Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Silent Night, Cacophanous Night

I've been going through a bit of a dry spell. No kills over a period of several days. Today was shaping up for more of the same: plenty of other pirates out there, most higher than me on the food chain, but nobody larking about the belts in a ship too advanced for their abilities. I took advantage of the calm to haul some loot to my home base.

One problem with T1 frigate piracy is our holds are so small. It is not uncommon for me to kill a single ship and be unable to fit all the loot in my hold--especially if my victim had been mining or ratting and looting himself. One result is that I end up with little caches of loot all over the region. Some of that loot is quite valuable. Tonight, I cherry-picked some of the loot at one of my frontier hub stations, and filled my hold with T2 modules to take home and transfer to a trader who can get top dollar on everything for me.

So of course, as soon as I had my hold packed to the brim, I spied a Retriever all by himself on an asteroid belt. As soon as I got a fix on his exact location, I jettisoned my precious T2 cargo and warped to his belt. As my weapons systems overwhelmed his defenses, I tried to open a ransom channel, but my victim not only refused to talk with me, he blocked me from ever contacting him in the future. I blew up his ship, blasted his pod, and scooped up his drones. Then I inspected his wreck...and saw that I had a problem.

In addition to a nice T2 cargo expander, my victim had several hundred thousand ISK worth of ore in his hold. Normally I ignore ore (I'm a pirate, not a miner), but if this guy came back to salvage what he could of his wreck, I wanted him to know I was the beneficiary of all his hard work. So, I filled my hold with what I could, warped to a safe spot in space, and jettisoned the cargo; then I went to my earlier vantage point and recovered what I'd jettisoned there--it was all too accessible to anyone who might wander by. After depositing that cargo with the loot at my safe spot, I began making trip after trip to the wreck, filling my hold with pure jasper and pristine jasper again and again.

Eventually my global criminal timer expired, and I began hauling the ore directly to a space station. When the wreck was emptied, I began transferring cargo from my jettisoned cargo container at my safe spot to the safety of the station.

And then a Vexor showed up on my scanner. Now Vexors are deadly, but I've killed them in my Incursus before--and this pilot had only a month experience, and according to my scanners was fielding a mixed bag of T1 drones. I decided to risk it--and boy, am I glad I did. The Vexor dropped fast; he didn't have much of any kind of tank, to be honest. And because it was Christmas, both the Prototype Cloaking Device he had fitted and the two T2 cargo expanders he had in cargo all survived the battle.

I took me several trips to transfer the Vexor loot to my jettisoned cargo can in space. When my new criminal timer expired, I resumed transfering the Retriever and Vexor loot to my locker in the space station. With less than two hundred cubic meters of ore remaining, my jettisoned cargo container finally lost structural integrity, and I could sit back and take a deep breath. I estimate I made 20 runs with cargo, from belt to safe spot, planet to safe spot, safe spot to space station, belt 2 to safespot, and more safespot to space station. The whole process was time-consuming, tedium interrupted by brief spurts of intensity, and...profitable.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Serendipity, baby!

I just made several million more ISK yesterday in the course of my lowsec adventures--and it wasn't through piracy, ratting, bounties, mining, or running missions. I'm talking about looting wrecks left by others.

Yesterday I jumped into a normally placid system, and immediately sat up straighter when I noticed the large number of ship transponders showing up on the local frequencies. As I maneuvered around the system scanning belts and moons and planets and running background checks on the ships I could detect, it became clear that in addition to some pretty nasty characters there were one or two pilots of the caliber I could handle--if they were flying alone. No two of the pilots in local were from the same corporation, but I suspected a mixed gang.

Then I jumped into an empty belt to scan the other belts nearby, and saw the carnage of a recent engagement. The wrecks of a mining barge, a frigate, and a cruiser were drifting through space, still flashing as electrical components shorted and arced. I detected a Tristan and a Myrmidon in scan range, but decided to take a chance. I engaged my microwarpdrive and set a tight orbit around the mining barge wreck. Paydirt! I quickly looted a low-tech strip mining module (worth more than 5 million ISK) and some mining drones. Then I checked the cruiser; again I was in luck, scooping up a T2 shield booster. After a quick rifle through the frigate's hold, my cargo hold was full and I set course for a neighboring system where I could unload my booty in a space station locker.

I had just skimmed the cream on my first inspection of the wrecks, taking only items I recognized as having high value. Now I wanted to go back for more. I approached the asteroid belt cautiously, half expecting some of the pilots in local to be there reaping the rewards of their perfidy. But no, the belt was still empty. Expecting a trap, and ready to warp away in an instant, I again began filling my hold. Suddenly, the Tristan warped into near space. I got out fast; he could have been there to tackle me for his friends. I again went to the space station to offload my loot. Amazingly, when I went back for a third serving, the belt was empty again and I was able to empty all three wrecks of their surviving modules and cargoes, and even had room to scoop up some drones orphaned by the battle. I probably garnered 10M ISK in modules from this chance discovery.

Once, I came across the wreck of a stealth bomber at a stargate. At first, I ignored it; I've been burned too many times looting apparently unlooted wrecks at gates. It is common for ships to be cloaked, lying in wait for opportunists who leave the relative safety of the gate's activation range and take the bait of a large outlying wreck. But I passed through the gate several times, and once there was no other pilot showing on any of the local frequencies; I took a chance and sped out to the wreck. Ka-ching! I looted a covert ops cloaking device, some very expensive cruise missile launchers, and some other premium-grade modules, which I was able to sell for tens of millions.

So, to the list of things that are not beneath me, you can add scavenging.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Are you feeling lucky?

There's a price on my head. A 20,005,000 ISK bounty to the first one that pops my capsule.

It's got me looking over my shoulder a lot. As I roam through space, I get target-locked by the oddest people. Friends comment on such a "nice" bounty, and I wonder what those who aren't so friendly are doing. And when my ships do go down, I don't sit around in my capsule to trade "gf"s.

From what I've gleaned from the radio waves, the common practice for the likes of me is to collude with a mate to take a quick trip to the clone vat and share the bounty. Sure, I could use 20M ISK. I've even discussed doing just this with a corp-mate.

But you know what? I've decided to let this one play out as intended. Somewhere out there in cold space are pilots I've defiled. They were productive members of society, generally, mining valuable ores from asteroids or battling criminal riffraff. Then I dropped in on them. Without saying a word, I held them down and pounded them to death. In most cases I then wordlessly pinned down their capsule and popped it like a grape. Did they like it? Doubtful. They could have screamed, they could have cried, they could have crawled whimpering back to their mommies, vowing never to return to space; yet in most cases, they kept their dignity.

Some few of them identified me as a public enemy, using their hard-earned cash to make their point. An honorable response, and one bound to bring them a measure of pleasure some day. Respect to them!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bleh

After my great success yesterday in a Vexor, I thought I'd take a Thorax out for a spin. I've been working on some basic skills that should be improving my success in cruisers. Unfortunately, I'm not as pleased yet with my Thorax as I am with my Vexor.

With my skill level, I thought it best to go for a small-blaster Platerax. I just don't have the ability to fit mediums effectively. I set out to roam around a bit, and hung out at some gates hoping to jump a macro hauler.

I attracted a lot of unwelcome attention, sitting on a gate flashing red and all. Most experienced PvP'ers that came by tried to target me. If they were big and scary, I'd jump on through or warp off to a safe spot in space. But a couple of times I thought I'd give it a shot.

First an Incursus jumped in. He sized me up for a few moments, then started targeting me; I locked him right back. I didn't want to tank the sentry guns, so I waited for him to agress, and after a few more moments, he did. By then I'd already set a course for a close orbit around the frigate; now I launched my drones and engaged my 20km warp scrambler. The Incursus pilot simply kited me around for a bit, staying out of webber range--and far out of range of my guns. He leisurely popped one of my drones while doing so. I saw how this was going to go, and didn't like it. I recalled my remaining drones, managed to get out of range of his scram, and warped away.

