29 August 2011

Jack Dancer Chimes In On Implants

Jack Dancer looked through the list of implants and had some things to say. It was a coincidence but fortuitous timing as Starwalker considered Jack’s list. Whilst the budget constraints were different the objectives were very similar and consequently Starwalker decided to make some minor additions (in red):

Limited Ocular Filter
+1 perception
Limited Memory Augmentation
+1 memory
Limited Neural Boost
+1 willpower
Limited Cybernetic Subprocessor
+1 intelligence

Hardwiring Eifyr and Co. ‘Gunslinger’ SX-1
+3% damage of small projectile turrets
Zor’s Custom Navigation Link
+10% afterburner duration bonus
Hardwiring – Inherent Implants ‘Noble’ ZET300
+3% hull hit points
Hardwiring – Eifyr and Co. ‘Gunslinger’ CX-0
+1% bonus to all turret damage
Hardwiring – Zainou ‘Deadeye’ ZGA100
+3% to optimal range
Hardwiring – Inherent Implants ‘Noble’ ZET50
+1% armour hit points

This revised list was still within the budget constraints but Starwalker was not sure whether to change slot 9 or not, to go for the improved optimal range or straight damage. Starwalker closed the Neocom, this decision was something to sleep on and it could wait until morning.

28 August 2011

Simple set of Implants

Starwalker reviewed his investment choices and decided that a simple set implants would be good. The purpose would be to improve training time and perhaps add a little spice to combat. The key would be price as being podded with expensive implants would be extremely wasteful. This was especially relevant as Starwalker had no jump clones and had been podded twice already this month.

The price constraint was less than 1m ISK each and the final options became:

Limited Ocular Filter
+1 perception
Limited Memory Augmentation
+1 memory
Limited Neural Boost
+1 willpower
Limited Cybernetic Subprocessor
+1 intelligence

Hardwiring - Eifyr and Co. 'Gunslinger' SX-1
+3% damage of small projectile turrets
Zor’s Custom Navigation Link
+10% afterburner duration bonus
Hardwiring – Eifyr and Co. 'Gunslinger' CX-0
+1% bonus to all turret damage

Starwalker noted that the Zor implant would require Cybernetics IV and all of the others could be fitted with Cybernetics I. Whilst there were implants with much better boosts the costs were correspondingly much higher. Similarly, there were other types of combat boosts from optimal range to faster repair cycles but Starwalker was satisfied with this selection of implants.

This combined with the neural remap would all help the training to go a little faster:
·       Intelligence – 21
·       Perception – 22
·       Charisma – 17
·       Willpower – 22
·       Memory – 20

Starwalker closed the Neocom console, finished his quafe and grabbed his jacket. Time to hit space.

27 August 2011

Suicide Gank Interrupted

Starwalker was not a happy bunny. Rebels were gearing up in Auner to perform a suicide gank on some hapless miner and Starwalker was on his way to join them, but was stopped by a gate camp.

It was Mothra Inc again and this was the third time that they had caught Starwalker in a Rifter at Eszur. The Rifter came through the gate and aligned to the next gate but before it could get away it was warp scrambled. A fiery explosion (http://www.r1fta.killmail.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10490853) soon followed and the Rifter was no more.

Starwalker was so disappointed that he only hit his warp button to save the pod once, it wasn’t enough and that too suffered a fiery (http://eve.battleclinic.com/killboard/killmail.php?id=14085389) death at the hands of Mothra Inc.

Starwalker sat in silence in his darkened quarters, sipping some quafe. He was not a happy bunny.

26 August 2011

Rifter Rematch in Auner

Starwalker had enjoyed the Rifter duel with Valla Vuld and it seemed that Valla had enjoyed being destroyed too as he asked for a rematch. Starwalker was happy to oblige and looked forward to another kill!

Valla disappeared to Hek to reship and Starwalker considered his options, whether to wait and fight in the same ship or reship to a shield Rifter for the element of surprise. Starwalker liked the idea of surprising his opponent and so went to Auner where he had some fitted ships. No shield Rifter - so much for that master plan. As Starwalker waited in space he changed the name of his ship to at least pretend he was in a different ship.

