when you are new and to spend many days training only learning skills when you first start is boring and doesn't give you anything new or fun to play with. If your personal preference is to only train these skills slowly or not even as far as I have early on, it is not a wrong decision, just a different one. If your personal preference is to max out all your learning skills as the first then you do, that also is perfectly valid. When it comes to learning skills I tell people to do what is going to help them enjoy themselves.

ii. General Combat Skills - There are a ton of these so I won't go over every one. Just know that you are going to need to skill up a ton of things in the Electronics (for targeting), Engineering (for capacitor and shield skills), Gunnery (if you are training a ship that uses turret weapons), Mechanic (for armor and hull skills), Missile Launcher Operation (if you are training a ship that uses missile weapons), Navigation (for speed and agility skills) and Spaceship Command (to gain the expertise to fly different types or races of ships).

iii. Specific Ship Skills - Depends on what race of ships you decide to specialize in first. I would suggest that all new pirates start with a frigate and train into it. You will become effective with the ship fast and a majority of the skills you train will be useful when you move on to another ship anyhow. Examples of some specific training regimens for ships:

- Rifter: Gunnery Skills for autocannons (Gunnery, Motion Prediction, Rapid Firing, Sharpshooter, Small Projectile Turret, Small Autocannon Specialization, Surgical Strike, Weapon Upgrades), Armor Tanking skills (Hull Upgrades, Mechanic) and Minmitar Frigate skills.

- Incursus: Gunnery Skills for blasters (Gunnery, Motion Prediction, Rapid Firing, Sharpshooter, Small Hybrid Turret, Small Blaster Specialization, Surgical Strike, Weapon Upgrades), Drone Skills (Drones, Scout Drone Operation, Gallente Drone Specialization, Drone Sharpshooting, Drone Navigation, Drone Durability, Combat Drone Operation, Drone Interfacing), Armor Tanking skills (Hull Upgrades, Mechanic) and Gallente Frigate skills.

iv. Fitting Skills - Engineering, Electronics and Weapon Upgrades are probably the first of these that should be tackled. Engineering V and Electronics V will open up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to fitting your ships and a large majority of the suggested fits you find on the web will assume that you have at least these skills. Having more CPU and Powergrid available from your ships will allow you to fit bigger, better and more mods in combination without having to worry about things like Micro Auxiliary Power Core's or other fitting mods. There are also additional fitting skills that apply specifically to certain types of mods but many of them are not really as beneficial as the three listed here or they simply are advanced and will take a long time to train (ie: Advanced Weapon Upgrades).

(c) Tools to Help

Many people will already be familiar with these tools as they are almost mandatory third party applications for Eve. But just in case you are not familiar:

- EVEMon: Uses your characters API to display your current skill information out of Eve. Gives you the ability to browse every skill, every item and its skill requirements and also has a great skill planner so you can create plans and see how long they will take.

- in EvE: Lets you post your skills on the web via your API or a character xml file.

(d) Conclusion

At last glance, there were around 300 possible skills to train in Eve. It would take many years to train them all and to max them out. It is no simple matter to not only train but understand them all so do not be discouraged if things seem complicated. Ask for help from other players and your corp-mates, read up on descriptions to understand your current skills (and how they benefit you) and look at the requirements of items/modules/abilities to see what is needed to use them. It will all come together as you learn the game and chances are you will always have a backlog of days, months or even years worth of skills you want to train anyhow. Be patient and good luck with whatever path you choose!

Tomorrow (we finally get into the good stuff): Chapter IV - Life as a Pirate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Newb Pirate Guide (Chapter II - Effective Ships For Newb Pirating)

Chapter II - Effective Ships For Newb Pirating

Please keep in mind that this list is intended for the newb pirating target audience. While I think it is awesome that your 150 million ISK nano'd Ishtar "pwnz nubz!!!1" it is not something that a poor newb is going to find easy to train or very cost efficient to fly. The following list details ships that are:

(1) Good for solo or a small gang.
(2) Are very cost efficient (they are cheap, they are insurable and/or they don't die often... this is why Assault Frigates are NOT included).
(3) They are not too skill intensive and can be trained and moderately effective within days or weeks.

One additional note: I really only have experience flying Gallente ships and fighting against a lot of Minmitar and some Caldari ships. To try and fill in the gaps, I brought in a fellow Python Cartel pilot to write some of the ship descriptions. Thanks Kerblamo!


A. Frigates

The bottom of the barrel. Frigates are relatively weak compared to every other ship type. The upside is that they are extremely cheap, insurable, fast, easy to train for and they are FUN! A well equipped and piloted frigate can easily destroy other frigates, some cruisers, mining barges, industrial ships and probably even bigger targets depending on what other newbs you manage to run into. I would recommend that any new pirate start with a trusty frigate and fly it for at least a month or more while training skills and learning how to live as a pirate.

i. Rifter (Minmitar)

The undisputed king of T1 frigs and where a majority of new pirates start. Has lots of room for fittings and the grid/cpu to actually use all the slots. Relatively fast and strong. A better PvP option than a lot of T1 cruisers.

ii. Incursus (Gallente)

Personifies Gallente blaster ships perfectly. Charge in, lock them up at close range, turn on the blasters and then scream hysterically at no one in particular until one of your ships blows up. Can put out great DPS thanks to three small blasters, up to a 25% ship bonus to blaster damage and a drone. Has difficulty fitting much of a tank thanks to only two low slots and mediocre Powergrid/CPU. I flew this one a lot.

iii. Kestrel (Caldari)

(Kerblamo):
Kestrels may be reasonable in frigate vs frigate fights, but they are severely hampered vs anything else because of their massive powergrid problems. You actually need Advanced weapon upgrades FOUR to fit just 3 out of a possible 4 missile launchers and a MWD, a fourth launchers is impossible without powergrid mods. Speaking of powergrid mods, here's a tip kids - always put a Micro Auxillary Power Core on a kestrel. If you opt for rockets, just fit a decent buffer tank, if missiles you'll need a cap booster to permarun the MWD. The damage will never be amazing either way though.

iv. Punisher (Amarr)

(Kerblamo): I really like this ship. Sure, its as fast as a brick but it tanks like nothing else. I'm unsure whether this is still viable after the nos nerf, but if you fit with a repper tank and small autocannons (Yes, autocannons) you can outlast people's capacitor and then destroy them at your leisure. Your damage is pretty pathetic though.


