30 December 2013

Wolf at the Gate

Starwalker had long had a predilection for high DPS frigates like the Enyo and Daredevil, the neutron blaster kings. The Wolf was not far behind in being able to dish out the damage, this brute could do a selectable damage type of 270 DPS before overheat and around 300 DPS with heat:

[Wolf, MWD400SAAR]

Gyrostabilizer II
Internal Force Field Array I
400mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Initiated Harmonic Warp Scrambler I

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Fusion S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Fusion S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Fusion S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Fusion S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I

[Genolution implants CA-1 and CA-2 used for this fit]

In many cases, being able to select the damage type would make a considerable difference to the all important applied DPS. Whilst this Wolf could do around 300 DPS at around 1km it dropped to around 150 DPS at 10km. Applied DPS would be less than this theoretical maximum and affected by many factors, in particular, transversal velocity and target resistance profile.

The intended tactics were simple - get close and overwhelm their tank before they disengaged or die trying. The advantage of a high DPS frigate was that anything that got too close was very likely to be destroyed quickly. This speed was also useful if disengaging before the rest of the gang arrived.

Those were some of thoughts going through Starwalker's mind as he jumped his Wolf into system and he saw a flashy Atron just hanging on the gate. It was clear that the Atron was going nowhere and was likely bait for a gang, the question was could it be killed before the rest of the gang arrived. Normally, Starwalker did not attack on gate as there were too many variables and a strong likelihood of becoming the victim rather than the aggressor but he was feeling lucky.

The Wolf approached with auto-cannons blazing away and established a scramble, the Atron aggressed and Starwalker knew that the gang would arrive soon. If the Atron were alone it would simply jump out as it had no real chance against a Wolf. The gang arrived faster than expected and the Wolf was suddenly surrounded by three Tristans and an Imperial Navy Slicer, that was too much firepower for the Wolf but it was too late to run now, it was committed to do or die.

Two Tristans and the Slicer smartly moved out to around 20km but the Wolf was still surrounded by drones, the Atron and a third Tristan. The Atron went down and Starwalker caught the third Tristan before it could also pull range. The incoming damage was fierce and the Wolf's armour tank was in deep trouble, the small ancillary armour repairer only had two charges left and most of the armour was already gone. With two frigates down and three more still fighting it was not looking good.

The Slicer was closest and Starwalker turned his attention to getting into scramble range with a quick blast of the MWD. The Slicer was caught and with the blistering fire from the auto-cannons it melted quickly. The Wolf was bloodied and dying and it made a last desperate attempt to get a Tristan but as it leapt forwards the final blow was delivered and it crumpled into a lifeless wreck.

23 December 2013

Expensive Day Bad Day

Starwalker did not fit his frigates with faction or officer modules as he died too frequently for that to be a good idea, however, he had a day of madness and decided to fit the bling. It was an expensive day in terms of cost of modules and even more expensive in terms of losses.

The day started badly with a brand new Astero on its maiden voyage. The Wolf at the gate had followed the Astero for a couple of jumps and Starwalker was wary engaging it because of the sheer firepower that the Wolf had. However, in a moment of madness he decided to try and see whether two Corpii A-Type Small Armour Repairers could tank the incoming damage.

The range closed to point blank and Starwalker set a 5km orbit to get out of the hottest part of the fire. The incoming fire was very hot and Starwalker set the first repairer going, it was not keeping up and he started the second one shortly afterwards. The Astero armour was nearly gone and he put the overheat on both repairers but the march through structure was unstoppable. The near 200m ISK Astero exploded.

Since Starwalker was ship-less and close to Adirain he decided to move his battleship to Covryn for no good reason apart from the fact that he wanted to. The speed of the battleship was incredibly slow and he wondered whether he should just sell it or lose it soon. He noticed he was being followed by Stay Frosty and decided that their Vagabond and Stabber Fleet Issue would be incredibly hard to hit in a battleship.

They started to scramble the Megathron on the gates but missed the first few times but eventually they got the scramble. Starwalker had the decision of whether to engage or to simply burn back to gate... he made the fatal decision to engage and as he suspected the cruisers were hard to hit and easily repaired the incoming damage. The march through structure was again unstoppable and another 200m ISK ship was destroyed.

Starwalker's Vengeance was also sporting two Corpii A-Type Small Armour Repairers but when it engaged a Merlin the fight soon became a three versus one. The two Merlins and Tristan easily overcame the tank of the Vengeance and shortly afterwards it became a 130m ISK wreck.

It had been an expensive day - a bad day. In particular, the loss of the two frigates reinforced
  • A dual repair tank was good against a single target but could be easily overwhelmed against multiple targets (Vengeance)
  • A good dual repair tank could still be overwhelmed by sheer firepower (Astero)
Starwalker also found it difficult to judge when to start the armour tank repair and when to overheat it, he suspected that he may have started it too late on each occasion.

20 December 2013

Rebel Roam to Lantorn

The weekly Rebel Roam had Peri Simone as the FC and Brink Albosa as the scout. The destination was chosen as Lantorn and the fleet was composed of a mixed bag of frigates. The roam started from Adirain but it was not until Heimatar and faction warfare space that any action was found.

