What is it about Faction Warfare that makes it so appealing to guys like me? At a glance, Faction Warfare is much like the old school frigate fighting tournaments that used to pepper the New Eden horizon. The only difference is, in service, you come to learn really quickly that every time you undock you are committing to an impending fight. There is no audience; you do not get to watch.
This article would be different than my last, I wouldn’t be writing about the crusade I was watching from afar; I would be flying personally. The last time around, I had conflicting priorities. NBSI (Not Blue Shoot It) is the Swarm. If you are found fleeting with neutrals and enemies, or even are suspected of it, you could find yourself in a very bad place. Nuked, then exiled. Trust me, it happens more than you think. I found a corp sanctioned by the swarm for the purpose of FW, it’s run by a group called Welp Squad who now also have a few articles about their shenanigans. This time, the story will be my story, not some jumbled list of names some dudes threw together, and a scroll through zKillboard.
Few million ISK here, few million ISK there
My journey started off in Dodoxie. After linking up with Welp Squad’s Gal-Mil corp, I purchased a few brand new Catalysts, and fit them in varying degrees of gank vs tank. I even fit one for cap stability, which let me tell you, is a bad choice regardless of what you are fighting. Most fights last less than a minute, but you know for the sake of completeness, I fit one anyway. I also picked up a few Navy Issue Maulus, various degrees of tank and gank, and even a few pimp fits here and there. The first fit I tried while waiting for a corp invite was an Atron, which didn’t seem to have the damage output to do anything but the novice plexes. And let me tell you: inevitably I ended up slag. I had bought a few Tristans that I didn’t really intend to use. I popped a few skill injectors and instantly moved up to a destroyer. I would be doing this article as a Gallente Alpha, much like my trials with the Blood Stained Stars. The destroyer opened up small and medium plexes for me. It also closed off my ability to engage war targets hiding in novice plexes. My first destroyer build was a token Algos; I got my first true taste of the faction warfare in this ship.
I found a little AFK core-stabilized Merlin. He must have been botting because he warped out of the plex but ended up sitting on the acceleration gate when I went back looking for him. I put my drones on him and made quick work of his little terribly fit Merlin. This Algos I quickly abandoned as it didn’t seem to have the DPS to break the State ships in the plex, which at the time seemed relevant to me. It would have been different if I was in an Omega clone, but I decided again to run with this trusty Gallente Alpha clone and see how viable it really was to do this and learn PVP as an Alpha this way. Whatever the outcome would be, there was no lack of a fight; my first was here.
They were waiting for easy prey. It wasn’t me.
It happened on the Teimo gate in Kedama, a little lowsec system after a highsec, essentially a point of tension in the region. There were three Merlin and a Bantam on the gate. They weren’t war targets, but they were flashing red at me all the same. Pirate hopefuls. I landed on the gate in a Serpentis-skinned catalyst, sleek black with chrome accents and instantly locked up all four. Two of them had not gained extremely low-security standings yet, but they were exuding the waft of salty noobs. Two of them were suspect, another true outlaw in a logi frigate surprisingly, and a neutral Merlin, all fleeted and waiting. We were sort of in a standoff: they weren’t sure whether or not to engage me on the gates, and I was hoping they would aggress so I could use the gate guns to bolster my attack. It didn’t work out like that exactly; I opened fire the same time as the Merlin but he was suspect, and my primary was flashing red; I was not. I started eating into the shields of the outlaw Bantam and he warped off; I started firing on the suspect ships one by one, the first warped, the second was not so fortunate, and the third was eaten entirely by the gate guns.
Now, this has little to do with Faction Warfare, but I had decided to ninja my way back to Hakonen and sell off some of my abandoned war chest assets and inject a bit more for more damage and survival purposes. None of this is relevant, I know, but it turns out to be the trip home. I had logged off my FW alpha alt and was back in the skin of my main. I sold off all of my #nopoors frigates and cruisers I had waiting for a welp that was just never coming. I still had my favorite Hecate left: Tech II fit with perfect align. It was skinned Serpentis, so it was all black and silver, and after a few minutes of Jita station spinning I decided to fly it home.
