30 December 2011

First Null-Sec Roam Ends Badly

Kaeda Maxwell (Jaguar) and Starwalker (Hookbill) set off to roam around and see what trouble they could get into. They started in Pure Blind but were soon into Cloud Ring and then the Outer Ring.

A Rifter appeared briefly on gate and Kaeda instructed Starwalker to jump through the gate and potentially catch the Rifter on the other side. The Rifter duly came through but Starwalker had not de-cloaked yet and the targeting failed. Starwalker tried to de-cloak but it was too late, the Rifter was gone.

The roam continued and Kaeda decided that they would head to the End of the Universe – A2V6-6. It seemed like the entire pipe, that was apparently popular with ratters and those improving their security status, was largely empty. Although, strangely, there was an abandoned Velator near the YVA-F0 gate – so they ended its existence with a couple of bursts of rocket fire. Starwalker went to jump through the gate but the aggression timer was active and so they waited for the timer to expire.

Heading back down the pipe, they went into Fountain and flirted with the odd potential target like a Tengu but it amounted to nothing. It looked like they would get no action and so they headed back to Pure Blind. Then a few jumps from the end a Cynabal landed with Starwalker on the gate. The targeting failed as it simply jumped through but Kaeda was on the other side.

Starwalker jumped through and Kaeda commanded: “Burn back to the gate and hold”. The Cynabal decided it was going to fight as it targeted Starwalker’s Hookbill and opened fire. Kaeda engaged it with the Jaguar and a Hurricane and Tornado jumped through. The situation had just changed and Starwalker asked: “Shall we jump?” Kaeda understood it as warp away and noted “…I am pointed” but Starwalker had meant jump through the gate. First mistake, he had forgotten gate mechanics.

In the confusion, Starwalker thought he had heard “yes… I am pointed” or effectively get away, I will follow you or try to warp away. So Starwalker jumped. Second mistake, he did not independently assess the situation, just waited for a command.

As soon as Starwalker jumped he realized that Kaeda could not jump through the gate because of the aggression timer. And almost simultaneously, that the three ships on the other side meant that Kaeda’s Jaguar would not escape. Starwalker was on the wrong side of the gate - “Shall I jump back?” But Kaeda was too busy trying to burn down the Cynabal to respond and so Starwalker burnt back to the gate and jumped. Third mistake, it was too late to fight now.

No Jaguar, no fight, just the Cynabal, Hurricane and Tornado. It was over. Starwalker warped to the next gate. He was disappointed in himself for having left a Rebel to fight alone and that he had jumped. It didn’t matter whether he thought Kaeda was telling him to escape - he should have stayed. Fortunately, Kaeda was disappointed but philosophical about the Jaguar loss.

The reason Starwalker should have stayed was because he agreed with Kaeda’s assessment. There was a chance to take down the Cynabal, even with the two battlecruisers present. The Jaguar alone could not take down the Cynabal but the Jaguar and Hookbill had a real chance. Of course, they would die in the process but it would be a good exchange and worth trying to kill the Cynabal.

If the fight was simply lost and there was no chance that the Cynabal would go down THEN it would have been reasonable to escape. Instead, it was an opportunity missed because Starwalker also thought they could kill the Cynabal.

It was for that reason that Starwalker was disappointed and why for him the first Null-Sec roam had ended badly. However, every cloud has a silver lining and a couple of good lessons were learnt:
  • Assess the situation and decide whether to fight or not yourself, especially if the situation calls for potentially sacrificing your ship
  • Fighting on gates requires knowing gate mechanics, whether you will be fired on or not and when you can use them or not

29 December 2011

Stilletto Tackles for Gang on Arzad Gate

Starwalker prepared to set off again for Pure Blind after his previous attempt ended in being podded in 93PI-4. Another new Rifter was pulled into service, the last from this station, and the journey started.

It started uneventful and Starwalker started to read the EVE News as the jumps blurred into one another. Then arriving at a star gate there was a Stilletto, a well-known interceptor ship, providing tackle for a gang. Starwalker jumped through to Arzad and the Stilletto followed, piloted by Wynning Blodtann.

Starwalker waited, holding cloak, as there was nothing else on the other side except for the Stilletto but just maybe the Stilletto was on its way elsewhere. It was not flashy red so Starwalker was not about to attack it. If it was part of a gang then no doubt the gang was inbound.

Starwalker attempted to warp away and the Stilletto engaged, establishing a fast scramble. Starwalker did not hesitate and went for the Stilletto, if he was going down he wanted to take the Stilletto with him.

The Stilletto quickly entered armour and started to burn away looking for escape, the rest of its gang hadn’t arrived yet and was taking longer than expected. Starwalker chased the Stilletto and overheated the mid-slots but the Stilletto was too fast and moved out to around 20km as his friends arrived.

Starwalker started to burn towards the gate as the gang was starting to engage at range. A Thrasher tried to establish a point as the Stilletto came back in and damage was starting to arrive from the Thrasher’s 250mm artillery and jjohnpaul’s CN Scourge heavy missiles. Zenton Karvash’s Tachyon Beam Lasers were missing and that might have made the difference as Starwalker’s Rifter entered deep armour damage.

