Friday night I logged in for a good long session (ok, 2 hours is long for me now) and immediately checked to see if any known FINEG pilots were online. None. Hmmmm, what to do? I was feeling like relaxing so I decided to run a mission with my level four agent. He spewed out some rogue drone mission and I quickly went to work dispatching them with mechanical efficiency.
The Rokh with its 350mm Tech II rails and newly added Tech II Shield Boost Amplifier had no trouble. Soon I was back in my salvager getting the material rewards of my hard work. Then Amaro Ray logged in. I immediately left the rest of the salvage for the depredations of deep space and jumped into my Thorax that I used to spank Mynxee in some duels earlier that week. I had my agent look up his location and groaned when I saw the result. Ashokon, deep in the Genesis region, high sec to boot.
I set out determined to make an effort to find him. Apparently he decided the same thing because halfway there in Gallente space I warped to a gate only to see him pop up in local and decloak at the same gate.
Now when faced with a sudden enagagement an Eve pilot has to do many things. First he has to see what ship he is facing, typically from the overview. He has to recall from the name of the ship what race and class it is and what its capabilities are, not a small feat considering there are ~40 ship classes per race (not including the faction ships). Then he has to add the pilot's known abilities both in terms of skills and raw PvP skill, and his own ship, setup, skills. Sometimes you also have to add in further factors like sentry fire and other possible combatants engaging later. With all those factors combined in his head he gets a rough estimate of the odds of his success and best course of action whether it be to engage or retreat.
The thing is, you get about 1-2 seconds at most to recall the information and calculate the odds before the enemy comes to his own decision and acts first. If you decided to run one second after the enemy has you scrambled, well, your odds just went way down. This is the difference between experience and noob pilots: the vets can make those snap decisions long before the rookie has even realized that a Myrmidon is a Gallente battlecruiser and more than a match for a Thorax cruiser.
Seeing Amaro Ray in a Mrymidon was a surprise as I had not seen him in one before but I knew my odds of survival if I engaged were low; the Mrymidon is infamous for its tanking ability and my Thorax build was all about the quick kill. So I ran and he gave chase.
I tried to lead him back to Rens where a new Drake was outfitted and ready to party. I was willing to test its mettle against the Gallente counterpart so I kept waiting for him at the next gate and letting him see me warp off. But a few jumps out he disappeared from local and I figured he took a wrong turn. I rushed to Rens to grab the Drake and went back out to find him, stopping at my base in Gulfonodi to see if he was there. Depite 30 minutes of looking I didn't see him again and my locator agent put him back in Ashokon before I left to do the dishes.
Saturday rolled around and I once again found Amaro Ray online and cooling his heels in Genesis region. As I prepared to head out I (and everyone else) was hit by a lag spike in Gulfonodi and I spent the next 20 minutes simply trying to change ships and leave system. While I was doing that Chaotic Theory logged in and I was able to get a location check placing him in Madrimilire in Domain region. Do these guys never stick together?
Deciding to check out what Chaotic Theory was up to since he was a less active member and might be more easily surprised, I took out the Drake and plotted a course for the Amarr heartland. About 18 jumps later I arrived and was pleased to see the war target still in local... and right on the gate!
He was in a Pilgrim Force Recon and I felt confident I could take it so I hit the engines and went for the gate as he jump through. I then chased him through a couple system hoping to show up close enough to grab a quick lock and scram him but he was quick with the cloak and made good his escape everytime. Finally he gave me the slip in the Caldari border zone and while I searched nearby systems along the route I never saw him again.
Frustrated I logged out. This is the problem with a one man war against a small corporation: no support when I need it to track and trap the war targets. Still, I did get out and at least saw the enemy and didn't loose any ships yet. Part of me wonders if they are spread out on purpose to make it harder for me to go after them. Time will tell.
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As I ran that mission on Friday night I was struck by how much I didn't want to be doing it alone. The time for me doing lots of solo missions has passed, I need more interaction. If I could be sure of consistent gaming time a week, even four hours total, I'd try and join a corp again. But life is still too jammed with twin baby responsibilities to be able to be a useful part of someone's organization. Its frustrating but this too shall pass.