Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taking care of business

Did you ever notice how when you go out looking for a fight, you're always in the wrong ship? You know--you're in a Myrmidon, and all you find are nano ships; or you're out in a Taranis, and all you find are battlecruisers; or you're out in an Incursus, and all you find are Ruptures. Well, that's not what happened today.

Today, several of us Tuskers threw together a pickup gang and went a'roaming, looking for trouble. And what better place to find trouble near home than Old Man Star? As we first warped into the system, things looked promising; there was a Brutix ratting at the top belt (some call it "bait"). Our light tackler--Suleiman Shouaa in an Imperial Navy Slicer--went in for the point. The Brutix was duly tackled, and then, as expected, things got complicated: first a second Brutix appeared, then a Guardian, and then another Guardian. Rather than warping to Shouaa, the remainder of the gang warped to a safespot out of directional scanner range; Shouaa used his superior speed to disengage and began flitting among safer observation points.

We ourselves have had remarkable success roaming in gangs with dual logistics support, so we knew those Guardians, warping in at about 50km from the Brutixes, were not to be taken lightly. Logistics ships, in case you don't already know, are high-tech cruisers that excel at remotely repairing the shields or armor of other ships. In effect, a target ship being remotely repaired by two logistics vessels tanks as though he could perma-run 6-8 armor repairers, requiring a high level of DPS to overcome. But over the next several minutes two things occurred. First, a couple of additional Tuskers reported for duty; and second, we came up with a plan.

Our gang by now consisted of your faithful correspondent in a Dominix-class battleship chock-full of drones and fit with energy neutralizers and remote armor repairers; Suleiman Shouaa in his Imperial Navy Slicer; Novantco, Pajama Sam, and Ronan Jacques in battlecruisers; Robert Mason in a stealth bomber; and Kopecky in a cherished Blackbird.

Our plan was simply to neutralize those two Guardians at the beginning of the fight. We had two ships, a Dominix and a Blackbird, either one of which would probably have led to the decision to engage this target gang; but combined, we worked out our plan with confidence. The key would be to fight on top of the Guardians rather than the battlecruisers--tricky, since only the bait Brutix would initially present himself. But we figured Shouaa's Imperial Navy Slicer would be fast enough to race from the Brutix fight to the Guardians' battle station almost 50 kilometers away, once they warped in to provide support. At that point, the remainder of our gang could warp to Shoua's position at our optimal ranges for an attack on the two logistics ships.

Shouaa went in for the tackle, along with one of our battlecruisers to make the threat a credible one. Sure enough, the second Brutix jumped into the fray, followed closely by first one, then the other Guardian. Our plan was working like clockwork. Shouaa sped toward the logistics ships and within seconds had tackled one of them. We warped into his position, and I landed about 8 kilometers from one of the Guardians. I locked it and began draining his capacitor with my three large energy neutralizers; the idea was that he would quickly have trouble activating his remote armor repairers, which otherwise would be helping keep his partner alive. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet focused fire on the second Guardian. The captain of that unfortunate vessel was now in real trouble--with no local armor repair capability, he relied completely on his wingman for repairs--a wingman being taken rapidly out of the fight. At the same time, his battlecruiser contingent was struggling to get within range of the fight from their original position 50 kilometers away. And like an Olympian god, Kopecky in his Blackbird sat at a distance, jamming the targeting systems of all four ships.

But our adversaries had another card to play--a Dramiel arrived and began zipping around the battle, activating his weapons systems where they would do the most good while evading our attempts to disrupt his micro warp drive or catch him in a stasis web. Suleiman Shouaa advised that he was hurt, hurt bad. He and I coordinated with each other, and in a few moments he had approached to within 8 kilometers of my battleship; I activated all three of my remote armor repairers, and voila--his armor was as good as new.

By this time, our gang had demolished the first Guardian and was directing our weapons to the second. I continued draining his capacitor dry every few seconds, while other Tuskers began maneuvering to tackle the Dramiel and the two battlecruisers. The Dramiel captain made a timely and accurate assessment of the situation and did what Dramiels do best--he bugged out. The second Guardian exploded, and now the pair of Gallente battlecruisers came under the full focus of our seven-man gang. Minutes earlier, the Brutix pilots had been hoping for an attack, smug in the knowledge of the two logistics ships in their pocket. By now, they must have seen the writing on the wall. Tackled, jammed, neuted, and alone, the battlecruisers succumbed to a deluge of missiles, projectiles, drones, and rounds of hybrid ammo, one after the other.

And there we stood, a small fleet of seven Tusker war vessels, virtually unscathed. A few minutes were spent in combing through the debris for intact ship's systems and scooping drones into cargo holds. We basked a moment or two in the afterglow of the adrenaline pumping through our veins. And then we set a course for our next battle.

But you know what I was thinking? I was thinking how history repeats itself. I had just emerged victorious from a clash of small gangs, in command of a Dominix, the king of drone ships. My arsenal included heavy combat drones, sentry drones, speedy light combat drones, and ECM drones. But just as had happened in my first days as a pirate, throughout this intense battle I had neglected to deploy a single one.