30 December 2012

Tristan Mark II

There is advice that goes along the lines of "don't fix it if it isn't broke". Since Starwalker had initial success with his first foray in the Tristan - it could be argued that he should continue with the same shield fit, that was not his style.

Starwalker was always seeking improvements, whether to the ship choice, the fit, skills, piloting or 101 other things. This was no different, he had learnt from that first roam that he had no range control and it was not clear whether the energy neutraliser was really having the desired effect fast enough. There were some obvious counters to being neuted:
  1. Move out of the energy neutraliser range, which would be easy with range control. In a close range frigate fight 7km would be outside of neut range but still inside scram range
  2. Stay inside neut range and use an energy vampire to suck back capacitor energy to keep the key modules running
  3. Use a capacitor booster that would simply restore some part of the lost energy
To solve the problem of no range control Starwalker elected to use a stasis webifier and that then left the question of how to tank the Tristan. The default armour and structure was very good for a frigate and virtually required the use of a damage control module. Indeed it would be possible to leave the tank at that or around 3.7k EHP. However, Starwalker wanted a little more tank than that so the question was whether to supplement that tank with buffer, resistance or active defence fittings.

[Tristan, SAR]

Damage Control II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Small Armor Repairer II

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Core Defense Field Extender I

Hobgoblin II x5
Warrior II x3

Starwalker selected the small armour repairer and strangely complemented that with some shield rigs. An armour repairer would more naturally be paired with armour rigs but whilst that would be a reasonable choice that would also reduce the speed of the Tristan, undoing some of the benefits of the web. It was to avoid reducing the ship speed that the 200mm armour plate was similarly dismissed.

A resistance based tank employing an EANM II was entirely possible but that would require some additional CPU enhancement whilst leaving significant powergrid still available, which did not seem optimal. Alternatively, an Adaptive Nano Plating II would offer some armour resistance benefits without the CPU hit. It would be possible to simply leave the tank as a damage control and small armour repairer but Starwalker felt that a little more tank was warranted when coming up against combat frigates like the Merlin. Whether those shield rigs would be worth it only time would tell.

Whether this mark II fit was better than the mark I fit was entirely debateable but that was part of the joy of life in New Eden - taking a ship into the wild and seeing what happened. Starwalker undocked...

28 December 2012

Tryst with Tristan

Starwalker was contemplating the next Gallente ship to fly despite having just bought loads of missiles. His Kestrel had killed this Venture but the ship just did not set his heart on fire. The reason was simply down to the alternative - the joy of fighting up close and personal with high damage blasters. He had to replace his last blaster ship - this Merlin lost to a Thorax.

Choosing what ship to fly though was a combination of factors and not just one thing. In particular, and beyond their capabilities, there were four frigates that Starwalker actually liked the look of - Rifter, Merlin, Punisher (and their variants) and also the...Tristan. It was a very quirky looking ship but there was something about it that just appealed, unlike 80% of the other ships in New Eden.

The Tristan had recently been over-hauled and was now a drone boat with blasters and Starwalker decided that he would start to fly it immediately as he had good blaster skills and reasonable drone skills. The drone skills had been started when he had dallied with the battlecruisers earlier this year. 

The Tristan fit recommended on FailHeap Challenge was a railgun kiting fit but Starwalker liked blasters. However, given the ability to field five drones most of the damage was drone based with the ship's bonuses to turret tracking (7.5%) and drone tracking and hitpoints (10%). The first fit that Starwalker came up with was based on defining a decent tank and amplifying the drone damage:

[Tristan, MSE]

Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Drone Damage Amplifier II

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Medium Shield Extender II

Light Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Electron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Core Defense Field Extender I

Hobgoblin II x5
Warrior II x3

At level 5 skill this Tristan put out an impressive (combined) 189 DPS with a 6.6k EHP tank; using small core defence field extenders would increase the tank to nearly 7k EHP but Starwalker wanted the resists. The maiden voyage of the Tristan resulted in two nice kills:
  • Rifter, piloted by Naen Aliel, who tried to maintain a 5km orbit (successfully) whilst trying to kill the drones. He killed one drone but the others got him and Starwalker only noticed after the event that his blasters had contributed nothing to the fight
  • Punisher, piloted by Energy God, who surprisingly decided to get in close. Energy God started firing at the Tristan but then changed to the drones. It didn't matter as the result was the same - another kill

Whilst both fights had resulted in kills Starwalker realised that he had some potential improvements to make:
  1. The Rifter could have left the fight at any time with the range control. Indeed he should have left earlier to avoid destruction. The Tristan needed to have a web to keep targets in range - better pilots would simply have left once it was clear that they were losing and they could escape
  2. The energy neutraliser may have had an effect but as the range oscillated, mainly in the Rifter fight, it had to be continually re-applied. It was unclear how effective it was during the fight
  3. Starwalker did not manage the drones at all during the fight, he simply launched them and engaged the target. He would need to start managing the drones during the fight, in particular, recalling drones that were about to be destroyed to save them. It might even be possible to relaunch them later when the target was focused on other things (drones or Tristan)
Starwalker was pleased with how the fights had gone and how the Tristan had performed. He might tweak the fit a little more but in short he enjoyed flying it and managing the drones, even if superficially so far, it was a whole new experience.

27 December 2012

Missiles Missiles and More Missiles

Starwalker had spent the last week or so flying around in a Kestrel (kiter and brawler) and he also had a Caracal too for an upcoming T1 cruiser roam. Now that the Caracal and Kestrel ship bonuses were to all damage types there was no reason to focus on kinetic missiles exclusively. That capability to select damage type was both a blessing and a curse as a recent shopping expedition to Hek had highlighted.

