Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

He's aggressed!

Here's a pro-tip: if you declare the blogger to be your fleet's primary target, make sure he's aggressed first.  The FC on the other side of this battle didn't follow that rule:

I don't often publish battle reports on this blog, but this one is extremely instructive, so I will describe how this fight went down and how I survived it despite being called primary three times.

Anyone who knows Rote knows that we're most active in the USTZ, specifically from about 0130 EVE time onward.  Sure, there are excellent EUTZ fleets available as well, but these are more lightly-attended, and are often heavy on pilots from our companion alliance Veto.  Even at 0130, Rote's presence is pretty light.  The mass Rote log in usually happens around 0230 or later... just like me.  It's one of the many reasons this alliance is turning out to be a perfect fit for me.

On this particular night, we were forming up for our roam that night ("everyone get into a gank BC; no logi") when we got fragmentary intel about a "frigate fleet" moving into our area.  Not yet formed up or optimized, we were ordered to un-dock and head for the 5-FGQI gate in TXW-EI.  There, sure enough, we encountered a gang primarily made up of T2 frigs and we murdered them thanks to their already being aggressed on (attacking) one of our BCs and some smart tackling and bubble placement.

Having your ship aggressed on a gate -- actively attacking an adversary -- means that you cannot use that gate.  Once you take an aggressive action, star gates will reject your attempt to go through them for 60 seconds.  Keep this in mind.  It will become important later.  ;-)

No doubt, the FC on the other side of that engagement wondered to himself how the hell we formed up so fast.  The answer: we didn't.  We were already in the middle of forming up for our own activities and this fleet just happened to walk into that.  We scooped loot and returned to station to store it, then continued forming up for our own roam, which departed a few minutes later, headed through the north Syndicate loop.

Not long after our departure, still en-route through northern Syndicate, our scout again reported frigates.  At first, we wondered if what we had encountered were the remnants of the previous gang.  But no, these turned out to be Agony Unleashed frigs.  Our scout then reported, with some surprise in his voice, that the Agony frigs appeared to either be escorting or themselves attacking a small to mid-sized cruiser and battle-cruiser gang.  The total enemy gang size ended up being about 24, half-again larger than what we were fielding.

We encountered them on the X-M2LR gate in K5-JRD system and our FC, undaunted by the odds, ordered us to work, calling our first primary.

Now, from time to time, I notice that people who recognize me either for my blog or my CSM run last year like to call me as their primary target.  ;-)  For the record, I never take offense at this.  It's just part of the game.(1)  The entire enemy fleet was surrounded by yellow boxes, then red boxes.  Then I noticed drones start to surround me.

There was only one problem: I was in a slow-locking Hurricane, still locking our fleet's primary target.  I hadn't started shooting yet.  I was therefore not yet aggressed, and sitting at close range to a star gate.

It's critical in this situation not to panic.  And it's savvy in this situation to do exactly what I did now: I didn't shoot back, and I didn't jump.  I sat there, hardeners overheated, orbiting the gate at my Hurricane's nominal speed, letting them shoot at me.  They lost a Thorax, then a Vexor, then a Hurricane as our FC calmly called targets.  In a break in the action, I said, "Break, Ripard's their target, not aggressed, will be getting out."  The FC replied, "Roger" and called the next primary.  At about 7% shields, I jumped out.

Since I never aggressed, the enemy gang never had a chance of killing me.  They spent almost a minute shooting at a non-aggressed target, wasting their time and the lives of three of their ships on an enemy ship that they had no hope of killing.

I expected there to be more ships in X-M, and sure enough, there were: the Agony frigates, killing one of our tacklers as I gained visibility to the grid.  I expected to be primaried again when I decloaked, and sure enough, I was.  I waited about 25 seconds, then burned on overheated MWD between the gate and a celestial roughly in line with the gate.  My plan: if they aggressed me, I'd jump back into the K5 fight.  If they didn't, I'd warp to the celestial.  They aggressed me.  In that time, my shields had recharged to about 15%, and the Agony frigs were good enough to reduce it back below 5%.  I jumped back into K5.  In that time, our fleet killed two Brutixes, a Thrasher, and a Myrmidon, this time with the loss of one of our Canes.

I again waited for a bit of shield recharge while looking over the fight and planning my next move.  Shields were at 10%.  This time, the celestial in line with the gate was the K5 station.  I decided this time that I'd again burn between the gate and the station celestial.  Only this time, if I were aggressed but not pointed, I'd warp to the station to get my shields back to 100%, then warp back to the fight fully repaired.(2)  If I weren't aggressed, I'd burn out and start getting in on some kills.  I decloaked and burned (again on overheated MWD), and sure enough, parts of the enemy fleet started to aggress me, probably correctly guessing that I was operating with only 10% shields.  Only, critically, nobody pointed me.  Sticking to my plan, I warped off.  Again, the enemy fleet wasted time and resources on a non-aggressed ship.

I docked, then immediately un-docked (now with 100% shields), warped back to the fight and was happily able to get in on the last several kills.

