28 July 2012

Fit Assessment - Merlin Rails

Starwalker had been flying around recently in a kiting Merlin fitted with 150mm railguns. Generally he eschewed no/minimal tank fits but he had wanted to try out some ideas around damage projection and range control. It was perhaps too early to have a considered opinion but that never stopped him from having an opinion. After all, he had killed this Kestrel and Tormentor and had lost this Merlin, so he did have a little bit of experience.

Fit Assessment - Merlin 150mm Railguns
The basic idea was to have a T1 frigate with good range control by using MWD level speed and damage projection by using railguns. Faster kiting ships like the Imperial Navy Slicer would probably not be able to stand the incoming damage and afterburner frigates were dead meat. Fast close range ships like a Taranis or Republic Fleet Firetail would be a major headache and so would an MWD fit brawler.

The railgun fit was fast but had no tank and the DPS was still well over 100 dependent on actual range and faction ammunition. Starwalker had selected Caldari Navy Thorium with the intent to fire those projectiles from 16km away. That range would give plenty of leeway to stay in point range of 24km and avoid overheated scramble range of 10km and similarly overheated web range of 13km. The key strength of excellent damage projection on a T1 frigate was compensated for by the weakness of very little tank, of around 3,580 EHP. In short, if something got close to a kiting fit like this Merlin - it was dead very quickly.

The high slots were fitted with T2 150mm railguns that offered a good fitting compromise of excellent damage projection with room to fit other goodies. Whilst Caldari Navy Thorium was the selected ammunition choice the equivalent antimatter charges would knock out over 140 DPS at 9km. However, this range was not good with an MWD fitted as it was easily in scramble range, at which point Starwalker could wave his ship goodbye. Spike would hit out to well over 32km but the DPS would drop to only just over 80 DPS.

The mid slots were fitted with a MWD for the speed to outrun any and all T1 afterburner frigates and the speed advantage would negate opportunities to escape by manual piloting. The MWD was coupled with a capacitor booster because without it the capacitor would run dry in just under 1.5 minutes. That might be long enough dependent on the tank of the target but it seemed better to be capacitor stable, with boosts, and take as long as needed to whittle the target down to zero structure. The long point of 24km allowed plenty of room to keep the target pointed, although Starwalker had lost point on a MWD T1 frigate as the speed advantage was minimal and manual piloting could enable an escape. The web was a last ditch attempt if something did get close to try to either pull range or to get away.

Low slots had a modest damage control unit and two magnetic field stabilisers to increase the DPS. To enable everything to be fitted a rig to boost CPU had been included and the remaining rig slots had used shield rigs to boost the meagre tank. Starwalker had Advanced Weapon Upgrades IV but this fit required V or an ancillary current router. As a rough rule of thumb Starwalker only used one or two fitting modules for any ship fit. That number might allow the ship to be enhanced in meaningful ways but without compromising it too much because a fitting module had been used instead of something for gank, tank or utility.

Starwalker did not know if he really liked minimal tank kiting ships but he would have preferred it against this smart-bombing Dominix instead of his short range dual repair Incursus. When Starwalker pointed this Thrasher he had hoped for autocannons but it was artillery fit, and it seemed like two rounds from it were enough to destroy his pitifully tanked Merlin. Fortunately the rest of the fleet killed it. That same fleet of frigates also were on the receiving end of hot drop by Shadow Cartel - first time ever for Starwalker to see that happen live.

22 July 2012

d00med Roam and Cruiser Brawl and Thorax Fit Assessment

Kaeda Maxwell had organised a T1 cruiser roam around Tribute, Cloud Ring, Pure Blind and Lonetrek. It started off with a Republic Fleet Firetail being caught on a gate but it died before Starwalker even got close in his Thorax. Apart from that Firetail the 49 jump roam was largely eventless until the end when it became really fun - crashing a gate camp and engaging in a T1 cruiser brawl.

Arriving at the gate camp, Starwalker along with pretty much everyone else got in on the Hurricane kill. Other members in the fleet also managed to get a sniping Moa kill but Starwalker had trouble getting out of the bubble in a timely manner and missed it but he did not miss this Blackbird. The fleet was still at the gate camp site when it was challenged to a T1 cruiser brawl. Of course it was accepted and the Rebels docked up to repair first.

