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.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Greener grass - Part II

Having travelled through a few systems and traversing a few jump bridges we met up with our allies fleet. It was even bigger than ours, we now numbered around one hundred ships. To my astonishment we were one of several fleets moving to engage the enemy. The enemy in question was an alliance called The Sons of Tangra, and their allies. Not only did we have several fleets of battleships and below, we also had a couple of capital fleets; dozens of dreadnaughts and carriers waiting to be called in. We reached our destination and held position, waiting for the call. Another fleet was already engaging the enemy and apparently they had many more numbers than we at first thought. The intelligence was a little hazy, on the exact numbers. They obviously had the same problem as they were not engaging either. For about an hour it all seemed to be posturing. We moved forward pressuring them and they responded, so we withdrew. They did a similar thing, and nothing really happened. Then we got word that a fleet had engaged, they were outnumbered and losing badly. We were the closest fleet so we were sent to reinforce them. It was only nine jumps away but by the time we got there the enemy fleet had disappeared leaving only wrecks behind. Dozens and dozens of wrecks, both friendly and not. It seemed that the enemy choose this time to have an all out attack, several fleets engaged but the fighting was a stalemate, neither side gaining ground. We missed another fight, but caught a few of the rearguard, a Deimos and a couple of interceptors. Then the order was given to withdraw. My first fleet battle had been something of an anticlimax.

The next couple of weeks were rather quiet. Annoyingly I managed to miss about four fleet ops, but I did manage to get on a couple. That kept things lively and I also tested out a new ship type: the destroyer. These ships are equipped with eight weapon slots and excel at taking out frigate sized ships. I was having fun with it and the few mock battles in which I had tested it, it had performed admirably. I bloodied it for the first time during a gate camp. A Manticore landed next to me and I immediatly trained the Catalyst's many guns on it. It melted and I got some nice loot out of it. Shortly after I lost my first destroyer. A friendly Vagabond was being attacked by three enemy ships, a couple of hundred km of the gate. Two of them were frigate class ships, ideal for my destroyer. I fleeted up with him and initiated warp. Just as I got into warp about eight more ships landed next to the vagabond. Unfortunately they were enemy ships. There was nothing I could do accept watch my ship land right in the midst of the enemy ships. I was obliterated, along with the Vagabond.

I had also discovered the delights of hidden complexes. These hidden places had to be scanned out using probes, but could hold very valuable treasure. Teaming up with a few mates I did my first few, and made quite a pretty penny. Unfortunately, I didn't have a big enough ship to do these on my own so for now I will have to share the spoils. Because of said 'plexes and ratting, I was finally making enough money in null sec to once again move up a ship class. With great glee I purchased my first battlecruiser. A delightfully vicious ship called a Brutix. With this new toy I could finally do a few of the lower level 'plexes on my own. This would open up many doors for me as I would be able to be a lot more independent, and would significantly increase my ISK flow.

I hadn't flown a frigate for a while so I jumped in my old reliable Tristan and took it for a spin. It was initially rather dull as I found now viable targets. I had to escape a couple of gate camps, but that was about the only excitement I had. Then I reached a system brimming with enemies. I couldn't isolate any of them though and was just about to give up and leave when one of them offered me a 1 V 1. I was delighted and agreed. I warped to the pre-arranged point and met his Jaguar head on. An tech II assault frigate versus my tech I frigate. This was going to be tough. His guns hurt, but apparently so did mine. I burned through his shields with consummate ease, his armour was more of a challenge. I was forced to overheat almost every module on my ship to keep up with the damage he was dishing out on me, and to try and finish him off before he got me. It was an intense fight, one if the best I have ever had, but unfortunately I lost. But only just. The Jaguar was in structure when my ship died, so I think my little frigate made a good showing.

I made my move to null-sec and I love it.

Greener grass - Part I

Having spent the last few months running with the Tuskers, I have recently found myself longing for more action than a life of piracy can provide. Not that it is devoid of action, far from it, but as strange as this seems, I long for war. This may sound idealistic, but I want to have objectives to complete. When I undock I want to have a purpose other than meaningless destruction. So with a heavy heart I handed in my resignation and began the search for my new corporation. Unknown to me at the time I exited the Tuskers, my good friend Caster Rom was also on the search for a new corporation. He seemingly had the same urges as me and has joined a corporation called District 9, a member of the alliance Ushra'khan. They operate in the southern reaches of the galaxy around Curse. Meanwhile my search continued.

I advertised myself on several different channels and to my surprise and delight I attracted quite a lot of attention. Within a couple of days my inbox was full of mails inviting me to join dozens of different corporations. Some I disregarded immediately as they were not what I was looking for or the mails were just one liners asking me to join. If I was going to join a corporation, I wanted to be in one that wanted me enough to spend some time on the mails. Having sifted through the pile and gathered a few that I liked the sound of I joined public channels and had conversations with CEO's and recruitment officers. Again the ones that didn't suit me or were not particularly forthcoming about their operations I rejected, in favour of the ones that answered all my questions and were nice people. Eventually after narrowing my search down, I was left with one corporation: Gravis Unbound, a member of The Council. To my delight there base wasn't even that far from Hevrice; less than thirty jumps. It was also only eight jumps from Jita so supplying myself with everything I needed would be a cinch. So the arduous process of moving began. Luckily I could fit most of my essentials in my borrowed industrial in one run. There were only a few ships that I couldn't fit in but I flew those manually at a later date.