Then, as I was preparing to dock at a space station, a Harpy sitting 20km off the station thought he'd give it ago. Why not? I locked him, launched my drones, and set a course directly at him. Again, he easily stayed out of range of any of my modules; again, one of my drones popped. A second drone simply disappeared from the overview--I'm not sure what happened there; they were all well within my control range. I recalled the other drones and warped out. I then had to listen to a third party annoyingly announcing in the local radio bands that I'd left a drone behind, how he was going to scoop it up, how it was worth a million ISK, how that was just free money for him, etc. ad nauseam. All I could do as I docked up was shoot back, "I remember my first million!"

Neither the Incursus nor the Harpy was able to do any damage to me (I've learned well that discretion is the better part of valor); I'm not sure either was at the point yet where they even tried, by the time I broke contact. On the other hand, my drones (the same kind I used to take down four ships in one extended engagement yesterday) didn't hurt either of them much, either. Both frigates should have been easy prey. Were they able to outmaneuver the drones, since I wasn't able to web them? I don't really know.

I'm reminded that the Vexor class cruisers come with bonuses to drone damage and durability; perhaps that was a key factor in the different performances of the same type of drone. Or perhaps the pilots I encountered today were just more experienced, and had better strategies for dealing with drones. We shall see. I look forward to gaining more experience with both Vexor- and Thorax-class cruisers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Glory!

What a day this was! I had a fight like none I've fought before--and emerged victorious and with the modules of mine enemies in the hold.

It didn't start off so good. While prowling systems in my Incursus, I came across a whole party of juicy targets, a mining op: 2 Mackinaws, 2 Thoraxes, a Brutix, a Myrmidon, one or two other ships. Obviously way beyond me in anything I can fly, and I'm sort of between corps at the moment; my old one is inactive, and I (and a half-dozen others) have been waiting for a director of the new one to interview us to get us into that guild. I spied a blue in local a few systems away, but even though he had a Hyperion, he didn't think the two of us could take on the ships I'd described. Half an hour later, we found another possible allie who could bring a Dominix, so the fight was on. Most of my experience has been solo fighting in an Incursus, so I felt a bit out of my element as I tagged along in a Vexor.

We were instructed to be ready at the gate of the system our targets were in; then there was an ambiguous statement such as "We'll target the Mackinaws first, then the Myrmidon..." which apparently the other pilot knew meant to jump and warp, but I thought it was just discussion. When nobody said anything for a while, and I noticed they had both jumped, and nobody would answer my questions, I figured they were busy fighting and jumped in and warped to them. There was already one battlecruiser wreck, and the fighting was going on about 50km from my position. An Iteron warped in about 25km away, so I tried to tackle it, but it slipped away again. At this point my mates had taken down another cruiser, and the rest of the opposing gang got away. I never fired a shot! My ad hoc friends expressed their appreciation for my scouting, but I obviously have a lot to learn about gang combat.

But then...

Several hours later, I managed to get on less than an hour before down time. I was near the scene of today's earlier action, and casually warped to the same belt in my Incursus. There were a lot of rat wrecks, and an Enyo. Fortunately, he was about 50km away, so I scooted right out of there. An (inconclusive) encounter with an Ishkur yesterday led me to think I might be able to take an Enyo if I was in my Vexor, so I went one system over where I had one parked, and came back in it.

I'd originally warped into the Enyo's belt at zero, and had noted the distance from there to his wrecks; I figured there was a fair chance he was still at the belt, looting--especially as I'd seen a couple of rats still alive when I'd left. So I warped to 50km this time--and right into a hornets' nest. The Enyo was still there, alright--and so was a Moa and a Thorax. Right then and there I figured I was toast, but hoped to take at least one of the ships down with me. I'd dropped right on top of the Enyo, quickly scrambled his warp drive and webbed his engines, deployed my drones on him, engaged my microwarpdrive, nos, and damage control, and took a deep breath.

He didn't go fast, but then he did go, and not all that slowly, either. The Moa was in range so I targeted him next; now he went fast. I turned to the Thorax, who by this time had me down deep into my armor; I was having cap issues, and had to watch my repper like a hawk. Just then I noticed an Exequror and a Claw had jumped into the fray--and the Claw was within range of my stasis webifier! I webbed him and redirected my drones his way; his tank was nonexistent, and down he went. I turned my attention back to the Thorax, my real threat as his punishing DPS had shredded my armor and was now melting the very structure of my Vexor. Dang, he broke my lock! Oh wait--the Thorax and Exequror were retiring from the field of battle.

There I stood, with the wreck of an Enyo, Moa, and Claw mingled with the older Serpentis wrecks, a handful of my downed enemies' now-silent drones, and all five of my own beautiful drones. I reloaded, recalled my drones to their bay, made sure my damage control was still active, nursed my armor repairer, and begin slowly moving among the wrecks, transferring whatever modules were still usable to my holds. My shields were gone, though they were slowly regenerating; my armor was gone, leaving my repper a big job to do. And my structure--30% gone; ignited gases were bleeding into space, giving my ship the appearance of being on fire.

And then the Thorax and Exequror came back to finish me off. Again, the Thorax layed off out of range, and since the Exequror was in range of my scrambler the Exequror was my target. Quickly I had him scrammed and webbed, and my speedy drones were on their way with death and destruction. Fortunately my cap had had a chance to recover a bit, and I was able to keep my repper running and engage my guns and nos. The Exequror dropped; rather than turning to the Thorax right away, I decided to provide a little deterrence for anyone else thinking of dropping back into the party; I locked the Exequror pilot's capsule, and popped it. I turned my attention back to the Thorax just as, once again, he decided things were too hot for his liking.

I finished looting my booty--from four ships now, rather than three--and decided not to scoop up the enemy's T1 drones; one of the pilots had appeared on my computer overview 250km away in a Rifter, and my imagination was full of theories as to what they would throw at me next. So I keyed in the coordinates of a safe spot deep in empty space, and barely had time to register the Thorax flashing on my near-space overview yet again as I warped out.

I exchanged GF's with my opponents and a few general remarks in local, and one of them convo'd me. We agreed they probably could have had me, and we both expressed our enjoyment of the whole encounter.

My first assault frigate kill...my first interceptor kill...my first one-on-four. I savored the sweet burn of adrenaline coursing through my veins as my Vexor slowly cruised through deep space, watching the red bars diminish on my shield and armor displays, and watching my capacitor recharge...and wondered what ever happened to that Hulk.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Now what?

I've had a pretty good 24 hours or so, killing a Velator, 2 Navitas's, an Imicus, a Slasher, a Tristan, a Catalyst, and a Vexor...all by myself. I also lost a Vexor to a Brutix (just as I broke his tank), and an Incursus to a Curse (just as I had another Catalyst into taking hull damage). I got a good dose of adrenaline to feed my habit and some fun hunting. But something's missing.

My once-fearsome band of pirate mates has withered and shrunk to a handful of pirates emeritus and young bravos. The savvy buccaneers in their prime have disappeared from the scene. A few days ago those of us left got together and decided to leave the corp in the hands of the ancient spacefarers, and throw our lot in with some other corporation. For all that we know, there is so much more yet to be learned, and no one at the present to teach us.

I have every reason to expect that I will soon be admitted to the Black Rabbits Academy any day now. What I'm hungry for is the chance to observe veteran pirates in action, and to benefit from their long experience.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thank you, Gentle Reader

My name is Ka Jolo and I'm addicted to the rapacious initiation of force against space-faring vessels. I admit that even rookie pilots in rookie ships hold an unfortunate fascination for me. But I have to admit that with time, it takes more and more of a fight to give me that adrenaline rush at the intensity I crave. Velators and Ibis's, of course, give me a quick fix. Navitas's and Imicus's are fine for a snack. But even poorly skilled pilots piloting poorly fitted cruisers don't really do it for me as much as a dyed-in-the-wool PvP'er who knows what he's doing. There's nothing like the thrill of being locked in combat with an Incursus or--worse--a Rifter, when it's clear the pilot knows what he's doing, when I'm unpleasantly surprised at his DPS or tank, when his tactics startle me and doubt raises its ugly head.