It was a great fight at an agreed local planet with Kaeda Maxwell setting up his backup FCs and then calling the targets. Starwalker simply focused on the called targets Stabber, Thorax, Thorax, Thorax and Thorax and was fortunately not being targeted initially. However, that could not last and eventually it was Starwalker's turn to get shot at. His shield and armour disappeared fast and he aligned out in deep armour and almost no capacitor.

With less than 10% structure left and the last bit of capacitor Starwalker got the warp away and thought he had gotten really lucky - until he landed next to a Crusader with a Naga working with it 100km away. The Crusader couldn't believe its luck and immediately pointed his helpless Thorax. Starwalker knew it was all over and simply warped away in his pod. However, the last two remaining Rebels had won the field and Starwalker was posthumously on the last Caracal kill by Vincent R'lyeh and Tomba. The d00med roam had been great fun and the last cruiser brawl had been a good fight that was really close.

Fit Assessment - Thorax 1600mm Armour Buffer
Thorax was a T1 cruiser that used medium hybrid weapons and had more DPS and tank than a frigate but was larger and also considerably slower. As a class, whilst they could take on pretty much any frigate they were outclassed by the T2 cruisers (Heavy Assault Cruisers...) and battlecruisers. However, their price point of 5-10m ISK for the ship hull was attractive and potentially offered better value than a T2 frigate (Assault Frigates...).

The armour buffer fit was slow but tough and was able to potentially hold targets with its stasis webifier. Its key strength was its strong buffer tank of over 30,000 EHP and it still put out over 300 DPS with comparatively low skills. Its weakness was that it was slow and could neither easily catch nor evade targets.

Starwalker had only cruiser III and medium blasters IV skills, consequently the guns fitted were only a meta level 4 rather than the T2 variant. This still allowed the Caldari Navy Antimatter faction ammunition to be used but disabled the T2 ammunition option. With an optimal of around 1.4km this Thorax was a close range brawler. However, for brawling, a shield buffer gank fit would be able to put out over 500 DPS but also it only had half the effective tank. The eternal question in New Eden - more tank or gank?

The medium slots had the "holy trinity" - propulsion, scramble and web. The MWD was virtually essential for speed and the web gave some range control. Without a capacitor booster the capacitor theoretically lasted just over two minutes but practically it would be more like one and half minutes as the capacitor was pretty much always in use.

The low slots were dominated by the 1600mm armour plate along with the DCII and EANMII. The buffer plate was complemented by the resistance improvement modules, which effectively reduced the incoming damage. The two magnetic field stabilisers pushed the DPS to over 300 but even better would be to combine those with T2 guns, which would push the DPS to over 400 with level V skills.

The trimark rigs added additional armour buffer at the cost of slowing the cruiser down and the ancillary current router was necessary to boost the power grid to fit everything. The drone bay held five warrior IIs for anti-frigate work and five EC-300 electronic warfare drones for jamming targets. Starwalker had struggled to properly use the drones and during the course of the roam had only launched the drones once and had not managed them well after their launch.

The d00med roam also highlighted that the capacitor for the armour buffered Thorax disappeared very quickly with even comparatively short periods of only micro-warpdrive use, nevermind combat. Once the capacitor was empty the ship simply stopped - it could not move, defend itself or fire.

21 July 2012

Rebels Chase Caracal and Incursus Fit Assessment

Starwalker had only found this hapless cyno-ship but was looking forward to the Rebel roam later. However, whilst the Rebels had gathered in Eugales for Peri Simone's regular roam his technical difficulties resulted in the roam being cancelled. So Kaeda Maxwell (Incursus), Alaric Faelen (Vengeance) and Starwalker (Incursus) decided to form an ad-hoc small gang and set off locally to see what they could find.

It wasn't long before Kaeda saw a Caracal jump through onto the gate with him and then warp to the next gate. The Rebels set off in hot pursuit. The Caracal jumped a couple of more systems and then went to a major outpost. He looked like he wanted to fight.

Starwalker was first into the complex and gave chase but the Caracal stayed outside of scram range and laid down its offensive fire of light missiles. It was clear that this cruiser was fitted to kill frigates and was evading Starwalker easily. Very quickly Starwalker had to get his active armour tank going but he was comfortably tanking the incoming damage. This time Starwalker paid close attention to the capacitor and reloaded in plenty of time.

