Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Tuskers: an early perspective

Wow, leading a lowsec pirate corp has been interesting. Here are some notable observations.

First, almost immediately I attracted a couple of recruits. In our little three-man corporation, I'm actually getting in more and bigger roaming gangs than I usually did in pirate corps more than ten times our size! What I love about my corpmates is we all seem to have a common enjoyment of roaming (as opposed to camping, or ratting, or buying stuff and fitting out ships, or logging on just to change skills, etc.). Each pilot has been communicative and helpful on our forums and in-game. I have no trouble speaking with everyone on TeamSpeak. When we aren't roaming together, we're happy to roam solo. Any one of us would be top 5 on the killboards of any pirate corp I've been in. In short, what our corp lacks in numbers, it makes up in quality.

About those numbers...it was a little surprising to me how few applications we're getting. But then I looked at the situation again, and I'm not surprised. First, there seems to be a never-ending stream of new pirate corps trying to get off the ground; there's a lot of competition out there. Second, I really do have standards, and I think I put off many potential recruits with my demands. I've chosen to insist that any new Tusker demonstrate the right stuff in the form of killmails documenting at least 5 solo kills, including 2 kills of ships "better" than the applicants: killing a destroyer in a T1 frigate, for example, or a battlecruiser with a cruiser. In the past, I've seen how even a grizzled old pirate corp with a dozen people online can struggle to come up with three pilots at a time to actually go out and fight. At the same time, I've seen how eager new pilots barely able to fit a warp scrambler can see stunning success. The Tuskers want fighters. But I think this requirement is intimidating to many new recruits, who can get in easier with some other corporation padding its numbers.

Looking at all the recruiting spiels from new pirate corporations similar to the Tuskers, I asked myself again why I wanted to risk starting my own. But as soon as I thought about joining an existing corporation, I found something inside me shying away from the thought of seeing the inactivity behind a glowing reputation, the drama of alliances, the feeling of flying solo again even with a half-dozen "mates" online, and more I won't speak of now.

More surprising than the dearth of applications has been the cornucopia of pirate alliances seeking our membership. Several times a day, the Tuskers have been invited into alliances that would link us up with numbers, skilled pilots, and opportunities that we can only dream about on our own. Some of these alliances are really first-rate; I've flown along on some of their ops, and seen some impressive kills. For the time being, however, we're not considering joining any alliance. First, we like targets, and alliances lead to "blues" in space, off-limits in our hunts. Second, as a corporation we're just forming our own unique identity. I'd like to see what kind of corporate culture develops within the Tuskers before casting us into the shadow of an alliance. Finally, I'm enjoying the professional gang we make up, free of foul language and chest-thumping smack-talk. Maybe later.

I've actually enjoyed setting up all the trappings of a pirate corp: the Tuskers have forums, a killboard, and we're even one of the few corps in New Eden with a ransom board. Corpmates Joc and Ronan Jacques have been helping to contribute some excellent articles on the forums to help our corp as it grows and gains a better reputation. Fun stuff when space seems empty.

The Tuskers will probably never be the biggest, baddest pirate corp on the block. Her members now have a fraction of the skills many other pilots enjoy, who have been flying for so much longer. But we can be a living body of committed combat pilots, with a strong comraderie, and enjoying the healthy respect of those we encounter. May the Tusker label always be a badge of honor and pride.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm starting a pirate corporation

Well, I finally did it. I finally decided to leave Ministry of Destruction. I am not taking this action without regrets--I've had a lot of good times with MOD. Her veteran pilots guided me, teaching me much about educating myself, fitting ships, slipping through traps, and springing traps of my own. Under the MOD banner I fought uneven fights at asteroid belts, risked shame and courted fame at stargates, and even fought in fleets of hundreds of ships under BOB command.

My readers will know of some of my previous issues with MOD--mostly stemming from shifts in vision and purpose; eventually, however, MOD returned to lowsec (and piracy) en masse. More recently I found myself being bothered by foul language and entire vulgar conversation threads; most of the time, I simply switched to another comms channel. The comradery I shared with my corpmates was stronger than my personal discomfort at such times.

