Wednesday, January 25, 2017

When you hope your dreams won't come true

Sometimes I wonder what's my relationship with EVE. More often than not, it feels I'm paying my subs to support CCP rather than for my own enjoyment. It's a clear sign I need some changes and after losing the Nestors fleet it felt like it was time. But then I thought about commitment and got scared. I know many corps promote themselves as real life first, no commitments and so on, but when you are in a corp, you still feel a duty to be a part of it, even at subconscious level. Not to mention that to do anything takes quite a lot of time. At least that's my personal feeling that if you don't have at least 1-2 hours free, you will barely manage to load your screen.

Lately I've been finding myself enjoying couch gaming experience more. There's a Mass Effect 2 promotion at origin where you can get the game for free. It brought back some good memories. Installed a controller support mod and finished the game in a couple of weekends. It was my personal distraction from Witcher 3, the game I hope to finish before retiring.

Meanwhile, I've been keep EVE minimized. After spending a good while in one of the wormholes, I finally found some interesting activity.

A wormhole rolling fleet showed up and collapsed all active connections. It usually means farming is about to take place. I was eagerly waiting to see the ship of choice. Will it be a couple of Rattlesnakes? A Marauder? Perhaps a pimped Tengu? No, they decided to bring "the big guns".

Of all the ships they have to use a bloody carrier. I know there's at least 4 people in the system. Even if it was a solo carrier, not sure I could take it. Maybe with my partner, but even then I don't think we would risk it. I haven't fought a carrier after capital changes. I would love to bring reinforcements, but these guys have collapsed all the connections. Without any options, I launch combat probes to delay their farming activities, which I succeed. Carrier docks and a new wormhole rolling battleship fleet appears. This time, they make connections critical instead of collapsing and resume shooting sleepers and I go back to my couch.

You might think what does the headline have to do with the story? Yesterday I had an interesting dream in which I left one of my Nestors decloaked and it was promptly ganked. It's my biggest fear, as a stealthy hunter, to be with my cloaking device turned off when I think it is on. I had it happen a few times in the past, where I lost my tackle Proteus while orbiting a gate in low-sec, warping to a POS and have guns target me or scaring my prey when landing on grid. In all those situations I could swear I was cloaked up, but reality was different and it was a nasty surprise.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Living with the consequences

Back from holidays, it was time to check what the locals are up to. It's been over 3 weeks since the Golem gank, plenty of time to be forgotten. I poke in a c3 next door and find a Tengu on scan. It's one of the locals, farming the c3 static. Without waiting for less sleepers on the field, I warp my fleet to the wormhole and tackle the strategic cruiser. Timing is of the essence. If I get spotted by anyone I might come out empty handed, so I must initiate before the fleet lands.

Once I get my claws on, there's no escaping. Scram, web, disruptor, the Tengu is tackled as it can be. Soon the Nestors land and I get my first kill of 2017.

Of course a 1/3rd ships worth module doesn't drop, but that's hardly something to be upset about. I warp back the fleet to the wormhole and see pod land at the same time. If this guy was not sure where I came from, he probably knows now. You don't see the Nestors fleet all that often. There's little point in staying in this system for much longer and probably will move out at the next opportunity once Trey is back.

Continuing observing the system, I spot a Raven doing c4 anomalies. That's right, a t1 battleship doing class 4 wormhole sites. How? By shooting missiles from 100km+ distance while aligned to the station.

A t1 battleship is hardly an appealing target when I know those stations are housing ten times more expensive ships. Furthermore, the dude is aligned and you can bet your ass he is paying attention.

The next day, me and Trey both login. Trey reports some activity, ships jumping in and out. Our attention is caught by a Nighthawk. He goes to a c3, returns and goes back again. If I didn't know any better, I'm sure he is doing sites there. We agree that Trey will stay with the Legion on the wormhole while I go in and try to scare him away. We don't want to park our fleet on the wormhole as it is in range to the Astrahus. Our idea is to catch the advanced battlecruiser on it's return.

