Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yo ho!

One fleet consists of a Harbinger, Ishtar, and Falcon. An Ishkur, Maller, Vexor, Thorax, and Incursus compose the second fleet. Which would you bet on?

Last night, five intrepid Tuskers teamed up to hunt together. At first I in my Ishkur, Gilad Ayn in his Vexor, and Cap'n Tickles in his Incursus went to Agoze to escort kor anon back to Hevrice in an unfit Devoter; after an uneventful trip, kor anon and I struck a deal and I received his Devoter in exchange for one fully-fit Maller and the promise of two more in the future. So kor anon hopped into his new Maller and off we went.

I assigned the scout role to kor anon, based on the awe with which I regard his ability to get fights. In his Maller of Doom (tm) he's a force to be reckoned with. In fact, on his second jump he was attacked at the gate by a Lachesis! As much as I would have loved to have helped my mate, I respect the laws of CONCORD regarding assisting outlaws, and so the rest of the gant hung back and let kor anon take solo credit for a Lachesis kill. With his T1, tier 1 cruiser. The Maller of Doom (tm). Next kor anon started trying to pinpoint the location of some ships his onboard scanner was picking up--and a Taranis attacked him, again under the watchful protection of sentry guns. Once again our "scout" scored a nice solo kill.

Not getting a good fix on his bogeys, kor anon piloted his Maller to an asteroid belt, as if out for a pleasant spell of ratting in pirate-infested space . . . and it worked. Another Lachesis attacked! Our gang promptly jumped into the system, learning as we rushed to our comrade's aid (and hoping to get there before he hogged another killmail) that a Rapier had joined in the fray against us. We dropped out of warp near enough, but the Rapier had picked us up on his scanner and was already getting out; he left his mate to his own devices, and most of us managed to get a point on the Lachesis before it popped. This was shaping up to be a good hunt!

Tusker Aldour Larrt joined our gang in an Incursus at about this time, and we larked about for a bit in Ouelletta. An outlaw Jaguar and a respectable Rupture wanted to play undock games at one of the space stations there; we tried engaging them, during the course of which Cap'n Tickles lost his Incursus, but they would just dock before we could kill them. However, just before we moved on the Rupture engaged kor anon's Maller (!) as he undocked from a station. My crew jumped into a Myrmidon kept ready in the station, and we undocked to assist; the station's sentry guns opened fire on me as my drones sped to the Rupture. At this point the Jaguar arrived on the scene and opened fire on me as well. It didn't take long for him to cease all aggressive actions, however, and duck back into the space station as other members of our gang dropped out of warp. The Rupture went out in a burst of flame as gases vented through super-heated breaches in its hull.

I cooled my heels in the space station in Ouelletta, mindful of an all-points bulletin issued on me for assisting an outlaw (never mind he was attacked by that Rupture first). Cap'n Tickles went to pick up a Thorax to continue hunting in. The rest of the gang looped up around Stacmon. When my Global Criminal status expired, I re-embarked on my Ishkur and sped in their direction; we met up in Alperaute, as they were returning towards Verge Vendor.

Upon jumping into Agoze, kor anon scanned out a Harbinger. He made a couple of futile attempts to tackle the Harbinger, only to find the Amarr battlecruiser always one step ahead. Falling back to a tried-and-true ploy, kor anon flew his Maller to a nearby asteroid belt, as though out for a bit of ratting in pirate-infested space. It worked! The Harbinger jumped to point-blank range, and kor anon had him tackled. Our gang was speeding to the fight when kor anon reported a Falcon on scan.

A Falcon! Pilots from one end of New Eden to the other curse the day that class was ever developed--unless, of course, one of their mates is flying one. Falcons are able to uncloak on a battlefield and jam multiple opponents, causing them to lose lock on their targets, from the safety of a hundred kilometers away or more. I begin to get a bad feeling about this fight. Nevertheless, with two drone boats we had a chance to finish off the Harbinger; quickly Gilad Ayn in his Vexor and I in my Ishkur and Cap'n Tickles in his Thorax unleased our drones against the hapless battlecruiser. We were in time! kor anon was more or less perma-jammed, but the rest of us got points on the Harby and watched as his shields and armor dropped, painfully slowly. At this point an Ishtar dropped right on top of us.

An Ishtar! A heavy assault ship of some repute, Ishtars are deadly damage-dealers. As a rookie pilot, it was my dream to some day fly an Ishtar, seeing it as the epitome of solo piracy. However, just as I was ready to spec for advanced Gallente cruisers, vulnerabilities discovered in systems popular with high-speed setups such as the Ishtar was known for led to the grounding of entire classes of ships. I began to spec for heavy interdictors and recon ships instead of heavy assault ships. Now that those vulnerabilities have been "fixed" (no ship will ever fight at the speeds they once did), Ishtar pilots are developing new strategies (or falling back on old ones). I was just thinking to myself it may be worth getting my Ishtar papers after all. Anyway, when this Ishtar dropped on us I lost my nerve and gave the order for the fleet to get out.