Starwalker starting firing at the Stilletto again and it entered structured but Starwalker had forgotten to reapply scramble and the Stilletto warped away in deep structure. However, it was the Stilletto that had Starwalker’s Rifter scrambled and as he warped away Starwalker was also able to warp away trailing fire. He had escaped! Starwalker was pleased at how well his “heavy tank” Rifter had performed under fire.

Very soon Starwalker was continuing his journey after applying copious amounts of nanite paste to the badly overheated modules. Fortunately, the rest of the journey was uneventful as Starwalker chose to dock up before entering Pure Blind and then entered cautiously at a quiet time.

Starwalker made his way to the Pure Blind station that had his Caldari Navy Hookbills, delivered by Starstepper. Starstepper had narrowly avoided destruction from gate camps in EC-P8R from Torrinos whilst Starwalker was doing the tourist thing in New Eden.

The Hookbill, a new ship for Starwalker and one that he was looking forward to flying – its sleek black lines would look good in flames.

28 December 2011

Impatience and Laziness Leads to Loss

Starwalker was a long way from Pure Blind. He was on his way to meet up with various Rebels but it was a long, long way from the usual haunts. A long trip coupled with his natural inclination towards impatience and laziness was not a good combination. It was almost inevitable that this impatience and laziness would lead to a loss.

It was Starwalker’s first time in null-sec space and he had read about the bubbles that can trap ships like a giant web but now he had a chance to experience it. The impatient “jump” from 93PI-4 to G-M418 started off as normal but as the star gate approached so did the bubble that looked like the force field around a POS.

The Rifter’s speed dropped and Starwalker did what seemed sensible but was probably wrong – burnt towards the gate with the module being overheated. That might have worked given enough time but of course the waiting Daredevil was ready to pounce and quickly closed to around 700m. Starwalker reacted and in the excitement of hitting various commands, like turning on damage control, the shoot command was lost.

Eventually, Starwalker realized he was not shooting and tried to shoot back. The Daredevil shields disappeared quickly but the Rifter was entering structure. Starwalker looked to escape with the pod but was simply too slow. The Rifter burst into a million pieces and before the pod could make an exit it too was caught and Starwalker was back in his clone vat. Strangely, he was now further away from Pure Blind than when the journey started.

It was a painful loss of nearly ISK 80 million in implants but as Starwalker emerged from the clone vat he fitted another set of nearly ISK 80 million implants and upgraded the clone. That was an expensive lesson, however, lesson learnt - patience is important, especially going from gate to gate in null-sec.

26 December 2011

Late 9 Month Review

In the last 6-month review Starwalker had noted that it was time to harden up or ship out. Starwalker had almost shipped out but a timely reminder – expect every ship to have a fiery death - had infused him with a new sense of enthusiasm.

The focus for the previous review had been on four areas:
  1. Ships - focus on a few ships and fits, suited to you, to learn to fly and fight. Only fly (and fit) what you can afford to lose and whilst taking risks is fine, try to avoid silly losses such as being destroyed by sentry guns
  2. Combat - maintain situational awareness and use all tools (display, local, overview...) and modules in combat and overheat
  3. Skills - focus training plan on particular ships, fits and skills needed. Be flexible and change the plan as needed but use the plan. Optimise that plan where possible such as using implants and a neural remap
  4. Base - select a small number of bases based on most important need such as central to roaming locations

Starwalker’s focus was still on frigates. There had been the occasional foray into something bigger but Starwalker liked frigates. Ship fitting philosophy was evolving around relative superiority and Starwalker was settling onto two types of builds:
  • Brawler - slower, tank type that aims to establish superiority by lasting longer than expected to gain the kill. There is one significant variant and that is to go all out damage for a fast kill. Downside for brawler is that it is unlikely to be able to dictate range and runs a significant risk of being kited to death
  • Kiter – faster type that sacrifices tank for agility and speed and relies on speed and range to reduce or avoid damage. Being able to dictate range is critical and this type runs a significant risk of being caught in close combat
Combat offered the same challenges, knowing what to do is not the same as doing it. This had been demonstrated most recently when taking on a Wolf and forgetting to change the ammunition to explosive. Starwalker was contemplating using rockets with the Caldari Navy Hookbill as one opportunity to compensate for known weaknesses.

Skills training had remained focused with a good number of level 4 and 5 skills completed and contributing to the now 14 million skill points. In addition, Starwalker was sporting +4 implants to speed up training. The current focus was to get more Navigation and Missile skills to 5.

In terms of bases, Starwalker was actually now moving to a new model. The hi-sec base was established with Starstepper and the low-sec bases had been consolidated and reduced to a few ships in Heimatar, Molden Heath and Pure Blind. Starwalker now had lots of surplus ships and equipment and was considering liquidating the stock. In short, to buy what he needed when he needed it or just in time.