The three target frigates in a Novice complex were frightened away by the arrival of the Rebel T1 frigates and one hapless victim chose to warp to the sun at zero. The unfortunate Republic Fleet Firetail landed at the sun in the midst of the T2 frigates and it quickly exploded, with Starwalker's Wolf putting in a satisfactory amount of the damage.

The Rebel fleet moved on to Lantorn and the scout spotted Radzak87 in system. Starwalker immediately recognised the name as a top pilot that he had died to previously. Peri chose from his extensive tactical playbook - wait at the sun, and the fleet warped in to zero. It was soon joined by an Augoror Navy Issue (ANI), piloted by Radzak87, and the Rebel fleet went to work on it.

The ANI was not alone and a Hawk, Kitsune and Caldari Navy Hookbill tried to pick off individual Rebel targets but the Hawk got caught and went down. It was clear that the ANI was very well tanked but after its drones were cleared it was also going down, unless it could get more help. The Rebels continued to rain fire on the ANI, which held for a long time but with no further assistance coming onto the field of glory it exploded into a fiery ball of shattered metal.

The ANI had taken more than 68,000 points of damage, its damage control, two 1600mm armour plates, two EANM II and 3 tri-mark rigs had given it an impressive tank. It had been a good fight and "GFs" were exchanged in local. The fleet collected its loot and moved on.

The next few kills were rather strange:
  • This Kestrel was more than 100km from the dead-space complex warp in point and it started to burn towards the Rebel scout's Claw. The Kestrel saw the rest of the fleet arrive but continued to burn in. It wasn't going to end well for the Kestrel and it did not
  • This Thorax was baiting the fleet on a gate and given that many fleet members were outlaws it could try to pick and choose targets with the comparative safety of gate-guns to protect it from aggression. However, the Thorax pilot got too clever and ended up aggressing the wrong pilots. From there it quickly went downhill for the Thorax and a few Rebels took the opportunity to get onto the easy killmail
  • Perhaps Bad Neurone in this Thorax expected help from local but, if so, it never came and the Thorax was caught by Patrick Kasper and with the arrival of the rest of the fleet it was easily overwhelmed
It had been another fun roam and some more kills to add to the count. However, the count that Starwalker was most interested in was the number of solo kills, he had just recently hit 500 kills and that was significant. For some strange reason he wanted to get the medal Black Rebel Lone Wolf to add to his collection. Whilst it was had no real significance as nobody really looked at medals, he wanted one anyway.

18 December 2013

Bait? Coming in Hot

Starwalker spent the majority of his time solo in space, except for the weekly Rebel roam TESF (Target Everyone, Somebody Fire). This was just his style and when roaming he was looking for primarily one versus fights and sometimes would take on a small gang if in something better than a T1 frigate.

More recently he had been running into small gangs, although they may have started as a one versus one:
  • This Kestrel was originally taking on a Tristan, that seemed to be doing very little damage but was tanking very well. The arrival of the two destroyers, interceptor, electronic attack ship and Maulus tipped the scales in their favour
  • This Hawk had gone in to attack a Dragoon on the basis that they were usually fit with energy neutralisers and reliant on drones to get the kill. A Hawk with its rockets and medium ancillary shield boosters should be able to destroy the Dragoon, as long as it could maintain the scramble. The rest of the gang (Ishkur, Federation Navy Comet and Atron) arrived and it was not going to end well but Starwalker was determined to get the kill and he (satisfyingly) took the Dragoon down with him before the Hawk succumbed
  • This Vengeance started the fight against another Vengeance with the intent to see who would win a straight up fight. Unfortunately, the rest of Alpha Volley Union came in to finish what their Vengeance comrade could not do on his own. Starwalker did try to switch targets to the more vulnerable T1 frigates but they cunningly came in close and went back out of range again such that anyone that looked in danger of destruction would escape. The end was inevitable with that type of coordination
  • This Kestrel was fit with a 10MN afterburner and had escaped from an attempted gank at the sun but an Executioner at a complex had maintained a point long enough for the rest of the gang to establish their points and webs. The Executioner had to make the ultimate sacrifice to do it though and that was another very satisfying kill
  • This Hawk was lost to a small three man Repo gang. The Enyo acted as bait and Starwalker went in rockets blazing. The arrival of the Thrasher and Incursus was enough to tip the balance and they soon had the Black Rebel Hawk down
  • This Hawk also started the fight against a lone Vengeance but another small Alpha Volley Union gang came in to join the party. This Stiletto should never have been caught but it came in too close and Starwalker immediately switched targets. Once scrambled the Stiletto was doomed. The Tristan should never have died but it seemed to have a death wish as it came in and retreated and then came in again. Each time it would come close it would lose a little more of its defence until it came in one time too many and the Tristan was destroyed. These kills were despite the best efforts of their Kitsune that periodically jammed the Hawk with its annoying ECM

Starwalker considered whether he should simply pass on by when more than one pilot from Alpha Volley Union, Turalyon Plus or Repo were in system but then he would never know if it was bait or not. On balance, he would rather go in and try to get the kill and if a gang came in then taking one with him would be very satisfying. He was not concerned that a fight that started as a duel became one versus many, that was in the nature of New Eden.

