One of the things that has often been said about EVE Online is that a new player can be useful on day one. In any operation there is generally room for the new guy in a basic frigate who is willing to get out there and tackle hostiles for the fleet.
And it is true. I have seen it often enough flying with the CFC, and especially with Goonswarm, which prides itself in not just bringing new players to the game, but getting them into action very quickly. So when the call went out last night for a Baltec fleet, which I was able to join, we had a couple of new players in the fleet as well, including a one day old account.
Despite having “things to do,” people spent time getting him into the fleet and pointed in the right direction. We also got to hear him go through the sense of scale in EVE. When he flew out to the staging POS in his Condor frigate, he was clearly impressed with how much bigger the battleships around him were.
He was then treated to another boost in scale when Reagalan led us off to the titan to wait for a bridge out for out op. And there those big battleships looked pretty small waiting on the hulking titan.
I cannot image how it would have felt to have gone from a frigate to sitting on a titan after only a day or so in EVE Online.
The new guys also got to experience the “waiting on a titan” game. We played that for quite a stretch until Reagalan had us turn around and head back to VFK-IV. He got us a participation link for our time on the titan and asked those who could stay around for a different op to re-ship to a frigate or an interdictor. I did not actually have either handy and the ship market in VFK was pretty empty last night. The closest thing I had was a Hawk, a missile firing Caldari assault frigate, so I grabbed that.
Reagalan gave us a route that ended at 4-EP12 in Fountain, our old final staging base from the Fountain War last year. I immediately checked to see if I had a more suitable ship there, and found I had a very low skill fit Rifter docked up in the station. I would have just clone jumped out to it and save myself the trip, but I had just clone jumped to VFK for the fleet, so I had about 18 hours to go before I could jump again. So I flew along with everybody else to the destination. Fortunately, that did not take too long in frigates.
Arriving in 4-EP12, Reagalan had us drop his fleet and join the Freedom Squad fleet under DingoGS.
Freedom Squad is a Goonswarm group that looks for fights during US time zone prime time and which heavily plays up mock patriotic fervor in the “‘merica!” tradition. They were happy enough to have us along, but were a bit surprised to find that we were mostly tackling frigates and interdictors; Sabres and Rifters and what not. Still, it seemed likely we would be able to hold on to any hostiles we managed to land on.
Then it was time to move a few systems in order to sit a titan again. I took opportunity to head to the station and swap out my Hawk for me low skills Rifter and then joined up with the fleet. In fleet there were some tips on tackling being given to the new guys which was also a helpful reminder for me. While I had heard the routine before, I have never actually flown a tackling ship in more than seven years of playing EVE. By the time I ended up in null sec, I was trained up to fly battleships for most of the factions, so have tended to fly in the “press F1 when told” DPS role (especially when DPS meant Drakes) or as logistics (which the first big training destination after hitting null sec). So this would be something new… once we got into action.
Getting into action took a while.
We were waiting on a titan while the intended targets got themselves into position so that we could drop on them at just the right moment. As usual, the right moment took its time in showing up. Finally the bridge went up and we jumped through into CIS-7X and warped to where the hostiles were bunched up. Then it was time to go through the tackling routine I had heard listed out on coms so many times.
Pick a target alphabetically close to your name. For me that was the pilot VisualNarcotics, who was flying a Proteus in the middle of the pack.
Turn on your propulsion module, a basic MWD in my case, and spiral into the target so as to keep the traversal speed differential high enough to make your frigate tough to hit.
Stay alive for as long as possible.
That last bit is, of course, always the trick. I dove in through the blossoming warp disruptor bubbles and successfully locked down my target.
But then I was just there in the middle of the fight in a high speed orbit. I turned my guns on my target, but wasn’t doing a lot of damage. Meanwhile the FC was going through the list alphabetically, so I clearly was going to have to hold on for a while. To keep myself busy I turned off my guns, un-grouped them, turned one back on VisualNarcotics just to let him know I still cared, then tried to lock up other targets being called to see if I could get in a few hits just to get on some kill mails.
Splitting my guns would be a sin if I were flying a DPS ship, but nobody is expecting the tackler to add significant damage… or to live very long… so what the hell.
I saw VisualNarcotics lock me up in return. He apparently took a few shots at me as well, but failed to hit me according to my own kill mail.
In the fight itself, more ships were dropping in. A hostile Naglfar landed right next to me, so I was able to lock him up and take a shot, which was enough to get on the kill mail.
And then the smart bombing started.
We were colluding with a group of neutrals on this op, which is always leads to interesting results. In our case, we killed several of the neutrals before people got cleared up on who was who. Meanwhile, the neutrals moved in and started to smart bomb the enemy formation. Of course, I was in the middle of that with my MWD on, meaning I would get the maximum amount of damage if I was in range. The first one hit and I was nearly dead, my status put me 90% into structure, meaning that even the duct tape holding the ship together was on fire at that point. I turned off the MWD and hoped for the best. I seemed to be out of range of the next few, but another one landed close eventually and suddenly my ship was gone and I was flying a pod, the kill mail having go to our temporary allies.
I expected, sitting there being smart bombed in the middle of warp disruptor bubbles, that my pod would soon go as well. I headed for the edge of the bubble, crossed my fingers, and ended up getting out and away safely. I hung around on grid, still opening the gap between myself and the battle, in hopes of being present for a couple more kill mails for ships I had shot up. Then it was time to take gates back to 4-EP12. The battle having wrapped up fairly quickly, the rest of the fleet was close behind.
The route to 4-EP12 ended up being clear. There were a few neutrals along the way, but when the fleet showed up in system, the melted away.
Once there, I was able to re-ship in my Hawk and head back to VFK with Reagalan’s part of the fleet, while Freedom Squad went back to their current deployment base.
So the night ended up fairly well. I got my first shot at tackling. While I lost my ship (value ~730,000 ISK, look at how meager my fit was), I did not lose my pod (value ~55 million ISK thanks to all those skill points and the implant I need to fly a Baltec Apoc), I got on a dozen kill mails, and generally had a good time. I could have done with less waiting, but that is simply part of the game.
The new guys seemed to be enthusiastic after their first battle. Jelly Knight made it through without loss. The fleet, as is the tradition, showered the new guys with some ISK. I gave them each a million ISK, so I spent more on gifts than ships. Another day in EVE Online.
A gallery of screen shots taken during the op is available after the cut.