Thursday, 28 April 2011

Punisher 18.5


I had been feeling a little dissatisfied with my recent performance. My last two kills were cheap, non-combat vessels that were worth so little to their owners that they had left them afk in lowsec. While I was quite pleased that I had been able to scan them down, I had not been pushing my actual combat skills, and I wanted something more challenging.

I was also aware that the goal I had set myself at the end of my 3rd quarter review (to destroy more ships than I lost in the last stage of the Punisher Plan) had been achieved.  With my security status dropping rapidly, I knew that I wanted to apply to the Tuskers as soon as I completed the Punisher Plan - the logistics of moving to Hevrice would be far simpler if I still had access to high security space. It made sense, therefore, to make sure that I met the Tusker's kill requirements before I ran out of Punishers. All I needed was one more above class kill.

Although this is the story of a single fight, my Punisher against a battle cruiser, and it spans the better part of a day. It is a long post because it is a long story, so I have departed from my usual formatting in an attempt to make it as easy to read as possible.


Although I knew I wanted an above class kill, I did not have a specific plan. However, when I first saw the Drake, I recognised at once that opportunity had come knocking. I could not have asked for a better target.

The pilot was only about a month old, but he was flying a battle cruiser, which is about as high as a frigate pilot can reach on his own. He was missioning out of Clarelam, a high sec island with very good Theology Council agents that had the bad habit of sending mission runners into the local low sec.

Unfortunately, I spotted the Drake only about 30 minutes before downtime, and I was a dozen jumps from my scanning ship. I knew that it was very unlikely that I could I get there, get back, scan down the Drake and engage him in 30 minutes. Equally, I was certain that I only had one shot at this. A failed attack run meant that he would retreat back to high sec.

Instead, I decided to play the long game. For the next half an hour I ratted in Tastela, the mission system, letting the Drake get used to me. Every time he hit the D-scan I wanted him to see me surrounded by the wrecks of belt rats. I thought about opening up a casual conversation with him, but immediately rejected the idea; that's not how I like to pirate.

The whole time we were in system, I kept my focus on the Drake, trying to better understand my target. Apparently, he was finding the missions a little tough and he needed to warp out from time to time. When he did, he liked to use a particular gate as a warp out point. I also saw that he liked to finish up his missions in a Bestower - presumably to salvage and collect loot.

I did not know it at the time, but this information would prove quite relevant later.


After downtime I logged on as soon as I could and raced back to Amarr to collect my Magnate. Rushing back to Tastela I gave my Magnate the same name that I had given my Punisher. If the Drake was not looking too closely at the D-scan he would hopefully not notice I had changed ships. I then settled down to wait.

And wait.

The Drake did not log back on for several hours, so I sat in my safe spot, cloaked, while I did some research. I looked up possible fits, and considered my tactics in the battle to come.

The local rats did EM damage, which meant that he would almost certainly have closed his EM resistance hole. That meant that I would want to be using Navy Multifrequency rather than Scorch, because it had a higher Thermal damage component.

Of course, orbiting close enough to hit with Multifrequency meant that I could not orbit at maximum speed. Tracking was irrelevant for him, but the faster I was moving the less damage he could deal. So I would take more damage in close - I'd have to monitor that.

However, there was no guarantee that I could break his tank on my own, even with his low skills. I had never fought a player controlled battle cruiser before, and the Drake's passive tank is legendary. Ideally, I would want him to be engaging the npcs when I struck.

This made timing a very sensitive issue. I wanted to give him enough time to get stuck into the mission, but not so much time that he was too far from the gate - if he saw me coming he could just warp out, and that would be the end of it. Given the time it would take me to scan him down, I would need to move fast.

Eventually, the Drake returned. I gave him a minute to get settled into his mission and launched my probes. If he checked the D-scan now he would see what I was doing immediately, but it was only the two of us in the system and I hoped that my earlier ratting had left him feeling secure enough to focus on the npcs.

I worked the scanner as calmly as I could. Scan, adjust. Scan, adjust. Almost there. Scan, adjust. Scan - and a lock!

Bookmarking the Drake I recalled my probes and warped to the nearby gate. Because Tastela has no stations I had been forced to leave my Punisher in the next system. I jumped into the next system, docked, and waited out my session change timer. Into my Punisher - last minute fittings and ammo check - and into space.


Jumping back into Tastela, I immediately jumped to my mission bookmark. It was only after I had hit "warp" that I noticed that the Drake was sitting on the gate next to me. For a moment, I was worried that I had just blown my opportunity to take him down.

Pausing for thought, I considered the situation. I knew he often took breaks by sitting on the gate. And I had worked hard to convince him that I was ratting in my Punisher. What could be more normal than seeing me bounce around the system? As long as I did not do anything stupid, this could be salvaged.

I quickly started my stopwatch. It took me 30 seconds to warp from the gate to the mission point, so it would probably take him about 60 seconds. As soon as I landed I used the acceleration gate. Warping into the mission I saw a number of wrecks, but more importantly, plenty of active npcs. The mission was definitely not over - he was just taking a break.

Now I was faced with a dilemma. If I stayed where I was the acceleration gate would drop him right on top of me. On the other hand, he would have no npc aggro when we fought. Reluctantly, I noted the names of the wrecks and warped back to my safe spot.

From there I kept my D-scan focused on the gate. I wanted to know the instant that he moved off the gate.

