I was out and about in Amarr low sec, bouncing from pocket to pocket. In one of these areas I came upon a corporation of new players, but with a much older player from the same corp also in system. Wary of being blobbed, I decided not to engage, but instead parked myself at a celestial to see if any of them would leave.
Now, when I "park" at a celestial, I always leave my afterburner on and head in a random direction. So when one of the corp members, a month old character flying an Ishkur, decided he wanted to drop in on me, I had plenty of notice - he had a couple of hundred km to cross before he reached me.
Not wanting to discourage him (but still having no intention of engaging) I turned off my afterburner to let him get close before I warped off. Perhaps I could encourage him to follow me out of system.
His afterburner fit Ishkur closed the gap slowly. In the mean time, another pilot entered the system - an outlaw flying a mwd fit Firetail. He also warped into the celestial, and started to close on me. Although he had a late start, his mwd meant that he was making up for lost time.
I literally laughed out loud, because what was going to happen next was pretty obvious. Like the arms on a "V", the two pilots were converging on each other just as they were closing on me. When I warped out, the outlaw would clearly turn his attention to the Ishkur pilot. I really wished I could stay and watch, but of course my presence would prevent it happening.
So I warped out, and left the system.
A short while later, back in a highsec system near the mouth of the lowsec pocket I had just left, I encountered the Ishkur pilot heading towards the lowsec pocket. Because I had not seen him heading in the other direction I guessed that he had been caught and podded by the Firetail. This was a new ship, and he was heading back to his corp mates.
I opened up a channel to him and we started chatting. Turns out his corp is pretty rubbish (my view, not his), as they are never particularly interested in helping him. He reflected that, if not for the Firetail, we could have fought in system completely unmolested.
Seeing as he was up for a 1v1, I offered him a highsec duel. He was not very familar with highsec pvp mechanics, but once I explained things to him he was happy to have a go.
Now, I've never taken on a T2 ship before, but I had a reasonable idea of what to expect from the Ishkur, and in the hands of a 1 month old pilot, I thought I had a shot.
At the risk of killing any suspense, I was horribly, horribly wrong.
Things started off well. I took control of the range, and opened up with scorch. I put my nos on him, and began tanking his drones. I chewed away his shields, and all was good. Until I hit his armour.
Wow. It was like slamming into a brick wall. Over the remaineder of the (rather long) fight, I did not manage to put more than a sliver of damage on his armor. When I ran out of cap, I popped.
Victim: Taurean Eltanin
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Damage Taken: 3805
Name: yip Audeles (laid the final blow)
Corp: Crimson HellHounds
Weapon: Hobgoblin II
Damage Done: 3223
Name: Sansha's Slavehunter / True Power
Damage Done: 582
Gatling Pulse Laser II, Qty: 2
Imperial Navy Multifrequency S (Cargo)
Small Armor Repairer II
Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Gatling Pulse Laser II
Damage Control II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Imperial Navy Multifrequency S, Qty: 2 (Cargo)
E5 Prototype Energy Vampire
Scorch S, Qty: 2
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
The npc damage happened before our fight - not having any disposable ammo on board I nipped to a belt and ratted until something dropped.
Post battle review:
I think that I generally did what I needed to do in this fight, but there was room for improvement. To begin with, I kept my range at around 5km (~6km actual) because I needed to keep up my nos. This meant that he was still hitting me for about 10 dmg per blast. In hindsight, I could have put my nos on the drones and moved out to 7km (~8km actual), which should have completely negated his blaster damage. I don't think it would have made an ounce of difference, but I should have thought of it at the time.
I also did not try taking out his drones. I know that I have found it pointless before, but that was against Warriors, and these were Hobgoblins. My tracking has also improved since my last attempt. I got caught up in just trying to win the damage race and I did not stop to consider all my options.
However, my biggest mistake was simply underestimating the capablities of a T2 frigate.
Now, a number of people have suggested that I stick to T1 frigates for a while longer while my skills improve, and from a cost perspective they are absolutely right. But if I can't win fights against characters with 1/3rd of my skill points in a similar class of vessel, then clearly there is a real issue of actual effectiveness. If I can afford the T2 frigates, I will gain hugely by flying them.
Lessons for the future:
I need to stay mentally agile and not pilot out of habit. If I had moved to a higher orbit and if I had destroyed all but one of his drones I would have been able to tank him indefinitely. A couple of big "ifs", of course, but I still should have tried.
This experience has also made me very determined to get into a T2 frigate after the Punisher Plan has concluded.