In silent attention sits;
With his ears he hears, / with his eyes he watches,
Thus wary are wise men all.
Each region in Eve - high sec, low sec, null sec and w-space - has it's own rules. Even within these main regions, those rules are subject to variation, such as the difference between FW low sec and non-FW low sec, or 'regular' w-space and pulsar w-space. These different rules affect the local pvp 'meta', as pilots collectively adapt to those rules. The classic example is the predominance of afterburners in low sec, as compared to the predominance of microwarp drives in null sec.
Wormhole space in particular is very different from the other regions. It is one thing to read about these differences. It is another thing to understand these differences. So, like the 'knowing guest' in Hávamál, I 'in silent attention sit', trying to understand my new environment over the course of a very busy weekend.
W-space and holding territory
Out of game programs are suddenly a big part of playing Eve. Wormhole mapping tools that help your corporation plot the ever shifting chains of w-space are not optional. I'm getting to grips with actually using Siggy to move around, and uploading my scans so that others can use that information.
Equally, the Tuskers now hold territory, and have invested in that territory by way of structures and other assets. So we now have a need to defend territory in a way that we never used to when we based out of an npc station in Hevrice. This means having out of game tools to notify pilots when we need to form up and defend Chaos, our wormhole.
Such a ping went out on Saturday, and anyone who was available rushed to our computers to form up and hit a roaming fleet. Without local to tell the other FC how many pilots we had managed to on-line, we were able to bait them into what looked like an easy fight while half of us were docked up, undocking the rest of the fleet only once they had engaged. The enemy FC did not over commit, though, and was able to disengage with only minor losses.
Riplomacy fought well, fought smart, and were cheerful on coms afterwards. I suspect we'll get along with them just fine.
The point was made, though. Unlike null sec corporations, we cannot rely on structures to denote ownership; we occupy and hold our space through pure force. As soon as we stop projecting that force, we become a target for the other w-space pvp corps. Until then, our message is clear: if your wormhole forms a connection to Tusker space close it. Otherwise, we'll be visiting.
Where and how to hunt
I had imagined that much of my hunting would occur in w-space, but a short exposure to this style of pvp has disabused me of that notion, at least for now. W-space hunting requires time. You find a promising system, and you scan out everything and set up bookmarks and pounces all over the system.
During this period, your scan probes advertise your presence, and you won't catch anyone who is paying the slightest attention. So after the scanning, you settle down to wait. And wait. And wait.
Eventually, if you are lucky, someone new comes into the system and advertises their presence with scan probes. Assuming that they are not also hunting, or simply passing through, they will eventually warp to some place to start mining, running the site, etc. But because you have already bookmarked that site, you can warp in on them without warning.
It's a lot like being a trapdoor spider, really. I've added Cloaky Bastard's blog to my sidebar, and he engages almost exclusively in this kind of pvp. He multiboxes, though, and can hit targets that I could never handle solo. So by comparison, my engagement profile would be even more narrow.
The truth is, I don't often have that kind of time. Perhaps on weekends, but otherwise I only have a couple of hours here and there in the evening. With my weak scanning skills, I can spend much of that time just prepping a system, let alone the hours of waiting for a target.
So, like most of the Tuskers, I'll probably be hunting out of the null sec static. This static is amazing. Over the weekend I was involved over 3 billion ISK worth of null sec kills, simply because we could hit an area hard, from behind their scouts and intel posts, and then roll the hole as soon as the fights dried up. That gave us a brand new hunting ground; rinse and repeat.
What to train and fly
I think I need to expand the range of ships I can fly. My 'problem' is that I like to be able to do things well. So I have near perfect skills on all Amarr/Caldari frigates, and their weapon systems, but not a whole lot of anything larger.
For flying solo, this is fine, and it's how I've preferred to fly. But it has two shortcomings.
First, frigates do not seem to be as viable in null sec as in low sec. I think this is because there is less for them to do. A well fitted frigate can kill any npc in low sec, but the larger null sec rats simply have too much active tank. So ratters have to fly bigger ships. Which pushes the people chasing the ratters to fly bigger ships. In addition, sov wars push pilots to train and fly larger, fleet capable ships. So outside of interceptors (used for scouting and general travel), I did not see a large number of frigate viable targets while out and about.
Second, I can't fly any of the larger Tusker fleet doctrines. Sure, I can still contribute in an interceptor, but you only need so many of those. Getting another line battleship is better, most of the time.
This in mind, I think I need to go out and train up the skills to at least sit in all the T1 battleships, with meta weapons. These skills don't need to be perfect (a concept I will no doubt have trouble with), but they will make me much more flexible than I have been in the past. So while I was looking forward to a month of training EM/Kinetic/Thermal/Explosive Armor Compensation V, I think my next trip to high sec will involve buying a load of skill books.
I also need to take a financial risk, and actually buy some decent cruiser hulls for solo hunting. I'll probably start with a Pilgrim, as I actually have near perfect skills for that - it's just the TD's that I need to train up. It can also match damage types to npcs, potentially allowing me to recoup some of my costs via ratting in the empty systems.
I'll have more focused posts over the coming week, but I wanted to get my initial thoughts down while they are still fresh.