Friday, January 30, 2009

for those who endure

The massive Matari construct rumbled to life, dormant systems awakening from their slumber into activity once more. Lights flash as energy coalesces, forming a sphere between the two spires of the device. The sphere expands, growing in size and brilliance until it erupts, sending shock waves perpendicular to the machine which spawned them. Its purpose achieved, systems along the leviathan construct power down, and once more fall into a standby state. Peace resumes around the device.

In an instant, the stargate had thrust the Cyclone battlecruiser over an unimaginable distance, its pinpoint accuracy depositing the ship of war at the nearby inhabited system known as Ennur. Breaking from the protective cloaking field afforded by the gate, the Cyclone lurched to life, aligning towards a distant stargate within the system. Despite its size, the ship moved ably, accelerating until the warp core took over, thrusting the ship into a warp tunnel. Millions of kilometers passed in the blink of an eye, and after a few seconds computer controlled navigation systems slowed the ship until a safe exit velocity was achieved. The Cyclone exited warp a mere kilometer away from the destination stargate. There was no hesitation before the cycle began anew, and stargate lit to life, preparing to send the ship one hop further along its journey.

It had been roughly forty minutes since that journey had begun, a duration which comes to define the term ‘lackluster’ exceptionally well. System after system housed dull faces, images of which reflected back at my glittering eye, all secure behind station walls or a withering battery of POS weaponry. Little stirred this night, and with my roam coming to a close, I looked forward to nothing beyond a warm drink and comforting food.

A new scene erupted before my eyes. The last stargate activation landed me in the Skarkon system, which housed only one local. Habit drew the cursor over the scan button, and all pertinent objects in space within 14.4au collected themselves neatly as data before my eyes. An anomaly came up; Falcon on scan. The cursor flicked over to the other pilot’s portrait in local, and a dossier appeared soon after. This Falcon was flown by an anti-pirate. How quaint.

The Cyclone’s warp drive deposited me on the Mirimor gate, and I jumped through without another thought. Mirimor was unusually busy, and I set to scanning the locals, sorting known POSed ships with unknowns. I hadn’t been at it for any more than ten seconds before the stargate adjacent to me flashed. The Falcon had entered local, and after a few seconds hesitation proceeded to warp his ship to what appeared to be the top belt.

With the addition of the anti-pirate Falcon into local, my latent paranoia screamed setup. However, it could be a poor setup. Exceptionally poor if the Falcon pilot was as sloppy as I believed him to be. I warped to the top belt at 100km and held my breath.

The warp tunnel collapsed, and I welcomed a view of asteroids drifting in lazy rotations, their number stretching several dozen kilometers in a rough semi-circular pattern. Aside from the dirt balls and my Cyclone BC, the belt was empty. I had expected to land on top of the Falcon, decloaking the recon ship in the process and blasting him into scrap, however it seemed I misjudged the Falcon’s destination. With determination wrought from routine rather than excitement, I began scanning celestial pockets for ships once more. Then a Falcon decloaked two kilometers away from my ship.

Now, after about forty-five minutes of traveling through empty systems, warping, scanning and jumping for a net result of nothing, this sort of opportunity is something every solo PvPer savors. There is nothing worse than an ECM ship dropping out of cloak or warp a dizzying distance away to render your targeting ability useless. Retaliation is impossible. The only worthwhile activity at that point is to mash the warp command towards a celestial to save the pod. So, to say the least, there was a little pent up aggression as I sank my fangs into this hapless cruiser.

I locked the Falcon with practiced haste, and proceeded to slam ordinance into my fragile opponent. Between the surprise of warping on top of his quarry and my vicious onslaught, the Falcon pilot didn’t even manage to return a sensor lock before his ship buckled and blew apart around his pod. It had only taken three volleys to demolish the Falcon.

I scooped loot, and initiated warp towards an old safespot in the system. Minutes ticked down as the GCC diminished towards zero, and I posted the mail. Roughly three minutes had elapsed before one of the other pilots in local sought to confirm my ship type. I confirmed it, to which he countered with a 1v1 request. Chuckling while I typed, I agreed, and warped to the first planet of the system to meet him. Sometimes quiet roams turn out alright as they concluded, which is why it’s important to stick to them. Any kind of roam, quiet or otherwise is more productive than sitting in a station.

