Sunday, May 3, 2009

Limits of solo piracy

While hunting solo is great fun, it is also fraught with limitations. The ship set-up must, by definition, be universal, as you have no idea what you will find. You are the tackler, the tank, the DPS and the loot hauler - and fitting a small frigate for all that tasks invariably means that some of potential prey will slip through your fingers.

To combat small frigates, my Rifter is fitted with an afterburner and a warp scrambler. The lack of a long-range warp disruptor and a powerful Microwarp drive has cost me many of the more observant targets, who have ample time to align and warp away if they are more than 20 kilometers away from me. To ensure longer survivability in a fight with a bigger ship, I have set-up an active tank with an energy vampire to replenish my capacitor resources - which limits the amount of firepower I can put on targets. I've retreated from a fight with a well-tanked Hurricane recently - after killing his flight of Warrior IIs, I spent the next 5 minutes chipping away at his shield sand failing, eventually giving up.

Solo hunting also means that every mistake you make is potentially deadly. I have recently engaged my first Punisher. I decided to do it from a distance and orbited him at 5000 m. The fight was taking an unusually long time and I had to use my nosferatu and armor repairer, but eventualy the Punisher went down. After scooping the loot, I realized my mistake: I forgot to change ammunition to the long range Barrage and was shooting at him with short range EMP, missing most of the time..

My killboard is still dominated by Rifters, but I chanced upon an interesting flashy in Molden Heath low-sec a few days ago. I located a Stabber in an asteroid belt and warped in to check it out. The cruiser turned out to be piloted by an outlaw who turned to me and engaged me. I quickly scrammed and webbed him, settled in a tight orbit and quickly dispatched him. His fit turned out to be very strange - a nano Stabber rigged for range with no tank. Had he stayed at 20 kilometers and keeping me at distance with his microwarp drive, I would have surely died.

I've also lost my first Rifter in a month, going out against my first Sentinel. I knew that Sentinels were tech 2 Amarr frigates with a penchant for neuting, but I figured that my capless guns and Nosferatu will enable me to continue fighting. What I did not know was that Sentinels have amazing drone bays, and the tactic of "kill the drones, then him" turned out to be a suicide tactic. Had I fitted a buffer tank, swapped the NOS for a rocket launcher and concentrated my firepower on the Sentinel, I might have won - as it was, I waved goodbye to the remains of my Rifter as my pod warped away.

Mining in low-sec, silly as the current Veldspar prices make it, is still popular among some of the Empire miners. I've chanced upon a few of them. I found a Retriever in a Molden Heath ice field, but before I could scram him he warped away. I retreated to my scan point and kept scanning. Imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, a Hulk entered the same belt! Of course, it was too good to be true - as I tackled the Hulk, a Rapier force recon ship uncloaked beside me. Thanks to the uncloak-target delay, I managed to flee, offering my congratulations on a well set-up trap in local.

I was more succesful with another Hulk. After killing his drones, I opened the conversation and offered a ransom. The pilot was skeptical at first, but the lack of mining barges on my killboard and the rapidly depleting defences of his ship convinced him to pay the 40 million and I sent him on his way. Who says pirating doesn't pay? :)


  1. EVE’s one of those games that seems to drive home the “Knowledge is power” concept. Reading this post really humbled me as I realized just how little I know about combat mechanics. I don’t really care to learn about them yet since I’m a miner, but in the future I now realize I’m going to have to invest a lot of time and energy into understanding the basics of combat.

    And then I’m going to have to practice it a lot!

    Fighting solo seems to be something few people do. Thanks for writing about it!

    Agent EVE, AFK Gamer

  2. Wow, thanks for the praise, but in all fairness, I think my current combat skills are somewhere around "fair" - and limited to frigates. There is a lot more to discover :)

    A few months ago, I had no idea about all this stuff, either - but 40M in seed ISK, a month spent in training and 10 Rifters changed all that. Being killed is a great teacher and the frigates are cheap enough, so learning comes at a low price.

    Try it out with an alt - it's fun! :)