A bit of experience, a bit of luck

19th February 2012 – 3.00 pm

Oh dear. That Cheetah I saw earlier has mutated. It's no longer a covert operations boat but a ten-ship battle fleet. I went to empire space, for what turned out to be some disappointing ratting, having spotted the Cheetah on my directional scanner as I was leaving the home system, and returned wondering what he'd got up to in my absence. He's called in his buddies to pillage our system, that's what. Five Tengu strategic cruisers, a Scorpion battleship, Navy Scorpion, Maelstrom battleship, and two Basilisk logistic ships look to be ransacking our anomalies, stealing all the profit we'd probably never realise anyway. The cheek of it!

This is an opportunity. Fighting on home turf puts me at an advantage. I know all the sites, there are safe spots for me everywhere, and I even have a tower here for protection and a change of ship if necessary. It's a simple matter to find the anomaly where the fleet is, see that they aren't salvaging as they fight, and lie in wait for a squishy salvager. As the fleet makes short work of the Sleepers I get myself in to a suitable position to wait. It won't do to simply be in the site, or to try to get close to the wrecks, as the Noctis could work from anywhere and getting close runs the risk of early discovery. Instead, I get myself to a comfortable position far enough away to be able to warp to any point in the site in a matter of seconds, which also happens to conveniently double as a suitable point of retreat.

The Noctis is in the system now, my directional scanner picking him up, although combat continues a little longer. I suppose the Noctis could have a cloaking device fitted and be hiding between fights, but that shouldn't affect me. Here we go. All Sleepers are destroyed in this site, drones are recalled, and all the ships warp out. I keep updating d-scan and see drones being redeployed in the next site awfully soon. I think I need to anticipate a quick reaction time from this fleet. At least, once the Noctis gets here. The salvager drops off d-scan again, which seems odd, but when he reappears as the site I'm in despawns it looks like he was waiting for the site to become invisible to a ship's passive scanner before entering. I can understand that.

I align my ship to the bunch of wrecks over two hundred kilometres away and watch as the Noctis warps in. Once I am sure where the Noctis will drop out of warp, and almost before his warp engines cut out, I fling my covert Tengu in to the heart of the site to intercept him. I decloak a few seconds from landing, get my systems hot, and once my cloaking recalibration delay ends I start raining missiles on a warp-disrupted Noctis. Damage him, dammit, damage him! I'm chewing through the shields of the Noctis but it seems pretty hardy, and with the speed the fleet seemed to get between sites I am concerned that I won't have time to pop a simple industrial ship before some rather more powerful ships come to show me what damage really is.

Anticipating the fleet's return I align back to my monitoring spot, shortly before the Noctis starts taking armour damage. That's more like it. His armour drops quickly, and the hull barely offers the capsuleer any protection at all. The Noctis explodes in a way I find quite gratifying. The salvager was aligned back to whatever wormhole he came through and the pod is in warp pretty quickly, but I honestly wasn't worrying about catching it. Don't get me wrong, I was aiming to catch it on the way out, but the fleet warps in before the flames surrounding the wreck of the Noctis have even died down. Yep, that's a quick reaction time.

I reactivate my cloak and warp out as more ships warp in behind the first arrivals. Being aligned, or at least far enough away from the Noctis to cloak immediately, has probably saved me from retribution this time, but I still got the kill. Now I wait to see what the fleet will do. It's possible they'll stop and return home, but with ten ships against only one confirmed hostile I doubt it. At least, I hope they aren't so cowardly as to turn tail and run at the first sign of difficulty, not with the firepower and pilots they have available. And it seems they'll continue. The fleet holds in the cleared anomaly for a couple of minutes before warping to the anomaly they have already started, at about the same time as a new Noctis appears on d-scan.

I know I shouldn't take a shot at this second Noctis. Null-sec pilots excepted, few capsuleers are stupid enough to simply throw more ships at a problem and hope it solves itself. I also note that one of the Tengus didn't return to the cleared anomaly, dropping off d-scan not to be replaced, although I didn't update d-scan regularly enough to see what cloaked ship must have obviously come back to guard the Noctis. The fleet isn't simply sending a second Noctis in hoping I've gone away, this one is protected. And yet I can't help myself. The Noctis warps in to the site, starts dragging wrecks behind its obviously-aligned self—including the wreck of the first Noctis, with plenty of Sleeper loot surviving but most of the salvage destroyed—and temptation washes over me.

This is lunacy. I'm warping back in to the site, towards the new Noctis, knowing that I will be countered. Even so, I decloak, aim for the Noctis, and watch it warp cleanly away. I cloak again, surprised that I am able to, just as a Tengu decloaks ten kilometres from me. But for the curse of incompetence do I get to warp away, in time to see the fleet return once more. I suppose the other ships were aligned to this site too, and I would have had no chance of destroying the second Noctis in time. Even so, they made a mistake too. The Tengu guard was really quite slow in reacting to my presence, and the Noctis was too fast. Had he held his position for a few seconds longer, reciprocating my lock to prevent my cloaking, he could have given his guard time to disrupt my warp engines and give the fleet a prize Tengu kill.

I was more than a bit lucky. I knew I shouldn't have gone back for a second shot but did so anyway. I won't always be lucky with panicky salvagers and will need to listen to my voice of reason sooner rather than later. But I got the kill on the first ship and caused some disruption to another fleet in our home system. I'd better leave them alone now, for the sake of my own health if nothing else. I warp off to a distant safe spot and go off-line.

  1. 2 Responses to “A bit of experience, a bit of luck”

  2. You really should get a stealth bomber for this kind of stuff. :) The first Noctis would've dropped quicker and you could've stolen the loot. Also, I would've waited until the 2nd Noctis was finishing the last wreck - that's when they often get restless and protection warps off while the salvager is still aligning and with some luck and good timing you can catch it before it can enter warp. Or if you want to be a big meanie you can fling a bomb at it..

    By Argh Prkl on Feb 21, 2012

  3. Absolutely. Stealth bombers rip through Noctes. I would have swapped ships if I could, as I do so enjoy my Manticore, but as the fleet was in the home system I couldn't really swap without expecting them to see me decloak at the tower. The element of surprise was a more potent weapon to keep on my side.

    I've seen salvagers and escorts warp off together too, with the escort being generally more agile and, as you suggest, leaving the Noctis in the site for a second longer. I've never plucked up the courage to catch a ship that way yet. Maybe one day.

    By pjharvey on Feb 21, 2012

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