31 May 2012

Crow Engages Drake

Starwalker had sold his data cores on the way back from the suicide ganks near Kador Prime. It netted around 13m ISK and had hardly been worth the effort. The only positive from that trip was that it had placed him near Kador Prime.

Returning to Ishomilken in a Crow was reasonably fast but Starwalker was considering selling the Crow as although he liked the speed he wanted ships with more gank. He jumped into system to see a flashy red Drake loitering 25km away from the gate. The pilot, GaRDoN Cezar, was likely to be bait as local had 10 pilots - far more than usual.

Starwalker looked at the pilot and then looked at his Crow. It was possible to kill a Drake with a Crow if it was not well fit and its tank would succumb to the mediocre damage coming in, however, that was unlikely to be the case here. The sensible decision was to leave but Starwalker was feeling ambitious and wanted to see what would happen. He locked up the target and fired.

The Drake seemed to be active shield tanked or had a good regenerative tank as the initial damage, whilst very modest, was simply absorbed and disappeared. The Drake decided it was time to stop playing and released a flight of Acolytes.

Starwalker had only occasionally fought larger ships and their drones and had not fared well. This time was no better, he had killed the first three and nearly had the fourth down but he was into armour. He still had Javelin and Spike loaded and that did not help and he cursed the fact that he had not changed to close range ammunition earlier.

It was not going to end well and Starwalker knew what was coming next, so he aligned out just as a heavy missile from the Drake shattered what was left of the Crow. Another Drake arrived as Starwalker's pod sped away and its pilot, Icuwarrior engaged. He was the lucky recipient of the R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N blob and he felt compelled to rather pointlessly complain about it in local. 

The Crow was gone but Starwalker was not unhappy. He had not really expected to take down the Drake and he was already considering his next ship. 

28 May 2012

Hulkageddon Suicide Ganks

Starwalker was in Tividu picking up some data cores and this happened to be just 8 jumps from Kador Prime where Kaeda Maxwell was preparing for some Hulkageddon suicide ganks. It was too good an opportunity to miss and so he joined the fleet, where Kaeda even supplied the T1 Thrasher, ammunition and fittings.

It was not long before a target was spotted in Khafis but it was either nervous or just finishing mining operations because it docked up. However, that initial excitement and disappointment was soon gone as another Hulk was found in Amdonen. 

The fleet warped in and locked up the target and fired with Starwalker doing the same. Nothing happened - Starwalker had to acknowledge the message that he wanted to fire! He did and Rum Stiltskin and his Hulk were shot and killed. Concord arrived soon afterwards and then Starwalker was in his pod heading back to Kador Prime.

It was his first suicide gank and it had been a success. It was perhaps more exciting to have targets shoot back but this was fun too. However, the next potential victim was lucky due to a mix up with bookmarks when using out of corporation/fleet scouts - no fleet warp in. By the time the bookmark had been transferred to someone in fleet the Hulk had left the system.

Iader Saimon was in a Hulk in Khafis and the Rebel fleet arrived at the scene and locked him up. Starwalker had his overview set to fleet and realised the error of his ways as the Hulk position moved in the overview and Starwalker targeted a fleet member instead. He cancelled the lock and reacquired the Hulk but it was too late - he was dead. So instead of dying with his fleet mates he witnessed Concord blowing up his fellow Rebels.

Starwalker immediately reset the overview to "combat" and returned to base. He got it right the next two times as Maxim Thodt and Drannar Deddog went down. Dreksl also found it amusing to get in on Starwalker's death to Concord. However, what was more amusing was Kaeda Maxwell entering local on the way to Kothe and a local shouting a warning that he had arrived. The warning did not save Serena Jarati who was either too slow or did not see it. 

The final suicide bank of the night was located in Kamda and the fleet warped out. However, a Raptor on gate was very fast and managed to snag Kaeda Maxwell as the fleet jumped in. Fortunately Kaeda's scout Kohana Maxwell was part of the fleet and able to provide the final warp in. It was Deathamarr's turn to die and he did but not before launching drones onto Starwalker.

