The most interesting part of the iHub shoot was taking photos.
The most interesting part of the iHub shoot was taking photos.
“Drop the cloak”
The Arazu shimmered into visibility 310km from the hostile POS.
“Keep non-essential systems offline.”
We sat motionless in space looking for a reaction from the ships in the POS.
“Legion is accelerating”
One of the ships warped from the POS to a spot 150km away. The other ships warped to it and began to burn towards us.
“Wait for them to engage.”
The distance was rapidly closed by the enemy Cynabal. Alarms rang out as a warp disruptor was enaged.
“Enemy has engaged. Bring up the active systems and let’s do our job.”
The warp disruptors lept into action and shutdown the systems on three enemy cruisers as damage started to rain down.
“They are engaged. Come and get them!”
I’d logged on to check a few things but noticed a bunch of people in a fleet channel on comms and a fleet up. Checking I hopped into my trusty Arazu and met up with the fleet two jumps away. We were sitting on a wormhole entrance whilst a couple of recons tried to catch someone.
Our Arazu pilot in the wormhole had to leave so I replaced him monitoring the POS. Sitting the POS were a number of strategic and faction cruisers and a couple of armour logistics ships. I checked my overview and could see three of them moving, apparently orbiting the tower.
Time passed. We chatted in comms. Nothing was happening in the tower.
“How about uncloaking the Arazu and seeing what happens?”, came one of the comments.
“Not a bad idea. Move the Arazu out beyond 300k and we’ll set something up”.
I was 150k from the tower so a warp out and back to my spot a couple of times would do it. I picked a handy celestial and was soon on station.
“I’m 310km from the tower”
“Ok. Hold there and stop, lets get the Rapier close and then uncloak.”. The Rapier was the other recon that we had in the wormhole.
“Rapier in position.”
I waited until my speed dropped to 0.0 and then uncloaked. The only module running was a damage control as it has no external effects.
I continued to monitor the speeds on the ships in the POS. Another one started moving, a Legion. It seemed to be circling the POS though. Still no movement towards me. We waited …
The Legion picked up speed and warped to a spot 150k away. A Cynabal, Loki, and Proteus warped out to it. On landing they started towards me.
“They’ve warped to a load-up and are burning towards me. Standby.”
The Cynabal was closing down at a rate of not, far outstripping the T3s. I counted out the range as it approached.
“Oneiros, jump through the wormhole and align. Get ready to warp”. The FC gave instructions to other members of our fleet. The Cynabal locked me, but didn’t engage. My fingers hovered over the mouse, ready to activate modules, but left them untouched.
The Cynabal engaged. First the warp disruptor, then the hail of autocannon fire slamming into my shields.
“Cynabal engaged. Shields dropping.”
I fired up my modules, and swept into an orbit to reduce the incoming damage.
“Point on the Cynabal, Legion, and Proteus”.
I launched my ECM drones and set them on the Cynabal. With luck I’d get a few jamming cycles.
“Give me a countdown when you are in armour”.
The Rapier had uncloaked and pointed the Loki and was webbing the others to give us a better survival chance.
My shields disappeared and my armour was going down steadily, though slower than I’d thought it would. Tougher than it looks the Arazu.
“Into armour, 80% left”.
“Oneiros warp and rep the Arazu. Everyone else jump and warp in”
The Legion now had an energy neutralizer on me. At this point I missed a trick, I was concentrating so much on keeping points and distance that I forgot to activate the capacitor booster so briefly ran out of cap.
“Armour at 20%”
“Rep the Arazu now”
Just as my hull started to take damage the first Oneiros landed on grid and started to repair my armour. It has been close, only 43% of structure left, but it looked as though I’d survive now.
The rest of the fleet arrive and worked their way through the pointed cruisers. It was at this point that I noticed that the loss of cap had caused me to lose point on the Legion and it warped off. The others didn’t last long once our fleet had arrived, they were heavily outmatched as we’d earlier seen a Moros in the wormhole and had assembled a fleet for that.
It had been closer than I’d thought, the thing that had saved me was our Legion switching on its gang module and boosting my armour. It gave me an extra volley worth that allowed our logistics to keep me alive.
Despite the Legion escaping back to the POS it had been a successful operation. The wormhole dwellers couldn’t resist an apparently afk Arazu 300k off their shields. It did take around 5 minutes for them to bite, but greed got the better of judgement. In total they lost a Cynabal, a Loki, and a Proteus, as well as a pod and we suffered no losses.
“Gate fire”, the message was automatically relayed to the fleet commander elsewhere in the system.
“Wait to see them”, came the reply.
“Loki. Proceeding to engage”
“Affirmative. All ships converge on the gate”.
As my Taranis engaged the Loki I waited to see what it was going to do. Would it burn back to the gate and jump through, in which case my soon to arrive fleet mates could follow, or would it engage on this side.
Drones out. It was engaging.
“Loki has aggressed”.
