Friday 26 March 2021

It's not paranoia if they're actually out to get you (JF pilot diaries)

Why do I always check killboards before moving my JF out of station to the HighSec gate? 

Because despite what most people would assume, this is typically the most vulnerable (and therefore the most dangerous) point in your journey. When jumping onto stations within docking radius and using the benefit of session change invulnerability, you're almost 100% safe if you discount pilot error and server glitches (not accepting jump/dock commands). However if you're undocking and slowly aligning to your outgate and you don't check who else is in system with you:

You can die when you think you're safe.

"Oh Seraph you're just paranoid, chill out"

Words to live by for any JF pilot

Here's an example...

Yesterday Afternoon

While doing my usual JF trip to Jita, I almost always use Ignoitton. It's a 0.4 LowSec within 3j of Jita, with a suitable NPC station to jump onto and it leads directly into a 0.8 HighSec system (reduces likelihood of suicide ganks due to faster Concord time). This has made it very popular as a JF endpoint for routes into Jita, which of course has led to people camping it in the hopes of killing them. This hadn't previously stopped me from using it because in all honesty, there aren't many groups who are actually good at killing JFs.

However I'm paranoid enough that I don't want to take the risk of "just winging it", so I always check local before leaving the station I've just jumped on to. I think today that paranoia may have saved my Ark from a brutal death.

I had just jumped into Ignoitton as I usually do, no issues with jump-in points or bouncing. Two other JF pilots from different alliances had jumped in front of my alt before I was in position on the station, so I was feeling comfortable as I jumped in also. I docked up my Ark, no issues, then sat on my cyno alt waiting to dock her up before I did my usual checks and moved my JF into HighSec.

But something seemed off. I couldn't put my finger on it but I was starting to feel uneasy. My 10minute cyno timer had almost entirely run down before it clicked.

Why hadn't the other two JF pilots left station and warped to HighSec? 

Infact, they had both docked, stayed docked for about a minute, then logged off. That's weird behaviour in my book because usually JF pilots will undock and head straight for the HighSec gate unless it's too dangerous or risky to do so. Did they know something I didn't?

I headed to Zkill and started working through the names in Local. It took me about a minute to find something that confirmed my suspicions.

RIP this Anshar

A week prior to my trip, two Phoenix pilots had killed an Anshar in Ignoitton. They'd also been involved in an Ark kill in Ignoitton about five days before that, though admittedly not in Phoenixes for that one. Both those pilots were in Local chat now.

Specifically they were in station with me. 

Ah crap

Now at this point you're probably like "huh, you should be careful when you undock Seraph, they might try to get you" but have no fear, I was already in full paranoid meltdown mode.

Here's what I knew:

Two Phoenix pilots with a history of killing JFs are in station with me

Ignoitton is a very well known JF endpoint

The NPC station I'm in is the better of the two NPC stations in system to jump on to due to the station model, therefore it's the most likely location for a JF to be undocking from.

The warp distance to HighSec from the station is 50AU, plenty of time to warp a bump Machariel to the gate before I land and bump me away if I'm unlucky with my landing (JF warps at 1au/sec max, Machariel does 3.75AU/sec, or nearly 6AU/sec if rigged for it)

I asked myself "What are the chances that these guys are just innocently docked here?" Based on the evidence it seemed very very likely I was in danger, if not already a target.

Things I couldn't know:

Do they have a cloaked scout watching the undock for JFs?

Are they currently at the keyboard or are they just logged in?

If they ARE at the keyboard, are they waiting for a JF or are they just chatting in Teamspeak/Mumble?

Do they kill on station or do they go for the gate bump? Maybe they try both?

Being the paranoid fuck I am, I decided to act as though they were at the keyboard, already in their Phoenixes with a bump alt ready to try and catch me either at station aligning, or before I jumped the HighSec gate AND they had a cloaked alt watching the undock for when I was leaving.

Me thinking about all this in station with a 6Bil cargo and a 9Bil hull

So assuming all that, the question becomes, "How do I get out of this alive?

I had two options really:

1) Wait for them to log out for a few hours/attempt a downtime run (effectively the same)

2) Return to my mid-point and use my backup endpoint which is less busy, but requires more jumps through HS

I started to move one of my cyno alts back to my mid-point for this move (which was about 15j away) while I sat and watched to see if they logged out or otherwise showed signs of being alive. To cut a boring story short, they did nothing. They sat and waited, I sat and waited. I went to make some food and do some tidying IRL.

I came back about an hour later and only one of the dreadnought pilots was in station with me but there was now an 11 year straight NPC Corp player in station with us instead who's killboard "strangely" seemed to match the dreadnought pilots. Maybe he just likes to whore on kills and is nothing to do with them?

Yes Mr NPC corp you seem innocent

I decided to jump back to my midpoint and head for my backup endpoint. I'm not risking 15bil on the hope another player is AFK.

My jump to my mid-point was uneventful, then straight onto my backup end-point was totally normal. A relaxed trip through HighSec later and I was safely docked in Jita.

The relief of landing at IV-IV cannot be overstated

So were they out to get me? Would I have died? Did I take a large detour for nothing but a bad feeling? 

Maybe. But I've had this Ark for over five years and I've not kept it alive without being very paranoid.

Fly safe guys o/

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