Starwalker had great fun. It was his first time on a suicide gank and over the course of a few hours he had been on five kills and two loss mails. It was also a timely reminder of how dangerous the Destroyers are, especially in a gang.

25 May 2012

Widening Ship Choices for Solo Combat

Starwalker had spent some time looking through ship choices for narrowing down the number of ships being flown to help really learn a very small number of ships. Dischordant had noted T1 cruisers were also an option and Starwalker had included two even though this widened the ship choices for solo combat.

Starwalker would probably end up flying all of these ships but he needed to narrow the choices down to the next 1 to 3 ships to fly because he would also need to do the training. He had just realised that he did not have drone skills for Warrior II, Hammerhead II or EC-300 drones. Similarly, to fly anything beyond a HAM Drake he would also need to train medium weapons and that would all take time.

Beyond T1 frigates (Merlin and Rifter) Starwalker had decided to use a shield fit with good damage projection as the basis for considering the different ships both between ship classes and also within a class. It was an imperfect approach and did not reflect the almost infinite variety available but it was a simple way to select ships based on key characteristics and to queue up the training. 

With Assault Frigates, Starwalker liked two - the Hawk and Wolf and he could fly both of these now:

The Wolf is afterburner fit and uses a small armour repairer along with resistance modules. This is the one ship that cannot fit a shield since it only has two mid slots and they are used by the propulsion and scrambler modules.

The cruiser ships offered two options that both seemed good: Rupture and Thorax, no drones specified:

However, whilst these ships offered more firepower than Frigates they seemed under-powered for taking on battlecruisers. And the real problem was the battlecruiser class where the Brutix, Cyclone, Harbinger, Drake and Hurricane all seemed good but with slightly different characteristics, again without drones specified:

There were lots of good choices but actually the initial battlecruiser decision was simplified because Starwalker has already trained for the HAM Drake. Beyond that he would train all of the medium weapon systems because he wanted to try them all. 

So after much consideration, Starwalker would fly multiple ships and train all weapon systems for battlecruisers. The rationale was that by flying lots of different ships that was the best way to learn about those ships and their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that would help Starwalker to then fight against them. So much for the idea of flying a single ship...

22 May 2012

Narrowing Ship Choices for Solo Combat

Starwalker was considering ship choices for solo combat and spending more time in that particular ship to really learn how to fly and fight in it. Whilst the idea of a single ship might be attractive at a more practical level it would probably be one of each: T1 frigate, Assault Ship and Battlecruiser.

Potential candidate ships included:
  • T1 Frigate: Rifter or Merlin
  • Assault Ship: Hawk, Wolf or Jaguar
  • Battlecruiser: Drake, Hurricane, Harbinger or Cyclone
  • Other: Taranis or Thrasher
Similarly, he still liked to experiment and perhaps fly some of the more exotic ships such as covert operation frigates. This illustrated the problem for Starwalker, he was neither fixated on any particular ship nor in a hurry to restrict his options. 

So perhaps the key question was why fly only one ship? Starwalker's answer was to improve his pilot skills by really learning one ship inside and out and to practice fighting with it against an array of different ships.

However, this question wasn't only about what Starwalker wanted to fly but also what was he likely to run into - and would they engage in a fight? On that basis, it seemed like a choice between an Assault Ship or Battlecruiser as a good, general purpose ship that could engage almost anything. 

Starwalker also remembered that Truen1ght had recommended battlecruisers a few months ago because of the prevalence of battlecruisers. Since then Starwalker had trained for Battlecruiser V and Assault Missile Specialisation II so he could fly a HAM Drake now. It would also be comparatively easy to complete any training required for medium weapon systems.

The reason not to fly a battlecruiser would be cost. A rough and ready comparison for a fully T2 fit: 
  • Hawk would be around 40m ISK
  • Wolf would be around 50m ISK
  • Hurricane would be around 80m ISK
  • Drake would be around 80m ISK
  • Merlin would be around 10m ISK
  • Rifter would be around 10m ISK
One notable exception to these rough ranges would be the Cyclone that comes in around 45m or Assault Frigate level of cost. Choices, choices, choices.