With the other Rebels arriving it was not long before the Caracal was surrounded and pointed and Starwalker also finally established a point. The incoming damage continued for a while but it was clear that the Incursus dual armour repair was able to tank the damage and the Caracal pilot, Stalking Mantis, decided to switch targets but it was too late for him and before much longer his Caracal exploded.

Fit Assessment - Incursus Dual Armour Repair
The Incursus was a T1 frigate that was small and fast and used hybrid weapons, blasters in particular but also railguns for fighting at range. It was a good general purpose combat frigate like the Merlin and Rifter and at an attractive price point - a fully fitted Incursus was around 10m ISK. 

Starwalker had used an Incursus with a dual small armour repair fit, which exploited the ship bonus of 10% armour repair effectiveness. It's key strengths were its high DPS and strong tank and its main weakness was the lack of range control.

The high slots were dominated by the light neutron blasters, which were the highest damage short range hybrid blasters and also the most difficult to fit. Caldari Navy Antimatter Charges were used to maintain the best tracking, higher damage void ammunition also had a 25% tracking penalty. This was especially important as Starwalker's tracking skills were not at level V and there was no stasis webifier fitted. Checking the log would confirm how many misses occurred and consequently reduced DPS.

The mid slots held the traditional afterburner for low security space and a warp scrambler. The third mid slot had a capacitor booster rather than a stasis webifier because of the dual repair active armour tank. The capacitor was exhausted in just over 30 seconds of use and given that the capacitor was being used all of the time the practical time was closer to 20 seconds. A typical frigate fight would last 30-45 seconds so 20 seconds was simply too short. With the capacitor booster fitted the capacitor was theoretically stable, dependent on the number of capacitor charges in the cargo hold.

The low slots were primarily focused on the armour tank, with two small armour repairers being the key components of the tank. The small armour repairers were used in a staggered way with the armour HP being replenished at the end of each cycle or every 4.5 seconds with level V skills. This cycle could be improved further by using implants and/or drugs.

Rigs were used to add a little more armour buffer (trimark) and to enhance the repair effectiveness by 15% for each fitted nano pump. The Incursus could also field one drone and Starwalker had the Acolyte EV-300, which drained just a little (5 GJ) capacitor with each cycle (6 seconds).

16 July 2012

d00med Roam was Doomed

Starwalker was in his Thrasher for the Destroyer themed d00med roam organised by Kaeda Maxwell and had fitted it with 200mm autocannons, medium shield and a MWD. For some reason, Starwalker didn't really like the destroyer class of ship. There was no obvious reason for that as it offered considerable gank for a small sized ship.

Foolishly, Starwalker had volunteered to be the +1 scout for the fleet and for the one fight that happened he was in the next system. By the time he got to the scene of the destruction Kaeda was calling for any ships that had survived to warp away as the local militia had attacked en masse. Given that it was late this was also the ideal opportunity to drop fleet and so Starwalker returned to base.

It was as he returned to Eugales the following day that Starwalker lost his Thrasher, lurking at the sun as usual looking for targets. Indeed, he had seen another Thrasher on scan and as he searched - it was suddenly next to him. The extra few seconds of surprise made all the difference and Starwalker's similarly fit Thrasher exploded.

Starwalker had also been flying around recently in an Incursus as he wanted to try some active armour tanking as well as fly a ship he had not flown before. He had two close calls:
  1. Another Incursus was kiting fit and had Starwalker on the run as he was unable to dictate range in a dual repair fit. After fruitless trying to get into range for some serious damage with his Neutron blasters Starwalker gave up and warped away. It seemed to be easy enough to break away as the fight was on the edge of scram range but generally this engagement emphasised the need for speed against kiters
  2. Yet another Incursus fight also ended in a warp away but this time by the target as Starwalker was too slow to replenish his capacitor in time and his point dropped. The other pilot, Silver Wasp was sufficiently on the ball to to get away during that brief window
The initial Incursus experience was interesting for Starwalker as he realised that he was not watching his capacitor at all and only knew it was gone when Aura announced it. Repairers repaired at the end of the cycle rather than the start and also seemed to be very capacitor intensive, especially compared to the capacitor free ancillary shield booster. The advantage of armour tanking was freeing up mid-slots for other uses beyond shield tanking but generally armour plates slowed a ship down with the extra mass.

