Having never been in a war before, I never realized how painful finding a war target could be. The target might be docked, at a safe spot, or wingin' by in a shuttle (little buggers are hard to catch unless the pilot is being careless). This on top of the fact that it can be easy to lose a target in one of those transit hub systems.
You know the kind, they have 5+ jump gates in them. Unless you're right on the guy's heels, you might never find him, much less catch him.
Enter Anjali Subranni
She's going to be the head of a corp with a rather singular focus towards solving the above problem: she and her corp will find your war targets for you. The details have yet to be worked out, but I'm initially thinking of fees in the area of 1 million ISK per target, delivered in advance of the destruction of the target ship. Targets not destroyed will of course be refunded. Right now she's sucking up my training bandwidth, but the idea is for her and her corp to be in covert ops ships, Cov Ops cloaks and expanded probe launchers included to pin down those mission runners.
Given the choice between tracking down a target, or killing it, which would you choose? Well, the choice is mostly obvious isn't it?
Without the aid of a tracking corp, I did manage to snag 10 kills today. That includes pods however, so only 3 involved an actual explosion.
The first kill, or rather kill plus pod, was a ratter. That's right, he was ratting, but at a celestial beacon which I rather stupidly forgot to check, and thus had to wait at a likely exit gate for him to come to me. As luck would have it, he did! And in a Catalyst no less versus my Rifter. He SHOULD have been able to smash me into dust, but given his age, he likely has not seen much combat, and that led to his downfall and subsequent mental transference into a brand new body. He was on autopilot, and I orbited him tightly, raking into his shields, armor, and hull with fiendish rage. When he appeared in his pod, it suffered the same fate.
After this fight (or more aptly put, omgwtfpwng), I joined a fleet with Mr Delgarth and went about searching out more targets.
Now, I'm not blowing them up entirely for the fun of it. That's only 99.2 percent of the reason. The other .9 percent is money, ie their lootz, ie I make money from blowing up their spaceboats.
So, after some fruitless searching, Mr. Delgarth manages to lure out a Battlecruiser, a Drake no less! He had had an unfortunate run in with the pilot of this cursed Drake earlier and was nearly blown up.
"You see I was fit for killing frigates, so I had removed two of my shields for sensor boosters. Well, when I undocked, he was sitting out there 50km away and starting hitting me. Well I thought, 'Ok, I'll get in range and then I'll take him', and so I Microwarped over to him, since I was short range with Heavy Assault Missiles, and overloaded my weapons. Now, normally I don't have this problem since I always forget to overload them, but I remembered this time and as we were fighting, my shields were breaking, but his weren't going down. I had forgot to stop overloading my weapons and I burnt them out! Thankfully I managed to get out as he got into my hull, don't want to give them a kill!" - Delgarth
Naturally, this had encouraged the enemy. So, this Drake pilot he had fought earlier was feeling like he could take on Mr. Delgarth. Delgarth had, of course, changed to a more traditional Drake fit, and could easily outclass the other pilot on his own. As they began the engagement, Delgarth gave me the go ahead to jump in system and engage.
I of course warped to the wrong station
I warped to the CORRECT station this time, outside of which the engagement was taking place, and opened fire in my Wolf on the aforementioned Drake.
This is where the situation would have gone badly for Delgarth had I not come in: The Drake pilot had friends, and they both warped in as well. One was in a Stabber, one in a Bellicose (two cruisers for those not in the know). Even though Delgarth was more than capable of destroying one or even two of them by himself, the combined forces of three would likely have cost him his ship, undoubtedly more expensive than the Drake which we toasted earlier.
But since I was there, we made short work of the Stabber, then the Bellicose. The Bellicose pilot had the misfortune of being the last to blow up, and had the misfortune of also being podded.
We looted the wrecks as much as we could, with their spy ex-corpmate Manik something-or-other holding position in an industrial ship right near one of the wrecks. I took what I could, then destroyed the wrecks. I'm not leaving bullets behind to be shot at me!
We took a short break. Or rather, we meant to. On the way back to base, I came across another war target.
A little history: I did in fact take this war target under my wing before he became a war target. Before the split from my previous corp, he joined a pirate corp that was loosely friendly with us. I taught him a little about PvP, but he joined a pirate corp my corpmates want nothing to do with and were declared war on by. Hence, he can never join due to bad history.
So, I came across him via looking at local. I knew what he could fly somewhat and not effectively, so I waited at a gate for him, wondering if he was actively participating in the war against us. As it turned out, he did not exit the system via my gate, which led to his corp's staging area. With my little history with him, I reasoned that I knew where he lived and that I should head that way in the hopes of catching him for another kill.
I tracked him. I had to follow him for four jumps before I managed to get just enough ahead of him that I could destroy his ship and take his lootz before he could leave. And so, without hesitation, I opened fire on his SHUTTLE!? WHATZ!!!? , which was on AUTOPILOT in a time of war, and then his escape pod.
We had a convo afterwards, and it turns out that he had no idea we were at war. His CEO seems not to have told him. That sucks for him, and his corp, since first blood was drawn in self defense. Second blood as well. Gloves off baby! This of course comes just before the war ends because his corp, the Crimson Hellhounds retracted their war with us because they, at that point of retraction, had four groups of people out to get them. That's perhaps a bit too much in most cases.
After this rather vindictive yet unsatisfying kill, Ranger reported that he had maneuvered nearby to some miners and a hauler. On an high, and in my Wolf, I asked where.
"It's in Amarr space."
Of course it is. Of course. I can't fly into Amarr space without the Amarr navies trying to roast me on a spit. Feeling a bit drugged on adrenaline though, I bite the bullet and go for it. I fly deep into Amarr territory, outrunning the Navies at every turn. Warp, jump, warp jump...twelve times. And our targets were spread out 3 jumps prior to the system I needed to get to, so of course, the targets were warned, and they got away, and docked up.
So there I am, deep in Amarr territory, constantly warping around, staying ahead of the navies, and then I jump into the target system seeing a war target go through.
I had no idea what was waiting for me on the other side, but I didn't fly into space where my head is worth untold fortunes to turn back! I jumped through and immediately attacked the man that went ahead of me, a war target. I pummeled him even as the Imperial Navy assaulted me. I took him and his silly escape pod out while under fire, and warped away to evade the navy yet again.
After this, the kills ceased coming in, and after hunting rather fruitlessly for an hour, my corpmates and I made our way back to base. I made sure to loot wrecks that didn't belong to me on the way, trying to get someone to shoot at me so I could blow them up. Alas, it was not to be.
All said and I done, even though they were relatively new capsuleers, I cost one corporation at least 60 million ISK. This estimate does not include lost implants from poddings, which no doubt numbers in roughly the 100 million ISK range (assuming a decent set of +3). And for hi-sec miners and industrialists and missioners, it ain't easy replacing those things.
There were plenty of opportunities for them to get me killed. Like when I jumped in to attack that last frigate. If three out of eight of them had shown up and attacked me I would undoubtedly have lost my ship, and it would have been a well deserved victory. The first batch of killings was close, except for me being there, but another few of them would have made all the difference and probably done us in.
But this is how I learned. Through failure. The resolve to become better is what gets you through and makes you more able, more experienced, and in this, more deadly.