Yesterday a Rifter jumped in on me as I was scanning some belts. I've learned to fear Rifters and their barrages of relentless, never-miss missiles. At the same time, I've learned that if I can get in close, they melt before the awesome destructive force of my Incursus' T2 guns, ammo, and drone. Since the Rifter locked me while still 50 km. away, I got out quick; I pictured wave after wave of incoming missiles while my close-range blasters sat on idle, waiting--too long--for their chance. But then the pilot mentioned he'd just read this blog, and thought I had more fight in me. I directed him to read again about my experience with Rifters; he good-naturedly referred to the parts where I speak of ships running away from my blinking redness, and avowed his intention of not depriving me of the action I so crave. Eventually I was able to jump in right on top of him--and he warped away before I could lock my scrammer on him. That sums up good PvP--each pilot trying to pick the fight to his own advantage, in terms of opponent, range, and conditions.

Today after an hour or two of fruitless hunting, I again stumbled over my canny adversary. There are only three systems with asteroid belts in Onne, and I could tell from my jump-in point that the Rifter was not in any of those around planet VIII. Planet VII had two belts, and Planet VI had but one. Rather than scanning the Rifter down, I decided to take a chance and warped directly to the VI-1 belt. The scanning process can turn into a cat-and-mouse game; but if I was lucky and my foe was at VI-1, I might be able to catch him by surprise.

Alas, he saw me in the system and greeted me in a friendly fashion. (Many pirates are quite courteous, greeting one another and thanking one another for a good fight and good loot from one another's wrecks.) I tried a nonchalant wave ( o/ ) in response, hoping he still wouldn't be expecting me to warp in on top of him within seconds.... And indeed, it looked I would be warping in right on top of him, as VI-1 and the Rifter both came within scanning range at the same moment. When I dropped out of warp space, the Rifter was less than 4,000 meters away; I had the computer try to lock on to my target as I set a close orbit and launched my drone.

As close as I was, I wasn't close enough to power up my blasters yet. As the range closed to 3,500, then 3,000, inching closer to the 2,000 I would need to have a chance of hitting, and the 1,000 I wanted to be able to really unleash my full fury, his missiles started to shake my Incursus like I was some kind of dog toy. I sent my lone drone ahead to start in on my foe, but by the time I engaged my blasters my shields were simply gone, and I was beginning to take damage to my armor.

My confidence shaken, yet by no means in despair, I anxiously watched for the effect my guns would have on the fight. Happily, they seemed to be working quite well. His shields melted, even as huge chunks of my armor were being blasted away. Then his armor begin to shred, even as mine held on, stubbornly protecting my hull barrage after barrage in spite of the pounding it was taking. We both got past the others' armor and into ship structure at about the same time; vital life-giving gases were bleeding into vacuum, brief flashes of light marked where explosives met not only fuel but also oxygen, and I knew I'd won this one. Though late, my DPS had the momentum and the Rifter blew up in a beautiful fireball while I still had about 85% structural integrity. Much too close for comfort, though!

I wanted this guy to have a personal experience with me that he would not soon forget, so I watched for my chance and managed to lock down his capsule. As my drone and guns did their dirty work, the pilot--now a pod pilot in an extra sense of the word--offered to pay. I asked for just 5M, more than most of my victims will pay but probably significantly less than his implants were worth, seeing as how he'd brought up the subject of ransom--and asked him to hurry, as my computer reported several more pilots making an appearance in the local system, one of them flagged to me as a special danger. As I combed the Rifter's wreckage for a nice set of usable T2 modules, my computer flashed that 5M had been added to my account. I thanked my worthy foe once again for a good fight, and we went our separate ways.

Respect to you, pilot; if I'd been just one more kilometer farther when I dropped from warp, I doubt I would have made it. And thanks again for a class-A hit of the good stuff.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ka-ching!

After blowing several ransom opportunities, I finally got my first ransom payment today.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I jumped into the busy system and saw a Retriever at a belt within scan range of my gate. In fact, I was sure it was a trap; but most of the others in local were macro courier mission runners, and I was hungry and willing to take a chance. I saw a variety of T1 drones on scan, so decided I would have to take those out first. I landed near the mining barge, and just one burst of my microwarpdrive took me within range to immobilize my primary target with a stasis webifier and a warp prohibiter. I then targeted a couple of drones and turned all my guns and my own trusty Hobgoblin II onto them, one at a time. By the time I'd popped the last drone, I was down to about 40% armor myself--but the Retriever had nothing left to give.

With my guns and combat drone now trained on the Retriever, his shields and armor dropped fast. He opened a comms line with me, but communicated in Russian. Holding my fire with my victim at about 5% structure, I simply replied, "5M," he replied "OK," and within 15 seconds I had my money.

5M ISK is not a lot, but I checked the market and saw buy orders for 4M and one selling for almost 6M; with my luck, any T2 strip miners would be destroyed with the wreck. So I'm happy with how things played out, and I hope the barge pilot is pleased he was able to save his ship. Now, has anybody seen a lone Hulk crawling the belts anywhere?

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Economics of T1 Frigate Piracy

Is there money to be made attacking vessels with a T1 frigate? You betcha.

First, consider the cost of my typical Incursus. I buy and sell most stuff with buy and sell orders in order to get better prices than are usually going at market rates. Also, these figures don't factor in insurance, which would reduce my costs even more:

Incursus 90,000 ISK
3x Light Ion II Blasters 316,500
1mn Microwarpdrive 27,500
Faint Epsilon Warp Prohibitor 15,000
"Langour" Drive Disruptor 5,000
Micro Auxillary Power Core 45,000
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plate 45,000
Hobgoblin II 80,000
========
TOTAL 624,000 ISK

Now, the loot I manage to extract from the wreckage of my typical target is nowhere near this valuable. I can generally expect to sell whatever modules I may find for a couple of hundred thousand ISK. But then, I don't lose my frigate every time I attack a vessel on one of the belts, either. And there are enough vessels with T2 fittings or a special cargo that all my lost frigates have been paid for, many times over.

The typical mining barge, for example, drops at least one Strip Miner; even the T1 variant goes for over 1M ISK, and many barges fit T2's. It is not uncommon to kill a ship with some T2 modules, whether guns or shield boosters or some such; some T2 drones can be sold for over 1M ISK each. Finally, I have looted a packaged Covetor from cargo (18M), and had the pilot of a Thorax abandon his ship (6M) before I destroyed it, giving himself a better chance of escaping with his implants (he did).

So T1 frigate piracy: profitable. It remains to be seen whether I can continue to make money pirating in a cruiser. It doesn't look promising right now--I've lost 2 Thoraxes in as little as 3 minutes after fitting out the new vessel (jumped by an interceptor while scanning belts). Also, compared to my experience with frigates, in a Thorax I feel like I draw a lot more attention from the hungry pirates higher on the food chain. But I'm just starting out in cruisers; we'll see how it goes after I gain more experience and grow into the class more.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fortune favors the daring!

...and so, apparently, does misfortune.

Yes, my reckless disregard for convention has racked me up some nice kills, including cruisers and even a battlecruiser. Experience has taught me that the element of surprise is a powerful weapon. I have learned that many pilots in lowsec are inept and inexperienced, new pilots in particular but often pilots who should know better.

But that disregard for convention has also got me killed. Yesterday, it got me killed three times in less than 24 hours--with no victories on my part to balance things out.

First, I spied a Rifter in one of the system asteroid belts. Now, Rifters are known as probably the best T1 solo PvP frigate, and this one, I could deduce, was being piloted by a pro. Still, I could always hope that by jumping him unexpectedly I would get the edge I'd need, right? So I jumped him. And he killed me.