B. Cruisers

The next step up from frigates. Cruisers are where you really begin to experience the ability to tank some significant damage and to deal out some significant pain. Cruiser class ships have more slots and a larger variety of effective fits as compared to frigates. The downside is that training cruisers and cruiser sized modules takes longer, they are slower than a frigate and they are considerably more expensive to purchase and fit. That being said, they are still relatively cheap and you get back a good chunk of your money via insurance.

i. Vexor (Gallente)

An awesome ship. Cheap to purchase and fit, gets lots of damage bonuses and is not too skill intensive. Intended to be the Gallente cruiser sized drone carrier. Can be fit in a multitude of ways whether it is:

(1) All out DPS.
(2) Plated.
(3) Nano'd.

My favorite T1 cruiser.

ii. Thorax (Gallente)

A very, very popular combat cruiser. Similar in some ways to the Vexor but with slightly better stats and a MWD bonus instead of a drone damage bonus. It is a very effective ship when fit with medium ECM drones as it is a traditional balls-to-the-wall Gallente blaster ship.

iii. Rupture (Minmitar)

Another very popular PvP cruiser and probably the one I fear the most. Has the ability to fit a good tank, can fit a full flight of small drones and can do damage across a range of distances thanks to the good falloff of projectile autocannons.

iv. Stabber (Minmitar)

The complete opposite of the Rupture. Built around speed and usually ranged combat. Gets a speed bonus from the Minmitar Cruiser skill. A bit more skill intensive than the Rupture but can be very dangerous when flown properly.

v. Caracal (Caldari)

(Kerblamo): Urgh, this is only listed because there is really no alternative caldari cruiser. Low damage, low speed, low cap and low powergrid make it a pain to fit. It can work well if you have a pet tackler and can devote your mids to something else though. Skye seems to like it though, ask him for input cause I hate the thing.

vi. Moa (Caldari)

(Kerblamo): Not much to say about this one. It tanks like a bastard but has crappy damage. If you rightly hate the caracal and only have caldari cruiser then you may as well fly this - its about as bad.

vii. Blackbird (Caldari)

(Kerblamo): Fly this and your gang will love you. Solo though dont even bother. If you can keep people jammed when in gangs then your gang will win. Ignore everything but ECM faggery - 6x ECM jammers (Try to mix racial jammers in with multispectrals) and at least one signiture distortion amplifier in the low, if not two. You dont even need to bother with guns or launchers for this ship if powergrid or CPU is an issue. Personally I go for 3x heavy launchers, 6x jammers, 1x 800mm plate and 1x sig distortion amp but some people may not be able to fit all that.

viii. Arbitrator (Amarr)

Very similiar to the Vexor. Does not get the same gun bonuses but instead gets a Tracking disruptor bonus. Gets one more mid slot and one less high slot which lends it to "nano'ing" a bit better as you can fit a shield extender or another toy in the 4th mid.


C . Interceptors

The only Tech II ships I have included in this list. The reason I stuck to Tech I in most situations is because they are considerably cheaper when factoring in both purchase price and return on insurance. Inti's make the cut because they are extremely slippery and when flown properly you can make back the 15-25 million ISK you spent on them before they are destroyed.

i. Taranis (Gallente)

My favoritest ship in the world. When fit with blasters it is as close to a super frigate as you can get (i'd rather fly it than any assault frigate). Not fast for an interceptor but very fast compared to your everyday frig or cruiser. Very impressive damage out of a frigate as it can fit three hybrid guns, gets a 50% bonus from the Gallente Frigate skill, gets a tracking bonus and can fit two light drones on top of it all. Works awesome with blasters and decently with rails.

ii. Claw (Minmitar)

(Kerblamo): Most claws fly a lot like a crow - orbit at 20km and pelt with weapons. 4 lows make it nice for speed but you generally need one for a cap power relay. Tracking is a major issue with this ship as is reloading; you only get 10 shots/clip with EMP S

iii. Crow (Caldari)

Piddly DPS when fit with either rockets or missiles. I once killed a T2 fit rocket crow with my Incursus and laughed my ass off. It does however excel at flying fast well out of web range while keeping targets scrammed and plinking away with never-miss missiles. Most other interceptors have to worry about tracking while flying with the MWD on where-as the Crow does NOT. A lot of people will tell you that this is the best interceptor in the game (although I may politely disagree).

iv. Crusader (Amarr)

A great compromise to the Crow and Taranis. Can deal good dps while flying just out of web range. Has longer and shorter range varieties as well and is very fast, if not the fastest interceptor while still being combat capable. Has to worry about tracking due to using laser turrets and can run out of cap quickly but is still a very deadly ship.


Additional Notes on Ships:

- Rule #1 of flying in low security: Assume your ship is already dead the instant you undock it. Do not ever fly what you cannot afford or do not expect to lose.

- Ships are tools. A tool is usually designed and most effective for a specific purpose. Last time I tried drilling a hole in a wall using a jackhammer, it didn't turn out quite how I intended. I personally keep a variety of cruisers and frigates in my hangar with a variety of fittings so that I can bring whatever best fits the gang or the situation. As detailed in some of my past experiences, you may need to dock up once or twice in the middle of an encounter in order to figure out the right ship for the job.

- Always insure your ships for the maximum allowed amount. It is free money. You WILL lose it within three months if you pirate and engage in combat even just occasionally.

Tomorrow: Chapter III - Skill Training For A Newb Pirate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Newb Pirate Guide (Chapter I - Intel & Information Management)

Chapter I: Intel & Information Management

(a) The Directional Scanner

The Directional Scanner is your most important tool and best friend in low security space. Let me say that again one more time to make sure you heard me right. The Directional Scanner is your most important tool and best friend in low security space. Learn how to use it well and use it a lot. For those who are not familiar with it, the scanner window can be opened by clicking the scanner button just left of the bottom center of the screen or by pressing ctrl-F11. Once the window is open, click on the middle tab that says "Directional Scanner".