Cheeky as ever, kor anon countermanded me, insisting we could do this. I was filled with shame as I reminded myself of Tusker values, and confirmed that we would stay and face the Harbinger, Falcon, and Ishtar to the bitter end. The Harbinger was in structure by this point; I reaffirmed him as primary, steeling myself for the worse and activating my afterburners as the Ishtar targeted me. With one salvo he sliced through my shields and bit into my armor. Aldour Larrt in his Incursus engaged his microwarpdrive and sped toward the Falcon; miraculously, the Falcon pilot panicked and warped away. I activated my armor repairer, willing the Harbinger to hurry up and die already; after what seemed way too long, he did.

I was relieved not to be taking further damage from the Ishtar as I shifted my blasters and drones in his direction, settling into a fast, tight orbit around him. Gilad Ayn reported he was taking heavy damage from the Ishtar, but it was clear to all of us this Ishtar was not prepared to take damage. Webbed multiple times, his warp drives scrammed several times over, it was do-or-die for him as well. Even the return of the Falcon, and the subsequent loss of target lock for a couple of our gang members, could not save the fearsome heavy assault ship. As the Ishtar lost structural integrity and imploded, the Falcon pilot ran for his life.

Casualties? Pilots began reporting their status in fleet comms. Our light fleet of three cruisers, one assault frigate, and one frigate had killed a battlecruiser and heavy assault ship at the cost of--nothing, actually. We all survived! With glee we picked through the drifting wreckage of our enemies' ships, shouting out each time we recovered intact a piece of high-tech gear; we even found a pricey faction module. We rendezvoused at a random point of remote space, jamming the fleet frequencies as we recounted our victories of the day and dreamed of what we would do with the booty.

Yo ho!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Excuses, excuses

I've written before about the polite offering of a simple "gf." Lately, I've come to appreciate that simple courtesy even more. You may assume that, if a foe does not transmit "gf" in a public channel after a fight, the most common alternative might be some smacktalk. And yet, while smack is directed my way on a regular basis (even from people whose ships I have killed), the most common alternative to a respectful "gf" is in fact an excuse.

Quite commonly the pilot claims to not have been paying attention: "Napping is bad." "That's what I get for watching TV." "Was AFK." "Eating and EVE don't mix." Normally, for my part I just leave it at "gf," but here I'll tell you what I'm thinking. Do they really think they would have beat me if they'd been right there, ready to go? Would I have attacked them with something I didn't think would beat them under most circumstances--certainly including a savvy and prepared pilot? I don't think so. And anyway, I don't buy this excuse much. It is certainly plausible for a pilot to park at a safespot while taking a quick break of some sort or while his attention is directed elsewhere; I've done it myself (and said "gf" when I've returned to a dead or dying ship). But when I am immediately locked back (competent PVP pilots don't have this done automatically), when their drones immediately deploy, or when their backup arrives while the fight is still on, I call "Shenanigans!" They were there, they were fighting, they were pwned.

"Lag =P" is another one I hear quite a bit. Plausible--I've died due to lag myself now and again. But often I experienced the same lag spike as my opponent during the fight, and still won. Or how about this excuse: "I would have had you except I was targeting an asteroid/the container/the beacon." That's right, a person so stupid as to fight a harmless object while I'm opening a can of whoopass on their sorry ship is coincidentally so uber they would beat me if, by some quirk of fate, they managed to target me? I don't think so. That's right up there with the pilots who discount my victory over them by claiming, "You're lucky I wasn't in [some other ship they can fly]." Why? Do they think I would have attacked their Nyx with my Thorax? And what does it matter? The fact is--now give me my due--I hunted them down and killed them in the ship they were actually flying. Come on, that's got to be worth something!

These excuses--excuses of any kind, even true ones--are lame. Win or lose, just say, "gf."

In the meantime, I will continue my search for a bona fide victory: An engagement with an opponent who is ready for me, confident in his ship's abilities, and one I can still win. Do such pilots exist?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

100 minutes of Tusker glory

Over a period of just 100 minutes, seven Tusker pilots engaged at least ten enemy vessels during a series of skirmishes in Aeschee and Hevrice. With no losses, the Tusker pilots downed eight of the enemy and recovered loot worth over 238 million ISK on the Verge Vendor market and the contract market in Jita.

The intrepid Tusker pilots:
Bfoster
Joc
Ka Jolo
Ronan Jacques
Rylack
Toady11
Who8MyLunch

The kills:
Megathron
Enyo
Harbinger
Rupture
Ferox
Rupture
Thorax
Vexor

It should be noted that the pilots of one of the Ruptures and the Thorax, Muaddibsep and StupidFast, are members of the evil Dark Sun Collective, a corporation which has recently declared war on the brave Tuskers. Further, an additional Ishkur and an Ishtar were engaged during the course of this battle but fled the field in disgrace.

I did not have enough ISK in my coffers to pay out the loot splits immediately, so a friendly hauler took them to Jita try to set up contracts (8 faction items) or to place on the local market via sell orders. Sadly, he was suicide-ganked in Jita, losing the faction items.

Tuskers for teh win!