Friday, August 26, 2016

Lessons: It's Not About Whether You Lose…

Recently, I’ve been trying out a new roaming system that involves Valeria in a fast-warping interceptor with Talvorian in a wicked neuting Vexor Navy Issue. It requires me to multibox, something that’s definitely outside my wheelhouse. But, that’s kind of the point, to get out of my comfort zone and stretch myself.

Originally, my goal with the setup was to use it to catch ratters more efficiently. I’ve often entered system and managed to pinpoint my targets in my Stratios, only to miss them by a few seconds. I wash hoping a fast-warping interceptor might be fast enough to pin them down and survive long enough for my back-up to kill them. I really haven’t gotten that chance; though I’ve flown the setup three times, I haven’t managed to find any ratters to test it against.

That’s not to say I’ve come up empty, though. While the planned engagements haven’t done well, it has performed admirably in surprised PvP situations, particularly against blobs.

Each time I’ve flown it, though, I’ve stumbled across a fairly large gang. First, it was a 20-man Pandemic Horde nano fleet in Tribute consisting of Cynabals and Dramiels. Nothing I could do there; I was dead before I could apply drone damage.

The second time, I didn’t make it quite as far, stumbling across a number of MOA pilots in Pure Blind. When I first landed, I saw a Garmur and Malediction sitting on a gate, but as I sat in local for a while, I noticed a few more pilots coming around.

When you jump into a gatecamp and don’t really want to engage, you really have two options for dealing with it. If the camp is poorly constructed and you spawn in a good location – ie. more than 30 km from tackle – you can try to align and warp out. If you’re in a cruiser or above, though, that’s likely not going to work.

Your other option is to burn back to the gate. That’s what I did, but given that there were only two ships and they started out about 20 km from me, I didn’t overheat my mwd, just made my way casually.

Once you reach the gate, you have a couple options. Most camps will assume you’re going to jump right back through, and simply getting within range of the the gate may see some pilots anticipate you and jump through immediately. But, there’s value in delaying for a moment. More than once, I’ve burned back to the gate only to find all my enemies were premature, and I just moonwalked away.

But, even if they don’t jump, often times you’ll find that no one will point you on your side of the gate. After all, it’s obvious that you’ll jump through, right? And no one wants to be the only member of the fleet left off the killmail because they pointed you on the wrong side of the gate and had to wait out a full minute of aggression timer. (side note: this is a huge problem with killmails, along with logi not getting on them). Many times after burning to the gate, you can simply align and warp off. At best, you’ll get away. At worst, you’ll force your opponents to play your game and make a quick decision to point you. Those decisions are often done individually, not at the FC level, in a moment of panic as they the possibility of watching you escape. People tend to revert to their instincts, and most PvPers’ instincts are to attack. It’s a neat way to force players to engage you, triggering that aggression timer.

In the worst case scenario, some of the pilots in the camp will engage you, and only part of the fleet will be able to follow you through. Even in a gang of five ships, fighting two or three of them is much easier than fighting all five. In my case, two pilots pointed me, and when I jumped through, my fight was going to be two ships’ easier. The Garmur was still jumping with me, and escaping the long point range of a Garmur is difficult. I wasn’t getting away unless I could kill everything and wait out my aggression timer, which wasn’t likely.

Now, I was going to see how that triple neut VNI would perform.

For my ship, range matters. If I can lock an interceptor within 12 km, he’s going to be drained immediately, leaving him an easy target for my drones, which can usually volley intys in three shots. With this ship, the only point to playing gatejumping games is to refresh my luck; I’ll stop when I spawn near enough my targets that I can take advantage of my neuts.

Fortunately, I had a couple targets within neut range, so I started burning back to gate as I locked everything nearby. Unfortunately, local was rising and the grid was starting to fill up with more tackle. Dropping my drones, I targeted tackle and realigned out, hoping to snag a break in the points. I applied all three neuts to my first target and drained him just before my drones landed their first hits, taking him into mid-armor. He died on the next volley.

Then I moved to the next one. And the next one. By the time that third interceptor died, I was taking serious damage from a Jackdaw and Garmur on grid, both of which were wisely keeping their distance from my neuts. It ended up being too much, and I died in a blaze of glory next to the wrecks I created.

All in all, I came across a group of eight pilots and managed to kill three of them before I died. I’m happy with that performance. My neuts did their jobs very well, and without MWDs, and my drones shredded the interceptors. What more could you ask for?

Later that same night, I took out an identical version of my VNI and ran into a Horde camp with a carrier and instalock Devoter on-grid, and a fleet of about twenty on the other side. Naturally, I died, but not before I killed a Svipul who wanted to join the party. That single kill was a victory in my book.

Too often, we judge victory by whether we lose ships. To do that is to really do ourselves a disservice. After all, no solo pilot really has any business killing any member of an 8-man gang. The solo pilot is expected to lose, and lose quickly. We can’t control how many or what kinds of ships attack us, but we can control the decisions we make during the fight. Blobs happen, and when they do, our only choice is to conduct ourselves as best as we can. Those are the kills you remember, the ones where you pull out some success despite overwhelming odds.

It’s not about whether or how much you lose, but by how you perform against expectations. That’s the only measure of success that matters.

1 comment:

  1. Good advice with waiting on the gate for aggro. I had escaped quite few low-sec camps that way.