30 June 2013

Security Status Treadmill

Within hours of raising his security status Starwalker was doing his best to reduce it again. Initially it was a Test pilot that insisted on relighting another cynosaural beacon despite his cyno-ship having just been destroyed. Indeed, the next cyno-ship was destroyed with the pod and then repeated only a few minutes later. Starwalker's security status had fallen from -3.7 to -4.5 and he hadn't even visited Hek yet.

So Starwalker had to do some ratting and then handed in another security tag to reduce his security status back down again to -4. It was not fun and Starwalker realised that he had been too hasty, he had increased his security status without fully realising that he was putting himself on a security status treadmill. Every time he killed something he would need to kill one or more rats, or buy the requisite security tags on the market, primarily Transporter tags.

The big issue for Starwalker was that each act of combat aggression had a bigger impact on his security status than each act of law enforcement. On average he would need to kill four low security system dwelling battleship rats for each act of aggression and each podding would dramatically increase the number of rats (~40) required.

The alternative would be to buy Transporter tags, which was around 40m ISK each at current prices, in short, it would be very expensive to maintain a security status above -4.5. Traditionally null-security system rats (battleships) had a bigger improvement to security status but Starwalker could not be bothered to check it.

Starwalker was completely unsure that he had either the will or the desire to maintain his security status above -4.5 and so he decided that he needed to move his Megathrons from Hek to Hadozeko immediately. He put together a simple battleship fit to make the short journey. He had not yet completed Large Hybrid Turret V training, so he fitted some medium blasters as a temporary measure rather than waste ISK on meta level large blasters.

He felt that the chance of being tackled on gate was quite small and so he took the risk, especially as a non-flashy pilot. The two battleships were successfully moved to Hadozeko without incident. Starwalker had also purchased a Hyperion in Evati and since he was moving battleships he decided to move that one too and it was shifted to Gultratren. That short journey was also similarly uneventful.

Whilst he had every intention of losing these three battleships he was not quite ready to fly them yet, he still wanted to complete Large Blaster Specialisation to at least III or IV and perhaps one or two other skills before letting them die in a fire.

Given that the battleships had been moved out of Hek there was no particular reason for Starwalker to be concerned about maintaining his security status above -4.5. Indeed, whilst he was flying backwards and forwards moving some battleship equipment he had three separate fights (Slasher, Rifter and Incursus) in Hadozeko and he even managed to pod the Slasher pilot. Strangely his security status decreased but it did not seem to reflect a podding.

In hindsight, Starwalker should have considered his security status more deeply, to avoid unnecessary repetition of increasing security status he would need to stop shooting other pilots. That was not going to happen. So, using security tags was useful for a quick one time increase in security status but given that Starwalker would continue to shoot ships and pods it was not a good solution for him. He should have paid Black Frog Logistics or similar to move his battleships, that would have been a more effective use of time and ISK.

27 June 2013

Security Tags for Security Status

Starwalker had spent a long time as a "red flashy" pilot, whose negative security status was -5 or less. For some that was a status symbol and perhaps part of a desire to achieve -10 but for Starwalker it was simply a result of shooting ships and pods. He had no special desire to be excluded from high security space, he just wanted to kill ships and pods.

It was because Starwalker could not enter high security space that Starstepper was born, to provide a means of purchasing and moving equipment around in high security space and then eventually delivering it to a low security station. Whilst Starstepper offered a level of convenience, it also meant that he had minimal skills (~320k) and could only just about fly a Mammoth with cargo expanders.

This transportation limitation presented a minor problem for battleships, Starstepper could not transport them due to a lack of space in his Mammoth. Whilst Starwalker had not yet flown a battleship he would want to do that at some time in the near future. Indeed, he had recently purchased two Megathrons for just that purpose.

