24 June 2009


I lost a pod last week while piloting a [-DARK] supplied Scorpion. Of all the poddings I've suffered, that one was probably the most painless. My wetware had been acting up for nearly a week, and during that engagement, it was practically offline. I saw flashes of the Scorpion being attacked, but nothing else registered, save the station walls.

All I can blame it on is the rain.

Maybe I should get a hat. It had been raining here for nearly a week solid. My yard didn't really dry up until yesterday.

This clone has a real annoying itch. It is on the back of my left pinky, between the nail and the first knuckle. What is that, the posterior of the fifth distal phalanges?

What ever it is, it is driving me a little batty. Makes me want to rush out and get podded again just so I can shake this itch.

23 June 2009

I Once Was in a Tournament

I had left SG, and was living in The Forge. I hadn't been there long, and was trying to find my place. There was a monthly 1v1, all tech-1 cruiser tournament held in a low-sec system nearby. It hadn't been running long and didn't have many entrants. I have never been an ace combat pilot, and have always preffered EW, fire support, or logistics roles in combat over being a ship-of-the-line. I figured this would be a controlled environment where I could get a little better.

The rules were simply that every capsuleer provided a cruiser that did not have any advanced, tech 2 fittings. There would be a jet can marking the center of the field, and we were not to stray more than a number of kilometers from that. Withdrawing from the fight was surrendering. Ships would likely be lost, but pods were off limits.

I expected there to be a great many Thoraxes. I, however, can not pilot Gallente cruisers, nor do I have any training in hybrid railguns. I turned to the Minmatar variant on the Gallente Thorax, the Stabber.

The Stabber is clearly built from Thorax plans. The hulls have nearly the same silhouette. The Stabber is just Minmatar, and with that it is faster than a Thorax. Minmatar projectiles have a better range than Gallente turrets, too. These two advantages determined my strategy.

Thorax's are fast, and use their speed to get close to their prey. They are devastating lethal at close range, and they can deploy drones to quickly augment their offensive capabilities. Thorax's rely on aggression, and that aggression easily conceals any weakness.

Since this tournament set the field, there was no need for warp disruption. That freed up a mid-slot in everyone's fitting. I decided that I was going to use my superior speed to set the range, and I was going to remain outside of his lethal range, and outside of the range of statis webifiers. This gave me another free mid-slot. I fit my ship as though I was going to fight a Thorax, so everything was measured in that regard. The Hypothetical Thorax pilot likely would equip a webifier, so this gave me a mid-slot over him.

I fit my ship so it would be as fast as possible, with the best range I could get out of the full compliment of named autocannons. My defenses suffered, but there was no amount of tank that I could put on a Stabber that could withstand a Thorax at close range.

I knew this was a risk. What if my opponent wasn't in a Thorax? I considered the likely alternatives, the Vexor, the Caracal, and the Rupture (did the Amarrs even make a cruiser?). The Vexor and the Rupture would both present the same challenge. They would have better range than the Thorax, but they would both be slower. I would be able to set the range, and could either close to try and outpace their turrets or move further away in the hopes of out-ranging them.

The Caracal presented a real problem. The Caracal didn't care about my range, and the Caracal could fit an impressive tank. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle things if I encountered a Caracal.

All of that was moot. My first opponent was a Thorax.

We began nearly 20 Km apart. My target range was outside of 9 Km. As the duel began, he lit up his MWD and burned straight for me (this was before warp scramblers would disrupt a MWD). I fired up my own, swung my bow to port, and cut an oblique. In my head was Sabre Dance. As our range fell below 12 Km, I turned on the ACs.

He continued to try and approach me, and I continued to move in obliques around him, careful to keep my orbits outside of 9 Kms, and always trying to move our dance toward the "center of the ring". The fight continued for many many minutes. All the while, my ACs were constantly hissing shot at him, his rails silent. I had no idea if this tactic would work. I was expecting it to be a smashing success or a smashing failure. Instead, it was a smashing stalemate.

I was doing measurable damage, but it wasn't enough to over-come is active defenses. There was a time-limit imposed by the rules on our fight. If we exceeded that, the organizer would call our fight and determine a winner. I was afraid I'd lose a judge's decision. From the outside, it appeared as though I was avoiding a fight by constantly staying away from him. I felt I needed to do something to avoid going to a judge's decision.

I risked moving closer. I didn't want to get within webifier range, but I wanted to get a little closer so my own turrets would land their shots more often. I lurched closer. He took that moment, and lurched closer too. I quickly found myself too close.

