2012-02-03

Life in a Wormhole: Should have Just Stayed Home #eveonline

One of the really interesting EvE-related youtube posters that I enjoy is a guy named Kil2, especially when he posts a video about some major mistake he made. Now, don't get me wrong: he's a hell of a PvPer in a subset of PvP that both interests me and which I think it particularly important and relevant in Wormholes; specifically, solo and small gang PvP. I've learned a lot from listening to his "Bringing Solo Back" podcasts, as well as watching his videos.

But I like his "I screwed up" posts, because failure and mistakes are kind of important, too. More important, in a lot of ways: you generally learn a lot more from mistakes than easy successes.

Why mention it? Because the next couple days are full of failures, and while most are of the 'frustrating wasted time' kind, and not the expensive explosions kind, they all taught me something.

The day after we lured the Manticore to attack our bait-salvager, I head for known space to take part in a couple activities. My first 'to do' is to get ready for the RvB roam that afternoon, as their theme involves everyone flying the shiny new tier 3 battlecruisers, which I happen to have handy.

I'm interrupted by pilots in our Alliance channel talking as though there's some major stuff going on in a system where they are currently attacking some enemy group's tower. Actually, after getting a bit more info, it sounds like the tower is currently in reinforced mode and can't be attacked at the moment, but that the locals are trying to get reinforcements in and we're trying to prevent that from happening which, aside from anything else, sounds a hell of a lot more interesting than a basic tower-bash.

As I said, I had some other plans (basicaly getting a couple Tornados all shined up and ready to go for the roam), but I ask them what they need, and they express a strong desire for armor-tanked battleships, which... let's just put it bluntly, I have little interest in flying and less interest in buying.

Still...

Ahh dammit, fine: they need some help, so I work out a viable close-range brawler in the form of a Typhoon battleship. It takes a bit of time to get it all set up, and when I'm done, I ask for an entry system to fly to and join them.

"Well, it's such and such system, but we're going to collapse it soon and get a new one, so we'll tell you where that one is."

"Okay."

Time passes. I spend it fitting my Tornadoes, but eventually there's nothing else to do, and I check in on that new hole status.

"Oh, yeah, we haven't collapsed it yet. Hang on though, we have a new entrance anyway -- a randomly opened one."

"Okay."

Time passes.

I ask for an update, and am told that the threat of invasion has died down, and that little needs to be done at this point.

I am now sitting on a completely kitted out battleship for which I personally have little to no use, and I've wasted three hours doing fuck-all in a highsec market station.

Really? You're fine now? All good? That's brilliant.

Lessons Learned: Hey fleet commanders -- if you have put out a request for pilots, and people are offering to show up, get them fucking moving your direction. They're coming from a distance, and spending their time to help you out. Respect that. If you're too busy (understandable), put someone specifically in charge of handling rendezvous -- make that their only job.

Hey guys coming to a fleet -- if your time is limited (or, you know, important to you at all) communicate your desire to help and make sure you don't get forgotten in the hustle and bustle and left to rot. FCs have a ton of stuff to going on, with multiple distractions, so find that fine line between passivity and nagging and make sure they remember that you either need a route to their location or a wave-off. Sitting on your hands wastes everyone's time. Worst case, just get a location and start moving there -- take some initiative. If I'd just started flying toward the first system they'd mentioned, I've have been there at least an hour before they got around to collapsing the entrance.


So I strip down the Typhoon and sell off the parts, taking a bath on the destroyed rigging because by this point I just want the damned thing out of my sight. I take a break and come back in time for the roam, meeting up with CB who is also bringing a Tornado. Cool.

Eh. Not so cool. While RvB is generally very casual with their ships on these Ganked roams, and given that the FC (who has way too much money) is actually providing FREE SHIPS to the first eighty people who show up, there is something going on with this particular fleet that is a bit... off.

First off, they're way too sober. Don't know what that's about, but I'll tell you this: I prefer my internet Brits tipsy, at the very least.

Secondly, while the FC fully intends to die-in-a-fire, the fact that everyone is flying these shiny new ships that have only been in the game for a few weeks is making him... not cautious, exactly, but... picky. In a typical RvB Ganked roam, the fleet will charge into anything that looks like it'll have some explosions involved, whether that means winning or losing, but since we're in the New Hotness, they seem to want to ensure that when we die, it'll be... memorable? Epic enough? Something like that.