My trip was twenty plus jumps, most of which through high and low with the last chain in nullsec. You know, the usual. The ship was fast and as you know, has amazing DPS. Real men hull tank, and this is one ship that makes perfect sense to do it in. Along my path, in one of the first of Nullsec systems. I ran across a Gal Mil pilot in a Harpy. Immediately, he went for kiting range and started yellow boxing. I had just no choice; before I could type out “I don’t wanna burn you down,” he had gone for my jugular.
I reacted and started barreling towards him. My shields melted off quickly into armor. I webbed and scrambled him, slowing him down quite a bit, but once in range, he scrammed me slowing me down as well. The low transversal was going to be my noose, he had burned through half my armor and by now was surely hoping I was armor tanked and about to be dead. I managed to catch him and over-heated everything, all out. I had switched modes from speed to sharpshooting, now I was in defense mode, praying the jump in resists coupled with my T2 DCU would make for enough hull to finish him. My hybrids now had the optimal range to start hitting him, and what once was going to be my noose would now be my salvation as my hybrids finally started producing the DPS to give him the fear. It came down really to a matter of moments. This AF was about to kick my ass in my T3D. I should be ashamed of myself. Believe me, I am. Fortunately, even though he dictated the start of the fight, he burned while I was in hull. What can I say; real men hull tank.
I really had to hand it to the guy.
Regardless of him melting under the hybrids, the dude was good. Had I been in anything less OP than a T3D against a frigate, he would have truly ruined my day. That’s the skill of these FW pilots. They get infinitely more solo fights than a normal nullsec guy. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I get a solo fight—looking at you Cigar Rette. They are great when I do, but usually, meh, usually the fights I am apart of is that of the whatever fleet I surely must be whoring a pap from. These guys get more fights too, just all around. I won’t say they are better. Nothing is more epic than grand scale battles that matter. That said, these micro fights are intense and honestly white-knuckle; there is a vast difference between Johnny Crowe and my FW alpha pilot. I have infinitely more room for error with Johnny. Their fleets are also smaller, and I don’t want to say more purpose driven, but there aren’t as many “let’s go blow off steam” roams up on fleet finders and such. Mayhaps I wasn’t in the “in-circle,” but that’s just my general experience with it.
Better than a VNI alt.
Let’s discuss the ISK per time ratio. It’s actually, for Gal Mil, pretty damn good. It’s better than a plus one VNI, trust me, especially at tier three or so. So the ISK is definitely able to sustain a new pilot who likes to PVP and tends to lose ships. There are also missions, which when blitzed are also pretty good. I’ve heard there are some fits out there requiring a bit of injecting and such that will allow you to blitz these level 4 FW missions at a speed that makes them comparable to running sites in a carrier. Some of these fits and routes you’ll just have to figure out for yourself. There is also the cool factor, flying through enemy space, the enemy faction announcing your presence in system and all of that system knowing you’re a threat to their peace and happiness. Even though the enemy faction is against you, they really don’t CONCORD you, or really chase and scram you. It’s actually pretty manageable.
Meh, it’s not all peaches.
All in all, Faction Warfare is something that is all around good for someone looking to cut their teeth in combat. In the long run? I’m not sure it’s entirely sustainable fun. I’ve been pretty positive about FW for most of this article but it does have some cons. First being the dudes who bot and just leave the beacon all stabbed up when you enter system. Orbiting the button and fleeing when fights comes happens to be the best way to continue making ISK. The missions are rubbish and utterly blitzable (I know I listed it as a pro as well, but to somebody it’s surely a con). The whole thing just seems stale, the teams are predictable, most guys just joining the winning team with zero incentives to join a losing one. All in all, I’ll only keep my alpha clone in Gal Mil as a way to replace all the VNIs I lose out in Goonland.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing you all out there while I’m orbiting a button.