Raven Incoming, Red Tag
You might think that the photo above is of a very unusual atmospheric phenomenon that occured over Norway yesterday, and is thought to be due to the malfunction of a Russian ICBM during a test firing, but no....
Really, it's what my (brand new) Brutix looked like when it exploded last night.
We were gate camping in lowsec. I was hoping to get a few more licks in some sort of metaphorical revenge for last nights ignominy. The area, I was assured was thick with pirates and ne'er do-wells.
Every pilot in EVE has a security rating which is increased by doing "socially beneficial" things like killing NPC pirates, or player pirates who are known villains. Security rating is decreased by attacking people with no provocation, and decreased a lot if you podkill them. All of this is boiled down to a color coding on your HUD. Ships piloted by someone with a low enough security rating are color coded red. Those with a questionable rating are colored yellow. There's more tied to this, but that's enough for now.
We are sitting at a gate and suddenly a red tag appears. Dutifully, I control clicked the tag in my over view to lock the target and commence firing. Then three other red tags showed up almost immediately. The order was given to bug out, we'd been baited.
I had already aligned, or so I thought, and gave the command, but I was caught already in a warp scrambler, and was quickly torn to pieces (creating the photo above, really, I mean it!). At the time I thought I was just unlucky to be singled out. Perhaps I had started locking first, which meant that the automatic counterlocking sequence of the enemy ship had targeted me.
Whenever you go through a jump gate (which is where we were), you are automatically cloaked for a bit after the jump. I think the origin of this is to smooth out any difficulties due to server handoff during the session change, but it is now part of the EVE cat and mouse game.
So, I think they were sitting there cloaked and picked me as the first target. I was the newest player in the group, for instance. I didn't have the weakest ship in the group, but they might have thought that Tipa's Vexor was no threat.
I flew back to Teonosude in my pod, figuring that my night was over. At Teonosude I docked and got my rookie ship. I asked if there was anything I could do to help the fleet. "Well, you could spot for us on the far side of the gate." I can do that, I thought. "Like I care about losing a ship that is free."
So I went back, we set up, and I went to the far side of the gate, and sat there within the gate, watching for incoming ships.
I can't say that I really know why, but my heart was pounding away. I'm in a ship that is free, and I'm told that most pirates in this area usually don't podkill. So very little more is at stake for me. Except my pride, that is.
All was quiet for several minutes, but there was tension on the other side of the gate. It seems someone in a Vexor (a generic Gallente cruiser) was sitting in the gate on the far side, and baiting our camp group. Locking them, saying things in local chat, offering challenges. Here's the thing. If the Vexor is attacked, since he is yellow tagged, the gate guns will join the battle on his side, as will all NPC station and gate guns for the next 15 minutes. This is known as Global Criminal Countdown. The Vexor was trying to ensnare us in it.
Hearing about this over voice chat did not exactly soothe my nerves. Steady on, focus, breathe...
Then my overview lit up. A Raven, a popular Caldari battleship, bearing a red tag! I called it out and jumped through the gate. Once through, I warped away, not being combat capable. Then something very curious happened. Nothing at all.
The Vexor continues baiting and taunting. Nothing comes through the gate. After a couple of minutes, I go back through the gate. I can see that the Raven is sitting there at about 1000m off the gate, and a yellow tagged destroyer is there, too. As it turns out, when you jump through a gate, you come out cloaked, about 10km from the gate. Which is well out of range to use it to jump back. So there's no groundhogging possible. But you do come out cloaked, so if you can align and warp out quickly, they won't have a chance to lock and scramble you. In theory.
That's what I do. It works. I check local chat and see two names in system. One is Raven RedTag, the other I can't positively ID as the yellow-tag destroyer I saw at the gate. Still nothing has come through the gate. After a few minutes I warp back and jump through the gate. The pair is still there. They don't have the same corp tag, and the vexor on the other side is from a third corp. But it seems clear that the two are together, and maybe the vexor too.
The die is cast. I warp out and dock at a station to listen to the rest of the combat. We decide to take out the Vexor. Once we start firing the Raven jumps through. Game on. The Vexor is popped, but it's done its job and engaged the gate guns on the enemies side. The Raven has a powerful shield tank, which we aren't really able to break, and all our ships are exploded. Final tally: We killed one cruiser, they got two battlecruisers, a cruiser and a heavy interdictor.
On the plus side, nobody is podded, and we go home with some valuable pvp experience under our belts.
We lost the combat because we blinked first. It was a mexican standoff, the Raven can't beat us without the help of the gate guns, we can't beat it when it has them on it's side. I could have sat on their side of the gate, and taunted them exactly as the Vexor taunted us. And known what they were doing.
Also, we need more gank. DPS was poor, and could be a lot better. Sigh. I can't train everything.
This is a completely different kind of contest than the pvp arena battles I'm used to. Far more strategic, with rich tactics and baiting.
Update: One other thing. I really, really need to get myself into a covert-ops cloak-capable ship. But the training for the required Gallente Frigate V is two weeks!