You will see a few items on this tab. The "use overview settings" checkbox will be checked most of the time. This will filter your scanner results in the same manner as your current overview. In some situations you will un-check this so that everything including probes will display but in most situations it will stay checked.

The angle slider lets you set your scan area to 360, 180, 90, 60, 30, 15 or 5 degrees. What this is describing is the area around you that you are scanning. 360 degrees scans in EVERY direction. 180 degrees scans HALF the area around you. 90 degrees scans in a large cone. 60 in a smaller cone and so on. The direction you are scanning in is based on the CAMERA and has nothing to do with the oritentation of your ship.

Next to the angle slider is a box that lets you specify a scan range in kilometers. The maximum distance you can specify is around 2.14 billion kilometers, or around 14.3 AU (astronomical units). So if you put 9999999999 into the field it will automatically convert to the maximum value. Most of the time this will be left at max. The only time it ever really makes sense to change this value is when trying to determine if ship you are tracking is located at a safe spot that is just off grid of where you are (ie: a few thousand kilometers). In that case you can lower the scan range to 5000km and scan to see if the ship still shows up in the direction you are scanning.

Lastly, the results list. This list will give you information about objects around you and the most notable results are the object name and the object type. This list will be filtered by the same filtering options as your currently selected overview if the "use overview settings" checkbox has been selected. The results list will not usually give you a distance to the object and you cannot right click on an object to warp to it. The scanner only gives you information. It is up to you to use it and figure out how to find your opponent.

(b) Local Chat and Pilot Information

Local chat should always, always be displayed when you are in low security space. If you have not already, click and drag the local chat tab out into its own window and leave it there. Forever. Really. Now look at the pilots in local. You can right click anyones name and select "show info". This will display information on the pilot. The most interesting of the tabs in the resulting pop-up window are "Employment History" and "Notes". Employment History will show you what corporations the pilot has belonged to and will also indicate how old the account is. The Notes section is great for YOU because you can write down about where you have seen this pilot before, what they were piloting, how they behaved and anything else important. You might think "why bother... will I ever see most of these people again?" The answer is yes. You will notice the same people hanging out in the same systems and you may encounter some of them several times.

(c) The System Map

Press F11. If your Eve installation isn't hosed like mine, a series of maps will pop out of the right side of the screen. Most of these are useless except for the one on the bottom, the Solar System map. This map does a few things for you.

First of all, if lets you see a visual representation of the direction your camera is pointing and where the scanner is scanning. Open up your scanner and give it a try while the solar system map is visible and you will see what I mean. Second of all, this map allows you to see what warpable objects exist in the system and how they are arranged in relation to each other. It should help you quickly determine which spots are currently out of range of your scanner and where you can warp to get as much of the out-of-range stuff into range in a single warp. This is less important in systems you already know and have bookmarks in and much more important when you are in unfamiliar territory.

(d) Putting It All Together

So now we know how to use the directional scanner to find ships in space, we know how to use local to see who is in the system and their age and we know how to use the solar system map help us understand how unfamiliar systems are laid out. How do these things all tie together?

Intel and information about your targets, their location in space, their experience level and who they are with is all important. A lot of times you cannot tell these things for CERTAIN but you can make pretty good guesses based on what you glean from your intel tools. Let's run through an example of how a typical kill in a belt might go:

I jump into a system. I immediately look at local and notice that there are 2 other pilots than myself in this system. There are no stations in the system so I KNOW that they must be out in space somewhere. I open the scanner and do a 360 degree scan at max range and find no ships. This means that either they are out of range of 14.3 AU or they are cloaked. I press F11 to see what the system looks like and realize that the gate I'm at is almost 20 AU away from the sun and the main cluster of objects. I right click on the screen and look under the list of asteroid belts to see what belts are in this system. There are a bunch but more than half of them are listed as being in the "IX" cluster of objects, so I warp at 100km to the systems planet IX. I do a 360 degree scan again and this time I come up with two ships, a Slepnir and a Rifter. I right click on these scanner entries to see that the Slepnir is a big, bad command ship and that the Rifter is just a tech 1 frigate. I check the information on the pilots in local and notice that one has a -9.9 security rating, has been in a corp since 2005 and is currently in a pretty mean sounding corp. The other pilot is still in the starting newbie corp and has only been around one month.

At this point I know who is flying which ship (if they are not just unmanned and sitting out somewhere). I reduce my scanner angle to 90 degrees and scan all around me until i see the general direction of the Rifter. I again lower the scanner down to about 15 degrees and scan directly on top of the couple belts and planets that are in the same direction. I find that the Rifter appears to be at a belt and that there are two rat wrecks on scan as well. At this point we can make the likely determination that this pilot is a newbie in a Rifter who is ratting in a belt. I align and warp to the belt and toggle my defensive modules so they are ready as I land (ie: Damage Control). I land and the Rifter is only 18km away, attacking a rat. I target him as quickly as I can by holding Ctrl and clicking his name on the overview rapidly as I come out of warp. As soon as the target starts resolving, I hit the scrambler button and microwarpdrive directly at him. He is now trapped and about to die.

There are lots of other little things I don't detail here but this is the general idea for how you can quickly locate targets and engage them. With some practice you should be able to determine where the belts/planets in a system are and how you can scan them all with the least amount of movement. Once you get proficient at using the scanner and associated tools, you will find your targets and warp in on them before they ever even notice that local has increased by one pilot.

Tomorrow: Chapter II - Effective Ships for Newb Pirating.

Newb Pirate Guide (Introduction)

So I am still a newb. Instead of a completely fresh, clueless, completely devoid of knowledge newb I am now a fresh, clueless, mostly devoid of knowledge newb. I figure that I may be able to share some of the information I have picked up with other newbs who are interested in giving pirating a shot. This is a specialized guide targeted towards a specific type of pilot who fits the following description:

(1) Is pirating in low security space: There will be no information about can flipping or pirating in high sec. I have no qualms with people who DO do this (and I used to do it myself) but I am just not an expert in it so it won't be in this guide. There will also be no information about 0.0 as it is a completely different game than lowsec and again, I have very little experience with it.

