May 25, 2012

Question From a Newbie: "How do I find fights?"

Fights are not often just handed to you, and when they are, you're probably being ganked by a superior fleet. If you want to fight on your own terms, you need to catch it, or manipulate it into catching you. One of the most often-ignored yet most important aspects of fighting Capsuleers is the setup - finding something you can kill, catching it, and getting the hell out if it turns out to be more than you bargained for. 

 I will preface this entry by saying that it will be more vague than most, because it covers a vague topic. Finding good targets requires experience and knowledge; the best thing I can do is explain the tools and explain the mindset. 

I’d like to start by pointing out that the nuances of both fighting and finding fights vary significantly based on your location and situation.. If you reside in high-security space, you will be limited to “suicide ganks” or CONCORD-sponsored wars against specific corporation. In low-security space you have to deal with gate guns. In null-security space you have to deal with warp disruption bubbles, and there’s more. The various nuances of different regions of space are far too numerous for me to elaborate here. Maybe if there is interest I will elaborate more in future entries, but for now I will assume that none of these need to be worried about. It’s just you (or your fleet), space and your targets. 

Stop babbling and teach me things!

            I’ll start with location. Location is big; you need to know both the layout of your area and the people who inhabit it. Over time you can learn which systems are dangerous, which are tame, which corporations will give you good fights and which will drop capitals on you at the first sign of trouble. This is something that can only be learned through experience, though to some extent common sense plays a role here. A capsuleer in a corporation of 250 is more likely to be bait for a large gang than a capsuleer in a corporation of 10. If you’re in an enemy’s home system, they’re likely to bring more and larger things against you than if you’re off in the middle of nowhere. Use your head and learn what your enemy is like. 

            There are tools at your disposal, however, which can give you more immediate information. The first and most obvious is Local channel. It will give you the names and other information of every capsuleer within your solar system. Whenever you enter a system this should always be perused to see who is around. By checking the local channel you can see how many hostiles are around, how old they are, and which corps they belong to.

            Two hostiles of the same corporation are almost certainly going to call on each other for aid if attacked. Two potential targets who are not allied in any way, however, may not (though you should not necessarily assume that two pilots are not friends just because they do not share the same corporation!). Always keep in mind, however, that a target can still have friends in nearby systems; just because you’re alone with one other in system does not mean that you aren’t going to have a fleet dropped on you. When fighting, you should keep an eye on local chat. If you suddenly see numbers spike, then especially with people you know to be allied to the poor bastard you’re shooting, you’re about to get blobbed.

            Another interesting note is that if you are near a stargate, you will see a flash when a pilot goes through the gate from either side. If you see this flash and it didn’t come from someone jumping through from your side, someone’s coming.

            When roaming around the system, hunting, you’ll want to use your directional scanner so as not to waste time (and risk your ship) warping everywhere just to find out where something is. Proper directional scanner usage is utterly crucial, and is discussed in Petrus’ entry here.

The second crucial information tool I’ll discuss is Dotlan maps. Much like the basic starmap, it can provide information on the number of ships in space, the number of jumps made through a system recently, and the number of capsuleer ships destroyed among other statistics.

The numbers show ship kills/pod kills in the last 24 hours. Enough said. 

In a quiet, out-of-the-way pocket of space, you are unlikely to run into any large gatecamps or other unpleasant things. However, you’re also less likely to run into potential targets, and you will be more noticeable in local channels to whatever targets are around. Neither are clearly superior options, but you should keep these things in mind when you roam.

The Right Ship for the Right Job

            The type of ship you select will, obviously, affect how you hunt. A cheap frigate is capable of catching slower things that don’t want to be caught, and if you lose it you have lost virtually nothing. However, individually such ships are rather weak in direct combat. On the other hand, you could fly a battleship, and be able to take on almost any other ship in a direct fight; however, when you lose it, it will be expensive. Worse, you’ll be so slow that you’ll be unable to catch anything that doesn’t want to fight you, and enemy gangs that are large enough to take you down will have no problem chasing you down.

            If you’re new to fighting capsuleers, you should take the former approach. Mistakes will cost you little, and you will learn how to fight against overwhelming odds (which makes victory so much sweeter if you do win). Otherwise, the choice is situational. You should always, however, think about what could go wrong. If you are in a ship that is fast and able to easily run away if things start going poorly, you can afford to be more aggressive than a slow ship that has no escape mechanisms. If you’re in a cheap ship, you can afford to take more risks than someone in an expensive ship. I will gladly fly into almost-certain death with a Rifter, but not with a Daredevil.

Sleek, deadly...but not disposable

            Ultimately, once you find a target, you will need to decide whether or not you can kill him. He will be asking himself the same thing. I cannot help you with this question; it’s a function of what ship you’re in, what ship you’re in, how you’re fit, how he’s fit, how you think he’s fit, how good of a pilot he is, how many friends he has, how many friends he thinks you have, and many other factors. Remember back when I told you to research the people in your area? Every single one of the factors I listed, other than what ship the target is in (which you should hopefully learn from directional scan, or at least before you decide to engage) is an unknown to you unless you have prior experience with him or his friends. And remember, no matter how good or how bad you are at the above, you either have to be fast enough to catch your target, or capable of convincing him that he should attack you.

The final piece of advice I have to offer is to never be afraid to risk your ship. Too many pilots will refuse to engage if there’s even a chance of them losing, and that is the wrong philosophy to have. It is not conductive to learning, it is not fun, and you certainly won’t get any exciting, memorable fights out of it.

Fly dangerous! 

1 comment :

  1. The last part is definitely something to fly by. If you dont take risks, you'll get fewer rewards. The best fights that ive had (both for being exciting, and profitable in many cases) have been the ones that i went into completely unsure about.