At this point I was still based in low-sec and getting to know the surrounding locations. I had to soak up a massive amount of information in a very short space of time. Once I was settled in with the corp in low-sec, it was time to move to null-sec. I tentatively moved a couple of ships out to an alliance station, using jump bridges to shorten my journey; another new experience. Remembering my last few forays in 0.0, I was being incredibly cautious. There was nothing to fear however as most systems were either empty or full of the comforting blue stars of fellow alliance members. I set up a jump clone in the alliance station so I could easily zip back and forward between the two places, without having to travel. While I was still sorting out all of my logistics, I was really getting to know the people in my new corporation and starting to learn about how the alliance worked. The size of it and the organisation required was staggering. I was determined to get as involved in it as much as I possibly could, hopefully that would mean I would get into more scraps.

The first major op that I went on with Gravis was so unlike anything I ever went on with The Tuskers, it was almost unreal. We were heading out POS bashing. A task I count as one of the milestones in this universe, along with others such as your first kill etc. Me in my stealth bomber, one guy in a battleship, and most impressively, three dreadnoughts. I arrived at the first tower we had targeted, all stealthy like. I got a good warp in for the slow dreads and as the tower was undefended, I decloaked and started firing. I might as well have been throwing rocks at it. The thing had millions of shield hitpoints, so I hardly made a dent. When the dreads arrived though it was a different story. They are huge, beautiful, and awesome in their power. They knocked chunks off the towers armour, although it was still a good fifteen minutes of constant shooting to get it into reinforced mode. We noted the length of time its Strontium would last for and come back when it was once again vulnerable. For the uninitiated I should explain. When a POS's shields are taken down to 25% they start to consume a resource called Strontium Clathrates. These make the shield temporarily invulnerable, but any other modules linked to the tower loose power. This gives the owners of the tower time to organise a proper defence.

While we were waiting for it to drop out of reinforced mode we decided to go for another tower. This one though was much more heavily defended. It had turrets, EWAR, a warp jammers. Once again I got a good warp in for the cumbersome dreadnoughts, but I remained cloaked. The guns would have atomised me in about the amount of time it takes the average person to blink, if I had uncloaked. The dreads arrived and I moved to a safe distance so they wouldn't uncloak me and they started pounding away at the various armaments attached to the tower. Priority was given to the warp jammer. After that was disabled, a couple of the guns were taken out, and then they started beating the shield. All was going well when a Lachesis appeared on grid. It quickly lit a cyno and three enemy dreadnoughts jumped in, along with a handful of sub-caps. Over the course of ten minutes or so the dreads pounded on each other. It was obvious the enemy was going to win because they had support, so the Gravis dreads decided to self destruct to deny them the victory. I valiantly sacrificed myself to destroy one of the wrecks and keep the valuable loot out of the enemies hands.

After all that excitement things calmed down for a few days, and I decided it was high time that I moved in null-sec proper, and started to utilise some of the ships I already had out there. I did a couple of runs back and forward to get a few ships down there. Once completed, I had a decent amount of supplies, a Vexor, a Thorax, and an Enyo down there. So having set up my base of operations, I began to explore the surrounding area, as always the first thing you must do when you move somewhere new. For the first few days I did very little other than rat to build up my isk reserves and set up safe spots. It was all going rather well until on my way back I was ambushed by a group of three pilots. An Omen, a Rupture, and a Ferox. My cheap and cheerful Vexor never stood a chance and was blown to bits. I brought word of this incursion into our territory back to the alliance and a small group of pilots, four including me, jumped in combat ships and headed out. I was trying the Thorax for the first time, and had opted for a fit geared entirely towards damage output. The other three guys were also in tech I cruisers. We caught up with them a few systems away and jumped them at a gate. A couple of people went for the Omen and me and the last pilot went for the Rupture. I have to say I was impressed by the damage my thorax was dishing out; it was blowing chunks out of the Ruptures armour. The engagement seemed to be going well when the enemy combat group got a reinforcement in the shape of a Sleipnir command ship. It immediately pounced on me and I melted like an ice cube in a desert. Being geared towards damage, I had a tank about as effective as a wet paper bag, so I went down in a matter of seconds. Another pilot lost his cruiser and we had to withdraw.

I experienced my second ambush only a few days later. Coming back in our home system, a Flycatcher and two Manticores attacked me. The Flycatcher held me and the stealth bombers brought me low. They were fit with micro warp drives so I couldn't get close enough to attack them. I had foolishly moved away from the gate so I couldn't jump through to safety. I desperately called for help, as my tank started to waver. At the last minute a friendly Megathron showed up and set his rep drones on me in the nick of time. The fearsome presence of the battleship scared my attackers away. If I listed every minor engagement I've had since moving to null sec I would be here a very long time, so I'll move on to something of greater significance: my first large fleet battle.

A mail had been sent out to every member of the alliance informing them that a fleet was being formed. I wanted in on this so I jumped in my ship and joined the fleet. There were about forty of us in total. I have to say, seeing so many ships in one place is rather awe inspiring. As if forty weren't enough I was told that we would be meeting up with a fleet from another alliance. We were waging war.