Sunday, March 9, 2008

A moving experience

Recently, my corporation joined a PvP alliance and moved to a new home region. I was not enthusiastic about the move. I have the idea that with pirate corps, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence; they always think some other area is better hunting grounds, with vast mining corps spreading solo T2-fit Hulks across the belts, inexperienced pilots trying out battleships for the first time, and mission runners that like to park their faction-fitted vessels near the sun to enjoy the view. Certainly during the short time I was in each of my last two corps, we moved at least once--and generally not to any better spot. In fact, sometimes the moves were to go back to some nostalgic hunting grounds of yore, when the loot flowed like water and pirates were Men. As for me, I was doing well right where we were. But the very reason I joined my corp was to learn, and I recognized the value of learning more with allied corps, bigger fleets, and convenient 0.0 space. I'm going along, with my mind open to new horizons.

In any region of New Eden, there are things useful for a combat pilot to have or to know. Safespots need to be established and undock spots for getting away from stations quickly need to be set up. To scan for targets most efficiently, I like to establish "scan points" in a system that (1) make it harder for someone gunning for me to find me, (2) allow me to see more asteroid belts from fewer vantage points, and (3) allow me to distinguish one belt from another, rather than seeing several all aligned at one point. This lets me safely and quickly find a target's exact location, or at least rule out the presence of any targets on the belts. In a typical star system, I might have 2-3 safespots, 2-5 scan points, and 1-2 undocks. If it's a good system for gate camping, I might also have 2-4 scan points for the gate as well. If it's in 0.0 space, I may establish another 2-3 points that allow me to get around typical bubble locations at gates. I had found such points and bookmarked them in 18 star systems around my old stomping grounds. As of now, I have scouted out just the one system where our new home space station is--so I'm hunting "blind" in the neighboring systems, or hunting very slowly as I gradually build a database of key points in space.

Pilots tend to leave space ships floating in space. They may drop a cheap shuttle to use as a bookmark (pilots who are not computer-literate in regards to current technology don't realize they can bookmark a point in space without an object being required), or they may have a stable of ships snugly inside a forcefield and surrounded by sentry guns at a POS near a moon. For the pirate on the hunt, this means ships show up on the scanner that are either inaccessible without scan probes or well-protected by POS defenses. The first time I enter a system--and probably at least a few times after that--I don't know this, and I waste time hunting those ships down. In my old system, whenever I scanned an area I recognized such ships immediately and ignored them, fixing my eyes instead on a viable target. Now, in our new area, I might let a good target slip away while I establish that the Vexor on my scanner is actually at a POS.

Every pocket of space has its regulars: regular pirates, regular miners, regular ratters, regular haulers, regular mission runners, etc. As a frigate pirate, I'm particularly interested in other pirates (whether as targets to be hunted or as threats to be avoided), miners, and ratters. Haulers and mission runners tend to scurry from sentry gun to sentry gun, and thus rarely present themselves to me as viable targets (in an organized gate camp, of course, everyone is a viable target--but I rarely participate in gate camps). Back in my old home, I recognized at a glance the regular haulers and mission runners, and perked up when I saw an unfamiliar pilot or a known ratter or miner. There may have been 20 pilots in local, but if I saw they were all mission runners, I wouldn't even bother scanning the belts. Back there, if I saw some very familiar miner pilots, I could even sometimes make a good guess as to exactly how far from which belt or ice field they would be mining, and had bookmarks set up to warp directly there. Here in my new home, I spend time checking out each and every pilot, with no idea of what they're up to, or where.

Back in my old home, I had four sweet spots, systems where inexperienced pilots regularly ventured into lowsec for the first time; I got most of my kills in those four systems. In one of them I could scan and distinguish all asteroid belts from a single vantage point! There were other systems in my regular roaming route, however, where I never got a kill. When hunting, I would focus on my sweet spots. Here in my new home area, I have no idea which systems are going to end up being sweet spots for me, and which will be barren. There's no feeling of anticipation as I jump into certain systems, no routine lets-just-get-through-here feeling as I jump into others.

Based on my experience and familiarity with the region, back home I had frigates, interceptors, cruisers of various types, a battlecruiser, and a battleship strategically placed in this system or that, so that if certain anticipated opportunities presented themselves and I was not in a suitable vessel, there would be one parked in the local space station. I was able to quickly take advantage of changing scenarios. I had ammo caches prepared, waiting for the times when I would run low far from my home depot. Now, here in my new guessed it: all my ships, modules, and ammo have been hauled dumped in a single station. As long as it took me to ferry all those ships to their departure point in the old area, it will take me even longer to familiarize myself with this new territory and allocate my assets appropriately.

For the time being, I'm trusting in my corp leadership. They spent several weeks checking out potential sites for relocation, and believe they've found someplace better than the last. I'm sure that, within a week or two, I'll have settled in here and will again feel in my element. And right now I can enjoy the fact that, whereas in my old hunting grounds I was a known outlaw, causing miners and ratters to run for safety the moment I jumped into a system, here I'm an unfamiliar name for most pilots, and may have some extra time to hunt before my prey has read his computer report on my past activities....


Johan said...

I hear ya!

Your blog has inspired me to go out "hunting" myself.. and while its been a good learning experience, I´ve yet to find juicy targets as you have done.

I guess it takes time in the beginning, and I hope it will pick up.. think I should find a Pirate/PvP corp? I´ve not looked so hard yet as they all seem to want "10m sp" or such and I am a measly 1.5m

Keep up the blogs, saves my day at work!

Ka Jolo said...

I consider it unremarkable to find any kind of target at all about once every two hours. Finding the real juicy targets--that only happens a couple, three times a month.

Regarding a corp, I myself sought to join one early on, hoping to learn from others more experienced than I. I am sorry to say that my hopes were to a large extent unfounded. Few experienced pirates really want to take the time to mentor very new pilots. However, joining some pirate corps did give me access to other new pilots like myself, and we learned a bit from each other; and on several occasions a veteran pirate would take a few minutes or an hour to help, and that shared wisdom has been very valuable. So while I would caution you not to be too optimistic about the benefits of a corp, I would recommend you join one.

In the end, the best source of third-party experience I've found has been online forums, websites, blogs, etc.; however, you'll find useless and conflicting advice mixed in with the gems, and will have to make your own judgments and learn from trial and error.