The original plan had been to buy the highest (T2) damage missiles for each of heavy assault, light missiles and rockets. However, after seeing commentary about explosion radius and how the faction missiles were better at dealing damage to frigates Starwalker had also ended up buying faction missiles too. The original intent was to use faction missiles for frigates and T2 missiles for cruisers and above - Starwalker still had aspirations for (solo) above class kills.

The buying spree result and therefore problem, was simply an overload of too many missiles bought - there were twelve varieties of heavy assault missiles alone:
  • Rage = Inferno (Thermal), Mjolnir (EM), Nova (Explosive), Scourge (Kinetic)
  • Javelin = Inferno, Mjolnir, Nova, Scourge
  • Faction = Inferno, Mjolnir, Nova, Scourge
And an equal number for the light missiles (Fury, Precision and Faction) and rockets (Rage, Javelin and Faction). Missiles, missiles and more missiles - too many missiles. Of course, Starwalker recognised the absurdity of carrying around twelve missile types and knew that it could be simplified to basically carry faction missiles as the most useful against the most targets. The downside to that simplification was some loss of potential damage of using T2 missiles against larger targets.

In any case, Starwalker had bought lots of missiles but that very act had caused a rethink about damage and weapon types and Starwalker knew what weapon system he really, really liked - blasters. There were two defining characteristics that appealed to Starwalker - high damage and very simple ammunition choices:
  • Short range - Caldari (or Federation) Navy Antimatter Charges or Void, if the ship bonuses included tracking
  • Long range (brawler or scram range) - Null
Starwalker had already enjoyed flying his blaster fit Merlin with more than 200 DPS and the Enyo was truly fearsome at around 400 DPS for a frigate. Despite Starwalker's Caldari roots he was feeling the pull to fly more Gallente ships as natural blaster ships...

24 December 2012


Starwalker only had a Merlin left after losing this Kestrel to gate camp and this one to a Merlin. It was his current favourite ship as Starwalker liked the sheer firepower that the Merlin could bring to a fight. Its tank was reasonably good for a brawler and when attacking cyno ships it was clear that the shield resistance helped to mitigate sentry gun damage, much better than the default resistances seen in the Kestrel.

Starwalker favoured damage over tank and that was reflected in his Merlin fit that employed two magnetic field stabilisers, cranking out 223 of kinetic and thermal damage with Caldari Navy Antimatter.

[Merlin, MSE2MFS]

Micro Auxiliary Power Core II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Stasis Webifier II
Medium Shield Extender II

Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Core Defense Field Extender I

It was a good brawling ship and easy to set the orbit to 500m and unleash hell. It was also able to deal with cyno ships quickly and get away - sometimes on fire. Starwalker undocked and given that this was now the third attempt to get to the TESF (Target Everyone Somebody Fire) roam in Eugales he was determined to not be distracted. The only thing that would stop him would be a gate camp.

Starwalker got to Eugales and was pleased to join the roam, something he was rarely able to do given its regularly scheduled night. The roam itself was FC'd as usual by Peri Simone with Kane the Black (Merlin) and Kohana Maxwell (Arazu) scouting. It was good with some nice kills:
Starwalker enjoyed the Merlin but was thinking that the Kestrel might make another good T1 frigate to fly. He needed to buy some more ships, as he deliberately kept very few fitted ships at any one time, and the Kestrel would be on the shopping list.

21 December 2012

Second Voyage of the Kestrel

Starwalker was heading to Eugales for the regular fleet roam - TESF (Target Everyone Somebody Fire). However, he had to return to base (Gultratren) to collect another ship after losing his first Kestrel to a gate camp in Aubenall. It was his own fault because he had been lazy and not checked:
  1. The waypoints to look out for any hotspots when he had set the route through hi-sec to reduce the overall number of jumps
  2. The map looking for evidence of a gate camp
  3. His avoid system setting in auto-pilot for Oulley, due to it being regularly camped
He had another Kestrel fit as a brawler and was looking forward to seeing what it could do. Starwalker liked the Kestrel for it potential surprise value given the commonality of Merlins, Incursi and Rifters. He was expecting to stay out of the range of blaster ships and simply brawl the Rifters and similar. He set off on his second voyage with the Kestrel. 

The first opportunity for a fight came when a flashy red pilot, Aj Oguntunde, was loitering around 25km from a gate in his Incursus. Clearly, he was looking for a fight as anyone could engage him as an outlaw on a gate, without fear of taking gate fire for the aggression. Starwalker needed no second invitation and engaged.

He had the perfect approach and was able to overheat everything and establish an orbit at around 6km. The Incursus tried to close the distance and a little manual piloting was able to gain range again. The Incursus was repairing its armour but was losing ground as the rockets smashed in. The Kestrel's shield disappeared and it had dipped into armour but when the range was maintained the incoming damage dropped. It was tense, but then the Incursus went into structure and exploded into a satisfying ball of fire. Good fights were exchanged and Aj Oguntunde noted that he had under-estimated the Kestrel - good!

Starwalker was very pleased with himself and not a little over-confident when he saw a flashy Merlin on a gate a few jumps later. However, the Merlin was literally on the gate and when Starwalker landed they were only ~4km apart. With his over-confidence flowing freely Starwalker engaged and regretted it almost immediately as he lost 50% of his shields within the first few seconds. It had taken those few seconds to start moving, lock, scram, fire and over-heat but those precious seconds were the difference between life and death.

