In the past year, CCP has released a lot of new modules. I really haven’t been interested in sov warfare since Aegis – the wind has been knocked out of the conquest sails entirely – and I rarely fly anything larger than a cruiser these days. That may change with the battlecruiser rebalance, but I’ll likely dip my toe in to test their new agility first, as that was my biggest problem with them.
There are some striking differences between life in the Imperium and life in an independent alliance. Most noticeable is the difference in content. With no sov to babysit through tedious timers and no “strategic rating fleets” – yes, this is a thing – the activities the alliance does are all centered around PvP. And that PvP tends to involve rolling large to make up for a lack of numbers. Our fleets tend to top out around 50 people, but those 50 people are using every bit of their sp and expensive doctrines to overcome any lack of numbers.
Forty Machariels can put out some serious damage. And within that expense comes another sort of pleasure. It’s liberating to flying a Machariel instead of a Caracal, and feeling the urgency in every action to preserve your ship. The more expensive you roll, the more powerfully you feel the dopamine rush as you head into battle.
I can’t stress enough how much more enjoyable it is to fly into a fight with a thin margin for error. You can’t do that when your ship is nearly worthless (bloc doctrines) or you have 300 other allies going into battle with you. Being the scrappy one is tougher, and the victories are much sweeter as a result. I’m heartily enjoying it.
(In case you’re considering a switch, from a revenue-generating perspective, a lot of folks run lvl 5 missions for isk, teaming together to tackle them. Admittedly, I haven’t gotten into trying those yet. Instead, I’m doing exactly as I said I would: rolling through NPC null running sigs. The experience is identical to what I did as an Imperium member. If anything, it’s safer, as the areas I’m traveling are less traveled, and everyone there is doing the same as I am. Oh, that and PLEX trading.)
Interestingly, all of the ships I purchased for doctrines were pirate and faction battleships. I’ve rarely flown these beasts in the past, but I’m actually finding their mobility to be not too bad. In fact, I see little difference in the speed of Machariels versus battlecruisers, for instance. And they hit hard, both against enemy fleets and for structure shoots. Nice little ship, there.
Another aspect of the move is the pleasure of having only one entity set blue. For any given fight, we might fight with an entity or against it. It keeps things fresh. And unpredictable, actually.
Yesterday, I logged in to the alliance consciously deciding to take some bait. Apparently, we killed a couple Dropbear Sanctuary capitals earlier in the day and our victims wanted some revenge. We recognized what they had planned and decided to “fall for it”.
When our Machariel fleet landed, we began taking down targets rapidly. We snagged a Vindicator, a couple more battleships, a few Sacrileges. It was clear that their first-level escalation wasn’t sufficient to safe them.
And then PL began entering system, and it became clear that the few ships they brought in were only meant to whet our appetite. Their backup was slow in arriving, but it came nonetheless.
Near the end of the fight, the order to warp off came through. I had been ignored pretty much the entire fight. And, of course, just as I tried to hit the warp hotkey, I saw that pesky warp disruptor icon appear over my capacitor.
Acting quickly, I re-aligned (being warp scrammed causes your ship to cancel its warp and simply stop, even if you were aligning before you activated the warp command) to pull distance from the enemy fleet, which was on the side opposite the direction of the station. But my shield was dipping even with only one ship attacking me, and the PL fleet would eventually cycle through to primary me.
But I had a wonderful little module fitted, one I had never used successfully before. Sure, I’ve tapped that little target spectrum breaker against allies to play around, but the one time I fitted it, I forgot to activate it and lost my Rattlesnake as a consequence. Back then, I swore never to overlook it again.
So, I hit that little module and prayed. At the time, I had been locking two ships, but was only targeted by a single Onyx locking me down. On the first cycle, my target locks dropped immediately, but that little warp disruption icon remained. On the second cycle, not only did it remain, but it was joined by an energy neutralize icon.
On the third cycle, I drew some more attention, and I was hit by a target painter, which usually suggests the enemy fleet is turning its attention to you. And, sure enough, my shield started dipping faster.
But on that fourth cycle – perhaps aided by the additional target locks on me from the rest of the fleet – I finally escaped from the warp scrambler. Before PL could reacquire its locks, I was gone, warping to the station and safety.
It worked. I was shocked. My 550-mil ship was safe; I wouldn’t need to bring another one in. My heart was pounding as my hands were shaking as I landed with the rest of my fleet at the station and docked up. We took a bit of a beating, but felt pretty good about things, nonetheless, given the addition of a 100-man fleet to the mix.
I undocked with little experience flying modern battleships. I docked back up a target spectrum breaker evangelist.
What a wild game this is…