My foe piloted a Myrmidon battlecruiser, which if fit properly could deal near double my damage, tank all mine, and still have spare midslots for EWAR modules. Lacking a turret bonus meant pilots used anything from lasers to cap warfare modules in their highslots, all of which combined to an unpredictable, deadly combatant. I had warped to the planet at 10km, and landed an identical distance away from the Myrmidon. MWDs flared to life as pilots jockeyed for position

My plan of attack was to destroy all the heavy and medium sized drones of the Myrm’s drone flight, then peck away at the ship itself with the majority of its arsenal eliminated. Upon landing, I pulsed my MWD away from the enemy BC to draw its drone flight into a low transversal approach pattern, and then set my armament against them. The Myrmidon managed to webify me, however lack of a scrambler to counter my own meant I was able to dictate range at will. Heavy drones were quickly shredded as my Cyclone sped away.

The more agile medium drones provide elusive, and even MWDing away I couldn’t track them without the aid of a webifier, which I didn’t have. Deciding I would have to manage with their presence, I reversed course and returned the fight to the Myrmidon itself. At close range, the Matari and Gallente vessels exchanged fire, drones dancing about ships as pilots tested their opposites’ tank.
I wasn’t dictating range well enough, and the Myrmidon had unleashed its full rack of blasters upon me at their optimal range. Along with the remaining medium drones in the field and an energy neutralizer my tank had no way of keeping up. I retreated once more, taking potshots at the drones as I maneuvered out of webifier range and back to a standoff distance.

I dipped into range for one more go, however once more I neglected to maintain appropriate distance and was forced to retreat, this time with significant armor damage. Unable to break the Myrm’s active tank, or eliminate the drone flight that was pounding my shields, I left the field to the Gallente battlecruiser. We exchanged congratulations and chatted for a few minutes about the fight before he went on his way. I waited down the renewed GCC, and the remainder of the trip home to Egbinger was quiet.

It’s often the fights you lose or end in a stalemate that hold the most valuable lessons. Something so simple as kiting a blaster boat while using longer range weapons is so innate to my combat doctrine that I was shocked to realize I didn’t do so in this fight. Additionally, my flight of ECM drones offered little help interrupting incoming damage versus the drone ship. With damage drones I’d have been better able to cope with drones while giving my overall damage a boost. Still, there are those ‘OH SHIT’ moments such as a few days ago with the Broadsword and Astarte where ECM drones played a large role in escaping.

Ah, the conundrum of flying Matari: a myriad of choice which can leave a pilot duct tape crazy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Color blind

The situation was this: Having destroyed his ship in a 1v1 engagement, an outlaw has decided to even the score by force. Flying a Cyclone battlecruiser, I lead the outlaw, now piloting a Broadsword HIC into a trap that would render his ship into a collection of slag. I had just jumped into Istodard, and was leading the Broadsword to the Oddelulf gate. What the Broadsword pilot didn’t know was that I had recruited Biz Quick as aid, and he was waiting for orders on the Istodard gate in Oddelulf. I was to be the anvil, Biz the hammer, and my outlaw acquaintance the crunchy bit between.

I landed on the Istodard gate, and gunned my MWD, piloting the ship up and away from the massive Matari structure. The Broadsword lands only seconds after I started away from the stargate, and initiates his own MWD after me. Reaching 30km, I kill my speedboost and coast for a few more kilometers until reaching 40km. The Broadsword barrels into Warp Scrambler range, I place tackle, and the trap is sprung.

From personal experience, HICs don’t fit warp scramblers: it’d be asinine to fit any midslot tackling module other than a Webifier due to the powerful Warp Disruption Field Generator. This meant not only would the HIC be limited to normal navigation while engaged with me, I could dictate range with my own MWD which still operated under his tackle. Having chased me 40km away from the gate, the Broadsword found himself committed to a foe that out damaged him, tanked him, and most importantly, had backup.

