After our successful run to our forward base in Curse, I finally had at least one doctrine combat ship, a Harpy, and my Viator blockade runner, in theater. Owing to time zone issues (US West Coast), I’ve successfully missed all of the various coalition and alliance convoys headed to the combat zone. So my plan was to forward deploy a pile of doctrine ships in a nearby high sec system and shuttle them into Curse in my Viator under the cloak of, well cloak.
Retracing our circuitous route through the Great Wildlands, all was going well after a few close brushes at the gates near Goon and TNT operations in Curse. Once off the beaten track, I was often the only person in a system. The track through the Great Wildlands consisted almost entirely of systems without stations, so visitors are few and fleeting.
Of course, I was feeling pretty good and well along the way when I entered what I now know is the gate system from null to low sec. Had I done a bit more homework, I would have know that. It also would have perhaps impressed upon me what is obvious to vets, but less obvious to null sec noobs like me: you’ll find bubbles and camps on the null sec side of these gates as bubbles aren’t permitted in low sec.
Such was my state of mind after about 10 null sec systems where I was the only person in system when I jumped into the gate system and saw reds in local but none on grid. Again, had I done my homework, I would have realized that of the three gates in the system, they were most likely to be camping the gate to low sec, but who does their homework these days…
So, choosing imprudently, I chose to put eyes on the gate at 100km distance. The campers of course had done their homework and place their bubbles strategically and had strewn cargo containers in the landing field. As a result, I was knocked out of warp, stuck in a bubble and decloaked all in one fell swoop. This is usually the part where I panic. So I did.
Of course, this is also the part where your drill sergeant’s voice is supposed to go off in your head and say something like “alright boys, this is what we train for…” and reassuringly and methodically go through escape procedures. Too bad I never really had a drill sergeant.
But, noob as I am, I remembered the basics: microwarp drive, head to closest edge of bubble, align to celestial, warp. And somewhere in there, if you have any tank, it would be a good time to turn it on too.
Just as I cleared the bubble, I got pointed. Surprisingly enough though, I remembered I had fitted an ECM Burst and had even more presence of mind to turn it on. Even more surprisingly, it worked and I was able to warp away. Of course, in a panic, I didn’t switch my overview to the “get the hell out of here” setting and picked the only celestial listed my “combat” tab: the sun.
I know, I know. Everyone says, don’t ever warp to the sun. See above re: panic. Its certain death as its the most obvious place to escape to. Go me. I warped cloaked to 100km from the sun and yes, lo and behold, at least one baddie had beaten me there. Up went a bubble and round 2 began.
This time I was a bit calmer (although I still didn’t switch my overview, which consisted of baddies, gates and the sun), got out of the bubble, broke his point with the ECM Burst and managed to cloak/warp just as he got me to about 25% shields.
Here’s the part where homework would have been more helpful: When I warped from the sun, I decided I should get the heck out of this system until things cooled off a bit and/or find a better route, so I selected “jump” rather than warp to 0 or even warp to 100km from the non-camped gate.
Note to self: using the ECM Burst is an act of aggression and thus the aggression countdown timer starts and no gatee you. Oops.
Better to be lucky than good as they say and no one was on the gate when I literally hit it and decloaked. The aggression message reminded of the obviousness of my mistake and I buzzed off the gate and cloaked up.
About 5 seconds after I did, a red happened on grid looking for me. I flew off axis a bit and let my shields regenerate while cloaked.
At this point I should have counted by lucky stars having two narrow escapes from a gang of 5 campers, but something suggested to me that they might break the camp looking for me and give me a chance to crash the gate. What was I thinking?
After a few minutes, I put eyes on the gate to low sec, it looked clear and decided to try it again. I swear I didn’t see any bubbles… I bounced off a celestial and warped to the gate and back into the trap again. Bubbled, decloaked and pointed again. The fit I was running had one warp core stabilizer, so when i got pointed before, I should have known they had two tackles on me and it was only luck that one was within the ECM Burst range, hence my success in shaking it off.
This time, not so much. The die was cast and they worked through my shields, armor and structure in reasonably short order. Pop went my weasel. Pop went my pod.
On the pro-side, I was deadheading back to my cache of ships in high sec, so I had no cargo to lose. Also on the pro-side, some extremely valuable (if pricy) lessons to learn. All of which will be forever burned into my brain.
- Had I equipped two warp core stabilizers, I probably would not have been pointed.
- Had I not been pointed, I would not have needed the ECM Burst.
- Had I not used the ECM Burst, I would have been able to escape the system immediately.
- Had I remembered to switch my overview, I would have found more and better places to hide when I escaped.
- Had I appreciated more the risk in low/null sec gate systems, I probably would have avoided the system entirely when i saw it was occupied with hostiles.
- Had I more patience, I wouldn’t have died.
Still, good lessons for a null sec noob. As a result, I’m revising my blockade runner fit a bit and certainly feeling less “invulnerable” than I have in that ship. For null sec runs, I’ll fit 2 warp core stabilizers and ditch the ECM Burst. I think the range is too limited and the aggression restriction is probably not worth it. The goal is to maximize the ability to evade capture rather than increasing the likelihood of escape.
Also, given the danger inherent in each trip, I’ve decided to opt for more cargo over agility. Essentially, I’m trying to increase the reward/risk ratio for each trip. I may lose one or two seconds on align time, but my strategy needs to focus on avoidance, not escape.
Patience, in all things. A lesson Eve teaches again and again and again…