Whether the little trick worked or not didn't seem to matter as Starwalker went for the very same tactics again and it resulted in the same end for Valla Vuld as his Rifter exploded into a million fiery pieces. Good fights were exchanged and Starwalker departed thinking about what had gone wrong.

He had noticed that (again) he had not:
  • Checked the overview for information on the fight and what modules Valla was using
  • Had not pulsed the repair module, although to be fair it was not needed
  • Had not checked the range of the fight and relative speed
  • Was not really paying attention to the damage information beyond seeing the red bars advance
Trying to remember to do everything was difficult. Starwalker considered the problem and wondered if he could define and use a routine to simply help remember to do everything. The alternative was to simply let experience become opportunities for practice. Something to think about. Starwalker hit the warp button and headed back to base. 

22 August 2011

Rifter Duel in Ardar

Starwalker received a challenge to a Rifter duel and decided to head over to Ardar to accept it. The challenger was from Moira and was a younger pilot. On the surface it seemed like a straightforward brawl and Starwalker should win.

Starwalker had decided to use an armour fit rather than the usual shield tank and would watch the capacitor closely. Given the discussion with Zodiac after the practice duel in Lantorn Starwalker was also going to fight at around 4km.

The Rifters burnt towards each other at a safe location in space and Starwalker started taking damage at around 12km away. That was a surprise! Starwalker settled into range at 4km and opened fire with the default phased plasma and started the NOS. The enemy Rifter shields seemed to be holding nicely as Starwalker entered armour. The armour repair was started and was soon being overheated as the damage continued to come in. 

Finally Valla Vuld entered armour but this fight was not looking good. Starwalker was surprised that so little damage was being done but so much damage was being taken and before long the armour was nearly gone. It was time to leave and Starwalker aligned out and warped away to the nearest gate with flames from the burning Rifter leaving a spluttering trail. That had not gone to plan at all.

Good fights were exchanged and in the conversation following Valla Vuld revealed the use of a tracking disruptor (optimal range). Starwalker had not even noticed that - yet further proof, if any were needed, of lack of situational awareness. Valla reissued the challenge and it was accepted, after repairing.

This time the fight went very differently. Starwalker came in fast orbited at 600m or so and overheated the guns. The result was very different too as Valla Vuld exploded into a fireball of death. Starwalker had learnt a valuable lesson (again) about watching the fight and reacting to the information. The problem to solve was using that information during a fight and that would require practice.

21 August 2011

Starwalker upgrades Neocom Console

Starwalker surveyed the new Neocom console and was very, very satisfied. It was the latest and greatest version and would allow Starwalker to see unprecedented levels of detail at the controls. Indeed, when undocking it was wonderful to see the Rifter auto-cannon turrets rotating for the very first time, in fact, he didn't even know they did that.

Starwalker knew that the latest Neocom console would not improve his combat skills or make his training plan go any faster but he would enjoy seeing space and ships in all their stunning glory.

20 August 2011

6 Month Review

Starwalker sat at the Neocom console and opened his journal. In the 3 Month Review Starwalker had focused on training skills, earning ISK and looking for a new corporation – joining R1FTA in June. Along with moving base the next months saw various war declarations and the first R1FTA kill, first solo kill and first losses.

Initial focus for targets was in hisec with various nefarious activities from looting wrecks, to can-flipping and ninja-salvaging. However, as time went on Starwalker decided to move to lowsec and his kill ratio went from 3:1 to close to 1:1. As always, it is the losses that prove most instructive and whilst Starwalker feels he is a better pilot now than he was three months ago he knows that he is still not very good yet.
Equally, Starwalker was aware that some of the lessons that he drew from his experience would be a pale imitation of the real truth but that would come with time, talking to other pilots and more experience. In summary so far, the top four lessons learnt:
1.    Ships - focus on a few ships and fits, suited to you, to learn to fly and fight. Only fly (and fit) what you can afford to lose and whilst taking risks is fine, try to avoid silly losses such as being destroyed by sentry guns
2.    Combat - maintain situational awareness and use all tools (display, local, overview...) and modules in combat and overheat
3.    Skills - focus training plan on particular ships, fits and skills needed. Be flexible and change the plan as needed but use the plan. Optimise that plan where possible such as using implants and a neural remap
4.    Base - select a small number of bases based on most important need such as central to roaming locations
Starwalker considered these lessons in relation to the 3 month review: training skills, earning ISK and finding a corporation. Training was ongoing and would remain so for many more months until at least the frigate level skills were maximised. The improvement was that training was much more focused now on key objectives. Earning ISK had taken a lower priority after using two plexes to fund frigate ships and equipment. Starwalker was a long way from being ISK self-sufficient. Starwalker was happy at R1FTA and had no desire to find another corporation.
Starwalker looked through the list in more detail and knew that the next logical step after this would be to take these lessons and make positive changes, in particular with ships and combat. But first things first, more detail:

