29 Oct 2010

Guilty Pleasures

I decided to inject some 'fun' to the sanctioned op for tonight; as typically, The Bastards always have a laugh as New Eden to us, should be a place of fun and opportunity. We don't have super serious 'CALL TO ARMS!!!' hysterical rubbish nor do we micro-manage our pilots. We want our pilots to enjoy themselves and thus I decided on flavouring our battle cruiser roam with....guilty pleasures. We all have them: power ballads from the 80s that you sing (with gusto) when you think you're alone but you would be a little bit embarrassed if this fact came out, or was somehow recorded and released to youtube....

Anyway, I logged on late as I had a dinner invitation suddenly spring up on me and what can one do when a lovely curry (Lamb roushini, niramish, paneer masala, sag aloo and bindi bhaji with stuffed paratha) is dangled in front of you?

Don't call me weak now...

So, with a full belly I finally got into the station to find that The Bastards had already set up a fleet and had gotten a jump on a brace of Los Chupacabras ships, Mexican Space Banditos indeed. We came out on top and it sounded like a superb engagement.

I undocked my hurricane to the chintzy keyboard tunes of 'Take On Me' blasting out of my speakers. This song was A-Ha's break out song that reached Number 2 in the UK charts and Number 1 in the US in 1985. Remembered for its revolutionary rotoscoping music video.

Feeling my mullet growing I ordered the fleet to set sail to Eifer. As we jumped we had reports of a large gang in Ardar and we then bumped into a battle ship gang from a corporation well known to us: The Gentlemen of Low Morale Fibre [SCONE], a spiffing bunch of renegades and rascals if I say so myself. It was decided to go into Ardar with our fleets backing each other up. The first potential targets of the night was a fleet of battle cruisers from Focused Intentions alliance, Los Chupacabras' erstwhile alliance mates, were seen loitering around Egmar and Taff and with some excitement, the Gentlemen raced in and settled on the main Taff to Egmar gate. However it looked like the FI chaps were tipped off and they docked up and logged off. Not too discouraged, the combined fleet moved down towards the Ardar system - a busy system with plenty of potential. As the leading elements of our fleet (led by the Gentlemen) went through into Ardar, they discovered a 'SCUM.' alliance almost twice the numbers of the Gentlemen were sitting on the gate. Both sides were criminal so gate guns would have stayed silent.

There was plenty of yellow boxing but the SCUM. alliance did not engage [SCONE] and instead jumped through and docked up a station.

With Vixen's 'Edge of a Broken Heart'** thumping away over the speakers we tried to entice the SCUM. alliance pilots to undock but they were not playing. However, since The Bastards were one jump away and holding on a gate, we *did* catch one SCUM straggler who popped and podded. 

**Vixen's 'Edge of a broken heart' topped the UK and US charts in 1988. I also knew that another 80s icon, Richard Marx wrote the song...

So with visions of big hair, shoulder pads and lipstick (and this is the guys were were talking about) - the fleet roared into Molden Heath where we took leave of the Gentlemen; our Guilty Pleasure playlist being too much for our fellow pirates. 

On arrival to Oddelulf, we spied a small grouping of ships: an ishtar, hurricane and falcon all clustered around the high-sec gate to Gefliven. TheHermit, Fiz and Hin, with T'Pau, Queen and The Bangles blasting away decided to have a go at these chaps. TheHermit opened up on the hurricane who leisurely yellow-boxed him back. The hurricane was down to armour and then jumped into high-sec. The gang then switched over to the ishtar and once again, the gang opened up. The ishtar pilot wasn't stupid - he probably knew that as soon as he returned fire we would jump in. So he sat there, tanking and (probably) enjoying our music. It was so loud that we could hear it clearly through our ventrilo speaker whenever anyone spoke....and we weren't even streaming it through. 

However, once the ishtar was down to low-armour we knew he was getting ready to jump. He was teasing us. The cad. 

Fate, obviously, had a sense of humour as roaring into sniping range was a lass called 'Ariartus' who volleyed the ishtar straight into hull and into a lovely explosion straight-after. I bet the ishtar pilot didn't see that one coming! However, Ariartus wasn't in our gang and therefore a viable target - there was no communications before hand and besides, he turned his guns onto Hinaj and knocked his ass down to hull too. All is fair in love and war so Fizixx raced over and tackled the tempest and killed him. The pod got away. 

Heaven is a place called earth
With Alannah Myles now caressing our ears with 'Black Velvet' (classic one song hit from 1990 that won her a grammy award) - we started our journey back but amazingly we missed a dominix, a loki (NO!!!) and two drakes as we burned back home. Just a tad slow on the tackle by the fleet. I blame Belinda Carlisle for missing the loki as 'Heaven is a place called earth' certainly had all of us in a crazy sing-a-long. This track was Belinda Carlisle's only number one, topping the UK charts at number one for two weeks and the US billboard. A great song by the ex-Go-Go singer but cost us the loki. Worth it? Discuss.  

As per usual, our fleets tend to see action as we come home and this time it was no exception. Initially we thought it was a camp on the Todi / Evati gate but it was actually a fight. Time to gate crash it but we jumped in too late and only managed to snag a BRICK SQUAD drake after chasing one of their devoters and harbingers as it raced off the gate. We did get nearly all of the loot that was left from the big fight though and it contained some nice gear, so bonus!

Oh, a shout out to Tibbs who linked in a special version of Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the heart' - a literal version. MUST SEE. 

