Friday, November 15, 2013

Lessons: Know When to Fold ‘Em

We’ve all been there.  After a few hours of roaming without seeing so much as the ionized vapor of an engine trail, you finally catch what appears to be a perfectly innocent little target on grid with you.  Maybe it’s a Loki on a gate that aggresses you, or an Ibis sitting innocently in space, just doing nothing.  All of a sudden, you find that your victim isn’t quite as alone as you thought, and you’re neck-deep in trouble.  So, you try to de-aggress.

I’ve said before that what defines a winning poker player is not how big they win, but how small they lose, and that the same is true in Eve.  After all, you can’t get kills #2, 3, and 4 of the night if you die killing your first ship.

This is where situational awareness comes in, particularly when you’re in a situation where you can successfully escape, such as on a gate or station.  Let me give you three instances in which an aggressed ship successfully de-aggressed in time to survive to fight another day.

And, as a bonus, the first example was when someone did it to me.  One of our FCs caught wind that a few folks would be repping a medium tower with some carriers, and he waited patiently until they started their op, then called in the cavalry.  Two titan bridges later, we were there.  The enemy managed to reach the shields, but not before one of our pilots managed to get a single shot off on him, starting his 15 minute engagement timer.

Seeing that they hadn’t managed to repair the tower above 50%, we realized we could take it down without suffering through another reinforcement cycle, so we started eating into it.  The carrier pilot had to watch as we chewed through the shields while his own alliance mates – who had no aggression – logged off one by one.  We were briefly excited when we realized he was down to around a minute left on his time, yet hadn’t turned off his hardeners.

But, of course, he did turn them off, and logged off as the tower was in structure.  A minute later, the tower was dead.  Had he not understood the aggression mechanics or forgotten to turn off his hardeners, it might have given us the time to finish the tower.  But he had the situational awareness to remain calm and get himself safe.

Twice today, the same thing happened to me.  First, when took a Harpy to visit the good folks of Some Say in Devoid, I caught a Loki on the gate and began to approach him, locking him up.  When he attacked me on the gate, I was delighted, got in a tight orbit, and watched as the gate guns took his shield down quickly.  Figuring the escalating damage would do him considerable harm over time, I scrammed him.  When he hit armor, I saw that he had a strong buffer, but time was on my side.  Even when his armor repaired, I wasn’t terribly worried, as he was doing no damage at all to me with my orbit.  Even scrammed and webbed, I could still keep up with him.

Then, Curse landed on field.  Within one cycle, he had me neuted completely.  Realizing I was in trouble at this point, I left all my modules off and kept to the gate, sipping my ASBs one at a time to keep my shields up.  I jumped with 90% structure, just as my first ASB finished its reload.

The second time, my roam into Cobalt Edge was halted early when I caught and killed a lone Ibis in my Vagabond, only to find a Vexor and Falcon jump through into system and set to work on me.  My align command didn’t take when I started attacking the Ibis, so I was sitting at 0 speed with my MWD on for about ten seconds before I realized it.  I slow-boated back to the gate, scrammed and jammed, for a maddening 23 km, as the Vexor tried to stay close.  I think at one point he tried to bump me off, but he missed.  My ASB repaired a full 50% of my shields with each pulse, and I was in no real danger so long as my charges held, which they did.  I jumped out at 30% shield only because I saved my last ASB charges in case something was waiting on the other side.

At one point during the fight, the Falcon lost jams – thank you compensation skills – and I briefly considered putting my drones on the Falcon to chase him from the field.  But, it was too much of a gamble given how many ASB charges I had left, so I wisely decided to keep myself from aggressing and lived to fight another day.

Incidentally, the Vexor followed me into Tenal as I went to pick up some more cap boosters for my ASB in A1RR, and ran smack into a Gentleman’s Agreement gate camp on the SF- gate.  He was dead before I got back to the gate.  Had he been a little more cautious and led with the Falcon, he wouldn’t have lost the ship.  But he was fixated on the kill, and paid the price for not adjusting his strategy (ie. not heading into unfamiliar territory in an armor ship without intel).

In the first three cases, the pilot in jeopardy kept his head and successfully de-aggressed to survive the fight.  But in each case, the situation was also right for de-aggressing.  In my two instances, I jumped into a fight aggressively when there were very few folks in local.  In both cases, enemies jumped through my in-gate after I had seen them in local, so I knew how many they were on the other side of the gate.  And in both cases, I was in a solo vs. small gang situation, facing one DPS ship and one ewar ship, so the incoming dps was enough for me to tank.

It’s much easier to survive de-aggressing when you’re facing a few targets.  If I had been attacked by multiple ships, I’d probably have tried to kill something – anything – as I went down.  But by recognizing the situation, I was able to instantly change from “aggressive” mode to “escape” mode.

It’s a hard thing to do sometimes, but when flying in hostile space, you need to be able to give up on a kill you can’t finish.  It’s hard to spend the time and come out with nothing, but nothing is better than losing your ship because you also lost your cool.

Sometimes, you need to fold and leave the table with your money.  There’s always another hand.

Side note: My Harpy survived about a minute and a half under fire from a Loki and Curse.  I love me my blarpy.  I’ve mentioned before that Some Say are awesome dudes, and don’t blob the way some alliances do.  This guy (who confirmed he was dual-boxing) and I had a great after-action discussion about the fight, and he shared a Jaguar fit I’m dying to try out.  That’s one of the benefits of being professional in space… fight opponents, not enemies.

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