One of the keys to successfully killing targets in Eve is being willing to jump into an engagement. If you aren’t willing to take action, you certainly aren’t going to kill anything. But the other half of that equation – patience – is equally important.
The process of finding and successfully killing targets is a difficult one, with a number of steps. Pilots aren't keen on being killed, so they usually do things to avoid you. Warping off, staying aligned, fitting WCS, operating within deadspace or mission sites... anything to make it more difficult for you to find them initially.
When you initially enter system, most folks do a quick dscan to see what's around. Depending on the location of the anoms and faction warfare plexes, you may decide to warp deeper into the system or even decide to warp directly to an ice or asteroid belt. That's risky, though. You need to break your jump cloak, and in so doing, may tip your hand to the local residents.
Obviously, it's easier to catch targets in a low-sec system - which is used to seeing pilots entering and leaving - than a null-sec system where only hostile roamers and data/relic hounds tend to go. And a busy system, ironically, is usually more lucrative than one with few pilots.
As you warp around, you start to get a picture of which ships are where. Narrow dscan is your friend. Start with different ranges to narrow them down, then switch to a 5 degree scan in the direction of celestials within that range band. But all of that takes time, and every second you're in space is another second you're being seen, reported on intel, and seeing targets slip through your fingers.
But sometimes, it doesn't matter how long you're in system. Some pilots are afk. Sometimes, staying put can give your enemies a chance to form up a response fleet. And some times, you get a gift handed to you on a platter. But none of it happens unless you're patient. And thorough.
I was starting my roam in Tamo, making my way through towards Black Rise faction warfare space (around Martoh or so). No sooner than my first jump into Nannaras, I spotted a Thorax on dscan as I warped through the system to Karjataimon. I was in a triple-dampener Celestis, a gimmick solo roam ship I put together that did a measly 180 dps. I had actually decided to try to lose it in order to see how it performed and where I needed to improve the fit. I thought a Thorax would be a good target; the drones would be a problem, but with three dampeners, the guns wouldn't be a problem. Plus, I was fit with plenty of neuts, so I could escape if needed.
Quickly working out where he might be, I shrugged my shoulders and warped around to find him. 10 au got a hit, but 5 au didn't. After a bit of fiddling, I pinpointed him with a 5 degree scan around a moon, but it did he have a tower on it as well.
Now, at this point, I would normally give up and move on to the next system. But my spidey-sense was tingling a bit. Maybe it was because the pilot was in a Thorax - a combat ship - and was in a five-man corp. That seemed odd to me. But in any case, it was worth a look. Even if he was sitting in the tower manning the guns, I'd still be able to warp off in time.
Dropping out of warp, I clicked on the tower to quickly orient my camera. My first clue that something was off was the Thorax not appearing anywhere near that tower (when sorted by distance). In fact, he was 270 km away from me, and about 90 km from the tower. Then, I saw the effects being applied to the ship from the POS modules and realized he had been caught by the tower's warp disruptors and stasis webifiers and was slow-boating it away.
Suddenly alert, I guessed at a celestial in his direction and warped off, bookmarking one of the POS batteries on his side of the tower as I did. A warp-in to that battery at 100 put me 40 km away from him.
Slowly, I wound my way in. I set my drones on him, but a few moments after I applied my sensor dampeners, the POS modules shifted to me, Within two cycles, I was neuted out and webbed, but fortunately not warp disrupted. Recalling my drones, I warped out again, and back in when my capacitor was back. But I had a better warp-in now, and landed right on top of him.
The second time, I was jammed shortly after sending my drones after him. After a while of watching my little guys circle him, he finally exploded. With my ship suddenly free from the jammers for a cycle, I targeted his pod and took that down as well. I think the Eve-kill valuation of that pod is a bit off.
Sure, the Thorax had gone afk while he was slow-boating out of the POS's warp disruption range (an agonizing 250 km when you're also being webbed), but these kills were still hard work, figuring out a warp-in and risking the aggro from the POS, particularly when I had ewar on my ship (which NPC logic tends to focus on disproportionately).
It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been patient enough to narrow down his range and investigate the POS, even though there was a very good chance of him being inside the tower. And, in fact, on a later roam, some of my buddies mentioned that pilot works with TunDraGon as well. Was this a case of POS standings settings set incorrectly? Perhaps he tried to enter the POS, only to find himself caught on the outside and targeted by the disruptor. In any case, the pilot was nice about the experience, sending me a mail of congratulations. I think he realized how unusual the situation was, as well. Respect to you, Undeniable Chuck!
Yeah, this is a story about killing someone in a compromised position who may or may not (probably not) been at the computer. And in that sense, it's not terribly impressive. But it did represent, a lot of work and overcoming some common assumptions to even get me on grid with him. In that sense, it did teach me a lesson about taking the time to investigate, instead of hastily rushing off to the unknown in another system. It was certainly enjoyable content, albeit more for the maneuvering than the thrill of killing another pilot.
Sometimes, you can run through a whole region without finding a good target, while sometimes you find one right outside your home station. Sometimes that pilot at that POS is, in fact, outside, waiting to be killed. Having the patience to do a thorough check can be rewarding in its own right, can make for an interesting story, and a good bit of content, too.
A pilot in space is a potential target. Don't be hasty in talking yourself out of a kill!