The Bastards Guilty Pleasures Playlist, 26th October 2010:

Take on Me - A-Ha
Edge of a broken heart - Vixen
Alone - Heart
We Built this City - Starship
Crockett's Theme (from Miami Vice) - Jan Hammer
Kyrie - Mr Mister 
If you leave me now - Chicago 
Hello - 
Lionel Richie

Livin' on a prayer - Bon Jovi 
Total Eclipse of the Heart (Literal version) 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIO2e0pYtSg - Bonnie Tyler 
Hero - Bonnie Tyler
we are the champions - Queen
simply the best - Tina Turner
because the night - Patti Smith Group
the one i love - REM
i drove all night - Cyndi Lauper
the power of love - Jennifer Rush
heaven is a place on earth - Belinda Carlisle
is this love? - Whitesnake
black velvet - Alannah Myles
died in your arms - Cutting Crew
total eclipse of the heart - Bonnie Tyler
china in your hand - T'Pau
how you remind me - Nickleback
love hurts - Nazereth / Cher? 
every rose has its thorn - Poison
nothing compares to you - Sinead Oconnor
drive - The Cars
broken wings - Mr Mister
hard to say im sorry - Chicago
the living years - Mike and the Mechanics
when i see you smile - Bad English
it must have been love - Roxette
eternal flame - The Bangles

Sweet Child o' mine - Guns 'n' Roses

22 Oct 2010

A haiku to let you go and a tengu kill, everyone loves a tengu kill...

One thing that I have been trying to encourage is the need to quickly set up a fleet and point the general mass of pirates in a certain direction and see the fireworks. Even if there's no sanctioned operation or roam planned, it is always good to be in a fleet when you're active. You never know what the night will bring and sometimes the difference between tackling a target and losing the opportunity is the time it that's to get a fleet running. So, as a rule, I always get a fleet running when I am online. 

So, I found myself in Hadozeko but raced back to Evati having set up a fleet remotely with Red Vega, Fizixx, Interdict and Hinaj Katsu. A small battle cruiser gang and away we went. Targets presented themselves almost immediately but managed to squirm away. Large gangs (for low-sec anyway) rolled through the main travel pipe-line as well and avoided them as best as we could. In Ardar, Hinaj managed to tackle a hurricane and as soon as we entered local, I saw it was a chap called 'Kingwood'. A very good pilot and whom I had flown with a couple of weeks ago. He was tackled by Hinaj but was in danger of getting away so we raced in to assist. Now, you all need to understand that as pirates, we have everyone neutral by default. Kingwood was a legitimate target so we went after him. 

Fortunately for us, he is a great sport and schooled us by slipping away. He opened up a private chat with me and we exchanged pleasantries. He asked to fleet up with us as he was solo and had missed a few targets, a bigger gang would be beneficial and Kingwood, to me is a known quantity: a very competent pilot who doesn't need too much micro-managing. I agreed but unfortunately, as we were arranging this, Red Vegas, moving ahead got caught by a large sensor boosting battle ship gang camping in Hadozeko. We moved off the gate to avoid this gang; these chaps would cause us immense damage and it wasn't what I wanted.

Reversing course back towards Evati as we had intelligence that some of the local night-life were out and about but upon arriving, they all docked up. We did manage to add TFS Tibbs to the gang. We all went to our next destination and on landing at the gate, a prophecy class ship dropped out of warp too. I didn't hesitate and ordered it to be pointed. Kingwood and I jumped through to ensure that we would be able to catch it if the prophecy pilot tried to escape. 

Oddly, the pilot didn't jump but tried to tank the damage for a while. We assumed he was up to something. We had to put him down, quickly. He blew up and his pod warped away and on examining the wreck, we discovered a full functioning cynosural field generator and liquid ozone. I wonder if the pilot was trying to call in capital class reinforcements? We will never know. 

The next two kills was first a M34N corp Brutix and the second a hurricane that was blowing haulers. The last fight I was close, I was down to 6% hull but Kingwood came to my rescue. 

After the near death experience, I scattered the fleet to cover more ground. Interdict and Fizixx had spotted an absolution in Hrondedir while I pushed on ahead and into Aralgrund. 

When I arrived in Aralgrund, there was a Tengu and a Vagabond orbiting the gate. Sweet, I thought. I glanced down at the tactical map and found that my nearest fleet mate, Fizixx, was three jumps away. The prize was the Tengu but I had to stay alive and keep them close to the gate long enough to for fleet mates to tackle them. 

So I decided that I was to point the vagabond and start moving away from the gate, drawing both the Vagabond and the Tengu away from the star gate. I dropped cloak, hit the 'battle stations' and puckered up. The warp scrambler spun up and grabbed the Vagabond and my 220mm auto canons chattered away. The Tengu and Vagabond both opened up on me and it was a grim contest. I kept an eye on the placement of both ships. When the rest of the fleet came in; if either the Tengu or Vagabond were close to the gate - they could jump and escape. We didn't have enough ships to cover both sides of the gate. So I had to manoeuvre and lure the Tengu and Vagabond far enough that they could be pointed and webbed without being able to get back to the gate before they got destroyed. 

My shields were holding but the incoming damage was high - the Tengu was packing and I was feeling it. I risked a pulse on the micro warp drive and surged another 3000 meters from the gate. The Vagabond and Tengu followed. I repeated, grimacing as my signature radius ballooned to the size of a small moon. I moved away another 3000 odd meters and my two assailants matched my move. My ship was dying. I pulsed the micro warp drive once more and moved off to almost 15 kilometers from the star gate, the Tengu and Vagabond following. 

They were both now too far away to instantly jump through the gate. I had them where I wanted them. 

Now to survive, I thought to myself. 

