Last night looked promising, though: I got on later than normal, and while none of the usual suspects were around, our two newest recruits were online. Long-time wormhole residents, they'd been spending the day since joining the corp checking out all the bread and butter ships of faction warfare that usually never show up in the unknown depths of Anoikis.
"Have you guys got any ships near our staging system in the warzone?"
They answer in the affirmative, we hop on voice comms and set out for a little three-pilot roam. On a whim, I take us north into Siseide, planning to go from there up toward the Eugidi constellation, but I see an Amarr complex open and warp up to check it out.
Weird. No one seems to be in the complex, but there are a half-dozen wrecks around the entry gate, unlooted. Never one to look a gift gank in the mouth, I proceed to pick over the corpses of strangers, when a condor drops out of warp and engages me.
I'm not particularly worried about the Condor, since I know I can tank -- even if I can't catch it -- until my backup arrives: I did the same thing yesterday against a Coercer destroyer, which hits quite a bit harder.
"Jump into system and warp to Ty," I say. "This is sort of one of the home staging systems for I.LAW, but there aren't any around, so we should be okay for a quick fight."
There's a joke in corp that "warp to Ty" usually translates to "warp into a horrible situation and lose your ship", but I'm sure this time --
My guys jump into system warp to my location, and suddenly the local channel shows five or six new war targets in system... all of whom land on our position just as my guys arrive. It's not pretty, though one of us managed to get out.
Right. Reship and head back out. Still heading north again, but along a different route. A few jumps along, I spot an open complex and one war target in system. Here's hoping... and yes. Sure enough, I've got a punisher in the complex, jump in, engage, and call my guys in.
... and just as they land on the gate leading into the complex, six war targets (different group than before) who had jumped into system a few seconds after I engaged arrive on the gate as well and follow them in. I go down quickly, and try to get the new pilots out, but they're both already tackled.
Still, I can't fault their attitude.
"We're going to die," mutters one, "but this Punisher is going down first."
It's a bad trade, losing five frigates to (eventually) take out one, but it's their first kill in Faction Warfare, and still worth a bit of celebrating.
Once again, we reship, and this time head south into the wilds of the Bleak Lands region. My two fellow pilots are in afterburner fit combat frigates, and I'm concerned any targets we find will simply outdistance them, so I go for an Atron attack frigate that can shut down particularly fast ships.
But outside of an enemy condor and slicer who don't want to engage, I don't get a chance to test the ship out. We capture several Amarr complexes, earning enough in TLF rewards to cover our ship losses, and I spend the time explaining the mechanics and common tactics used both for defending and assaulting complexes, since our first two fights didn't actually involve the gates in any way. We dodge a small destroyer fleet and head back to station to stand down.
Not a great roam, but (for me) good to be back and flying, and (for them, hopefully) a brutal but fun introduction to the war zone.
Notable: The surprising thing I took out of both our fights is the current level of Amarr organization. The Amarr have always been willing and able to bring a fight, but what I'm seeing right now on their side is some serious coordination in terms of roaming fleets ready to jump in and come to the aid of lone plex runners. It's very unusual to see backup arrive so quickly, and it's not just one corporation or alliance managing this, but several, spread out over the war zone. I mean, I've been away for a few weeks, and I'm probably a little rusty when it comes to keeping my eyes on the fight, and d-scan, and local, and a dozen other things, but despite that I feel confident in saying our war targets have stepped up their game more than a little.
So: Lesson learned.