After a few minutes he disappeared from my narrow beam scan; he had clearly moved off the gate. I aligned to the mission point and focused my scanner on it. I waited the 60 seconds it would take him to reach the mission and started scanning. Seeing him appear, I knew it was time to warp

Mid warp, I renamed my ship again. Events had given me access to his mission info, so I changed the name of my ship to match the wrecks floating in the deadspace pocket. If this bought me even a second, it might make the difference between catching him and losing him.

I landed on the acceleration gate and immediately activated it. This was it.


Landing in deadspace, I spotted the Drake about 27km away. Overheating my afterburner I raced towards him. As in the past, I refrained from targeting my quarry, not wanting to give him any additional warning. Twenty kilometers. Fifteen. Ten. In range now. Target and.... lock!

Whatever happened next, one of us was going to die in this system.

With my scram activated, I settled into orbit at 1500m, activated my guns and my nos, and took the overheat off my afterburners. Only then did I actually look at my surroundings. It seems that the Drake was currently engaging two npcs with "elite" in their name. One was untouched, but the other was about half way gone. The Drake seemed to be tanking them without issue.

I could sense the Drake hesitate. Finish of the npc, or target me? He decided that finishing the damaged mission rat was the best option, so for the moment I was safe.

The Drakes shields began dropping. Slowly, though. Painfully slowly. I resisted the temptation to overheat my guns - I would need maximum dps once he hit about 30% shields, which would be his peak regeneration point.

At about 50% shields the Drake popped the rat he had been targeting and turned his attention to me. I was gratified to see that even without the second npc the Drakes shields were still inching lower, but  I quickly became concerned about the amount of damage his missiles seemed to be doing - about a 130 damage per volley.

I started pulsing my repper. This was where the fight really began. I could tank his damage, but only as long as my cap held out. To maximise my cap generation I tried to keep my capacitor around the 34-40% mark, even when this meant letting damage build up.

Looking back at the Drake's shields, I cursed CPP for not giving me a percentage readout. I would have to guesstimate, and it looked like about one third left to me. Over heating my guns, I waited to see if I could break his tank.

Heat damage. His shields. My armour. My cap. Repper. Heat damage. His shields. My armour. My cap. Repper.

My attention moved from display to display, trying to keep on top of all the information coming at me. On a small grey bar, the difference between 25% and 20% is negligible, but I could not afford to be wrong.

There. That had to be less than 20%. Well, it had better be; my guns were 75% gone, so I turned off the overheat. And still the shields dropped. I had crossed the regeneration peak.

Lower and lower his shields went, and I dared to hope. Apparently, the thought also crossed the Drake's mind, and he tried to convo me. I rejected the convo; I needed to focus and there were too many things that could still go wrong. I was juggling cap and armour as best I could, and my margin for error was small.

Then, after the long agony of his shields, he hit armour. And then, just like that, he hit structure and was gone.


It took a moment to sink in. Once I realized that the Drake really had been destroyed, I immediately convo'd the pilot to wish him a good fight. He did not take it well.

In broken English he demanded to know why I had attacked him. Even without the language barrier, I don't know that I could have explained it to him. It's just not something that carebears can understand. I broke off communication.

I then proceeded to loot his wreck and lament the fact that of his 7 weapon modules (the most expensive modules on the ship), 6 had decided to explode. Well, I had already had enough good luck today - I could skip on the profit.


Lest any of my readers fear that I am on my way to becoming a suave, sophisticated killing machine, I will share this final part of story.

As I have been hanging out in the Tuskers Public Channel - which I highly recommend, even if you have no intention of becoming a Tusker - I excitedly announced I had just soloed a Drake! Not unreasonably, they wanted to see the killmail.

Unfortunately, my head was a mess - I was practically incoherent with excitement. So when I cut and pasted a killmail into chat I actually posted a lossmail by mistake. At which point Suleiman gently pointed out what I had done and suggested that I stop spamming chat and instead post a battleclinic link.

Yeah. I am that smooth.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Punisher 18.4

The hunt:

It never rains, but it pours.

Another day, another roam. I jump into the Milal loop and again I see a ship floating in an obvious safe spot on my D-scan. What works once often works twice, so I nipped back to Amarr to fetch my trusty Magnate.

Scanning him down, I jumped in right on top of him.

011.04.16 08:40:00

Victim: Xandralkus
Corp: Morior Invictus.
Alliance: Velocitas Eradico
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Tormentor
System: Milal
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 562

Involved parties:

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: -0.7
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Gatling Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 562

Destroyed items:

Reactor Control Unit I
Warp Core Stabilizer I, Qty: 2

Dropped items:

1MN MicroWarpdrive I
Salvager I
Core Probe Launcher I
Post battle review:
The irony here is that he had two warp stabs fitted, so if he had not been afk, he could simply have warped away. I appreciate that there are no stations in the Milal loop, but if you have to step away from the computer, do you really need leave your 'toon in that particular system, when safety is only one jump away?

Not much more to add, as there was no fight to speak of.

Lessons for the future:

These last two "fights" have taught me that I enjoy scanning down players that think they are safe, but blowing up afk shuttles and noob ships is hardly the combat that I am looking for. Over then next several days I had  several opportunities to pad my kill board with such prey, but I have passed them up.

I was in search of bigger game...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Punisher 18.3

The hunt:

Geography is very important in pvp. Much like maritime warfare in the age of sail, space combat very rarely takes place in the middle of nowhere; it takes place at points of interest or value. And it happens because somebody thinks that a place was worth visiting, and his opponent finds him there.