Starwalker tried to gain range but it was not fast enough and Jev North piloting the Merlin was able to close the distance again and that finished off the Kestrel as it tore apart. Starwalker was still trying to manage his modules and piloting rather than aligning and escaping and that delay cost him another pod. He woke in Gultratren, where he had started, and had to do the usual:
  • Upgrade the clone to retain skill points
  • Stop training to plug-in augmentations
  • Plug-in the implants, primarily learning to speed up training
  • Restart the training queue
He had one fitted ship left - a Merlin - he undocked to head to Eugales yet again...

20 December 2012

Maiden Voyage of the Kestrel

Starwalker had been enjoying looking at the new capabilities of the ships in the New Eden tiercide and had focused on the Kestrel of the T1 frigates. He had used that ship previously as a pure kiter with the intent of pecking brawlers to death with its meagre ~100 DPS of kinetic damage. That had changed with the ship rebalancing and it was a better ship all round for kiting and could even brawl.

[Kestrel, Kiter]

Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
J5 Prototype Warp Disruptor I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Medium Shield Extender II

Light Missile Launcher II, Inferno Fury Light Missile
Light Missile Launcher II, Inferno Fury Light Missile
Light Missile Launcher II, Inferno Fury Light Missile
Light Missile Launcher II, Inferno Fury Light Missile

Small Semiconductor Memory Cell I
Small Bay Loading Accelerator I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

It had a decent tank (~5k EHP) for a kiter and more importantly it now had a selectable damage (~100 DPS) type with its 5% damage bonus to all rockets and missiles along with a 10% velocity increase for more range (~47km). This particular fit was capacitor stable by adding the semiconductor cell (+15% capacitor) and Starwalker had found that stability important due to the length of time it could take to kill anything.

This kiter could also move along at a credible ~2.6km/s and would handily kite anything afterburner fit. It would not keep up with interceptors and similarly fast ships but its tank and range would drive off any other faster kiters. However, the Kestrel could also surprise potential victims with a brawler fit based around rockets.

[Kestrel, Brawler]

Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II

1MN Afterburner II
Medium Shield Extender II
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator

Rocket Launcher II, Inferno Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Inferno Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Inferno Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Inferno Rage Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Core Defense Field Extender I
Small Core Defense Field Extender I

It had a good tank at ~6k EHP for a brawler and more importantly it now had a selectable damage type of ~137 DPS with a range of ~12km. Against blasters it would kite outside blaster range (~4km) to the edge of scram range and against other weapon systems like lazors and autocannons it could brawl at whatever range. Given no spare high slot for an energy vampire or another mid slot for a capacitor booster it was vulnerable to capacitor warfare, so it was unlikely to be able to take on ships that could drain its capacitor.

The maiden voyage of the new and improved Kestrel was not great. It succumbed to temptation and killed this cyno ship and the pilot was sufficiently aggrieved to offer the kill rights for 1m ISK. Starwalker seriously doubted how effective that would be to motivate bounty hunters but if it brought someone looking for a kill that would be good. However, the voyage did not last much longer as the Kestrel was lost a little later to a gate camp without really having had a fight first.

19 December 2012

Merlin Baited by Ares of Eve University

Starwalker was wandering around Molden Heath with another Rebel, Marethyu Ghostfire, looking for targets. They had been doing the circuit from Heild, around to Atlar and Ennur and then down to Klingt and Egbinger for the final three jumps back to Heild.

Starwalker was in a Merlin and noticed a non-flashy Ares on the Weld gate. He knew it was an interceptor but had forgotten that its prime role was fleet tackler. It was loitering on gate and Starwalker locked it up but did not fire and did not call for assistance. There was no chance that the Merlin could survive gate fire long enough to kill it and get away.

The Ares returned lock but started to drift away from the gate to around 15km and the orbit that Starwalker had established on it had also pulled him away from the gate. He decided that the Ares was simply baiting him and had no intention of fighting and had aligned back to the gate... just as it fired and a small EVE University fleet appeared on grid. He was in big trouble and knew it.

Starwalker overheated his afterburner in a desparate attempt to close the distance to the gate to 2.5km to jump. He was locked and the incoming fire ripped straight through his shields but he was so close... The distance closed to 2.8km and he started to spam "jump" just as the ship exploded. It was so close that at first Starwalker thought he had survived and jumped but that temporary hesitation also cost him his pod

He emerged from the pod goo in Covryn and considered what he should have done better:
  • Checked the pilot for corporation and alliance rather than just lock him up. EVE University would have been a give away that he was likely part of a fleet
  • Paid more attention to common ship types and what they were used for. The connection to an interceptor had been made but not that its primary role was fleet tackle
  • Watched range more closely and as the distance from the gate increased simply ignore the target and head back to gate or warp off on the basis that he was being baited and not engaged
  • Given the presence of a tackler on one side of the gate - to be suspicious of jumping through into a fleet on the other side

16 December 2012

Enyo versus Enyo in Placid

Placid was living up to its name as Starwalker had spent some time wandering around looking for targets but found nothing of interest. He had also experimented with his overview settings and had now changed them yet again.

Starwalker liked the one size fits all approach to most things but the overview, like ships and fittings, was almost impervious to that approach. It was simply better to focus on some key scan objectives and meet those rather than obtain a long laundry list of all possible useful results from a scan.

Consequently he had decided to go for the default choices: All, PvP, Drone and WarpTo with one custom one based on PvP that focused on targets - namely ships, drones and NPCs. The intent was to:
  • Use All in emergencies only when trying to find some general object
  • PvP had default locations for fights such as gates, stations, belts and so that doubled as the target scan option too. Ideally, it would help locate targets to the nearby object and warp in
  • Drones - to separately identify drones from ships, especially during small fleet engagements when the overview was cluttered with multiple targets
  • WarpTo - GTFO option to warp away when the ship was close to being destroyed or destroyed
  • Target - focused on ships, drones and NPCs and also included wrecks and biomass to loot ships and claim corpses

Starwalker had reset his overview and was returning from Eugales when he noticed an Enyo on scan and only one other pilot in system - DeadRow. He checked the pilot and he was Wanted with a -7 security status, so he could be engaged on the gate without sentry fire. Starwalker was also in an Enyo and since he had set his warp to automatic jump he jumped out of system and waited on the other side.

