By now you might know that my favourite choice of ship is the Taranis. So far I have owned three of them, all of which sooner or later degenerated into very expensive debris scattered across space. I already could have another one up and running, but certain issues detained me from doing so.
Each Taranis was shorter-lived than its predecessor. The reasons were poor judgement, recklessnes, increasing arrogance and plain awful piloting on my part. The loss of Skyhook I wasn't a particularly tough or costly one, but it could have been prevented by noticing my fleetmates earlier, thus getting the hell out in time. No reason not to get a new one yet, though. Skyhook II was again neatly dispatched by a squadron of small drones, deployed by a Celestis this time. Neither did I get my intel straight by checking the pilot's lossmails, nor did I listen to my instincts when he didn't move an inch while I was closing the gap of 50km between us.
Well, Skyhook II still lived long enough to pay for itself, so no reason not to replace it immediately. And no reason apparently to shape up one's piloting again either, right?
I'm sure you see where this is going... What followed was the most atrociously bad fight I have ever fought. I've never once lost a ship in a way like this. I went in there knowing my target had merely one month of piloting experience. I didn't realise only his three medium drones were damaging me, I didn't realise that he was sucking my cap dry, at no point did I realise that I maybe should finally overheat my guns and I realised too late all those things I hadn't realised - precisely at the moment when my capacitor was empty. I initiated a desperate attempt to flee the scene and actually escaped his warp scrambler, only to select the most foolish warp destination possible and be caught again, this time for good.
Not even one week out of the box and Skyhook III went pop. I have the ISK for Skyhook IV, but there is no point as long as I won't learn how to fly ships cost-efficiently again. I've been calling myself a self-sustaining professional after all, boasting about earning ISK only by fighting for it, not blowing it out the docking bay.
So how to get the flow going again while keeping my hands off the shiny toys for a bit? I think I have found two things that should work just fine in this regard: cruisers and cross-training.
Recently I have completed the advanced training required for flying a Thorax of my liking. What I wanted were heavy high tech blasters and more agility than the standard armour-plated variants. What I got was a very capable gank fit that is sturdier than the typical glass cannon.
I was actually surprised how well it would do and how comfortable I would be flying it. The first test of its destructive potential was easily passed when it dispatched a Cyclone as part of an ad-hoc Tusker fleet (it's also how I found out that overheating those blasters is freaking expensive!).
In the second kill it again provided the necessary fire power to crush a heavily buffer-tanked Caracal. As a bonus, thanks to my warp jamming drones the Caldari cruiser barely scratched me or other members of the fleet.
In the more even-numbered engagements I didn't fight against overwhelmed rookies or gate camping capsules, but capable opponents, Buzzer Beater performed very well, too.
An Arbitrator proved to be a very tough cookie for fellow Tusker Kishin Hattori and me. Kishin had to get his Jaguar out a bit earlier and I as well took an exit when both cruiser entered structure; he had finally managed to escape the range of my vicious blasters, while his drones kept hurting me. In retrospective, he surely would have faced more serious trouble, had I decided to load Null M ammunition prior to the fight instead of Antimatter.
Another time I landed right on a Stabber and initially tore some considerably large chunks out of his tank. Knowing of these ships' kiting strategies, my guns were spewing Null M this time. Moreso, throughout the fight they delivered more damage to my target than the other way around. It was a joy to watch, really. The Stabber eventually managed to flee, thanks to its pilot's rather unconventional choice to fit a warp scrambler. Beats me why he would've wanted to fight within scrambler range in the first place, but oh well - him transmitting a simple "ouch" on local coms was almost as satisfying as a killmail would have been.
Long story short, I really like the Thorax and how well it can perform against its biggest competitors in the cruiser segment.
As for the cross-training I mentioned earlier: brace yourself for some entirely non-blaster-related brawls. By the time I have more to write about it, we'll know how that turned out. Looking forward to what should be a refreshing change.