Gates are the most important and most obvious piece of geography, which is why gate campers exist. They simply set up shop and wait for their prey to come to them.

As a solo frigate pilot, things are not so simple; I can't aggress on gates, so I have to find my targets elsewhere. I must search the other celestials for targets of opportunity, and then move in swiftly enough to catch them. The D-scan is my primary tool, and positioning myself so that I can cover the most important celestials as soon as possible after entering the system is quite important.

That's where safe spots and getting to know your hunting grounds really helps. And that's why I knew at once when I had found an afk pilot in a safe spot.

You see, one of the better lowsec roams in Amarr low sec is the Milal loop. It's a 6 system loop of empty space; there are no NPC stations in the loop, so anyone in local is actually in space. Milal is the mouth of this system, and the gate from high sec is set well above the ecliptic plane - by as much as 50 AU if I remember correctly.

Like most low sec dwellers, I always run the D-scan once after entering a system, taking advantage of my temporary cloak. It's habit, and I often find myself doing it even when there is nobody else in system. So when I entered Milal I immediately noticed a shuttle within 14 AU.

Typically, I ignore shuttles. They are usually either behind a force field or on a gate and it's a waste of my time to scan them down. But his time I knew that neither of these was the case because in Milal there are no celestials within scanning range of the gate.

I re-checked the D-scan to make sure I had not caught him mid warp. He was still there, so I guessed the pilot was either afk or semi-afk (eating his dinner, etc), and he had to be at a safe spot. I had no idea how long he would stay there, but I knew I had to try and catch him.

I raced back to Amarr and loaded up my Bestower with my Magnate and a Punisher. I then made best speed for Shuria, where I docked up and assembled my Magnate.

Jumping back into Milal I scanned again, breathing a sigh of relief when I saw the pilot was still in his safe spot. After warping to my own safe spot I deployed my combat scan probes and began trying to pin him down.

It was surprisingly difficult, actually. Shuttles are apparently really hard to resolve, and I was barely able to get a lock. It took me so long that I was certain the pilot would see combat probes on the scanner and leave the system.

However, he was clearly not checking his scanner, and I got the lock. Two minutes later I was back in system with my Punisher and I jumped straight onto the shuttle. The results were predictable.

2011.04.13 20:38:00

Victim: Kid La
Corp: Republic University
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Gallente Shuttle
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 450

Involved parties:

Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: -0.5
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Weapon: Gatling Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 450

Post battle review:

It turns out the pilot was not afk, as he certainly warped out of there fast enough once he was in his pod. I'm guessing he was trying to juggle real life with Eve and paid the price.

Once again, the battle itself was not particularly interesting, but the hunt was quite exciting. This was the first time that I used combat probes to pin down a targetl, and I am quite impressed by how useful they are. 

While it's not a priority, at some point I'm going to want to work on my scanning skills and be able to fly a covert ops.

Lessons for the future:

Safe spots offer only temporary safety. Never assume you cannot be found.

We meet again...

As those of you that know me in game may have noticed, I have been running around with a new avatar recently (above). That's because my last kill marked something special for me - the first time my security status has ever been negative.

This is perhaps the first milestone in becoming a pirate as opposed to a high sec or null sec pvp pilot. High sec mechanics do not permit any form of (non-suicide) pvp that lower sec status, and null sec pvp does not have any impact on security status. Only low sec pirates go flashy red.

Now that I officially have my own CONCORD file I thought it was time for a more sinister portrait - something to strike terror into the hearts of my enemies! However, after far, far too long on the recustomization screen I realized that I was never going to craft a sinister sneer that did not make me look high (or constipated) so I  settled for an easy-mode hood instead.

Fly dangerous!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Punisher 18.2

The hunt:

This was another roam through Tash-Murkon space, and quite a short one. As soon as I jumped into low sec I saw another Punisher on the D-scan. A few moments later I had pinned him down to one of the nearby belts.

Warping in, I landed almost on top of him right as he was engaging a couple of low grade rats. I locked and pointed him and then proceeded to blow him out of the sky.

2011.04.10 16:18:00

Victim: alfri Sazas
Corp: Royal Amarr Institute
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Punisher
System: Teshkat
Security: 0.4
Damage Taken: 3134

Involved parties:

Name: Sansha's Cannibal / True Power
Damage Done: 1605

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: -0.3
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Punisher
Damage Done: 1529

Destroyed items:

Small Capacitor Booster I (Cargo)
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane I
Medium Ld-Acid Capacitor Battery I (Cargo)
Medium Beam Laser I
Dual Light Beam Laser I (Cargo)
1MN Afterburner I
Capacitor Power Relay I
Xray S (Cargo)
Shield Recharger I (Cargo)
ECM - Phase Inverter I (Cargo)

Dropped items:

Civilian Shield Booster I (Cargo)
Damage Control I
Small Armor Repairer I (Cargo)
Radio S, Qty: 3
Medium Beam Laser I
Small Armor Repairer I
Dual Light Beam Laser I

Post battle review:

Punishers are not subtle ships, and so Punisher v Punisher fights tend to be rather mechanical affairs in which the victor is obvious from the outset. So it was in this case, and there is not too much I can usefully add.

I will say that while the killmail reflects a great deal of damage done by the npc's, when we started the fight he was near full health, and the damage he was taking from the rats was negligable. Presumably, this damage was accumulated over a number of fights at earlier belts.

