You may have heard that "station games are over", but that might not have meant very much to you. And you may have been vaguely familiar about a certain class of ship - Command Destroyers - changing the game in many ways during fleet fights. The theory goes that Command Destroyers will be instrumental in separating support wings from their main column of dps ships. And I can certainly see this happening to reduce the safety players feel while in fleet.
But that's not where players are going to feel the sting of Command Destroyers. That honor goes to station camping.
In the past, players would undock to see what's happening outside of a station, perhaps move around a bit and allow an enemy or two to attack them, then dock up again before they hit armor. It's called "station games" when you're toying with the aggressing force. It's called trying to get out of a station when you're not.
Command Destroyers' micro jump field generator spool-up time is around five seconds for most players. While the MJFG doesn't affect players who haven't broken their undock immunity, it does affect players who are aligning off station. So, now, if you change direction, activate a module, or do anything to break your immunity, you can be flung 50 to 100 km away from the station (depending on the direction the Command Dessie is facing and where the station is) and unceremoniously massacred.
As happened to me last night.
I'm a cerebral player, but my thoughtfulness has a philosophical bent. I can predict patterns of human behavior if I have enough data, and can understand how people will react once i "grok" those folks. I'm not one of those players who can see the possibilities of mechanics changes well in advance. That's why you tend not to see very many fittings on Target Caller, though I will talk about the theory and practical tips for using various modules. If I do post a fit, it's one I've used successfully for quite some time (for instance, I haven't gotten my dual-rep Dramiel to a confident point yet, though I posted about putting one together months ago).
So, while on one level I understand the ways a mechanic like the MJFG can be a powerful force, I'm sometimes blind to all of the effects and situational repercussions until I've seen it in action.
I docked up at an NPC-null station before running an escalation during an extended period of afk. Sometimes, I'll idle cloaked in space, but on this occasion I had some chores to do and didn't know how long I'd be. I tend to prefer not to stay in space when I'm not at the computer - cats can hit keys, after all, and I didn't want to be accidentally de-cloaked in my 1-bil+ ratting Tengu.
When I went to undock, I saw a few ships sitting at the undock, and the immediately pointed me. So, I docked back up again. But they were tenacious, and stayed out there for more than half an hour. I got up and left, then came back and tried to escape again. To no avail.
At this point, I weighed my options, which were limited. There were no warp core stabilizers on market I could use to break out (sorry, Rixx, but they DO have their purposes!) and no PvP ships were on contract in the station I was trapped in. My PvE Tengu was a focused tank, and wouldn't last long in a real fight. I was off work and was logging in during EUTZ. These players wouldn't be online during my usual play time later in the day, so I could always just wait to log back in later, when they'd gone.
But, no, I was impatient. "Am I going to play this game, or hide in this game?" So I tried one more time to undock. When Idid and started to align, no one pointed me. My speed was inching closer to that magical 75%. Then, all of a sudden, I was pointed and 50 km away from the station.
The first thing I did when I logged in on patch day was to add the new ships to my overview, but having a ship visible doesn't matter if you don't recognize the threat it held. And I didn't notice that the destroyer on my overview was a Command Destroyer.
I quickly locked my target back and began pumping missiles into him, but his friends were burning quickly, and I realize I wouldn't be able to kill him before his back-up reached me. I switched targets to something particularly squishy. When I travel, I always keep Caldari Navy missiles in my launchers to better hit the small tacklers that present the greatest threat. And, if it had just been the Command Destroyer, I'd have gotten free. But, of course, it wasn't.
My wreck popped and I quickly spammed warp, saving my pod. The drop was around 300 mil, a good day's work for my attackers. I like to tell myself the Command Dessie pilot was given most of it for his excellent job at catching me.
It's a lesson I'm not likely to forget, though, as it completely wiped out the profits from a Dread Guristas Adaptive Invuln I earned earlier in the week.
But it's also a lesson about the new paradigm of Eve. it's easy to forget that CCP has added a wide range of new effects and abilities in the past year and a half. Mobile deployables that offer a range of benefits, Command Dessies, T3Ds, and revised warp scramble range bonuses on ships all make it more hazardous to travel through space. And they force us to challenge our perceptions about the capabilities of our opponents. Small gangs, in particular, have been buffed at the expense of solo roamers and large fleets. That's a very good thing. But, for older players, it requires a shifting of our thinking and paradigms to address these new tactics.
That's a hard thing, particularly when so many of us have our minds fixed on "the way things used to be". More and more veterans have stopped logging in as frequently, and many of those who do are experiencing fewer small gang engagements compared to a couple years ago. They aren't as familiar or experienced with these new tactics and mechanics.
And that's a great opportunity for younger players to really make a mark. The Eve of 2014 is dead, replaced by a leaner, more varied Eve. In a very real way, that levels the playing field, making new, adaptive players much more of a threat to old veterans fighting off bitter vet syndrome. It's a great time to be a scrappy youngin' right now!
So, get out there are exploit the slow-mindedness of your elders. They've "taught you lessons" by killing you repeatedly - now's your chance to return the favor!