The fleet was incoming. Fizixx jumped in. I was down to half armour and unable to boost my shield any more - my cap booster being unable to inject more energy boosters; poor cap use management by me! Interdict came in and then both Kingwood and Red Vegas. I finally died but heard the sweet words of my secondary FC, Interdict announce:

"Tengu pointed and webbed."

The vagabond bolted and the rest of the fleet poured the fire on. The Tengu pilot added to his woes when he shot at Fizixx (who wasn't a criminal nor did he initiate any hostile action) - so the sentry guns; silent and brooding suddenly woke up and exercised their programmed duties. 

The pilot fought on but the outcome was as pre-determined as my own fate. The Tengu burst open and there were cheers from the fleet as the pod pilot streaked out of his burning wreck. Ironically, Fizixx who held fire until right near the end got the kill mail. 

I congratulated the fleet and asked that Interdict continue in his FC duties and maintain the roam, it was a successful night so far and I doubt it would end. I had to get back to ship up and raced home. Through the home systems, there were lots of targets and I called them out one by one. 

A mission running cyclone in Todi and a cyclone on the Evati / Todi gate and a rookie in a thrasher. All available to the eager pirate. A scout was sent out to probe the mission runner while I decided to go and get the thrasher. 

The thrasher pilot was quite green and was an easy catch and posed no real threat. I invited him into our ransom channel as I wanted to extract some money. Meanwhile, our scout was dropping probes for the cyclone next door. 
The Bastards Ransom Channel MOTD: 

This is a stick up! You are being ransomed.
Turn off ALL weapons. Prepare your funds for transfer.
Singing ransoms may be demanded.
Read the Bastard Pass for more info on prices.

flashfresh > Sityola<-- 1M isk please
Sityola > ?
Sityola > ok
flashfresh > Now please.
flashfresh > 1 million isk and we let you go. Simple.
Sityola > how trade?
flashfresh > Right click on my name.
flashfresh > Then, GIVE MONEY.
Sityola > It's OK?
flashfresh > Where is the money?
flashfresh > I see no money.
Sityola > 1 sec
Sityola > trial
Sityola > i cant :-(
flashfresh > Can you sing?
Sityola > i am on trial
flashfresh > No seriously. CAN YOU SING?
Sityola > No.
flashfresh > Or give me a haiku?
Sityola > wrote that u cant trade because i am on trial version
flashfresh > GIVE ME A HAIKU then.
flashfresh > A three line poem.

Minutes pass

flashfresh > Where is my poem?
Sityola > poem xD
Sityola > you from ?
flashfresh > YOU GIVE ME A POEM!

He then offered:

Sityola > i see a litle pig
Sityola > i owned a liitle pig
Sityola > that epic final

Stunned silence

flashfresh > OK......
flashfresh > that, is er. OK.
flashfresh > for a first time haiku.
Sityola > i can be free ?
flashfresh > I don't know what it means but yes. Please leave this system and be safe.
Sityola > haiku its jap ?
flashfresh > Yes.
flashfresh > You are free to go.

As this was going on, the mission running cyclone was probed out and Interdict went for the tackle. Embarrassingly, my XO hesitated on the gate, got confused and the gate guns killed him. Then a second cyclone started to buzz Fizixx around the Todi gate in Evati and then proceeded to kill Fizixx after our pirate colleague, in half shield, decided to tackle him. 

I had re-docked and grabbed an arbitrator and tackled the second cyclone under sentry fire while he was picking through the loot. While the other's piled in. We killed it and recovered some of Fizixx's own loot. 

By the time I docked up for a break, what was a quick roam with friends ended up being a long, highly enjoyable night of ransoms and explosions and loot. Forming up a fleet just to get things moving was the right idea. However, I decided that I needed to sleep and called it a night, passing the FC role and bidding everyone a good night. 

20 Oct 2010

There's always a bigger dog.....so find a puppy and kick it instead.

We decided that we want a slightly heavier gang last night: battle ship class with Vig insisting on showing off his damnation in all its glory. A mixed gang of fleet members assembled eager to pillage and plunder and we undocked from our home station, scattering the haulers and passer-bys. Evati was quite busy last night and we were confident that we would get something. We tried sparring with some of the local denizens but failed to grab anyone: the battle ships we were in had much slower locking times and the enemy battle cruiser gang we had spotted easily made distance on us and slipped away.

Not disappointed we started to roll towards Ardar way, though we could see that Lady Shaniqua was unavailable and therefore, the locals would be out and about. With our scouts and friends moving ahead we sprung a trap where a criminal gang were camping the (usually camped) Klogori / Orfrold gate. Our megathron got himself tackled and pointed an enemy myrmidon. Then his friends all piled in and it was our queue to jump in. As we started to land at the gate, our megathron pilot told us that the enemy battle cruisers were disengaging and moving away. He tried to keep his point but his slower ship was unable to keep range and the myrmidon escaped. Cursing our luck with a second potential engagement not actually hotting up we pushed down further towards Amamake.

A fleet of 50 or so craft were reported in various channels that they had tackled a carrier. We decided that to gate crash this would be fun BUT it would result in our almost certain fiery demise. It was not my intention to suicide us so I turned the fleet around. Determined to get some kills we went back to Evati and discovered to our delight that there was a new camp on the Todi  / Evati gate.


With our excited chatter still reverberating in my ears, I sent in a battle ship to get their attention. As the megathron rumbled towards the gate, looking to all intents and purposes an auto-piloting ship, the pilot quickly called out that he was being yellow-boxed.

Everyone else in their battle ships tensed in anticipation.

"They've red-boxed me! One, two, three of them!"