I go in, launch probes and as expected, soon Nighthawk disappears from d-scan and is on his way to c4 home. He goes in where Trey is waiting for him. Unfortunately, Trey is 3km from the wormhole and the Nighthawk appears 16km away. Probably the worst luck when it comes to position. The target warps off once Legion is almost within scram range. We discuss that next time we will switch the roles and keep my Proteus on the exit instead. There's not much we can do anymore. Locals have seen us twice already, so naturally the smart thing to do is to find another system. But for some reason we don't do that. We still want to get "One last kill" before we leave. Have we killed that Nighthawk, we would be on our way, but now it just felt the job half finished.

Preparation is key

Time goes by and midnight approaches in EU timezone. Locals appear to be US timezone and system is getting active. All of a sudden Trey reports a Golem on scan. A Marauder is sitting at the station. Not even a few hours have passed and you are telling me there's a Marauder prepared to do sites? Yeah, right. We see the Golem floating at the station for awhile. Do they expect us to go for it? We don't pay much attention and let them do whatever they are doing. Trey goes afk once in awhile and I too have EVE minimized. Golem is no longer at the station. We have eyes parked on the wormholes, so we know he did not leave the system. There are no anomalies inside so he must have docked.

Some more time passes and Trey again reports the Golem at the station. This time it warps to a relic site. I decide to follow and see what's up. I watch Golem land on his mobile tractor unit with the site already finished. I get surprised. Turns out we missed the initial warp off. The relic is the only site left in the system. Me and Trey discussed our situation earlier. We did the background research and evaluated that locals can field around 10 man fleets. We have seen some Vindicators, Megathrons, but mostly it was kitchen sink type of fleets. The pilot - RedHand is often seen on killmails with a Marauder. We think that if we go in organized, we can take on the fleet. If we go in organized.

But reality was that there was a Golem at an empty site, presumably picking up his mtu. With some excitement mixed in, I make a snap decission. I shout on comms that I go for the Golem before he warps off. I decloak and tackle the ship.

Now here is how organized would have looked: our fleet would be mid warp and almost landing when I made my move. Instead, I tackle and proceed decloaking my battleships at the safespot and trying to warp them off, realizing, that I'm not even squad commander. Set Zosius as squad commander and fleet warp again. Realize two of my Nestors are not in the watch-list as eve clients went not responding and crashed  recently. Add to watchlist. The warp is 35 AU. Blackhole also means ships align two times slower. After what feels as eternity, the fleet finally lands. I proceed as usual and set Golem as the primary. Shortly after, enemy fleet lands and the fight starts. On our side we have 6 Nestors and an Armageddon. That's over 4000 dps with a shitload of neuts. Plan is to pop the Golem and deal with the rest. We have bunch of cruisers on grid. Once Golem goes down, they will pop in no time. Except the Golem does not go down.

I start to realize this won't be as straightforward as expected. Golem tanks like a beast, totally beyond my expectations1. Suddenly I notice my Armageddon is in half armor. I put all reps on it, try to overheat, but I notice too late and the ship pops. We keep the pressure on the Golem as it goes to 20% structure, but always manages to replenish the shield. We still have plenty of neuts, but his tank is not giving in. After few more Nestors pop and chain destroyed, the outcome was clear. By some miracle I manage to burn the Proteus out of bubble and warp to safety. I call random cruisers as targets to kill at least something. For me and Trey, each multiboxing multiple ships is too much chaos. To keep repairs, cap transfer, cap boosters, lock targets and to do that on 5 accounts under big dps pressure is beyond my capabilities.

Have we prepared mentally, prewarped fleet, set drone assists on one ship and called targets correctly instead focusing on the most tanky ship, this fight could have taken a different turn. But as always, the good ideas come when it's too late. It was a good reminder for us not to rush things. We should stick to some discipline and treat every gank as a potential pvp fight. Even when we knew the Golem was a bait, I let the excitement get better of me and attack without proper preparations and paid the price.

Congratulations to Apotheosis. for outstanding fight. I applaud their bravery of putting a shiny Golem on the line while having their fleet on logoff. A bait worthy of Nestors fleet.

1) According to Golem pilot, he was with Crystal set and on his last cap booster when we switched targets.

Here's the video of the fight. Courtesy of Apotheosis.