Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stand up and deliver!

While fun, the killing of ships can hardly be described as pirating - it's more smashing. As all the ships I've managed to engage so far were cheap T1 ones, I've never bothered with ransom demands - and, as such, was not really a pirate.

That all changed yesterday when I spotted a Hulk mining in a quiet low-sec system. I pinned him down to a belt, warped in, but failed to tackle him as the pilot was wise enough to mine far from the warp-in beacon. The Hulk jumped to the gate and I was left alone with a few wrecks and two jetcans full of luminous Kernite - much too much for my Rifter's small cargo hold. I saw that the Hulk pilot was waiting at the gate, so I decided to try and lull him into security. I bookmarked one of his cargo containers and left the system through another gate.

Nervously, I waited a few minutes, then jumped in and warped directly to the can. Unfortunately, while the pilot was in the system, the belt was empty. Some warping around found him on the scanner - unfortunately, he had already switched to a Mammoth transport vessel, and soon after that he left the system. I followed him and jumped to the high-sec system, then waited on the gate cloaked. A few seconds later, the pilot appeared on the overview and jumped through the gate. I immediately jumped after him and warped to the can again, catching him in the act of moving the ore to his hold. I tackled him and opened conversation with the pilot. He delayed a bit, but a round of EMP proved persuasive enough. I demanded a ransom - a paltry million, but I figured that the industrial and the ore were not worth much over a few million. 30 secs later and after some more EMP nudging, the pilot complied. I disengaged my lock, wished him a safe flight, and left the system - no more a smasher, but a pirate!

Retriever (image courtesy of EVE Online wiki)

It seems the first time is really the hardest - I found a Retriever mining before the downtime today, flown by a less savvy pilot who stayed too close to the warp-in beacon. EMP again proved very persuasive and I left the system 3 million richer. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hide and seek

It's been a fun couple of weeks. I really enjoy the "jump in ship, make a sweep, kill, dock, log-off" aspect of belt piracy - no numbing missions and no corp hassle.

My skills have markedly improved in the last few weeks - finishing Minmatar Frigate V was really worth it, both for the extra damage and for the extra tracking. I've also changed from a buffer tank to an active one - while fitting a bigger plate does bring hit-point benefits, it's a drag having to repair after each fight. I've also swapped the Microwarp drive for an Afterburner, as I have found it to be much, much better in practically every circumstance, except quickly closing in on a target. However, the difference is not that great - and the ability to dictate range in all fights, which the AB provides me, is invaluable.

My score is currently 11 kills and 4 losses - all but one solo kills. My victims include a Stabber, a Rupture and an Ishkur - I've even boldly taken on a Hurricane battlecruiser yesterday and would have had him, had one of the belt rats not turned his attention to me.

All these fights have taught me the basic algorithm of Rifter combat:
if (victim=frigate) then use Barrage, set orbit=6000;
if (victim > frigate) then use RF EMP S, set orbit = 500;

That's pretty much it, range and ammo-wise. EMP has proven to be an extremely versatile ammo, which works well against both shield and armor tanked opponents - and, for somebody still confused by the many ship types and their typical loadouts like me, that is especially helpful.

I'm currently working on the skills to use an energy vampire. The DPS from the rocket launcher is minimal (10 DPS), and some extra capacitor for the Small armor repairer II would come in handy, especially when fighting bigger ships. We'll see if it works!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


It has been a week since I've graduated into the Rifter. I've had ups and downs - my score is currently at 4 lost, 4 killed (2 Rifters and 2 Thrashers). It has been a week mostly spent scanning and warping around - I might have picked out the wrong part of low sec to set my base in, as the ratio of fish to shark is decidedly slanted toward the sharks.

I was feeling optimistic and decided to engage a Caracal in Eifer. I was going down faster than he was, when a Myrmidon showed up and made minced meat out of us both. In retrospect I could have escaped - he targetted the bigger ship at first and once the Caracal died, I wasn't scrambled any more.

A few days later, I espied a Thrasher in a FW complex. I saw that there were some rats around him and thought to enlist them to my aid, but soon learned that FW NPC rats behave differently from belt rats and that the Thrasher was PVP fitted. Rifter #3 bit the dust.

I had my first Rifter vs Rifter fight, too - my T2 guns tipped the scales in my favour. Unfortunately, the fight was a bit too easy, and I did not realize the stupidity of using Hail. The lesson was driven home a few days later, when another Rifter duel taught me to always start with Barrage (if the enemy has long range weapons, I can close and he can't hit me while I switch to Hail) and the value of an afterburner in consensual fights. I've fitted an AB to my Rifter now to be better able to dictate distance.

Today was a fun day - a few jumps found me two juicy targets in Eifer, a Thrasher that did not even shift his fire from the rats to me, and a Rifter. I've played the belt jumping game with its pilot for some time and never could lock him. I decided it was time for some psychological warfare - when he left next, I killed the belt rats and bookmarked the cruiser wreck. I was sure that the pilot would come back to loot it. I jumped back to my bookmark 30 seconds after I saw the Rifter re-enter the belt. To my surprise, the pilot locked and attacked me - perhaps the killing of the rats persuaded him that I'm just another ratter or perhaps he just had enough. Despite an interesting fit, I was able to dictate range and stayed outside of his short range guns, killing him. Both of these pilots had their holds full of other stuff - skill books and loot. If you rat in low-sec, be sure to deposit all valuables at base first!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

First kill

The Rifter did it! I got my first kill today - a Thrasher, no less. After a game of scan-and-run, he faced me down in the third or fourth belt and died valiantly.

The combat log proved very convenient - I started with Barrage, but after a few wrecking shots decided to change my orbit to 500m and ammo to Hail. After that, I took no more damage.

Unfortunately, I did not get his pod - I clicked the scrambler module before the targetting was complete, which resulted in the "can't target" bug. Oh well, next time.

First impressions

After a month of training, I was finally able to fly my Rifter out for the first time yesterday. I've spent a few hours making bookmarks in the neighboring systems and looking for potential prey.

A stable of Rifters

While the Heimatar/Ingunn low-sec seemed full of targets at first glance, I was disappointed to discover that almost all of them were macro haulers. If you're a fan of gate camping, the Ingunn system is the place for you - a steady stream of traffic goes through both gates all the time.

After learning to ignore all the industrials, freighters, newbie ships and shuttles on my scanner, I found a Hulk mining in Hrondedir. I quickly jumped to the belt he was in, scrambled him and started with my attack. Within seconds, the pilot unleashed a horde of Hammerhead II drones on me. Fortunately, medium drones have a harder time hitting small targets like frigates, so I did not die in a matter of seconds. I tried shifting my fire to the drones, webbing them one at a time, but my skills are just too low at the moment to kill them fast, so the Hulk pilot was able to take them in, causing me to lose my lock. With my Rifter in low structure, I bailed and docked for the duration of the aggro timer.

A mining Hulk (image by Ancient Gaming Noob)

I went for a quick spin to the Molden Heath low sec, again finding little targets. A cyno frigate seemed like an easy kill, but I didn't notice the nearby gate sentry guns and my first Rifter went down.

Trying to get to the wreckage with a new ship was an education in aggresion timer dynamics, too - fire from stations and sentry guns taught me to just stay put for the duration of the timer next time.

I found a Catalyst ratting in Istodard, but the pilot was alert and warped out before I could get into scrambler range. If this happens again in the future, I'll try fitting an AB+disruptor instead of the MWD+scrambler combo and see if that works better.