(2) Is flying solo or in a small gang: If you like to gate camp or to fly in giant blobs or you fly big expensive ships, this guide may not be for you. I don't do anything of those things because I simply can't afford it and also because they just don't sound that fun.

(3) Is a NEWB: Newb! You don't know the basics of pirating or maybe even PvP and you need another newb to educate you. This guide is for you!

So now that that is out of the way, the following several posts will detail the definitive "Newb Pirate Guide".

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Epic Journey (Part III)

Final Destination

I boarded my Vexor and left the station in Dal. I only had about fifteen more jumps through low security space to reach the holy land of Eifer. I began the uneventful last leg of my trip and started jumping and warping, jumping and warping, jumping and warping... A few jumps in I began to notice that the area was littered with pilots in Iteron and Bestower haulers at the gates. They were moving goods everywhere like it was going out of style! I had seen weird occurrences like this in the Hevrice area as well. I had heard stories of tanked cruisers like the one I was flying being able to survive sentry guns long enough to destroy a hauler at a gate, so I decided I would give it a try.

I followed one of the Badger's through a gate and managed to scramble it on the other side. The gate guns opened fire and I had to rush to close a gap of 15km all while my drones destroyed the ship. I arrived at the wreck, grabbed the loot and rushed out with no shields, no armor and severe damage to my hull. It had been quite close but I was sure it would be worth it for the loot! I glanced into my cargo holds to see what I had obtained! Two tech 1 cargohold expander modules and... that was it. Worthless. I jumped my crippled cruiser into the next system in search of a station and docked up for repairs. One million ISK and a few hours later, my hull and armor were repaired and I was ready to continue my journey.

A few jumps later I was only one system away from Eifer! I prepared myself for what I would find. Women, treasure, newbs in battleships, coffee bars and probably an Old Country Buffet! As I approached the Eifer gate, I saw several blinky red names come up on my overview. Several heavy assault cruisers and a stealth bomber were camping! I quickly jumped through and aligned and warped to a planet before they could follow me through. Moments later several of their ships found me at the planet and I began warping around to safe spots and planets attempting to escape their pursuit. Finally after a hectic few minutes, I was able to sit still and scan around my final destination. All I had on scan was heavy assault cruisers, battleships and a multitude of haulers. This wasn't what I came for! This was scary as hell! Afraid for the safety of myself, my ship and most importantly my pants, I fled the system and docked up in a station next door. I had arrived but what I found was a shark tank, not a treasure trove. Just as I was about to despair, I noticed that the very pilot I had been looking for had entered the same station I was docked up at:

[04:12:51] Spectre3353 > what perfect timing
[04:12:56] Spectre3353 > hello mister rizzel sir!
[04:13:32] Kane Rizzel > o/

I greeted Kane and explained to him how I had arrived at this location:

[04:14:39] Spectre3353 > i was merely on an epic journey from my usual home in lonetrek down to Eifer
[04:14:51] Spectre3353 > i wanted to experience the system you described in your logs
[04:15:03] Spectre3353 > unfortunately it was not full of newbs in battleships and unequipped carriers
[04:15:11] Spectre3353 > instead it was full of hacs probing me down in safe spots
[04:15:24] Kane Rizzel > heh, it gets like that
[04:15:39] Spectre3353 > its ok :P twas a fun trip
[04:15:50] Kane Rizzel > the locals are over zealous sometimes
[04:16:06] Spectre3353 > if i was them i would be salivating at a newb in a vexor as well so i cant blame them
[04:16:15] Spectre3353 > are there any other quieter areas around here you could suggest?
[04:17:13] Kane Rizzel > dunno about quieter but Evati always seems to have targets

One last system before I gave up for the night. I would take Mr Rizzel's advice and give it a shot.

[04:19:10] Kane Rizzel > good hunting

I left the station and set my destination to Evati. Another five jumps to try and find something to justify my journey (which I was no longer referring to as "epic"). I carefully made my way to Evati and began to scan the system. What I found was Rupture in a belt! A very worthy opponent and perhaps the strongest of all the ships in the cruiser class but my Vexor was up to the challenge! I warped in at a distance to scout my opponent and was surprised to see that this was no stranger, it was a pirate I used to see in the Egghelende and Amamake area all the time named Effigies! He had even been part of a gang that destroyed one of my Incursus frigates several months ago. I gave my experienced opponent a friendly greeting over the local system comms and left him to himself. I did not want to mess with such a beast. I docked up at a nearby station, my journey now complete my mind uncertain.

The Gauntlet

My trip was over. I realized now that the Utopian star system I had set out to find had never truly existed. I had come all this way to try and find myself and to prove something to the universe but the truth was that I already knew exactly who I was and there was no one I needed to prove anything to. These star systems and regions were strange and dangerous and I felt out of place. I wanted to go home!

I paid the hangar manager for long term storage. I was going to leave my Vexor here in Evati. One day I might decide to return and I would already have a fully fit ship waiting for me. Trying to fly it home through low security space was a sure way to get destroyed in a gate camp and if I flew my pod through high security, the trip would be much shorter. I exited the station in my puny pod and punched in my destination. It would be only fifteen jumps using the shortest route but that path included passing through an extremely deadly system called Rancer. Our corporation CEO had made us all promise to NEVER go through Rancer. It was a bottleneck and was virtually always camped by pirates in battleships. I tried once before to pass through in a pod and was smart bombed to death before I even knew what was happening. So this would be my final trial... a gauntlet run through the death trap that is Rancer!

I made several jumps until I finally arrived at the Rancer gate. I entered the system and saw no one at the entry point. I Accelerated into warp and cried out and let everyone in the local area know how things would go down:

[04:41:38] Spectre3353 > RANCER I WILL RUN YOUR GAUNTLET AND I WILL BE VICTORIOUS!