In general, though, I feel that things are starting to flow more smoothly for me. I'm scanning things down more quickly, in part because I am better able to make educated guesses about where my quarry will be, given the ship they are flying. I also think I'm processing all the battle info faster, which is helping me to respond to changes more swiftly.

Of course, my last two fights have not been the most challenging fights ever, so perhaps I'm simply not under sufficient pressure.

Lessons for the future:

Practice, practice, practice. It does help.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Punisher 18.1

The hunt:

Undeterred by my recent loss, I was again making my way through Amarr low sec, this time in the Tash-Murkon region. There are a couple of island communities in Tash-Murkon, and they are fairly safe, relaxed places, so I often have good luck when hunting there. I have to be careful not to over-hunt, though, as this would probably force the locals to be more cautious.

While passing through these systems I noticed a sisters scan probe on the overview. Nothing too odd about that, but there was also a Heron on overview, which was odd.

You see, as a semi-professional explorer myself, I know that your typical explorer:

a) scans from a safe spot
b) has a cloak
c) has as many warp stabilizers as they can fit

Now, because not everyone loves redundancy the way I do, some explorers will drop one of the above three, and so I assumed that the Heron had simply not bothered with the cloak because of other protection. Still, lighting could strike, so I very quickly scanned the Heron down - at the Sun.

I know what people say about the top belt in a system, and how it is the most dangerous place to be, but my money is on the Sun every time. It is seductively convenient, being at the center of every system, and it is really easy to warp to, as it is literally the most visible thing on your screen after your ship. I've had far more fights at the sun than I ever have in an asteroid belt.

Not wasting any time, I warped to the Sun at zero; someone foolish enough to scan from the Sun was also probably foolish enough to warp to zero. Landing right on top of the Heron,  I swiftly targeted and pointed the vessel. I immediately opened fire.

Of course, I've been here before. This is typically the bit where the warp stabbed scanning frigate simply warps away, but I hoped that my improved dps skills would help me take down the untanked frigate before the pilot could react. I over heated my guns and waited for his next move.

Apparently, his next move was to explode.

2011.04.10 15:21:00

Victim: sarkoidose00
Corp: In vitam eternam
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Heron
System: Nasesharafa
Security: 0.2
Damage Taken: 874

Involved parties:

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.0
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Gatling Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 874

Destroyed items:

Codebreaker I
Sisters Core Probe Launcher
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I, Qty: 2

Dropped items:

Inertia Stabilizers I
Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Prototype Cloaking Device I
Analyzer I
Sisters Core Scanner Probe, Qty: 7

Post battle review:

Looking at the killmail, not only did the pilot ignore the three basic rules of safe exploration, but he also failed to use his equipped cloaking device. What a stroke of luck!

The seven sisters probes and the cloak made this my most profitable kill ever. I wish the sisters launcher had dropped, though!

Other than that, there was not much battle to review. The Heron is a non-combat vessel that relies on evasion to survive. The pilot did a really poor job of that, and I scanned him down quickly enough that he did not get around to activating his cloak.

Lessons for the future:

Sometimes, I'm not the one making mistakes. I can profit from that.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Punisher 17.2

The hunt:

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.

2011.04.10 13:13:00

Victim: Taurean Eltanin
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Punisher
System: Seiradih
Security: 0.6
Damage Taken: 3805

Involved parties:

Name: yip Audeles (laid the final blow)
Security: -2.9
Corp: Crimson HellHounds
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Ishkur
Weapon: Hobgoblin II
Damage Done: 3223

Name: Sansha's Slavehunter / True Power
Damage Done: 582

Destroyed items:

Gatling Pulse Laser II, Qty: 2
Imperial Navy Multifrequency S (Cargo)
Scorch S
Small Armor Repairer II
Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters

Dropped items:

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.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Movin' on back


I have moved back to Amarr space.

There are a couple of reasons for this, with the most obvious being that despite the fact that I have been spending most of my roaming time in Molden Heath, most all of my kills are coming out of Amarr space. It makes sense to cut out the 40 minute round trip to get more roaming time in.

However, I'm also motivated by competition for radar sites. When I first moved to Molden Heath the systems were all full of profitable exploraton sites, and the region seemed completely unexploited. Recently, though, I have been finding whole pipes completely stripped clean. As someone who only really dabbles to keep himself in cheap ships and fittings, I feel like a woodsman going out to cut some firewood, only to find the forest has been clear-cut.

I think I met the culprit. He was in a Pilgrim, running a radar site that I had scanned down. Not being anything close to a match for him, I moved off immediately. But he may not be my only competitor. And unlike mission running, exploration is a zero sum game; every site that he finds is one less site for me.

So as I said, I've moved back to Amarr space.

The move back was much quicker than the move away, largely because I have far fewer ships to move. I recognise that I will probably be moving again eventually, because none of the reasons I moved away have changed; Amarr lowsec is still a backwater. Once I feel able to hunt in the main river, I'll be off again.

Having seen the east side of the galaxy, and being from the south, my focus has naturally shifted north and west. I will try and get some roams in that head in those directions so that when I make my next move it is a bit more of an informed decision.

But in the mean time, welcome home.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Punisher 17.1

The fit:

To be honest, while my fit needs a little tweaking (I have some unused CPU that might allow one of my named modules to upgrade to T2) I'm not making that a priority at the moment. I appreciate that I'm not rigging, but I don't particularly want to do that in a T1 frigate, especially as it would mean taking time out from my gunnery training to work on my rigging skills.

