Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lessons: “Missed It By That Much”

For those of you who read my “Lessons” posts to learn something new (and all of you really should), this post will be a little more esoteric, but I’ll still cover both a general axiom and some specific examples from last night’s fleet.

When fighting small gangs or solo pilots, being able to predict your opponent’s decisions is very important.  But another way psychology comes into play in Eve is in having the resolution of spirit to stick with a stratagems so long as it’s appropriate to do so, even if it doesn’t seem to bear fruit. That’s called patience.  You want to have better resolve than the other guy, and force him to become impatient first.

In Razor, we have an FC named Qicia who routinely gets us high-value kills.  He’ll wait until the optimal moment to call in the fleet.  He’s very patient, and he knows intuitively when the perfect time to act is.  He may see dreads land and enter siege.  He may be running a bait character and choose the right moment to light that cyno.  Some people complain that his fleets can be long, but he’s very good at what he does.  He demonstrates an essential, yet rare, characteristic.

And that trait is patience, which leads to good timing.  Yes, I’ll connect the two of them.

Eve is a boring game broken up by points of extremely exciting, fast-paced action.  You can travel fifteen, twenty jumps without incident, only to enter a system and be surrounded by a gate camp.  Plus or minus a fraction of a second causes success or failure.  I’ve had poor timing and landed on a gate as the enemy fleet does, but redeemed myself by being ready and quickly warping away one I jump.  I’ve been able to cross-jump whole fleets, hiding my entrance in a crowded local (and my gate activation) as the fleet leaves system.  But I’ve also died a lot of times because of a poor jump into the middle of a fight between two other parties.

How long will it take the fleet to form up?  Will you be able to join if you’re fifteen minutes late?  The answer to that can mean the difference between ten capital kills and a boring night (and it has, for me).

How long after your scout character enters warp should your pimped T3 follow in a long system?  Too soon, and you’ll have committed your T3 before your scout can provide intel; too late and the situation could change between entering and leaving warp.

Sometimes, Fortuna is with you, and your timing is perfect.  Some times, like last night for me, it most decidedly is not.

It started off early, and kept up almost the whole night.  I logged in at 2:30 Eve time to find our usual Friday night fleet already out and about (not, I suspect, on the first round of the night, either).  As I joined fleet, I heard that they had pointed a Sacrilege that had jumped into them.  Most of the fleet recognized it as bait very early, but he was going down quickly – already into half armor – so they decided to continue to pour on the DPS.

Naturally, the rest of the enemy fleet jumped through and we had a bit of a brawl, against a slightly larger fleet that included three command ships and an Arazu that was pointing out to around 90 km.  I was still a jump away when the fight started, trying to get into it in my ASB Vagabond as quickly as possible.

Now, our target caller was doing a good job, and we took out the Hurricane and two Taloses very quickly, dropping their DPS by about 2000 (incidentally, the Sacrilege jumped to safety at about 25% armor).  As I landed, they switched to the Oneiros, a friend of mine from my old alliance Imperial Legion, named Irohh.  He’s a good pilot and proved it yesterday, pulling range and surviving until our FC gave the order to withdraw.  (You’re lucky, Irohh… I was just entering the sweet spot for my Hail!)

As it turned out, I didn’t get any kills during that fight.  My timing was about a minute or two off.  And that pattern repeated all night.  Scouts would warp to a gate, catch a target, and the fleet would follow, but the target would be down before I landed.  It was frustrating, but I was patient, and kept with the fleet in my same ship.

As we made our fast circuits through low-sec, we crossed paths with a gate camp of about 6-7 Thrashers, all at -10.0 sec status, a few times.  Near the end of the night (for me), we landed on a camp they were operating on the Tama gate in Kedama, and they ran.  When they did we decided to take over their camp for about ten minutes.  I was getting tired and had an early morning, but I decided to be patient and stick with them through the gate camp.  So far, I had only a couple kills, but a lot of fun.