Starwalker was enjoying life in New Eden again and being in R1FTA. 

23 December 2011

Tourist in New Eden

Starwalker exited the wormhole in Heild and was in New Eden. That was fast. It was also the first time through a wormhole but he remembered to bookmark both sides.

Being in New Eden was also a first and Starwalker did the tourist thing of taking some pictures. The serenity of the moment was interrupted by a video call from Starstepper, who immediately burst out with "I nearly died here in Pure Blind, moving your stupid Hookbills. A Talos got me down to 56% structure before I warped away".

Starwalker wanted a small number of ships, equipment and ammunition (one ship load) moved on a just in time basis to any new location. Also, as Anxiir had noted those ships remained packaged for easy transport away again. Starwalker had been around long enough to know that his ship of choice and ship fitting was continuously changing - another good reason not to build them and leave them there.

"Did you scout ahead, check for a back door route or go at a quiet time?" The answer was impolite and Starwalker simply noted: "Well you had better make sure your clone is up to date then".

19 December 2011

Bait? Coming in Hot

The d-scan showed a Rifter in the area but it was very strange. The pilot - sl Garsk – seemed to be bouncing around the celestials but for no apparent reason. If he was ratting, he would be in the same place and similarly if he was bait.

Of course, if he were hunting then he would typically be d-scanning from a safe. He might be the hunted, but then no other ships showed up so that didn’t seem to be the reason. Strange or not Starwalker decided to hunt him down. If he were bait then Starwalker’s Rifter would be coming in hot!

Shortly afterwards the target was scanned down to an asteroid belt and rather than wait any longer for him to bounce again Starwalker warped in to zero. Surprise! The target Rifter was there but so was a Republic Fleet Firetail (Endureth). No time to check whom the other pilot was, and so Starwalker went for the Rifter on the basis it was closest and being hunted by two people.

Starwalker ran into the usual problem when coming out of warp – some commands seemed to be lost by initiating actions too early like target and approach. However, when Starwalker was around 14km away sl Garsk warped away and Starwalker was now being bombarded with artillery from the Firetail, around 18km away. This was not looking good, as there was a real possibility of being kited to death. Equally, why had the Firetail switched targets, unless Starwalker was always their target? But if so, why had sl Garsk run, perhaps to save his Rifter?

Never mind the speculation – time to act. Starwalker decided to burn away to a random celestial with the afterburner overheated. This was not especially to run but to try and slingshot and then get into close range. If that could be achieved then the Firetail would go down fast, however, the Firetail was fast and maneuverable and might be difficult to pin down.

Before that plan could even really begin a Stabber Fleet Issue arrived on the scene. This was simply too much and the Firetail must have felt the same as he dropped point, and so Starwalker’s Rifter took the opportunity to simply warp away. This Rifter would burn, but not today.

17 December 2011

Fly Fast, Shoot First, Do or Die

Starwalker was cruising around Heimatar, with a new attitude - fly fast, shoot first, do or die. It was overcoming risk aversion with more fights and Starwalker was looking for a fight, same class or above class.

He found it in the form of a Wolf in Aliette, piloted by Hogaarr. Starwalker checked the Battleclinic killboard and Hogaarr had lots of kills so this was not an easy fight with a Rifter against a Wolf. Previously, Starwalker would have simply moved on but this time was different.

Starwalker went to a customs office, to be easily found, and started to d-scan for the Wolf location. No need. The Wolf arrived on scene about 50km away. Starwalker started to burn towards the Wolf and wondered if it would possible to get under the guns and do some damage.

Setting the auto-cannons and rockets to overheat the Rifter targeted and engaged the Wolf, setting the range to 600m. The range closed but only to around 1800m and the auto-cannons from both ships spat death at each other. The Wolf shields melted away but the armour was much tougher and Starwalker realized his first mistake – Republic Fleet Phased Plasma.

This ammunition choice was fine for T1 ships but nigh on useless against a Wolf. It was too late to try and change the ammunition and Starwalker could see that the Rifter armour was being riddled with bullet holes. It wouldn’t be much longer. This was when Starwalker realised his second mistake – he hadn’t tried to overheat the afterburner to close into 600m. The Wolf was dictating range and had kept the Rifter from getting under its guns. The Rifter started to burn.

Starwalker aligned out with the Rifter in flames and started to spam the warp – not to save the ship but to save the pod. The shiny new Rifter, now riddled with holes and on fire, exploded into a ball of fire and was no more and out of the dying flames the pod emerged and raced away to safety.

Starwalker had lost another ship – to be expected, every ship would have a fiery death. So what about those other factors for risk aversion?
  • Killboard, another loss – so what?
  • Target selection, above class fight so not an easy kill but some lessons learnt – so good outcome
  • Sense of loss – around ISK 9 million, so not so bad. Lost a ship, sure but that was lost anyway it was only a question of when and how
The pod docked in the home station and Starwalker realized that he had no more Rifters to lose. Well, time to buy some more then and maybe it was time to see what else would look good in flames.

