Friday, January 18, 2008

A familiar lesson hits home

One important lesson I've learned is that all the little skills a pilot can learn add up. Sometimes it depresses me, when I make a list of all the skills I need just to maximize myself as an Incursus pilot: gunnery skills to make me more accurate, faster, and deal more damage; drone skills to make my drone faster, stronger, more damaging, more accurate, and to extend its range; engineering skills to give me more options on what to fit, and to let me always have the energy to use the modules I do fit; navigation skills to make my ship faster and more agile; mechanic skills to increase my ships' durability; electronic skills to let me target more ships, faster, to engage in electronic warfare, and to do it all on less energy; and frigate and spaceship command skills to enhance my ship's maneuverability and effectiveness. Put it all together, and to maximize my effectiveness in a t1 frigate would take over a year.

I'm already "pretty" effective in a lot of that stuff--there's not much I can still learn in each area. Still, there are a number of areas I can learn in, and those last little bits of knowledge are the most arcane, the most complex, and take the longest to learn. Is it really worth it? Yes it is, as a recent encounter illustrates.

I was sitting at a vantage point that let me scan most of the asteroid belts in a high-population lowsec system, and noticed another Incursus nosing around. I couldn't identify the pilot, but it seemed to me he was hunting me; as he jumped from one direction to another, I sensed he was trying to get a fix on my position. Fortunately, he wasn't equipped with the probes he would need to scan me down. Anyway, I decided to let him get his wish--I plotted a course to the last asteroid belt he jumped to, and engaged my warp drives.

I landed in a good position, less than three kilometers away. Quickly I set my ship to a tight orbit around my enemy, launched my drone, and engaged my warp scrambler, stasis webifier, and guns. I had the jump on him; by the time he got a lock on me in return, I was already within optimal range and had him tackled.

And then I watched in shock as my shields evaporated and my armor simply melted away. By the time I scooted out of there in my pod, my opponent was still smug with over 60% of his armor. What the heck happened?

After limping into my home station and fitting out a new frigate, I did some research on the databases available to my gang of pirates. I found that the pilot who killed me was quite a bit more experienced than I; fair enough. I've killed my share of very experienced pilots (after all, as the hunter I'm the one who usually gets to choose who I'll fight and in what ship), but it's to be expected that they could have a few tricks up their sleeves. But it's what I discovered next that impressed me: my opponent was known to fit three Light Neutron Blaster II's on his Incursus ships. I was impressed, because I can only fit three Light Ion Blaster II's. If I tried to swap out one of my Ion blasters for a single Neut, my entire CPU would freeze. This guy had three.

I took another hard look at the skills that would decrease my consumption of CPU and energy grid resources--quite a handful of them, actually--and let out a sigh of admiration for my more capable foe and of appreciation for the task ahead of me.

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