I landed on the exit gate and to my relief, it was not camped and there was not a ship in sight. Instead there were corpses. Not one, not two, not even three but DOZENS. I sat in awe, staring at the mass of frozen bodies and for a moment I almost felt sad. Better them than me, I guess.

A few jumps later and I had arrived home. I docked with the station and immediately went to my bunk. Finally I was home where I belonged. The trip had provided me with a Rifter, Catalyst, Rupture and Wolf for kills and a Taranis as a loss. I had seen some old friends, met some new ones, run into my most feared nemesis the Rapier and finally come to realize the reality of things. It didn't matter what some random pirates on an interweb forum thought of my life or achievements, as long as I was happy with it myself. After pondering this for a few moments I went back down to the hangar, picked out a new ship and launched back into space. A smile slowly crept across my face as I felt once again comfortable and in my place. Time to find some T1 frigates...


The End!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Epic Journey (Part II)

A New Hope

I woke up at the station in Hevrice, reinvigorated and ready to make my mark. I paid for my room, grabbed some Quafe brand coffee drink (made with 5% real coffee) and headed for the hangar. I stepped into my Taranis and flew out into the bleak wilderness of space. I checked my planned route and set my next waypoint for the harsh and violent system of Amamake, one of my old haunts. It was at least a dozen jumps and on the way I found almost nothing of significance. Disappointing but not surprising...

Finally I arrived at my destination and found exactly what I was hoping for! A system chock full of at least thirty pilots! I warped to one of my favorite old scan spots and began my search. Rifters, Thrashers, Stabbers, Vagabonds... Minmitar war vessels of all types! I found one belt that seemed to contain a single Rifter frigate and warped in to greet him with my interceptor. A few moments later I was leaving the belt with his loot and a nice little pod kill. Nothing spectacular but enough to warm myself up for the action ahead.

Feeling a bit out of my league with the rest of the battleships and heavy assault cruisers on scan, I began attempting to contact several of my old friends and corp mates that still called this area home. Most were unavailable except for a Vexor pilot named Kachak. Kachak and I had a couple run-in's previously when I was still in the area. He was the Vexor pilot that was part of my dual Stabber kill many months ago and was also the first person I ever dueled in a one versus one.

So Kachak hopped in his Vexor and we began roaming the area. Our first stop was Egghelende where we spent a good part of an hour trying to lock down and engage a Drake. I nearly had him a few times but alas he managed to escape. Tired of this tomfoolery, we moved on up a few systems closer to Eifer. On the way, I found an Arazu recon cruiser on scan, seemingly towards a warpable object. Knowing that the worst an Arazu can do is sensor damp and scram me, I warped in to engage. I landed, toggled my microwarpdrive to close distance and cackled an evil pirate cackle as I began to draw near. Then I heard that sound. The sound of an uncloaking ship. I looked straight up from my cockpit and immediately recognized the hull of my most feared opponent, a Rapier. I made a full abort and attempted to flee the scene but was webbed down and my Taranis was torn to shreds. I warped my pod away and docked up, ashamed and inconsolable.

So this was how my journey was to end? I started out with such great hopes and expectations and what did I manage? To kill two newbs and die to yet ANOTHER Minmitar recon ship? I looked down at my soiled pants which were still wet with urine from the moment that the Rapier uncloaked and I realized I had never felt this low.

That's What Friends Are For

I didn't want to make forty jumps home in my pod. My quest was only half complete. I had to figure something out. I purchased new pants in the station and began contacting my local friends again. Immediately, a member of my old corporation offered to fit and fly a new Vexor into low security space for me. Rutger Centemus gathered the ship and all the proper components from his own hangar and met me at another station in Egghelende to make the exchange. I paid him and thanked him vigorously for his good deed. My journey could continue!

I met up with Kachak again and this time he had brought along a friend in a Rupture. We were flying three plated cruisers. Our gang was a bit of a one trick pony but we could certainly deal and absorb some damage if we found the right fight. We headed up towards Eifer again... I knew that this time we would reach our goal. It was my destiny! We neared the Hadozeko gate and scanned to see if anyone was in the vicinity and there was. At least thirty ships including interceptors, cruisers, battlecruisers, battleships, recons and more were sitting on the gate in a camp. I sighed to myself again. Another roadblock. Instead of risking ourselves in our slow cruisers, we turned and went back down the path of systems we came to find action elsewhere.

Finally after all our mis-steps, we located a Rupture cruiser sitting in a belt. Bait perhaps, but we had three well fit cruisers ready to go. We warped in and locked down the Rupture just in time for his friends in a Taranis and Wolf to arrive as well. After seeing our numbers and ships, the two frigates fled and left their Rupture friend to die. We looted and fled the belt to a safer spot just in time to see the Wolf appear back in the belt on our scanners. Back to the belt we went and down went another ship. Victory was ours!

Exhausted and relieved that things were finally going my way, I docked up in the Dal system at got myself a room. As I drifted off the sleep, my thoughts turned to the image of that Rapier uncloaking above my ship. One day I will have my revenge on you, old friend. Perhaps that day will be tomorrow when I finally reach my destination...


To Be Continued...

The Epic Journey (Part I)

T1 Frigates

The universe is a big place. In order for all the denizens of New Eden to keep up with each other, there are many different communications tools on the universal nets (or as I like to call them, the Interwebs). There are other pirates and pilots who post logs of their encounters and daily situations and there are also forums for like minded pilots to discuss a variety of topics. One of these forums I occasionally visit, the Crime and Punishment forum, is a wretched hive of scum and villainy where pirates can congregate to discuss their activities. Today on this forum, I put some intimate details about the pirating I have done for the past few weeks including a list of all the solo kills I have amassed. Frigates, destroyers, cruisers, interceptors, stealth bombers and more... I sat back and awaited the wowed responses. Would they think I was the greatest pirate ever, or simply the best of my generation? What transpired was totally unexpected... insults? Laughter??? They claimed that my kills were not impressive and even laughable!