16 December 2011

Overcoming Risk Aversion with More Fights

Miura Bull was describing the R1FTA School of Hard Knocks and it reminded Starwalker of what seemed to have been forgotten: expect every ship to have a fiery death. The only questions are when and how.

Flying the ship was more important than looking at it. Fighting in the ship to a fiery death was why Starwalker was in New Eden. So what had happened? It seemed that this truth had been lost and risk aversion had become more dominant than fighting spirit.

Starwalker realized that this risk aversion was being fed by:
  • Killboard – and perceived efficiency or getting more kills than losses
  • Target selection – and wishing to find easy kills
  • Sense of Loss – losing ships and/or pod and its financial impact
To a much lesser extent the risk aversion was also being fed by the lack of confidence (and skill) to engage small groups with the intent of divide and conquer.

Starwalker felt like he had just pushed through a barrier, that he could fly and fight in New Eden with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. That enthusiasm had almost disappeared with the many long hunts and few short fights.

Starwalker looked towards the space dock and smiled as the ship looked shiny and new – time to see if tonight could be fiery death for that ship or preferably the target ship. Either way Starwalker was looking for a fight, same class or above class.

Perhaps this attitude would result in being too aggressive and silly losses but that would be better than few or no fights. Without fights, without losses Starwalker would never become a better pilot.

Starwalker had a new credo - fly fast, shoot first, do or die. He reached for his black jacket and walked towards the shiny new ship, smiling.

12 December 2011

Many Long Hunts and a Few Short Fights

Starwalker looked back over his flight logs and was frustrated over the amount of time out flying and looking for a fight versus the actual time fighting. This was not the immediacy and availability of combat that he wanted but equally the universe and the possibilities pulled him in and kept him in New Eden.

It was both very frustrating and oddly compelling to search for targets, to not know what was out there and how things would end, hopefully badly for someone else. Long hunts tended to be like prospecting for gold – lots of work for the chance of a big reward. The reward was hopefully a good fight and a kill, with the fights being short, addictive, adrenalin rushes and like any addiction there is a strong compulsion to find the next rush.

Current reality was that it was many long hunts to a few short fights, not counting gate camps or ganks. But the rush… So whilst at times, that rush is hard to find the odds can be increased, by hunting with others. Starwalker knew that he was a lone wolf at heart but sometimes coming together with other lone wolves to form a wolf pack was fun. A wolf pack opens more opportunities for finding targets because the range of targets that can be engaged becomes greater.

Many long hunts and a few short fights – when stated so clearly, did Starwalker have the patience and perseverance? Starwalker sat back from the neocom console and looking over his shoulder saw the Thrasher floating in the space dock. He felt the pull - the need for the next rush, it was time to hunt.

4 December 2011

Small Bases in Strategic Locations

Starwalker felt like a new capsuleer after his holiday. Whilst away, the recent upgrade to optics had resulted in the universe and its nebulae being shown in brilliant colours and even visible engine trails. Nice new touches. However, not everything was new and Starwalker turned to the neocom console to see where all his assets were located – an old problem.

Selecting a base for operations was tricky because inevitably new bases were needed and moving between bases was either expensive or time consuming and dangerous. Starwalker had recently moved to yet a new model for organising ships and equipment – main base in hi-sec and small bases in strategic locations.

In short, one main base in hi-sec, in a central location with comparatively easy access to multiple low-sec bases, which were for fast re-shipping as needed between ship losses and a few consumables such as ammunition

The hi-sec base would be at or near a trade hub and this would be the main location for any purchased ships, common equipment such as auto-cannons and consumables such as ammunition.

Those low sec bases would change over time but they would only contain a few ships. Each of these small bases would only have one Mammoth (level IV) load of ships and equipment. This would allow that base to either be left there after moving to a new region or allow it to be easily moved, the probability being to simply leave the small stash of ships and ammunition there.

6 November 2011

Thrasher Trashed in Heild

Starwalker headed into the deep of space in Molden Heath growing disillusioned with his ability to find targets and get into good fights. Spending hours on hours searching for targets was becoming less fun.

Starwalker ruefully noted that not finding targets was not the same as being a target and not getting any meaningful kills was not the same as not being killed. Indeed, Starwalker’s Thrasher had been caught at the Heild gate.

In reality Starwalker had made a mistake, by jumping through to Heild as a Slicer and Retribution arrived at the gate. They immediately followed and were able to quickly establish point and get to around 20km away. Too far away for the auto cannon fit Thrasher to hit but not too far to be hit by the kiters.

Starwalker made a desperate attempt to get back to the gate but the Thrasher was very slow with the 400mm plate fitted. The situation was not made any better when a Republic Fleet Firetail and Crow joined the Slicer and Retribution.

It was not long before the Thrasher exploded but as was becoming normal Starwalker was able to get the pod away to safety. Starwalker reviewed the fight and knew that he should have waited for the kiters to aggress and then jump through. It might not have changed the outcome but it would split the attackers at a minimum and offered more of a chance, to either get a kill or escape.

Starwalker got back to his quarters and poured a drink – maybe it was time for holiday.

