An interview with Lasker Emanuel regarding capsuleer vs. capsuleer combat
"Something about being perched on that edge makes me feel alive."
With over 5,000 star systems and several dozen trillion inhabitants, the New Eden Cluster is rich with opportunities for cunning entrepreneurs to hunt for fame, notoriety, ancient relics or trade goods. For some capsuleers, the cluster may even give the impression of a sandbox on a playground, where the strong prey on the weak and the only rule is that there are no rules.
The well-adjusted and proven process of cloning in combination with capsule technology makes a capsuleer quasi-immortal - and as such relieved from the existential fear of death and everything it entails. Many capsuleers make use of this new-found freedom by engaging each other in ship to ship combat, with no regard for the material value of a destroyed ship or that of its crew.
GalNet and the bars on all stations in the cluster are bristling with accounts of nerve-wracking fights and the joy and satisfaction capsuleers derive from these violent encounters. To help new capsuleers and veterans alike understand the mindset of those who feel most alive engaging others in combat, we have attempted to answer some of the questions many have; Why do they do it? Do they suppress their human instincts for survival or do they embrace them? How did they start doing it? – And could just any capsuleer do what they do?
To find an answer to these questions, this correspondent talked to the capsuleer Lasker Emanuel of Curatores Veritatis Alliance [CVA]. He is well known among capsuleers in parts of New Eden, especially around his base in the region of Providence. Lately, he became most famous for engaging gangs and fleets of capsuleers in dreadnought class ships - all by himself. Fighting against other capsuleers is a passion for him - pure bliss without any hate or despair.
ISD Deloro (ISD): Hello, Lasker Emanuel and thank you for being available for this interview.
Lasker Emanuel (L.E.): Thank you for reaching out. I hope all is well with you.
ISD: Could you first tell us a bit about yourself? What kind of activities and professions have you pursued in New Eden?
L.E.: I became a capsuleer in YC113, following a friend of mine on that path. Although I had read a lot about capsuleer life, especially about capsuleer combat, which sounded fascinating, I had a hard time figuring out what to do as a capsuleer.
In YC118, after a break, I decided to give the capsuleer adventures another try. I ended up taking an exploration frigate into Providence; I got blown up because I was KOS (red by last) and a Providence corporation recruited me. After coming out to Nullsec, things really got rolling for me. I started learning everything I could, and many fine folks inside and outside of CVA helped me out. I was interested in fleet, small gang and solo combat.
In addition to the obvious activity of solo combat, I have also participated in plenty of fleet combat and some small gang engagements. I have also spent some time doing station trading, which is not a passion, but it helps fund my various adventures.
ISD: When did you get into capsuleer vs. capsuleer combat and what part does it play in your everyday experience?
L.E.: I have been fighting other capsuleers solo for about two years now, and I try to fight whenever I can. My various other duties keep me a little busy, but getting out and finding a fight is still my favorite thing in New Eden.
ISD: Capsuleer vs capsuleer combat seems to be your passion. What is it about it that you enjoy? What drives you to look for these challenges?
L.E.: Pretty much every hobby I have ever had has been some form of technically complex fight. The two I put the most time into before becoming a capsuleer were martial arts and chess. I love the dynamic where you are pitting yourself against another competitor and it requires preparation, creativity, study, practice, and an ability to think clearly under pressure. I have always deeply enjoyed situations where I am in danger but unharmed, and this is true in all sorts of games and fights, in the moments where a skilled opponent is attacking, or when they are trying to checkmate, throw, choke, or otherwise defeat you, and you are still able to contain, avoid, counterattack. Something about being perched on that edge makes me feel alive.
There is another experience (a little hard to describe) that I absolutely love. Sometimes, someone plays or fights beautifully enough that everyone involved is no longer quite as worried about if they win or not, and they’re just kind of glad to be there experiencing the ephemeral little work of art that is being created. You could call it a ‘Fight-As-Art’ experience and on a good day, I am sometimes able to create that.
One of the things that I love about New Eden is that it richly rewards these two tendencies. If you love the In-Danger-But-Unharmed experience and also the Fight-As-Art experience, and you are seeking out opportunities to create these experiences, you find yourself often thrown into fights that are not necessarily favorable. This makes you extraordinarily engageable, and it gets you a ton of fights, which helps you improve rapidly.
