Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Sweet Freedom

At the end of my last entry I was left in low sec with no affiliations to anyone or anything; be that corporations, alliances, even my friends, who were scattered across the galaxy. I had to worry about none of them, I was completely alone. It was intoxicating: I was uninhibited, totally free. While I loved this feeling I wanted to give null sec a second chance. I don’t think I got the best view of it and I’m pretty sure I didn’t get as much combat as it had to offer. So the search for a new corporation became my primary goal. This time I would on more than the CEO’s word, and I actually do some research into the corporation and just as importantly the alliance they were part of. Whilst I was awaiting the results of my searches I obviously had some spare time on my hands. I couldn’t just sit in the station bar for however long it took me to find a new corporation, as pleasant as that would be. So I formed my own one man band, to have fun and to strike fear in the hearts of my enemies. The name I choose was “Teeth of the Beast”.

And so commenced some of the most amusing days I had had in a long time. You guessed it; I made a return to piracy. Quite a triumphal return I’d like to think. The ship I choose to use for this period of piracy was the Vexor, in my opinion, one of the best T1 cruisers currently in production. At this point, my base of operations was still located on the border with null sec. This resulted in relatively high volumes of traffic through the surrounding systems, so the likelihood of finding good targets was significantly increased. I didn’t want to be too trigger happy as I wanted to keep my sec status intact, so I had to lay down some rules of engagement for myself. I would not pod at all, this would give me a big sec status hit that I simply couldn’t afford. I would also only attack outlaws where ever possible as this wouldn’t result in any security status loss at all. I would stick to these rules unless the target was just too damn juicy. So with these things set in my mind I sallied forth in my ship and started looking for targets.

I decided to have a quick foray in null sec first of all. In null sec I would be free from the limitations of my rules of engagement as you receive no penalties for attacking and killing ships of pods. I was feeling reckless and was desperate for a confrontation and so jumped blindly in. I was fully expecting there to be a gate camp and to die horribly, but I was pleasantly surprised to find no camp at all. There were however several residents floating around that I fancied having a crack at. I loudly proclaimed my entrance into their null sec system and challenged some of them to a duel. To my surprise someone offered themselves up. We rendezvoused at the gate from which I had entered so if he and a fleet of buddies showed up I could make a hasty exit. To my surprise the ship that showed up was an Amarrian assault ship classified as a vengeance. He saw my ship, which is pretty lethal to anything frigate sized, and to my surprise still consented to our duel. It was a swift and very definite victory for me. The ship melted like an ice cube in a furnace under the firepower of my guns and drones. Despite the fact I was in null sec and would not be penalized for it, I didn’t pod him and allowed to escape with his life. I respected his honourable conduct. With my first victory under my belt, and the related spoils I had appropriated from his wreck safely stowed in my cargo hold, I returned to low sec and unfortunately was called away from my ship on business, so the pirating session had to end prematurely.

The next day I awoke early, and eagerly leapt into my Vexor and went out scouting for targets. I managed to locate a potential target, but annoyingly he was a neutral and so attacking him would have caused me to lose security status. The ship in question was a Rupture, a Minmatar cruiser. I warped around to see if I could establish what he was doing, and quickly established that he was following me which in all likelihood meant he was hunting me. This was ideal, it meant I could bait him into attacking me, and if he fired the first shot I could fire back without any repercussions to my security status. I waited patiently at a belt for his inevitable arrival and prepared for combat. The Rupture landed on grid and I immediately burned for him, I locked and prepared to fire. He aggressed almost immediately so I opened up with everything I had: drones, guns, nuets and e-war. We were both had buffer fits, so it came down to a contest of raw firepower. As the rupture approached one third armour, I was still ahead of him with just over half armour left. But it was still going to be a very close fight. He got down to structure; I had less than a quarter armour left. I wasn’t taking any chances and overheated my guns to ensure I finished him off quickly. My guns obviously struck something vital, as a violent chain reaction tore the ship apart. I let his pod go free, and looted his wreck for anything valuable that might have survived the explosion. I had a quick chat with him and congratulated him on a fight well fought and moved on in search of more targets.