That was our cue and we moved in; determined to get them. The align and warp felt very slow. I tried to mentally push my typhoon to get into warp quicker, to turn faster to get there before hell froze. As we ambled into warp, we wondered whether we would be successful on this third attempt at hostile engagement.

As we landed, I noticed the tell tale warp out signatures of half a dozen ships.

Some of our ships landed just a bit quicker than me but their locking times were too slow and the enemy battle cruisers slipped away. Third time unlucky in the night but all we could do was to move on and seek combat and loot elsewhere.

The fleet meandered our way towards another hotspot: Akora and one of our forward scouts spotted a camp. However, local had one or two suspicious looking fellows in there and I feared that our presence was already announced. Sure enough, the trap was sprung, our forward scout & bait was red-boxed and we went in, the slow align of the battle ship was beginning to grate on me; so used to the swifter cruiser and battle cruiser hulls. We landed and jumped into the next system but the camp had cleanly disengaged and moved off. Our scout had a point but couldn't keep up, even with the slowest ship.

Fourth time unlikely for tonight. Yes, piracy is feast or famine but this was the worst of all events: plenty of targets, plenty of opportunity just a bit unlucky in seizing the opportunities presented. It was also possible that we had a large and intimidating gang, all flashy and angry and word was probably moving ahead of us.

However, The Bastards are a stoic bunch and shrugged, it was part of the lifestyle we had chosen and it wasn't meant to be easy. If it was, why would we bother?

So we pushed down towards Metropolis, another good area to snag travellers or to encounter hostile gate camps. With out 8 battle ships and some light support, we had no logistics, it was deemed big enough to handle most of the usual encounters that we were used to.

Our luck changed for the worse however. Let me recall in full agonising detail.

Naughty Spawn in his zealot was ahead and was moving slowly towards Ennur. I had split the fleet up to cover more ground when Naughty Spawn informed us, calmly that he had encountered a camp.

"This is N.S. Location: Offikatlin gate in Tabbetzur. Enemy camp encountered."

Another camp, another opportunity, come on lady luck, fifth time lucky? I thought to myself.

"Am holding cloak. I see a T3 cruiser and a couple of other ships. One Maelstrom."

That sounded good and I moved the fleet to intercept the camp.

"All ships move full speed to Tabbetzur gate in Offikatlin." I was hoping that Naughty Spawn would be able to hold on long enough. I ordered him to re-approach the gate and jump back to us. There was a lot of interference on the reply back but it appeared that there were more ships landing on him at the Tabbetzur gate in Offikatlin.

Red Vegas in his hurricane (we weren't all in battle ships) - rolled ahead just as Naughty Spawn started swearing. His zealot had lost cloak and was pinned and being cut to pieces on the other side of the gate. The bulk of the fleet had not even joined me and Red Vegas in Tabbetzur but we couldn't let one of our own go unpunished. So Red Vegas went ahead to the Tabbetzur gate followed by me in the trash can shaped typhoon.

As he arrived, some of the enemy camp had come jumped into us in Offikatlin - no doubt to prevent Naughty Spawn from jumping back out and escaping. Instead they encountered an angry Red Vegas who promptly lit up an enemy maelstrom. I joined in.

The rest of the fleet were now landing around me.

"Hold on Naughty Spawn. We're almost there."

"Naughty spawn is down. There's a horde of ships this side. Be advised, large number of ships coming through."

There was a flash on the gate, and another and another and my overview started to fill up. Not used to seeing strategic cruisers, I refreshed my view and yes, indeed the enemy camp was made up of almost all T3 strategic cruisers: at least three tengu and one proteus class ships with a logistics ships thrown in for good measure. It was 13 versus 9.

Friendly (9)
Rifter (yes, tis true)

Hostile (13)

We had been dealt our hand and had no option but to play.

"Hmmm, looks hot but let's do this." Someone said.

This is why I love The Bastards: our motto is 'Overwhelming DPS then GTFO' but 'Stand your ground' is equally applicable. No one was scared or frozen into inaction as we opened fire, fully aware of what the capricious Gods of war had sent us.

The sentry guns opened fire on us to add to our woes.

The first to go down was Naughty Spawn, helplessly cut-off and alone on the other side. Red Vegas's hurricane, was second to die though he still kept on firing even as his ship was cut to small pieces. If Red Vegas could have strapped on guns to his pod, he would have stayed.

The primary was one of the tengus, a mistake by me but there wasn't much choice until the guardian decloaked. We set him to primary and nailed him. The fight wasn't the usual fast cut and thrust exchange of fire, our remote repair work was working but they were slowly grinding their way through us. The sentry guns were peppering our ships and each minute meant that we would be in greater danger. A minute or so later, Tibbs went down, yelling curses. Interdict was next to me, repairing my armour as I was repairing his but the damage was creeping towards overwhelming and Interdict saluted the fleet and punched his capsule out. His ship, spurting fire and gas and raining out crew escape pods burst open.

We all died except Fenneck who managed to get his ship out.

The last to go was Viginiti who's damnation had a huge tank and managed to hold on in the face of massive firepower. In fact, he managed to tank and jump through into Offikatlin but was caught by another ship who was obviously tasked with snagging those trying to withdraw from the fight. If it wasn't for this ship, Vig may have gotten away. However Vig's damnation, already seriously mauled and out of capacitory finally died.

Fleet Fight Summary

A good fight but as per title, we were still quite fired up so we grabbed new ships and continued to hunt. We chased a stabber fleet issue and sleipnir as well as a hurricane and the chase ended up in Ingunn where, out of boredom we started to pop the haulers that infested the area. We caught bits of pieces as well (a faction fitted stealth bomber, a hurricane) but the high light were the noobships. Fun and a nice way to relax after having been beaten up ourselves.