Two minutes into it, our scout on the Tama side reported a Republic Fleet Firetail landing on the gate.  I overheated my point and sat directly on the gate, even though I had no real chance of catching a Firetail with my Vaga.  But I’d try anyways.

A moment after the Firetail landed, an Abaddon of the same corporation landed and jumped through a split second after the Firetail did.  And it actually decloaked before the Firetail.

We, of course, jumped on it, getting into a nice tight orbit and unloading on it.  Gate guns started to bite into some of us, but weren’t a factor because of our logi.  The Firetail decloaked and began to approach, but some of us put our drones on him, which caused him to beat a hasty retreat before actually engaging.

Killing an Abaddon isn’t a bad way to end a heretofore frustrating night.  And it almost didn’t happen for me.  If we hadn’t broken up that camp a couple minutes earlier, those Thrashers would have gotten the kill, or worse, they wouldn’t have been able to take it down quickly enough and he’d escape (after all, they had no logi to protect against gate guns).  And I seriously debated leaving when the fleet began to camp the gate – it seemed like a logical time for me to leave and a convenient place for the fleet to adapt to the loss of a member.

But I stuck with it, our timing was excellent, and my prize was a good kill.  Each morning, I check Razor’s killboard to see if we had any juicy kills I missed after logging the night before.  When they kill something shiny just after I log, I’m really annoyed that I missed it.  300 mil isn’t ground-breaking, but I’d really regret missing this Abaddon kill by a few minutes.

But that kill also demonstrates the downside of poor timing and a lack of patience.  There’s no reason that Abaddon should have jumped through the gate when it did.  It was an absolute mistake on his part.  With the Firetail scouting – essentially an uncatchable ship in low-sec – he should have waited to warp until the Firetail jumped through and confirmed safety on the other side.  But he was hot on the heels of the Firetail – poor timing – and didn’t wait to jump through.  Perhaps he saw something frightening on dscan either from his in- or out-gate and felt he needed to move quickly.  But more likely, he was simply impatient.  And he paid for it.

The worst thing you can ever do is to act contrary to your training, experience, and nature.  Frustration can lead us to do the wrong thing.  I’m not sure if that happened with that Abaddon pilot, but I know it’s happened to me before.  Sometimes after a night of frustrating silence, I just want a fight, and I take one that I really shouldn’t.  That’s a loss mail and another ship I need to re-buy and ship to null-sec (and there’s nothing I hate more than having to bring ships in from Empire).

Stick to your plan, avoid engaging hard counters to your ship/fleet, fight everything else, and you’ll do just fine.

Of the two – good timing or patience – patience is probably the easier one to demonstrate.  Like when waiting out a missioner, ratter, or carrier.  Or when choosing a time to spring a trap on an established gate camp.  Or when traveling through hostile or unscouted space.

Knowing when to demonstrate patience and when to demonstrate aggression – or, put simply, when to wait and when to act – can be the most important decision you make.  That’s called having good timing, and it’s much harder to acquire.  It requires your decisions to be marinated in a very deep, rich sauce of experience.  Our brains naturally assimilate and assess information subconsciously, giving us a sixth sense about situations, and it’s no different in Eve.  It’s how my fleet knew the Sacrilege was probably bait.

But the only way to develop that sense is to join fleets and put yourself in danger.  So, best to get started.  Just know what you’re planning to do, and stick to that plan.

P.S. Extra points of you know the source of the title quote!


  1. Well written. I agree with you on the Friday night roams. There's a decent contingent who are really there for the lulz, but this week was a little different. It seemed like everyone had their big boy britches on this week and wanted to be serious. Still, bumping a helpless Abaddon off the gate was hilarious. Poor guy.

    1. You can't help but feel a momentary sympathy for the poor target who really stood no chance because of a dumb decision. Momentary, of course!

  2. good read. Get Smart Agent 86