Over time Starwalker had noticed that his ship selection and fitting philosophy had evolved towards relative superiority and it was also being refined with consideration of additional features beyond the usual tank and gank. In particular, this included:
  • Damage projection beyond fighting at optimal
  • Establishing range control with speed or piloting
  • Managing Capacitor  
The real problem was that no one ship he had (or had in EFT) was able to do everything he wanted. So beyond the engagement and various factors it was also about what compromises to make or strengths to emphasise. This was leading Starwalker to take much more notice of ship features and capabilitities and in particular bonuses.

Starwalker was also aware that theory and tools like EFT only gave an indication of ship performance and that there were many other factors at play such as situation, tracking, pilot skills and errors. There was nothing quite like practice to really understand a ship and also to improve.

14 July 2012

Cheetah Ready and More T1 Frigates

Starwalker had scouted Oulley for Starstepper as it seemed that the Oulley gate camp was a regular feature for Placid. Starstepper had only ever lost one Mammoth to a gate camp and he had no desire to lose a second to something that could be easily avoided.

The Mammoth made the run during a quiet time and Eugales was restocked with 3 Incursi, 3 Merlins and most of the fittings needed. Starwalker had used his Hawk to pick up some final items from Covryn and along the way had killed this cyno-ship. It was well tanked but the dual Medium Ancillary Shield Boosters were easily able to tank the station guns.

Meanwhile, Starwalker had been distracted from training drone skills for his battlecruisers and had completed Covert Ops V and was now able to fly and fully fit his Cheetah:

[Cheetah, Cheetah]
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II
Co-Processor I
Damage Control II

Limited 1MN MicroWarpdrive I
1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Codebreaker I

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Expanded Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I
125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

The original intent had been to use this ship and fit for finding Exploration (Radar) sites, primarily for ISK income, and possibly to probe down mission runners or industrial ships at safes but whilst the training was complete and the ship purchased and fitted the desire to use it had diminished considerably.

Starwalker was more interested in killing other ships and generally he spent so little time in New Eden already that he wanted to spend what time he did looking for fights. However, in over a year he still had not sorted out a steady source of ISK income and his disposable ISK was getting very low.

13 July 2012

Rebel Roam to Aeschee

Starwalker joined the Rebel roam from Eugales to Aeschee in his Hawk. He would have used a T1 frigate like everyone else except that he had lost the last one recently. Given that everyone else was in Rifters he noted in fleet that he would happily perform the meatshield role, although others noted that his Hawk might be targeted last.

Peri Simone settled into his regular role as FC and similarly Kaeda Maxwell was the +1 scout. It was not long before Kaeda had found a Stabber Fleet Issue at a Gallente Major Outpost and had it pointed. And it was not long after that the Stabber Fleet Issue was a wreck, however, the Rebels were soon warped to a safe spot as a Tengu arrived and it seemed that the locals were gathering a reprisal force.

The Rebels waited out GCC and then moved on and seemed to be chased by another R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N pilot in another Stabber Fleet Issue (SFI). It was not engaged immediately but eventually Peri Simone said that after the next jump if the SFI jumps through engage it. It did and soon the SFI was in trouble with the incoming Rebel damage.

However, a Legion came through to help repair it but whilst it tried to save the SFI it was not enough and the second SFI of the night exploded. The Legion was targeted but it did not have aggression and it was able to jump back to safety through the gate. Surprisingly, no one else from R.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N came - so perhaps they had given up or those two were always on their own.

The Rebels were very satisfied with the kills and decided to head back to Eugales. Not far from the home system a flashy Vexor appeared on the gate with the Rebels and it was clearly looking for a fight. It got one.

The Rifters soon made short work of the drones as the Vexor targeted Starwalker's Hawk. The Vexor's neutraliser soon had the Hawk capped out and the shields started to fall. However, the Hawk rockets continued to smash into the Vexor and the ancillary shield boosters operated from their own capacitor charges, In short, the Hawk gank and tank was still operational and that wasn't counting the rest of the Rebel fleet pounding away at the Vexor and its drones.

The Vexor released more drones but it was going down and it was not much longer before its structure buckled under the Rebel firepower and it became the third kill of the roam. Starwalker was pleased that his Hawk had survived as it was his last frigate and he would need to move more frigates to Eugales soon. As soon as the regular Oulley gate camp was asleep...

