I shot the Myrm, but I did not kill the Dominix

As my last remaining reader may recall, I live in WH space, staging with NOMEX out of a C2.  And while fleet fights are awesome fun with our solid FCs, occasionally I get “wanderlust”, drift away with my two characters and deliberately go down chains with EOL holes.  When the last known connection expired, when the bookmarks become stale and old, I really get the old feeling of being totally isolated and alone.  Whether I engage hostiles or not, whether I live or die, win or lose is now all up to me, no excuses, no regrets.

And so I drifted from Wormhole to Wormhole over the weekend with my Legion and my Stratios, sniffing around dozens of holes, checking out citadels for activity, keeping a mental log of how many anomalies or gas sites should be there but are not (indicating recent PVE), checking if the POCOs are allied with the citadel owners, checking the citadel owner’s killboard and so on.  Much has changed (for the worse) in WH intel since POSes are gone but I just try to get a feel for each hole I travel to and get a mental image of the people who live there.

I bumble into a C1 with a static Low Sec connection.  Its a very large system (which is good, so I can make excellent safe spots to log off in) and I tend to like C1s.  In general, they are inhabited by PvE guys who seek riches from PI, hacking, mining (the anomalies are nearly worthless) and of course as manufacturing base.  I look around and see an Astrahus and 2 (!) Athanors pulling in rocks.  All owned by a 7 man corp (i.e. 1 guy with 3 accounts and 2 Jita trade toons).  A single POCO is being reinforced, comes out in 24 hours or so.  I shall sleep here tonight.

The next day, I am working from home where I can put my character 1000 km off the Astrahus and watch for activity while I am on the phone or answer emails. Nothing happens really, but the timer on the POCO faithfully counts down. The CEO / main of my “host” logs in a few times, takes a Helios out and scans, checks out the POCO (yes, still there!).  A Gnosis warps around the system and I am getting clammy hands – I could take a Gnosis easily with my two characters, especially if he runs any one of the anomalies (for which I have tacticals, warp-in, warp-out etc…).  But the Gnosis re-docks and nothing happens.  Oh well, the wormhole deity “Bob” rewards patience and patient I am.

Kinda

Its evening now and I am on comms with my corpmates who “roll for content” and scream for pilots to log in. I am stuck in this C1 like a sad person without friends and watch an empty structure.  It wears my patience down.  The LS connection from here is terrible, somewhere off the map in Minmatar space and we have a Frigate hole which I watch attentively. Frigate holes never bring things I can catch my cruisers but can bring a lot of stuff that can hurt me.

Action!  Two guys undock from the citadel, a Myrmidon (still an amazing looking ship) and a Dominix.  Solid, hard-ass, well tanked drone platforms, about the worst that I could deal with.  They can be built in active tank to withstand any DPS I have.  I know this because I love both hulls, they are still my favorite ships in the game.  They warp off to another POCO and eject 10 Ogre II.

POCO Bashing

Well… So if this is how they bash POCOs, I am not sure I can do anything about that.  These are really hard nuts to crack each and I have two of them.  10 Ogres II can mess up my sunny day and while my Legion has decent tank, most Domis have Neuts in their high slots.

I decide to wait.  I can be here for days if I need to.  They have 2 (!) Athanors pulling rocks, one of the rocks is ~ 1-2 days from fracturing (I measure rock speed, I am that guy).  Bob’s Patience.

Other Real Life things happen and I am afk for a little.  When I get back the two targets are in the exact same spot which makes me think that they could be AFK.  Risk it?  Just drop on it?

I casually watch while doing work-stuff on the other screen when an Astero drops out of nowhere on-grid. He is not cloaked (idiot) and just sits there.  The pilot is not part of this corp but comes from a WH outfit.  He must have come from the Frigate hole.  So, my thinking goes, if my targets don’t react to this they could be AFK and I should risk it.  

Caution gets the better of me.  That and real life again.  10 minutes pass when I decide that its late and I need to log for the night. Bob is more pleased by a small kill with patience than a reckless banzai charge.