13 December 2013

Rise of Railguns

In Placid recently Starwalker had noticed that quite a few ships no longer brawled at point blank range but instead fought in scramble range (7km to 9km) or point range (18km to 24km) with bonuses or heat extending those ranges. Indeed Starwalker was also conforming to the trend with his Kestrel or Hawk.

He had recently gone into two fights without taking the simple precaution of checking what guns were fit. Just because someone was flying a Gallente frigate did not mean that they had automatically fit blasters, which was Starwalker's default choice. That expectation, of blasters being fit, was rudely shattered when this Tristan took down his Kestrel.

Tristan's have a very good tank when simply using a damage control and small ancillary armour repairer and its tank lasted longer than the medium shield ancillary booster that was fitted to the Kestrel. In short, Starwalker had been too lazy and had effectively orbited at the Railgun's optimal range, helping to maximise its damage. Simply orbiting at 500m would have mitigated the damage from the railguns, although the drones would still be doing their damage.

The Caldari Navy Hookbill was the victim of railguns too. The Federation Navy Comet established an orbit of around 23km just outside Javelin range but between its railguns and Hobgoblins it overwhelmed the dual medium ancillary shield boosters and the Hookbill went down. This reminded Starwalker of something that Prometheus Exenthal had written about roaming in cruisers:
Starwalker was inclined to believe that for frigates the priority order was different, perhaps:
  • Range Control (Agility + Speed) > Tank > Damage + Tracking > Cap
Whilst it really depended on the ship, the situation and the target his experience in afterburner fit frigates had been:
  • Two brawlers fighting at close range was often decided by the tank rather than level of damage. He had lost gank-fit Merlins that could put out tremendous damage
  • Brawler fighting a scram range kiter would lose if it could not get close and stay close. Close range Merlins had been lost to railgun fits that had established range control
  • Generally capacitor did not matter in frigate fights unless the ship focused on it such as a triple neutraliser fit Tristan. A Daredevil capable of huge DPS for a frigate was destroyed after its blasters stopped firing due to no capacitor
  • Good tank did not matter if it could not sustain that tank indefinitely. Single and dual tank ships had been lost to point range kiters with the only notable difference being how quickly the ship as destroyed  
Perhaps it was time to try faster (MWD) ships again. Starwalker had always felt that when he had been caught by a brawler in a kiter that he would rather die in a brawler. But on balance he would rather kill than be killed and that meant that he needed to assess what was going on around him and try to counter it.

8 December 2013

Battleship Down

Starwalker had an Hyperion sitting in Adirain and he decided that he would take it out for a spin and see what trouble he could get into with it. He had visions of running into a small cruiser gang and perhaps going down in a blaze of glory taking a few with him. The reality was a little different.

The Incursus with his buddies in a Crow and a Deimos didn't really have the firepower to take down the battleship and the Incursus got a little too close. What was not so good for Starwalker was that the range was completely dictated by the small gang and as the Deimos started taking some serious damage it simply moved out of range. With the Incursus down and the Deimos chased away they gave up and he continued on.

Killing a frigate in a battleship wasn't what Starwalker had in mind when he started the roam and the Crow that landed 100km away seemed to be more of the same. However, when that Crow started to close in at over 8km/s he knew that this was no ordinary Crow. It quickly established a scramble and the lumbering battleship could not hit it, worse the Hobgoblin IIs could not hit it. The Hyperion was trapped and that was not a good sign.

The arrival of the rest of the gang - an Oracle, Vagabond and Maelstrom sealed the Hyperion's fate. Since the gang never closed into the range of the battleship's blasters it was even more galling that Starwalker could take nothing down with him. Mercifully it was over quickly and the proud Hyperion was simply an expensive wreck.

 It was a stark reminder that small fast ships are exceptionally hard to hit in big ships. Whilst Starwalker was usually in the small ship it was interesting to see it from the other side.

25 November 2013

33 Month Review

Over the course of the last 3 months Starwalker had much less time in space as he had predicted and this was reflected in fewer kills. However, his enjoyment was still the same - he flew predominately frigates with the occasional foray into larger ships.

What had changed was that he was flying scram kiters more, in particular the Breacher and Kestrel instead of the Merlin. What he liked about the Kestrel in particular was its ability to fight in scram range and to drive away kiters within point range by use of Javelin missiles. Selecting damage type was also an added bonus and was the main reason that he favoured the Kestrel over the Condor despite being much slower. 

Although Starwalker was a little more wily and made fewer mistakes they still happened and sometimes he was the victim of bad luck. This Moa was destroyed by getting trapped on the station and not being able to simply warp away. This Kestrel was destroyed by dithering about whether to try and get closer or simply redock. The fast lock and first volley took the Kestrel to within 3% of zero structure, the next volley finished the job - before the redock command kicked in.