After calling tackle, Biz jumps into system, calls out for a destination to warp to. Cursing under my breath, I inform him the target is right on the gate he just jumped through. Seconds drag while my battlecruiser and the Broadsword exchange lead, and the little bean called Biz’s brain finally stops rattling to give an answer to the dilemma facing his senses. Biz informs me with a laugh that my target is blue to him, and he can’t engage. I hastily inform Biz that I hate him and concentrate on the task at hand: deciding whether I had a snowflake’s chance in hell in breaking the HIC’s tank.

Seconds grow to minutes, and it seems the moderate DPS the Cyclone was putting out might be able to break the Broadsword’s tank. So enthralled with damage data and watching the HIC’s shield reading fill with red that I didn’t notice a new arrival to the field. I did however notice my tank failing and the trickle of damage bleeding through into my armor plate. Biz stated something in local chat, and my eyes flashed to my overview. An Astarte had joined the fray, was 20km and closing.

The Astarte’s flight of Hammerheads combined with the Broadsword’s chattering Autocannons had been enough to rout my tank, which I promptly began overheating to compensate. What would occur when the Astarte arrived in range to unleash his Hybrid turret arsenal, I didn’t want to know. What I did know was that I was low on capacitor and needed to flee.

Instincts kicked in, and I started to MWD away from both foes and aligned towards a celestial. My Warp Scrambler denied the Broadsword the ability to use his own MWD to keep up, and given a rigged Astarte isn’t the most agile of ships, I was able to make range. . however not enough. The Broadsword pilot started his MWD the moment my Scrambler disengaged, and I couldn’t accumulate enough distance between our two ships before my capacitor hungry modules consumed the last of my energy and I was left waiting for the next 800 charge cycle. I was out of shields, out of cap, and had death’s hand closing as fast as the Astarte could lumber forward. I needed a miracle.

Lady luck shined on me, and my ECM drones managed to break the Broadsword’s lock. I mashed the warp command, and sailed smoothly away from the carnage. I gave a deep sigh, and sounded a triumphant laugh. The Broadsword pilot started smacking me in local, and I played along in mocking salute to his skills. Biz, blue to both outlaws, came to my defense in words where he couldn’t in action and the chat soon drew still. After boosting my shields to an acceptably high level, I warped back to the Oddelulf stargate and jumped through to the other side. Biz had scooped my drones, and after both of us docked, he returned the drones while I repaired my savaged ship.

Later that day I met up with Biz once more, and with a few of his friends we managed a few ganks to round out the day’s experiences. It’s interesting to note that while roaming that night and the following day, a few pilots remarked how powerful the Cyclone is, and used it as an excuse not to engage. Powerful? The Cyclone?! Hearing this leaves me in awe of what the mighty Bellicose could do in capable hands!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Back to basics

The past two weeks have been met with moderate success as far as PvP goes, but results have been lackluster at best. Flying T2 hulls near exclusively placed me in the position where I wasn’t willing to commit to fights where I wasn’t sure about the situation. The problem with PvP is that nothing is certain, and every missed opportunity is another moment passing through my fingers without chance of recovery. Further, avoiding challenges meant I was finding myself winning ganks rather than fights. I needed to do something radical. I needed to fly something T1.

A caffeine powered freighter haul with fresh supplies and ship hulls delivered just what I needed. Among the tried and true hulls I was accustomed to, my market alt delivered several Cyclone class battlecruisers. I had seen some impressive feats with this first tier BC hull, and decided to give the ship a spin as well. If all else failed, it was incredibly affordable, and the change of pace would be well worth the cost.

I can’t understate how much of a paradigm shift this vessel represented to my normal PvP style. Normally when flying in a battlecruiser hull, such as with the Drake or Harbinger, I employ a passive buffer with minimal to no repair ability. The Cyclone hull, with its shield boost bonus relies on an active tank to mitigate incoming damage. The lack of midslots and need for a cap booster means I can employ only a Warp Scrambler, rather than the classic point/web tackle kit. ECM drones take the place of my usual thermal and explosive damage drone mixings, which provide breathing room for the Cyclone’s active tank to recover.