He aligned to the out gate, started to burn for it and overheated his modules. The target Enyo jumped in and Starwalker immediately locked it up and burnt towards it. DeadRow was clearly looking for a fight and the damage started to come in very quickly but the outgoing damage was also fierce. This Enyo had been designed to melt-face with close on 400 DPS.

Both ships entered armour and DeadRow released his secret weapon - a Hobgoblin II and that reminded Starwalker to release his energy destabilising drone, which was quickly despatched and destroyed. Both ships entered structure as Starwalker's capacitor ran dry and he then could only fire periodically but both ships were close to destruction. Luckily, DeadRow's Enyo exploded first and he quickly warped his pod away, wishing a GF. Starwalker saluted him, scooped the loot and appropriated the drone for good measure.

Afterwards, Starwalker got a bounty too of just under 11m ISK, he was pleased with the result, especially when he found out that DeadRow was a top ranked pilot. The victory was even sweeter with ISK but it was short-lived. He lost his Enyo in an almost identical fight with Jack Starbuck, another top ranked pilot at a complex. May be if he had released his Hobgoblin II earlier that would have made all the difference but alas it was not to be and Starwalker returned to Covryn in his pod.

7 December 2012

A Beacon Too Far

Starwalker undocked in Egbinger in his Vengeance and there was another cynosural beacon. The temptation was too much and seeing that it was just an Impairor it was soon a wreck. The cyno ship pilot, Elektormonter, however was completely undeterred and soon he had a second cyno ship lighting up.

Of course, the temptation was still far too much and Starwalker went in again and killed the second Impairor and just for good measure he stayed to kill the pod too. He didn't have time to scoop the corpse and warped away with his ship on fire.

Starwalker wandered off around Molden Heath and couldn't believe his luck when he returned to Egbinger to find Elektormonter had yet another cyno ship lighting up a beacon. That Impairor went the way of the others and also became a wreck.

Starwalker decided to test his flags and warped to a gate and then a station - no sentry gun fire. Cool, he could leave system whenever he wanted without fear of sentry fire destroying his ship. He was just about to dock up when yet another cynosural beacon lit up. It was Elektormonter again! But this time in a Pilgrim - he was tempting Starwalker but this was a very different proposition.

At first, Starwalker decided that the Pilgrim was too tough to kill but then he changed his mind on the assumption that he wasn't completely sure and he would risk his Vengeance trying for the kill. He went in, locked it up and started firing the rockets with overheat on. Some enemy drones were launched to supplement the sentry fire but most importantly his capacitor was instantly drained. That was bad news straight away.

As he switched targets to the drones he realised that his rockets were getting seriously burnt and he hit the shift to turn off the overheat. However, he didn't wait for the cycle to complete and seeing the overheat still on he hit the shift again, which had the undesired effect of keeping the overheat on until his rockets were burnt out. With no firepower, no capacitor and too close to run it was inevitable that this shiny Vengeance would join the space wreckage.

Starwalker left in the mistaken belief that if he hadn't burnt out his rockets he could have killed the drones and then the Pilgrim, completely overlooking the obvious problem with that. There was also sentry fire and he could not stay long enough to kill it. However, in the heat of the moment and completely fixated, he was not thinking straight and he came back with another Vengeance. This time it would be different.

It was no different. He did not burn out his rockets and he did kill some of the drones but the capacitor situation was dire even with the energy vampire running. Worse, the drones kept coming - he had not checked the fact that the Pilgrim had 150 cubic metre capacity for drones. After killing the first set of drones he had targeted the Pilgrim again and hadn't even noticed the next set of drones until he started taking more damage again. The trouble was - he was already in structure from round one and round two was simply too much.

It was inevitable what would happen next and Starwalker could only curse his own stupidty but he spent too long cursing his stupidity and compounded the loss of his Vengeance with the loss of his pod too. This really was a beacon too far and hopefully he had learnt from it.

6 December 2012

Predictability Equals Zero

Starwalker was still cruising around Molden Heath and Metropolis in his Vengeance, although he had lost this Vengeance to a Talos returning from null-sec, an epic failure to spiral in. The cyno ship, a Probe, he had killed on the return journey was hardly compensation for that loss but for some reason he had run into some cynos recently and he had killed this Velator too.

The Vengeance was much more capable than just killing cyno ships but he had yet to find a fair fight so in the meantime he would take the unfair fights too, if killing a cyno ship could be called a fight at all, but a kill was a kill.

Recently, he had seen that New Eden had various ships rebalanced and some great changes to visually track ships. He was looking forward to getting out and about in some T1 Cruisers. However before that could happen he needed to get the latest version of EFT as he liked to experiment with fits theoretically first and then take them out into the wild. Of course that would take time but Starwalker felt no urgent need to fly any ships immediately.

Meanwhile, more generally, Starwalker was finding EVE teasing and frustrating, enticing and satisfying, engaging and enthralling. Recently, he had been out solo hunting for hours and despite the odd games around gates or playing chase he had nothing to show for his efforts. And then 4 kills came within an hour, they were all cyno ships but of course, Starwalker didn't care. EVE was an unpredictable mistress and Starwalker took the opportunities as they came.