Now that Starwalker had 56 million skill points he had all of his core skills and was simply filling out gaps, primarily in cruiser weapon systems. He was not training for any particular ship and still had lots of gaps in specialist cruiser T2 ships, although he rarely flew anything like that. Training was consequently very relaxed and not especially focused on anything.

Despite nearly three years in New Eden Starwalker still had no passive form of income and did not do anything to make ISK like station trading, missions or faction warfare. It was too much hassle and he wanted to spend his time finding fights and killing things. Loss was an occupational hazard and his attitude to loss was more or less the same, every ship undocked was going to be lost. The only question was how and when.

23 November 2013

Kestrel has Bad Luck then Good Luck

It was an unusual engagement with bad luck followed by some good luck. Starwalker had debated internally whether to go and fight an Incursus and Federation Navy Comet in a faction complex with his Kestrel. He guessed that if they were fighting the Comet would win and he would have a good chance against it, if it had already taken damage, however, if they were not fighting it would be over for the Kestrel very quickly.

He decided to go in as nothing ventured nothing gained and it was an entirely disposable T1 frigate. The problem was that as he entered warp he got disconnected. If those two frigates were at the acceleration gate then he was toast, assuming the warp completed, if it hadn't completed then presumably he had warped to some random location.

Starwalker quickly logged back in assuming that he had warped to a random location but he was on the acceleration gate being fired on... by an Executioner around 7km away. Some bad luck, and he guessed that it was unlikely he would survive as he was already in deep armour and a few more volleys and the Kestrel would be destroyed.

Fortunately he was using a medium ancillary shield booster rather than an extender so he still had around 27 seconds where he could mitigate the incoming damage and try to destroy the Executioner. He locked up the Executioner, started his booster just as the Kestrel entered structure and returned fire.

Fortunately he had selected Nova faction rockets and they would also be good for the Executioner. He overheated and set a close orbit, lasers had comparatively poor tracking so he was better off orbiting at 500m rather than the usual 7km. The shield booster was keeping up with the incoming damage and very soon the Executioner was in armour.

Suddenly it seemed to just melt through its armour and into structure and Starwalker initially assumed it was gank fit with no tank. The Executioner exploded just as the last booster charges were used up. The pilot, matt dillinger, clearly thought he had lost the kill and noted that he had inadvertently moved his small armour repairer rather than started it.

So perhaps some good luck for Starwalker but he also wondered whether that repairer would have made any difference to the outcome, as his experience was that a small armour repairer on its own only slowed the incoming damage it did not stop the march into structure. It would have been a close finish if it had started but Starwalker suspected the outcome would have been the same.

17 November 2013

Implants +3 and +3%

Starwalker had initially started with a simple set of implants with a low budget. There were really two goals: speed up training time and add little skill enhancements that might make the difference between victory and defeat in a close fight.

Over time he had gravitated towards +3 learning implants and +3% skill enhancements. Similarly, recently he had started to use the Genolution Core Augmentation CA-1 and CA-2 implants as they gave a useful increase to power grid and CPU for ship fits just over the normal limit.

Jester had written a comprehensive implant guide and that had prompted Starwalker to have a slight specialisation with a learning + rocket set and a blaster set. The price for his implants had also crept up over time and he now had 150m to 160m ISK plugged in.

Whilst he had wanted the improved learning speed originally he had experimented a little over time and his general thoughts now were:
  • The effect of speed enhancement implants (Zors...) were simply too small to make any appreciable difference. He had flown with them for some time in primarily afterburner brawling frigates and they would not make a slow frigate fast. They might be more useful if he were using attack frigates or interceptors but he did not fly them that often
  • Learning implants were useful initially or until the core training was done because there were so many useful skills and speeding up the process was beneficial. However, once that training had been done and it was now filling out specialist skills or training to level V then the bang for buck was reduced
  • Genolution fitting implants were useful on occasion but it really depended on whether the extra fitting room made a difference. On many frigate fits using level V fitting skills were sufficient and adding in the little extra CPU and power grid did not matter
  • Whilst using implants to enhance damage (or tank) seemed like a good idea most fights rarely went down to the last sliver of structure in a closely fought contest. It was usually much more clear cut as to who would win and who would lose. However, specialising a set of implants seemed to be the most useful concept such as to enhance gunnery or missile skills
The counter-point and something that Starwalker was seriously considering was that he should simply have a clean clone:
  • Getting podded would not involve a serious loss of ISK (and he had been podded all too frequently recently for a variety of reasons)
  • Core training for flying frigates was finished and the ~10% learning speed increase was not really material to what frigate he was flying and its level of combat effectiveness
  • Small improvements like +3% implants, especially when a few of them were focused together probably made more sense. However, the close fights where those little extra differences mattered were so few and far between that it did not really justify the cost
  • Significant improvements such as snake implants, +5% implants or similar were simply far too expensive to use and also he was quite happy to fight without those type of advantages
No doubt from a min-max perspective the case could easily be made for any small (1%-3%) advantages, especially when aggregating them but Starwalker was not a min-maxer. His experience was that most solo fights were usually decided by other factors such as ship fit and pilot error.