Prior to the latest expansion, the Cyclone was eclipsed by its more able cousin, the Hurricane. Changes with the QR patch made the Cyclone a viable vessel once more. With alterations to Warp Scramblers, ships with limited midslots could get by with only one tackle module, as long as their foes chose to use a MWD over an AB. As the vast majority of PvPers employ MWDs (for good reason), the Cyclone can manage while supporting a powerful tank/gank combination. I was soon to experience it could not just manage, but excel beyond its competition.

After several hours of fitting ships and logistics work, I took my Pig Razor into the field for the first time. I enjoyed how smoothly this plateless battlecruiser maneuvered, and systems passed by without event. Five jumps into my roam I happened upon my first challenge for the day: an outlaw Rapier idling on a gate.

With optimal munitions already loaded, I decided to provoke the Rapier pilot into action. Targeting systems acquired a lock on the recon ship, and ordinance filled the void between the ships, slamming into the shields of the Rapier. The Rapier pilot weathered a further three volleys before initiating jump procedures at the gate and escaping my grasp. I Waited down my aggression timer, and followed the recon ship into the adjacent system. I repeated my intentions with shell and missile, while he slipped away once more into another system. I was beginning to think he was griefing me for ammo.

Once more I jumped through the gate to pursue the cruiser, this time finding him waiting for me. Understanding the relationship between our two vessels, I decloaked, overheating my MWD to return to the stargate while firing at my opponent. Predictably, the Rapier gracefully moved away from the stargate to place himself at a comfortable 25km away from me, opening up with Artillery shells and a drone flight. Dual Webifiers caused a significant decline in my velocity, however inertia kept my battlecruiser on course at a good clip towards the stargate.

Arriving on the gate and with my quarry unattainable, I stilled my weapons and waited down my aggression timer, easily tanking the Rapier’s damage. Realizing this, the Rapier pilot commented in local that I was wasting his time, and warped off. He followed this with a smile and reported that he would return with a battlecruiser. I stated I’d be waiting, and watched him leave local. I docked up in a nearby station, repairing some mild heat damage caused by my MWD, and wisely placed the maximum insurance allowable on my ship. It was a few minutes before he returned with his battlecruiser.

The situation was this: we were in Half, with my opponent waiting for me on the Istodard stargate in a Hurricane battlecruiser. My plan of attack was to use my Warp Scrambler to hold him at about 7.5km away where my Barrage and HAMs would damage well, while the assumed EMP loadout my foe would employ would have lesser effect. ECM drones would harass the enemy BC, and would be recalled at the slightest sign of his drones countering them. While ECM drones are fragile, they don’t need to be in space to get the job done: their effect cycles just like normal ECM modules do.

All of this in mind, I warped to the Istodard gate at 10km, and both ships lurched into action upon landing. Projectile ordinance glittered, yellow streaks dancing between the two vessels as we jockeyed for position. My foe neglected a Warp Scrambler of his own, which meant my plan to stay at arms length would prevail. My scrambler shut down the Hurricane’s MWD, and I eased into my desired range, tapping my MWD when necessary to hold the position. My shields were holding remarkably well, regardless of the hurricane pilot resorting to Electro-Magnetic damage drones exclusively for this fight. I barked a laugh at that particular tactic, launching my own drones onto my foe.

My arsenal was making surprisingly good progress against the Hurricane’s active tank, while my Large Shield Booster had little issue matching incoming damage. The Hurricane pilot was oblivious to my drone flight, a decision which was to plague him with frequent sensor lock disruptions, all the while my shield booster erasing any headway into my shield reserves. Minutes marched past, and the battle seemed near routine. Even with two medium sized capacitor warfare modules running against me, the Hurricane’s armor was dropping must faster than my shields, and touched hull roughly the same time I reached 33% shields. Overheating my weapons erased remaining resistance, and the Hurricane proved no match for my ‘dated’ vessel. Pilots exchanged congratulations in local, and he departed.