Long story short, I'm not going to keep posting my fit. If I try something really different I'll probably include it in the post, though.

The hunt:

After another unsuccessful roam through Minmatar low sec, I decided to take another jaunt through Amarr low sec. The travel time (getting to Amarr) is a pain, and so is the need to waste time moving between all the low sec islands (I wish CCP would do something about that). However, I do tend to have more luck in Amarr space, recently.

After my long trek through high sec, I began looking for targets. I'm getting pretty good with the D-scan, and so when I saw an Omen on the scanner, I was able to quickly narrow him down to a belt.

I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the Omen has such a bad reputation that most of the people who use it are very new - older players have better options. On the other hand, the Omen was also apparently ratting, something that in my (albeit limited) experience does not happen very often. Was it bait?

There were about half a dozen people in local, and nobody stood out as being the obvious Omen pilot. I prevaricated for a while, trying to decide whether or not to go for it. I really wanted an above class kill, but the last time I tried taking on a lone cruiser it went horribly, horribly wrong. I also needed four more kills before the end of the Punisher plan (only four Punishers left!) to meet my 3rd quarter goal.

In the end, I threw caution to the wind; I could handle the (expected) loss, but passing up an opportunity like this was too much. I warped in...

... to an empty belt.

During my procrastination, the Omen had moved on. Another scan showed that he was still in system, so I frantically started warping to each belt, hoping that he had simply gone in search of new rats.

On my third jump, I found him.

He was about 20km off the warp-in point, so I overheated my afterburner and hit approach. It was the longest 20km ever. I refrained from targeting him; he might not have noticed me yet, as he was busy with a rat (although he was at full health). I think I may have held my breath the whole way.

Getting into scram range, I hit target, then activated the scram. Locked down! I moved into a close orbit, and opened fire.

Immediately, he switched his T2 drones to me, and his guns shortly after. I was well under his guns, and he did not seem to have either a web or a neut. It simply came down to whether I could tank the drones or not.

I tore through his sheilds, and then began chewing through his armour. My shields evaporated, of course, but I was able to tank the drones while my cap held.

I then received an unexpected boost from the Sansha Lord that the Omen had been fighting. Apparently, the Omen had been drone tanking the Lord, and now that the drones were not orbiting him (they were orbiting me), the Lord was able to actually pop the drone he had been targeting. He then turned his guns on the Omen. This reduced the Omen's dps by a third, and put added pressure on what was left of his tank.

Finally, the Omen exploded! I just sat there at the keyboard, jaw practically on the floor; I had just acheived my first above class solo kill.

2011.04.03 14:59:00

Victim: prinzeugene
Corp: Perkone
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Omen
System: Saminer
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 7970

Involved parties:

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.2
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Gatling Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 6360

Name: Paradise Cruise Missile / True Power
Damage Done: 1610

Destroyed items:

Multifrequency M
Heavy Afocal Maser I, Qty: 2
Quad Light Beam Laser I
Small 'Ghoul' Energy Siphon I (Cargo)
50mm Reinforced Nanofiber Plates I (Cargo)
Explosion Dampening Amplifier I
Co-Processor I
Small I-b Polarized Structural Regenerator (Cargo)
Contaminated Nanite Compound (Cargo)
Reactor Control Unit I

Dropped items:

Civilian Shield Booster I (Cargo)
Power Diagnostic System I
Defective Current Pump (Cargo)
Medium Clarity Ward Booster I
Infrared M
Cap Booster 50, Qty: 10 (Cargo)
Monopropellant I Hydrazine Boosters (Cargo)
Heavy Afocal Pulse Maser I
Standard M
Fried Interface Circuit, Qty: 3 (Cargo)
Salvager I
Warp Core Stabilizer I
Warp Core Stabilizer I (Cargo)
Tracking Computer I
Damaged Artificial Neural Network (Cargo)
Voltaic Nanite Regenerative Membrane I
Microwave M
ECM - Phase Inverter I (Cargo)

Post battle review:

After grabbing the remaining drones and looting the wreck, I warped to a deep safe. I'm glad I have these scattered all over Amarr low sec, because as soon as the pilot left the system, local spiked. I'm guessing the first thing he did in the next system was alert his fellow carebears to my piracy, and they all started hunting for me.

They actually went so far as to ask me where I was. Apparently, D-scan is not a course they teach in carebear school, or they would have realised I was in a deep safe pretty quickly.

They had a pretty clear grasp of the criminal timer, though, as they kept looking until I was about 60 seconds from being able to leave the system. Then they all left - returning to wherever they had come from.

After escaping back to high sec, I was able to consider the fight.

This was one of those occassions that everything just went "right". I found a target, warped in, got under his guns, and blew him up. Other than being more decisive about the whole matter, I'm not sure what I could have done to improve on things.

Lessons for the future:

Optimisim is (sometimes) rewarded. A perfect counterpoint to my last fight, I very nearly missed this opportunity (and above class kill!) because of my paranoia about "teh blob".

And on another note, my gunnery focus is clearly paying dividends; I had no trouble breaking his tank even before the involvement of the Sansha Lord.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Punisher 16.2

The fit:

3 Gatling Pulse Laser II (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
5W Infectious Power Malfunction

Cold-gas Arcjet Thrusters
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Inhibitor

2 Adaptive Nano Plating II
Damage Control II
200mm Rolled Tungsten

The hunt:

I was on a Molden Heath roam, and I had gone north into Metropolis/Heimatar when I saw a Rifter on scan in a system that connected to highsec, albeit in a fairly remote location. He was a fairly new player, but he knew enough to quickly disappeared off D-scan. I guessed he had docked up, and I set about loitering in the system.