12 July 2012

Incursus and Rifter Jump Merlin

Starwalker was scouting for StarStepper at the sun in Oulley and noticed that there was a gate camp waiting for those coming from Orvolle. What he didn't notice immediately was an Incursus landing nearby, it was just under 10km away and it had not targeted Starwalker's Merlin yet. That was strange or may be it had literally just arrived.

Starwalker did not hesitate and engaged the Incursus, and almost as soon as the fight started a Rifter came in too and targeted his Merlin. The Incursus was firing and trying to maintain a range of around 7km but with a web applied the distance closed to 2km. However, with two close targets available Starwalker made a decision to take down the Rifter and opened fire.

He felt sure that the Incursus would be difficult to kill and the Rifter would be much easier - he also wanted to take at least one down before his ship exploded. The damage was coming in hot and fast and given how his shields had evaporated Starwalker knew that he was unlikely to survive this encounter but he was determined to take the Rifter with him. The Rifter started to take serious damage.

The Merlin was on fire with the shield booster desperately trying to forestall the fiery end, at least long enough for the Rifter kill. The Rifter exploded first and then the Merlin followed soon afterwards. Starwalker got his pod away and was satisfied with the kill.

In retrospect he should have realised that the Incursus was railgun fit by the range and initial damage profile. Consequently, he should have started firing sooner and tried to stay close to the Incursus as the Rifter would probably have also stayed close. With the Incursus railgun and web fit Starwalker was unsure if his Merlin could get under its guns and stay there to reduce the incoming damage but it would have been worth trying.

Starwalker also considered that if he was a better pilot then maybe he could have taken them both down and his Merlin survived to tell the tale. Something to aspire to.

11 July 2012

Merlin Challenged by Merlin

Starwalker was in Eugales with some other Rebels chasing around targets that were teasing for a fight but not actually fighting. It was whilst this was going on that a new Merlin appeared in system and after some running around challenged Starwalker's Merlin to a duel. Of course, it was accepted.

After the challenge was accepted the pilot, geddy lee1, was then nervous about fighting at the sun with all of the other Rebels around. However, he was assured that R1FTA honoured duels and the fight eventually commenced at the sun with various spectators.

The Merlin's were soon both at point blank range with blasters firing away. Starwalker was Neutron Blaster fit with a Medium Ancillary Shield Booster and expected something very similar from geddy lee1. However, as the fight progressed the incoming damage was fairly anemic and Starwalker did not even need to cycle his booster. The opposing Merlin soon erupted into a ball of fire and it was over. Random duel accepted and won - very rare.

Starwalker was surprised at how easy the fight was and had expected it to be much tougher. Looking at the pilot he had over six hundred kills, although the vast majority seemed to be as part of a gang. The fit itself was reasonable with a focus on resists but the fit itself was not really very good for taking on blaster fits as the rig resists would play no part in the fight.

Starwalker had not used active tanks very much at all to date but the recent experience with the ancillary shield booster had whetted his appetite for more active tanks and he would spend some time looking at active armour tanking. Starwalker had maximum frigate skills for Caldari and Minmatar but could easily add Amarr or Galente as needed. One of the joys of EVE skill training - anyone could do training for anything.

10 July 2012

Merlin Finds another Incursus

Starwalker was heading back to Eugales in his Merlin when he found another Incursus on scan. It seemed to be ratting in an asteroid belt and the Merlin warped in. The Incursus, piloted by Morin Blain, was around 60km away and warped away very quickly. However, Morin Blain then offered a duel by saying that he would stay put.

This was the first warning for Starwalker, as he almost never won duels where he was challenged out of the blue. Checking the Battleclinic record was the second warning as he was a top ranked Tusker pilot. The third warning was that his last Incursus loss was a dual repair blinged out fit - very, very tough.

However, Starwalker was curious as to whether he could win by controlling the range to around 4km rather than point blank as the Incursus was very likely to be a blaster fit. As always, losing was no reason to not accept the duel and he might learn something here, so Starwalker warped in.

The approach went well and Starwalker's Merlin was flying between 4km and 7km away and the pre-loaded Null was inflicting some damage, however, the Incursus must have had Null loaded too as it was also having no problem hitting the Merlin. The range control tactic was not having the desired effect and Starwalker knew that when his medium ancillary shield booster stopped that he would die very quickly.

Starwalker started to align out, not with any great expectations about saving his ship but to save his pod. His Merlin exploded and his pod warped away. In retrospect, Starwalker wondered whether he should consider whether they were "winnable" first rather than simply accept duels. However, on a little further reflection he also knew that he was likely to go on accepting duels irrespective of the opponent.