The drops were disappointing obviously, but one pirate did snag some cargo hold expander IIs. A nice bonus.

We also met up with an old sparring partner: General Dogzbody. Dogz, amazingly, is now not classed officially as a criminal/pirate and therefore not flashing a bright angry red in people's overviews. I actually did a double-take as I thought I had the wrong person. He was a respectable -10 or near to it for a while, so he must have done some serious repenting to be acceptable to CONCORD. Strange seeing him like that but times change I suppose. He was also out of M34N alliance but am sure still blue to them. Being positive sec does have advantages mind: now, pilots cannot just engage him on gates and stations in low sec as Dogz has sentry guns supporting him.

Being on the end of sentry fire is no fun but a hazard for the pirate that must be considered.

We chatted to see whether we should try and solo him but I laughed it off. Tackling his maelstrom with our hurricanes on a gate and Dogz having sentry fire support was foolish and not profitable to us. If he was flashy, then maybe but Dogz isn't stupid.

No big deal though. We exchanged pleasantries in local and I took the fleet home - eager to get a shower and some sleep. It was a fun night ending with the proverbial kicking of the puppies after getting your own arses kicked but I would prefer not to meet another T3 gang  for a while!

12 Oct 2010

All in a day or two with the Bastards....

Day One
Small fleet action is where most of the fun is a fleet of no more than say a dozen vessels is the ideal number in my view. It allows all fleet members to play a real part in any engagement yet feel safe with the strength in numbers. The Bastards love to solo as well so it is a nice mix of action for us in any week. There are no typical weeks in The Bastards!

I was busy with tedious administrative tasks when my personal communicator flashed. I checked the call and linked into the current fleet chat. It was JManza and he had a fleet going with imminent ship violence looming just ahead. Administrative work can put me in a cranky mode and the night was young. I agreed and found myself out in a small fleet of four battle cruisers. A nice number with Mortol Strike stepping up as fleet commander. Within a minute we were called in and landed among ships from the Chupacabras corporation. They weren't even our nominated target as we were racing in to assist on a tackle in the next system but decision was made to open up on these chaps. The Chupas gang was mainly drake class battle cruisers, while we had hurricanes. They had six (x5 drakes and x1 scorpion) and we had four (three hurricanes and a drake) - good odds for The Bastards.

First down was a Chupas Hurricane; it had the highest DPS and had to go down to give us a chance of holding the field. Since our target was a flashing criminal, the sentry guns remained silent. However, despite the lower dps from the drakes, our own Red Vegas went down, her guns still firing as his ship was cut in half.  JManza followed soon after as he ordered his ship to ram an enemy drake just as his reactors blew. Mortol and I remained and concentrated on the Lou Reed, who was in a drake. One of the Chupas had returned (Atmos TA) in a new ship, a hound since they are basing themselves in Evati.

Both Red Vegas and JManza had declared that they were just getting into a new ship and waiting for Scotty to let them undock. I love these fights when both sides can come back in new ships. JManza and Red Vegas were already on scan and returning to the fray. Since Evati is a busy system, there are plenty of ships coming and going and it was with some surprise that Mortol and I were joined by a vagabond pilot, Tybele who decided that the Chupas were more interesting targets than us. He added his firepower to the fight and I wasn't going to stop him!

However, Mortol Strike, was jammed and so was I by the scorpion - being the only two Bastards left on the field. We should have both hit our MWDs and burned towards the scorpion (also getting us out of harm's way) but with us both unable to lock, Mortol was soon destroyed, followed by myself just as Red Vegas and JManza returned to assist us. Most of the Chupas ships then safely withdrew under the cover of the Scorpion's highly effective ECM. All except Giampolo in his drake who was pointed, quite handedly by Tybele our friendly positive security status enabled pilot. This of course, spelled doom for the unfortunate drake. By this time, Red Vegas, JManza and Mortol had come back in new ships and with Captain Blackler also in the frame (having raced the seven odd jumps to reach us) - we cut the drake to pieces.

Despite our heavier losses, we had the field of wreckage to loot and made good on some of our losses, taking the sting out of the defeat. Nothing cheers up a pirate than loot (and ransom money) - so we cleared the field and continued to roam now that the Chupas had withdrawn entirely from the field. With a much strengthened fleet we roamed on but it appeared that the fireworks for the night had already been used up. We caught a hurricane in Hadozeko and an apparently afk helios on a gate.

I then docked up for the night, thankful for the excitement and loot. It was then back to some more administrative work. The Bastards, as much as I want it to, doesn't run by itself but sometimes, I wish it did!

Day Two

Still finding myself working through recruitment emails and stuff, my personal communicator went off again and it was Mortol Strike this time; a fleet was rolling out - a mixed HAC and BC fleet and since I was around, would I be interested?

Of course, I was! Quickly finishing up my work, I raced to the hangar and grabbed a cyclone. Haven't flown one in an age and it looked tempting to go out and bash someone's head in it. The fit was inspired by Lady Shaniqua, a fearsome proponent of the solo/duo-style of play.

Mortol was the fleet commander this time round and the Red Vegas was ahead, looking for targets. Only two jumps out from Evati, Red Vegas announced that there was something 'fun' in local.

"I see a myrmidon class ship on scan. He looks like he is towards the belt. Going in."

The rest of the fleet was now on the gate, ready to jump in and assist.

"This is Red. Myrmidon is 100 clicks away. Am burning towards him." He said. "Myrm has spotted me and....and is turning towards me. We may have some fun here."

It read bait all over it to be honest but we were confident.