After about 10 minutes or so, he became used to my presence and ventured out again. I began scanning him down, but every time someone else entered the system he docked up until they left, which meant I had to keep starting from scratch.

Now, I was fairly certain he was missioning, but I wanted to be sure, so I persisted. However, over the course of a few minutes several cruisers and another Rifter entered the system, but did not seem to have any intention of just passing through.

Two of the ships, the Rifter and a Stabber, where in the same corp, and they were clearly hunting. They tried several times to pin me down, but I did not fancy my odds, 2v1.  The other two cruisers were from different corps, and seemed to be minding their own business.

As much as I did not want to tangle with the two hunters together, I did fancy my chances against the Stabber pilot. He was fairly new, and I thought I had a decent shot, if only I could separate him from his fleet mate.

After continually trying to track me down, the hunters seemed to get the message, and the next time I saw them it was just the Stabber pilot. I had burned quite some way from the warp in point, so he activated his mwd and moved to intercept me. Perfect.

I moved to engage him, but just as we pointed each other, BOTH of the other two cruisers warped in. Unable to warp out, all I could do was commit to the fight and hope that the cruisers preferred the cruiser killmail to the frigate killmail.

My guess about the Stabber pilot proved correct; he lacked the skills for the ship he was flying. He launched no drones, had no web, and I was completely under his guns. He did have a neut, however, which I countered with my nos, and I overheated my guns.

Ultimately, though, the two new cruisers both targeted me, and I started to get some drone action from the second Stabber. Although I had not yet taken a huge amount of damage, the outcome was now clear, and my thoughts turned to preserving my pod. I aligned to a celestial and started spamming the "warp to" button. Incidentally, this meant that I was no longer keeping up my transversal, and the original Stabber started doing massive damage to me. I think I found out where he put his skill points.

Eventually I popped, but I did manage to get out. I offered them a "gf" in local, which was not returned.

Victim: Taurean Eltanin
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Punisher
System: Aralgrund
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 1725

Involved parties:

Name: Zakraln (laid the final blow)
Security: 1.1
Corp: Old Spice l
Alliance: EveBowl Alliance
Faction: NONE
Ship: Stabber
Weapon: Dual 180mm Gallium I Machine Gun
Damage Done: 1156

Name: Rikhturh
Security: 2.9
Corp: T.R.I.A.D
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Minmatar Republic
Ship: Stabber
Weapon: Hobgoblin I
Damage Done: 569

Name: Lord Frifri
Security: 4.7
Corp: Warpig Industrial Solutions
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Caracal
Weapon: Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II
Damage Done: 0

Destroyed items:

Damage Control II
Imperial Navy Multifrequency S
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Small Armor Repairer II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Dropped items:

Gatling Pulse Laser II, Qty: 3
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Imperial Navy Multifrequency S, Qty: 2
E5 Prototype Energy Vampire
Scorch S, Qty: 3 (Cargo)

Post battle review:

Well, I'm a both pleased and disappointed. I'm pleased that I was able to correctly access the capabilities of my enemy, approach without taking damage, get under his guns, and counter his neut. Whether I would have won or lost would depend on whether he was able to shut down my afterburner, and if he could, whether this lowered my transversal enough for him to start hitting me. I can't be sure, but if I could have that fight again as a 1v1, I would take it.

However, I'm disappointed that I engaged in such an unsafe system. I wrote off the possibility that the cruisers were working together just because they had different tickers, and that was obviously a silly thing to do.

At the time, I really kicked myself for accepting the fight, and for my lack of discipline. After that initial reaction, though, my views have softened. I need two above class kills, and if things had gone a little differently, this guy stood a really good chance of being one of them. 
Equally, I could spend a great deal of time worrying about traps, but Eve is just a game, and I think I'll enjoy it more if I play with enthusiasm rather than with caution. So yeah, they got me. 

This time.

Lessons for the future:

Fleets do not necessarily enter a system all at once, and they are not necessarily wear the same corp badge. So if local spikes, assume they are all together, and they are all looking for me.

None of that means I shouldn't try to kill them.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Combat Scan Probes

Recently, I have been taking my first steps into combat probe scanning.

It's a natural progression for me, since non-combat scanning is my primary source of income. And it's a pretty incredible feeling, to sit at a deep safe, covered by your cloak, while you watch everything that happens across the system.

You can monitor the gate camp on the far gate. You can watch the Stabber and the Harbinger, partners in crime, waiting out their criminal flag at an old mission or exploration site, 20 AU above the ecliptic plane. You see drones abandoned by the mission runner when he had to warp out, and the resupply container someone left in one of their safe spots.

The only difficulty is that there is very little you can do with this information on your own. The extended probe launcher takes up nearly all of my Magnate's already generous supply of CPU. Most frigates can't even mount the module, and larger ships still have to give up a huge amount of their fitting resources.

A covert ops ship is purpose built to mount the EPL, of course, and does so with fitting room to spare. But these are poor combat platforms. CCP clearly intended combat probe scanning to be a role within a larger team, which is why most solo pilots that use combat probe scanning have a dedicated alt for the role.

