With piratical intent
A year and a half ago I put some energy toward trying my hand at solo combat; I experienced mild success with a draw and a kill and soon after faded out of EVE in a wash of apathy. The apathy worked itself out and I’ve been back just over a month now. I’ve been racking up kills with our fleet operations but still would like the courage to commit to engagements on my own — I think that can only come with experience. So, having piratical intent, I grabbed the frigates I had left-over from the last experiment, stripped them and rebuilt them.
Frigates have changed quite a bit since I last saw them. Neither the Merlin nor the Tristan have the historical split weapon systems — and they fly quite a bit differently than when I started this experiment.
My first Merlin met a sad fate at the hands of local criminals. The second had better luck, but only against a junior opponent (and very good sport). It was during this second encounter that I gained even more enthusiasm to commit to solo — not because of my success, but because of the conversation that accompanied the kill. Taylor Caby hasn’t been playing long [this time] and still has an infectious rookie enthusiasm. On top of that, he has been doing his research and understands PvP better than most rookies — it’s a good combination that pushed me to really engage with the solo experience.
After spending some time talking with Taylor I went back to my alliance chat and got some great advice from a member of my alliance who is decorating our killboard with lots of pretty engagements. These conversations culminated with me realizing that my Merlin had a very limited selection of engage-able targets and more importantly that this was bad. The only suitable targets are other blaster-fitted frigates or cruiser-sized turret platforms — that is a huge limitation I didn’t need when trying to get my feet wet with solo. Armed with this knowledge I set out to increase my options.
My first attempt was an Algos. It was excellent at killing unfitted ships, but performed less admirably when tangled up with an acceleration gate while being pursued by a Stabber Fleet Issue. I liked how the ship performed despite poor luck. But, having lost it, I wanted to add a frigate to my arsenal. I still had plenty of Tristan hulls laying around and something about that hull just makes me want to fly it. I worked up several potential fits, but I only felt comfortable building this drone-reliant kiting fit:
[Tristan, Feitur Maður II]
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Damage Control II
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
Faint Warp Disruptor I
75mm Gatling Rail II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
[empty high slot]
75mm Gatling Rail II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Small Tracking Diagnostic Subroutines I
Small Semiconductor Memory Cell I
Hobgoblin II x8
The fit looked like a winner, but I had to put it to the test. So I set out to find a target. This time, spurred by fellow bloggers and rookie zeal, I actually put effort into finding an engagement in the target-rich environment of faction warfare low-security space.
I ran into Miura Bull of Brutor Bullfighter fame flying a Rifter. He warped off the gate before I could land a tackle, so I followed him toward a novice outpost; as I landed, the acceleration gate whipped him into the complex. I decided that following him in, thus landing at zero, would result in a negative outcome. After a little fruitless poking around in system, I followed Miura to a second system.
With two Rifters on scan, I picked one at random (mental note to remember ship names next time) and warped to a small complex at 20 km. I landed at the perfect distance from not Miura Bull. I applied the warp disruptor and spat out some angry drones. Mid-fight a Thorax landed and moved toward me, but I wouldn’t be denied my first kill of the night and kept at it. I was rewarded a few seconds later with this Rifter wreck. I managed to grab some of the loot before fleeing the scene.
I never did catch Miura — but I’m probably better off for that.
Several jumps later I found an Executioner who didn’t want to be caught (this seems to be extremely common with complex farmers). After chasing him around for a few minutes, I warped to a complex out of scan range. As my warp brought me near enough to scan the complex, I detected a Caldari Navy Hookbill. Landing near it, I figured I might as well give it a go. After applying point, dumping drones and orbiting for a bit, he exploded. Given his Scourge Javelin Rockets can hit out to ~21 km, he really should have been able to chase me off pretty quickly — I can only surmise that he forgot he was carrying them.
Since that night (which I would probably call the first real solo roam I’ve had), the original Tristan fit has served me well against other targets so I plan to keep it around — but I’ve diversified to keep from being too predictable. I have a couple different variants of Tristan, a new Caldari Navy Hookbill and a replacement Algos (Note: I need a replacement for the replacement).
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this new experience. But what has surprised me the most is that combat is only half of it — the rest is player interaction. These kills (and even missed kills) have sparked interesting conversations with other players of a kind I haven’t had while flying with a larger fleet. But conversations tend to make me empathize with my targets. And because of that I probably don’t make a very good pirate having given as much in isk as I’ve taken in loot. I have the piratical intent, I just don’t have the mercilessness.
 I knew what I was fighting and was fairly certain I would lose — but nothing else would engage so I just went for it anyway. Enough blogs have beaten it into my head that you don’t always know what’s going to happen once you engage.
 I didn’t catch Taylor, but during our conversation he decided it would be a good experience so he ran to get a ship he thought might match mine. He had seen the earlier loss and knew what I was flying. The battle was pretty close.
 All of my pvp ships bear [Google translated] Icelandic names. This Tristan’s name is “Fat Man II”, the first having died to Quake590 so long ago.