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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lessons: All Kinds of Crazy

Last night didn’t produce any killmails, but it did produce two great stories through engagements with a group of Gentlemen’s Club pilots.  While the lessons I learned were fairly mundane, the telling of them merits repeating.

The First: Svipul vs. Phantasm

There are a few experiences in Eve that happen so infrequently that they fall into the realm of Eve lore.  People whisper and talk about them without ever having experienced them themselves.  And that’s okay.  The fact that they don’t happen all the time makes them mysterious.  Things like jumping your Titan instead of bridging.  Of successfully pipebombing someone.  Of pulling off that 100 billion isk scam.

And I had the pleasure of experiencing one of them yesterday.

I started the night my usual way when I don’t log into a find an active fleet, by scanning down all the signatures in Tamo and the surrounding systems.  Last night, we had only one wormhole, a dangerous unknown, but that one had a couple of connections in it, including one to Immensea.  Putting away my probing ship, I took out one of my two Svipuls and decided to explore a little.

Now, I tend to fly ships fitted with probe launchers when traveling through wormholes, just in case someone comes by and closes my connection home. Svipuls are excellent at this.  The night before, I had a great deal of success playing the tackle role with this very same ship, and had no problem taking on the targets I came across.

And this included a Caracal last night running down rats at asteroid belts.  While I didn’t solo him, I was out-pacing his damage/tank state and could have finished him off while still in armor if my fleet had been delayed.

Granted, the Svipul is a lot more expensive, but the Caracal was still a cruiser, and I was able to take it down very nicely.

Thus enters the pride.

My wormhole popped me out in REB-KR, where I quickly came across a Phantasm warping off a gate.  I chased him and caught him at the next gate, and started to engage.

Here’s a note for all of you out there.  A Svipul cannot kill a Phantasm.

I came in hot, intended to get under his guns, but his damage was too great for even that strategy, so I quickly turned tail and ran like the wind.  He had a point on me but no scram, so overheated my MWD and burned out for my wormhole.  A volley took me down to 50% structure.  Another took me down to 30, then 15.  Another volley hit me and I saw my structure dip even further, but I was watching the range between the two of us.

29 km.  Then the point dropped and, just as the next volley was timed to hit, I entered warp.  I even saw the firing animation arc out from the Phantasm to my Svipul.  The result?

Never before have I had a fight go that close.  Normally, if I get into structure, I’m dead.  I always heard about those tight fights where you leave with your ship on fire and a single filament keeping it all together, but I never really experienced it until now.  No kill mail, but also no lossmail, either.

And the result was pride.  I made the mistake of believing the experience against a Caracal would equal the experience against a Phantasm, a pirate cruiser.  Silly Talvorian.

The Second: Curse vs. Cynabal and Phantasm

I burned through my connection, docked up and repaired, and made my way back again.  I knew I’d be facing a Phantasm, so I brought a shield Curse.  When I made my way back and started poking around those systems, I saw a neut flash into local and checked dscan.  A Cynabal.

Now, having flown Cynabals quite frequently before, I know how dependent they are on 1) not getting caught, and 2) not getting neuted out.  With the tracking disruptor I had fit, I knew that, at worst, he’d run away from me.  A perfect situation would be landing at around 15 km, applying my TD and neuts, and killing him slowly.  Well, not-so-slowly, since a Cynabal is nothing without its active resists.

But, then I saw the Phantasm pop up on dscan, and it made me question myself.  That Phantasm could cause problems with its cap-sipping afterburner.  I’d need to keep cap pressure on him consistent, else he’d have the space to do some serious damage.

Faced together, I didn’t count my odds very high.  The Cynabal was the logical first target… he was more dependent on having cap to fuel his tank and prop mod, without which he’d be a sitting duck.  But the Phantasm posed the greater threat in the long run, and was likely more resistant to my neuts.

But, if I could split them up, even for a time, I had a reasonable chance of killing both of them.  The Phantasm would be a tougher fight, but provided that I engaged the Cynabal first, I could do it.

I spent the next twenty minutes in a duel of position with the enemy.  At first, I was frightened of dying.  I didn’t want to lose my pretty Curse.  But, about five minutes in, I realized how much the price of T2 ships dropped, and I figured the chance for glory was worth the risk.

So, I decided to edge quite a bit closer.  I became predictable, warping between two gates at 100 km – and made sure the targets saw me do it.  The Cynabal was faster and more responsive with the warps, so I thought I could get at least two cycles of neuts on the Cynabal before the Phantasm landed.  And that would be enough to neutralize the Cynabal; I could leave my small neuts on him to keep him hobbled while I neuted out the Phantasm with my mediums, all while pulling some range and applying my TD directly to the slug’s forehead.

But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  I even offered to fight both of them at the same time in local, but they must have gotten bored.  I wasn’t going to engage both of them at once, nor did I need to jump through the gate into a waiting trap.  And they, it seemed, weren’t interested in leaving the protection of the gate.  It was the smart play (help would only be a jump away, since the gates and my system made a triangle.  They lost interest and wandered off.

But it provided me with an interesting lesson about my “take a risk” threshold, which I calculate at about 200 million.  More than that and I start to become a bit squeamish about being reckless.  But anything under that and, if the glory is great enough (taking down two pirate cruisers with 1 T2 cruiser, for instance), I’m willing to risk it.

I was too cautious, and not nearly aggressive enough.  I’d like to say it was the drumming I got in my Svipul, but I know myself better than that.  I recognize my limitations and while that can be a very good thing, it occasionally causes you to be overly cautious.  I missed a great opportunity early on to engage the Cynabal first, before the Phantasm landed, and I didn’t take it for fear of the risk.

Fear can save, and it can kill.  Or, rather, NOT kill.  And that’s sometimes just as bad.  In my case, it made me miss out on a story I’d likely repeat for months or years to come.

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