21 May 2012

15 Month Review

Fifteen months on and Starwalker was still very much engaged with New Eden. His skill points now exceeded twenty-one million but he was still doing things for the first time such as flying an interceptor. Similarly, he would soon have trained Cloaking IV to fly a covert operations frigate.

Starwalker knew that he was not spending as much time in New Eden as he wanted but equally he was enjoying that flying time. Whilst he was not a good pilot he also felt that his pilot skills had improved a little from last year. He was now making fewer mistakes and taking notice of elements like manual piloting and transversal, whereas last year they were not even a factor really being considered.

That did not mean mistakes were not being made such as:
  • Crow was lost and rocket modules burnt out
  • Merlin lost when unable to spiral in on a Talos
  • Cormorant lost by not paying attention

Starwalker considered that his training plan was working well as he was typically focused on his next ship and training for it. He still had lots of gaps in his training but he also had a wide range of skills and many things that were at least partially trained. Beyond getting into some new ships like battlecruisers Starwalker was also planning to improve his navigation and capacitor focused skills.

Going forward, Starwalker still had no significant goals and was happy to go with the flow. The only thing that might be considered even close to being a goal was to fly in other parts of New Eden but there was no rush.

20 May 2012

Cyno Up Ship Down

Starwalker was roaming around when he noticed a cynosural field beacon appear on his overview. It was 18.2 AU away and so out of scan range but Starwalker decided to investigate in his Merlin anyway. If warping in and away again immediately it was usually quite safe.

To create the cynosural field requires the ship to be stationary and so guarantees that it will not runaway if disturbed. If it is alone and disturbed it usually relies on station guns to provide a defence. They take a few seconds to start firing and so disappearing quickly usually results in little damage. Starwalker arrived at the scene to see an Executioner, piloted by BlackNecro, and a station and he warped away again.

It was a tricky decision, the tank on the Merlin was pretty good but the guns would destroy it quite quickly if it stayed in the vicinity for too long. Of course, the temptation was too strong and Starwalker decided to risk it and warped in again with guns overheated. Locking up the Executioner and firing it was not long before the station guns opened up and the first volley removed half of the Merlin's shield.

Starwalker aligned out, the executioner disintegrated into a ball of fire and he warped away as the second volley took him into armour. Cool. Starwalker waited out his GCC and moved on and as chance would have it BlackNecro appeared again in local and another cyno went up. Starwalker warped in again with a certain deja vu but it was a little different this time.

There was what seemed like a mobile gun tower - had BlackNecro come for revenge? Starwalker decided that there was no point in hanging around and locked up the second Executioner and started to fire as the mobile tower also opened up. The Executioner was going down but Starwalker's Merlin was taking a lot of damage and it was getting too close to call.

Starwalker aligned out on the basis that he needed to warp immediately but he waited as he also wanted to see the executioner go down. It was too close, Starwalker could wait no longer and he hit warp as the next volley took him deep into structure. However, as he left the blasters got off a final shot and the Executioner exploded. He had survived yet again and this time it was even cooler as BlackNecro had tried to set a trap but it had failed miserably.

It was perhaps this exuberance that led Starwalker to see if he could spiral in on a Talos from around 30km out. He knew that the tier 3 battlecruiser would be fit for range, would have good alpha and had a tracking bonus. But whilst his Merlin's speed was low so was his signature and surely that would help. It didn't, it was too ambitious and the Merlin crumbled very quickly. Well, Starwalker would know better next time and there was bound to be a next time.

18 May 2012

Cormorant Maiden Flight and Choices

Starwalker was distracted whilst waiting at the sun and since nothing had been happening he quickly disappeared from the flight controls rather than go to a safe first and then disappear. It was the wrong decision, he should have gone to a safe.

He returned just in time to find that a Thrasher at 22km had begun to fire at the Cormorant, which was slow boating to conserve its capacitor. At least that was better than finding a wreck. Starwalker immediately hit approach and turned on his micro-warpdrive to get under the artillery guns. That was perhaps the second wrong decision - it was too late and too slow.

The distance was slowly closing but he was still 13km away and the Cormorant shields were nearly gone.  On a shield fit ship that was not good but it was too late to change course now and Starwalker hit the overheat again as it appeared the last command had got lost.