His webifier found me, and trapped me. I had now lost my speed advantage, and he quickly fell on me. My ACs were constantly fighting back, but the weren't enough to destroy him before his rails tore my ship to pieces.

I was now floating in my pod in a sea of the debris that once was a nearly successful Stabber.

After the fight he told me that he was down to his last few cap boosters. He didn't think he'd be able to hold out for too much longer.

If only I had.

13 June 2009

I Need a Corp

It is official, I need a corp.

I'm enjoying my time in the militia, but militia pick-up fleets are, more times than not, not very well organized. There is entirely too much chatter, not nearly enough discipline, and scores of capsuleers just looking to get in on another killmail.

The problem is, I'm trying to fit capsuleering back into my life. I don't have a dedicated schedule, yet.

I'm debating returning to SG, but I'm still not sold. Last I heard they were a pet corp for the alliance-formerly-known-as BoB. I don't know if I want to get caught up in that. Though, being a retired Rear Admiral, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to get back into a commission.

Part of the debate with returning to SG, as with any corporation, also centers around returning to 0.0 or remaining in the war against the Amarr. Life beyond the empires is rough. The fighting in the militia pales next to the wars I've been in while in 0.0.

Life beyond the empires is also wildly rich. It is easy for capsuleers to make money, lots of money. The question then is, what to do with that money.

I have no great desire to fly truly expensive ships. I don't care for a carrier. I don't care for any capital ship. I don't even really care for a marauder. The only expensive ships that have ever caught my attention have been the newest line of strategic cruisers. To add to the temptation, I have all the prerequisites for the Loki and Tengu, save the actual ship and subsystem skills themselves.

I do enjoy the logistics. I do enjoy that side of the business just as much as the combat. I know I'll never be an ace combat capsuleer, but I think I could apply myself and be a very competitive industrialist.

I guess I should work on a cover letter and a résumé.

06 June 2009

Epic Fail

I was going to mention how I lost not one, but two Blackbirds in the same melee. I was going to mention how the first was the fleet commander's fault, and how the second was my own for continuing to follow him. I was going to mention how I wanted to look for a corp, since the pick-up militia fleets were really starting to get old.

I was going to mention how I hate to hear pirates whine about piracy being too hard. It was going to sum it up with something cliché like, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." I was going to mention that low sec is a transition to null sec, but that pirates just don't ever seem to move on and I was going to muse as to why that was.

But then I had a failure of epic proportions.

I was busy last night having to do work for others. It was work I could do remotely, so I decided to do it while in my capsule. I had a large batch of advanced large hybrid weapons to take to market, and I considered looking for cheap Jaguars and possibly a Kitsune and a Hound.

I loaded up Lorxun. Lor is a Mastodon. Lor is an artistic rendition of cumbersome, if you consider Thukker brutalism to be art. When rigged and fit, she could hold nine giant secure containers and three larges. She had served very well in Aridia, Outer Ring, and through out the empires.

The ship and rigs alone cost me just over 120,000,000 kredits. Since I had sold off my disused Tempest, she was by far the most expensive ship I had.

The killboards estimate her total value, with cargo, between 188M and 230M.

Mastodon on the killboard: Fail.

I left Elgoi and stopped in Rens, Hek, and finally Oursuleart. I sold 40M in goods outright, and posted another 118M in sell orders.

Having a few things left over, and deciding to wait on picking up any new ships, I set a corse for Elgoi. I looked at my list of assets and decided there was a system just five jumps away with old junk that I could clean out in this trip and probably use in the future to bargain with an agent.

I thought the system was Gallente, and I added the way point, moving it up the autopilot list ahead of Elgoi. I undocked, warped to my first gate, and engaged the autopilot.

I went back to work, letting the autopilot drive Lor through Gallente and Matari high security space.

"Autopilot approaching stargate," Aura would announce in the background. I'd reach up and toggle the afterburner if I was paying enough attention.

"Autopilot jumping." There was the sound of the gate activating, the bubble forming, and the ship being pushed out of space.

"Autopilot warping to stargate." There was the sound of engines roaring, the ship shaking as it fought Einstein and cross the light-barrier. Relatively.

"Autopilot approaching stargate." I wasn't as focused on my work at this point since I was waiting for a command I'd issued to their systems to finish and give me a result. I looked up, knowing that Aura announces her intentions just before they are reality. If I attempt to toggle on the afterburners too soon, they won't come on, and I'll have no audible indication that they didn't engage.