ISD: You are best known in the capsuleer community for engaging gangs and fleets with just your dreadnought class ship and recording your fights. Dreadnoughts are amongst the largest ships with high damage output, strong tank and a price tag up to several Billion ISK. When did you start doing that and what brought you to try this?
L.E.: I started trying about six months ago. I love everything that’s done on a grand scale and thus have always been very attracted to capital combat. After training into carriers and dreadnoughts, I saw Big Miker’s Drift Naglfar video and said “Well shucks, I have to try that.” As it turns out, I have not actually tried Drift Naglfars yet, but it’s on the to-do list. My first engagement ever in a HAW (high-angular weapon, i. e. anti-subcap) dread was a Revelation against about a dozen frigates, which in retrospect is absurd, but I had no idea at the time. My heart was pounding a mile a minute as I was just sure this small kitchen sink frigate gang would have supercarriers on standby.
ISD: How many of these engagements did you have so far? How often do these engagements end with the loss of your ship?
L.E.: I have had 32 HAW dread fights, some of which are little, three-minute-long skirmishes where I kill a couple of dudes and the rest disengage, and some of which are these huge, sprawling, 40-minute-long affairs were the dread sort of forms the nexus of a swirling chaotic melee. One of my craziest fights to date had two separate red gangs and a blue gang, and the reds dropped six carriers; I used all 800 of the stront I had with me. The fight finished almost in perfect timing with my last siege cycle. I have lost eight HAW dreads over the last six months (about half after good fights and the other half after some not-so-good fights).
ISD: Have you done similar experiments with other shiptypes?
L.E.: I have done a huge amount of flying in Faction Warfare space in T1 frigates, some FW cruiser work, some null cruiser work. The thing that is probably the most similar to the dreadnought work is the stuff I have done in marauders. I actually find marauders a touch disappointing, to be honest; they are kind of like small, fragile, expensive, low-damage dreads that have no jump drive or fleet hanger. That said, a gang of 15 mostly won’t engage a dread, while they might fight a marauder. I have some experiments with pirate battleships in the queue as well, and I am looking forward to trying them.
ISD: Many players cannot afford a Dreadnought but would still like to do something similar to your videos. What would be a good alternative for smaller wallets?
L.E.: I think you can do the fly-it-like-you-stole-it concept in almost any ship. I had an awesome time flying Magnates around FW space trying to pick fights with people. So much of having fun in this activity is just about trying to create interesting, enjoyable engagements that work for whatever you are flying. The engagement creation is itself a skill, and if you find that you are mostly getting engagements that you don’t like, you can work on that and become better at it. I would encourage everyone who is interested in solo combat to go out and give it a try; solo combat in New Eden is some of the most fun I have ever had as a capsuleer.
ISD: What would your twist be on the standard advice "Buy 20 T1 Frigates and lose them in FW"? Which small steps can an ambitious capsuleer take to improve his learning experience?
L.E.: I don’t know if I have a twist, but I would advise three things before you lose your first 20:
First, find a group that has similar interests; trying to learn on your own is much harder than trying to learn with a group. Even if you are flying solo, you can get wealth of knowledge from other capsuleers.
Second, use a shipping service (or a friend) to move your 20 T1 frigates into position so you have less downtime between fights. Pick a fight, die in a fire, do it again.
Third, record your fights and watch them over again when your heart is not pounding. You will see plenty of errors and you can use that feedback to improve.
ISD: You probably know about other solo combat pilots in New Eden. How would you weigh individual talent, skill and experience in that activity? What is needed to have fun and some success in casual solo fights? Is there hope for capsuleers who don't bring strategic talent and just want to shoot things?
L.E.: New Eden is a hard place, and solo combat is especially hard. I am not sure what role that talent plays, but I can tell you everyone that is good has put in a lot of work. If you just want to shoot things and don’t want to work to improve your game, you can absolutely do that, but you will have to ride along with a content creator who does want to do the work. If you want to create your own content, and you are interested in developing your game, you might have to do a lot to get there, but it will be very satisfying when you do!
ISD: Thank you very much for this interview.
L.E.: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
Lasker Emanuel's battle recordings can be accessed via his GalNet channel