The next potential target I found was a far larger than the cruiser I had just taken on. It was a Hyperion battleship, and from my scans it looked like it was ratting at a belt. I warped in to have a look see, and I landed pretty close to a ship that dwarfed mine. I locked him to see how his tank was doing against the rats. If it was poorly fit I may have been able to tip his tank over the edge and so get myself a nice kill. He was through shield and partially into armour but it looked like his tank was buckling beneath the damage of the local pirates alone. One problem: he was a neutral. I blasted my RoE out of the airlock and attacked him anyway, this was too juicy to pass up and hopefully one kill shouldn’t push me over the edge. I loosed my drones and trained my guns on the cumbersome battleship which was slowly turning to attempt to make an escape. I had that covered however and jammed his warp engines. I kept a tight orbit to him, almost rubbing hulls. This would ensure my angular velocity was as high as possible, which would make it far more difficult for his large guns to track me and hit me. He was positively melting under the combined damage of myself and the local scum. Paying closer attention I noticed that he was neither firing on me, nor was there any kind of tank running at all as far as my instruments were concerned. This puzzled me greatly, had this pilot just resigned himself to death? It got to the point where his ship had received so much damage it lost all structural integrity, and blew apart in a massive explosion. Upon closer inspection of the wreck I discovered that the reason it did not retaliate or attempt to protect itself in any way was that the ship was totally unfitted! I contacted the pilot to ask about this oddity and he explained that it was insurance fraud that he appreciated the help. A sec status penalty for no gain. How irritating.

I returned to the station and went to the bar for a meal and a drink. Once I returned to my rented quarters, I noticed in my alcohol induced haze that my communicator was flashing up a missed call. I chucked a couple of pills in mouth and washed them down with a glass of water. These would quickly flush the ethanol out of my blood stream and allow me to concentrate. Once these had taken affect I went over to my communicator and checked what was on it; several mails and a few missed calls, all concerning my search for a new corporation. One in particular stood out from all the others though: a call from one of the recurring characters in my life. A certain disreputable fellow by the name of Caster Rom.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Once again I have been lax in regards to recording my activities for posterity and, of course, your reading pleasure. For this I apologize. I have done much since my last entry, so it shall necessitate several entries which I will endeavour to deliver to you as swiftly as possible. Anyway here goes:

When last we met I was a member of a corporation called Gravis Unbound, which was in turn a member of an alliance called The Council. When I joined Gravis, I was promised all the pleasures of null-sec, but most of all I was promised my beloved combat, and plenty of it. This did not materialise in anything close to the quantity I had been promised. It turned out the CEO of Gravis had overstated in regards to both quality AND quantity. I spent a significant portion of my oh-so-precious-time looking for combat in any enjoyable form, but I was having very little luck. The council did not even seem to a particularly big mover or shaker in the alliance world at all and very rarely went on big operations. It turned out that the council was far more powerless than I had imagined possible for any null-sec alliance. We only seemed to hold onto our space by dint of some rather formidable allies more than with our own skill and determination, or so it seemed to me anyway. Enough of The Councils inadequacies’, and back to my quest for combat.

The corp I was part of had a fair few pilots in it, around sixty if I recall, and I hoped I might be able to galvanize a portion of them into going out on ops with me. I made myself the unofficial head of combat and immediately started trying to organise some ops. “Try”, regrettably, being the optimum word. I knew there were some inexperienced combat pilots among us so the initial op I arranged was a fun training op. I set down some basic ground rules:

1) There are no ship or fitting restrictions, but you may not bring a ship someone is already bringing. You get kudos for bringing an interesting ship/fit.

2) No outright destruction of ships unless all involved parties agree to it.

3) There are no other rules.

I instated the first rule so that people would hopefully get a good idea of various different ships and ship types capabilities. With over sixty people in the corp, if only a quarter showed up we would have had a very interesting and varied bunch of ships.The second rule was for all the people who could not afford the loss of too many ships. I hoped that this rule would also encourage people to bring far more expensive ships i.e. T2 ships, battleships etc.Rule three? Well if a game has too many rules it is confusing, and takes the fun out of it.

