Last night, our little two-man faction warfare corporation tripled in size, and I led a small roam/introductory tour into the wilds of the war zone. Four pilots (myself, Em, Shan, and newly-recruited Fel) flying the very best in cheap and disposable combat spacecraft (an Incursus, Atron, and two Slashers).
Preparatory documents, FAQs, links, and useful maps had all been assembled and then sent out. Shopping had been done (including a splurge on a pile of inexplicably under-priced frigates that netted use close to two-hundred slashers). Questions had been asked and answered.
Nothing left to do but head out and learn to explode.
I had a path in mind, and sent us at best speed through Sinq Laison to Audaerne and, from there, into the Eugidi constellation, which is a kind of rat's nest of systems well behind the front lines, popular with risk-adverse war targets and (by contrast) conflict-hungry pirates looking for a fight. All in all, it's a pretty good group of systems to visit if you want to familiarize yourself with the 'plex mechanics, possibly catch a fleeing enemy, and maybe even get something like an viable fight.
Emphasis on maybe. As it turned out, once we chased off a few timid Merlin frigates with Cynabal backup, the only action to be found lay with a trio of pirates I'd run into in the past. They decided to meet our four frigates with three destroyers (and more backup lurking in the wings); we decided the fight wasn't for us. In leaving the constellation, we managed to draw one far enough away from his friends to cost him any nearby backup, but he remained wary enough to escape through a gate jump without losing his Thrasher. Ahh well.
From there, we headed south toward Dal, pausing here and there to check out likely-looking complexes for enemies, but arrived at our destination without anything exciting coming of it and docked up for a few minutes to rub our eyes and repair a bit of damage from overheated afterburners.
I returned after the brief break feeling more than a little restless. It's been well over a week since I've had a proper fight (the last roam I was on had me sitting in a support cruiser, which is fun but doesn't involve much in the way of direct violence), and after two hours of cat-and-mouse work with no payout, I just wanted a face to shoot.
"We're going to jump over to Siseide," I said, naming a neighboring system with a lot of violent activity showing on the map, and a known home system for a few Amarr loyalists. "See if we can't stir something up."
The system's population was a weird mix of Minmatar and Amarr forces when we arrived, but as I split us into smaller groups to scout around (as I had been doing all night, to give everyone a turn at hanging their ass out in the wind to get shot at), most of our nominal allies departed toward Auga.
Em headed for one of the open Amarr complexes, I went for the minor one on the far side of the system, and landed nearly on top of a Slasher like my own, who immediately jumped the gate into the complex and invited me to follow him in. I called my fleet mates to me and charged in, but he saw my backup arriving and beat a retreat.
Once the other three had arrived, I had Shan start capturing the complex. This wasn't a wholly empty activity; Siseide was the first system we'd entered all night that was actually held by the Amarr, so it was our first chance to actually capture an enemy complex, as opposed to defend our own, and I wanted them to get a sense of what that was like.
In any case, we didn't stick with that for long, as it was clear the locals (all veteran members of a long-running faction warfare corporation) were putting together a response to our intrusion. The first to land on the gate and jump in was a Thrasher, but his friends seemed further behind, and I thought the odds were good that if we hit him hard when he entered, we could take his ship before the rest arrived.
My nebulous plan solidified when I realized the lead pilot it was Almity, one of the better known fleet commanders for the Amarr.
Things seemed to be going well, despite Em and Shan calling out enemy ships closing in: the enemy thrasher's shields were dropping with comforting speed, and the heavy hitting but traditionally thinly-tanked ship looked close to death.
Then we punched through to the ship's armor, and all progress just... stopped.
"Armor tanked?" I wondered aloud. "Who armor tanks a Thrasher?"
The answer, apparently, is "Well-known enemy fleet commanders who expect to be called primary and use that tendency to act as effective bait."
Four other Amarr pilots landed on us while we tried to take the Thrasher out. I should have called an evacuation (I was the only one held at that point), but I wanted at least one kill, even leavened with our own ship losses, and kept us in the fight long enough for Almity's companions to catch hold of both Shan and Em as well.
All in all it was a fine, tasty bait they set for us, and I bit with everything I had. Lesson learned, and well-played by the Amarr pilots. Hats off.
"I missed the whole thing!" moaned one of the Amarr pilots in local comms.
"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get another chance," I quipped.
"I hope so, man," he replied. "They say you were actually fit for PvP and willing to fight. Good show!"
We retreated and reshipped (I've got several dozen appropriate ships scattered around the the area), but by then it was getting more than a little late, so we called it for the night, with plans for more shenanigans in the days to come.
Maybe not the auspicious beginning I might have hoped for (not helped by the fact that my decision-making was colored my just wanting any kind of fight -- the whole thing left me happy with the results even though we lost), but a start nonetheless and with lots of things to learn from the engagement.
Early this morning, Agony pilots came swarming through the system while I fiddled with a few ships in the hangar, and one of their pilots (whom I know from various roams and training classes) tossed me a greeting.
"I heard you decided to put up a decent fight last night, instead of running," she said. "Very cool."
"Thanks," I said, and meant it -- enemies they may be, but it's nice to earn a little recognition, even if it's for blowing up. Funny, though, that the news of an inconsequential frigate brawl spread even that far.
How sad is it that the simple act of taking a fight with no gimmicks and no bullshit is cause for comment, compliment, and small celebration (twice!) by your opponents, though you sit in the midst of zone focused on war, and a game focused on PvP? It makes me understand Rote Kapelle's current goal.