I settled into an orbit and tried to stay alive long enough for the fleet to arrive. The Loki was autocannon fitted and they were making a mess of me. I had to decide what to do. Tighten the orbit to increase traversal, or get further away to increase the range. The Loki had me pointed and webbed so getting close won out. I pulsed the MWD to try and throw the drones.
Where were my fleet mates? Armour was bleeding away and I was beginning to take hull damage. There were over 10 in fleet and so far no one else on the field. Just as my hull collapsed another interceptor and a couple of battlecruisers arrived. Maybe the loss would be worth it.
I warped my pod safe and saw the fleet engage. Then the gate flashed again and three more tech 3 cruisers jumped in to help the Loki. This wasn’t looking good. One by one our ships were lost. All in all a disaster.
The above is a fairly typical description of a pick-up fleet system camp without a recognised FC. You can’t really rely on getting help so engaging is at your own risk. I wasn’t overly bothered about my loss, its comparatively low-cost and expected. I could afford to lose it and, within minutes, was back in its twin. There are obvious lessons from the encounter though:
There were some tears over the battle cruiser losses and we tried to catch the T3 fleet as it withdrew but, by the time we’d assembled a credible threat, they were long gone.
A little later I was doing the same thing. Sitting alone on a gate waiting to see what came through. A Caldari Navy Hookbill jumped in, I tried to lock it but it aligned and warped about half a second before I could lock it. I warped in pursuit and landed in a bubble a little way from it.
He was burning away from the bubble towards the gate but not fast enough to escape my lock this time. My warp disruptor engaged and I deployed drones and settled into an orbit with a web on him for good luck. As I was the only other ship around he engaged. I overloaded the guns as we began the dance of death. My shields were depleting quicker than mine but I stuck at it. It would be a question of relative tank.
By the time his shields were gone I’d almost lost all of my armour. I was still confident as the Taranis’ tank is its hull. Sure enough each volley from my guns and drones took huge chunks out of his armour and then hull. I was only 15% into structure when the Hookbill died. I quickly locked the pod and spared him a long slow ride home.
So one loss and two kills, both of which were worth more than my loss. All in all a decent hour of play.
“Cynosaural fields detected. Prepare to Jump”
The jump gate activated and we appeared in the target system. Two cyno beacons appeared on the local scan. Almost instantly warp drive was engaged to get to the fields before they could be used.
“Ships on scan; Magnate, Rifter, Talos class”
“Concentrate on the Magnate and the Rifter. Ignore the Talos”
Dropping out of warp the two frigates were lying next to the active cyno beacons and we started to lock them. With the Talos present it was going to be interesting…
The guerilla warfare is still in progress, popping cyno frigates in transit or before the field can be used. The opposition have got wise to the disruption tactics though and have changed tack. Instead of a single cyno they are lighting two or three, in a couple of different locations in system. They are also starting to guard the ships running the beacon. Initially this was fail defence. There’s no point in undocking a Talos, or an Oracle, or an artillery fit Hurricane, to protect your cyno ship against an interceptor or interdictor. The cyno frigate is going to have popped by the time the battlecruisers have got a lock and the traversal is going to make putting any sort of damage on the small fast ship next to impossible. I have switched from an interceptor to a destroyer, or interdictor though, to reduce the number of shots I need to kill the frigate before warping out.
The last attempt yesterday was different. Again there were two cyno fields, but instead of the battlecruiser a Proteus and Stabber, were undocked. It still didn’t stop me getting the kill, but looting was out of the question, and I did take damage, mostly from drones. I think it’s about time I switch tactics slightly, something that can deliver a lot of damage from range. I have just the ship in my hanger.
We entered the hostile system and immediately launched a directional scan looking for other ships.
“Probe on scan. Possibly at the station.”
“Let’s get to the station. Engage warp.”
As entered warp an alarm tripped.
“Cyno field active. Its in the direction of the station.”
“Prepare for combat as soon as we exit warp.”
The game was afoot. Something would be jumping to the cyno beacon. It was our job to destroy it before it could happen.
If anyone has been looking at my recent kills you’ll see that this is pretty indicative of the success I’ve been having lately. On the face of it they’re pretty cheap kills. The victim can’t get away. I justify it based on the guerilla warfare that we are currently fighting and my self appointed role of disrupting the enemy supply lines.
The kills are easy, three volleys and down they go. The aim of course is to get the cyno down before its used. Not always possible, but a worthwhile aim. Once you’ve popped one cyno ship it starts to get a little more difficult. The next one has an escort, usually an autocannon armed hurricane or similar. Still, if they are willing to escort it, they must really want to move something. The task then is a bit harder; warp in, kill the cyno, burn or warp away without dying. It only gets problematic if they start undocking interdictors.
My current weapon of choice for this is a rail-fitted Taranis. It allows me to do a decent amount of DPS whilst aligning out so that once the ship has popped I can either engage the MWD or warp out.