One night, he undocked in his Vengeance and there were two cynosural beacons just a few AU away. The temptation was far too great and the kill far too easy and so the rockets made short work of the Impairor and after some time for the shields to recharge the Kestrel went down too.

After waiting out GCC Starwalker went off towards Heild and just checked his map for any more cynos. There was another cyno ship in Hrober so he went there and killed the Ibis. Satisfied, Starwalker docked up in station for a break and he returned a little while later. Heading back to Egbinger he found yet another cyno up. Crazy.

Starwalker warped in and found the Kestrel there along with a carrier but the Kestrel went down fast and Starwalker warped away with most of his armour gone and because he had waited a little too long some structure was gone too. This Vengeance only had a light tank and taking sentry fire was not good for its health but then again having ships on fire was not a bad thing. Cengae bleated "epic PvP" but Starwalker ignored him, as he ignored most people in local, except to wave to fellow R1DER pilots.

1 December 2012

Roaming Roaming Roaming

Starwalker had been roaming around Molden Heath and Metropolis in his Merlin and a shiny new Vengeance, which was a wonderful looking assault frigate. It had the traditional Amarr strengths of strong tank and good capacitor regeneration but with its rockets its damage output was lower than most other assault frigates.

Rockets did not have the highest DPS but they had the benefit of consistent damage over their range and that damage would increase if the target was webbed. Similarly, the Vengeance was able to choose its rocket damage type, hitting the lowest resists, as its bonus was to all missile damage types and rate of fire rather than the specific kinetic damage associated with the Caldari rocket/missile ships. 

This last week had been kind to Starwalker as these two helpless cyno ships became victims: Kestrel and Probe. However, the highlight was Kaeda Maxwell's roam into null-sec via Etherium Reach. A selection of enemy ships ran into the fleet and died quickly:
  • Osprey - given this kill was worth over 6 billion ISK it was a complete surprise that the pilot seemed to be AFK just off the gate, just inviting the gank that followed. Vincent R'lyeh had offered to stay on the other side of the gate to catch the Osprey if it jumped through and so he waited whilst the Osprey died. He then spent the rest of the roam complaining how he had missed out on the 6bn kill - most amusing!
  • Tornado - may have been just unlucky as he jumped into the gang and was only 40km away from a Stilletto with a long point. What ever the entry conditions to the fight he was not fast enough to escape and once the point was established it was all over
  • Hurricane - was sitting near a station and aggressed the scout. He realised his mistake when everyone in fleet piled in and in reaction he tried to deagress - to dock up and escape - but with his drones still fighting and with the DPS on the field it wasn't going to happen
  • Drake - another hapless victim to a R1DER blob  
  • Cynabal - sitting 200km above the gate and the pilot must have seen the Stilletto chasing him down just as the fleet was landing on gate. Since no one expected the Cynabal to hang around and get pointed the fleet had not stayed off grid but for whatever reason Major Floor in his Stilletto did get point. Surprised, the fleet immediately burned into action and then another bling ship (but no bling fittings) went to EVE heaven
  • Hurricane - pilot just seemed to be unlucky as he ran into the fleet at a gate and the DPS just simply blew him away. His ECM drones were ineffective against the sheer number of frigates in a feeding frenzy on his hull

Starwalker had tried to kill the pods everytime too but it became apparent that he was far too slow as he never even got onto one of the pod kills. It was a good roam with lots of fun in fleet and on the field. Dying In A Fire (DIAF) was not a problem for Starwalker but it was even better to have lots of kills and still have the ship afterwards. The question was could he keep the Vengeance on the return journey from deep inside null-sec?

24 November 2012

Need for Speed

Starwalker had been wandering around Molden Heath in his Enyo looking for targets rather fruitlessly. He was generally solo and sometimes went to Heild to see what was in the deadspace complex and to look for a fight, however, with lots of other R1DER pilots in system many potential targets probably thought he was fleeted.

Whilst that was occasionally true Starwalker spent much more time looking for solo kills and to that end he had wandered towards Metropolis when he ran into Vincent R'lyeh. Vincent noted that a small gang was heading into null-sec soon and it was Assault Frigate only. It was an opportunity too good to miss and so he headed over to Egbinger to get into fleet with Vincent, Kaeda Maxwell and Peri Simone.

The trouble with having fully fitted ships was that he had no real ability to change his fit on the fly. Going into null-sec and engagements there would generally benefit from micro-warp-drives (MWD) being fitted for the extra speed. Starwalker was about to be reminded of that lesson the hard way. 

The form up in Egbinger was with the intent of entering Great Wildlands via B-VIP9 and whilst waiting at the gate the gang was engaged by a Hurricane and Rapier. For Starwalker it was almost over before it started as he started to engage the Hurricane he was suddenly capless and without any capacitor nothing worked, including his small repairer. The Enyo was destroyed within seconds.

Undeterred Starwalker got into another identical Enyo and the small gang reformed, heading off into null-sec via Etherium Reach instead. It was a long roam with some gate games and some near misses but this Rupture was caught at one gate. Starwalker and Vincent had aggressed one side of the gate and it had jumped through into Kaeda and Peri who got point. The Rupture's drones were hurting them and were being targeted first but both Starwalker and Vincent had to wait out the timer to use the gate.

Suddenly the gate was open again and Starwalker was through and targeting the Rupture. The drones had been dealt with so he concentrated on doing a metric tonne of damage, something that the Enyo does well. Soon, the Rupture was down and after a GF in local the gang moved on, but without Vincent who had to return to base.