The format for the op would be for general introductions to combat and study of ships and fits to begin with, then head into some mock fights to see how people would deal with various types of ships. Then to make things way more fun for all involved we would then split in teams of two or three and they were to try and hunt each other down. This would give them good practice with the on board scanner, give them a chance to try out various team tactics, work to the strengths of the ships in each team, and learn how to exploit the weaknesses of other ships. When your ship was reduced to hull you would return to the “safe zone” and await the end. Last team with a member left “alive” would win a prize and a good time would be had by all. Now I know for a fact that if I had organised this when I was in the Tuskers every single pilot would have signed up and we would have had a great laugh. Out of a corporation with more than sixty pilots in it guess how many signed up? Give up? Four! God damn four of the bastards signed up. I had been frustrated before, by now I was incandescent with rage and disappointment. These people had no sense of fun and adventure and the alliance as a whole was a huge let down, and I felt they were somewhat of an embarrassment. Don’t get me wrong there were some people in Gravis I very much enjoyed flying with or spending time with but they were a sputtering candle in the dark that was the rest of the alliance.

I had been mulling over leaving for a while but this was a deciding factor in my leaving the corp and the alliance. Something that sealed the deal was some turbulence with our allies. It looked like they wouldn’t be our allies for much longer and I was certain that were they to turn against us we would be wiped out in a very short space of time. So I packed my gear and got out sharpish, transporting all my ships and modules out of null-sec with the aid of a jump freighter pilot in Gravis. Luckily I had got my security status to a point where could once again fly freely in high security space, and had built up a significant store of ISK. With both those things sorted and having safely exited null-sec and Gravis Unbound I was free to roam the galaxy to my heart’s content and to find my new place in the universe.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Rare and exotic

These are two words to describe the ships that I encountered today. Another two would be deadly and lethal. I had a bit of an impetuous day today and as a consequence both the rare faction ship the Nightmare and the Tech III beastie the Proteus both ended up on a couple of my death mails. For your viewing pleasure these can be seen here and here.

I collected the Proteus death mail in null-sec. Me and a drake friend jumped through a gate, and to our delight found a falcon sitting there. We immediatly locked and attacked it. The falcon had the drake jammed and locked down in a very short space of time leaving only my DPS to break through it's shields. I had got it down to about 1/5 when the Harbinger and afformentioned Proteus joined the fray and attacked me. I immediatly deaggressed and went for the gate. I got in range but the gate wouldn't let me jump on account of my hostile actions and I would have to wait. It was a race against time; could my tank hold out against the two DPS heavy ships? Well obviously not and I have the death mail to show for it. The Drake pilot made it out alive.

The second wasn in high sec. Me and a corp mate went hunting for war targets and we located a couple in a nearby system. They were outside a station attacking another of our allies. It was a the Nightmare and a Hurricane. we decided we should go for the Hurricane. Now instead of doing the sensible thing i.e. waiting to see if I could cope with the Nightmare's DPS then attacking, I steamed towards the Hurricane and aggressed it. I immediatly regretted it as the Nightmare's guns tore into me. Once again I had the aggression timer and so couldn't dock staright away. The gauling thing is that my ship exploded just as I got docking permission. If I'd only lasted a few more seconds I wouldn't have a second Brutix death mail in the same day. Oh well, lessons learnt and all that. In this case I learnt (again) not to be too eager.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Advanced technology

The money is pouring in. And it is wonderful. Although at the moment I have very little to spend it on. My money making battleship is going to cost only a small percentage of the money I have amassed, so I am going to be left with quite a large sum, and as always I want to spend it on something shiny. Up to this point I have only dabbled in Tech II ships, and stuck totally to the frigate variety. I have trained to fly all Tech II frigates, save interceptors. I hope to correct that soon, as I think it will be great fun to whizz around the battlefield at extreme speeds. Out of those I have flown, the ones i have used and enjoyed the most are covert ops ships and stealth bombers. I did fly assault ships for a while but I felt that their life expectancy was too low considering the price I had to pay for them; I was a lot lower on funds then. Unfortunately my electronic attack frigate plans have never been anything more than plans. Although I do own one and I have tested it out on a few friends' ships, I have never used it in combat. Aside from interceptors, I am now turning my attention Tech II cruisers. The elongated training time for them though means I won't, at least initially, be able to train for all of them. This means I am forced to choose.