9 July 2012

Hawk Down in another Gate Camp

Starwalker was cruising around in Black Rise in his Hawk and finding it quiet. He noticed local spike with a few pilots and immediately recognised Daggaman as one of the gate campers that had got his Merlin. He waited at a planet to see where they were going but they stayed in system.

Eventually, he decided to leave the system and went to the out gate, unfortunately they were on that gate and Starwalker wondered whether if he jumped through immediately he could get away but the gang split with some of them going to the other side. They were clearly prepared for action on both sides of the gate.

As Starwalker jumped through he resolved to wait a little bit to see if they moved on or whether they were specifically hunting his Hawk now. They waited and as the gate timer ticked down Starwalker decided to try to burn back to the gate. It didn't matter - he was dead within seconds and podded again.

Gate camps - the bane of New Eden. It was one of the reasons that he had left Metropolis because of regular gate camps in the Auner to Dal pipe, especially at Eszur. Starwalker had no issue losing ships in fights but hated losing them in gate camps.

8 July 2012

Just In Time to Die

Starwalker had managed to run into a gate camp (Hurricane and Curse) and died very quickly. The surprise - first gate camp in some time - had resulted in Starwalker turning on his tank but forgetting to try to burn back to the gate or generally escape. Although the Merlin's demise was sufficiently quick that it probably would not have made it. Worse, he was podded too.

Starwalker upgraded his clone from the default medical clone, paused the training queue and then plugged in another set of +3 learning implants:
Plus some additional cheap implants for minor boosts:
The total cost was around 40m ISK, which was a level that Starwalker was comfortable losing when podded. The +4 implants were just a little too expensive to lose. Undeterred from the loss Starwalker was soon out again in another Merlin.

Angron Vail noted an Incursus at his local sun in the corporate communications channel and called for some help as he thought it was with a Thrasher. Peri Simone responded that he would help and soon called point on the Incursus. Starwalker replied that he was three jumps out and that it would be all over by the time he got there.

Just as Starwalker arrived at the home system gate Peri Simone called point on the Thrasher and immediately Starwalker jumped through and warped to the sun. Peri Simone was in a Republic Fleet Firetail around around 50km away with a Thrasher and an Incursus. Just as Starwalker started to burn towards them Angron Vail returned in another Rifter.

The Incursus, piloted by Raiden Rattlehead, turned towards the new arrivals and the distance closed rapidly to engagement range. Starwalker's Merlin applied scram, web and blasters and the Incursus tanked like a champion. It was clearly another dual repair active tank fit and they were really strong. 

The Thrasher had rejoined the frigate fray and was targeting Starwalker's Merlin and it was struggling to stay alive. However, the other Rebels tipped the balance and the Incursus became a space wreck. Starwalker switched target to the Thrasher as the point dropped on the Merlin and considered whether to leave to repair as the Thrasher was already damaged.

He took too long to decide and the Merlin joined the wreckage. The Thrasher though did not last much longer and it too went down in flames. Starwalker had not expected to join this fight as he thought it would be over by the time he got there but as luck would have it - he was just in time to die.

6 July 2012

Rebel Roam from Eugales

Rebels gathered in Eugales for the roam organised by Peri Simone. It was composed of a motley collection of ships ranging from various T1 frigates to Ruptures and even a Hurricane. Kaeda Maxwell performed the +1 scout duties and the roam headed out towards Aeschee.

Within three jumps Kaeda reported a Merlin, Hookbill and Thrasher at a Gallente Major Outpost and the fleet warped in. Starwalker landed close to the Thrasher and immediately set point and opened fire, he was too far away from the Merlin or Hookbill to worry about them. The Merlin settled into a tight orbit and along with other fleet members was pouring damage into the Thrasher.

Then it got interesting as the militia - Black Rise Guerilla Forces - called for help and suddenly it was a raging battle with lots and lots of ships engaged. It was amazing how quickly the militia piled in but then Peri Simone really went to work - cool, calm and collected and calling targets. Starwalker listened for the targets and melted face: Thrasher, Thrasher, Thrasher and Cormorant. He knew that at some point with all the ships in melee he would be targeted but until then he focused on the called targets.

