Sunday, 4 August 2013

Saturday Night Null Sec

"Life in a Wormhole" is a collection of blog posts documenting my adventures in EVE Online. Together with a small group of real life friends we will attempt to survive in the harshest of space EVE has to offer.

I've not been completely happy about my last return to null sec. Stupidly losing my harpy, as well as failing to turn a profit from my exploits, had left me wondering whether I should concentrate on getting to W-Space or keep trying to master frigate PvP.

This weekend, I decided to return to 0.0 and give it another shot.

I would be more prepared this time. I ventured down with a scout, we carried three mobile disruptors between us. Slipping into null before & after downtime it felt like I'd managed to eliminate most of the risk; as if I was somehow in control of this particular trip. Felt good!

At our intended system, there were already a few excellent bubbles setup. I added just one extra and we had all gates and half the belts covered.

After a reasonably slow start, I took out a Thrasher and their pod. Only a T1 fit, but it was my first kill and the adrenalin was pumping. Next up came a Merlin: slightly more difficult to capture, I found myself jumping around before I could engage. You would expect a Merlin to be easy pray to my Harpy, you'd be right, but he certainly didn't have to let me take his pod, too.

Next, the exciting bit. I got my first bounty reward! My first, ever - courtesy of Mr Merlin. It was only 36,000 ISK. I was ecstatic! At first, I thought I'd done something wrong, getting mail from CONCORD after popping a ship. A very pleasant surprise. Next up, just 30 seconds later, I had a 1 million ISK bounty on my head! My first, ever bounty! Courtesy of Mr Merlin!

It was a great start to the day.

The next encounter would be the most exciting. My first bit of pilot skill required to take out a Coercer. Upon entering my system, I'd presumed she was bait. There'd been a bit of activity prior to her arrival and I was suspicious. Sure enough, she landed in my bubble.
"Fight or Flight, but don't Freeze!"

I engaged. Target. Scram. Web... Shoot!
"Miss. Miss. Miss."

She'd got herself on the edge of optimal & I couldn't hit her. I can't say I've ever been range tanked by a destroyer before... but I've never flown a ship with <5km optimal before, either. The Coercer's clunky afterburners giving her more speed than my now scrambled MWD. I was a sitting duck and had no way to catch her.

At around 50% shields I had to do something. Time to see how smart she is. I turn and flee in a bid to look like I'm disengaging.
"6km. 7km. 8km... 8.3km... 8.4km..."

As expected, she starts to chase me.
"8.4km... 8km, 7km, 6km... 30% shields. Stop the ship!"

I slam my brakes on. Grind to a halt. As expected, she flies straight into the back of me. Destroyer's have no agility. Suddenly we're only 50m apart! Well within range...
"Fire up the guns again! I just hope we've got enough tank left to take her..."

Four hits take off her shield. Another three for her armour. My shields are depleted and my armour dips cautiously into 99% as a couple more volleys dispatch her hull. I got her. My favourite fight so far since my return. From the kill mail, it wasn't a fair fight - I should have taken her with ease; but my reacting and adapting made me really appreciate the battle. We exchange good fights and she tells me she was taking out structures, not really kitted out for PvP. I'm not bothered, thrilled with the kill.

Soon after, I grabbed a Thrasher with rigs & his pod to the dismay of a cloaked up Nemesis in local. We engaged a bit of banter before the Nemesis left me to it.

Next up, a fair fight! A Harpy entered my system, he'd been here previously, but by this point I was feeling confident in my ability. It should have been a close battle, but the pilot was under a year old; and I took out his 80 million ISK ship with relative ease.... and his pod, not in the bubble.
"Don't fit what you can't fly."

Am I sounding arrogant yet? I'd bet I am. Honestly I felt it. I was completely in the zone. Add in an Anathema, Heron and Hound to the list and three more pods, the adrenalin had long since stopped and I was in control. It was no longer about getting lucky, it was about choosing my fights: avoiding the cruisers and T2 destroyers. An Enyo wanted to play. I apologise to him in local:
"Sorry, I think it would have been a good fight! But I'm not ready to risk this Harpy to a "blast off" just yet, there's one more thing I have to try..."

"I wonder if I can take on a cruiser?"
I'd already made friends with someone flying a cruiser back and forth in my system. They had an uncanny knack for landing in my bubbles but I wasn't prepared to engage them. We had some good banter, you might say I made a friend, but it sparked the question: "could I take them, if I wanted to?"

A bit of Google Foo later... Yes - in certain situations - an Assault Frigate can take out a Cruiser. They're faster, more agile, they pack reasonably equal firepower... Well then! Let's hope I get the opportunity to test it out. Not on my new friend (we were practically allies by now) but I'd been pissing off a seemingly local Alliance and there was a chance they'd send something heavier to tempt me and take me out.

Sure enough, a Caracal appeared in the system. I think I'd seen the pilot before in a different ship, they were obviously coming to get me. It was a conscious decision on my part.
"Let's see how much damage I can do to this thing!"

Not very much. As it happens! Allow me to re-visit my previous statement, "In certain situations..." would mean, you need to play to the Harpy's strengths of being fast and agile. Which I was not. I was a tank & spank setup. I think I got the Caracal down to about 70% shields before my Harpy exploded.

I'm happy with the fight, I chose to test my setup to its limits - knowing full well I might lose eventually. Learnt so much from it. Very happy.

The next stage of my PvP exploits, I need to find a way to actually keep hold of my loot.

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