If my achievements weren't amazing, does this mean there is someone else out there that can do better? I began doing searches on the Interwebs, trying to find some record or log of a pirate who was more badass than myself and came upon a doozy. I began reading the stories of a pirate named Kane Rizzel who had done incredible things... he had been part of gangs that destroyed carriers and even solo'd a battleship in a Blasteranis. I glanced over at my friend "Tranny Taranny" down in the hangar and felt ashamed. I have not even soloed a battlecruiser in my interceptor!

I stood up from my Interweb console, slammed my first into my hand and screamed:

"This will not stand!"

The one other pilot in the hangar lounge stopped in mid-sip of his coffee and gave me some sort of weird Elvis eyebrow look. I gave him a determined look right back and stomped off confidently to board my vessel. If the pirates in the community did not believe that I was their king, I was going to have to prove it to them. I needed to go on an epic journey to find myself. To do something great. To prove to all of New Eden that I was a man to be feared. At the end of this trip, all of the pod pilots in the universe would know the name of Spectre (or Walter G Plonkins if you're going by my given name).

The Journey Begins!

So I set off from Aurohunen and set my course planner to the very system that Kane Rizzel had described as being his home, Eifer. It sounded like easy prey in giant ships roamed there in flocks like sheep in a field and I wanted some lamb chops on my plate tonight. This trip would also bring me near several of my favorite out-of-area hangouts including Old Man Star, Hevrice, Egghelende and Amamake so I vowed to pay them all a visit on my way through as well. I began my trip and jumped through the first couple systems, looking for someone to warm up my killer instincts. Ten jumps later I was still unable to find any targets, almost out of hot cocoa and wondering if I should just turn around and go back to my home station for bed. Instead I tried to keep motivated and continued on down the path to my first destination, Old Man Star.

As I jumped into OMS, I was disappointed to see almost nothing on scan except a few Ishtar's. This was the place where I had seen my first ever solo kill and it held a special place in my heart. I continued on through Aeschee and into Hevrice, still having not seen a bit of action. Hevrice is the stomping grounds of another pirate I very much admire, Ka Jolo. He has incredible stories about taking on four opponents at once and emerging victorious and destroying battlecruisers in nothing but a trusty Taranis. Perhaps I could conjure some of his good luck in this system and come up with an amazing kill or four. I began to scan around and found a Catalyst destroyer ratting in a belt! Surely this was a veteran pilot in a fully rigged and faction fit destroyer that I would have to struggle against at all odds. I warped in, scrambled, webbed and unleashed hell... he was dead in a few moments and I nabbed his pod. I opened a channel with the two week pilot and requested a ransom of 1 million ISK for his freedom.

Newbie Catalyst> f*ck off

I sighed. Same response I always get. I podded him and went to dock up at a nearby station. This journey was not going as planned. Tomorrow would be another day and I was going to find that holy grail... I just knew it...


To Be Continued...

Monday, July 14, 2008

If At First You Don't Succeed...

Like many things in life, action as a pirate is pretty inconsistent and it comes in waves. Some days are quiet and frustrating and some days are so busy you can barely keep up. Yesterday was one of the busier days I have experienced as I was involved in the destruction of a Drake, Muninn, Vengeance, Carcal and Osprey as well as a couple smaller ships. I was also involved in a interesting dogfight versus a Crow, Rifter and Punisher that unfortunately wound up in the loss of a Taranis. On top of all this, had I been paying attention to my corporations channels I would have noticed that my mates were engaging a Maelstrom battleship and Hurricane battlecruiser. Unfortunately I undocked and arrived a few minutes too late to be involved but my gang and another local pirate took care of them easily.

So with an active day nearing a close and the corporations killboard already chock full of entries, I took one last stroll around my home system. I caught a Drake on scan (what a surprise) and it did appear to be in a belt. I struggled with myself for a minute, trying to decide whether or not I should just dock up and finish my day instead of suicidally bum rushing a battlecruiser in my Taranis. No surprise to anyone, the bum rushing urge won over and I flew into the belt to see who my target was. I dropped into orbit around the Drake and quickly checked the pilots information before committing myself to a fight. He was only about two months old! I turned on my scrambler, closed distance and began cycling my blasters. His heavy missiles slammed into my ship, not doing a ton of damage but just enough to slowly eat away at my shields and armor. Finally after a minute of seeing that I was not damaging him quickly enough and that my ship was not going to last, I broke away and flew to a safe distance.

I checked my corporation channels but no one was responding. If I wanted to continue this fight it was going to be all up to me so I risked the anger of the station guns and docked up my Taranis to get another ship. I didn't have my Brutix anymore and I my only cruiser was set up for speed, not tanking or damage so I instead grabbed my Ishkur assault frigate. I undocked and flew back to the belt where the Drake was still ratting and engaged him a second time. I again flew into a close orbit, began cycling my blasters and launched my Hobgoblin II drones. Just like with the last ship, I was barely breaking his tank but he was slowly eating away at my shields and armor. Even with a capacitor injector I was barely able to keep my repairer and my blasters and my scrambler going. The last straw was when my drones all began to take damage... he had a smart bomb! This Drake who I had thought would be an easy kill was obviously equipped well!

Then as though perfectly timed, two pilots logged into our corporation channel! I requested their help and Golden Helmet and Smec undocked their own Jaguar and Rifter frigates from the station and joined me in my struggle in the belt. With the Drake now locked down by my gangmates, I limped back to the station a second time with a damaged Ishkur and several destroyed drones. I combed through every corner of my hangar and came up with one last ship that might be able to help finish the job, a Vexor cruiser set up with a "nano" speed setup and Hammerhead II drones. I quickly prepped "Sexxy Vexxy" and undocked from the station, about to bring a THIRD different ship to the same fight.