As the Cormorant went down Starwalker found himself targeted and the combined fire from multiple ships simply overwhelmed his tank in seconds and the Merlin was gone. Starwalker called out in fleet that he was down and as he departed in his pod he could still hear Peri Simone calling targets as the Rebels fought to the last man standing. It was a great fight.

The fleet, shipless but happy and in high spirits returned to Eugales to re-ship and they resolved to get further than five jumps next time. The fleet set off again and indeed they did get further with Kaeda Maxwell looking for targets but nothing of real interest except this unlucky Rupture. Unfortunately, Starwalker was so far away from it when he landed that he was lucky to even get onto the killmail.

The Rebel roam was heading back to base when a cruiser gang was spotted in Frarie by Tomba. Kaeda Maxwell was soon scouting them down to a complex and suggested taking down the Thoraxes first. The Rebels warped in and Peri Simone got on with calling the targets, although they were some distance away. Starwalker eventually got there and started on the Thorax, Rupture, Maller and Arbitrator

No more targets, at least not nearby, Milo Caman in his Rupture had killed some Rebels and managed to survive and was burning away as the last of the cruiser gang went down. The Rebels left him and went to a safe to wait out GCC and return to Eugales in the next system. It had been a very good night and two excellent fights.

5 July 2012

Stabber Fleet Issue on Scan

Starwalker was returning to Ishomilken in his pod to collect another Merlin to take to the staging point in Eugales for the Rebel roam. He noticed a Stabber Fleet Issue and Wolf on scan and also Miura Bull in local. Waving to his esteemed leader, he offered to fleet up and see what damage they could do.

Undocking in a Hawk, Starwalker and Miura Bull, piloting a Wolf, looked for the targets but they seemed to have gone elsewhere and so Starwalker returned to station and undocked in his Merlin. The Stabber Fleet Issue was there, outside the station, and Starwalker warped to the sun wondering if it would follow - it did.

It landed 100km away and seemed to wait as the Rebel Merlin and Wolf burned towards it. The Merlin was going faster and arrived first to a wall of incoming fire and drones and it was simply too much for the active shield tank to hold and it died in a ball of fire. The SFI could have made a fast getaway as the Wolf arrived shortly afterwards but it stayed to fight and Starwalker docked up to get his Hawk.

The SFI was active armour tanking the Wolf when Starwalker arrived and immediately engaged with his rockets spewing out. With the combined firepower it was clear that the SFI was going down and it was only a matter of time, shortly afterwards the SFI was another ball of fire in the black of space.

In retrospect, Starwalker thought that he could have done better with the Merlin approach, the ship might still have died but it could have lasted longer:
  • Merlin directly approached the SFI and should have tried to spiral in, the early hits from the 220mm Vulcan Autocannons could have been avoided or their damage significantly reduced
  • Miura Bull noted that he was struggling to keep up when approaching the SFI and Starwalker should have slowed down so that they arrived together. His overview excluded fleet members and so he never actually knew where the Wolf was beyond the fact that it was behind him
  • Starwalker had not expected the damage to start so far out of scramble range, when it did start he should have changed course to reduce tracking, in short react to the new information and reassess the plan of attack

4 July 2012

Merlin Meets its Maker

Starwalker was still waiting for his GCC to finish when Lost Touch challenged him to a duel. As always, this seemed like a duel that he was destined to lose but naturally Starwalker accepted and noted that he would need to repair first as his ship was still on fire from the previous encounter.

After repairing, Starwalker considered whether to change the fit but he decided to stay with his gank fit as whilst it was a glass cannon he had enjoyed melting face in it. He had considered other Merlin fits and the Alliance X Tournament had seen a number of ships using the Ancillary Shield Booster. So perhaps he would use that module soon, indeed, he had defined just such a fit in fitting a Merlin.

Similarly, whilst Starwalker liked the face-melting DPS he also wanted a little more tank and there was a balance to be had between DPS and tank. Starwalker went to the sun and Lost Touch arrived in an Incursus. No doubt Lost Touch would be confident of a win and Starwalker wondered whether this would be the first challenge to a duel that he had accepted that he would win. He had pretty much lost to higher ranked/better pilots every time so far.

The approach went well and the fight was on. Starwalker had his dual web applied and his blasters were doing their face melting thing. The Incursus in turn was not hanging around and its blasters were doing a number on the Merlin's shields. The Incursus went into armour and then started to repair, it was clearly active tanked but it seemed to be losing the battle as it dipped into structure.