9 November 2013

Demise of Dramiel

The Dramiel was a fast ship and Starwalker had it fitted with an afterburner and dual small armour repairer:

[Dramiel, AB2SAR]
Small Armor Repairer II Small Armor Repairer II Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II 1MN Afterburner II J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I Stasis Webifier II Small Capacitor Booster II,Navy Cap Booster 200 200mm AutoCannon II, Barrage S 200mm AutoCannon II, Barrage S Light Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Light Missile Small Anti-Explosive Pump I Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I Warrior II x1 Warrior II x1 Warrior II x1
Warrior II x1

Whilst the DPS of the auto-cannons alone was comparatively modest it was nicely complemented by the drones. The light missile launcher could easily be replaced by a rocket launcher but he had chosen it to supplement the drone DPS for point range kiters.

The launcher became useful when, after leaving a station, a kiting Atron pointed the Dramiel. Starwalker decided that now was a good time to see if the repairers could keep up with the damage. Consequently he kept the drones in the bay and just fired some missiles to keep the Atron interested. That seemed like a good idea until the Atron called in a Rupture to help.

It was now too late to turn the tide against the Atron by launching drones and the Rupture soon caught up. With the Rupture firing as well the tank could not keep up with the incoming damage and before long the Dramiel was a wreck. Not quite the glorious fireball Starwalker wanted to see but that was life in New Eden.

2 November 2013

Rage or Faction Rockets

The Kestrel was a good ship and Starwalker liked the ability to select damage types, something he missed about flying Rifters after he had moved to the blaster Merlin. Earlier in his career he had liked the simplicity of not choosing the damage type of ammunition to use and blasters had fitted that simple philosophy well.

The question that he had with rockets was whether to use Caldari Navy Faction rockets or Rage rockets. In general, he used faction rockets against all T1 frigates and most T2 frigates too. He knew that there were multiple factors involved such as explosion velocity and radius, ship speed and signature but he had not really gone beyond the general rule of thumb.

He had seen the ammunition guide from Sulieman Shouaa and in particular:
Scourge Rage - Does Kinetic damage. Use against targets larger than you, although can be used against targets the same ship size as you if they are webbed. Can be used on smaller targets if you have a target painter or two as well as a web on the target.

Starwalker knew that the slower the ship was moving the better for rockets and intuitively the guidance made sense but he just wanted to check it and so he turned to the missile damage calculator.

The chart from this calculator showed that for a frigate, with a signature radius somewhere around 35m, that if the target frigate was going faster than around 400 m/s then the faction rockets applied more damage.

As the signature radius increased so did the speed such that with a 50m signature radius the crossover point was around 500 m/s. Starwalker needed to pay more attention to the speed of webbed frigates.

30 October 2013

Merlin versus Loren Gallen Incursus

Starwalker periodically checked Battleclinic and top solo pilots for their fits, that was how he knew about Loren Gallen and that he was ranked the number 1 pilot in New Eden:

He had also seen that he flew and lost mainly the Incursus, at least recently. The fit was very standard with neutron blasters and an armour tank. So when Starwalker saw Loren Gallen in local and found an Incursus on scan it seemed very logical to link the two. The next logical thing was to be easily found, in his shield tanked blaster Merlin.

Sitting in a complex a little away from the warp-in point seemed like an obvious invitation and soon Loren Gallen was there too, in an... Incursus. Starwalker started to burn for the Incursus and was going to simply brawl. He wanted to see how the fight would go and whether Loren Gallen would pull any range tricks.

As the range closed to around 12km the Incursus opened fire and Starwalker had a sinking feeling that he was about to be kited by a railgun Incursus. However, the incoming damage was very minor and the range closed to a point blank slugfest, with the Merlin slugging away like a champion.

The Incursus was doing comparatively little damage in return and the thought crossed his mind that he might actually win this fight. The Incursus armour repairer was kicking in and the armour seemed to be going down very slowly, too slowly. The Incursus had switched ammunition and was now applying the hurt.

Soon the Incursus was winning the DPS war as the Merlin's shield gave way and the Incursus was still only in low armour and not in structure. The Merlin was finished, and the Incursus smashed through the last bit of structure to grab victory. Good fights were exchanged and Loren sportingly noted that it was close but Starwalker knew better, he had been convincingly beaten in a straight up brawl.

The tale of the tape showed that Starwalker had gotten off to a good start because Loren had incorrectly guessed that the Merlin was rail-gun fitted. However, the Incursus had managed to survive the onslaught and absorb nearly 4,600 points of damage, which must have required Exile or something similar to not even enter structure. The Merlin had taken nearly 4,300 of damage and had been destroyed.

27 October 2013

Dual Repair Incursus

On entry to a system Starwalker received a call for help from fellow Rebel Cutter Sense, who was chasing a Hawk in his Atron. Starwalker was in his gank fit Merlin.

[Merlin, AB2W]

Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

1MN Afterburner II
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Void S

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I

The idea behind this ship was simple - brute force; catch the target, hold it close with the dual webs and blast it in the face up close and personal. The downside for this fit was that it epitomised the glass cannon and if the target could weather the initial storm then the Merlin would not survive under fire for very long.