4 November 2011

Lone Wolf Killed by Pack

Starwalker was roaming around with Overnauta in the same system when Overnauta called for backup. Starwalker’s Wolf responded without hesitation and was soon in warp to find Overnauta engaged by an Imperial Navy Slicer and Republic Fleet Firetail.

Starwalker swung into action immediately against the Firetail but Overnauta’s Rifter had been overcome by the odds. What was worse was that The Wolf was now facing three opponents as an Ares arrived on scene to join in on the kill.

The Wolf had 150mm auto cannons and two tracking enhancers fitted but that seemed to make no real impression on the Firetail as it orbited at 1500m. Indeed it became apparent that the Wolf was losing the battle against the Firetail alone, never mind any other odds with the Slicer and Ares.

Starwalker changed tactics and tried to burn away to reduced traversal but similarly that seemed to also have no effect and by now the Wolf was starting to enter structure. It was going to be over soon so Starwalker focused on extracting the pod with its +4 set of implants. The Wolf exploded but the pod escaped.

Starwalker headed back to base. It was not losing the ship that was the problem but that the way the loss had occurred. The Wolf fit had been designed to counter fast ships with the 150mm and 2 x TE II. It had simply failed when tested – a surprise and most disappointing. 

30 October 2011

Jaguar Put To Sleep

Starwalker was roaming around looking for trouble in another brand new assault ship – a Jaguar. This one had been fit like a super Rifter with a 400mm armour plate and double webbers. The intent was to catch and stop fast ships and then blast them to the smithereens. Nice and simple.

It was a simple plan and d-scan showed a Dramiel at the sun piloted by UKC. Checking out UKC revealed a good pilot with lots of kills and in the top 1000 BattleClinic killboard. Starwalker would normally move on and look for another target but no guts no glory. Also, the Jaguar was fit to catch fast ships so surely a good test.

Starwalker warped to the sun just as UKC arrived where Starwalker was and both knew that the fight was on. A few seconds later and UKC arrived back at the sun around 100km away and Starwalker burnt towards him.

The ships locked each other and then the real fight started at around 1500m with the double web applied. However, it became clear quickly that the Dramiel was easily tanking the initial damage. The Jaguar autocannons were overheated as the Hobgoblin II drones entered the fray.

Starwalker switched the attack to the closest drone and applied one web to it but just as it entered structure they were all recalled. Starwalker switched back to the Dramiel but the situation was rapidly going south. The Jaguar armour had been ripped to shreds and the Dramiel was barely scratched.

Starwalker decided to try and disengage by heading for a random location knowing that even if the ship could not make it out it was important to save the pod and the +4 set of implants. The drones were released again but Starwalker left the guns trained on the Dramiel – it would not matter whether one or two drones were destroyed the Jaguar was being injected with a lethal dose of firepower and was about to be put to sleep.

There was no chance to escape – the range was still well within scramble and as the Jaguar entered structure Starwalker hit the warp button repeatedly to ensure the pod escaped. The Jaguar exploded and the pod got away.

Starwalker knew that he had been completely owned, it was not close at all. Whilst he had exchanged a good fight in local he was simply the lamb being brought to slaughter. The Dramiel had barely shown any red at any time and certainly was never in any danger.

Starwalker noted that actual DPS was around a third of that shown in EFT. Similarly, whilst the Dramiel was putting out less DPS it had clearly demonstrated a better ability to soak up the damage. The Dramiel was obviously active tanked versus the Jaguar’s buffer tank but one key was whether more of the nominal DPS could be applied in practice such as using Keep at Range.

28 October 2011

A Fool and His Wolf Are Easily Parted

Starwalker was about to call it an evening and dock up when he came across a Kestrel sitting at what looked like a plex. Starwalker decided to go in and kill the Kestrel. He expected to find an acceleration gate coming out of warp but instead the Kestrel was just sitting there.

Approach, target, lock and fire and the Wolf hit the Kestrel hard but suddenly the Wolf was being hit harder. The damage control went on and the Kestrel went down but a few seconds later the Wolf was a pile of wreckage too.

Checking with Rebels it turns out that the beacon was actually a cyno and effectively Starwalker had warped to a POS. It was likely that the cyno pilot was going to jump a carrier or similar into the POS and Starwalker had inadvertently assumed it was a plex beacon.

Initially, Starwalker had felt foolish for losing his Wolf to sentry guns but in retrospect it was probably more a case of being unlucky that the overview had looked like a beacon for a plex but was actually a cyno beacon. Live and learn.

23 October 2011

Tuskers Trash Wolf in Egghelende

The brand new Wolf sitting in the space dock had been fitted up to do the horrific levels of damage that only the Wolf can do in the Assault Ship class. The slight variation was to use two tracking enhancers. Starwalker admired his first Wolf, which was less than a day old. Time to get into space and do some damage.

The Wolf was cruising around Egghelende looking for trouble when a Thrasher was scanned down to a station. Arriving on scene the Thrasher decided that it wanted no part of the Wolf and docked up. So Starwalker decided to head off in a random direction to see what would happen.