There seemed to be four main options:
  1. Increase Starstepper's skills to be able to fly freighters and so transport the battleships
  2. Pay for a transport service like Black Frog Logistics (or similar)
  3. Take advantage of corporate facilities/mates (if available)
  4. Increase Starwalker's security status and occupy his strategic base at Hek (0.5)
All of the options had pros and cons but Starwalker liked the idea of getting to Hek and being able to fit his ships there and to enter low security space from that station:
  • Hek held a few billions worth of his ships, equipment and ammunition
  • Hek had two simple paths to low security space and entry at Auner or Resbroko
  • On the downside - Hek traffic to low security space was vulnerable to a gate camp at Hadozeko on the Resbroko gate. That might be a significant problem
Another benefit of increasing Starwalker's security status would be to avoid transporting ships and equipment on a regular basis, and doing repeat runs because some equipment item had been forgotten.

Starwalker had obtained some security tags from ratting clone soldiers and also one from the cargohold of a ratting Retribution. There were four types of security tag:
  1. Clone Soldier Trainer Tag - 4 tags were needed to go from -10 to -8 security status. Available from low security asteroid belts or on the market for around 2m ISK
  2. Clone Soldier Recruiter Tag - 6 needed to go from -8 to -5. Available from low security asteroid belts or on the market for around 6m ISK
  3. Clone Soldier Transporter Tag - 6 needed to go from -5 to -2. Available from low security asteroid belts or on the market for around 40m ISK
  4. Clone Soldier Negotiator Tag - 4 needed to go from -2 to 0. Available from low security asteroid belts or on the market for around 35m ISK
Starwalker took a selection of tags (4 Trainer, 6 Recruiter, 2 Transporter) to a Concord station in Aulbres, Placid and exchanged his security tags for security status and an additional fee of 46m ISK. His security status went from -9.8 to -3.7.

With his new security status of -3.7 he could enter 0.5 - 0.6 high security space with impunity and in particular Hek (0.5):
  • Pilots with better or higher than -2.0 can enter any system
  • Pilots with -2.0 or worse or lower cannot enter 1.0 systems
  • Pilots with -2.5 or worse cannot enter 0.9 systems
  • Pilots with -3.0 or worse cannot enter 0.8 systems
  • Pilots with -3.5 or worse cannot enter 0.7 systems
  • Pilots with -4.0 or worse cannot enter 0.6 systems
  • Pilots with -4.5 or worse cannot enter 0.5 systems

Starwalker had noticed that killing the clone soldiers had given modest security status boosts but podding in particular had been a heavy hit to security status. He was unclear as to why there was such variation in security status losses but presumably that related to some combination of location, engaging only, firing on and destroying ships and pods

Whilst he was undecided as to whether he would try to get his security status any higher, he knew that he would continue to pod people when given the chance. He had his collection of corpses where he had recently added Grimmjow Jaggerjaques and Redo Arnes and fully expected to continue to grow it.

26 June 2013

Smartbombing Battleships

Peri Simone was leading his regular TESF (Target Everyone, Somebody Fire) roam, from Adirain this time and a motley collection of frigates headed off into the space lanes of New Eden seeking targets of opportunity or fun and kills. It seemed like a quiet start to the roam when a Typhoon was spotted in Agoze, piloted by LadyShu.

The Rebels swarmed in with their dozen frigates but the Typhoon was not alone and soon the grid was being shared with a Scorpion, Cynabal, Vexor, Cormorant and another Typhoon. The Rebels had just brought a knife to a gun fight and were severely outclassed. Starwalker tried to get away in his Merlin but he didn't make it.

With some Rebels having lost their ships the fleet reformed in Vey and continued on to Maut. Starwalker had reshipped to an Incursus as his nearest available ship. He had not flown a dual repair Incursus for some time due to its lack of range control, even though it had an excellent tank and a very good gank factor. In short, this fit could not hold a target and relied on the target staying in range to the bitter end.

The Rebels were waiting on a gate as the scout did his thing in the next system when three battleships arrived. Patrick Kasper pointed out that they had no guns and consequently were probably smartbombing battleships. To a small fleet of frigates this represented a significant danger as smartbombs were easily capable of destroying frigates and pods very, very quickly. Their key tactic was to be in very close range. The usual counter-tactic in this situation was to orbit outside of smartbomb range (up to 6km).