Second, shortly after I left the space station a Vexor appeared. I checked my databases, and the pilot appeared to be brand new--only 5 days old. Knowing I was flashing red on his overview due to my outlaw status, I thought I'd try to entrap him into firing on me--giving me the right to shoot back, right under the station sentry guns. It was a long wait. Finally, he targeted me. To encourage him, I went into my tight orbit around his ship. Then his drones appeared (dang, he actually did have drones and was going to use them...gulp). Then he attacked. I was soon dead. For a five-day-old noob, he seemed to know what he was doing. How does a five-day-old noob end up in a Vexor (Gallente Frigate IV, Spaceship Command III, Gallente Cruiser II) that deploys 5 drones (Drones V) and T2 neutron blasters (Small Hybrid Turret V, Motion Prediction III, and Small Blaster Specialization)? How does he afford the Vexor, the guns, the drones? I checked again, only to confirm he was indeed just 5 days old. The rascal garnered himself the honor of being the first so far to pop my capsule, too, as lag attacked my computer. I lost four basic implants!

Finally, I managed to get the jump on a Caracal on one of the belts, ratting. I did my thing, he did his--and I died, leaving him with just 12.5% left in his structure. He chewed right through my shields, already damaged by some belt rats, but slowed down working through my armor; I on the other hand struggled to break his shield tank, then melted his armor away at a brisker pace. I could have escaped, as he wasn't scramming me, but I wanted to see if I could take him. Although he was inexperienced (he claims this was his first PvP), he had plenty of highsec mission experience, he didn't panic, he was appropriately fit, and he was in a cruiser. Respect to him.

She was looking kinda dumb with her finger and her thumb in the shape of an "L" on her forehead. --Smash Mouth

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I LOVE my Incursus!

I love my Incursus; she's just such a sweet little baby. Consider my solo kills while flying the trusty Jousting Junebug:

Caldari Shuttle
Velator

Alright, no surprises here. These ships are basically defenseless. Still, they're quick, and not always easy to pin down.

Bestower
Iteron Mark III
Retriever
Hulk (would have preferred to ransom this one)

These industrial ships and mining barges are preferred targets for pirates. I wanted to ransom that Hulk, but didn't realize there was a password on my ransom channel. He may not wanted to have cooperate, anyway, judging by the obscene names he was calling me as he fell apart. These sorts of ships are for hauling or mining, not fighting; still, they can field a full complement of combat drones, can be fit to tank well, etc. Certainly I've lost more than one ship to a mining barge acting as bait for stealth bombers and recon ships.

Imicus
Incursus (never been up against one fitted like mine, though, AFAIK)
Inquisitor
Tristan

Other T1 frigates have not posed much of a problem to me. I tried to jump a Punisher once that just sat there; after several minutes, I could see that he could dink me down to dead before I'd begin to make a dent in his tank, so I left. I'm glad he didn't have a scrambler fitted! I've tried to engage several Kestrels, Merlins, and Rifters, but until now they've managed to elude me.

Catalyst

Catalysts aren't tough ships, but these destroyers can bring to bear up to 8 fast-tracking frigate-eating guns. I've generally not hesitated to attack destroyers, counting on the element of surprise, but feel better if I can do it with a wingman.

Rupture
Stabber
Thorax
Vexor

Now we're talking cruisers. Nor are these the easiest prey among the cruiser class--on the contrary, they represent the most feared of the cruiser-class vessels. Rather, I was astonished to find pilots so new they could hardly be expected to use their ship effectively; they may have known how to steer a cruiser around, but I had little to worry from the T2 drones, tanks, and resists such vessels are known for. I didn't worry much about their guns, either, as I managed to get under the heavy guns such inexperienced pilots tend to fit.

Brutix

I engaged one of these battlecruisers earlier in my career, against an inexperienced pilot, and was handily defeated by his combination of guns, drones, and tank. Even T1 small guns, drones, and tank make this a ship to be feared by any T1 frigate. However, a few weeks later another Brutix jumped in on me (see earlier story), and as the pilot was still quite inexperienced I risked it--and won!

My cruiser and battlecruiser kills illustrate why the conventional wisdom is that one should "grow into" a ship before risking it in PvP combat. I, an inexperienced pilot, was still able to fly my simple frigate great advantage; while they, just as inexperienced, were unable to scratch the potential of the ships they helmed. I hope my victims did not also ignore the adage, "Don't fly a ship you can't afford to lose!"

(To see all my killmails, click here or on the link in the sidebar.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stuck in Hevrice...

...what with all the targets milling about and cargo to loot.

First, I was happy to find an Imicus appear on my scanners at asteroid belt 4-1. He seemed to be mining, as two mining drones also showed on my screen. I'll take it! But as I warped in, the Imicus was 30km away and easily escaped before I could get him within range of my 7.5km warp scrambler. Dang. Back to the hunt, and off I warp...

...But wait, what about those drones? I direct my scanner back to the belt I just left, and sure enough the mining drones were left behind. So I turn around and head back. Doing a 360 as I approach the drones, I see another Incursus is now showing--and just then the Incursus warps into the belt I'm at! It's the Imicus pilot, back with a combat ship to defend his ore and reclaim his drones. We close with one another and go at it toe-to-toe, but it's soon clear my foe is inexperienced in PvP and my superior skills and fit win the field. After making sure he'll have to buy a new med clone, I loot his wreck, scoop up his drones, and bookmark his jetcan for good measure. Then it's off to a safespot.

Checking again, I see I am not globally flagged a criminal! The other guy must have acted against me before I acted against him. Cool! I head back to a planet to scan for more targets...unfortunately, all I see is a Brutix. Yikes. I head back to the station to unload my loot and make some repairs.

As I leave the station, I see my recent victim is back, this time in (I rub my eyes to be sure) an Iteron. No doubt he's just going to make a run for the station. I head to a planet to scan the belts.

Now things get interesting. Both the Iteron and the Brutix are at the site of my recent combat. Could the Iteron be back for the ore, with me still in the system? No doubt his friend in the Brutix is there for security. Still, I have bookmarked the jetcan, and they may have some distance to travel; I decide to warp in and check it out. As I cruise into the asteroid belt, the Brutix blips on my overview, then just as quickly blips off; he's left the Iteron alone--maybe even to go hunt me down!

I seize the day, and in moments the Iteron is dead (though this time the capsule escapes). No loot for me there--everything was destroyed in the explosion. Oh well. Then suddently--What's this?--the Brutix is back. I've established by now that this Brutix is a one-month-old pilot, but still. I'm only two months old myself, and I've been pwned by a new pilot in a Brutix before. Still, he's not doing anything, I don't see any drones, maybe I can test him out...MWD engaged, I plot a tight orbit around the Brutix and cross my fingers.

As I approach, I take some nasty salvos of railgun fire, but soon enough I'm under his guns, orbiting at under 1km, and not taking any more damage with 70% shields remaining. My three t2 Light Ion Blasters and humble t1 Hobgoblin drone begin to chip away at the Brutix's respectable tank. Apparently none of his drones are going to show up for this fight. By the time his shields are down it's obvious I have this guy; I invite him to my ransom channel. I demand 20M ISK and he readily agrees. (Just then two cruiser-class NPC's appear on the overview, so I know I have to keep things moving.)

About 15 seconds into the 30-second ransom window, my victim asks how to pay me. I direct him to the instructions in my ransom channel's MOTD, and tell him he has 15 seconds left. He asks me to stop shooting. Hey, this guy could have friends, and besides, I see one of the belt rats trying to target me. At the appropriate time, I tell him he's dead unless I see the money show in my account before then. He never does figure out how to pay me, and he dies. The belt rats are so pitiful in their DPS I go ahead and loot the Brutix wreck (shield tanking modules???), grab some ore from the jetcan, and head for my safe spot--with about 80% shields. Ha!