However, I don't like alts in any of the games I play. If I'm going to develop high scanning skills (and I probably will at some point) it will be on my main. Most of the time I suspect that I will use combat probe scanning in systems where I have a combat ship ready to go, so a quick trip to the station gets me ready for combat.

On the other hand, I could see myself playing the role of scout for a small gang and I dislike the idea of being completely useless once the fight has started. That's lead me to start thinking about ways a covert ops can continue to contribute after the fight has started.

Strictly, a covert ops can mount guns, so adding to the dps (even if only a little) is an option, but it would likely make very little difference - all the while putting the covert ops pilot at risk.

Ewar is another option - the optimal range on tracking disruptors is 48km before skills. With 4 midslots, an Anathema could easily spare a couple for tracking disruptors, and could usefully support the gang called into deal with the target. Target painters are another option, depending on the composition of the gang.

Nevertheless, the biggest draw for getting into a covert ops has to be the fights that I know I'm missing when I roam in a combat ship. There have been numerous occasions where I have tracked down a potential target on my D-scan, only to find that there are no celestials for me to warp to at their location.

I had been assuming that I would be moving into a Crusader immediately after my Punisher, but perhaps taking some time out to fly and use a covert ops first would help me find targets.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Punisher 16.1

The fit:

3 Gatling Pulse Laser II (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
5W Infectious Power Malfunction

Cold-gas Arcjet Thrusters
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Inhibitor

2 Adaptive Nano Plating II
Damage Control II
200mm Rolled Tungsten

The hunt:

I have been doing a lot of roaming recently - not that you would know that from my posts. These roams typically start in Molden Heath and run through Derelick, or Heimatar and Metropolis, depending on how much time I have.

The trouble with these regions, though, is that there are a lot of people just like me (but with more practice and more skill points), which means that many of the ships I encounter are simply far more dangerous than I am, and the other targets are canny, hardened lowsec dwellers used to dealing with far greater predators than I. This makes for exciting roams as I try not to get ganked, but not very fruitful ones. There are plenty of fights to be had, but not fights I am likely to win.

It then occured to me that this might be a good time to try roaming through my old stomping grounds in Amarr space. I left because fights were very hard to find; Amarr low sec consists of backwater pockets that do not connect to the greater lowsec network, which means traffic is fairly low. However, my roaming skills have improved by leaps and bounds thanks to the time spent in Molden Heath. Perhaps it would be enough to let me find pilots who, in the isolated backwater that is Amarr space, had not yet developed the proper survival skills.

So off I went. After a long haul through high sec I started checking the Amarr low sec clusters for targets. Almost immediately I found a pilot about 4 months older than me, so I started trying to track him down on the D-scan.

I had found a ship that I believed was him at a cluster of celestials, and I was about to warp to the planet to get a more accurate scan when this pilot convo'd me!

"Nice blog!"

Ah. Well, this was akward.

We got to chatting, and the guy seemed pretty cool. Apparently this blog had inspired him to get into pvp, and he had just bought a load of Punishers too. Unfortunately, like me, he was far from home, so we could not have a 1v1 at that time, but he did promise to look me up in Molden Heath some time. He's got some time on me, but I would still try to give him a run for his money.

So I moved on, still looking for prey. In another system a couple of youngish pilots appeared in local, so I set about trying to scan them down.

In local: "Taurean Eltanin what are you doing here?"

Hmmm. "I'm here to gank you" was unlikely to keep them in the system, and silence would be equally unhelpful, so I said "I'm looking around", which technically was true, if a bit misleading. We started chatting, and I continued to work my D-scan.

At that point, two new ships entered the system. First, an obvious alt in a rookie ship. Second, a much older player that immediately deployed combat scan probes. Another hunter had arrived!

I used the opportunity to warn the other players in local that someone was using combat scan probes. I figured that the hunter would soon leave, and the other players would relax around me. In the mean time, they all seemed to dock up, and they urged me to do the same. However, I had no fear of the scanner; I've spent enough time in lowsec to not be found if I don't want to be.

I kept the D-scan going out of habit, even though I was pretty sure that there were no available targets. Imagine my surprise when I pinpointed the hunter's alt at an asteroid belt.

Immediately, the pieces fell into place. The hunter had two strings to her bow. Combat scan probes to find mission runners, and a juicy piece of bait for the more criminally inclined.

Well, I thought I would try and spring that trap, so I warped to the belt and saw the bait cruising along towards a celestial, about 300km off. Damn.

I gave chase, cursing the amount of notice I was giving the hunter; I had hoped to hit so fast they were unable to react in time.

Still, the distance from the warp-in point meant that the hunter could only warp to her fleet-mate, so it would be the last 30km that were the most dangerous. That didn't stop me from being increadibly on edge for the whole 5 min it took me to catch up.

Getting in to range, I immediately warp jammed the bait, over heated my guns, and opened fire. One volley. Another. And another. I started sweating bullets as I watched my overview. As soon as anything else appeared I was determined to pound the "warp to" button my finger was hovering over.

Into structure now. Another volley or two. There we are! And away! I warped out with still no sign of the hunter on overview.

Victim: Amarr Arareb
Corp: Royal Amarr Institute
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Impairor
System: Tirbam
Security: 0.2
Damage Taken: 245

Involved parties:

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.2
Corp: Strategic Conflicts Incorporated
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Gatling Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 245

Destroyed items:

Civilian Miner
Civilian Gatling Pulse Laser

Dropped items:

Tritanium (Cargo)

Post battle review:

I spent the next 15 minutes bouncing around celestials waiting out my criminal timer and I began to question my good fortune. Why hadn't the hunter warped in? Had I misunderstood the situation? The fact that they both left the system together shortly after my strike suggested not.