I turn my Legion around and initiate warp to my safe spot.  Its 50 or more AU away and I am mentally logged off when I see a flash on my overview, a Hound Stealth Bomber is on grid and I see the distinct icon of a bomb hurtling toward my target.  But I am in warp already!  Damn it!

I warp the 50 AU and yank on my reigns, turn the cruiser around and warp back.  It takes forever and when I finally land, nothing has changed. The Myrm and the Domi still peck away on the POCO, all Ogres are circling and no sight of bombs or bomber.  My targets were afk through a bomb attack?  They have to be afk.  They must be.

Oh for Bobs sake: !!!BANZAI!!!.  

Without thinking, I warp my Legion to zero onto the POCO, activate my tank and tackle the Myrm.  The “plan” (there really isn’t) is to burn down the Myrm, then the Domi as fast as I can.  I briefly think about killing the drones first but dismiss it because both boats have enormous drone bays and I would be on grid forever, giving the bomber boys a chance to get their stuff together and come with a swarm of angry frigates and destroyers.  No, this either goes fast or it doesn’t go at all.

While my Legion scrams, shoots, has drones out and a Neut (not going to be much good but whatever), I struggle with my Stratios.  I never really liked the boat, yes, its a jack-of-all-trades but it does everything worse than a Strategic Cruiser.  It has no tank, so it has to be stand-off, it has anemic DPS but its relatively quick.  So, I circle at 20km and send drones downrange,  I even have some lasers in the high adding measly DPS.  But there is so much that needs to be done manually that I am getting overwhelmed.

While I wrestle with the Stratios, something  scrams my Legion. I think its the Myrm and don’t pay attention, that guy is going down hard and fast.  I am now dipping into armor which is fine, the Myrm is breaking.  Its harder than it looks but the drones from the Stratios are now landing and his end is swift.  The Myrm blows up and the pod races off.  Now for the Domi.  Shit, he is scramming me.  Should I get away?  He is not neuting, I can try to burn him down. His tank is untested.  He may just have all DPS on a POCO basher for all I know.  I target and shoot. Damn, my Legion has Rapid Lights, great for ambush but terrible for prolonged fights.  I reload. It takes forever.  My armor is 1/2 which really means I should get out of here. The Stratios and my combined 10 medium drones finally crack into the Dominix.  D-scan clear, no sign of the frigate boys and their bombers.  Oh come on, clench your cheeks and hammer through this.  The Domi armor gives faster than my Legion.  Its now a race who can hold out longer.  I am losing the race.  My alarms screech.

I realize that I am losing the Legion if I stay on grid and align to somewhere.  My MWD is useless of course, I need to get out of his scram range before I can get away.  He target paints me now as well which helps his Ogres a little I think but that really makes me thing that he is not as harmless as I thought he was.  Damnit, I am not going to make it.  Hull alarm is sounding, I overheat whatever I can but it doesn’t matter.  My legion blows up in a fireball and I warp my pod away.  My Stratios stays on grid, he is way outside scram range and maybe, just maybe if I can keep shooting the Domi just dies?  Without holding it down myself, its unlikely but I’ll try.  Suddenly his Ogres are on top of me and within 1 salvo I am in 1/2 armor.  The painter shines on me now, this Domi is not going down, he is staying on grid and slugging it out.  I D-scan and see a “Hound” somewhere, not on grid but I know now that the frigate boys are finally inbound.  If I don’t pull away, I’ll lose the Strat to someone.

I disengage, offer GF in local and head my pod for the LS.  Only way to get him back to civilization, 20j through low sec.  I feel that at every gate, a bell rings and people shout “Shame” as I run the gauntlet.  To make my shame complete, I decide to convo my target and get ready for well-deserved insults, gloating, Drake-memes etc but none of that happens.  My target is a thoroughly nice chap, we chat about WH life, fits, the danger from the frigate holes etc. No asshattery at all and I don’t feel quite as terrible anymore when I make it to Jita, reload my loss mail and click “buy all”. Because, what killed me was not the fit, it was skill and situational awareness.  And thoroughly underestimating my target…

However, Bob is moderately pleased with my performance and may his blessing shine upon my next roaming venture….