So when, only a few jumps into the roam, our scouts spot an approaching fleet of ships from a large alliance, a fleet that would probably provide an interesting fight, the FC decides to avoid it, rather than engage, because they apparently assume that these large-alliance pilots will just call for major backup, jumping in a Titan or a huge fleet of ships, and that we'll then be squished right off the bat.

(Note: this happens ALL THE TIME in RvB Ganked roams, where the fleet gets decimated right away and has to reship before proceeding, but this week, it's seen as a bad thing.)

Anyway, the FC decides to fly another direction, avoiding this fight, and in the confusion of reassigning our destination, someone calls out to jump to the gate and jump through to some system name that sounds A LOT like one of the other system names to which we're also connected.

So the fleet warps one way, and I warp the other, having misheard the system name. I jump on contact, and come out right in front of that fleet we'd just decided to avoid, which is one Tornado down. Right.

I make my way back the 12 jumps to the original staging system (I should have just let them blow up my pod, it would have been much faster), grab my second Tornado and try catching up, but if you do the math I'm already 24 jumps behind just getting to the system where we were split up, and by then the fleet is another 15 or so systems further along and deep into Curse, which is thick with gate camps that love to eat solo ships like mine.

So that's two more hours gone with nothing to show for it but a stupid loss mail.

Lessons Learned: FCs, especially FCs for roams, have one job -- find fights. Yes, you call the route of travel or call targets, but first and foremost, you find fights. You've got 2 or 5 or 50 or 500 other players who showed up for a fight, so answering that desire really needs to be your first priority, bar none. Your job is not to keep everyone (or anyone) from getting blown up; get the fleet into a fight and (distant secondary goal) win, or at least blow up doing something (even if it's something stupid -- just as long as it's not 'sit there and look confused'). NO or almost-no interesting fights occur without losses on your side, so don't worry you're going to lose ships (or, heavens forfend, that their explosion won't be epic enough).

Pilots, listen to the targets and destination your FCs calls, or you're going to Leroy into a waiting fleet and get your shiny ship blown up with nothing to show for it, and then waste another two hours trying to catch up to them and hearing about cool fight after cool fight that you can't see or participate in.


Again, I take a break, and when I'm back, the Alliance fleet in that wormhole POS bash finally have their business figured out and are calling for pilots to come help kill the tower. I have a battleship handy (not that typhoon, obviously), so I join my Home System mates in helping out. It's no surprise that shooting an undefended, inanimate tower is as boring as ABC Family, but when the tower finally drops, the FC makes everyone wait until every ship has a lock on any of the (many) structures inside the force field before they start shooting it. Then repeat. Over and over.

Why? To make sure everyone gets on the kill mails for each of the cosmic outhouses we're looting, and gets credit.

I make my excuses and head out, because seriously? Fuck that for a lark. I need to whore my way onto 40 structure killmails like I need breast augmentation.

Lessons learned: POS bashes are boring. I knew that already, but maybe I'll get it through my head one of these days and think of something better to do with my time. Like crochet. Or... well, anything, really.

FCs: Just get the goddamn structures killed. It's a boring fucking job in the first place and making sure everyone gets their time cards punched for every barn you burn down is not actually doing anyone any favors. Yeah, it pads a kill board, but that's not a good thing: it makes bad PvPers think they're good PvPers because their kill/death ratio looks good on paper. Sod that.

Pilots: Get in, get the job done, because it's part of being in a group. Help out. Maybe you'll get lucky and there will be a surprise attack and actual PvP. Maybe. Not likely, but maybe. Someday...





The evening passes, and next day I'm online and hanging out, awaiting the start of another roam in a few hours, this one run by friends of our alliance -- the same group as the guys who ran the roam where Em and I flew Talos battlecruisers, but a different FC. The fleet theme is... sniping battlecruisers, but NOT using the new tier3 battlecruisers that are obvious (and excellent) choices for the role, if at all possible. Because I guess... surprise factor? Whatever.

Anyway, I've got time to kill, and I've got sniping ships on my mind, so I pick up a Rupture cruiser, fit it with the longest range guns it can manage, grab a deployable Warp Disruption bubble, and head out into Syndicate, looking at system statistics for someplace that's seeing a fair bit of traffic but is still a bit off the beaten path.