Starwalker entered the complex and the Hawk and Atron were nearly 100km away, so he started the slow burn towards them. Before he had gone very far a small gang had jumped in behind him and an MWD fit Incursus was approaching very quickly. For some strange reason when he tried to warp away he was unable to and so he decided to go for the Incursus.

The Incursus was in a tail chase so as it reached 15km away Starwalker turned his Merlin towards it and engaged. He knew that he only had a few seconds before the rest of the gang arrived and the Merlin would be destroyed, so he had to make those seconds count.

With the blasters overheated and some implants the Merlin was putting out close to 300 DPS and as the range dropped to around 1km those blasters tore away the shields and started on the armour. The armour repairs started but they were not keeping pace with the incoming damage and as each second passed the blasters worked their way further into the Incursus structure.

The Incursus was on fire as rest of the gang arrived and they were trying to save their comrade by killing the Merlin faster than it was killing the Incursus but it was too late - the Incursus exploded in a blaze of glory followed shortly afterwards by the Merlin.

It was a little while later when Starwalker looked at the killmail that he had gotten a nice surprise revelation. It was a dual armour repair fit.

[Incursus, Takeda Kashada's Incursus]

Damage Control II
Small Armor Repairer II
Small Armor Repairer II

'Refuge' Adaptive Nano Plating I

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Small Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I,Cap Booster 100

Light Neutron Blaster II,Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II,Void S
Light Neutron Blaster II,Void S

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

On previous occasions when he had tried to kill a dual repair fit Incursus he had simply not been able to. Typically those (T1) frigates had hit for somewhere between 150 and 200 DPS, perhaps a little more with overheat. This time was different, in short, the Merlin firepower had overwhelmed the Incursus active tank and that was important to know as this was perhaps the strongest (T1) frigate tank and comparable to some of the T2 frigate tanks.

This knowledge was then used to take on what appeared to be another dual repair Incursus but with a different result - the loss of a Merlin. It was not a dual repair fit, presumably the extra armour buffer, combined with the afterburner speed allowing more damage mitigation made the difference. The only good thing was that another Incursus came in to get in on the kill and killed the offending Incursus.

19 October 2013

Cost of Experimentation and Learning

Starwalker liked to experiment a little with his ships and their fit, sometimes it seemed to work and at other times it failed miserably. Similarly, he liked to see what a ship could do in a certain situation even if that meant losing the ship that he was flying. He saw this as the cost of experimentation and learning and he had no qualms about losing ships.

Whilst he was not afraid to experiment and lose ships that did not mean that he wished to throw away ships in a useless attempt to beat the odds. It was a blurred line between what was a stupid decision and when that decision to experiment was good. The cost in lost ships was simply a necessary part of learning about ship capabilities.

Starwalker had recently lost a Breacher to a Daredevil to see if the dual tank made any real difference to the fight - it did not. When flying this Daredevil it was lost when Starwalker decided to engage an Algos, a fight he could easily have avoided. He had known that taking on an Algos with a T1 frigate was a very difficult proposition and consequently he had avoided them generally. The question he wanted answered was would the DPS powerhouse that was the Daredevil fare any better - in short, no.

The Caracal had a reputation of frigate killer with its Rapid Light Missile system and Starwalker jumped into a small frigate gang at the sun to see what would happen. He was scrambled very quickly, which shut down the micro warp drive. Without a working propulsion system all that Starwalker could do was to attack the nearby frigates. This Breacher went down along with an Incursus but despite a good tank the Caracal was destroyed.

The brawling Merlin that Starwalker was flying was just ambling away from the station scanning the nearby complexes when an Incursus arrived and docked up. A short while later it undocked and then started to pursue the Merlin. Since it was travelling just under 1300 m/s it was clear that it was afterburner fit and had speed modules fitted. It was a simple assumption from there that it was railgun fit.

At this point the decision was to stay and fight or to leave before the Incursus caught up. Starwalker decided to stay, to see if the Merlin could get in close despite the speed disadvantage. The Merlin applied some modest damage but despite overheating the afterburner the range stayed around 7km and it was not long before the Merlin was a wreck.

A far more questionable decision and one based on an invalid assumption was to engage a Harpy in a Kestrel. The intent was that the Kestrel with its dual web fit could leave the fight based on range control. This notion was soon destroyed when the Harpy engaged with its point and railguns from 20km away. Whilst Starwalker had previously fitted a Harpy as a brawler not everyone did so. Burning in with the afterburner was incredibly slow and despite briefly getting into scramble range the Kestrel was doomed.

12 October 2013

Rock Paper Scissors

Starwalker was out and about in his shiny Wolf. It had been fitted out with auto-cannons, in line with his preference to fly brawling ships and fitted with brawling in mind. This particular Wolf also took advantage of the extra CPU that came with the implant set of Genolution Core Augmentation CA-1 and CA-2. For Level V skills only, then the Tracking Enhancer would be downgraded to the meta level 4 version:

Damage Control II
Explosive Plating II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
Small Diminishing Power System Drain I

Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I
Small Projectile Ambit Extension I

The demise of this Wolf was unfortunately not a glorious death in a fireball of destruction after a close battle. It was foolishly caught by a light missile Condor. Starwalker had been distracted by picking up some drones and his drone overview did not show any ships. In short, he had not seen the Condor arrive - until it had established its lock, and then started to fire. Those were potentially very expensive drones.