The distance closed to 10km but Starwalker was in armour now and progress noticeably slowed, he was simply not going to make it. The Cormorant had soaked up all the damage that it could and the fatal blow came - destroying the ship and bursting it into a million pieces. 

The Cormorant was blaster fit and never even came close to being in close combat range. Starwalker would never know if he had started his approach earlier at full (overheated) speed whether that would have made any difference. 

Starwalker had also noticed that he was strongly influenced by what had killed him last:
  • If killed at range by a fast kiting ship then he felt that he should also be in a fast kiting ship
  • If killed at close combat range by a brawler then he should also be in a brawler
  • If killed by an active tanked ship then he should active tank
  • If killed by a buffer tanked ship then he should buffer tank
It was the logical equivalent of trying to win the LAST war. Starwalker considered whether he should simply select an arbitrary ship and fly (and lose) many of them before moving on to any other ship. He currently had a tendency to shift between ships albeit the range of ships was actually quite small - Minmatar and Caldari - frigates and destroyers.

Whilst he flitted between ships he knew what he liked:
  • Flexibility to engage a wide range of targets (frigate to battlecruiser) with a reasonable chance of solo success
  • High DPS for the class of ship, ideally good damage projection for kiters
  • Fast and agile to quickly close to scrambler range or to slingshot kiters
  • Strong tank to soak up damage brawling and prevent low DPS kiter kills
  • Capacitor stable or will last really well when in full use
Maybe part of the reason for moving between ships was that he hadn't really found a ship and fit with the best combination of the above characteristics. He also knew that pilot error was a big reason for losing ships and not the ship itself. The choice of ship was more about learning to fly and fight in that ship inside out. Using that previous analysis, perhaps he should focus on flying and fighting in the Hawk, although the afterburner fit might be too slow. Would something faster like a Taranis be better?

Starwalker considered his options - should he really focus on a single ship for solo combat? If so, what ship? What about his training queue such as Gallente Frigate V or Interceptor V or his foray with covert operation ships or the stealth bomber? Choices, choices, choices.

17 May 2012

Merlin Tracking a Rifter

Starwalker was roaming around The Citadel in his Merlin and noticed on warping to an out gate that there was a Gila on scan. The pilot was new and the opportunity seemed to good to pass by. So Starwalker started burning off the gate in a random direction and tried to narrow down the Gila location.

Jev North landed on the same gate in his Merlin about 10km away and immediately locked up Starwalker and started firing - lazors. Maybe he had been reading Azual and some of his alternate options for fitting a Merlin. In any event, Starwalker returned fire and closed in applying web and scramble. However, before the fight really got going Jev North headed away again and when out of range he simply warped off and did not return. Strange, presumably some experiment.

Starwalker returned to scanning down the Gila and it seemed to be in the direction of an asteroid belt. Starwalker warped in to 20km on the basis that the Gila was ratting and had pulled away from the belt a little. There was nothing there. The Gila must have been at a POS or safe and Starwalker did not have any probing ships near by.

Moving on to a new system Starwalker was challenged to a T1 frigate duel by BillyBulb. Whenever Starwalker had been challenged it was usually a good pilot looking for another kill and this seemed to be no exception. BillyBulb was a Battleclinic top ranked pilot but that was no reason to refuse the offer, and so Starwalker accepted it and waited at a random planet.

BillyBulb arrived 60km away in a Rifter and Starwalker was concerned that he would be kited to death at around 6-7km or possibly even an artillery fit from outside scram range. In any event, he would find out soon.

The two frigates engaged with range closing to point blank around 1km. Pleased that it was a straight brawl, Starwalker overheated everything immediately and set orbit to 2km. After a short while he remembered to use keep at range instead and the Rifter shields collapsed under the fire but its armour held. It was active tanked with a huge amount of repair taking place each cycle. Unfortunately, Starwalker did not have a neutraliser to destroy its capacitor, he would have to rely on time for it to cap out.

