30 January 2012

Maiden Flight of the Hawk

Starwalker was looking at the new assault ship changes and was wondering what he would try first – Wolf, Jaguar or Hawk? He liked the DPS of the Wolf and the flexibility of the Jaguar and the recent changes would only emphasise their strengths. So what about something new - time to try the Hawk.

Starwalker considered the two main fitting approaches: a brawler based around rockets and a kiter based around small missile launchers. Starwalker decided to try out the kiter as a somewhat unusual fit. It would be ideal against afterburner fit brawlers but would itself be kited by fast(er) ships as it had no means of catching them.

Starwalker went to the local Angel complex in Heild as he had now learnt about the warp mechanic. He liked the idea that he could be easily found but also avoid being surprised by any gang warp in by simply being 250km or more from the acceleration gate. This was a useful tactic to use as needed.

It wasn’t long before a Dramiel, piloted by Nergalion (again), appeared at the complex and started to burn towards Starwalker’s Hawk. No need to worry about ammunition – that would be kinetic, and range and orbit were set for 21km. So, finally Starwalker set his main modules to overheat and waited.

The Dramiel got closer and Starwalker engaged with Trauma missiles hitting for what appeared to be miniscule damage. The Dramiel for its part could not seem to get closer than around 15km and was doing no damage at that distance. It was a stalemate. Starwalker knew that he could not hold the Dramiel and the Dramiel decided it could not get close enough and just warped away.

It was then that Starwalker noticed he had burnt out the Salvager I module from the adjacent missile launchers and the launchers, shield booster and capacitor booster were nearly burnt out. Starwalker had been consciously managing overheat of the launchers and micro warp-drive but had not paid enough attention to all of the modules.

Starwalker was not overly impressed with the Hawk’s damage output but that was against a very fast ship and the targets of choice were afterburner fit brawlers. Similarly, Starwalker would have liked to get the kill but knew before the fight started that he could not hold the Dramiel even if it did come into range.

The good news was that the Hawk had survived its maiden flight. The potential bad news was that this fit might not survive as Starwalker contemplated changing it to a brawling rocket fit.

28 January 2012

Rebels Friday Night Roam

Rebels gathered for a Friday night Rifter roam and Starwalker joined in on the fun. Kaeda Maxwell had started these a while ago and when it originally started there was anything between 2 and 6 Rebels in fleet, on this roam it was around 12.

A quick circuit around Molden Heath resulted in few opportunities for an engagement but plenty of opportunities for some banter with the locals. Indeed, the banter also extended to other fleet members, where someone felt that there was a strong likeness between one fleet member and “Baldrick” from Black Adder. Hardly the most flattering of comparisons!

After a while the scout reported a Thrasher in an asteroid belt, apparently a young pilot simply ratting. He was welcomed to low-sec in the traditional manner. Unfortunately, Starwalker arrived too slowly to get onto the kill.

Whilst the R1FTA swarm of frigates waited on gate a Proteus jumped in and then sat there. It was clear that it was part of a gang but the Rebels decided on some target practice anyway. The Proteus, a member of GangBangers, simply waited patiently as the damage accumulated and before long many other GangBangers entered system.

The command was given to disengage and almost everyone got away except Nicholai Hel. Starwalker’s Rifter got away but suffered a catastrophic system failure and needed a system reboot to regain flight systems control. Starwalker rejoined the fleet temporarily but eventually decided that the systems needed to be checked over and returned to base, as the Rebels disappeared into the Great Wildlands. They would soon find a Cyclone in the Great Wildlands and give it the standard Rebel greeting – opening fire with all weapons, after all this is EVE.

26 January 2012

Hookbill Lost by All Kinds of Fail

Starwalker was in Heild looking for trouble and a couple of other Rebels were doing the same. So, they joined forces and scanned down a Jaguar to the Angel deadspace complex. Starwalker warped in at 50km and saw that the Jaguar was around 300km away. He started his Hookbill towards the Jaguar, piloted by Nergalion, but assumed that Nergalion would not stay and fight as one of the other Rebels had also warped in and disappeared again.