Whilst the Condor started to peck at the Wolf's shield it also applied a tracking disruptor and Starwalker knew that his only chance was to escape, if possible. With the tracking disruptor applied he was applying no appreciable damage and whilst the incoming damage was modest it was working its way through the defences. It would only be a matter of time before the tank was overwhelmed.

The first slingshot failed and his small ancillary armour repairer was running low on charges, the second sling shot failed and his armour repairer was exhausted and it had started its reload cycle. It didn't matter, that reload cycle would never finish as the proud Wolf was going down and it died with a whimper.

That was EVE with its Rock Paper Scissors philosophy at work. The Wolf had met an asymmetric opponent, where the Wolf was designed to brawl the Condor was designed to kite. In theory the Wolf could strike the Condor at any range up to 30km away but the tracking disruptor stopped that. If the Wolf could scramble the Condor it would die but if it could maintain its range control then the Wolf would die.

It was a similar story to how Starwalker's Daredevil was killed. He had moved in towards a Tristan without taking a simple precaution - what guns were fitted. The Look At function would have shown a Tristan with no guns fitted and therefore almost guaranteed that it was fitted with a trio of energy neutralisers.

The Daredevil found out the hard way that its on paper over-heated damage of around 450 DPS (and nearly 500 DPS with a couple of implants) is zero when it has no capacitor. Like the Wolf this Daredevil exited EVE with a whimper too. 

8 October 2013

Breacher versus Daredevil - Too Ambitious

Starwalker saw the pilot was old (2005) and that he was in a Daredevil. Usually he would pass on by as that was too ambitious in a T1 frigate but today he thought he would try his luck. He wanted to see how this dual repair fit Breacher got on against the DPS powerhouse that was the Daredevil.

The Daredevil was waiting at the warp-in to the plex, which was a bad start as the range was around 2km, ideal for blasters and not ideal for the Breacher. Couple that with the 90% web that the Daredevil had and it really signalled the beginning of the end.

Even though the fight was almost over before it had started Starwalker launched his drones anyway and set his ancillary shield booster going. His only real hope now was for a poor fit or some pilot error. As expected, the incoming DPS was enormous and he had to almost instantly start his ancillary armour repairer too. However, the extra tank seemed to make no significant difference, as the Breacher entered deep armour the Daredevil had only just lost its shields.

It was over within seconds and Starwalker was so surprised at how quickly the Breacher had been decimated that he was too slow to warp his pod away and he lost that too for good measure. It had only recently been fitted with the Genolution implants, so it was a shame to see 100m in implants destroyed but that was low-sec and being podded was an occupational hazard.

Starwalker was not worried about the loss - losses happened, he simply got a new clone and fitted another 100m ISK worth of implants. It had never been a good idea to engage the Daredevil in a Breacher, it had always been just a roll of the dice and this time it had not worked.

28 September 2013

Dual Tank and Two Close Fights

Starwalker was feeling experimental and the recent buff to active tanks (ancillary shield boosters and ancillary armour repairers) beckoned enticingly. The Kestrel could easily be fit with both modules:

[Kestrel, Duality]
Damage Control II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer

1MN Afterburner II
Warp Scrambler II
Stasis Webifier II
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster

Rocket Launcher II,Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket
Rocket Launcher II,Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket
Rocket Launcher II,Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket
Rocket Launcher II,Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I

The cost for the dual tank was to lose the Ballistic Control Unit and consequently the already low DPS dipped to around 100. Starwalker found a Breacher and it seemed the ideal opportunity to try it out. The Breacher had a bonus to active shield repair but he reckoned that he could use the extra range of rockets with the Kestrel or if in close kick in the armour repairer.

Dark Magni was waiting and the fight started immediately at around 3km and despite trying to pull some range the Kestrel was never able to pull any further away. Worse the incoming damage was really hurting and the Breacher was winning the DPS war. As Starwalker's Kestrel dipped into armour he set the ancillary armour repairer going.

Despite overheating both modules he hit structure first and the Breacher was only in armour. As the Kestrel structure was stripped away the Breacher entered structure but it was too late for the Kestrel it exploded with the Breacher still having around 30% structure remaining.

Starwalker wondered if he had fit a Breacher with a dual tank would that have turned the loss into a kill. So he fit a Breacher with a dual tank and went out to see what happened. Unfortunately, the Atron that established a point on his dual tank Breacher was a kiting rail fit that maintained a range of around 20km and eventually the Atron got the kill after having done more than 9,000 damage to the Breacher.

[Breacher, Duality]
Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster

Rocket Launcher II,Inferno Javelin Rocket
Rocket Launcher II,Inferno Javelin Rocket
Rocket Launcher II,Inferno Javelin Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I

It seemed Murphy's law had struck again, if he had been in the Kestrel the longer range of the Javelins would have probably forced the Atron away but the Breacher Javelins could only reach out to around 15km. 

