Saturday, September 27, 2008

What a year may bring forth

It's been a little over a year now since I mustered out of the Caldari Special Ops and returned to my ancestral home in the Saisio system, only to find my family killed and my home a smoking ruin. On September 15 of last year, I vowed to devote my energies to disrupting the smooth operations of business and government, throwing violence and plunder in their faces until perchance someone might wake up and make New Eden once again safe for peaceful families such as were the Achura inventors.

After an unexpected interlude educating myself to fly the ships of my chosen line, I set out looking for trouble. Almost exactly a year ago--on September 28--trouble caught me looking. Undeterred, I persisted in my evil intentions, and within the week I made my first unsanctioned kill. Since then, I've neither looked back nor wavered in my resolve.

I ingratiated myself into covert gangs of grizzled veterans, at various times over the past year flying under the banner of the Sanguine Legion, the Black Rabbits, and the Ministry of Destruction--notorious names one and all. I soaked up arcane knowledge--tricks of the infernal trade--learning from masters the setting of traps and ambushes, the basics of dogfighting, how to engage and how to evade; and all the while, my soul has soaked up the blood of innocents (and the not-too-innocent). You may not have heard of me in those days, O reader, but I began making a name for myself. Recently, my own stubborn independence and purpose led me to strike out from those old gangs, gathering some few mates around me, leader of a band of promising young like-minded brigands. They call us the Tuskers. (Apply here.)

And now, though I am far from the most feared pirate in space, though there are many whose tungsten steel and weapons systems and engines and numbers render them safe from anything I can bring, there are few who are as committed as I to death and destruction, as merciless, as cold. But how effective? As I pondered what this year has brought forth, I pored over my ledgers and official reports of my many engagements to see what I could learn. For now, I stare at a page of numbers. What to make of them?

Financially, I have little to show. Although I've looted modules from my victims' wrecks, and those modules have brought me hundreds and hundreds of millions of ISK on the markets, the risks of my chosen profession mean I myself have left over a billion ISKs worth of wreckage drifting in space. Thankfully, my investments in the markets have fared better, keeping me always with ships in the hangar.

As of this writing, records indicate I have made 858 kills and suffered 140 losses. BattleClinic currently ranks me number 4,688 in space, and finds each of my kills weightier than each of my losses, giving me an adjusted success ratio of 408% (11:1). I'm pretty sure I don't follow that math. After spending hours trying to make sense of all the statistics, I finally decided to tabulate only the action reports where I and just one other pilot are recorded; this doesn't correspond neatly to 1-on-1 solo engagements, as one might think, but it's as close as I can get.

Early in my career, I specialized in flying frigates of the Incursus class. While not generally considered the best combat frigate in space, I have found the Incursus reliable and deadly, and I still keep one or two in my hangar, and I still take them out now and then to execute my deadly business. In an Incursus have a kill-loss record against other low-tech frigates of 70-4. I'm 10-0 against rookie ships and shuttles, 28-0 vs. destroyers, 10-1 vs. mining and industrial ships, and 22-12 against low-tech cruisers. Ships I've not fared so well against include battlecruisers (2-4), an interceptor (0-1), stealth bombers (0-3), and battleships (0-2). Overall I'm 142-27 in an Incursus; 87 of those kills I followed up by also killing the poor pilot's capsule.

After flying nothing but an Incursus for six weeks, I started experimenting with cruisers. At that early stage in my skill development, I liked the Vexor best; compared with an Incursus, a Vexor seemed to have a beast of a tank and great offensive capability. My most glorious battle to date remains the one from last December where, less than three months after mustering out of the Caldari military, I defeated four ships in my Vexor--including an assault frigate and an inteceptor. I compiled a 20-5 solo combat record in my Vexor: 2-0 vs. rookie ships and shuttles, 1-0 vs. frigates, 3-0 vs. destroyers, 3-0 vs. miners and industrial ships, 7-1 vs. cruisers, 2-0 vs. assault frigates, 1-1 vs. interceptors, 1-2 vs. battlecruisers, and 0-1 vs. heavy assault ships. Six of my 20 victims lost their capsules to my drones soon after ejecting. I didn't find Vexors particularly feasible from an economic standpoint, however, and have rarely flown them since checking them out.

Apparently I got caught once flying an Imicus, a ship I generally use for hauling loot around in lowsec; so let me say here that I am 0-1 vs. assault frigates when flying an Imicus.

I continued to prefer Incursus frigates in general over a cruiser, up until around February. At that point I received my Interceptor pilot rating, and mastered the Taranis-class Gallente interceptor. I racked up a 113-13 kill-loss record in a Taranis, and further locked on to 86 fleeing capsules to drop the pilots back into their clones. Against frigates, 46-0; 2-0 against rookie ships and shuttles; 23-1 vs. destroyers; 30-9 vs. cruisers; 8-0 vs. miners and industrial ships; 1-0 vs. assault frigates; 2-1 vs. battlecruisers; 1-1 vs. interceptors; and 0-1 against stealth bombers. Those are some nice ratios, but when I lose a Taranis, that's a lot of ISK out the airlock!

Dissatisfied actually with the Taranis interceptor as an interceptor, I flew it more like a super-Incursus, and gained the skill to pilot the Crow class interceptor. I like the Crow, but use it more in gangs, so don't have much of a solo record to go by. That combat record is 18-7, plus 9 capsules killed. 2-0 against rookie ships and shuttles, 11-1 against frigates, 4-0 vs. destroyers, 1-2 vs. cruisers, 0-1 against interceptors, 0-1 vs. battlecruisers, 0-1 vs. heavy assault ships, and 0-1 against force recon ships. The Crow's low DPS, while admirable for an interceptor, just isn't enough to support a real impressive solo record. I believe I probably lost ISK when flying solo in Crows.

By May, my support skills were approaching respectable, and I re-discovered cruisers, this time favoring the famed Thorax class of Gallente cruiser. For many purposes, a Thorax remains my ship of choice today; it's inexpensive and deadly. My "solo" combat record with a Thorax is a delightful 127-13, with 58 of my victims waking up in their clone vats. That's broken down to 33-0 against frigates, 21-0 against destroyers, 22-0 against mining ships and industrials, 39-1 against cruisers, 5-0 against assault frigates, 6-7 vs. battlecruisers, 0-2 vs. heavy assault ships, 0-1 vs. force recon vessels, and 0-2 against battleships. With that kind of record, it's easy to see why the Thorax is my meat-and-potatoes warship.

During the course of these 486 fights--420 kills 66 and losses--I managed to follow my kills with capsule kills 246 times...while only losing my own capsule 3 times!

Again, let me point out that those 486 fights do not reflect all my combat experience. They don't include the times when I didn't manage to tackle my target, or the times when I myself managed to slip away, or the times when we engaged but reached an impasse and had to break things off. They don't reflect the kills I got together with my mates in the Sanguine Legion or the Black Rabits or the Ministry of Destruction, or with alliance partners in the Guristas Associates or the Southern Cross Alliance or the Greater BoB Community, or with partners of convenience and opportunity. They don't show my losses where I was ganked by more than one opponent or a whole blob of them, they don't show my loss in a dishonored 1 vs. 1.

Yeah, it's been quite a year.

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