The Brutix pilot, after buying a new med clone, started chatting with me in my ransom channel. It turns out he was not with the Imicus/Incursus/Iteron pilot, but was hoping to jump him, then later came back hoping to jump me. He took things well, and was full of questions about piracy, ships, fittings, etc. I pointed him to some good sources of information and we went our way, friends. (Assuming friends will kill your battlecruiser, take your loot, then pop your capsule while they're at it.)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Revenge is sweet!

Not everyone enjoys being victimized by pirates; sometimes people fight back. Over the past few days I'd lost two frigates to pilots who laid traps for the likes of me. I would see a poor defenseless mining barge alone in an asteroid belt, warp to his location, then begin my attack. Things would start to go badly for me as a ship I hadn't seen would uncloak, target me, and start chewing me up.

Today as I scanned the asteroid belts in my favorite hunting grounds, I saw both of the pilots who got me in this way present, along with a pilot who had been the "bait." I called on some corp mates for backup, and we came up with a plan to turn the trap around.

My allies waited in their interceptors on the other side of a jump gate while I, having proved my susceptibility to such traps a couple of times already, pinpointed the location of the bait ship--today a juicy Hulk, a T2 mining barge. As I warped to his asteroid belts, my mates jumped into the solar system. I "tackled" the Hulk (I slowed him down with my stasis webifier and scrambled his warp drive so he couldn't get away) and opened fire, and sure enough a Nemesis appeared nearby, attacking me in turn. My mates arrived and attacked the Nemesis as my structure gave way, and I made a run for it in my capsule. As I fled, I saw an Arazu appear in the asteroid belt, the third member of the three-man trap. Attending to my comms from a safe spot, I watched with satisfaction as the Nemesis, Hulk, and Arazu were neatly despatched.

Including the Incursus I lost in this action the Nemesis and Arazu pilots had killed 3 of my frigates; factoring in insurance, I figure that cost me around 3 million ISK. My share of the booty today from our turning the trap around? 15 million ISK. Sweet.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Gah! A taste of my own medicine

Last night I ganked a T2 Hulk, hauling in millions of ISK in modules for my courtesy. Oh, how I savored that! Today, I got a taste of my own medicine.

I had some buy orders up in highsec space for supplies: several more Incursus frigates, some T2 guns, ammo, modules, etc. In addition to fitting more frigates for the day I'll need them, I am starting to gather the fittings for my next ship, the famed Thorax cruiser; so I had some T2 guns and fittings for some of those as well. On a friend's account, and using his Bestower, I loaded up a cargo-hold full of goodies and headed to my home system, a lowsec system just adjacent to highsec space.

Now, I'm used to zipping around lowsec without too many worries. In my frigate, I tend not to get caught at game camps and what not. Frigates are fast, and probably often deemed not worth tanking sentry guns for. Bestowers, on the other hand, are slow industrial ships. My complacency reared up its ugly head and bit me.

I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomache as soon as I jumped in to lowsec. Two Drakes were sitting a dozen kilometers away. Not good. Still, I was cloaked, and with any luck at all I'd be in warp before they could scram me. So I targeted my station (I could see home from here!), and by engaging my warp engines I dropped cloak. Heartbeats went by, and I was gratified to see my heads-up display indicating that warp engines had engaged. Then, sickeningly, I saw one of the Drakes targeting me...lock me...saw text informing me that I couldn't warp because my engines were scrambled. I knew right then that I was doomed.

So, Yes! I can dish it out. Just know that I can take it, too. I lost millions of ISK when my friend's Bestower went down (and I'll have to reimburse him for that). But I didn't whine, I didn't threaten, I went to my fate stoicly (if by "stoicly" one means frantically stabbing at the "dock" icon, hoping to save one's capsule). I maintained my dignity. No ransom was asked or offered (my cargo wasn't worth that much ISK).

It was gratifying to overhear in local, as I licked my wounds in the station, that my aggression-flagged attackers were themselves ganked, greedily picking over my cargo as they continued to take fire from the sentry guns. And so goes the circle of death in EVE space....

The last I saw of my wreck, there were still three Incursus frigates in the hold, too large for any of us to salvage.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What, no more highsec piracy?

Not for me, anyway.

I jumped into my favorite highsec system and started scanning the belts. Just as I dropped cloak, I got a rather graceless communique from the local authorities, and before I could enter warp to somewhere (anywhere!) I was dead. I tried to come back in the cheapo ship my insurance company gave me to snatch up my loot, but got that blasted into scrap as well; the cops were still hanging around.

My security status, alas, is now below -5, and it seems I am not welcome anywhere in highsec anymore. If you see me in EVE space, I will probably appear "red flashy" to you. That means any pilot, anywhere, is free to fire upon me. Sentry guns at gates and stations won't come to my defense. But wait! It gets worse!

If I'm flying with my own mates, and I get attacked at a gate or station, the sentry guns will open on anyone in my gang who attacks back! It is a crime to come to the aid of a scummy pirate such as Ka Jolo.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why things didn't end badly for me yesterday in highsec

I'll tell you why things didn't end badly for me yesterday in highsec: It's because they ended badly for me the day before that.

I knew I couldn't just ambush ships in highsec like I do in lowsec. Concord takes it's job very seriously, and attacking a ship for no good reason in highsec is a way of asking Concord to come against your T1 frigate with a flotilla of frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and battleships. It's suicide, certain death. But "no good reason" implies there are good reasons, and that's the trick.

If you're mining an asteroid, and some pirate comes along and steals ore out of your jettisoned cargo container, you have Concord's permission to initiate violence against that pirate. But (and this is important): if you're that pirate, and some miner attacks you, you have Concord's permission to fight back! In either case, you have to act fast--Concord only recognizes such kill rights for 15 minutes.

If you're lawfully engaged in combat, and destroy an NPC pirate ship, Concord recognizes your rights to the spoils; other pilots are free to salvage the ship itself, but if they loot whatever modules or cargo that survive, you again have kill rights for 15 minutes.

So, highsec piracy is a matter of getting kill rights on someone you can beat. We pirates want people to steal our ore, open fire on us, or loot our wrecks!

I first gained experience in this just the day before yesterday's successes. I worked a series of asteroid belts, leaving unlooted wrecks in my wake; but after a couple of hours, none of the miners had fallen into my trap. So I fell back on a classic highsec pirate tactic; I found a couple of miners who were storing their ore temporarily in jettisoned cargo containers (known as "jetcans" in the trade), and I simply jettisoned a can of my own nearby and transferred their ore from their can into mine. Technically, they had the right to kill me for the next 15 minutes; in practice, however, most miners think twice before attacking a combat-fitted frigate. After all, their ships are probably fitted more with mining lasers and less with guns and scout drones.

I then left the system, giving the miners time to feel safe and opportunity to get their ore back. If any did take their ore back, the interesting thing is that Concord would, from that moment, give me the right to kill them for the next 15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, I re-entered the system. According to my scanner, some of the miners were still there! I warped in on top of them, and they were flashing red! They'd reclaimed their ore--and I had the right to do something about it. I quickly locked my target and in a few short moments I had prevailed.

I had to deal with a couple of NPC pirates before returning my attention to the wreck of the mining ship I'd destroyed. These ships can have millions of ISK worth of modules! As I approached the ship, though, the pilot warped in on top of me; only this time, instead of piloting a relatively defenseless mining barge, he was in a frigate armed for combat, fitted with missile launchers. I was glad of the research I'd done before selecting my ship and its fittings, however, and the skills I'd gained in operating it efficiently, for once again I prevailed, even though I'd just finished three other fights. Thinking "I'll teach him a lesson about coming back here," I targeted my victim's pod this time, and had no trouble destroying it also. Then, inexplicably, as I turned yet again to loot the juicy wrecks showing on my overview, my shield and armor indicators went red, and the next thing I knew I was dead!

I had no idea what had happened. I didn't see anyone else in our vicinity. Had my victim launched some super (but slow) missiles which only then reached my ship? It was hard to believe. Only when I got a kill mail from Concord did I learn another important lesson about highsec piracy: It is never acceptable to destroy anyone's pod; by attacking my victim in his pod, I'd brought the wrath of the authorities down on my head!