The Rifter dipped into structure and back out again but the Merlin shields were nearly gone. Starwalker noticed that his guns were nearly burnt out and tried to stop the over heat. Too late, the rockets were gone and one of the two blasters. It was over. Starwalker aligned out and spammed warp, as usual, not to save the ship but to save the pod. The Merlin ignited into a bright burst of flames as its last sliver of structure was blown away.

It turned out that the Rifter was dual repair fit with a capacitor booster so it was never going to cap out before the Merlin died. Starwalker checked the log files after the fight and noticed the part that transversal and tracking had played in the fight. 

When orbiting - the blasters missed more than half of the time, and when using keep at range they missed less than 10% of the time. The Caldari Navy Antimatter S and reducing transversal made a big difference to effective damage applied. Starwalker would need to pay more attention to tracking and transversal.

14 May 2012

Darkstar Pownyouall catches Hurricane

Darkstar Pownyouall or perhaps DARKSTAR POWNYOUALL was in a Wolf in Tama as Starwalker entered system in his Merlin and warped to the Sun. Very quickly a Vengeance, Enyo and Jaguar arrived on the scene and Starwalker warped away to a nearby gate.

A very short while later the Jaguar and Vengeance pilots exited through that gate in their capsules. Starwalker did not know it at the time but it turns out that Darkstar had taken out the Vengeance and Jaguar.

Starwalker scanned down a Rifter at an asteroid belt and warped in. The Rifter was 30 km away and ready for visitors, it disappeared before he could scramble him. However, the Enyo from earlier then jumped in at around 10km away and Starwalker hit the warp button just as Darkstar arrived in a Wolf.

Turning his Merlin around Starwalker warped back to the belt but the fight was already over. Darkstar, alert from having lots of frigates jump him in the last few minutes locked up the Merlin and fired before realising his mistake. No real harm done and so given that the action was finished Starwalker warped away again with nothing to show for his efforts.

Darkstar, however, was not finished and a short while later he called in Starwalker to help kill a Hurricane that he had pointed in another belt. Not one to miss out on a fight Starwalker arrived in his Merlin and helped to destroy the Hurricane, although it was clear that actually no help was needed as Darkstar was clearly going to solo it.

Starwalker waited out his GCC and nearly got the same Rifter pilot a second time in the asteroid belt but he was simply too slow. So he headed back to base, happy with the kill and admiring the skills of the killing machine that is Darkstar Pownyouall.

12 May 2012

Crow versus Stilletto

Starwalker was enjoying the nebulae in The Citadel when a Stilletto came up on scan. At first, he thought it was a recon ship but then realised it was an interceptor. In either case he expected to be kited to death in his Merlin and so decided to reship to a Crow.

Before he had warped away from the Sun the Stilletto was there, piloted by RogueCorsair. It was a bit more information to know who the pilot was and so, looking him up on Battleclinic, Starwalker could see that his killboard looked impressive and it would probably be an easy win for RogueCorsair. Of course, that was no reason to run from a fight and it would be good experience to see how things actually turned out.

Starwalker returned in his Crow and waited patiently at the Sun, very confident the Stilletto would be there soon. RogueCorsair was still in system and it was not long before the Stilletto was at the Sun too. The Crow closed the 300km very quickly, one of the joys of an interceptor - sheer speed - and set orbit at 20km. The Stilletto had a completely different idea and closed in to 1km.

It was a complete surprise and Starwalker started firing his rockets but he had preloaded Javelin. It seemed that they had no effect and Starwalker paid the ten seconds reload time and changed to Rage rockets. His launchers were already over heated and he tried to overheat his MWD to get some range, knowing that his damage was affected by ship speed and not range. However, he wanted to try manual piloting and doing it under fire.

The manual piloting had no success as the few manoeuvres tried only temporarily increased the range to 6km but the Stilletto went right back to 1km. Worse still Starwalker had not paid enough attention to his modules and burnt out everything. Helpless, he then had to wait as the Stilletto finally destroyed the Crow.

Starwalker had been surprised by the Stilletto tactic and that had turned out to be an excellent decision by RogueCorsair as he was not ready for it psychologically and his ship ammunition was pre-selected for range. 

