(Disclaimer: I was a professional soldier for many years, and I'm older than the Super Bowl, so I'm 'wordy'. Grab a cup of coffee and a comfortable chair before you read any of my AARs. You have been warned.)
The Short Summary
Overall, the best 'learn to do it' class I've experienced in EVE. Worth every dime in real money that I paid to attend. Twenty million isk in game is trivial to earn, but giving up a day's wages from my real life job is not – having said that, I have no regrets about taking the course. I look forward to attending many more AU classes, and perhaps one day becoming a member of Agony itself, if I measure up.
The Long Explanation
Day One: The Classroom
- Class size was small enough to get my questions answered promptly, but not so large as to feel like it was dragging when multiple students had questions on a subject.
- Schedule was very close to posted times, and it started right on time. I hate showing up for something and then having to wait an extra half hour or more while the late comers straggle in (or the instructor/leader gets his class materials together).
- Comm discipline was excellent, and the instructors had clear, easy to understand voices. They were well prepared, and experienced, and it showed in the way they presented the information and handled questions. No one came across as rushed or impatient, which was refreshing.
- The subject material was well organized, and covered pretty much everything a new pilot needs to know to contribute to gang/fleet operations. It flowed in a logical progression, moving from inside the station to outside the station, then a low sec 'field trip' for the practical exercises. Despite being a veteran pilot, and taking this course as a refresher (having been away from the game several years) I did learn a few new things, which was a pleasant surprise.
Notable moment, Good
- One of the other students warped to zero on a belt (instead of warping in at 100km etc) and got jumped by belt rats. The student couldn't escape (because the rats had a scrambler frigate), so the class charged to the rescue and stomped the rats in short order. Not only did the class react promptly (and aggressively), I got to use my remote repper and armorbot to repair the student's damaged armor after the battle. Morale and confidence soared for everyone except the rats. Class three, Rats zero was the score.
Notable moment, Not So Good
- During the bookmarking exercise (learning to time TACs dropped on approach to a gate), I failed to account for lag and dropped my BM too late. This put it under 150km from the gate itself (rendering it useless, as I couldn't warp back to it, and from the BM I couldn't warp to the gate). While sorting myself out to redo the exercise, I failed to deselect the gate/autopilot. Instead of warping back to a previous BM, I jumped through the gate into the next system. For a new pilot, this is a common mistake – from an experienced pilot, it's an embarrassing screw up. Fortunately, I was able to burn back to the gate and jump through to the fleet with no damage to anything but my pride.
Things that might improve future classroom sessions
Not much to suggest, really. It was a damn fine classroom experience.
- I would have liked a lot more time practicing the spiral approach, since it is critical to tackling and surviving in a frigate.
- A little bit more time to practice scanning people down with the Dscanner in class, too. Maybe have several students scatter in an adjacent system, and then see how long it takes the instructors to scan them down (as a practical demonstration of why 360 scans are important for awareness). Perhaps some suggestions on how a student can practice Dscanning on their own time( i.e, after completing the class).
- You could make a PDF of the class material for students to download before class, as a single source reference (rather than multiple links in the wiki). Much easier to refer to this in space (alt+tab) than trying to follow links in a browser. Less lag, too.
Day Two: The Roam
It went very well, overall. One of our first kills was a Cynabal, and it was a genuine pleasure to get the killmail on it. Although I lost a ship to a Harbinger's drones, I later got top damage and final blow on a Caracal who tried to burn me down at the edge of a bubble. Kudos to the ECM guys, especially the Griffins - they made our fights much safer/easier, and several of them got blown up doing their duty. Reshipping and rejoining the fleet was painless, with an instructor guiding us back. We also got to do a short practical exercise (warping into a friendly bubble), and we survived a halfhearted bombing attempt launched by a stealth bomber (who then ran away). In fact, there were outstanding fights all night long. To me, our losses seemed very low, considering who/what we engaged and killed.
One negative, briefly
About 2/3 of the way through the first four hours of the roam, things started to heat up (as we had the potential to engage several different groups of enemies in rapid succession). The skirmishers started to sound much more excited (speaking faster and changing their minds in mid-report), and then we had multiple Agony pilots calling for jumps and warps (to different gates) and trampling the FC's instructions. When I mentioned it by typing in fleet chat, I was told 'just turn up the volume for the FC in Teamspeak' or 'listen for the FLEET word and you'll know the command is for you'. As I pointed out in chat at the time, the issue was not one of volume. It was multiple voices keying the microphones up over each other, giving conflicting instructions, and ALL OF THEM using the J word. Even an Agony pilot came on coms later and said he couldn't decide who the actual FC was at that point. Particularly confusing was hearing the phrase 'tacklers should jump through and try to get points on them' several times, after the fleet had been instructed to warp to a stargate. (Being a tackler, this was a command I was specifically listening for all night long, as the FC usually announced who he wanted points on first, etc). After a little more confusion, the FC got everyone to shut up and calm down. After that, he sorted things out in short order and the roam resumed without any drama. Other than that brief period of stress, comms discipline was very good, and the fleet never seemed like it was vulnerable. I chalked it up to the tempo of impending battle increasing, and adrenalin starting to flow among the scouts.
In the end, despite losing one frigate, I made a small profit (insurance payout + selling off ammo and T2 drones I scooped after the bubble brawl). More importantly, I managed to not lose any drones to cold warps, and I didn't kill anybody I wasn't supposed too (you don't want to know, let's just say I have dumb drones some days). Overall, it was enjoyable and successful – not what you'd expect for a 'class of noobs in frigates' roam. I'd take this class again in a heartbeat.
Well done, ladies and gentlemen. Well done.
Edited by Kor Sanyo, 07 April 2014 - 01:53 AM.