A lot of things can be frustrating about this game. You’ve got your minor setbacks and challenging activities that delay your gratification. Then you have your ship losses and market errors that represent significant amounts of time wasted, lost, or otherwise flushed down the drain. Then there are the bugs and critical faults that can cause the game to be literally unplayable (in the un-ironic sense).
But those aren’t the “most” frustrating thing about Eve. No, not by a long-shot.
Allow me to clarify with a quick story.
As is hardly news to anyone who reads the Eve subreddit, TISHU is spending a lot of time in Fade harassing Space Monkey Alliance. My Stratios has thirteen killmarks on it. I intended on reshipping to an interdictor once it died. That was two weeks ago. I’ve been able to put it through its paces quite a bit, and feel a lot more comfortable with its capabilities and limitations. I’ve grown to understand a lot about the character of the average SMA pilot – how they tend to react to adverse situations and how to predict their actions.
With my solo fighting, I’d normally worry about being blobbed, but I haven’t seen an SMA gang of more than three people during any of my attack runs. Sorry to those who bet on “blobbing” as the most frustrating part of the game, but no bets paid on that one. Nor is this about gatecamps, another possible candidate. All the interdictors in Fade seem to be owned by TISHU.
Earlier this week, I was taking the scenic route to NPC space to drop off some loot. I wasn’t having much luck all night, and just as I was about to give up and go to bed, I jumped into D7T and warped to the 8S stargate. A few seconds later when I landed, I found myself squarely in the middle of a bubble, with four or five pilots in system. Ten kilometers away was a Svipul, and 100 km away was a Tornado. The Svipul was orbiting the bubble, but the Tornado was standing perfectly still.
This was a pretty standard configuration for a bubble camp. The Svipul’s job was to scram and web anything that landed in the bubble to minimize the target’s speed, and the Tornado – almost certainly fit for maximum falloff and damage – would hammer it from a distance. No doubt they were watching dscan and would burn off if anything too dangerous came nearby – with dangerous defined as capable of killing the Svipul and enduring three or so shots from the Tornado.
Because they neglected to drop a cargo container at the edge of the bubble, I wasn’t decloaked when I landed. I admit, my pulse quickened when I saw the targets, and only settled down when I realized their ranges.
Now, I’ve been in that kind of Tornado before, and have died because I stayed in the same place for too long. On both ends, I’ve also experienced the horrible vulnerability of Tornados to frigates and cruisers orbiting in an even casual range and speed, let alone in a tight orbit. If I could get close, he’d drop like a stone.
So instead of running away, I started making my way, 220 m/s under cloak, towards the Tornado’s position. To go even 80 km at that speed, you’re looking at almost eight minutes of burning. Given their orientations, any tactical warping risked me landing in the bubble again, and I might not be as lucky with the Svipul’s position and my exit point next time.
At 60 km, the Tornado still hadn’t moved. The Svipul was looting the field from a few other kills they’d gotten recently. Local increased by one more from another gate in system, and still I continued to burn. Dscan continued to be clear.
Closer, and closer, I came. At 45 km, I checked the position of the Svipul again – he was still in the bubble about 90 km from the Torando. TO help his friend he’d either have to warp to a tactical and warp back or burn all the way. By that time, I’d have the Tornado down and could turn my attention to the Svipul.
At 35 km, I was starting to debate how close I’d really need to be before I decloaked, hit my MWD, and adjusted my angle of attack to beat his tracking. It felt like I’d been burning for ages. Every second carried the risk of more people joining their camp, or one or both of them warping off because of a too-difficult target coming through.
I casually looked away for a moment, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw another red contact appear on my overview, a stealth bomber. He was the closest ship to me, and my first thought was that I’d accidentally been decloaked by a Recon or some other hidden reinforcement.
Then it lit a cyno.
Yes, being hotdropped is frustrating, but that’s not what this story is about, either. As I saw that cyno, my first thought was to check my cloak’s status. I was sure I had bumped into him and was about to be a wreck. But no, my cloak was still active. Then, I saw that the cyno was right on top of the Tornado.
That thought changed to, “I’m not his target!” Very quickly, it shifted to, “They’re stealing my kill!”
I had endured 70 km of patient slow-boating, had avoided their trap, and had already imagined the narrative of turning the tables on their camp, and I had to endure the agony of watching another fleet take down my whale in front of my eyes.
Rage. Disbelief. Agony. Crushing disappointment. My dreams lay shattered before me.
Hotdropping, gatecamps, scamming, bubbles, blobbing – all of them are par for the course when you undock, and while they’re frustrating, it’s part of the game.
But to watch someone else take down the person you’ve been targeting – that stays with you, for it lies in the realm of what might have been – the very worst kind of disappointment.