More importantly, it had solidified for Starwalker that whilst he liked the speed of the interceptor he was not really a kiter. He liked to get up close and personal and kill or be killed. Dancing on the edge of point range and doing less than 100 DPS was not really his idea of fun.

10 May 2012

Limited Success Station Trading

Starwalker was not interested in making ISK but definitely needed it for flying in space. Between him and Starstepper they had less than 100m ISK left in cash, although Starstepper held a fair stock of various ships and fittings. While it sounded like a lot of money it represented perhaps two fully fit battlecruisers or three assault ships.

Starstepper had heard about people creating a semi-passive income stream from station trading and he had tried that over many months now. His experience had met with limited success and these were some of the problems he had run into:
  • ISK attrition wars where people will raise their buy price by 0.01 ISK or drop their sell price by 0.01 ISK almost immediately after your item is listed. This "game" continues almost indefinitely
  • Volume is small and infrequently traded, so whilst the individual item margin may be very good the volume over time is small
  • Price has large jumps or falls shortly after a trade, usually in the wrong direction and resulting in either holding stock, losing significant profit or in the worst case making a loss 
  • Margin trading where the differential between the buy and sell price starts off as good but then gets decimated by other buyers or sellers
  • Large buy or sell orders are nibbled at over time with low volume trades so that no real economy of scale can be made from moving high volumes at low margins
  • Arbitrage between regions or trade stations such as Jita and Rens required tediously moving items and trading was subject to all of the above vagaries
Starstepper had made some good profits where the best example was buying 25 items for 2m each, transporting them to another station and selling them for 6m each but it took around 6 months to sell the items. 

Some of the current stock of ships could be sold for a profit, in particular the 10 Drakes that were bought for 34m ISK each and could be sold for 50m ISK but that potential profit was more by luck than design.

However, the term luck was probably inappropriate as the original intent was to fly those ships and now their expense made that somewhat impractical. Despite that Starwalker was coming around to the view of fit and fly them anyway - every ship explodes, the only question is when and how.

Overall, ISK had been made but it probably equated to around 15-25m per month. It seemed that he had neither the patience nor the nose for smelling out the good trading items (and stations) that would make a substantial monthly profit. Time to look elsewhere for ISK making opportunities.

9 May 2012

Merlin Refit to Blasters

The previous successful battles with the Rifter and Tristan would not imply the need to refit the Merlin but Starwalker had now trained Small Hybrid Turrets to V. That almost necessitated the switch to blasters. The clear trade off was higher DPS at close range but a lot less damage out to the edge of scrambler range.

That extra DPS would have been useful in the Rifter fight and may have enabled Starwalker to escape before the Tristan arrived. Generally in New Eden there were few problems that could not be solved with more DPS. 

There was an opportunity to try the new blaster fit as the R1FTA roam, commanded by Sorn Nordvind, went from Molden Heath to Essence. It started quietly with no action in the first dozen or so systems. The scout, Yuzuki Katayanagi, then found a young pilot, Nero Xylius, ratting in a Harbinger in Mannar. There was a certain inevitability to what would happen next but it was an opportunity to see how the blasters would perform.

Yuzuki called point and the R1FTA swarm arrived on scene to find the Harbinger releasing drones but well and truly caught. With the rest of the rebels there it had no chance and all of its waves of drones were decimated. The Harbinger desperately tried (unsuccessfully) to take down a rebel with it but it too died. It was a very nice kill and the Harbinger was actually well fit for a new pilot.

Starwalker had not bothered to overheat as that was unnecessary and he had been able to orbit at around 2km for the entire fight. He had briefly shot at the drones but most of the time was spent shooting the Harbinger. The log revealed that the blasters had regularly missed the battlecruiser and had not even hit the Warrior II drones. It was something to consider as a webbed battlecruiser would be going far slower than any webbed frigate.

The Merlin that was killed a little later was destroyed so quickly that Starwalker was not able to test any changes. Next time Starwalker would try a few changes:
  • Most importantly to use Caldari Navy Antimatter rather than Void, which has a -25% tracking penalty
  • To use keep at range instead of orbit
  • Train the Motion Prediction skill from level IV to V
It was too early to tell yet if shifting from autocannons to blasters was a good idea but it was a good ship that only had one real problem - it was slow.

