If war is hell, Tama is undoubtedly the seventh layer. Located on the front line of the Caldari/Gallente front, a single jump from the safety of Nourvukaiken is the most violent lowsec system in the universe. As of writing, the past three hours over a hundred and fifty ships have been lost to the savagery of battle that reigns over Tama day and night. You might be wondering what makes Tama just so dangerous; so deadly, so active, so bloodthirsty and, most importantly, so fun. Well, we’re going to delve into exactly why Tama has become the unadulterated pit of destruction it is today, and hopefully learn some valuable information on the way.
The strongest driving factor that has pushed Tama into the perpetual battlefield it has become is the corporations that occupy it. Representing the Caldari State we have Operation Meatshield. Weighing in at 146 members, they have quickly become the top corporation in the State through tactics like throwing as many T1 frigates at the enemy until they realise it is simply not cost efficient enough to keep fighting. They also have an open door policy that lets in anyone and everyone who wants to get involved in their fleets, thus ensuring they have consistent numbers. Couple this with a passionate CEO and a few veterans in the ranks like Mr.Duffo, whose legendary PvP skills have earned him thousands upon thousands of views on YouTube, the result is frequent, intense fights fuelled by chaos and pretty explosions.
A single jump away, the Gallente Federation is represented by Rapid Withdrawal, a top Gallente Federation corp standing in at 165 members. Organised, efficient, powerful, RDRAW are certainly a stalwart ally who frequently flies three different fleets: Kiting Tristans, pure destruction based Catalysts, and of course the ever deadly Svipul. It is no surprise that Tama has become what it is when you put the two top corporations of their respective sides’ right next door to each other, but the conflicts only escalate from there. The true danger in Tama lies in the fact that everybody wants a piece of the action in any way possible. Take the Tama station, for example. There is only one station, and it’s the only real safe place in the area – except it is always camped by pirates – and I mean always. You can find mostly two or three Exequrors, commonly flown by pirates like R0BERT (that’s certainly a name to add to the watchlist). These pirates are gagging for a fight and will take on anything they can blap in a few seconds – it’s pretty essential to have an off-grid undock since it’s pretty much the only way to survive.
Speaking of camps, you would think the Nourvukaiken gate is like a picturesque park location because night and day you’ll have fleets sitting around a campfire singing songs and telling scary stories. Expect mostly small cruiser gangs, but if you’re thinking “Oh well, I’m in a frigate I should be fine” then you obviously have yet to meet to ever present insta-locking frigs that have become a staple in these situations. Don’t get me wrong, these camps rarely last a long time. There is always a bigger fish floating around, stalking it’s slightly smaller prey on the food-chain, pouncing on the gate and shattering the camp into a million little pieces (only to generally start their own camp right afterwards). But they’re not the worst. Oh no, not by a long shot. Gate camping is one thing but it is nothing comparing the agonisingly annoying insta-alpha Svipul. These twisted fits are clearly the concoction of a mad man obsessed with ensuring that every frigate sized hull in the galaxy is obliterated. What makes these infinitely frustrating T3D’s so deadly is that you simply don’t stand a chance. Gate camps can be outwitted, backup can be called, but when a ship has a lock time of 0.9 seconds and an alpha that will pod you faster than you can say “oops”, you’re pretty much screwed. It can be tough sitting there with a dazed look on your face as you wonder what in the ever-loving fuck just happened.
And these are just the cheese pirates. The real danger lies in the more experienced pirates with wallets big enough to buy Cuba, or full sets of HG Snakes, and these guys are shameless. Floating around in their Orthruses, preying on those foolish enough to underestimate the infinite power of a well-flown Navy Slicer – pirates like Jabba, who’s foes have a 5% chance of survival at best. As I sat in a Novice with a few other corp mates, I have witnessed a single Executioner ruthlessly eliminate anyone foolish enough to jump onto the button; friends dropping off of D-scan like flies, one by one, until only he remained standing tall on the wreckage of shitfit frigates and top tier Worms alike. Beyond the pirates, there are the usual Alliance types – blops dropping their Sins to obliterate any fleets dumb enough to sit around, excessively up-shipping when any one comes close to challenging them, the usual stuff. But all of this, every last bit of it, can be forgotten and forgiven in favour of the sheer content that Tama and the neighbouring regions pumps out like a factory.
Sure, you get some risk averse folks that fly around in their blobs for the sole purpose of not finding any fights, but they are the minority by a long way. What makes Tama so great, and so dangerous, is the system-wide mentality of “Fuck it, we can take this.” Fleets diving into swarmed Plexes head on, fully accepting that death is imminent, trying to take down as many of the bastards as possible in the process (and one day that longshot may finally bring victory!). There is another side to this system which teaches an attitude that is great for new players: check your D-scan, and persevere. There can be a great feeling of achievement as you and your few T1- fit frigate friends lock down that overconfident slicer that thought he could kite you, or ravage that 120mil Worm with your dying breath because he figured his pirate frig made him a better pilot.
In terms of survival, there are a few things every Caldari pilot needs to know. First and foremost is bookmark locations. These are absolutely essential if you want to live long enough to see a real fight – you need an undock, which is essentially a location off grid of the station that is directly in front of you when you undock from the station. This means no align times to get out and away from the undock. This will jump you away from any nasty pirates that are just waiting to bash you the second you leave the station. Undocks are insanely easy to track down, so don’t sit in it for more than a few seconds – you should be moving on to a safe as fast as possible. After undocks and safes you need tacticals – strategic locations a certain distance off of (most often) a stargate. I highly recommend having a bookmark 250km above, below and to the side of each stargate wherever you’re active. These will seriously help you when scouting or simply getting a lay of the land before fighting – just be careful you aren’t chased down by anyone in a Slicer or a Svipul. Having multiple tacticals around a single stargate allows you to be unpredictable – the second you become predictable, you’re dead.
In short, if you’re new to Faction Warfare and want a taste of solid PvP content I urge to you fit up whatever you can afford to lose and head out into Tama. Fleet up with whoever and just spend some time fully engaged in the chaos – it’ll put some hairs on your chest and meat on your bones. It’ll hammer out the shakes and the fear of losing your ships and rebuild you into a true soldier of the Caldari State. The war is out there folks, so get up and fight.