As I stated above, I favour covert ops ships, so the logical next step would be to move to Recon ships. The Gallente recon ships are the Arazu and the Lachesis. The Arazu is stealth and electronic warfare orientated and the lachesis is combat and electronic warfare orientated. I think I would rule out the Lachesis straight away as the type of electronic warfare the Gallente recons are proficient in, sensor dampeners, does not really lend itself to outright combat situations. Also I was going to get a dedicated combat ship there are far more potent ships I could choose. The Arazu is much more support orientated. It's specifically designed electronics allow it to use the covert ops cloak which has none of the movement restrictions that less sophisticated cloaking technology imposes on the ships that use them. This means it can move at full speed when cloaked, and can warp normally as well. This allows it move around systems undetected and allows it watch enemies and helps it to more easily set up ambushes. It is most definitely a support ship, and can only be used solo in a very select set of circumstances as it is not big on damage or tank. The Arazu is quite a versatile ship due to its abundance of mid slots and can be fitted in various ways. Combined with the cloak it can be quite a nasty ship, and as a consequence it is one of the ones I am considering. As a bonus I don't need to do that much training to get up to it.

Heavy assault ships would be the next logical choice as I have all the prerequisites save the actual skill I need to fly the ships. This ship class is all about damage. The Gallente HACs are the Deimos, and the Ishtar. The Ishtar is a drone boat, and tends to specialise in Tech II heavy drones and sentry drones, neither of which I can currently use or will be able to use for at least a couple of months, so for this reason alone I am ruling this ship out straight away. As soon as I can use them I will undoubtedly use this ship as it is fantastic in all respects. That just leaves the Deimos, which has got the unfortunate nickname the "diemost" which, I admit, does not fill me with confidence. However, I am intrigued by this ship. I have had a play around with the fittings in a computer model and have come up with what I think are several viable fits that I would very much like to try out. You can certainly get an astonishing amount of damage out of it. If you go for pure damage though it does become somewhat of a glass cannon. For now, due to the fitting issues I think I shall leave this one be.

The next class of ship is the heavy interdictor. These ships are all about keeping the enemy in one place and preventing escape. To this end these ships can use a special piece of tech that lets them create warp disruption bubbles around the ship. No ship inside this bubble can warp and it also drags ship out of warp if they try to pass through. These ships can also put out a truly huge tank, worthy of a battleship if fit correctly. The Gallente 'dictor is the Phobos. For this ship I need to branch out and learn a bit of science so I can operate the highly technical warp bubble gizmo, other than that the only skills I need to train are some propulsion jamming skills so the training time is very reasonable. I already have pretty decent armour tanking skills, but a little brushing up never hurt anyone. The ships slot layout is pretty decent as well, especially in the mids. There are enough to fit a full tackle plus mwd/ab and some E-war or other gadget so it is pretty versatile. The downside of these ships is that they don't put out a massive amount of damage but they can sure as hell take it. I like these ships and the role they have to play so I am putting the Phobos in the possible pile along with the Arazu.

The last class of Tech II cruiser are Logistics ships, which as their name suggests are geared entirely towards support. I'm not adverse to that, quite the opposite. Logistics ships can turn the tide of battle, be it in a small gang or a large fleet. They excel at repairing damage to ships in the field and can do it from a significant distance if need be. The Gallente ship is the Oneiros and it specialises in armour repair. The training time for the actual ship itself is pretty quick but the support skills would take to longer than all bar the Ishtar. So, like the Ishtar this one goes on the long term pile.

So I'm left with just two: the Arazu and the Phobos. Out of the two the Arazu is the closest training time wise and I think that it would be a laugh riot to fly. On the other hand I think that the Phobos would be more useful for null sec and you can't argue with the massive tank that it puts out. As a character in one of my favourite holo-vids once said "The problem is choice".

Thursday, 22 October 2009

On the road to redemption

For the past several weeks I have been laboriously regaining my reputation with CONCORD so that I may finally return to the well supplied cradle of high-sec. It's a pain in the arse having to rely on other people to transport ships and equipment for you; you always have to wait. And I'm not that patient. I want my new shiny toys now! Also it will greatly cut down any travelling I may need to do, and make it a lot safer. I'm part way there, I'm now at just under -3.5 so I can now enter high-sec systems with a rating of 0.5, 0.6, or 0.7. Only another 1.5 points of security then I will be free to go anywhere again. It has been such a long time since I have been into high-sec.

