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