5 May 2012

Tristan Is Back For More

Starwalker was in station to check his training queue when he noticed Jev North in local. This was the same pilot that had arrived late in the Merlin versus Rifter fight and had destroyed the last 5% of Starwalker's Merlin structure. Was this an opportunity for some sweet revenge?

Undocking in another Merlin, Starwalker headed out into space and saw a Tristan in local, looking good so far. He then went to the sun to be easily found and to see if he could scan down the target.

The Tristan arrived a little a while later and some 350km away - it was Jev North. Starwalker turned the Merlin around and slowly burnt towards him at the snail's pace that is the top speed of the Merlin using an afterburner fit. However, around 160km away the Tristan simply warped out - very disappointing.

Starwalker started scanning but before long the Tristan was back. So, he continued to slow boat towards the Tristan as it held its position - stationary. Around 60km away the Tristan warped away again and this time Starwalker decided to continue on and bookmark the position. It might come in useful later as it didn't look like the Tristan was going to stay and fight.

Wrong. The Tristan warped back yet again at range and this time was only 30km away. Starwalker locked it and closed in - the Tristan stayed and engaged. The fight was finally on. Overheating rockets immediately the Merlin laid into the Tristan as the distance closed down to blaster range.

The Tristan blasters were doing their worst and ripping away the shield but the Merlin was also  soon smashing into armour. The Merlin shields dropped and then armour was being torn away by the blasters but the Tristan's tank was nearly gone too and it had dipped into structure. The Merlin armour was not designed for this type of abuse and rapidly gave way but not before the Tristan exploded into a fiery ball. Payback.

Starwalker went for the pod too, to really sweeten the victory but Jev North managed to get it away as in the excitement Starwalker fumbled at the controls. No matter, he was really pleased and scooped up the loot as Jev North noted "gf" and that Merlin's are "tough". Starwalker refrained from gloating and simply noted "gf - close" but it was a really sweet kill!

4 May 2012

Merlin Finds Rifter in Plex

Starwalker's Merlin was cruising around in The Citadel and noticed a Rifter and Tristan come up on the scan. Time to find trouble. The scan narrowed down the Rifter to a plex and Starwalker jumped right in by warping to zero.

The acceleration gate invited activation but there was nothing else around so invitation accepted the Merlin launched itself deeper into the plex. Right into the Rifter that was waiting there. Starwalker proceeded to hit multiple buttons to lock the target, orbit, apply scramble and fire. However, as usual it seemed that too many orders too quickly confused things and the targeting order failed.

Starwalker had yet to find a reliable way to exit warp and lock up the target and point or scramble it fast. The operative word being fast. It seemed whether he used the keyboard, overview or click that something went wrong. At least one Rifter was able to get away because the point was not applied fast enough.

However, this Rifter, piloted by Milo Caman, wanted to fight and he locked the Merlin and proceeded with his acts of violence. Starwalker engaged and finally applied his scramble but it was hardly needed as this Rifter was not trying to run. Whilst the Merlin was soaking up the damage its return fire was also tearing away the Rifter defences.

It would be a fight to the death and the two frigates pummelled each other at close range. Starwalker originally wanted to orbit at 4km but the fight was happening at 1.5km. Despite the Merlin webbing the Rifter it was the Rifter that had established range control with its web and its armour repper was trying to keep up with the incoming damage but failing ever so slowly.

However, the Merlin's shields were also going down and it was not clear who would win. The two frigates were on fire but continued to try to deal the final death blow when a Tristan arrived. Starwalker assumed he was here to save the Rifter and decided that he would align out but stay to kill the Rifter or go down trying. As usual, the alignment out was not to save the ship but to save the pod.

The Tristan, piloted by Jev North, closed to within 7km of Starwalker and fired its rockets. The Merlin was engulfed in flames but finally destroyed the Rifter with just under 5% of structure left. It was the closest fight that Starwalker had ever had but the victory was short-lived. Less than a second later it too was destroyed as the final sliver of structure was ripped away by the Tristan's rocket. The flight time of the rocket had been enough of a delay for Starwalker to get the kill.