I am so glad to be learning these lessons while I'm piloting frigates, rather than later when I may be in a battleship. (Or so I tell myself, hoping to dull the pain of yet another loss.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Highsec Piracy

Today I taught a young pod pilot some important lessons about high-security piracy, in the course of my own highsec piracy learning process.

Still flying my trusty Incursus, I cruised into a highsec system near my lowsec "home." Highsec systems are defined as systems where any unprovoked aggression brings a speedy police response in the form of Concord; such systems have a security rating of 0.5-1.0. Pilots with a low security status are also restricted from entering many highsec systems; already the slump in my security status prevents me from entering systems with a 1.0 security rating.

I began warping from asteroid belt to asteroid belt, hunting down NPC pirate ships and destroying them. Now this is the important thing: I did not loot those ships, but left them and their loot drifting slowly through the asteroids. Each time I cleaned out a belt, I logged the wrecks' location in my computer so I could return quickly. I then simply returned to lowsec space for some more (fruitless) hunting.

About half an hour later, I returned to the highsec system and warped to a point from which I could scan each of the belts I'd previously patrolled. I had a possible target! A Tristan was at one of the belts. I quickly warped to the point in that belt where I had left some wrecks. The Tristan was flashing red--meaning he was a legal target! I could attack him without fear of Concord. I quickly activated my combat modules (guns, webber, and scrammer) and locked onto him with my targeting computer. Moments later, his ship exploded. As I turned to destroy an NPC pirate hurrying over to take advantage of the situation, I monitored my victim's pod as it hung around for a few moments, then warped away. Within minutes, I received a message from my victim, threatening to return in 20 minutes to fight me again. Yay!

I looted my victim's wrecked frigate and went on my way, keeping in mind his promise to "bring it" one more time. About half an hour later I was back in the highsec system...and so was a pilot that had "Ka Jolo" written all over his antimatter hybrid gun ammo. On my scanner I could see he was piloting a Catalyst this time--a destroyer, much like a frigate in capabilities but packing a meaner punch. Normally I'd think nothing of attacking a destroyer, as they tend to be fitted for salvage work with tractor beams and salvagers, but somehow I suspected this one was fitted to gank one specific Incursus--the Jousting Junebug.

I warped to his position anyway.

As I warped in, I could see my victim of earlier in the day had just killed an NPC pirate and probably had a second locked; I hit my micro warp drive and began orbiting him. Unlike earlier, however, this time my target was not flashing red; this told me that Concord would not approve of me initiating force against him. So my guns, webber, and scrammer remained offline.

Suddenly, I was taking enemy fire! Now I activated my combat modules, and soon we were locked in combat. It didn't look good for me; I was hurting the destroyer, but he was hurting me more. Unlike many bigger ships, destroyers tend to fit small guns that excel at tracking frigates such as mine. I still hadn't pushed through his shields by the time he was biting into my armor. Then--BANG!--he was dead. I guess Concord didn't approve of him initiating force against me any more than it would have approved of me starting the fight against him.

Somewhere there's a Concord bureaucrat with a a special sheet of paper in his files. I want it. It's the kill mail for that feisty highsec pod pilot's destroyer.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

PvP University

Last night I participated in Agony Unleashed's PvP University's PvP-Basic course. Eager to hone my PvP skills, I welcomed the opportunity to sit through a methodic and planned course of instruction. AU required me to do some advanced reading, purchase and fit some ships, and make other preparations for the class. As things progressed I realized their PvP training is geared for gang PvP rather than solo (which is fine, as I do plenty of my hunting in gangs).

I was impressed by AU's "Hydra principle." Their Hydra fleets of T1 frigates are capable of taking out T2 frigates, cruisers, battlecruisers, battleships, heavy assault cruisers, and more. At the end of the class, we students were taken on a hunt by our instructors, where the lessons learned during the theoretical portion of the training were proven extremely effective. We only quit when our ranks were reduced due to other time commitments and a fleet came out against us with over a dozen battleships, battlecruisers, and T2 ships.

The classroom portion involved instruction in communication via Teamspeak and Ventrilo, selecting and fitting ships, electronic warfare (EWAR), tactics, and strategy. Stunningly, this part of the course lasted for nine hours!!! Our instructor was hampered somewhat by having to use English; at times he didn't catch on right away to what was being asked by students, and at other times he took several minutes to say what a native English speaker might have said more clearly in just a few seconds.

I have to say the course was worth the ISK 7M tuition I paid for it (if not the 12 hours it took to complete). I learned several very helpful things and learned to think about frigate fleet PvP from a better perspective. One of my fellow students was overheard at one point to say, "That point alone was worth my entire tuition."

AU's shared EWAR fitting worksheet is impressive. Forming up for our hunt in 0.0 space, each pilot entered the EWAR modules (including warp disruptors/scramblers and stasis webifiers) he had fitted; we could see the entire fleet's count for each EWAR module displayed on the same page. Then the fleet commander went down the list and suggested changes to ensure a balanced set of EWAR tools and help some of the pilots with their electronic capacity.

The several hours of guided fleet operations in 0.0 at the end were great fun. I ended up getting shots in against 15 ships we killed, including several T2 ships and a battleship. The AU leaders effectively modeled how they scouted out targets, kept us out of harm's way, inflicted us on our hapless victims, and communicated clearly with one another. In some time zones, people spent whole days (e.g. from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) taking this course; as for me, I spent a whole night, from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. the next morning!

As an alumnus of AU's PvP-Basic course, I can repeat the course in the future for free (or just a portion of the course, such as the 0.0 hunting), and am also eligible to take their Wolfpacks course (hunting with destroyers) and Covert Ops course. I believe I will!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Be a survivor!

With a few solo kills under my belt now, I thought I'd give fair warning to all and take some time to tell you how not to be ganked by a pirate in lowsec space. I've cruised through system after system without any engagements, so I've learned a thing or two from those who opted out of victimhood as well.
  1. Don't be there. I am frequently denied a fight by pilots who simply dock in a local space station or leave the system entirely the moment I jump in. It is obvious from the wreckage of most of the ships I do loot that the pilots really had no business being in low-security space.
  2. If you are just passing through a system, don't stay long. You are vulnerable from the moment you uncloak after jumping in until the moment you jump out. Don't rely on those sentry guns to save you; battle cruisers can easily take the damage from sentry guns and your weapons, and some cruisers can as well. In fact, I've seen frigates willingly take a few volleys of sentry gun fire in exchange for the chance to pop a pilot out of his escape capsule. Do not use autopilot in lowsec; always select your destination gate and "warp to 0," then start spamming that jump button as you approach.
  3. If you insist on staying in a lowsec system, be sure your ship is fitted for PvP combat. I've killed a couple of cruisers in my T1 frigate that were fighting the typical belt rats one finds in lowsec space. Maybe they thought they could fight pirates as easily as belt rats; all I know is that looking at the remains of what they had fitted as I loot anything left intact, I've had to shake my head. Civilian modules? Salvage rigs? Such things may be fine when it's just you and the rats, pirates are prepared for you to have much better fittings.
  4. If you are going to disregard the first 3 life-saving tips, then the moment you notice anyone else appearing in local, immediately head for a safe spot or a station or a jump gate out of there. I've been able to defeat ships I honestly thought might kill me--without taking any damage at all. Why? I'm not sure, but I suspect they were so engrossed in fighting the rats they didn't notice me enter the system, warp to their position, target them, and open fire. Sometimes I warp in to my victim's asteroid belt to find them already at half armor thanks to the belt rats.
Remember, when a pirate warps in to a system where you are, within seconds he has already evaluated whether he has a chance to beat you in a fight. Within a single minute he is already hunting you down, and has probably already narrowed your position down to just a few asteroid belts. If he's a veteran, he'll be able to find you even at a "safe" spot. If you find yourself locked by a pirate, you could be dead by the time you decide whether or not you want to fight him. He's had the advantage of analyzing data and planning; you'd best start running.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Whoops!