However, Starwalker continued towards the Jaguar and was sending messages to the other Rebels. Unfortunately, he was not paying attention to their messages and missed the caution that they could not warp to Starwalker in the complex, instead, they would end up warping to the acceleration gate. This was vital information that Starwalker had simply not read and if he had, it would have changed what happened next.

Indeed, it was the first fail of the upcoming fight. Starwalker was closing in to establish point and expected the Rebels to warp in to the fight; he was about to find out that this would not happen but one mistake was not enough to call it a fail cascade. The fail cascade really started when Starwalker made his second error and set the Hookbill to orbit at 15km from the previous 9km. It was a good distance to stay out of danger and establish a point but overlooked the fact that the short range rockets had a maximum range of 12km and probably an effective range of about 10.5km. He should have either switched to long range rockets or stay at 9km.

The Hookbill and Jaguar engaged and very quickly the Hookbill established point with an orbit of 15km, however, the Jaguar decided to reduce that to around 2km. Starwalker realised the danger and made his next mistake - overheating the mid-rack rather than just the afterburner. No fail casade would be complete without some completely random or stupid act that takes attention away from the main action.

For Starwalker, that was being distracted by checking whether the overheat could be set by using shift-click (it could) but worse than that, he then inadvertently left the afterburner and everything else on overheat. The only good news was that the Hookbill had re-established a range of around 11km and the damage had slowed. It was past the time to bring in the Rebels. 

Starwalker was not a fast typist and simply used "xx" to call in the Rebels and after that distraction he returned to the fight to be greeted with the result that the point had burnt out and the webs were close to burning out. Things were rapidly going downhill.

Starwalker decided to leave the webs on even though the point was now burnt to a crisp and the Jaguar could escape. The idea was to distract Nergalion with the applied modules and to hope that he had not noticed the point drop. Relying on hope is not a great idea. Starwalker wondered where his fleet mates were but decided to type again to let them know that his point had burnt out. The intent was that the Rebels would hurry up and arrive. One did - 432km away.

Starwalker did a double-take on the distance and thought that he had mis-read it, no, it really was that far away. Starwalker was then brought sharply back to reality by the Hookbill sirens warning that the ship was close to destruction. It was going to be all over very soon and the Jaguar was still only in shields, there was no way the Hookbill would survive unless it could warp away. The Jaguar sensing the kill was close - moved in and re-established the scramble just in time to prevent the warp. The Hookbill died - the victim of a series of horrific pilot errors.

The fail cascade was nearly complete with the Hookbill lost but Starwalker had one more loss to come - his ignorance. Starwalker warped his pod to safety and asked why the Rebels hadn't warped in to the fight. The answer - Starwalker was in deadspace and any warp in would go the acceleration gate. They also noted that they had warned Starwalker of this, and checking the log that was true.

This was the first time Starwalker had been in a fleet at a complex and in his ignorance had thought that the warp to the gate mechanic applied only after entering the first acceleration gate. Clearly he was wrong but worse than that, he had also missed the warning that he was wrong and now the fail cascade was complete.

23 January 2012

Hookbill Dies to Thrasher in Angel Complex

Starwalker had scanned a Tristan and Thrasher to a (2/10) complex in Heild and wondered if they were missioning together or fighting. There was only one way to find out and Starwalker warped in at 70km.

There was no target ship after coming out of warp and so Starwalker burnt towards the acceleration gate and activated it. The rockets were pre-heated and as Starwalker landed there were many mobs waiting around 14km away and a Thrasher at 4km. Starwalker hit the approach and realized a few seconds later that he really needed to get some distance and so hit orbit at 9km.