Suileman Shouaa arrived in a Vengeance and Starwalker hesitated, recognizing the name and corporation but then decided to engage anyway. The Vengeance would be active tanked and a rocket ship so Starwalker decided to engage at range (5-7.5km) to keep up the speed. That range also offered the opportunity to disengage if the fight went south.

It was not to be a duel to the death. Suileman Shouaa was not there to fight a 1v1 and soon after the fight started another six Tuskers arrived together. Starwalker made a desperate attempt to leave but was simply overwhelmed and the first brand new Wolf disappeared in a fiery explosion. Fortunately the pod did get away, saving the set of +4 implants.

In retrospect, Starwalker decided that he should have committed more fully to the fight. To get into a 1km range, where the Wolf would do its maximum damage. In terms of fitting, it might be better to fit a neutralizer rather than a rocket launcher. The neutralizer would kill the active armour repair and perhaps Starwalker could have taken the Vengeance with him.

21 October 2011

10 Million Skill Points and Dying

Starwalker looked at the neocom console disconsolate.  This was not the master plan – no kills in the last few weeks. There had been plenty of roaming but no killing. The only notable achievement was passing 10 million skill points.

Of course, obtaining no kill did not mean that Starwalker had not died on occasion, such as the gate camp in Auner that claimed a T1 Kestrel. The Kestrel had been prepared for the internal R1FTA tournament but instead had succumbed to a Taranis, Hurricane, Drake and Tempest. The pod did not escape, losing a set of +4 implants.

A slightly more worthy attempt at a fair fight was with a Thrasher that was simply waiting for a victim. Starwalker duly arrived in a Rifter hoping for the best, getting under the guns of an artillery fit, but fearing the worst. The Thrasher had 200mm autocannons, which was the worst, as they had no problem tracking the Rifter and decimating their next victim. To add insult to injury the pod decided not to warp away and another +4 set of implants were lost too.

Not satisfied yet, Starwalker arrived on scene as bait for a Dramiel with his partner in crime – Santo Trafficante – waiting to pounce. Again the master plan failed as the Dramiel arrived but shortly afterwards so did a Cynabal.

Starwalker feeling that he had not lost enough yet delayed exiting the scene by a few seconds. The warp drive was finally engaged, the Rifter started to accelerate and then the Rifter was gone – replaced by a pod floating in space. At around 30km from the Cynabal at least the pod escaped to the sanctuary of a nearby station.

It was dissatisfying and disappointing, as Starwalker was dying more than killing, which is inherently less fun. The good news was that Assault Ship IV training was nearly complete. It would be time soon to progress from T1 frigates to T2 – it would be fun to fly the Jaguar and Wolf.

17 October 2011

Starwalker Survived Gate Camp

Starwalker was moving between Auner and Hadozeko when he ran into a gate camp. In all previous instances Starwalker had died very quickly and in some cases had been podded too, especially in Eszur. This time was different.

Kaeda Maxwell had published an article on surviving low security camps and Starwalker had seen some of this advice in chat but had never applied it. That was about to change as Starwalker jumped into Hadozeko and a waiting gate camp.

There was a Stiletto and Curse and possibly one other ship waiting for a victim and as Starwalker aligned to warp to Klogori the warp drive stopped. Previously this was the first step to being destroyed but this time Starwalker went into immediate evasive action with his Rifter.

First approach the stargate, next hit the afterburner and overheat, then start the defenses – damage control and small armour repair. Damage started coming in and the capacitor dropped to zero as the Curse did its thing. But the Rifter was closing back in on the gate.

Capacitor boost and then hit the afterburner and repair again… damage into armour but only 3.5km from gate… and then jump! Starwalker had survived a gate camp for the very first time.

It was pleasing and exhilarating to have survived. Starwalker knew that his ship might be destroyed in a future gate camp but he also knew that he had a chance to escape. A gate camp no longer meant certain death.

16 October 2011

Rebel Yell in Auner

Auner was starting to fill up with pilots looking for a fight and the Rebels were always ready for a fight. Zodiac Black, Miura Bull and Starwalker formed a small gang and set about finding the trouble spots.

It wasn’t long before a Vengeance was tracked down to an acceleration gate but as Zodiac and Starwalker went into the deadspace complex the pilot decided that two Rifters would be too much and quickly warped away.

Zodiac gave chase and then lured the Vengeance back to the Rebels. The Vengeance arrived and was met by the rebel yell to “Get Him”.  Action swiftly followed with the target locked up, neuted and sprayed liberally with projectile ammunition. The Vengeance melted (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=3084) before the onslaught but luckily tanju1982 saved his pod.

A short while later, with the scent of blood still thick in the air, the rebels saw a Jaguar (Bengal Bob) and Dramiel (Amun Khonsu) waiting in the same complex. It was an invitation that would not be refused.