 

And yes, I thought the title of this post was really clever.  Maybe not.  Good song tho!

 

 

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A Series of Fortunate Events

As my remaining two readers know, I spend my EVE life in Wormhole space, flying with Anomalous Existence (NOMEX) based out of a C2 hole.  However fun this is, between real life job(s), family and other stuff I barely can make 2 hour / week piloting work and consequently lost much of the “edge” that I used to have may have had .  Basically, I screw up a lot these days and while this is humorous occasionally and solo, in fleet operations it can put the whole fleet at risk.  And here follows the tale of the screw-ups that nearly ended badly:

Big picture. NOMEX lives in a C2 but had reasons to make an Astrahus in a C5 go away.  I have no idea why, don’t ask, don’t want to know but I like explosions, so of course I volunteer. As usual, the fleet combo is something like DPS+Scout+Logi and my always preferred roles for “Scout” were already taken.  The DPS fleet ships into “Leshaks”, these newfangled ships for which I have so far been too arrogant to train for and that leaves me with flying Logistics.  Actually, that works, I am reasonably confident that I know what I am doing and I certainly could use the practice.  But wait!  Why use a standard corp-approved Guardian if I could make things far more complicated and fly a T3 Cruiser?  Logi-Proteus is a “thing” these days, I already have a hull. Its expensive, risky and unnecessary, just what my corp didn’t ask for but the FC grudgingly approves. Someone smarter than me gives me a fit and I head to Jita with a song on my lips.  This is what I buy: Continue reading

Space Bushido. Its why I log in

EVE Online used to have two distinct reputations: a) its a spreadsheet game played by the hyper nerdy, basically those who are so socially inept that their D&D group threw them out and b) total and complete immoral bastards who plan for years how to stab their best friend in the back.  Like all stereotypes, these are vastly exaggerated but have a kernel of truth: EVE is complicated and driven by numbers and mechanic lets you be a total asshat as long as you can deal with the in-game consequences.  The same mechanic that lets you be a dick also lets you (and the group you fly in) actively reject being dicks.  There are pragmatic reasons behind not being a dick, especially in smaller wormhole outfits.  By nature of the wormhole mechanic, we run into each other all the time and getting a bad reputation is a recipe for an eviction.  On the other hand, being true to one’s word allows rapid, temporary coalitions to form to help in a defense situation or when fun demands it.

The video that my corp-mate Seraphessael recently posted shows off the bizarre nerdiness that EVE is and the honor code that our small world lives by. See, in the video,  Seraphessael chose to show the entire engagement, not just the juicy combat parts. That’s a little unusual but I personally love it, it really shows so much more how a team functions than just the choice parts where missiles are in the air (well, vacuum, whatever).

So, first, full disclosure.  I came into this really late, I had had the audacity to eat dinner while the corporation had been “rolling for content”  and I only logged in when the ping went out.

In wormhole space, you push enough heavy ships through a wormhole, it eventually dies and a new one spawns soon after.  The mass-calculation, the fleet coordination, the fits of the various “rollers” are finely tuned and a good corporation can crush a hole within a few minutes, scan down the new one and have scouts in there to search for targets.  Its entirely routine and in Seraphessael’s video, the first 2:14 minutes show the team in rolling action, coms are relaxed and people goof around.  However, when the scout finds a mining fleet with their pants down, the tone and content changes dramatically.  I love this inflection point because in good corporations, within seconds a PvP fleet forms, pings are sent and everyone gets down to business. Unlike Nullsec, its not always organized, there are no real FC’s but the roles are flexible.  Much, much hangs on the scout – whoever it is at this time.  A second experienced person quarterbacks the fight relying on the word of his scout and the competency of his team to execute.  In the video, shooting starts at 4:48, basically 2:30 minutes after the target was first seen.