The Thrasher did not wait and started hitting the Hookbill hard. Starwalker returned fire with the rockets but in the first few seconds the shields were already disappearing fast as hits of between 370 and 470 came in. Starwalker was hitting back for 225 to 280 but it was not enough and he tried to gain distance but it was simply not happening and overheating the afterburner was nowhere near effective.

Starwalker realized that he was going down and desperately tried to avoid destruction by doing more damage. He belatedly applied the webs but it was all looking like too little too late. The Thrasher shields were nearly gone but Starwalker’s Hookbill was now on fire with structure simply vanishing and Starwalker was too slow to get the pod away and that too was cremated

The pod loss included some +4 implants but Starwalker knew that was simply the price that he had paid for being too slow to get his pod away. The destruction of the Hookbill had happened in less than thirty seconds and the fight had started badly by landing too close to the Thrasher. It had got worse by not being able to gain distance fast enough. Of course, it appeared that the Thrasher pilot (Jaxartes) had planned that and Starwalker had fallen victim to the trap.

One question on Starwalker’s mind was why the mobs that were so close had not engaged, in asteroid belts, mobs could be 100km and still engage? Starwalker’s losing streak was continuing but at least he had gotten into a fight and that was pleasing.

22 January 2012

Roaming and Thinking about Ships

Starwalker had been roaming around Molden Heath and had found no one of frigate or even T1 cruiser size to engage. The Hookbill had enjoyed the delights of the circuit from Heild to Ennur, around to Klingt and back to Heild via Egbinger on numerous occasions but with no joy.

There had been plenty of gangs and battlecruisers or similar out and about but very few frigates or at least none that Starwalker had found when he was flying. Incidents like hunting a Rifter, who did not wish to engage and being chased by a Cynabal did really not count. The hunt was interesting but not that interesting.

Starwalker’s training plan was going well but the focus was on frigates and support skills. The question that Starwalker was now toying with was whether to start getting more and higher levels of skills for battlecruisers.

It was an interesting question as Starwalker had recently heard an opinion - that they would rather fly and lose a battlecruiser or battleship than fly a frigate and return in it. It was something to think about.

21 January 2012

Vigil - Poor Man Interceptor

Starwalker had noted the need for bookmarks but typically used his combat ship to create those bookmarks. The problem was that this was not a good way, as ideally a fast or cloaked ship would be better.

Given that Starwalker did not have the Interceptor skill yet and access to really fast ships, the alternative was to use something like the Vigil as a poor man’s interceptor. The advantage of the Vigil was its speed and whilst it was not designed to brawl with other frigates they would have to catch it first. Starwalker fitted the Vigil for speed and focused on a medium shield extender combined with a dual propulsion system.

Of course, it could be fit for combat with just one propulsion unit and a scrambler but Starwalker had not run into any industrial or transport ships. The ship was mainly for setting up bookmarks. In retrospect, perhaps it was not such a good idea to have this dedicated ship as how often would it get used? Starwalker had certainly not developed an insatiable urge to go bookmarking systems.

15 January 2012

Bookmarks - Boring But Necessary

Starwalker had been flying around in New Eden for nearly year but had very few bookmarks. This is despite knowing that many Rebels and other residents of New Eden had extolled their virtues.

The need for bookmarks had always been there but in short Starwalker was too lazy to do the necessary work to create a full set of bookmarks for any system:

  • Station undock to avoid any station campers
o   Station dock to avoid any complications when docking and being outside of the docking ring when warping in and having to approach the final distance manually
  • Tactical, which is near a star gate or any other celestial like an asteroid belt:
o   On grid, or typically up to 350km from the star gate to avoid camps and in null-sec to avoid camps with bubbles or from celestials to observe it
o   Off grid, 1000km or more from any one celestial to be able to scan that celestial and ideally a number of celestials within the 14.3 AU directional scanner range
  • Safe spot, which ideally is more than 14.3 AU from any celestial to reduce the chance that the safe spot will be scanned down
o   Safe spot should not be created between two obvious celestial points such as from one star gate to another or from the sun to a star gate, to avoid being spotted by traffic simply passing by

Starwalker had some bookmarks but now had the usual problem when things are started in a haphazard manner – disorganization. No naming convention had been really used and even basic information about the type of bookmark and where it was positioned in system was missing.