Ships and equipment – focus on a critical few ships and fit:
·         Only fly ships that are expendable, in time they will be destroyed so expect that to happen
·         Select ships and fit based on personal preference in flying and fighting style
·         Fit ships to perform a specific purpose, to be fit for that purpose and for skills to be aligned to the ship and fit
·         Use Battleclinic (killboard), Failheap Challenge or similar to find ship fits to help understand either what you are flying or what you are fighting. Azual’s blog has a good series on Know Your Enemy
·         Focus on fitting to a ships strengths and bonuses and use EFT to help evaluate those fits
·         Select weapon type, ammunition, tank, range and speed based on flying and fighting style
·         Check ships are insured
·         Watch red GCC and avoid sentry gun fire or risk losing the ship
·         Avoid an online POS, which can easily overcome a single ship
Combat – use all your modules and overheat as needed
·         Maintain situational awareness and use the tools that will help do that, in particular display, overview and local. React as needed to changes or new information
·         Setup an overview that enables combat (ships and drones), travel and scanning. Overview can be used to select targets but the same can be done manually by selecting targets in space view
·         Use d-scan at 360 to see what is around and at 5 to find targets at celestials. Ignore targets not at celestials, unless you have the ability to scan those targets down
·         Most targets will be either be at an asteroid belt, customs office or planet or you will be found quickly at one of those
·         Gain as much intelligence as possible before the fight (pilot, ship, fit) and try to avoid pilots with lots of friends in local
·         In combat use all modules as needed, remember to scramble or point, use overheat to gain extra speed to dictate range or to apply more damage
·         Watch damage being received or applied and adjust range, ammunition or speed as needed
·         If winning try to get the pod by approaching ship/capsule to get a fast target lock and not drift out of range from the previous orbit
·         If losing, try to align out, overheat propulsion to get away and spam the warp away. Especially spam the warp away for the pod
·         Ensure medical clone is up to date – do not unnecessarily lose skill points if podded
Training skills – focus on key objectives, such as skills for a particular fitted ship
·         Train most combat and support skills to level 4 and then focus on level 5
·         Prioritise order of skills based on need for fitted ship, for example if mainly using a shield Rifter fit then maximise those gunnery, missile and tank skills rather than spreading skill training across multiple areas (exploration...) or ship types (battlecruisers...)
·         List skills and their trained level in EVE notepad and then train them in order. (I also include time to train next skill) Be flexible as needed, such as pushing some skill training earlier (thermodynamics...) and other skills later (rigging...) or to respond to changes such as new preference for armour Rifters rather than shield Rifters. But... have a plan and use it
·         Implants can be used to reduce training time and similarly a neural remap can achieve something similar. Use these as needed but note that implants are destroyed with the clone when being podded
Base of operations – select a small number of central locations for ships and equipment
·         Select a main base of operations that is central to expected main activities
·         Have some alternate secondary bases for ships and equipment
·         Prioritise selection criteria based on frequency or importance of application
·         Avoid obvious gate camp locations hisec to lowsec pipes or main lowsec to lowsec pipes
·         Keep a few ships fully fitted and ready to go
Starwalker sat back from the Neocom console, considering his journal, it had been an interesting time and life was very different in lowsec compared to hisec. Life in lowsec was harder, with Starwalker more often the prey than the hunter and running into gate camps and ganks. Knowing what to do in combat was much easier than actually doing it. Starwalker decided that over the coming months he would investigate combat and ways to help bridge the knowing doing gap. It was time to harden up or ship out.

19 August 2011

Practice Duel in Lantorn

Zodiac Black and Starwalker were talking about tussling with the Tuskers in Adirain in a dimly lit bar in Hadozeko and how the fight went. Before long it turned into an interrogation where Starwalker was asking lots of questions about how Zodiac approached the fight and what he did in combat.

