21 October 2012

Problems in a Plex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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