Last night, I was roaming through Minmatar FW space in my Firetail when I came across a Slasher in a small complex. I dutifully enter the site and saw him fairly close to the beacon, so I immediately webbed and scrammed him and began to attack. He naturally locked me first and tried to pull range, but I overloaded my AB. To keep him close.
Just then, I saw a Harpy appear on a 1 million km short-scan, indicating he was sitting on the other side of the gate. I started to worry a little, so I overloaded my guns to end the fight faster. By this point, we were both webbed and I was at around 2,500 m from him, so I aligned out slowly. I figured that if the Harpy came to help him, I could warp immediately, provided I had time to kill the Slasher. A quick look at the info of the other two people in system suggested that the Harpy was not friendly to the Slasher.
As I was moving through a planet, I thanked the Harpy pilot for letting us finish. It was a generous thing for him to do, particularly since he could have come in and killed both of us fairly easily. He replied with a, “No problem. Who won?” and we started chatting about the fight in local. The Slasher even got in on the conversation.
All this time, my shields were slowly replenishing, and I decided to reward the Harpy for his good sportsmanship by warping back to the plex. Sure enough, he was inside, so I took the gate and prepared to quickly pull range.
I landed about 3,000 off him and immediately hit my pre-overloaded AB, pulling range to about 7 km. I started plinking away at him with everything I had. He’d try to get in close, but my Firetail was more agile and always stayed at least 6,200 from him. Eventually, he swapped ammo types and started doing some damage. Around 30% shield, I made the judgment that I wouldn’t last (I was already overheating everything, but couldn’t tell if he was yet) so I waited until I had a good escape vector then aligned out and warped off.
No kills, but I did successfully kite him for a while; one more medium slot and I could have put a tracking disruptor on him; that’d have finished it. It wasn’t a winning strategy in a Firetail vs. a Harpy, though. Close, but not quite.
But I had rewarded him for his e-honor in letting me finish my fight with the Slasher, and showed some of my own in fighting him despite him controlling initial range in a blaster boat and heading back when outmatched.
At least, that was my initial interpretation about the fight. But that sh!t ain’t the truth. The truth is we both acted entirely out of self-interest.
When he landed on the acceleration gate and saw a Slasher and Firetail inside, I’m sure he had a moment’s doubt on whether he should enter. In system were four people, including the Slasher and another FW pilot of the same militia. Perhaps we were working together. And if so, those should would have two webs and little trouble kiting him into oblivion. Only when he saw a capsule appear on dscan did he know we were fighting each other. Was his decision not to enter the plex born from e-honor? Probably not.
And on my end… I had just won the fight against a Slasher – a fight I should have won, all things being equal. I knew I’d have to kite a Harpy, because his blasters would hurt if I drifted too close, and I knew the fight would be decided within the first few moments. Could I pull range? But my strategy had played out perfectly the first time, so I was feeling confident I could do it again. Then there was the isk differential… a Harpy is twice as expensive as a Firetail, so even if I only win a third of the engagements, I’d still be isk-neutral.
I could delude myself into thinking my motivation was purely driven by honorable combat, or that my opponent had shown courtesy and integrity. But the truth was we were both seeking to impose “the tyranny of evil men” seeking to maximize their kills and minimize their losses.
At first, that thought made me a little sad for the state of Eve players. But after a few hours’ worth of reflection, I’m actually feeling pretty good about it. I made the right decisions subconsciously, and that’s a very good thing, even if I bought into my own delusion about my motives.