Starwalker had no illusions about suddenly creating lots and lots of bookmarks but knew that he would start creating some in key systems and would now move to a naming convention such as
  • Type | Celestial [short name or initials] @ Distance

14 January 2012

Rebels Roam into Great Wildlands

Kaeda Maxwell had organized a Rebel Frigate Roam and a number of Rebels had gathered in Heild to join the expedition. Starwalker was in a Hookbill but felt “over-dressed” as everyone else sported T1 frigates.

Starwalker returned in his tanky Rifter as the Rebels set off looking for trouble. The initial tour around Molden Heath yielded no targets of opportunity and the fleet stopped to consider options. Kaeda enquired about any Rebel concerns over being podded and possible loss of expensive implants. The consensus was every ship and every clone was totally expendable – a very Rebel attitude, as explained by Duke Thunderhorse.

So the Rebels jumped into the Great Wildlands, null-sec space, at B-VIP9. Null-Sec is notorious for gate camps at entry points and campers using bubbles to trap their hapless victims. The Rebels jumped straight into B-VIP9 and a drag bubble but the three bubblers decided they wanted no part of this frigate fleet and quickly retreated.

Kaeda took the opportunity to explain bubble mechanics and then the roam continued. It was not long before the Rebels encountered a Drake in 6WT-BE at the gate and engaged it but the Drake was not alone and was soon joined by a Cyclone and Stabber Fleet Issue. This was going to be difficult.

The situation was soon chaotic and space was filled with drones attacking the Rebel frigates, which were primarily focused on the Stabber Fleet Issue. Starwalker was barely in range of the Stabber but quickly switched fire from the Stabber to the drones and set about knocking them out.

The Stabber Fleet Issue was going down but it was not going down alone, and as the Stabber succumbed to the swirling death it took some Rebel frigates with it: Kaeda Maxwell and Kooba Kaunder. The remaining Rebels continued to engage the Cyclone and Drake, along with the still numerous drones but what was a very difficult battle suddenly turned into a losing one as the Stabber pilot returned in a Myrmidon.

The five remaining frigates were now facing three battlecruisers and it was inevitable what would happen next – more Rebels would become fireballs. Soon, Brink Albosa and Starwalker’s Rifter exploded. It was time to retreat after a good fight and the remaining three Rebels tried to disengage to avoid now certain destruction. But that was not going to be easy and before Miura Bull could escape his Jaguar was destroyed. Fortunately, Lao Mah and Vincent R’lyeh got away with their frigates trailing fire.

The Rebel fleet no longer existed but the roam was not over as the Rebels returned to base to get another frigate and reform. It had been a good fight in 6WT-BE and in the final tally a good exchange – a Stabber Fleet Issue for a Jaguar and four Rifters. Reformed, the Rebels set off again into the Great Wildlands.

13 January 2012

Resistance is Not Futile

Starwalker was not normally interested in mathematics but was interested in what was a better choice for his frigate ship rig – buffer or resistance. Would 15% more buffer be better or 30% more damage resistance?

A Rifter has 391 base shield capacity and shield resistances: 0%, 20%, 40%, 50% for EM, thermal, kinetic and explosive damage types. A Small Core Defence Field Extender I increases shield capacity to 450, alternatively EM resistance would increase to 30% with a Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I.

The 30% more damage is applied to the incoming damage so thermal resistance in a Rifter, which is at 20%, increases to 44% (20% plus 30% of 80% or 100% incoming damage - 20% damage resistance) with the Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I.