I scooped the loot, returning to the nearby station to repair damaged modules caused by overheating. After undocking, The Hurricane pilot returned once more into local, and this time in a Broadsword HIC. I had a surprise for my vengeful foe, and warped to the Istodard gate just as he landed on the station. I jumped through, aligning to the Oddelulf gate, making sure to wait long enough for the Broadsword to catch up and identify my trajectory as I warped away. I had enlisted aid, and it waited for me in Oddelulf on the Istodard gate. I was going to catch this pilot, and prove that it doesn’t pay to make rash decisions. Despite my scheming, I was the one to be surprised this time, and will report on that soon™.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Solo Sard 5

The downside of solo

We’ve all experienced the difficulties of flying alone. Flying solo means there will be no backup when shit hits the fan, no friends to call favors on, no one to scout for you, or chit chat with during the dull nights in corp chat. Flying alone means dying alone, without anyone to scoop your wreck or complete what you started. It means when you do manage some outside assistance, you can only take it at face value, as those that aid you have only personal goals to bind them, rather than the obligations present between those within a corporation or alliance.

Reliable, consistent quality aid is perhaps the most difficult in my case. When I was still in UGH and working my solo experiment, Capital Punishment (CAP) was still present in Molden Heath, and with them we worked some pretty wicked engagements with the locals. At about the same time I started my own corporation, CAP moved to Syndicate (where UGH decided to move to, go figure) and I was left to my own devices. Since then I’ve occasionally had the aid of pirates around the area, but these are individuals with their own aspirations and schedules, neither of which require me. And trying to organize assorted elements of pirates into a cohesive gang? That can be the subject of an entirely different blag post.

Lack of interaction has also been a void in my gaming experience of late. While in a corporation, there are the forums to follow, corp mail to read, corp chat to watch, and voice comms to listen to. Killmails mean a damn, as there are other pilots to see one’s exploits and comment on them. After weeks of deliberation about leaving UGH, I didn’t pause to realize who I discussed this with: my friends within UGH and STUGH.

While less of an issue for me as I have alts to produce isk, UGH did provide extra backing in the form of free ammunition, modules and the occasional ship. UGH possessed the logistics ability to move operations to anywhere in the galaxy, while alone I struggle to move one ship or another to my current proving grounds. I still have at least 20 ships of varying class mothballed in Arnola awaiting the day I decide to move them or lose them.

All in all, I was having more fun in UGH than in this quiet corp called RANSM, despite flying on my own 30 jumps away from my allies within the corporation and alliance. Despite the most familiar face in UGH corp chat being my own, the lack of activity or vigor from other members, and difficulty I had with some in the alliance, it was better than the solitude I’ve experienced this past month. I miss bantering with old friends, listening in on one exploit or another and the hijinks recorded on forums.

I don’t wish to return to UGH at this point; my reasons for leaving that corporation are still sound. Where else to consider beyond my allies there, I can’t say. I know Biz has a good deal going with his current corporation, and I see those pilots around MH often. My frequent journeys to Metropolis have exposed some fun with the Bastards, however their PvP method seems far too chaotic for my tastes. Militia life would yield a great deal of PvP in the lowsec I frequent without the sec hits I’m accustomed to, however I’ve heard mixed reviews as far as quality of PvP goes. Gods above, I could even start recruiting for my own corporation: a frightening thought!

Parting note: Hellcats public chat makes for queer reading.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Solo Sard 4

Pirates of Molden Heath 2

The afternoon following my venture into nullsec with a group pirates found me again with the same individuals. I bumped into Odareum and his alt in Istodard while roaming Molden Heath, and quickly formed a gang with him after exchanging greetings. We chatted idly about what we had seen in adjacent systems, and I decided to scout the one we hadn't probed, Half. It so happened I would need the backup for what I found there.

After jumping into system, I maneuvered my Huginn recon ship towards a pocket of asteroid belts to begin my scans. Upon arriving at a planet, I was able to narrow down scan on a Hurricane ratting at one of the belts surrounding the planet. The pilot was oblivious to my presence right up to the point where I immobilized his vessel with two Webifiers and a Warp Disruptor. With tackle completed, I reported to my gang mates that I had a target and they should make haste to my position in Half.