"I have him pointed and spinning up my 425mm on him." We offered words of encouragement to Red Vegas but we were waiting for more.

"Hmmm, his armour tank is holding." Observed Red Vegas, not sounding too concerned but we could imagine him furrowing his eye brows as he overloaded his guns. Then he shouted.

"Local spike! Local spike! All members from the same corp! Here we go..." We all jumped in even before Red had finished his sentence as Mortol had us all primed.

We jumped into warp and raced towards Red's current position just as the myrmidon's friends came the other way. Part of the excitement of such encounters in low-sec is that you have no idea what the other side is bringing in. Certainly, the corporation was new to us.

Landing in a loose cluster around Red Vegas, we saw the enemy myrmidon battling it away with Red Vegas' hurricane. Drones and neutralisers were all over Red's battle cruiser while he battered away with the awesome 425mm auto canons. We all locked the myrmidon just as his friends arrived: two vagabonds initially. Secondary and tertiary targets were called. The vagabonds were fast and slip in between our ships. The enemy myrmidon, held out bravely against our ships just as his remaining friends arrived in seven frigates: two vengeance assault frigates, two crusaders, one wolf and two punisher class frigates along with the two vagabonds. This was going to be interesting.

I threw my neutralisers onto one of the vagabonds in an effort to destroy his capacitor and thus, hopefully slow him down but the nimble cruiser had enough momentum to slip away. However, the frigates and HACs were dangerous and Nashh, spitting fire and fury went down in flames. We took revenge and  blew the tackled myrmidon into tiny pieces. Our drones screamed out of their bays and chased some of the slower frigates down but my 220 mm auto canon, tracked and then blew one of the hardy punishers to pieces. Then the second vagabond, who put in the killing blow, was destroyed in a concentrated salvo as it got too close to us.  The first of the two vengeance assault craft then went down, JManza's zealot and his holy lasers burning the plucky craft to cinders. I took out the second vengeance with a well timed shot as the craft raced across my kill zone. The last punisher was despatched just as the remaining enemy fleet dis-engaged from the fight. We had no way of catching the last vagabond or the two crusaders and all three withdrew cleanly. To be honest, the fight was never in doubt due to the placement of the frigates - they all came in too close to the our larger battle cruiser class ships where their size and lower signature radius meant nothing.

An excellent confrontation with us holding the field and therefore the pick of the loot. Love it.

Unfortunately, we pushed our luck too much and got walloped by the Minnie miltia on the gate an hour or so later. Don't you hate the feeling when you have a ship tackled on a gate, you're seeing it's armour flaking off, you're just about tanking the sentry guns (another 10 seconds!!) and you see the stargate flash and flash and flash as ship after bloody ship hurtles into the fight?

In hindsight, we should have been more cautious and not initiated hostile action in sight of the sentry guns  as soon as we landed but our blood was still up - what can you expect?

I still love it though and went back to Evati whistling a happy tune. Low-sec, who doesn't love it?

6 Oct 2010

Faction Cruiser Roam and Death of Capsuleer?

Faction Roam!
We decided on a faction ship roam last night as we were celebrating our third birthday as a corporation. The actually birthday I think is sometime in early September but people were too busy to organise. So, it was with interest when the pirates pulled out all their bling ships for the roam. I saw Republic Fleet Stabbers, Comets, Firetails, Dramiels, Navy Omen and other bits of kit not normally seen in our fleet. We didn't have any of the larger hulls either - a machariel would have been a nice addition.

So we went for a stroll and it was a quiet night, snagging a couple of frigates (and a hauler) until we went into null sec. We did pass up two chances of engagement with a roaming gang made up of a drake, curse, rook, hurricane, phantasm and vagabond. They were not criminals either so am quite sure our frigate/cruiser gang would have suffered serious losses. A well fit hurricane would have mashed up all our frigates for example.

We had Arrhidaeus in his super tanked Navy Augoror (he killed a hauler solo) as bait but we ran into some superior opposition just as we were leaving Etherium Reach, losing the bait ship. Nashh Kadavr following behind was also caught, losing his Gila.

On return, I reflected that a mixed up fleet like ours of different faction cruisers introduced too many strengths and weaknesses and thus, seriously cut down on our effectiveness. The fleet lacked DPS and any force multipliers. We lost our pilgrim early one as well. Many a time I wished that I had a fleet of hurricanes with support instead. No matter, it was a bit of fun and it will be time to put our serious game faces on for the next operation. Back to the venerable battle cruiser class.

Out of interest, I would be very interested to see if there are any corporations / gangs who regularly fly with faction ships. Comment here with your thoughts if you don't mind.

Capsuleer - Save it!

It looks like the well liked Apple App, 'Capsuleer' is doomed. Roc had posted this on the EVE-Online forums and it has generated a lot of responses.

The infamous Nashh Kadavr has started up a petition here and anyone who feels strongly enough should go there and comment. I have signed it and I support the petition but have never used the app as I am an android phone user here. I do understand how important this applications are.

Many people have extolled the virtues of this application and it seems to be indispensable for 'Life Outside of EVE'. I get by with 'Aura' on the Android. There were plans to port the app over to Android but only if there was financial support. The

Great pity that it appears to be doomed now but there *IS* a paypal donate button available on the website (http://capsuleer.evesuite.com/) - am unsure whether enough people donated but for those who said they are willing to pay and just didn't get round to it...I think this is a sad case of barn door + bolted horse...

Poor show by CCP too but looking at the posts, it doesn't appear that CCP promised anything to anyone, despite their enthusiasm and support. A cynic could also say that EVE-GATE may be seen by CCP as the replacement for all things EVE outside of the game.