Later, it seemed like a major fight had gone down and capsules started to stream by in system. It was the perfect opportunity to setup a small mobile warp distruptor (bubble) to catch stragglers. Indeed it worked, as a Drake came by but it managed to jump through and although Starwalker and Peri gave chase it got away. Kaeda though had engaged the next target and called for the gang to come back to take down the Tornado.

Starwalker and Peri burned back to the gate, jumped and then burned towards the Tornado but for Starwalker it was all far too slow as he missed destroying the ship and had almost missed the pod too. The gang retreated to a perch to wait for the next target and then a Sabre and Hawk came in. Somehow Starwalker landed more than 50 km from the fight and as he slowly burned towards the Sabre it died. He then refocused on the Hawk but more of the enemy had arrived and quickly it was time to bail.

But it was too late, Starwalker had been too far away and too slow to get into the fight and once there was far too slow to get away again and had been scambled. Before long there were multiple ECM drones on the field and what damage he had been doing was stopped immediately as he lost lock. Without a lock it was all over and the second Enyo of the night went down along with the Jaguars of Kaeda and Peri.

Peri and Kaeda self destructed pods to return to base but Starwalker had implants and so the following day he headed back to Gultratren. On the return journey, he landed in one bubble and had to slow boat more than 50km at 187m/s - painful, but finally his pod returned to base uncscathed.

In retrospect, Starwalker could have done some things better:
  • Have ready a defined fit for null-sec and the modules needed. Null-sec really required a MWD to burn through bubbles or get to the fighting fast. Last night Starwalker had seen the need for speed
  • Engaging gangs in null-sec would likely involve engaging larger ships like cruisers and battlecruisers. He needed to consider how to fit his ship regarding capacitor warfare either decide to fit boosters or energy vampires or run the risk that his blaster boats would be helpless to energy destabilisers
  • Starwalker tended to take a do or die approach to engagements and yet he could and should have disengaged earlier for both his Enyo losses. Trying to disengage might not have saved his ship but it would have been worth a try
  • Starwalker liked the sheer brute force that the Enyo had but as a minor tweak to the fit should he reconsider the choice of rocket and overdrive modules
He had also recently purchased a Vengeance and completed the necessary training - he loved the look of the Vengeance, especially the embossed hull. He would start flying it soon.

22 November 2012

21 Month Review

Starwalker had now been in New Eden for nearly 21 months, it was time to review progress and see what had been happening over the last 3 months. In many respects it had been business as usual except that Starwalker had spent less time in space than he had wanted.

Most notably, Starwalker had finished his miscellaneous training so he could now fly battleships, command and recon ships, in fact, that training also included Amarr Frigate V. He had Assault Ships V but had previously overlooked the Amarr as he had focused on shield tanks and missiles, however, he wanted to try out the Vengeance as an armour tanked rocket ship.

The strange thing about completing that training was that Starwalker had no intention of flying those ships yet but had still felt compelled to use his skill books rather than have them sitting in his hangar. Now that it was done he could get back to the main task of filling out his training gaps and bringing some skills to V, for example, he was currently training Fuel Conservation to V. There was no specific plan related to the next ship to fly, as Starwalker was happy with the core skill set and was still flying ships using that skill set.

Starwalker had flown the Drake as per the plan but it had not been wildly successful as shown here. He had also been flying around in the Merlin a lot and had enjoyed it but was starting to think about flying other ships. He still had a general preference for blasters and rocket or missile ships and had enjoyed the ancillary shield booster for active tanking but he was also looking to fly some other ships too.

A new generation of ships was coming and Starwalker considered that there might be some good ships to fly, such as the Caracal and Rupture. He had flown a Caracal recently but that had simply been ganked, hardly a good test of what it could do. Starwalker had also decided that whilst he liked T1 frigates he would fly other larger ships too, and although the Drake experience had not been great the new T1 cruisers could be a lot of fun.

Starwalker had a base temporarily in Fensi but had now settled on a strategic base in Hek with operational bases in Covryn, Gultratren and Egbinger. The last base was R1FTA HQ and from his perspective it was not well positioned to be resupplied and typically he was resupplying it from Gultratren. Each station only held a very small number of fitted ships (1 to 3) along with ammunition and that seemed to work well. In the event he was podded there was also the basic set of learning implants at each station too.

Unfortunately, Starwalker had been experimenting a little too freely with ship fits and that had resulted in some abominations. Miura Bull had recently expressed surprise at a fit that Starwalker had died in and that comment had added weight to his growing realisation that fits needed to be really thought through and to exploit the ship's strengths. He had already known that but had been a little too carried away with experimentation and actually flying in some of those experiments.  

The lack of flight time in any ships had forcibly curtailed his desire to improve his manual flight skills. He could approach manually but he still found it extremely hard to control frigates manually once the fight was underway. Perhaps by now he was handicapped by bad habits and laziness, time would tell.

Looking forward and as before, he had no strong goals to achieve and was simply still enjoying flying around in small ships trying to kill things. He was only just successful in that, with success being measured as killing more times than being killed but the killboard showed it was a close run thing.

18 November 2012

Cousin Springs Myrmidon Trap

Starwalker was cruising around Molden Heath in his Enyo when Miss Carry saw him in local and invited him to fleet. Apparently, Miss Carry's cousin, who was not a Rebel, was about to spring a trap on his corporation mate. In short, the cousin was bringing his unsuspecting corpie, Oxall who was in a Myrmidon, to the Rebels.

The initial Rebel plan was to execute the Myrmidon in Bosena but Gunpoint Diplomacy in a Thrasher and Arazu were interferring with the setup of the trap. So after Miss Carry lost his Jaguar the fleet moved to Heild and waited there instead.