I see the console finally indicate that it is out of warp and the sub-light engines begin to glow. I toggle the afterburners with a quick keystroke.

The icon begins to pulse green on my display. I notice an aggression timer.

Who did I agress?

I notice a flashy red box.

I was being attacked! And in high security space!

I scrambled for the controls. My shields were barely scratched, and I was moving at speed to the gate. I didn't panic in the confidence that CONCORD would be here soon.

I brought the display's focus on the aggressor. It was the Caldari Navy. "No, no, no, no, no!"

That extra waypoint was actually in Caldari space, not Gallente. There would be no CONCORD intervention. The Mastodon was too big and slow. She could never close 13 Km before being torn apart. There was nothing ahead of me. I selected another gate and gave the order to warp-to-zero. I watched as Lor began to turn. The bow pitched up and yawed to port. Lor pulled hard, but the movement, even when not under the tension of a dramatic moment, played out in slow motion. It was as if watching a large mythical beast rise up on point and try to pirouette in the thick gel of a neutrally buoyant clone vat.

The gate guns came on line, and it was too late. The shields were stripped away quickly. There is no armor. The hull is just there to keep the cargo together. Next came the explosion.

Mastodon lost to Caldari Navy: Epic Fail.

03 June 2009

The Mistakes of Learning

My spirits are a bit broken in that I've lost two ships in the last day. The first was a Jaguar, Jestyl II. The second was a Blackbird, Weird Sisters. It isn't their loss that bothers me. Jes had seen action in Outer Ring and in The Bleak Lands. She served well, and was a great joy to pilot. I do look forward to fitting another Jaguar. This was Sisters' first sortie, but she was lost in combat after assisting in the destruction of two Typhoon class battleships. I did calmly try to evade the hostile reinforcements, but Blackbirds are slow. I think she did well.

My low spirits come form the mistakes I made around the loss of these two ships.

After panicking and losing Dakyxa'is, I am really trying to focus on combat, and really wanting to put myself at more risk for the sake of getting better. Monday morning, there was a large Dark Rising operation against Heretics that occupied most of the militia, so I took it on myself to go on a solo roam.

I took Jes, figuring a Jaguar was fast and strong enough to engage most light targets in one-on-one. It was uneventful. I did have a chance to engage a Punisher, but I hesitated, and he got away.

Tuesday morning, was when things went poorly.

Amamake is generally a dangerous system. Recently however, I had become relaxed in Amamake. There were hostiles, but they were usually kept off the gates by friendly traffic. The Heretics kept to the Osuggur gate (when not defending against Dark Rising), and the Amarr militia had been focusing on Auga and Dal.

I was crossing Amamake with the intent of entering Vard and beginning a solo roam. I asked about a fleet and received an invitation. The fleet was in Dal, so I doubled back to the Dal gate.

As a reminder to me that I really shouldn't be flying around Amamake alone like that, there are three Amarrian Thrashers waiting for me on the gate.

At least they respect the hardware.

We are all on the gate, and I know I can't turn around and run. Without thinking, I signal the jump.

They gleefully jump with me.

It doesn't take them long to cut Jestyl II to shreds. My wetware is slow. Their targetting computers are fast.

I never even see the pod.

The list of mistakes here is long.

I should've given them a chance to fire at me first. I know they wouldn't've. That would've given me a chance to jump while they waited on the thirty-second cool off. If I sat there, I know they would've sent one Thrasher through. At that point, I can't get away.

Jumping through wasn't a horrible mistake, but I should've waited, so see if it was even necessary. Give them a chance to make a mistake.

Once we were all on the other side of the gate, I was resolved to the defeat. I didn't think I could get away. What bothers me is, I didn't even try. I don't know how they were fitted, but I had an afterburner that I could overheat. I could've tried to run outside of their warp disruption range and gotten away.

I wouldn't've made it, but it would've been good practice.

Once I calmed down (bought a new clone) and got into another ship, I rejoined the fleet. It was a militia fleet. They aren't very organized.

We were sitting on a gate, when suddenly the FC ordered us to jump through, warp to a belt, and engage pirates that are already tackled.

I don't really care enough about pirates to bother with them. I'd rather focus on the Amarr militia. The mistake here was simple. After the last targeting patch I received, I didn't reset my overview. One of the pirates I engaged was a friendly.

Weird Sisters did a good job of locking up two Typhoons (1, 2), and a friendly Rapier. The Rapier even shows up in the mail declaring the loss of Sisters.

My apologizes to Mr. Od.