Talking of new toys, I have had my first experience of bombs! I finished the necessary training for a couple of weeks ago, but had yet to use them. Me and a couple of corp mates decided to cause some havoc in a hostile system. We choose a system called X-70. It was currently being fought over by two alliances: Pandemic Legion and Maru'kage, so we knew it would be packed to the gunnels with hostiles. Sure enough when we got into local there were over sixty pilots in the system. For the first twenty minutes or so we flew around checking out the various stations and gates to see if we could get a good idea of what was going on. We decided upon a station to camp and we attempting to get into position, when I carelessly flew to close and uncloaked myself. There were several hostile ships hanging around outside the station, so I panicked and hit the "dock" button. This was a foolish mistake though as I, ironically, ended up being camped into the very station I had been attempting to camp. I was stuck there for about half an hour before they obviously got bored, and left. I immediately undocked and got away from there. We moved to a different station and set up in appropriate positions, without any blunders this time.

We didn't have to wait long for our first target to present itself. A Wolf assault ship undocked and I immediately gave the order to release bombs. I uncloaked, launched the bomb, and warped off before the pilot even had time to lock me. My partner did the same. The third member unfortunately had not got into position in time so only two bombs flew in the Wolf's direction. I got the automated damage report, but sadly the number was far smaller than I had hoped for. The ships small signature radius had obviously protected it from most of the damage. On the bright side I had correctly judged the distance and had actually hit the frigate, which is more than can be said for my corp mate who missed all together. No matter it was only a practice run. We moved to another station and set up bombing spots. A Hurricane undocked, and we went through the bombing drill. The ships far larger sig radius would insure big hits, and I wasn't disappointed. All three of us hit successfully this time, but our damage, although large, was not sufficient to actually kill the ship. It ended up about half armour. After that run, I warped to various stations and gates and started to set up good bombing spots. While scanning for ships I picked up one of the most awe inspiring ships in the universe: a Leviathan Titan. I had to go check it out as I had never seen one in the flesh before. I arrived at a moon to find the truly massive ship sitting inside a POS shield. I was severely tempted to chuck a bomb at just for shits and giggles, but I decided not to. I did however manage to grab a few shots of it on my pict-recorder.

While I was gawping at the ship, one of our trio reported a massive gate camp of Pandemic Legion ships sitting on one of the gates. I warped straight there, and decided then and there that we should bomb it. There were various types of ships, but among them some slightly thinner ships such as recons and tech I cruisers, that our bombs would be able to take out. We got in position as quickly as we could, but annoyingly they choose this minute to jump out of system and we missed our chance. At this point I was called back to JC on some business so we called it a day and disbanded, disappointingly with no kills, but equally with no losses. I have to say I did love causing trouble.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

An Expensive few weeks

Over the last couple of weeks I haven't exactly been careful in my headlong pursuit of fights. I have often gone out on my own, with no scout, no backup, and no real plan. This, quite obviously has lead to several losses, and expensive ones at that. Even worse, I have very little to show for these wayward adventures of mine. In the last ten days alone, I have lost four ships, including a Nemesis, and a Brutix. Yes, the Brutix I expressed such high hopes about in my last entry. These losses have totalled over 140 million ISK. In the same time period I have only managed to kill three ships. Albeit several expensive ships, but unfortunately you don't see the whole cost of the ship, just the modules they drop. If I had gotten all the money from the ships I'd killed I would be quids in, I would have made a rather large profit in fact. Total damage adds up to 365 million ISK. Off this though I only saw a measly 20 million at the most, so I have in fact made a loss of 120 million ISK. I need to change my ways. Bloodlust is doing a number on my wallet.

Out goes the solo roams in expensive ships and in comes caution. For the next week at least I will be concentrating on recouping losses, so 'plexes and ratting are the order of the day. Once I have done this rather tedious chore, I can get back into proper combat. As I said though, with a slightly different and more conservative approach. I need to view this more like a business, if I am to be successful I must make more than I lose. So, at least for a while, I will stick to fleet ops. A better chance of catching targets, and a smaller chance of being targeted. It's a win win situation. Hopefully my new and sadly cautious programme will show results and once I have bolstered my cash reserves I can continue with the reckless, adrenaline fuelled search for explosions.