The Myrmidon arrived and was ganked mercilessly but unfortunately the pod managed to get away. Starwalker was happy with the kill - it was hardly a fair fight but that did not matter, there were many unfair fights in New Eden.

Whilst looking at the killboard he also noticed that after the Wednesday of Woe he had been undeservedly credited with a kill because the Retribution had not repaired its damage before being killed later by Sard Caid. Undeserved but Starwalker didn't really care, he had so few kills that every one counted.

16 November 2012

Recognising Mistakes Early

Starwalker was considering his most recent losses: Merlin and Taranis. The Merlin was a classic case of experimenting and not fully thinking the fit through. Afterall, the Merlin was not a natural active armour tanker and in hindsight it seemed a stupid idea to try it.

Antijan in his Slasher came at Starwalker's Merlin and was kind enough to highlight the ship's shortcomings very quickly:
  • Tracking disruptor with the speed script fitted had no obvious impact, perhaps the optimal range script would have been better or even a different module
  • Capacitor was bled dry very quickly and everything stopped at that point, in particular the small armour repairer
  • Firepower was enough to get the Slasher into armour but not enough to break the tank
Recognising mistakes early was a good thing and Starwalker had been in New Eden long enough to know better, an active armour tank without a capacitor booster or energy vampire was asking for trouble.

The Taranis loss was a classic case of a small gang not being very well coordinated, a bunch of soloists hanging out together. The gang was warping in to the plex at different ranges to catch a Naga. Starwalker warped in to the plex at 20km. There was no Naga but he was warmly welcomed by a Stabber Fleet Issue and two Hurricanes, and they were more than happy to relieve Starwalker of his Taranis within about 5 seconds.

Of course, Starwalker should have taken basic precautions of checking the destination before warping there to avoid such nasty surprises. Again, shortly after landing at the plex he was scrambled and his capacitor was bled dry immediately. Two ships, two losses and in both cases the capacitor had been drained prior to the kill - a ship with no capacitor left was pretty helpless and with blasters it couldn't even fire back.

It was time to get back to more cookie cutter style fits and to stop messing around with experimental fits, especially when no flair was being shown for coming up with something good. Enjoying playing with EFT did not make Starwalker very good at finding impressive new fits.

10 November 2012

Wednesday of Woe

Starwalker had spent very little time in space over the last few weeks. He had hoped to get some quality time in space and Wednesday turned out to be that opportunity. So, he undocked in his Merlin and headed out into Molden Heath.

The Rebels were chilling in Heild but he quickly moved on looking for prey as the number of Rebels in system seemed to have chased away any potential fights. Arriving on gate and jumping through Starwalker noticed an Executioner following, so on the other side he waited patiently. That patience was rewarded.

The Executioner pilot, prettyboyfloyde, locked up Starwalker's Merlin and engaged. More than that he came in close and Starwalker was surprised by that as he expected to be kited but a close up brawl was just what the Merlin was built for. Only the Executioner did not crumble as expected, it orbited around 2-4km away and laid down the hurt.

This Merlin was fit with Light Electron Blasters and they did not seem to be doing anything like enough damage and Starwalker was quickly cycling through his ancillary shield booster and then his armour repair. It did not help, the Executioner lived up to its name and the Merlin exploded.

Undeterred Starwalker got out his Caracal and again found himself in Heild but this time chasing around a Thrasher and Hawk. He actually wanted to fight a small gang of frigates to see how the XL-ASB Caracal would do against a small gang and a Thrasher and Hawk seemed like a good fight. However, before long the Hawk piloted by Nergalion warped away and Starwalker thought it might be a waste of time to continue to chase the Thrasher.

He stopped chasing the Thrasher and then saw a Hawk and Retribution come back in with a couple of other ships only 40km away. Starwalker aligned the Caracal towards them and started to move in... until he noticed that one of the other ships was a Kitsune. He decided it was time to bug out and aligned away but before he could leave he was scrambled by the Retribution. He returned fire but before long the Kitsune had him jammed. The fun level dropped to zero and the inevitable happened as the once proud Caracal became so much space wreckage.

This Wednesday had not quite turned out as hoped but it did highlight a few things:
  • The Caracal capacitor was not good, a few seconds of burning around with the MWD depleted the capacitor very quickly
  • Starwalker did not want to have to watch his capacitor so closely, he need to fly ships that were capacitor stable or at least could spend a few minutes flying around without worrying about the capacitor
  • Favouring tank had reduced the firepower and potential damage projection for both the Merlin and Caracal. In the Caracal's case being jammed out was the most critical issue but for the Merlin the blaster damage at 4k was dramatically lower than at optimal range.
  • The eternal question of choose more firepower or tank was still wonderfully relevant and Starwalker had still not made up his mind as to which he really favoured, perhaps he never would...

27 October 2012

Merlin in Metropolis and Molden Heath

Starwalker had a Merlin that he was flying around Metropolis and Molden Heath in hopes of losing it. It was a strange thought but he had been spending a lot of time looking at frigates and fits and he had decided that he really wanted to be flying something else - a Slasher - but he hadn't yet moved some to a station.

The reason why he wanted to fly a Slasher was comparatively straightforward - he liked the idea of speed, selectable damage and neuting power. His Merlin, whilst good, was much slower could not neut and had a fixed damage type. However, he was in his Merlin and whilst he was roaming around he saw that the Rebels had a fleet going and so he joined them.

It seemed that his timing had been excellent as he then got onto this Prophecy kill almost immediately. Unfortunately, the Prophecy lived up to its reputation as bait and was not alone - soon his friends joined the fight and the Rebels had to bug out taking a few losses. Given those losses many of the Rebels had to return to Heild to reship and that seemed a good opportunity to disappear into the blackness again.