I had a great day the other day; I ended up on top of my lowbie pirate corp's killboard. Oh, how great the feeling! I'm learning that I can go whole days without any action, then suddenly people are lining up to be attacked. Since joining Sanguine Raiders, I haven't been killed yet by any of my intended victims--even though all of them so far have probably had more skills than me. There was one Punisher-class frigate that I had to run away from; I attacked him, and he stood there and went toe-to-toe with me, and while I didn't seem to be making any dent in his defenses (even his shields seemed not to flicker), after a minute or two my own shields started dropping quickly. I'm not sure if he suddenly found his range or started shooting or if a nearby NPC pirate started shooting at me, but I realized he could probably tank my DPS all day...so I acknowledged his prowess (he denied having any knowledge of what a good Punisher fit might be, or having any good skills), thanked him for the fight, and scooted out of the belt.

Then I remembered I'd forgotten to deploy my combat drone again. D'oh!

We pirates are an opportunistic lot--but no more than Sun Tzu or the US military's "shock and awe" strategies would advise. Why fight if you know you're going to lose? Isn't it best to win? It's actually hard to find people with less (game) experience than me right now since I'm so new, but I know (at least I hope for their sakes) I'm taking on some ships that aren't as carefully fitted as I am. I even took out that Rupture-class cruiser all by myself; probably the pilot, with not much more experience than I have, was not skilled enough to use its advantages to full effect or not wealthy enough to buy the modules he needed to survive where he was ratting.

Anyway, I just want to record for posterity that while I have never yet been killed by one of my intended victims (it's inevitable though), my roguish ways have in fact gotten me killed. There is a period of time after initiating violence on another ship that sentry guns set up at system jump gates and space stations will open fire on the aggressor; yesterday a mate and I took out a cruiser in the next system over from our HQ, then I retired to a remote part of the system to let my shields recharge and wait for those sentry guns to stand down. After about 10 minutes, however, my mind got to thinking of other things, and I decided to dock to fit an armor repairer to get my ship back up to 100%. So I warped to the nearest station...where the sentry guns, almost ready to stand down, found they were able to bring justice after all; I lasted about 3 seconds before having to flee my wreck in my pod.

Let it not be said by me that I am Eve's cleverest or uberest of swashbucklers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Adrenaline addiction

Wow, I never realized what an adrenaline rush PvP can be! I get all jumpy and twitchy during these early battles, and can't settle down for 10-15 minutes afterwards, and even then I'm left with a warm, tingly feeling for some time.

I noticed a pilot with just about a month's worth of experienced came into our system a short while ago...and didn't immediately dock or leave as most do. So, I set out in my Jousting Junebug to demonstrate why most pilots either leave immediately or dock. I found him in the 2nd asteroid belt I checked, in a Rupture. In my inexperience, I wasn't exactly sure what a Rupture was, but I figured if the pilot was not much more experienced than me, his ship couldn't be much deadlier than mine. I pre-armed my weapons, scrambler, and webber, set course to orbit my opponent, and burst on my micro warp drive to close range.

Good! My blasters were chewing through his shields, and he wasn't returning fire yet. Wait, my scrambler and webber indicators are still blinking. Do I have to turn them on manually? I turn them off, then click again to turn them on...dang, clicked the scrambler again, now I have to wait for it to cycle...the Rupture can still get away...there! Got him!

Either he was overconfident or unwatchful, because my adversary did not engage me until he finished killing the rat he had under his guns. Just as I started taking damage, I noticed my damage to him had slowed considerably. Ah; he was out of my optimal range--must be using a micro warp drive of his own. I checked my capacity, and gave another burst of juice to my engines; I closed range, and now was melting his armor with my short-range blasters. But wait! He's also torn through my shields, and melting my armor! I seem to be outdamaging him, though, so I sit tight. He has me down to 50% armor, but I have him down to 5%...I'm down to 40% but his hull is already only at 75%...pop, I got him.

Mindful of the rats still buzzing around, I grab his cargo in preparation for a quick exit. I see his pod on my display, but decide not to blast it (only later did I wonder if I should have ransomed him, but I'm perfectly willing at this point in my career to keep my security status slide slow while I'm learning the ropes). I set a course for the station, and made it home with about 40% armor. First thing I do is repair the ship (don't want to head out for something similar only to find I'm already half damaged), then sit back and tremble.

An hour later I realize I never did remember to deploy my drone...

First blood--his!

Just a few hours ago, a Catalyst-class destroyer popped into my pirate corporation's home system. I raced in his direction, but was too late--a mate had arrived before me, and all I could find was the remains of the Catalyst. I grabbed the pilot's cargo as he had no room in his pod and little time before fleeing the scene, then waited around wondering if he'd come back for it. Sure enough, it wasn't long before he warped to my position, locking me on his Velator's targeting system. I opened fire and it was not seconds before he was once again fleeing in his pod--seconds that seemed like an hour. I was in little real danger, but at the time I didn't know what he was crewing or what it could do to me, and the feeling of adrenaline pumping into my blood was like a drug. Yum! I mean, Yarr!

Kills - 1, Deaths - 1

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I made friends

Today I made contact with an underworld pirate organization, the Sanguine Raiders. After talking for a while with one of their leaders, I was invited to join their nefarious gang, and I was happy to accept. Shortly thereafter three of us went hunting.

Sadly, we found no prey. Once or twice we came across some lone miner, but they always ran away when they saw us coming. Once we came across a member of a rival gang of buccaneers, but he two fled when he couldn't immediately get one of us alone. Several times we ourselves made hasty retreats when we stumbled across well-armed gangs of pirates, grizzlier than us and with plenty of experienced Yarr. We were surprised at one point by a battleship, and though I managed to escape one of my new colleagues was forced to abandon the wreckage of his ship.

During the course of the evening's escapades, I learned a lot from the more experienced gang member leading our crew--scanning techniques and tactics. I look forward to more runs through lowsec space, and am confident that it won't be long before my ion blasters catch their first taste of victory.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First blood! (Mine...)

I went out on another hunt. This time, I headed for 0.0 space, where giant corporations rule and nary a sentry gun is to be found unless it's by some corporation's moon mineral processing plant. Once again, I took the time to set up 2-3 safe spots in some key systems, stored up for the day when I'm running for my life from an angry wolfpack or battleship.

Unfortunately, I found no targets of my own. Asteroid belts were empty, though there were pilots passing through the systems and others ratting in battleships or battlecruisers. After a couple of hours, I headed for home; just before I left 0.0, however, I came across the wreck of a battleship along with a half-dozen wrecked NPC drones...it was only 15km from the gate, so I decided to check out its cargo. "I can always turn on my micro warp drive and scoot back over to the gate if someone shows up," I reasoned. I figured there was a flaw in my reasoning as soon as I saw the battleship's cargo: a civilian mining laser. This wreck had "bait" written all over it, and I was starting to feel fishy.

Just as I hit my MWD and headed for the gate, a Hyperion appeared on my sensors. Gulp. A Gallente battleship. I started spamming the "jump" command, but soon was locked and under fire. I went into close orbit around the battleship and returned fire; after one or two shots on my approach, the battleship found it hard to hit me, and I began chewing into his shields. I launched my Hobgoblin drone to eke out a little more DPS, but didn't seriously think I was going to make it out of this alive. That's when the Cheetah appeared on my sensors--either he just warped in or he was there along and merely had to drop his cloaks. Cheetahs are Minmatar covert ops ships.

After that, it wasn't long before the pounding I was receiving caused me to lose control of my ship's systems and I found myself in my pod, ejected automatically from the exploding carnage that had been the Jousting Junebug. As the brave pilots from GoonFleet locked my pod and opened fire, I finally managed my escape, just a little bit wiser than I'd been a few minutes before. I attempted to open communications with them to thank them for my first PvP lesson, but both pilots--Rita Repulsa and Kara Repulsa--refused to accept my hails. All that was left for me was to limp back to my home system, my pod damage into hull. Justice prevailed today.