Soon the conversation was taking place in space over the communications channel as a friendly duel was proposed and agreed. A safe was found in Lantorn and it was agreed to only go to 0-25% armour.

Starwalker burnt towards Zodiac and overheated the mid slots and very soon afterwards targeting, orbiting, scrambling and firing. The orbit was supposed to be at around 1km but the fight was taking place at 4km. The mid slots had to be turned off with the heat damage but it didn’t matter – Starwalker had lost the fight, only inflicting modest damage.

The post mortem was very interesting and Starwalker realised a number of mistakes:
·         Did not check what ammunition to use before the engagement
·         Did not overheat the guns or pulse the small armour repair
·         Did not try to control range
A rematch was agreed and this time Starwalker did not overheat the middle rack on approach. Ammunition was changed to phased plasma as a good default and soon after the combat started the guns were being overheated.

The fight was going much better and this time when the damage started into armour the small armour repair was overheated individually. The fight ended much closer but Starwalker still was making mistakes:
·         Forgot to activate the Nosferatu until well after the combat had started
·         Did not pulse the small armour repair (turn-on-off wait a few seconds turn-on-off wait and so on)
In short, Starwalker knew what to do but simply wasn’t doing it (correctly) – a knowing doing gap. One last duel was had and Zodiac asked on whether Starwalker liked the “fly-by”. Starwalker hadn’t even noticed it being focused on damage and modules overheating, and so added controlling range to the list of improvements needed.

It had been fun and instructive. The task now – to practice as practice makes perfect.

15 August 2011

Review of Recent Ship Losses

Starwalker sipped some Quafe and sat down at the Neocom console. It was time to consider recent losses and what could be learnt from them. The current tally was 20 ships lost and 7 pods:

Total Losses
Small Gang
Gate Camp
Sentry Guns
Ship Losses








Before R1FTA



In looking through the loss record Starwalker noted some observations:
·         In general solo combat, there was only one real loss – when fighting against a Myrmidon battlecruiser in Arnon (0.6) using a Rifter. That was probably being too ambitious but also showed that Starwalker:
o   Did not focus on prior intelligence i.e. gathering information before engaging the target
o   Did not focus on drones when in combat
·         Two solo Rifter losses were during a war declaration
o   Taking on a Thrasher was simply too ambitious
o   Getting caught travelling back to the warzone by a Merlin and the same Thrasher

·          The 2 Rifters and 1 Drake killed in gate camp losses reflect life in lowsec. It is dangerous and gate camps can appear anywhere with pipes having an obvious appeal for easy kills. However, Starwalker tended to freeze and react poorly to the situation, so there was an insight:
o   Use the gate timer to decide whether to warp away to nearest alignment point or burn back to gate to jump back through after the gate timer has expired
o   Remain aligned and if the ship does not escape try to get the pod away (spam warp liberally if needed)
o   Turn down graphic settings to avoid the lag associated with ship destruction

·         The POS and Sentry Gun losses were ridiculous mistakes – lesson learned

·         The small gang losses are characterised by acting as a tackler to a Taranis and Rupture and consequently taking a high risk when the ship is not fitted as a tackler with a good tank. However, there were other possible outcomes in both cases:
o   Keep point until the rest of the gang arrive and if the ship is in trouble then burn away rather than stay until the bitter end
o   Be much more flexible and respond to the situation such as use of changing range or even ammunition type
·         The fight against the two Tuskers in their Rifters resulted in a loss during the first combat with the pair of Rifters and a second 1v1 duel was a straight loss with an easy win for the Tusker. The duel in particular highlighted that micro management of modules and reacting to the situation is not a strength
·         The last small gang loss was responding to a call for backup. Responding to a call for help is no problem, it was not reacting fast enough to the situation i.e. no fight in progress – get out fast

Starwalker realised that he was risk averse when solo and reckless when in a gang or at a minimum showed poor judgement about when to try and leave a fight. Equally, Starwalker was slow to react to a situation, new information or changes such as when ganked in Amamake or the duel. Experience would help but Starwalker also needed to sharpen up, use information and realise that in many situations there were only seconds for a decision. Those seconds would be the difference between having a ship to fly, leaving in a pod or worse still waking in a clone vat.