Whilst the fleet had been fun Starwalker soon found himself roaming around searching the blackness of space for targets again, when he came across a Slasher running a plex. It seemed a shame to just move on without trying to catch it and so Starwalker took his Merlin in. This time as he approached he decided to target early and had set his auto-target to one, avoiding all of the previous problems.

The Slasher seemed oblivious and soon was in the warm embrace of the Merlin's blasters. There was no damage coming back and Starwalker almost felt sorry for the defenceless ship... and then he blew it up. This was low-sec after all and that result was to be expected. Starwalker, collected the meagre loot and docked up after GCC, happy with the kill.

Another day, another kill - Starwalker was starting to enjoy this killing streak. He had moved to Heild and had waited at the 2/10 plex as that was always a good location for a fight and within seconds he was joined by yet another Slasher. Coincidentally, Peri Simone had only just posted a Slasher kill with his Jaguar and here was yet another one. Starwalker remembered the last real fight with a Slasher and he kept his Caldari Navy AntiMatter loaded.

The Slasher came in close and Starwalker's Merlin opened fire with the scramble and web applied. The incoming damage was pretty fierce and Starwalker started the ancillary shield booster. He was being neuted and tracking disrupted. Starwalker tried to reduce traversal as he saw his armour start to disappear.

The Slasher had started the fight with some armour damage but was clearly active shield tanked. Starwalker knew that this was now simply a question of whose shield booster finished first and whether the tracking disruption had blunted the Merlin's blasters sufficiently to allow the Slasher to get the kill first. Starwalker felt confident that at point blank range the Merlin would win, surely the fight would be over before the neut shut down his blasters and everything else.

Starwalker's armour was just about to give out and the capacitor was nearly gone but the Slasher was now into structure. The Slasher gave a last valiant gasp with its shield repair but then the Merlin must have had a wrecking shot as the shield and remaining structure disappeared and then the Slasher was suddenly gone. The combatants saluted each other with a good fight and Starwalker collected the loot.

Starwalker was happy with how the fight had gone but he also wondered whether he really wanted to fly the Slasher. He had bought them but the problem with coming across all these Slashers was that it had reduced Starwalker's desire to fly them himself. Yes, they were fast, yes they had 4 high and 4 mid slots, yes they could neut another frigate forever but they were just too damned common. In addition, he had killed Slashers in his Merlin more times than he had died to them, and in combat Starwalker needed any edge he could get.

21 October 2012

Problems in a Plex

Starwalker had been wandering around Placid for a while and had terrorised a few plexers but some of those ships had not even been armed, reducing the fun factor. Most of the time they simply ran away as soon as they were aware that they were not alone. On occasion, some waited until the last minute to warp away - a sort of FU.

The really clever ones would wait until they were engaged and fired on and then warp away courtesy of their warp stabilisers. The beauty of this last method meant that the aggressor had GCC and had to wait it out - the best FU, as the aggressor didn't even have a kill to show for the wait.

Of course, some plexers were acting as bait, waiting for an aggressor to arrive and that was the equivalent of waiting at the sun or the top belt for them. A chance to turn the tables where the hunter becomes the hunted, especially if the hunter has fit the ship specifically to catch plexers or overcome a single warp stabiliser.

Starwalker had killed this Incursus but there wasn't a huge satisfaction in it as it wasn't even armed and could not fight back. The problem was that these easy kills had lulled Starwalker into a false sense of security as he rarely ever encountered someone looking to kill the hunter. Indeed, he had modified his overview to show the NPCs as he was in more danger from them rather than the plexer.

It was with this overconfidence that Starwalker entered a plex and saw a Rifter 60km away. He started the burn towards it and decided that he would wait until the last moment to target it and use his scrambler first. There was no real reason to do that - just a different way of locking up the target and scrambling it, an experiment with a different method. The one notable difference being that targeting happened at the last moment or within 10km rather than 20km or 30km away.

The trouble was - it all went horribly wrong. The Rifter may have been looking for a fight but Starwalker wasn't 100% sure and as his Condor got close he got locked up by NPCs and his auto-target locked them back. This setting worked well in PvP but it was not so useful with NPCs in close proximity.

Unfortunately everything was in close proximity and just as Starwalker was targeting the Rifter with his scrambler the position of the ships changed in the overview and Starwalker had started to lock an NPC instead. These precious few seconds lost was not good. Worse the targeting had to be started again adding more seconds of delay.

The damage was coming in thick and fast and Starwalker set the ancillary shield boosters going. As the wasted seconds ticked by Starwalker had to waste some more time to select the Rifter to fire on. And by this stage the Condor was nearly running out of shields and the booster was running low but he opened fire anyway and started to neut the Rifter.

Starwalker realised that it was all too little too late, you simply could not waste 7-10 seconds in a 20-30 second fight and his Condor burst into flames whilst the Rifter was still in armour. Disappointed at his lack of dexterity and over-confidence Starwalker's pod streaked away to safety.

In retrospect, Starwalker should have:
  • Targeted the Rifter much earlier, there was no special reason to wait. This was especially important if NPCs were in the overview and close by
  • Recognised immediately that he was at a disadvantage with the targeting error and align out to get some distance and possibly escape as needed. Instead Starwalker had continued to orbit at 500m, which was unnecessary in a rocket ship and benefited the Rifter
  • Rifters with autocannons should have been engaged at around 5km anyway to reduce the effectiveness of their autocannons. He should not have been lazy and left the orbit set to 500m. He had 500m set to reduce ability for targets to run away but in reality that rarely ever happened once plexers had been engaged