Now granted, I missed out on a ton of kills in this fight.  Should I have aggressed immediately in K5, despite being the enemy fleet's primary?  Should I have aggressed immediately when I came back into K5?  Scholars will no doubt argue the points.  Looking over my own performance in retrospect, I believe I made the correct moves at every step, and placed in the same situation, I'd make those same moves again.  Though my DPS was not available to the FC for most of the fight, I operated as a meat shield, tanking damage that would have otherwise got someone else killed and ensuring that our efficiency in that fight was not reduced by the loss of my ship.  Sure, it would have been extremely satisfying to get on those first three kills, but ensuring that my side won the ISK war was -- to me -- equally satisfying.

Anyway, just something for you newer PvP pilots to think about.  Sometimes, you have to leave your own ego at the door.

(1) Of course, if you want to call someone else primary, I won't mind that, either.  ;-)
(2) Is this a good time to mention that I love the new 20 second session change timer?  The ability to repair mid-fight is also something I'm having to relearn after more than a year in sovereignty battles where this option is usually not available.


  1. Sometimes, you have to leave your own ego at the door.
    That must have been very hard for you.

  2. So you gave up personal glory for the glory of the fleet. I approve.

    -Davion Falcon

  3. @Davion Well, he did write a self-glorifying blog post about it... ;-)

  4. My lack of ego has limits. ;-)

  5. A couple things stand out to me.

    #1. You should write about fleet engagements more often. I find it interesting to read about other people's pvp styles.

    #2. Though it's possible people would call you primary because they recognize your name from your blog or CSM run, I'm pretty sure you were called primary because you were in a Hurricane. Notice the other hurricane in your fleet died? They probably called it secondary. ;) Target Calling 101.

    #3. In situations where there are more then a handful of people involved, it's very hard to determine who is (or was) aggressed, without allowing complete chaos on coms. It just happens sometimes in bigger engagements.

    #4. In various militia circles, we call the manuever you did," pulling a 'faust.'" In situations where your fleet is very small you need to be careful, as the DPS lost could be more detrimental then the meat shield is helpful.

  6. You know, this is funny, most brick pilots love to fly with me in the fleet, besides from the fact that i fly either a curse + eris set or dual oneiros on each of my chars, but because no matter who we encounter i will be invariably called primary. for example last night right when i landed on grid everything began blinking, to the point that the fleet neither aligned or hug the gate, they just wanted a piece of me. =__=


  7. I'm pretty much always primary in fights I get in. It builds character!

  8. I note that despite your previous post, all RK cane's lost in that engagement had 425mm II autocannons ..

  9. A lot of people I fly around have the philosophy that the entire point of the game is to get on killmails. That is their end goal, and it annoys me to no end. It also produces some terrible tactics, such as "farming" kills to get as many people as possible involved, sometimes even incurring losses or letting the target escape.

    Sometimes you have someone tackled, and there is no question about their escape or survival: In these situations, it's fine and even courteous to let the people who were involved in their capture get on the killmail. You may even be trying to get people onto the mail in silly ships for fun, and sometimes you want to hold someone down without killing them so there will be time for a fast tackler to arrive to get the pod that comes out. All these things are fine.

    At the end of the day though, killmails should not be what you seek as a PVPer. They are a result of your actions in PVP, the same way that can full of corpses slowly fills up, or the way drones are left abandoned in space after you fight. They are not the objective. The objective is to destroy.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a logistics pilot that never aggresses, or the guy who sits on one side of the gate while his buddy kills an unmoving drake at 0 on the other. These are necessary roles, and their lack of glory is nearly irrelevant.

    If you find yourself always killing enemies that are vastly outnumbered, it's often the case that you weren't necessary in that fight; you could have been somewhere else, killing someone else, ensuring that MORE things are destroyed rather than superfluously tacking your name onto the end of another blobbed drake with 85 damage dealt. I would gladly sacrifice my name on any number of killmails if that's what was needed to be sure that they died, and so should you.

  10. @Anon1503: We were specifically ordered to fit close-range gank BCs, so I fell back to my Standard Cane from early this year. First time I've flown that fit in a long while.

  11. When I created Zandramus I figured if the overview was sorted alphabetically then he would get called primary less often. That worked for the first few months of the game till everyone figured out the overview. Now I get primaries quite a bit because I'm usually high dps bc or bs.


  12. I'm constantly being primaried with a name starting by 'A', man sometimes I wish I could change name (Never though of it the first time I made the character), but in the end, I got used to be called primary all the time, and now, I'm constantly the meat shield, having somewhat of different actions than the FC orders to stay at least a bit longer alive in the fight or pulling some 'faust' like Susan said.

    Sometimes in small gang fights I luckily never get targeted ever, which turns out to be so 'weird' being used to be constantly locked in every fight :)

  13. I agree completely with your courses of action Jester. Perfect play.

  14. That explains why every other RK cane I could see was artie fit.

    Incidentally, I recently ended up trying something similar to to your standard cane fit - as recommended a local friendly pirate - and would concur with your point about it being difficult to fly.

  15. "Only, critically, nobody pointed me. Sticking to my plan, I warped off. Again, the enemy fleet wasted time and resources on a non-aggressed ship."

    since you were not pointed its not important if you aggresed or not, i guess ...


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