With two more Rebels now part of the pack – Tavisturus and Overnauta – the Rebels went in. The Jaguar and Dramiel engaged, looking to bring down the Rebel pack. The Rebels went for the Jaguar and it started to soak up the punishment as well as dishing out its own telling blows. The Dramiel darted back forth dancing between the Rebels and jabbing away all the time.

Miura’s Sentinel fell just before the Jaguar was finally destroyed (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=3086). The killmail revealed why the Jaguar had been able to take so much punishment because it had two medium shield extenders. However, within seconds of the Jaguar going down the Dramiel was able to give the final jab (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=3097) to Starwalker’s Rifter.

The remaining Rebels tried to catch the Dramiel but instead it managed to deliver the final blow to Overnauta’s Rifter. But Bengal Bob was not finished yet and he returned in a Stabber Fleet Issue. This melted Zodiac’s Rifter and did the same for Miura when he returned in his Thrasher. Tavisturus managed to warp away in structure as Starwalker arrived on the scene too late in another Rifter. It was over and Starwalker could do nothing other than warp away again.

Good fights were exchanged as the Stabber Fleet Issue and Dramiel declared victory on the field of battle with their Jaguar loss to the Rebel loss of 3 Rifters, 1 Sentinel and a Thrasher.

14 October 2011

Rebels Ravage Ishkur in Eszur

The Rebels were on a roam organized by Kaeda Maxwell and had been visiting various systems in Metropolis in search of victims. It had been a slow night so with a few near misses and one Rifter kill but it was about to get a whole lot more dangerous.

Jumping into Eszur the Rebels found an Ishkur on scan. The Fleet Commander warped the Rifters in and the Ishkur started kiting the gang. Ulfgar Ardo was clearly going to fight and take on the four Rebel Rifters.

The Rebels warped out and then in again at different ranges to tackle the Ishkur and maybe that was what the Ishkur wanted – to separate the Rifters. The Rebels got the tackle and then converged onto the target.

The Ishkur dropped drones and darted around trying to pick off individual Rifters. Establishing point was difficult as the Ishkur seemed to be able to maintain range and so Starwalker focused on the drones. The Rebels were making good progress against the drones but not without cost.

Starwalker was down to 50% structure and left the fight, Overnauta and The Ecca One had died in combat but fortunately enough damage had been done for Kaeda Maxwell to get the final blow in to kill (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=3028) the Ishkur despite the decimated fleet.

The Rebels had finally ravaged the Ishkur in Eszur in a hard fought battle and good fights were exchanged in local. 

10 October 2011

Rifter Ambushed When Undocking

Starwalker was simply reviewing the location of his inventory when he decided to undock and move to another station in the same system. It was a fatal mistake.

Amun Khonsu was waiting on the station undock in his Dramiel and silently locked up Starwalker’s Rifter. Amun had recently lost his Rifter in a duel and now had an opportunity to exact some revenge.

The first indication that something was wrong was when Starwalker hit the warp button and nothing happened. Shortly afterwards the incoming fire from the Dramiel revealed the source of the interference.

Starwalker decided to simply re-dock but that decision proved to be a mistake, as the docking request seemed to simply be ignored at first and then waited an interminable time for the docking permission to be granted. It was too late. The Rifter simply exploded (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=2994) having not fired a single return shot. The pod quickly followed.

Starwalker decided in retrospect that he should have at least tried to fight back. The original reason for not fighting was that Starwalker expected the re-dock to be quick and was unsure that fighting on the station would delay that process.

Dong Orson noted that the best course of action was to use an insta-undock. The irony is that Starwalker had an insta-undock but had not thought to use it, as he was not expecting any trouble. This was the first time that Starwalker had lost a ship by being ambushed when undocking.

9 October 2011

T1 – Merlin Murders Rifter in Moonlight

Starwalker issued a challenge for a T1 tournament duel and The Ecca One came in his Rifter. It was agreed to fight at Moon 10 and Starwalker warped to zero in his Merlin ready for combat.

The Ecca One wasted no time as he too landed at zero and the fight commenced immediately. It was a simple slugfest. The Rifter was hitting with all the damage that can be inflicted by 200mm auto cannons and rockets and the Merlin was soaking up the punishment and returning fire with 150mm auto cannons and rockets. Starwalker overheated his guns and accidently ungrouped them instead. No matter – start firing and overheat the rack instead.

As a straight damage race it was being won by the Rifter but it was not just a straight damage race – it was also about surviving the onslaught long enough to get the kill. The Merlin established its relative superiority and murdered (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=2915) the Rifter in the moonlight. The Rifter had inflicted more damage but it couldn’t survive long enough to get the kill – the Merlin did.

It was another good fight and Starwalker had been using ROTA (Range, Overheat, tank and Attack) to watch the fight and to react to key elements of the combat.

8 October 2011

Rifter Artillery Kills Rifter in Auner

Starwalker was simply moving stuff around in Auner when he noticed a Rifter sitting on a station. The pilot was Amun Khonsu and a quick check in Battleclinic revealed a top ranked pilot (4,859) with 2,083 kills to 245 losses.