3 Oct 2010

EVE Blog Banter #21 'Low Sec Needs Fixing? Yes but not too much...'

Welcome to the twenty-first installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by none other than, CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month topic comes to us from @ZoneGhost who a few month ago asked “Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?” Is it? I’d like us to explore this even further. Is Low Sec being treated differently by CCP Games than Null Sec (Zero-Zero) or Empire space is? Can one successfully make a living in these unsecured systems where neither Alliance nor Concord roam to enforce their laws? What’s needed? Or is everything fine as it is?

Daryl Julius Cash Jnr shifted uncomfortable on the fine leather chair. He had begged, cajoled and bribed to get this interview but as he waited, he got increasingly nervous. This first interview would hopefully lead to more interviews and more stories and it could be the beginning of his big break. He would leave the regional news corporation and then hit the big times. 

It could also be his last job assignment too. He was already in low security space where the safest place was docked up and inside a station. Transiting outside is usually considered dangerous. 

The office Daryl was in appeared to be quite spartan and devoid of much useful furniture. Even his parents' place had more decoration and items. This place was very business-like for sure but also slightly rough around the edges. This was low security space after all: recently colonised areas of space around the core human systems of the Empire that were without the benevolent security of CONCORD protecting it's citizens. Daryl corrected himself, there was only one Empire, the Amarr one but everyone in low sec called known core-space as 'Empire' space. Wonder what the Caldari and Gallente peoples think of that?

It was the small things that intrigued Daryl about low sec space: from the non-standard uniforms of the local law enforcement officers to the more eclectic mix of ships seen swarming around some of the more popular market hubs. Actually, the 'term' market was more like a bazaar. 

He glanced at his data-pad that contained his current job assignment. It was a background piece on low security space and the people that were desperate enough to live there. Some background fluff that would no doubt be edited out of existence once it made it back to head quarters. If he could bag a few words with a pirate or catch some live footage; so much the better but he had start from somewhere. Being the most junior, the Daryl got the worst job: an interview with a small time 'crook' who knew a man who knew another man who knew an active pirate. The trail had to start from somewhere.  

The simple crook probably was a garbage disposal engineer who answered the advert that was put out, thought Daryl bitterly. 

There was a hiss of escaping air and Daryl turned around as someone came in. Daryl spine stiffened as he saw the figure enter the room half expecting a press gang of pirates swarming in. It was just a man with a plain and unmemorable face. He smiled humourlessly at Daryl and extended his hand. They shook hands and Daryl was alarmed at the iron like grip the man possessed. His eyes held Daryl's with a fierce intelligence and without even saying a word, Daryl knew this was no garbage disposal engineer. He also then realised a slight sting from his palm and he tried to extract his hand but the 'garbage disposal engineer' held onto his hand tightly. He leaned forward and said quietly, 'Don't fight it. We're just taking precautions." Just as Daryl's vision began to blur alarmingly he realised that he had lost feeling in his legs and had the sensation of falling.

Daryl jerked back into full alertness with a start. He was sitting in a comfortable chair and he wasn't tied down though his muscles ached. He was in a small office, book cases with what appeared to be real paper books lined two walls on either side of him. Facing Daryl was a desk covered in yet more piles of real paper. Risking his neck muscles, Daryl turned around and he could see someone, with his back turned fussing over what sounded like crockery. The figure turned around and smiled and Daryl froze. He recognised this individual, the tall bald and rather disconcertingly, smiling Brutor was Flashfresh.

"Do you want some tea Mr Cash?"

"I er, yes."

"Milk and sugar?"

"No, black. Please."

"Good man." Flashfresh turned around, pour hot water into a tea pot and passed a tray to the bemused journalist. With his own steaming mug of tea, the pirate sat down, and took a deep draught on the hot liquid. Savouring the taste, Flashfresh faced Daryl and said. "So, shall we start your interview?"

Daryl had forgotten about his assignment. In fact, all he could think about was the terror of being in the same room as the infamous blood thirsty pirate. All manner of horrible deaths flitted through his head until Flashfresh smiled and said, "Daryl, I know of your assignment and I am interested in getting my story out. We have been following your career with some interest and I know you are curious about low security space. You've heard the stories and the rumours and want to see it for yourself. Well, here's you chance. Now, what is the first question you have flashing on that data pad of yours?"

Fumbling, Daryl almost dropped his data pad but managed to keep both the cup of tea and his data pad intact. Clearly is throat Daryl read out the first question on his list, a list of doodles to be honest.

"So is low security space a viable place to live? How can one be successful here?" Daryl read out aloud and realising that it came out almost like a squeak. Flashfresh sat back and considered his response before answering.

"Low security space is viable only if you work hard. There isn't the level of industry or market that you would expect in the core space areas. Market hubs are smaller in number and large scale mining operations are not, shall I say, 'recommended'. All pilots need to be active and paying attention to everything if they want to make it. It is vital to their survival. For those who are smart, have the right 'can-do' attitude and understand the risks of doing business here in low sec, then it is a viable space. I mean look at all the space you have here. It isn't crowded like Jita."

"And how can one be successful in low sec?" Repeated Daryl, glad that his voice had now dropped it's nervous tremor. 

"You have to define success but I suppose for many people it is making isk. You can make isk here that's for sure. Trade routes are profitable if you know where they are. Buying cheap in Jita and selling high in a low-sec hub is another way. The rocks in lows sec are much bigger than anything you can see in high sec. Many of the core world corporations have offices and agents here and their assignments nearly always pay more due to danger money. 
 Low sec space has some demographical issues, for sure. The population density will always remain low in most areas when compared to core areas. There's so much more to be done and had in the core systems. However, I do believe that populations will only increase if there's an incentive for increased migration. More migration means more opportunities."