I arrived on the scene and launched my Hammerhead II drones and began peppering the Drake with my railguns. Finally with three ships damaging him, he began to succumb to our damage and his shields failed. After what felt like ages, his ship finally collapsed upon itself and exploded. With several banged up ships and half my arsenal depleted, I grabbed the loot and returned to the station, exhausted. Fricken Drakes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stonesmasher

I landed near the stargate and immediately gave the signal to jump my ship through. The hull and armor were badly damaged and the faction police were hunting me but I just had to get to the other side. In the next system were a number of stations where I could repair and it was also where my gang of fellow pirates was currently located. I closed my eyes to ward off the weird feeling that you get when your ship jumps lightyears in an instant. It is sort of like your being is being pulled in every direction and squeezed into a tiny little ball at the same time. As we arrived at the in Heydieles, I looked up at my consoles and my heart sank. At least six hostiles made up of battleships, heavy assault cruisers and recon cruisers were awaiting me. In my big slow Brutix, there would be no escape this time. I ran my hand over the console of my beloved (and fairly new) battlecruiser and together we accepted the inevitable. I aligned to warp but was immediately scrambled, webbed and under fire from both the enemy ships and the stargate's guns.

Stonesmasher was no more.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lost and Found

Lost: An old friend.

Found: A lot of money.

Yesterday, I was floating around in space making myself some dinner. The Taranis, while a very small ship, has a little spot for a microwave and hotplate so I took advantage of the facilities to cook up some Easy Mac n' Cheese. This sort of meal is common for me as I don't want to waste all my ISK on silly things like expensive food. I save and scrounge for every credit I can get my hands on so that I can afford to buy and upkeep fun toys that blow up other peoples fun toys. As I sat in my pilots chair eating my cheap (but so cheezy and delicious) meal, I recieved a hail on my ships comm. It was an old friend of mine from the academy who we will refer to as "Stonesmasher".

Stone and myself had graduated from the academy together. We both were educated in the Gallente Federation and had aspirations of becoming wealthy and renowned in the universe, but we just happened to want to attain these results via completely different means. While my idea of obtaining wealth and fame was through theft and destruction, his was through hard work and determination. While I took up doing missions for the Federation Navy and then eventually moved on to the life of a pirate, he took up the quiet life of a miner. Even though we took these different paths and though we both eventually left the corporation we had both been employed by, we kept in touch. Stone let me know about how he had attained certification to fly a Retriever and then Hulk mining barge. He told me about his "adventures" mining in lower security space with his industrial corporation and I told him about my adventures pirating in lower security space where I killed mining barges.

So Stone had sent me a private hail. I answered the comms with a friendly greeting and he got straight to the point. It was sad news... Stone was tired of life as a miner and felt he already had nothing more to attain. He was going to quit and settle down as a family man in one of the Gallente colonies. This statement was emphasized by a notification that came up at the same time on my ships consoles. Someone had just deposited 270,000,000 ISK into my account. Two-hundred and seventy MILLION isk. Stone had liquidated all his assets and sent me everything he had. I found myself genuinely sad to think that I would never speak with Stonesmasher again. I had spoken with him several times a week for as long as I had been a pilot but this was certainly an acceptable consolation. After saying my goodbye's and telling him to stay in touch, I threw my cheap mac and cheese in the corner next to a half eaten cheesesteak and checked my bank account. My balance was now almost a third of a billion isk and I the spending spree I was about to go on was already being meticulously planned in my head.

I docked my Taranis, put on my clever disguise that I use when I need to enter empire space and hopped into my Iteron hauler. I set my course for the largest trading hub in the galaxy and thought about what I would order at the finest restaurant in Jita when I got there. When I arrived, I went to the ship dealers and picked out what it was I wanted to buy. I already had several interceptors and a cruiser in my hangar at home so I decided to purchase myself an Ishkur assault frigate, fully fit with blasters and drones and a fairly respectable tank. It was a good start but I wanted something else... something big... something I couldn't normally afford...


Bingo! Right as I walked past the Brutix battlecruiser, I knew it was what I was looking for. I have enough expertise to fly it adequately but to purchase and fit the ship would cost over 50 million ISK. "Fifty-million ISK? That's chump change!" I said to the salesman and asked him to send a brand new beautiful Brutix down for me to take home.

As I sat in the upscale restaurant, waiting for my goods to be loaded and eating my surf and turf, I wasn't sure how to feel. My wallet had increased ten-fold today and I would soon have a hangar full of every ship I could realistically want at this point in my career. I had a pang of regret as I thought about how I had come across these goods. I had already given my Brutix a name simply for the paperwork when I purchased it but I realized now what I would do. I took another swig of my classy vodka tonic and then I stood up and proclaimed to the rest of the crowd in the restaurant:

"I will name my new battlecruiser the Stonesmasher in honor of the one who made it's flight possible!"

I'm not sure why I felt the need to share this revelation with a room full of strangers. I bolted out of the restaurant without paying, boarded my now loaded hauler and made my way home. I had my crew unload my new ships into my hangar and I even took a picture. Behold, Stonesmasher the blaster fit Brutix:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Old In And Out

I yawned and put my feet up on the console of my ship. Why I had decided to start roaming this early in the morning I was not sure. I could still taste last nights vodka on my tongue and my bleary eyes could barely focus on the scanner. There was never anyone around this early in the galactic standard day anyhow so maybe I should just take a nap.

I glanced at my ships consoles and realized that there were two pilots in the system and two ships on scan. Perhaps it was NOT too early in the day for a little pirating. I spent a moment triangulating their signals and found that a Retriever mining barge and Raven battleship were sitting in a belt only a few million kilometers away! To those unfamiliar with pirating in an small blaster ship, each of these targets provokes this sort of response when you find them in a belt:

Retriever: JACKPOT!

Raven (or any battleship): Run away!

So when I saw these two in a belt together, one being guarded by the other, my combined response was simply a "Hmmm". Even an inexperienced pilot in a battleship could tank my damage until I ran out of ammo and even a ship with big missiles like the Raven would probably take me down if I hung around long. On the other hand, a Retriever is incredibly weak and I could probably tear through it and flee before the Raven could kill me. The classic hit and run... why not give it a shot? I set my course for the belt and accelerated into warp, my hangover suddenly overcome by a surge of adreneline.