The current ship was a Rifter fit for a brawl but this pilot was from 2006 and lots of kills, so a straight up fight was likely a losing proposition. Consequently, Starwalker re-shipped to an artillery-fit Rifter that would hopefully have the element of surprise.

Next, warp into a random belt at 100km and then burn away, waiting for the enemy Rifter to arrive. Within a few minutes it did, along with a Rupture, but 150km was a safe distance. The Rupture (Kmelx) then offered to leave the “1v1” and Amun Khonsu burnt towards the Rifter at around 940m/s. So afterburner fit, unless he was being clever and probably armour tanked based on the speed.

Starwalker patiently waited for the Rifter to catch up and at around 60km turned to engage. His heart was pounding and his pulse was racing Target locked, pointed and orbit set to 15km the artillery cannons opened up and started dealing damage. There was very little return fire but the distance seemed to reduce to 12km so Starwalker set “Keep at Distance” 13.5km.

The artillery was overheated and the enemy Rifter started to bleed into armour. It was incredibly slow progress and then suddenly Amun Khonshu got a good hit that took the shields down to 40%. Quickly checking the range it was still around 12km – must have been a lucky hit.

Using ROTA (Range, Overheat, Tank, Attack) Starwalker kept checking the key events and noticed what he thought was an enemy point but later realized it must have been the tracking disruptor. Things were going well and the artillery finally destroyed (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=2917) Amnu Khonsu’s Rifter.

The exceptionally pleasing aspect was the idea of establishing relative superiority – range. Waiting at the asteroid belt, at a safe distance from it to see what ship arrived. Continuously checking ROTA, especially range and noticing the “attack” icon.

The other aspect that also became clear for Starwalker was that the tournament fights did not have the same adrenalin rush as these random fights like the Vengeance and this kill. It was simply not the same and perhaps related to the fact that maybe Starwalker did not like killing other Rebels.

6 October 2011

Rebels Wreck Vengeance in Hagilur

A small standing fleet had been setup in Hagilur and Starwalker joined the fun. An earlier roam in his Rifter had been rather uneventful, except for the Cynbal that had tried to destroy him on a gate.

A few potential targets were being d-scanned and Shaggy Herring in a Vengeance was among them. The speculation was whether Shaggy was part of a small fleet or not. Whilst this was going on Starwalker had been bouncing between celestials

Starwalker decided to tempt fate after bouncing to a customs office and simply burn away from it. On many occasions that type of action had elicited a response of some enterprising local jumping in for a fight.

The Vengeance jumped in. Starwalker turned and engaged with an “x” call for backup. The distance closed to 1500m very quickly and damage was being applied to the ships by both sides. However, it was also clear that the Vengeance was easily repairing its armour. Good job that the other Rebels were there to help.

Miura Bull in his Wolf and Saftsuze in his Rifter soon had the Vengeance locked up and now the Vengeance tank was being overwhelmed. It was soon over as the Rebels wrecked (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=2813) the Vengeance.

Starwalker had been so busy watching only the damage, a common failing, and overheating modules that he had not noticed the distance was no longer 1500m but had extended to 13km! So the pod was well beyond scramble range. Well, the Vengeance was down but the pod escaped.

Starwalker reviewed the combat log and noticed that the Vengeance had stopped firing for a while (but hadn’t realised at the time). Similarly, the damage also showed a familiar pattern of high moving to low. So maybe the key to the earlier charts had been a change of range that Starwalker had simply not noticed at the time in those previous battles but had been obvious with the Vengeance.

This all pointed to the fact that a “routine” was needed to keep track of the combat and key events. So Starwalker resolved to use ROTA next time: Range, Overheat, Tank and Attack as a device to observe the fight and react as needed.

2 October 2011

T1 – Kestrel Wings Clipped

Rocanegra issued a challenge for a T1 tournament duel and Starwalker answered the call, undocking in a Merlin. Rocanegra was likely to use a Kestrel as he had won four times previously with it.

The Merlin had been specifically fit with a micro warp-drive to close to scramble range against a kiting fit. The question was what would Rocanegra bring to the fight? If he brought something else then the battle plan would need to be adapted.

Kestrel jumped in at 100km – mystery over. The next key question was could the Merlin close to scramble range? The Kestrel closed to point range and its missiles started hitting hard; Starwalker didn’t bother trying to shoot back at 20km. The micro warp-drive was kicked into life to close to scramble range, the seconds ticked by and… it wasn’t working, the range was being held around 20km.

Starwalker overheated the micro warp-drive and then suddenly the distance closed rapidly. Fantastic - scramble applied and finally the guns and rockets returned fire. The Kestrel was about to have its wings clipped, the Merlin had broken into close combat range and it would be over soon. The Merlin shields were down to 40% but the Kestrel simply melted (http://r1fta.griefwatch.net/?p=details&kill=2771) at close range.

Starwalker was very pleased and exchanged a “good fight”. It was then that he noticed that the micro warp-drive was burnt out and lots of other overheating damage. Well, it didn’t matter now as the fight was over and won.