"More victims you mean?" Interrupted Daryl. As soon as he finished his question he broke out in a cold sweat as he felt the atmosphere of the room change. Flashfresh paused and regarded Daryl coolly and continued. 

"Low security space has the infrastructure in place for a while now. The space gates are now all in place, though a fair few need more maintenance. So travel through low sec isn't such an issue as it was in the past. Of course, with the proliferation of capital class ships, many richer corporations can jump portal billions of light years without the need to use the star gates."

"Ah so the place to go is the outer regions, so called 'null-sec' space if you want to make money?"

Flashfresh shook his head.

"Not really, it isn't just money that drives people and I disagree that low sec is the poor cousin of null sec. I also disagree that those corporations who choose to live in low sec are somehow, not as 'developed' as the null sec corporations. Null sec is richer in many resources. CONCORD has no presence in the outer regions. Capsuleer corporations and alliances in the main are the only game in town. In fact, your corporation mates are usually the only faces you see for months, maybe years.
 Contrast this with low sec. Our closer proximity to the core gives low sec many benefits: easier trade routes into the core that rely on the older, cheaper, more reliable and comprehensive star gate network. Fully functioning stations in almost every system with services to match. Most of the main corporations from the core have a presence here in low sec space through their corporations' agents. There's work here and therefore there's a life to live, that's for sure."

Daryl hesitated before he asked the next question, one that he had been dreading since the interview had started.

"What about the pirates? It is all fine and well for a hard working corporation to establish an industrial base but only for it to fall to pirates. The risk is too high for the reward."

Flashfresh regarded Daryl with an even look.

"For a corporation to be taken down by rag-tag pirates like ourselves, to me it doesn't sound that they've worked hard enough to earn their spot, now does it?"

"What about the lone miner?"

"Pirates do not cover every single system in low sec. It isn't possible. There are hundreds of systems that have not even seen a single warp drive capable starship in the last three months. I wouldn't advocate that solo mining is an interesting career but with some simple precautions, even this is possible in low-sec. Look, the way I see it - low sec is not for everyone. For those who haven't prepared or taken the necessary precautions , then they are without a doubt, at risk from opportunistic pirates as well as the assorted vandals and thieves." Flash took a sip of his tea. "Long may this continue. I consider our work to be cleaning up the capsuleer gene pool. There are too many eggers out there now who don't know that they've achieved near immortality and that they don't really die. They get podded and then wake up with a mild headache and chap from an insurance company passing you the keys to a new Ibis. It can be humbling but it isn't debilitating. Those that get sloppy and lazy, pay the price. " He added.

Darly couldn't argue with this.

"What about the non-capsuleers, the passengers on interstellar liners, the freighters?"

Flashfresh shook his head. "I can speak for The Bastards, we don't go after non-capsuleer ships. Never. Some eggers lower themselves to chasing after the locals, whether they're Serpentis or Angels or whatever. They may even take missions from agents to kill a whole fleet of non-capsuleer ships. It isn't worth the effort for us pirates. More importantly, it doesn't provide any challenge for us. The Bastards always hunt other capsuleer piloted space craft."

Daryl didn't feel to reassured after hearing this.

"So you're saying that one can successfully make a living in these unsecured systems where neither Alliance nor Concord roam to enforce their laws? Even if you're not a pirate?" 

"Absolutely! Contrary to the popular press, piracy is not the only game in town. Some systems appear to be very pirate heavy but they're in the minority, I can assure you. While the numbers are low when compared to Empire space and the core systems in low-sec, it isn't that low that one can't make isk. Industry and markets in some of the low-sec hubs can and do make money; especially if you can bring a jump freighter from Jita straight to low-sec in one jump." 

Flashfresh got up and beckoned Daryly to the port hole.

"Low security space also has such a variety of ships you know? Look here." Flashfresh pointed to a cluster of ships zipping off towards the system's main star. "Those are capsuleers aligned with Amarr militia, they're engaged in some factional warfare nonsense. Over there, you see a bunch of traders about to jump their freighter back to high security space." Flashfresh scrutinised another set of ships and tapped away on his data pad. "Ah, those chaps there - they're a large null sec alliance passing through low security space. Probably slumming it for a while for kicks. Over behind that old derelict is another pirate corporation - they're dropping off some booty but they've been sitting outside too long and I would be expecting..." There was a flash of light outside as ships dropped warp. Flashfresh smiled, "ah, right on time, the pirates are being set upon by a combination of anti-pirates and opportunist backed up by at least one mercenary corporation."

Daryl looked on ships, just on the undock point of the station were zipping around. He pressed his face closer. Flashfresh glanced at his data pad. "Daryl, watch this."

Suddenly, someone dropped a cynosural field and ten dreadnaught class suddenly appeared and proceeded to lay into both sides. It was a mess but exhilarating at the same time. The station guns, silent and unmoving despite the massive battle in front of them suddenly spun up. 

Flashfresh grinned. "Someone cocked up. Despite the messy fight, you can't just open up on someone unless they're a war target or a criminal. Someone got a bit too eager and shot the wrong ship. Now the station guns have started up. What fun."

Now, the fight included pirates and criminals being shot at by anti-pirates and vigilantes who were both being blasted by a force of ten dreadnaughts. Some merc were piling in and now the station guns had opened up. 

Flashfresh had a smile playing about his face. "Daryl, I think you should get closer and get an exclusive. Have you ever flown in a hurricane class battle cruiser?"


"Follow me, trust me - it will be fun." 

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