Once that's located, I set up the bubble in a way that will stop anyone warping between the two gates in the system and sit away from it about a hundred kilometers. My plan, such as it is, is simply to take pot shots at anyone dropping into the bubble, hoping their disorientation will give me time to pop them before they figure out what's going on and can get away. I even get myself set up so I'm at optimal range from the bubble and at warp-range from the nearest gate, giving me a good way out.

What actually happens is that the locals grab a couple stealth bombers and a Falcon force recon cruiser and ambush me while I'm watching the bubble and d-scan. (I was watching for traffic from the nearby-and-only station in the system, but they must not have come from there.) The Falcon perma-jams me, so I can't return fire, and while I am able to burn away from the bombers fast and far enough to get out of their warp-disruption range, by the time I do that, I've moved too close to the nearest gate to warp there -- by the time I come about and align to a new target, they're able to crack my fairly minuscule sniper-ship's tank and get to the candy filling inside.

Nothing more to add, here.


Lessons learned: Fuck falcons. I kid a bit, but even when it's on my side, ECM seems kind of... broken. I don't know if it's overpowered, exactly, but it's not... fun. At all. Even when it's on your side. CCP, take a look at how crowd control works in other games and take some notes about effects that render the target completely unable to act, because they aren't common, they aren't absolute, and they aren't effectively permanent-until-someone's-dead.

More importantly, if I'm going to try a solo camp-out, I should have put a cloak on the rupture and stayed hidden until a target presented itself. Odds are good I'm not going to get a kill in any case, so the targeting delay from the cloak isn't going to matter -- I'm just testing theories at this point and killing some time. A warp bubble with no ship around is just an annoyance -- maybe someone comes to investigate, and I can even shoot them. Who knows? A warp bubble with a single ship around is just... yeah. An easy target. Snipers in the real world keep from getting their heads caved in by HIDING until they decide to act, and that's what I should have done.

Well, no: what I should have done was something else, really. I should have just solo-roamed and kept moving. My options would have been a lot better, as would my longevity. I was in the mood to mess with sniper-fit ships, however, and since they're really not that useful for roams, this was the option I had.

Either way, don't be a target unless that's the point.


SPEAKING of how sniper ships aren't really well-suited for roams unless you really know what you're doing, what's next on our to-do list?

A roam with a bunch of sniper-fit ships, run by someone who mentions they've never done it before, but "it sounds like fun." What could possibly go wrong?

I have my second Tornado ready, but it turns out we have only one pilot willing to scout, so I stow the battlecruiser and put together a Cheetah covert-ops ship to be the eyes and ears of the fleet. The fleet flies around through the same couple systems in Syndicate for a bit (not where I had been earlier with the Rupture) and send me on ahead a few jumps to find targets.

Finally, my time in the wormhole works to my advantage, as I'm able to use my directional scanner and some slow, cloaked creeping to pull up right alongside a Cynabal cruiser and Drake battlecruiser who are... actually, kind of doing the same thing I had been doing with my Rupture. At least I have a fresh and relevant example of what I need to do in this situation, and I let the fleet know I have targets and a good warp-in for our forward tacklers.

The fleet, however, sends their regrets. While I was scouting, they circled around the same few systems until the locals knew pretty much exactly what sort of ships they hand and mounted an ideal counter-fleet. The two forces engaged on a gate, the sniper ships got beat up a fair bit, and the FC ordered them a single jump away from the system where they'd had the fight, and told everyone to dock up in a station and repair.

The other fleet, of course, camped the station, ready to blow them to tiny bits right on the undock if the long-range ships so much as poked their noses out.

And that was the end of that roam. Right.

Lessons Learned: Play to your strengths. I was happy with my scouting, and think I'm actually pretty good at it. If you're FCing a fleet and you're not a weathered veteran of many such things, stick with the simple fleet compositions. Yes, they're known compositions, but they're common because they're effective, and they're effective because all the pilots know what to DO in most situations. Save tricky and complicated for later. Snipers in the real world don't go on patrols, and if that's what you plan to do, use different ships; appropriate ships.


And with that, my jump-clone timer is refreshed, and I'm back in my primary clone and heading back to the wormhole. I won't say it was a very great couple of days, but it was educational, and I learned a lot.
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