In addition, the Rebels were in jump range (<2.5km) of the gate and it was possible that the smartbomb could hit the gate, which would then retaliate against that battleship. Peri Simone called the target and the Rebels went to work on Nivie Chryl's Tempest. The combined firepower of the frigates and some friendly fire brought down the Tempest. Peri called the next target and Starwalker moved in closer to establish a 7km orbit.

More friends of the battleships arrived and Peri called for the fleet to get out. Starwalker aligned to the sun and hit warp but nothing happened - his armour repairers had depleted the capacitor and in all the excitement he had not noticed. However, now that everything had turned off the capacitor was recharging and as he spammed warp the warp-drive went active. Starwalker was not pointed - he would escape... However, the warp-out was not instantaneous and before he warped his ship was destroyed by the next smartbomb wave and his pod followed almost immediately afterwards.

Back in Covryn in a basic clone, Starwalker went into his usual routine:
  1. Upgrade his clone to avoid losing skill points the next time he was podded
  2. Pause the training queue to plug-in implants
  3. Plug-in a set of implants
    1. Basic set of +3 learning implants to speed up training by about 10%
    2. Zainou 'Deadeye' Small Hybrid Turret SH-603 for +3% small hybrid turret damage
    3. Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' Evasive Maneuvering EM-703 for +3% agility
    4. Zor's Custom Navigation Hyper-Link for +5% speed bonus
    5. Inherent Implants 'Lancer' Gunnery RF-903 for +3% rate of fire on all turrets
    6. Zainou 'Deadeye' Rapid Launch RL-1001 for +1% missile launcher rate of fire
  4. Restart training queue
  5. Get into another ship and insure it

25 June 2013

Medium Turrets Tracking Frigates

Roaming through Placid Starwalker had spotted a few cruisers and battlecruisers and so he had decided to re-ship into his Moa. The Moa was fit with blasters and two large shield extenders and boasted some impressive statistics for a cruiser: 493 DPS and 47.5k EHP. Less impressive was that the capacitor lasted less than two minutes with everything going and it aligned in 8.4 seconds.

[Moa, ION2LSE]

Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Large Shield Extender II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Large Shield Extender II

Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Warrior II x3

In the cargo hold Starwalker carried a web for fighting frigates and the three warriors were also there to help. As he jumped into another system a non-flashy Jaguar arrived on gate and then waited. Starwalker held cloak deciding whether to engage, he was fit to fight cruisers and he would have to be aggressed first. He de-cloaked - the Jaguar had no hesitation and engaged immediately, applying a scram, tracking disruptor and energy vampire. He was aggressed and decided to fight.

Starwalker fired back and initially had some success in applying damage but as the range closed to less than 2km his fire became ineffective and virtually no damage was being applied. A Retribution landed on grid and also started firing at the Moa too. It became clear that with the medium turret tracking and without a web he was unable to hit the close orbiting frigates effectively. He tried to align to the sun to reduce transversal but it had minimal impact, so he decided to de-aggress.

He wasn't sure if he could make it back to the gate in time as the damage was depleting his shields fast but he headed back in a desperate attempt to save his ship. As he hit low armour he was within range and hit jump but the gate denied access, the aggression timer was still running down. Starwalker was running out of structure and time and he hit jump again but with the same result, his ship exploded.

It was an object lesson in how easily a frigate could take down a cruiser by getting under the guns. Starwalker had an impressive tank for a cruiser but all that really meant was that his ship took longer to explode. Unfortunately, he had decided too late to de-aggress and he had even completely forgotten to deploy his drones, although he suspected that would have made no difference.

23 June 2013

Merlin Intercepted Atron

Starwalker was cruising in his usual afterburner fit Merlin when he spied an Atron at a complex. Soon he was warping in looking for the kill. The Atron was around 30km from the warp-in and when it engaged it maintained a range of 18km to 20km. It was kiting in point range and was clearly MWD fit given it was going well over 3km/s. 

Starwalker decided it was time to try some tactics and he broke the point and warped to the sun at 30km. The intent was to catch the Atron at the sun assuming it would warp-in at range. The tactic failed as the Atron warped in still 40km away. 

The Atron seemed too cautious for this chase-me type of tactic to work so Starwalker decided to engage anyway and see if he could get in range with manual piloting. The slingshot manoeuvre was tried twice but it was not quite enough and the Atron continued to plink away.