But then I woke up today and read an account on our corp forums that caused my jaw to drop. A MOD pilot had entered into a 1-on-1 duel with a pilot from a rival pirate faction--and then, when the fight soured, called for help; a second MOD pilot uncloaked and jammed the enemy, allowing the first to escape, and bringing the 1 vs. 1 to a premature end. Cries of "dishonor!" from the rival corporation were laughed off. I posted my displeasure on the forum, then opened the corp voice comms.

As it happened, the story was being re-told as I tuned in. Again, I expressed my sense of dishonor at being in a corporation that does not (no longer?) honor 1-vs.-1's. I called upon the CEO to make things right with the offended pilot. The CEO, who was part of the conversation, chose to take no action at this time to defend MOD's honor. I suggested MOD pilots be warned to always honor 1-vs.-1's in the future, on pain of expulsion; again, no action was taken at this time. In shame--or honor--I resigned my commission as a corp director. Then I contacted the rival pirate corp, expressed my shame, and informed them of my resignation. As soon as Human Resources processes my paperwork, I shall cease to fly for the Ministry of Destruction.

In the meantime, I went out for one more rollicking-fun roam with a MOD gang; we lost a battlecruiser, but killed a Dominix and a Megathron. How can I harbor bad feelings toward my erstwhile mates? How can I hold a grudge against men and women with whom I have shared the risks and rewards of a swashbuckling life? While I always fly not-blue-shoot-it (NBSI), and former corpmates are no exception, I also enter into ad hoc alliances of convenience when opportunities demand more than I can bring; perhaps it is naive of me to hope that I may yet fly with MOD pilots again in the future. Certainly the code I fly by is not one to be imposed on other pilots who take a different view.

While I have already received a couple of attractive offers from pirate corps of some repute, I have decided to start my own pirate corporation. My problems with MOD stemmed from small incongruities in vision and philosophy. I hope that by articulating a clear vision, and by enforcing a clear code of behavior, I will attract a family of cutthroats in closer agreement and more united in purpose than I've yet experienced. Still a lower-grade pilot than most I see in space, I am under no illusion that my corporation will be a dominant one, or that most others will shy away from us in fear; yet I am resolved that my corporation will be respected and regarded as one of competence and honor.

Interested? Then check out the Tuskers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mega lucky!

"There's a Megathron under the command of a five-month pilot."

"Think we can take him?"

"I dunno. I'm willing to try if you are."

"Alright guys, see if you can scan him down to a belt."

"I think he's at the station at...no wait! He's at belt V-1!"

"On my way," I reported from the helm of my heavily-armored Thorax.

"On my way," Wraith Sho'Ktar reported from his Malediction-class interceptor.

"Point," announced Joc, also flying a plated Thorax.

Three Ministry of Destruction pilots, in two T1 cruisers and an interceptor, were engaging a Megathron-class battleship.

"Shall we go for his drones first, or focus on the ship itself?"

"He hasn't deployed any drones yet."

"Okay then, for now focus on the ship."

"He's hitting me for little damage...with light missiles!" wondered Joc. Soon, however, the battleship wasn't hitting anything. Vespa EC-600 drones don't have a great chance of jamming a battleship--individually. But ten such drones improve the odds, and today was our lucky day.

"Interceptor, get a fast lock on his pod."

"Let's ransom him. Everone stop firing when we get him into structure. I'll invite him to our private ransom channel." I started keying in the commands to make this happen, then--

"Stop firing! Stop firing! He's ejected from his ship!" Joc snapped my attention back to the overview.

"Pod locked, and I have a point on it."

"Everyone, kill the pod before he can re-board his vessel! Good."

"Who can fly a Megathron?" It appeared none of us could--but a corp member nearby was called in to pilot the helm of our prize ship.

"Wait, this isn't an Amarr battleship--it's Gallente."

Startled, I sheepishly spoke up: "Oh, I can fly it then." I found a safe spot in space, and parked my Thorax there after carefully noting the coordinates, then flew back to the asteroid belt in my escape capsule. I had no problems boarding the badly-damaged ship, and managed to get it also to my safe spot.

What a bonanza! We'd captured a ship of the line worth a good 85 million ISK, taking little damage in return. Maybe the pilot had expensive implants he was trying to save--if so, I'm afraid he was bitterly disappointed. Maybe he thought to deny us a killmail--in that case, good on you, mate! Killmail denied!