A word about my fellow corp (Z3R0 Return Mining) and Alliance (Illusion of Solitude) mates. I have been (in jest, surely!) heckled about my pacifist tendencies and my total inability to send ammunition at anyone inexperienced, poor, helpless, dumb or in any other way disadvantaged. My corpmates query the wisdom of sending me out on scouting parties since I more likely to bring back helpless kittens than killmails. Since we are a stone-cold (if slightly anarchic) killer outfit, my attitudes are seen with amusement. “Oh no, Epigene is out scouting. Will he rescue a mining fleet again?”.
These thoughts were going through my head when I stared at an Imicus scouting frigate the other day. I had seen probes in our new C3 and entered a 10km orbit to our own wormhole and waited. My assumption was that the locals had spotted a brand new wormhole and are eagerly scanning it down. The probes came closer quickly indicating a at least a moderately competent pilot. Then they were withdrawn and an Imicus appeared on D-scan. Aw, bless, how cute.
Now, catching an Imicus with a cloaky Proteus ain’t that easy, these frigates are nimble and my decloaking delay often allows them to warp off. He landed about 10km, stayed decloaked and motionless just long enough to make a real bookmark and then motors towards “my” wormhole.
Thats nice. He will jump in. Not all scouts do that – often there is really no need to find out where a wormhole leads. A carebear organization may just treat it as an additional hole and put someone cloaky at it before resuming operations. That was kind of what I hoped.
The Imicus jumps through and I know what he will see on the other side – our towers but no boats or activity. Quite a few of our pilots had been online until about 30 minutes ago but a quick ping in our jabber channel confirms that they have taken a break. And like all good Wormhole pilots, breaks are taken either offline or in cloaked ships, never give intel to a wandering scout by hanging in the POS field longer than absolutely necessary.
So, the Imicus has jumped in. One of two things can happen now. He is either curious and starts poking around our system, which has no other wormholes but a few other things to look at. Or he jumps back out into my waiting arms. If the timing works out, he would be polarized and can’t jump back. His only defense then is to warp away during my targeting delay.
But at this time, I intend to let him live. My aspirations are higher than an Imicus tonight and I need to establish my reputation as ruthless hitman. My hope is that this boat finds no activity on our side, returns and commences to do carebearish things in his hole, while I filter in my alts and possibly fleet mates.
Holefire, the Imicus jumps back to the C3. He is now polarized, the door to our home is closed for 4 minutes and he is loitering on my side, oblivious of my cloaked T3 cruiser within spitting distance. Go on, little friend, warp away, run some anomalies, send me a Noctis or a PI hauler at least.
Nope. The frigate scoots off maybe 20km and poops Sister’s core probes. That invalidates my theory that this guy is local investigating a new hole. This looks more like a visitor from low security and since his biography is in Russian (and some meaningless “I will kill you!!!!” gibberish, according to Google Translate), I have nothing to work with. The customs office in this hole are not from his corp, another hint that he is not from here at all.
So, he has probes out. He can’t fly cloaked and he has stopped his boat about 15km in front of me. He is not aligned to anything and the way back to our hole is barred by his polarization timer. I already decided to jump him but the timing has to be right, his nimble frigate can easily turn on a dime, align to something and warp off if he sees me decloaking. I don’t have sensor boosters on my T3 and catching him will take a while. The chances are pretty slim to catch him to be honest.
With one exception. I know from experience that placing probes around a star system can be fully occupying. The entire screen changes into “star system view”. That does three things to inexperienced pilots:
- The User Interface change obscures the immediate view of of field and many pilots rely on that more than their overview or D-scan. I know, I do, although I shouldn’t.
- The pilot experiences a removal from the situation by changing the scenery of “real” world to a graphic representation of the star system. This change is psychological but significant. A scout may equate the menacing black background of space with danger and be on his guard. The cheerfully abstract graphics of planets and their orbits reduces the feeling of EVE being real and thereby reduces the paranoia of the pilot.
- Placing probes around the system is a taxing task. It involves concentration and some skill to get it right. The new Odyssey scanning method with ready-made probe constellations is of course far easier to use than the old one. But pilots still need to select the little handle, drag the bubbles over a signature and adjust the size of the scanning diameter. These are actions that require some attention – attention that is now lacking from checking D-scan or squinting at the overview window.
So, the Imicus has dropped the probes and hangs 15 km from me, motionless. I align my boat into his direction and pick up speed slowly. His probes warp off and theoretically, he could now cloak again – hence I need his exact position to decloak him with my boat. But more importantly, while the probes are in-flight and scanning, the human pilot’s mind has nothing to do. He may just check his overview. Now is a bad time to attack, I am estimating 5 seconds for the probes to land and start their 10 second (ish) scan process.
So, I wait about 12 seconds total before decloaking and firing up my micro warp drive, heading for a ramming. He is ~ 6 km off my bow when my warp scrambler hits and I knock into him as soon as my guns can fire. The timing didnt work out ideally, I wanted to knock him out of alignment as soon as I decloak to make sure that my decloak-delay is absorbed by his attempt to re-align.
But he goes flying like a bowling pin, my scram is on him, web for good measure and my blasters throw out hot munitions. At this range and without active motion in his boat, his shields are evaporate almost instantly and his armor and structure only take a couple more rounds. I have my drones out as well, more as a defense measure in case there is a bomber close by but this guy is all alone.
His ship blows up and luckily, his pod appears right between my bow and our wormhole. Catching a pod is not guaranteed, locking him takes more time than he needs to warp off. But my Proteus runs him over like a 18 wheeler a traffic cone and whatever alignment he had before, he has a new one now. My scram hits and drones engage. Pods are really small and I had better luck with drones than blasters – but that is split second stuff, either one would have worked just fine.
While the number of words written here are not in relationship to the puny kill of a T1 scanning frigate on ISK alone, this was not a really easy kill. It turned out that the pilot had 3 (!!) warp stabilizers fitted. There was a considerable delay between me decloaking and putting the last salvo into him, during which he could have easily warped off. He did’t and I attribute this in part to him getting knocked out of alignment but mostly to him panicking at a time when he not expected an ambush – i.e. when he was aligning his scanning probes.
Lastly, I hoped to prove to my dear fellow corp mates that I am a stone cold, evil killing machine with less scruples to drown a helpless kitten than Hannibal Lecter, Caligula or Dick Cheney.
Please let me back in now?