So for one last time that night Starwalker set out in another dual tank Kestrel and the Tormentor that he found was looking for a fight too. The fight started and stayed around 7km. To Starwalker's surprise the Tormentor seemed to be incredibly tough and he was finding it a problem to kill it, both ships entered structure and they both marched towards zero in almost lock step. Another Breacher entered the fight and it would get an easy kill as both the Kestrel and Tormentor were on fire.

The Tormentor exploded and Starwalker tried to warp his Kestrel away with just 4% of structure left. It was too late, the Breacher had fired its rockets and they destroyed the burning hulk that was barely still recognisable as a Kestrel. The Kestrel exploded.

21 September 2013

Hunter Kestrel becomes Hunted

Starwalker was enjoying his Kestrel, especially in the afterglow of a battleship kill. A Condor arrived to find the battleship wreck being looted and took the opportunity to get a lock on the Kestrel. It started orbiting at around 20km and its light missiles began to chip away at the Kestrel's shield.

Starwalker tried an initial slingshot but it failed with the range only dropping to around 16km and so he switched to Inferno Javelin rockets for just such an occasion and started to return fire. The Condor started to take some damage but it stayed in the fight as it was still trying to collect the kill.

It was clear that the MWD Condor could leave at any time against the afterburner fit Kestrel and so Starwalker waited for his opportunity to escape. He knew that if the Condor thought it was in any danger of being destroyed first it would simply leave. So he aligned towards a cluster of celestials and watched the Condor orbit.

As the range started to increase from around 16km he overheated his afterburner and as the range passed 24km the point dropped. The Condor had not overheated his point to increase the range to 28km. Starwalker was ready with a random celestial selected and almost immediately warped away to within 70km of that asteroid belt. Even if the Condor rightly guessed which of the five celestials he had warped to he was very unlikely to guess the range too. The Condor pilot didn't guess right and it was a clean escape.

Some time later Starwalker saw a Merlin at a deadspace complex and warped in with his Mjolnir rockets loaded for EM damage. As he approach the acceleration gate his scan revealed that the Merlin had left but as he arrived at the gate he was met by a Republic Fleet Firetail. The hunter had just become the hunted.

His main concern was that he had fit a J5 Prototype Warp Disruptor I. This was fine against his intended prey of afterburner fit frigates as it allowed his point to be maintained beyond normal scramble range and his Caldari Navy rockets would continue to apply damage to around 13km - 15km. The trouble was that many Firetails seemed to be MWD and artillery fit and so the Firetail would be able to establish range control.

The Firetail locked and opened fire quickly and despite being webbed was soon moving to around 12km to 14km away. The Kestrel rockets could still hit the Firetail at that range but the incoming damage was worse than the outgoing damage. The Firetail entered armour around the same time as the shield fit Kestrel but the Firetail started to repair its armour damage and it was clear that the Kestrel would be destroyed. It exploded and the glorious battleship killer was just a wreck.

15 September 2013

Kestrel Finds Ratting Tempest

Starwalker was roaming through towards Adirain in leisurely preparation for Patrick Kasper's Rebel Roam themed around the Moa. He was looking for distractions as he was going as he had plenty of time to get there and there was no hurry. He noticed one other pilot in local and a Tempest on scan.

Starwalker checked the pilot information and saw that he was less than a month old. It seemed too good to be true as he scanned the Tempest down to an asteroid belt near the sun. It would be an excellent kill for his Kestrel if he could do it and there was only one way to find out.

As the Kestrel landed at the belt he was within 10km of the Tempest and immediately Starwalker applied the web and point. The Tempest had been ratting with some beaten up Hobgoblin Is and these were turned onto the Kestrel but they were easily dispatched. The Tempest was getting some glancing blows with the Kestrel orbiting by default at 7km and Starwalker tightened the orbit to 2.5km.

The meagre incoming damage disappeared and the Kestrel rockets slammed into the Tempest's shield whittling them down very slowly. Starwalker had to reload his rockets when another pilot appeared in local, and he wondered whether that pilot had come to assist the Tempest. He kept an eye on the directional scanner but nothing came in to assist.

The Tempest pilot initiated a conversation but Starwalker could not understand the Cyrillic characters. The Tempest desperately released two more drones but they also were destroyed and it was clear that the Tempest was helpless against the Kestrel that had now reached its armour defence. The pilot decided it was all over and initiated self destruct.

Starwalker had to reload yet again and he tried to overheat his missile launchers to get the kill before the 120 second self destruct completed. The Tempest went into structure and at 50% its self destruct blew it apart. The killmail was still very sweet and was accompanied by the pod too. A solo battleship kill in a T1 frigate - it was a great feeling.

Afterwards, Starwalker found out that he had been awarded a medal for that sensational kill - Black Rebel Torpedo. It was the icing on the cake, especially as this was the first time he had killed a battleship solo and in a frigate as well. This was the stuff that dreams were made of but the killmail proved it was no dream. Starwalker was one very happy pilot.