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.

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