It was seconds before aid arrived in the form of a Hurricane, Bellicose and Rapier. Our combined damage swamped the target battlecruiser in projectile ordinance, which quickly reduced the ship to rubble. The Hurricane was able to summon friends however, and before being consumed by fire an Armageddon, Eagle and Rapier arrived in the asteroid belt. Being seasoned cutthroats, there was no hesitation as I called the Rapier primary and the Eagle secondary.

The enemy Rapier had the misfortune of landing amongst the asteroids of the belt after coming of warp: this left him easy prey as he couldn't MWD away or recloak. The moderate buffer tank on the ship was swept aside and the Rapier dissolved moments after being called primary. The Eagle then became the focus of our attention, and I raced to place my tackle kit on the Caldari HAC. A burst of my MWD slew the distance between the two ships, and the Eagle was firmly held for my gang to pound to dust.

In the excitement of destroying the two cruisers, the Armageddon was able to slip away. The field was ours, and we set about scooping the loot, eventually forming midwarp safespots to wait down our GCCs. While waiting, we decided to head towards Egbinger, where we would likely dodge into nullsec to give the residents there a run for their lives.

Fifteen minutes passed, and I moved ahead of our gang to scout for targets. Systems passed without any excitement, and we breezed through lowsec until reaching the Heild system, two jumps out from Egbinger. While scouting the multitude of belts there, I spied a Ferox battlecruiser working the belts surrounding the seventh planet of the system. It wasn't much longer than half a minute before the Ferox hull lit the void with a sapphire brilliance.

The Ferox left little in the way of booty, however once again it seemed the victim had an ace up his sleeve, as Foundati0n presence in the system multiplied while our pirate gang destroyed his ship. Atomic Betty, a foundati0n pilot known for flying Broadswords and baiting for blobs was in local, and it wasn't long before his HIC arrived at our belt. I could only grin as our gang took the bait, autocannons licking fire towards the FDN cruiser as we awaited the eventual enemy response.

I don't know whether it's an intentional tactic of Foundati0n to trickle in support when blobbing a foe. Perhaps it's a trick to lull their prey into a sense of security until it's too late. Today their retarded maneuvering system would cost them. Atomic Betty put up the usual heroic show as his HIC tanked our small gang, too slowly running out of shields for our gang to drop him before his support arrived. However, the first ship to arrive at the scene to aid Betty was a FDN Falcon... a mere 20km away from our gang and stuck in the asteroids of the belt. Voice comms was thick with variants of "SMOKE THAT FALCON!"

The pirate gang retreated from the HIC to concentrate fire on the Falcon, which was incapable of jamming all of our ships. Shield, armor and structure faded and the Falcon was removed from the field. In the time it took to maneuver and kill the Falcon, the rest of the FDN gang had arrived, and as they outnumbered us four to one, those that could escape did. In doing so, we traded a Hurricane for a Falcon: a fair trade any day, especially when the Caldari recon fit rigs and a Dark Blood Warp Disruptor.

With Foundation presence in the system established, we pirates decided to take a break and let things cool down before continuing. We docked up, and the rest of the day was relatively quiet, with only a few minor upsets. A note about the Myrmidon gank: Odareum has little compunction about using shady means to achieving his goals. This particular victim happened to accept the wrong gang invitation that day, as we descended upon his ship like the rabid opportunists we were. While using such means to an end felt below me at the time, it's certainly worth a try, and any pilot that falls for such a trick deserve the lesson.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Solo Sard 3

Stay and Play: the Huginn way

About a week before the holiday break, I had finished training Recon Ships skill to four, and was ready to rock both the Amarr and Minmatar recon ships. It wasn't until the 25th of December that I finally took a Huginn out to test its fangs. This is an incredible ship, and even with the QR changes it didn't disappoint.

Not thirty minutes after undocking from my highsec port in Arnola, I found myself engaged with a Stabber in Heild. In true holiday spirit, the Stabber had warped to a planet, and challenged the locals to fight in a free for all brawl. I obliged him, and after arriving at the planet from warp, I placed full tackle on his cruiser, including two range bonused Webifiers. The speedy Stabber was reduced to a crawl, and I cruised to a comfortable 14km away to rend the pilot's pod from his ship. Previous fighting with a Thorax saw my cruiser opponent with severe armor damage, and his ship was capable of little more than marring my shields before exploding.