To simplify and for easy numbers, assume EM damage type and 100 DPS and once the shield is gone the Rifter will be destroyed.
  • Rifter with 450 shield capacity and 0% EM damage resistance has 100% of the damage coming in and dies in 4.5 seconds (450/100)
  • Rifter with 391 shield capacity and 30% EM damage resistance has 70% of the damage coming in or 70 DPS and dies in 5.6 seconds (391/70)
This is actually the worst-case scenario for this Rifter as the incoming damage is hitting the weakest resist. For example, if the incoming damage was thermal then:
  • Rifter with 391 shield capacity and 44% thermal damage resistance has 56% of the damage coming in or 56 DPS and dies in 7 seconds (391/56)
These types of calculations can be done for different combinations of three rigs, subject to any stacking penalty, and similarly for the other types of damage resistance. In short, if the incoming damage type is known then a small resistance rig is better than a small buffer rig.

9 January 2012

Roaming, Roaming, Roaming

The Hookbill looked sleek and deadly but it had still not seen combat yet despite going out multiple times. Starwalker was roaming and roaming but for whatever reason was not getting into many fights.

This was not a new problem. It was disappointing that the fight time to flight time ratio was so low and Starwalker was considering how that could be improved. In general, any frigate (T1, T2 or Faction), industrial or transport was fair game.  Similarly, destroyers and T1 cruisers would be attempted but T2 cruisers, battlecruisers or above would likely be passed by, unless it was a very new or combat inexperienced pilot.

Generally, Starwalker roamed from system to system and then returned to base. In each system, if there were locals he would go to a random location and scan for targets. If no targets of opportunity were present on d-scan then he would either go to another random location or move on to the next system.

Starwalker saw some possibilities for improving the chances of a fight:

  • Talk to other pilots and find out how they search for and find targets
  • Check the map more regularly for “busy” (number of kills or jumps) systems and go there
  • Stay more regularly in systems that are low-sec entry points from high-sec such as Bosena, Egghelende or Adirain
  • Roam less and wait in locations (belt, gate or sun…), be the hunted rather than the hunter
  • Be more thorough in scanning systems and setup bookmarks to allow a complete scan of the area
  • Target mission runners (systems with high NPC kills) and either probe them down or go to complexes

7 January 2012

Jaguar Dies Due to Stupidity

Roaming in Molden Heath had been largely uneventful with few systems offering targets of opportunity. Starwalker was in a Jaguar and jumped into system to see another Jaguar burning away from the gate at around 40km. It was chasing a target and too far away to catch so Starwalker warped to the Sun.

However, before the warp engaged the Jaguar, piloted by Alex Medvedov, had turned around and was burning back towards Starwalker. The warp engaged and Starwalker was gone but he was looking for a fight and so he waited at the Sun. Medvedov clearly thought Starwalker would not engage and left system.

Starwalker had seen the pilot’s name before and vaguely thought he may have previously lost a ship to a pimped out Jaguar but couldn’t remember for sure and equally that didn’t really matter. Starwalker would engage again and perhaps lose this ship. Losing a ship was not a problem, especially against a top ranked pilot.

In the next system Starwalker could see Medvedov in local but couldn’t find him very quickly from his scanning point. So he decided that he would simply move on to the next system, assuming Medvedov was in station. He wasn’t.

As Starwalker arrived at the stargate, there was Medvedov. Starwalker had used the Jump command and so automatically jumped through but he assumed Medvedov would come in hot.

So Starwalker moved in a random direction to de-cloak and started to pre-heat the guns. Medvedov appeared in system 18km away and targeted Starwalker. It was on. Starwalker burnt towards him and engaged, setting the range to 1km with guns firing from 13km.

Medvedov came in close and it was clear that this would simply be a slug-fest, firing at each other at point blank range until one of the ships exploded. Starwalker noticed that his shields were going down much faster and realized that he had the wrong ammunition type loaded – phased plasma. It was the same mistake as against the Wolf.