I came out of warp about 25km away from my targets. The Retriever was busy attacking space rocks and his Raven friend was sitting right next to him. I toggled the MicrowarpDrive on my Taranis for a moment to close distance and tackled the mining barge. I tore right through his defenses and in moments the pilot was sitting next to his wrecked barge in his egg. I quickly approached the wreck, scooped all the loot I could fit in my tiny holds (but had to leave a valuable strip miner module) and fled back to my safe spot in space right as the Raven finally targeted me and fired a single volley. As I safely left the belt, I noticed that the Raven's volley was mostly heavy missiles and had barely even damaged my shields.

As I sat now waiting out my criminal timer and contemplating whether or not I should go back and try to solo a Caldari Battleship, the Raven pilot began smack talking me over the local system comms:

[12:19:01] Whiny Raven > nubcake come fight !!
[12:19:56] Spectre3353 > come back in a smaller ship and id love to
[12:20:50] Whiny Raven > your bountyfied now nubcake
[12:20:58] Spectre3353 > woohoo!
[12:22:08] Whiny Raven > 1 isk is about what ur worth maybe 2

For anyone again, unfamiliar with the life of a pirate, this sort of response is extremely common. I cannot tell you the number of people that have told me I will pay for what I've done and that they will get their revenge. To this day, none of my victims threats have ever come true. All smack talk and bounties on my head really do is increase the size of my ever growing ego.

This conversation continued for a few minutes until the Raven pilot finally gave up on me and went back to sitting in the belt, alone and next to his friends wreck. Minutes went by and the urge to warp in and try my luck continued to increase. Finally when I had nearly worked up the courage, two new pilots entered local and new ships appeared on scan. A Vagabond heavy assault cruiser and an Arazu recon cruiser were both nearby! Within a few moments my scanner informed me that they too had entered the belt that the Raven was idling in...

[12:34:26] Spectre3353 > please kill that *** in the raven
[12:34:29] Spectre3353 > i will laugh my ass off

I warped into the belt at a distance just in time to watch the Raven explode into beautiful little pieces.

[12:35:49] Spectre3353 > Whiny Raven, you SUCK
[12:39:52] Vaga Pilot > lol
[12:40:01] Vaga Pilot > job done
[12:40:06] Spectre3353 > thanks very much
[12:40:10] Vaga Pilot > np

Once the ships had all left the belt, I approached the Raven wreck to see what was left. The killers had stripped it of everything except one item... the strip miner from my barge kill! He must have looted his friends wreck once I had left! I took my other loot back to the station and returned for the strip miner and sold it as part of my haul. Selling a tech I strip miner on the market netted me over one million isk. Watching a smack talking Raven pilot go down in flames was priceless. It is funny how things always work out in the end.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sweet Dreams

The past few days had been horrendous. My corporation had suffered a significant loss and I had personally lost one of my ships as well as a number of implants. I had flubbed a number of potential kills and had to abandon a perfectly good cruiser in a remote station many jumps from my home systems due to anti-pirate forces. I flipped up the scanner on my Taranis and began doing sweeps, determined to finish on a good note before docking up for the night.

Two results jumped out at me. A Brutix battlecruiser and a Myrmidon battlecruiser. I quickly dug deeper into the scanner and local system information and was able to determine that at least one of the pilots was young and inexperienced. Best of all, they were in the belts where I could safely engage! Jumping on two ships like this while flying my close range blaster Taranis would be complete suicide but I was determined to attack. I set a course for the nearby station where I have my personal hangar. I ignored the normal security precautions and almost hit another pilots Iteron industrial trying to get into the docking bay. I quickly assembled my crew and screamed at them to get railguns and speed modifications fit onto my Taranis. My only chance of testing those battlecruisers and getting out alive if things didn't go well was to be able to move fast and hit from afar.

A few minutes (but what seemed like hours) later I jumped back into my ship and roared out of the hangar without requesting the proper permission from the tower. They would be pissed later but no way was I going to let red tape get in the way of my targets. I threw myself into warp and began the process of scanning again. I had informed my corporation of what I was doing so by the time I had located the two battlecruisers, I had two gang-mates preparing their own ships to join the fight. I warped in and immediately targeted the Brutix. I scrambled his warp drives and began orbiting at a distance and with my MicrowarpDrive running at full speed. Both ships were unable to hit me with their guns and neither had drones fast enough to follow me as I orbited at over 4000m/s. I started to poke away at the Brutix with my railguns and by the time my backup arrived in the form of a Blackbird and Carcal cruiser, I had broken his shields and was eating away at his armor. I was amazed that at the speeds I was going, my railguns were still able to track and do significant damage to my targets. My improved skills along with the targets large signature radius were allowing my rail-equipped Taranis to be way more effective than I had expected.

With the Blackbird jamming both ships, the Carcal and myself both scramming and damaging the battlecruisers, we slowly but surely destroyed both ships. Excited at the fact we had just won such a decisive victory, we moved in on our victims wrecks to examine the loot. To our dismay, we found some of the worst garbage I have ever seen on ships this expensive. Lasers on a Brutix? A hull repper on the Myrmidon? ...absolutely none of their equipment was tech II yet they both have several rigs equipped? I was totally baffled by our opponents ship load-outs. We laughed and tried to figure out how these obviously inexperienced and unskilled pilots had acquired the money to buy and fit such expensive ships. Disappointed by the lack of profit but still high from the rush of combat, I docked up in the station. I ignored the yells of the angry hangar manager as I walked from my ship to my quarters and lay down in my bunk. As I drifted off to sleep, the image of my Taranis screaming by the lifeless wrecks of Gallente battlecruisers filled my head...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Blog Pack

Ok I don't usually post out of character here (whatever the hell that means) but I wanted to share some info about an Eve oriented blog pack that CrazyKinux has been kind enough to create and let me be part of. Here is the list:
Additionally, here is the pipe that well let you subscribe to this entire pack with your RSS reader in one fell swoop:

http://www.google.com/reader/public/atom/user/13508179136225455934/label/EVE Blog Pack

I have been getting a lot more traffic and lots of good comments since I was added to this pack so thanks CrazyKinux and everyone else who has linked to me. I will seriously consider not attacking you if I see you in game (but I still will in the end... no hard feelings?)