Seconds after the Stabber was erased from existence, the Thorax he sparred with arrived at the planet. Once more I applied tackle, and having landed over a dozen kilometers away, the Thorax could do little more than harass my Huginn with its flight of Hammerheads. The Thorax met a textbook fate for engaging a Minmatar recon ship.

I decided to stop with these kills, and head to Egbinger to drop off the blooded Huginn. Fate would have another target on the horizon, and after landing on the station in Egbinger to dock, an instinctual scan of the surrounding space yielded a Thorax in the vicinity. I cancelled my dock order, and narrowed down the scan results to a belt close by. I initiated warp, shaking my head at my luck: it hadn't been much more than five minutes after waiting down my GCC and moving on that I found another target.

I landed at the belt, and after placing tackle, proceeded to gank the shit out from underneath the unlucky pilot's feet. His pod slipped away after his ride exploded all around him; all the more loot for me. I docked up and logged off for the time being. The day was still young, I needed to attend to my family, and I could do so wearing an inward smirk: I have a new favorite ship to play with!

Solo Sard 2

Complex PvP

Since taking up the skull and crossbones in Molden Heath, Heild has seen the majority of my victories. It houses a goodly amount of belts, and seems to draw consistent traffic through the system. There's also a 2/10 complex in the system, though as my pirating doctrine dictates cruiser hulls or greater, targets within the complex were always off limits.

To rectify this calamity of missed opportunities, I recently flew a QR style AB Jaguar into Heild in the event there are pilots working the complex. On December 22nd, this foresight payed off. While on a patrol through MH, I picked up a Rifter working the complex. Just before initiating warp to the station housing my Jaguar, I pick up an additional Wolf and Griffin arriving at the complex.

As I reshipped, local chatter suggested the Rifter pilot had just lost his ship to the Wolf and Griffin combo. As fast as I could manage, I undocked, and warped to the acceleration gate leading into the complex. The Rifter was off scan, and only the Wolf and Griffin remained, which was enough to confirm my assumption. I took a deep breath, and activated the acceleration gate.

I landed in a sea of NPC frigate wrecks, among which lurked the Wolf assault ship and Griffin frigate. The Wolf was a mere 7km away from me, and immediately engaged me. We exchanged tackle, and I found that not only is my Jaguar several hundred meters per second faster than my AS opponent, but the Wolf neglected a Webifier in his fittings. I navigated around the Wolf, and barreled in on the Griffin frigate.

The Griffin was my primary concern entering the fight: their ECM bonus made them a valued addition to any small gang. Versus the low signal strength of my Jaguar AS, I knew I had to knock him out of the fight as soon as possible if any victory was to be achieved. Fortunately for me, the pilot was slow on his EWAR, and I was able to put his ship into low armor before his ECM finally broke my lock.

It was a tense 10 seconds before I could regain lock on my foes; I was extremely lucky I wasn't locked down any longer. The Griffin exploded after a further two volleys from my autocannons, and the battlefield was down to the two assault ships. The Wolf only had minor shield damage, while my Jaguar was maintaining roughly 80% shields, having eluded the Wolf's ravages through agility and use of my Webifier. This was to be a close matchup, and I closed in to meet my fate.

Tackle was exchanged, and with Barrage S loaded in my autocannons, I decided to play things safe and maintain 7km from my opponent. The Wolf was quickly stripped of its shields, and my autocannons started chipping away at armor. My shields were holding well under the caress of the Wolf's greater projectile arsenal, and I felt victory was more than possible. I drifted closer to my foe, overloading my weapons as we discussed our differences up close and personal.

Moving closer to the Wolf magnified damage on my ship, and my Jaguar was reaching critically low shields. The Wolf began to enter hull as my shields finally failed, and my unresisted plate soon collapsed under the desperate fury of the Wolf's arsenal. It was too late for the Wolf however, and it evaporated in a blue fireball just as my Jaguar touched hull.