The fight itself was short and brutal, it could have ended either way since nobody (not our target, not us) had any idea what they were really up against.  We won – this time – but next time we may be the victim.  In this light, notice the call not to loot the field, keep the very expensive mining drones on-field and basically not be dicks.  We had what we wanted (kills), now was the time to display our honor code.

Of course, we could have spammed /local with taunts.  Instead we typed “gf” and nothing else.  We could have looted everything denying our target valuable assets.  Instead we chose to leave the field unlooted.  We could have podded everyone, laughed about them on /r/eve, sent meme-gifs and basically be dicks.  Instead, we chose not to any of these things because it goes against our “bushido” and dishonor would have been worse than defeat.

And here the video:

Salt

As both of my readers know, I don’t play EVE to actively upset or annoy other players.  The practice of doing so, deliberately harvesting tears (aka salt) as it is known is abhorrent to me.  The discussion about this is as old as the game itself and I am not going into it.  I said it before, I love EVE for the fact that you can choose to be a total asshole while not being one is also a choice.  Other games simply don’t have the game mechanic to really negatively impact another player.  Please, CCP, never dial that back.

So, whats this all about?  The other day I logged into the game ready for some interaction with my corp mates and look for trouble.  The (really) nice thing about NOMEX is that there are nearly always people online even if not hunting all the time.  Which means if I do what I do best (scout / tackle), I can have the cavalry called in within a few minutes.  And so I go out scouting down a C1 connection, not even bothering bringing my other character as rear guard.  If I find something with my Proteus, I’ll tackle it and my fleet mates will bail me out. Continue reading

If it wasn’t for Real Life…

Edit This just in. A fast/furious little skirmish that started as a rapid gank on a Gila that ran one of the event sites and escalated when our target dropped a Bhaal plus many other things on us.  RIP my little Stratios, you will be missed replaced.  

 

As my last remaining reader knows, I moved to a new corp “Anomalous Existence” and am happy as a clam in this outfit. They are small enough to know all the guys and gals but big enough that stuff goes down all the time.  Unfortunately most of the times when I see a ping, I can’t log in for Real Life reasons.  I don’t mind too  much right now, as long as NOMEX doesn’t kick me out, I am happy where I am. My reduced online time however means that I have to scrap all things EVE extraneous like PvE, reading about EVE and of course blogging. Continue reading

Expectations are met

My last post was about my move to NOMEX and what my expectations were.  I had hoped for a low-class WH PvP-centric corporation with minimal (asymptotically approaching zero) drama and lots of lots pew-pew.  I am delighted to report that all my expectations were met.  Just a look at yesterday’s killboard and you get a feeling that this is a corporation that’s going out and shoots “all the things”. Continue reading

A short, sharp kick in the ass

Most of my remaining two readers will have realized that had the EVE Blues.  It was a combination of three things:

  • Z3ro Return Mining, my ancestral home in EVE, the corp that I joined as a pod-pole 7 years ago, where I learned Wormhole flying and in which I found true friends is slowing down.  People age, families grow, recruitment is hard work and attrition has shrunk the corp to a few good friends with limited time online.  It just “happens”, there is no drama but as a game it wasn’t enjoyable for me.
  • CCP made some wild design decisions that in fore- and hindsight have been disastrous and bit them in the ass. Rather than focusing on the diversity of players using the multitude of things to do in New Eden as their driver, they channeled all development and marketing activity into one thing and one thing only, Sov Nullsec.  It worked, thousands now log in only to experience a big fight with the entirely predictable result that the servers crash and people are disappointed.  I grew tired of being treated as third class paying customer and unsubbed 2 of my 3 accounts.
  • I personally had changes in my life, good or bad but they didn’t allow for “regular” play.  Long, boring story, everyone has those phases, mine started in summer 2017.  Its only now that I have more of a balance and can re-engage in things that are not absolutely necessary to life (like computer games).

But sometimes, all it needs is a short, sharp kick in the ass to get motivation back.  I suddenly realized that I truly missed EVE and that I don’t have to stay with Z3ro.  I am allowed to leave. But where should I go? Continue reading