Possibly, my carebear style comments lead the hunter to believe that a strike at the bait was unlikely, and she therefore ignored the bait's overview. Add in a long warp and a slight delay in their reaction time, and the apparent lack of response becomes more plausable. Or perhaps she was scanning down an even juicier target and decided to sacrifice the bait. I'll probably never know (although now that I have said that, the pilot is virtually guarenteed to show up and leave a comment about how wrong I was about everything).

At the end of the day, though, I got my kill and got out with my hull. That's good enough for me.

Lessons for the future:

Let's be honest, this was hardly a clash of the titans.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The Tuskers are recruiting

I've wanted to join the Tuskers since before I had even started playing Eve.

You see, I'm a Mac user, which means that my online gaming has been rather limited - Blizzard titles, mostly. Although Eve runs on Mac, that's a fairly new development, and it only works on certain (ie, new) Macs, and my trusty laptop, being old but serviceable, did not meet the system requirements. As a result, I although I had heard of Eve, I had never seriously considered playing it.

However, this Christmas I decided it was time for a new computer - after 6 or so years of loyal service my laptop was retired into playing CBeebies for the children.

This suddenly opened up my gaming options. I'd never been a huge WoW fan, and I had quit several times; I'd come back for an expansion, level up, and then find end-game really boring. A change might be nice, so I started looking around for alternatives. That's when I found the Tuskers.

It was their blogs that made me want to play Eve. I was impressed with their professionalism, their fights and their camaraderie. I was impressed that CCP had created a game so complex and nuanced that it allowed such groups to exist, and such exploits to occur. I knew that I wanted to pvp in New Eden, and I knew I wanted to pvp with the Tuskers.

Of course, that's easier said than done.

The Tuskers are elite because they have high standards, and before I can even apply to join I have to meet their entry requirements. The first requirement is to have ten million skill points. The second is to have five solo kills, two of which are above class.

The skill points are something that come with time. Based on my past rate of skill point accumulation, I ought to hit ten million some time in August/September. It's a frustrating wait, but I understand the requirement. I'm at around four and a half million and I have not even maxed out a frigate yet. That would seem like a very basic requirement for anyone serious about pvp.

The other requirement, five solo kills with two above class, also makes sense, but it's a requirement that I won't automatically pass with time. And right now, above class kills seem a really long way off.

Still, it's a challenge I am determined to meet. This is partly why I have been so dead set on learning pvp on my own. The Tuskers want solo viable players, and joining another corp in the interim might get me kills, but it won't teach me how to solo.

Why is all this relevant? Because the Tuskers are recruiting. And if they are recruiting now, they may well have decided they are full by August/September.

Hold a spot for me guys. I'm on my way.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Messing about

A while ago I was convo'd by Transported, one of the pilots I had faced earlier in the Punisher Plan. He had a couple of fits he wanted to test, and had thought of me. He did not particularly want to get blown up, and so we agreed we would fight a couple of duels "to the hull".

This suited me fine, because it did not violate my new "fights I can win" policy for the last five Punishers. It also gave me the opportunity to test my own new skills - at the time my dps was 66/78, up from 51/78.

400mm Plate Rifter

We fought this matchup a couple of times, and each time I found that I could not break his tank before he broke mine. I had no trouble tracking him and applying damage, but he got to choose the range (up close) and so he was doing full damage as well.

The fights took a long time, though. T1 armor has a base 50% EM resist, so my effective dps was around 33, but my T2 repper and 60% across the board resists meant that he had to work damn hard to drop me to hull. I chewed through about half his armor in the first fight, and two thirds of his armor in the second fight when I overheated my repair system instead of my guns.

As my dps and repair skills improve, I think my odds in this match also improve.

Barrage Rifter

This was (against me) easily the worst fit. He still won, but largely because I thought he was trying to kite me in the first part of the fight and kept rushing towards him, which put me in his optimal. When I figured out that he just wanted to orbit at 8km, I laughed and let him; he was still well inside my optimal, but doing falloff damage himself.

I began regaining ground pretty rapidly, but it was not enough to make up for the damage I had already taken. We agreed that the fit was pretty poor against T2 pulse lasers, and so we did not test it again.

Tracking Rifter

This fit tried to get up close and personal, which works just fine against a Punisher. I can't remember whether we tested this one once or twice, though.

In any event, he got into a tight orbit and tried to beat my tracking, which he was able to do, but only barely. He was still using 150mm autocannons, so his tracking skills and bonuses only put him slightly above my Gatling Pulse Laser. If my own tracking skills were higher than III, the fight would probably have been much tougher for him.

Of course, if he were to "downgrade" to 125mm autocannons, I probably wouldn't be able to touch him. His other matchups might suffer, though.

Closing thoughts

It was good to test out my new dps skills, although 84% dps is clearly insufficient. I'll keep pushing that number up, and I'll think about damage rigs if I can afford the extra power grid. Hull Upgrades V finished yesterday as well, so I have another 5% of my own tank, and I can look at improved resists, if I can fit the Energised Plating.

Interestingly, EANP goes from 20% resists to 25% resists if I max out my armor compensation skills, so getting those skills to at least IV becomes quite attractive - if I can fit the EANP.