The purpose of this is to interrupt enemy logistics and force them to have to bring people to deal with the threat I, and my corp mates, pose. Getting killed is a possibility, but something to be avoided if possible. It’s no good getting an extra kill if it means losing a ship and thus having to re-ship. It would give them time to get their ships moved.
The result is smack talk in local. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been called names in the past few weeks. The insults vary; I’m not a real PVPer, I’m a coward who runs away, etc. These pseudo tears are good. They show that I’m having the effect I want. PVP in EVE is not just about destroying ships. That’s only a small part of it.
“Scan is clear. Moving to the next gate.”
The tension was mounting as we traversed space, the last ten systems we had jumped through had all been empty.
“Jumping to the next system. Damn, traffic control, we’ll have to wait.”
The traffic control could mean one of two things. Either the system was heavily occupied, or the gate has been taken offline due to lack of use.
“Traffic control cleared. Jumping through.”
As we arrived in system and established contact with the local communications grid we could see that it was empty. Only five more jumps to our destination.
The above seems to be common in vast swathes of null-sec at the moment. The was a brief period, with the initial introduction of iHubs and the like, when the null sec population swelled and it was worthwhile developing systems. Now it seems less so. There was even a throwaway comment in the ATX commentary that “no one rats anymore”. This seems a shame. What’s responsible?
I guess the first finger of blame will point a CCP for the null sec nerfs to switch off the ISK faucets that the iHub introduction created. Suddenly it was only worth developing those systems whose true sec rating was worth ratting in anyway. The lesser systems, the ones that most benefitted from the iHub improvements, were no longer worth the investment. They now support solo botting Tengu’s at best, most of them lie empty. We had a brief gold rush, the gold dried up, everyone moved on to other things.
The second finger of blame has to go to the force projection capabilities of the large alliances. It’s so easy to drop a fleet of super-caps into a system to obliterate a small operator it forces those that would try to settle to find other things to do, occupying wormholes for example. This is a bigger problem than the nerf. The sheer power of super-cap fleets is now making even semi-permanent settlement of 0.0 impossible. Other than the large coalitions the main null-sec alliances now seem to base themselves in NPC null sec, or low-sec systems with a null-sec entrance. The idea of building something and holding space only exists in CCP promo videos.
The recent war in Geminate is a case in point. BricK sQuAD only took systems Geminate for the good fights. There was no expectation that it would be a permanent occupation. In fact it was expected that it would be lost. NCdot have taken most of Geminate and left it empty and abandoned.
The third finger of blame has to be the ISK faucet provided by moon mining. This is something that seems to be being addressed but at the moment it’s the be all and end all of ISK generation rendering everything else pointless. What’s more those in charge of the moon goo can increase its value by destroying ships built with it. Hulkageddon anyone? It doesn’t matter if you lose expensive ships blowing up Hulks if the miners need your moon goo to buy new Hulks. You are helping to keep your sales prices up.
So what can be done about it? The aim has to be to make holding space more worthwhile and easier. So here are a few steps to consider:
We need some more out of the box thinking on null-sec that will upset the current, destructive, status quo and encourage more capsuleers to make their home there. If nothing is done it will become more of a wasteland than ever.
The Crow broke its orbit and started burning away, the gassing from the holes in its hull making steering a little difficult. Too late we noticed and adjusted our own course. It escaped our warp disruption field and fled the field heading for the next gate.
“Good fight” came the message over the wide-band local channel.
“Good fight”, we responded, “Catch you next time.”
The ship then disappeared from system.
This was a typical solo encounter. I’d seen the Crow on D-scan as I arrived at the gate. It had to be following me so I jumped through, burned back to the gate in my Taranis, and waited.
The gate flashed indicating a new ship jumping through. I primed the warp disruptor ready to capture whatever decloaked. It was the Crow, 16km away. I didn’t want to get too close so settled into a 20k orbit, training my railguns on the rival interceptor and released my drones.
Its light missiles started eating away at my shields quicker than I was damaging his. No real worries though at it had more shield in the first place. The drones started to hit home and his shield lowered quicker. Mine where gone, the missile hits stripping armour. Then his shields dropped. The drones and rails soon removed his armour and started to eat into hull. At this point I missed a trick, I shouldn’t have worried that another pilot had jumped into system and instead closed to prevent him burning off. Like I say, I missed the trick because he was outside disruptor range at the start of the next cycle and warped off to the next gate.
I could have chased him to the next gate and tried to catch him on the other side. It might have got me the kill. I chose not to preferring to swap “good fights” in local. The combat had been close to start with and fun. The risk in following too great considering the damage I had suffered, even more so given that I’d be delayed recalling my drones.
All in all it seemed a fitting end to the duel. We’d both engaged in a 1v1 battle to see who would prevail. Given that I’d got him into hull and had around 60% armour left myself had proved the point. I was the honourable victor.
Next time I’ll close to short range once I’d got rid of the shields. Next time there will be no escape.