However, the Merlin was suffering too and was deep into armour. The Incursus repaired a little and lost a little more tank and seemed to be going down but Starwalker's Merlin was also now in structure and it was going to be a race to see whose structure survived. There was an explosion and at first Starwalker thought that the Incursus had gone but that was not the case - he was in his pod.

Lost Touch noted that his Incursus was a dual repair fit and that he had been bait tanking - so apparently it was not as close as Starwalker had first thought. In retrospect, Starwalker thought that he could have improved:
  • Incursus was likely to be blaster fit too, so dictate range with the dual web fit
  • Based on range control, dictate the range of the fight, probably to be around 4km or just outside of normal blaster range
  • Given a fight at 4-5km rather than 1-2km use Null ammunition

3 July 2012

Incursus Pilot Back for Round 2

Starwalker returned to base from his most recent roam and only had a cyno-velator to show for his efforts but a kill was a kill. He docked up and contemplated finishing for the night but decided that he would just do a short local circuit to see what was around.

Starwalker left the station in his Merlin and saw an Incursus around 50km away from the undock. It was piloted by Yip Mei and since Yip had only recently been killed by Starwalker's Merlin, Starwalker simply warped away to the sun to see who else was in system.

What Starwalker hadn't expected was that Yip Mei would want round 2 - now. His Incursus landed around 10km away and Starwalker decided to lock him up just in case he had aggressive intentions - he did. The Incursus immediately went to work and so with a slight delay Starwalker returned fire.

However, this fight was different to the first time around as the Incursus was not going down anywhere near as quickly as the last time. In fact Starwalker was watching his shields disappear fast and realised that this was a real fight and he could die very soon.

The Incursus started to hit structure but so was Starwalker's Merlin and he cursed the fact that he had started so slowly. It was close and the Incursus put up a good fight but it went down with the Merlin only having 56% of its structure left. This was much closer than the last time and Yip Mei commented that he had got his T2 tank skills and had fitted the ship better than last time. It showed.

Starwalker went to a safe with his ship on fire to wait out his GCC and made a mental note to not assume that new pilots recently beaten would not try again to get a kill. Whilst the first fight had been easy this one had taken him down to structure and he could even have lost it, if the dice had rolled differently for quality of hits.

2 July 2012

First Alliance Roam

The Black Rebel Rifter Club is now part of an alliance - The Devil's Tattoo. The boss Miura Bull had this to say "This isn't going to be an alliance in the traditional sense of the word. There will be no new strange corps joining or plans for any other alliance behaviour or anything that strays from our roots of a 'not giving too much of a fcuk attitude'. Essentially it will be as you were for the most part. The main reason for this alliance formation is to facilitate a feeder corp." The feeder corp is named Black Dragon Fighting Society [BDFS]. 

Starwalker liked R1FTA and would remain in the new alliance as he hoped there would be no undesirable changes. Almost by default the first alliance event was the regular roam that Kaeda Maxwell had organised, although given no current real members for BDFS perhaps that first real event would wait for another day.

The roam set off from Eugales with Peri Simone performing +1 scout duties. He located a pair of Tengus and pointed one but before the Rebel fleet could arrive on the scene he was in his pod and the Tengus were leaving. However, the main action was with a Hurricane and Loki on a stargate. The Hurricane aggressed the T1 frigate fleet and the fight was on.

The Rebels focused on the Hurricane, piloted by Unidentified Player, and poured their combined DPS into its tank. Before long the Hurricane was in armour but more ships had arrived in the form of a Proteus and Loki. Starwalker had no idea what was going on but as the Hurricane started to go into low armour he remained on this target even though he was twice jammed out of the fight.

However, even more ships had arrived and Starwalker was suddenly taking a lot of damage but rather than trying to flee he stayed on the Hurricane to hopefully get the kill. The incoming damage was too much and he could do no more - his Merlin exploded. He decided to leave immediately to avoid being podded and didn't know whether the remaining Rebels had gotten the Hurricane - they did

Although looking at the killmail it was only achieved with a little help from Kmelx and friends. However, Kmelx's friends - Sparkus Volundar and Tycser - were also on Starwalker's lossmail, so apparently they were simply wading in on the fight. The good news was the Hurricane was down and so Starwalker returned to base content with the kill.