Medvedov had no problem in hitting hard and it was also clear that he was neuting as well. Soon, Starwalker went into armour, lost all capacitor and then flashed through structure. Medvedov’s shield had dropped down to around 10%. It was not close, and perhaps Fusion ammunition would not have changed the result but it was a stupid mistake. Worse, it was a repeated mistake. The Jaguar exploded.

Starwalker escaped with his pod and back at base considered the fight and how it would have gone with Fusion. If nothing else it would have resulted in a closer fight, even if the outcome were the same. More interesting was how would the fight have gone if Starwalker were flying a Hookbill? Starstepper would deliver a Hookbill soon…

6 January 2012

Completed Move Back to Molden Heath

Starwalker was back in Molden Heath, corporate HQ, after the cruise around Pure Blind. Starwalker remembered to reset his medical clone from Pure Blind to Molden Heath and realized that he had no implants in station; another small detail to take care of later.
Starwalker had finally completed the move of all of his stuff with just three ships now in Molden Heath: Probe, Rifter and Jaguar. Everything else was with Starstepper in Hek.

The consolidation had involved many, long round trips and selling lots of miscellaneous items. What was left was an assortment of different frigates and commonly used equipment and ammunition. The good news was that it was complete. Starwalker could now very easily relocate to a new roaming ground.

The reduction of ships and equipment to just three frigates had also raised a slightly different but very intriguing problem. What ships would be used next and how should they be fitted?

The T2 or faction frigates that really appealed to Starwalker were: Jaguar, Wolf, Caldari Navy Hookbill and Hawk. Interesting options, but not trained yet, included: Vengeance and Crow. Outside options, but also untrained, were: Taranis, Crusader and Malediction.

Starwalker had flown the Jaguar and Wolf and liked the flexibility of the Jaguar and the damage dealing of the Wolf. However, apart from a brief flirtation with the Kestrel and artillery Rifter had almost exclusively flown brawler type ships and fits. Perhaps it was time to look at the Hookbill more seriously and do the training for interceptors.

Starwalker had briefly flown the Hookbill in Pure Blind but had not fought in it yet. Time to give Starstepper a call and get a Hookbill or two to Molden Heath. The black and grey Hookbill would look good in red and orange flames.

1 January 2012

Bubbled and in Trouble

“So you got caught in EC-P8R again coming from Torrinos? You nearly died there last time, why didn’t you go around?” Starstepper looked sheepish and admitted that he had underestimated the risk and proceeded to tell Starwalker the full story of getting bubbled and in trouble with a Myrmidon.

Long after Starstepper had left Starwalker considered the new information. He had assumed that the bubbles would work against ships without warp core stabilisers but now he also knew they worked against stabilized ships as well. Starstepper had four warp core stabilisers fitted but could not jump immediately after entering the bubble, nor could his pod jump and that too had been destroyed.

Kaeda Maxwell had also shown Starwalker that bubbles are usually placed on the line between gates either just before the destination gate or behind it.  Of course, they could be anywhere but were typically placed to catch any traffic between gates. In the demonstration, it was 100km behind the gate and when Starwalker warped to zero on that gate he was pulled into the bubble.

But it only worked based on the alignment between start point (typically a gate), end point (typically a gate) and bubble (up to 100km from gate). So if the warp to zero was from a different gate or via a celestial object then it was likely to not catch anything.

When moving around in null-sec, especially to gates in entry point systems it would pay to be very cautious and not warp gate to gate if someone else was in system.  Jumping into a bubble from the gate like from Torrinos to EC-P8R can not be avoided as you cannot see or scan the other side of the gate. This leaves only two options: burn to safety if possible or go around.

Starwalker had told Starstepper to try again and go via Saranen rather than Torrinos. It was a low-sec route but was much less likely to be camped. Starwalker also noted that the route planner could set Torrinos as a system to avoid. Nice feature and would be used in future.