It might take me a day or two to lick my wounds; although I have a couple of replacement frigates standing by, I'm having trouble getting the armor plates and warp prohibitor I'm looking for to fully fit out the Jousting Junebug 2. In the meantime, I'm trying to put together a Catalyst-class destroyer rigged for salvage work.

Wins - 0, Losses - 1.

Still hungry

Yay! Having figured out how to fit that micro warp drive (MWD), I stepped back and admired my yet-untested Incursus. She's a beaut, able to reach speeds of up to 2 km/sec while dishing out 64 points of damage per second. I may still have a long way to go before reaching uber pwnzer status, but I feel like I have a frigate that will give me a fighting chance against the average pilot. I had to take her out for a spin.

I started by heading to a nearby low-security system, where I charted some safe spots to evade ships I'll need to wait for another day to fight. I kept my eye on the local transponder readout, and saw nothing but trouble--several cruisers in the system helmed by wanted pilots. I checked out a few asteroid belts, but all I got for my trouble was a few new holes from belt rats. One of those cruisers also seemed to be keeping an eye on me; several times I saw the flashing red icon on my heads-up display (HUD) of a CONCORD-approved target. I charted a course for the next lowsec system, and again programmed some safe spots into my computer while looking for likely targets. I experimented with my ship's directional scanner as I cruised the asteroid belts, but kept bumping into wolves rather than sheep.

For my next stop, I went several systems into highsec space and tried to annoy some miners. If they would just take a shot at me, I could "defend" myself with CONCORD's blessing; but alas, the miners kept their cool and blithely ignored me. Finally, I set my course for home, none the richer except for three sets of safe spots. At least I docked safely!

Perhaps I'll try the frontier systems of 0.0 space next, where there are no CONCORD and no sentry guns...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pod pilots: perpetual students

Well, I finally understand energy management enough that I've been able to fit my MAPC. It makes a big difference; now I've got that 200mm of state-of-the-art plate fitted as well, and my ship has plenty of power to spare. I've been able to test out my systems in combat against low-level pirates, and find I can zip around on full afterburners, webbing my foes and firing on them with all guns, without having to worry about power. The other side of the coin is that now, with an MAPC and armor plating, there's no place to fit an armor repairer. I also had to take out the damage control unit I'd been using. On the whole, however, I feel I'm fighting from a much more stable and durable platform.

Before I go out and take on more intelligent opponents, however, I feel I must somehow get more speed out of my Incursus. I'm thinking a micro warp drive to replace my current high-end afterburner would be of great value, but I just don't see how to do it and still have fuel to return to the station. People assure me it can be done, however, so it's time to hit the books again--now to learn high speed maneuvering skills and hone my knowledge of navigation and afterburners.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Energy management?

Gah! I'm never going to get this Incurses fitted the way I want! I was getting pretty shot up in it yesterday--I had to take out a whole gang of frigates, plus a couple of transports. When I first engaged them, I charged right in and managed to take out a couple, but it cost me dearly; by the time I finally was able to warp out, my hull had been breached severely and I was venting gas and scattering debris all over. As I went back and tried again and again, however, things got incrementally easier. For one thing, there were less guns shooting back at me the more ships I popped; for another thing, my tactics kept getting better. Once I learned to dart it, draw aggro, then dart back away from the convoy to deal with the one or two frigates on my tail, I didn't have to warp away anymore.

Anyway, what I really need is 200mm of Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates on my Jousting Junebug. And my poor power core just can't handle that. If I want that armor, I need to fit a Micro Auxillary Power Core. I had no trouble running one down, but back in the hangar I found I had nowhere near the skill needed to fit the MAPC. So all day I've been studying, and while I've reached new levels of energy management, I fear it'll still be a few days before I'm confident enough to give it another try. When I set out to live a pirate's life, I had little idea how much book-learning was involved!

The Dread Incursus Jousting Junebug

Monday, September 17, 2007

Where in the world???

I thought my agent was pretty cool. Grateful for my help in hunting down and killing a group of Gurista pirates and their leader, he kept showering me with implants, skill books, and even presented me with a shiny new Kestrel. Then, abruptly, he thanked me for my help and advised me to find some other agent for future work. Wow.

So, I was faced with a decision: Where in the world to base myself while I acquired the skills needed to competently pilot my Incursus? I heard of a decent agent in Jita, but remember hearing stories of the crowded hustle and bustle of the Jita system, with long approach paths and docking queues slowing down any kind of business at all. Eventually I decided to head over to a region where I my patron does business at a jump-off point for 0.0 space; it's safe enough for me while I'm learning my ropes, has low-sec systems in abundance nearby, and is a border region for some vast tracts of 0.0 space. Before heading over, I acquired some specialized gear for my frigate that I really don't know enough about yet to fit.

By the way, that Kestrel was a sore temptation. A Caldari frigate, I already have the basic skills to fit it and fly it, and it carries a big stick in the form of rocket or missile launchers. But for now it's up on blocks; I determined not to be swayed from my focus on Gallente technology. It probably won't be long before I come back to the Kestrel--I imagine I'll be an easy target for many of the old salts out there in lowsec--but for now, I can dream.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Initial Training Focus

My military experience has taught to not to underestimate any of the EVE powers--the smug Amarr with their heavy armor and searing lasers, their enemies the Minmatar with their swift and functional ships, or the proud Gallente, masters of the stinging drone. So, although my own background is in state-of-the-art Caldari technology and missiles, I've considered the question of how to direct my studies from this point. I have access to just about any hardware or technology available in the EVE systems, and have recently been introduced to a couple of open-minded agents working at the State War Academy who promise to be helpful in my career development.

After giving the matter some thought, I've decided to focus my studies on mastering Gallente starship systems. Their ships are sturdy, reliable, and effective in the situations I can imagine myself getting into. I can build on the gunnery skills I already have, but will need to apply myself to integrate drones into my combat style. I'm hoping to be checked out soon in Incursus-class frigates, a versatile fighter that packs a heavy punch while relying on its speed to evade return fire. I anticipate it will be a week or two before I truly master the Incursus specs, as I have much to learn, particularly in the fields of engineering and electronics. Beyond that, I will need to gain the kind of field experience that only comes when lives are at stake.

I messed around a bit today in an old Ibis I was issued by the State War Academy, and I guess I didn't do too bad for the agents supervising me, as by the end of the day a Caldari frigate--a Condor--was issued to me as well, along with some upgrade fittings. Most useful in the long run, however, were several technical manuals I was able to get my hands on.

Security Status 0.0; PvP record 0-0

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Introduction

My name is Ka Jolo. Like many in my family, my mystical connection with the Cosmos has taught me inventive ways of thinking, making, and doing that seem new to the races of man. My people, the Achura, have until my generation been devoted to the cultivation of our souls, imagining ourselves above the bottom-line-focused affairs of the State; all that changed when our homeworld was desecrated by pirates. Now our gaze is turned outward.

The Caldari State, ruled by a handful of mega corporations, claims me as a subject. They drafted me into their military machine, training me in Special Operations, and even now consider me their tool. But they couldn't--or didn't--stop the freebooters from committing sacrilege in the Saisio system. Now they've all but discarded me, warehousing me in the State War Academy.

This morning I reached a decision. The State has no claim on my soul. They think they've taught me efficiency, precision, planning, and persistence solely for their own profit margins; now I'm taking everything they taught me and vow to use them for my own personal gain. And if some get hurt? If men with power and fortunes don't like my actions? If other States howl at my supposed masters over what I wreak? Then maybe the mighty Caldari corporations will press me under their thumb, squashing the life out of me. Maybe. Or maybe they'll find me too expensive to bother with, just as the thugs who blasphemed my home were deemed to powerful to deflect given their negligible impact on someone's profit-and-loss chart. We'll see.

Today, I begin thinking like a pirate.