I scooped loot, and headed back to station for major repairs. Both pirates exchanged their congratulations to me, and soon afterwards I have gifted the Wolf pilot with my Jaguar fitting, and saw him off with a smile. You know it's a good day to fly when after all is done there's a little fire to keep warm by. . even if it's from fuel fires spouting from of hull breaches along your ship.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Solo Sard

So it's been roughly three weeks since starting my solo corp experience. Time to reminisce upon my feats and follies.

Pirates of Molden Heath

The evening of December 26th saw me logging in to once more terrorize the residents of MH. I entered the game from my lowsec base in Egbinger, and decided to take out my Huginn for a spin. This recon ship had seen some heavy combat in the two days since its commission, and I wanted to see just how far my lucky streak would go. I undocked from station, and hit the scanner out of habit to see if there were any folk lurking in my lair.

It just so happened that a Bellicose and a Hurricane were on scan along with the normal POS fodder. I set to narrowing my scan, and after bouncing around some belts, I receive a convo from one of the pilots in local. He inquired if I was a pirate.

I answered in the affirmative, surprised my five million bounty and -3.9 security status didn't answer his question for me. He quickly got down to business, stating he was also a pirate and asked if I was willing to join him roaming into the nullsec nearby. Figuring I could only lose a ship, I accepted.

From what I've encountered flying about Molden Heath, there are basically few 'professional' pirates in the area. I'm considering only individuals with stature, moxie and the firepower to back up their trade. Biz Quick is an example of one of these individuals. He's the kind of pirate that is not only a good PvPer and knows his trade, but honors pacts between pilots.

Taking up for all I knew a completely random pirate and his friends on a joy ride into nullsec probably wasn't the best of ideas. It was quite possible these guys were the complete opposite of 'honest pirates' like Biz and would blow me to hell at the first opportunity. However, I went along with it anyway for two reasons: it'd be fun if they were trustworthy, and I need contacts within Molden Heath for when one ship ain't enough to get the job done.

The two pirates in local ended up being one individual commanding two accounts, and we shortly worked out our plan of attack into nullsec. I swapped out of the Huginn and into my Broadsword, while our gang of three was soon joined by another pirate piloting a Rapier. Our gang consisted of my HIC, a Rapier, Bellicose and Hurricane: plenty of hurt, tackle and was mobile enough to get out when necessary.

The B-VIP pipe was quiet that night, and we found ourselves progressing quickly into Great Wildlands. An attempt to bait a Typhoon with the Bellicose in 0PI4-E proved unproductive, though further along in L1S-G1 we acquired the PvP we sought. Jovian Enterprises dwell in the system, and as usual, several of their pilots were out ratting the belts.

Our plan was simple: I scouted the system, while the rest of the gang waited in the adjacent UNJ-GX. It took me a matter of seconds to narrow down my scanner to a belt containing a Hurricane. A short warp later landed me 26km off the ratting battlecruiser: just in range for my Focused Warp Disruption Field Generator. I tackle the surprised ratter and call down the thunder.

The normal 0.0 doctrine of Jovian Enterprises (JE) is to POS up, gather gonads from the POS, then chase me out of their ratting systems with clumsy blobs. This night saw a change in tactics: shortly after tackling the Hurricane, a Harbinger and Caracal warp into the belt to aid their comrade. My HIC shudders under the impact of all three foes' weaponry, and with my gangmates arriving on the scene, I call primary on the waning Hurricane, requesting points of the other foes.

Seeing my reinforcements was too much for the JE support ships, and both the Harbinger and Caracal are able to warp out of the belt before tackle is placed on their ships. The Hurricane quickly succumbs to our gang's firepower, and I call for loot to be scooped and start checking scanner for other clueless ratters. Roughly a quarter of a minute after the Hurricane was destroyed the Caracal returns to the belt next to the Hurricane wreck.

Why the pilot decided to return is beyond me. All I know is that Caracal hulls crunch like fresh popcorn when so much as glanced at. This particular Caracal was no different.

With the loot in our cargo and all other targets at POSes, we left L1S-G1 to return to Egbinger after deciding it was getting late. This small taste of the pirates of Molden Heath was soon to blossom the next day with much more spectacular results. These are good days to be a pirate in Molden Heath!