Starwalker had recently seen BlakPhoenixx explain an interception based on turning towards the target's flight path. So, he watched the Atron and guessed where its orbit would take it and turned sharply to that location. It was something like a 90-120 degree turn rather than 180 degree turn for a slingshot and... it worked. 

This manoeuvre had exploited the flight path of the Atron and suddenly the Atron was in scram range and from there it was simply annihilated. Starwalker was ecstatic, it was the first time he had successfully pulled off that interception manoeuvre. He would definitely be trying that one again. 

14 June 2013

Falcon Turns the Tide

Starwalker and Jameson2011 had met by chance in the Bleak Lands and decided to journey together towards Essence. Starwalker was in his favourite Merlin and Jameson2011 was sporting a Federation Navy Comet. Both ships were very competent frigates and capable of putting out significant damage.

Jameson2011 spotted an Enyo at an asteroid belt and warped in with Starwalker following closely behind. The Enyo, piloted by Aranoch Firestone, was there but not ratting and soon Starwalker was in close with blasters hammering away on the armour. The Enyo looked like it was in trouble and going down, so Aranoch decided it was time to pull out an Ace. There was a reason the Enyo was not ratting and that reason decloaked, a Falcon, piloted by QxReyha, appeared 44km away.

If Starwalker had been solo he would have left immediately but with Jameson2011 still there trying to take down the Enyo he also stayed. It would be a close run thing as to whether the Enyo would succumb to the combined fire of the Comet and Merlin or the Falcon would turn the tide. 

Then the bad news started - the Comet was jammed as the Enyo entered low armour. Starwalker was fully overheated and using keep at range to maximise damage, the Enyo entered structure but then the Merlin was jammed too.

As soon as that second jam hit the chance of destroying the Enyo dropped to zero and soon it was all over. The Comet was destroyed and the Falcon still had the Merlin jammed so no further damage would be done to the Enyo, even though it was in structure. Now that there was no chance of a kill the only question was whether the Merlin could escape. Starwalker aligned out and made a run for it but it was no good, the Merlin was destroyed.

9 June 2013

Mammoth and Training Large Hybrid Turret

Starwalker had reached a milestone recently - two years in R1FTA. It was surprising how time had gone by and he hardly noticed its passage. He still enjoyed the same types of (frigate) ships, solo combat and spent virtually all of his time in low security space.

The recent Odyssey changes offered the opportunity to buy (clone) tags that could be used to raise his security status and allow him to travel in high security space again. It was not a particular goal but it would simplify logistics considerably. Starstepper had very few skills, less than 320k, and could just about fly the Mammoth but with hardly any fittings beyond cargo extenders. 

Whilst this Mammoth was sufficient to transport one battlecruiser or seven frigates with fittings it was insufficient for battleships. Starwalker was not ready to fly battleships yet, he was still training large hybrid turrets, but it would be much easier to buy and fly them from high security space rather than transport them to low security space. Similarly, Starwalker did not expect to fly battleships very often but for him it was about having the ability to do it rather than actually spending significant amounts of time in those larger hulls.

Given that Starwalker now had over 47 million skill points he was rounding out missing skills or getting select skills to level V. Training skills to fly bigger ships and using bigger weapon systems was part of that rounding out process. He wanted to be in the position that he could fly (almost) any sub-capital ship and have sufficient trained skills to justify flying it. It would be a completely different matter as to whether Starwalker had sufficient pilot skills or the knowledge to justify flying it.

2 June 2013

Changing Targets Quickly

Starwalker had been enjoying the May madness in New Eden and had achieved a personal record for the number of kills in one month - 73. He had also lost the most ships - 18, including his first ever Daredevil. Unfortunately the Daredevil had not died in glorious battle but to a gate camp, indeed it seemed that most of his losses when solo were to gate camps or getting attacked by more than one ship.

Notably he had died three times to a similar tactic, albeit each one in different situations and with different protagonists. He had engaged or been engaged and then a neuting ship had joined the fight. In each case (Sentinel, Pilgrim and Crucifier) he had quickly been bled dry of capacitor and from there the fight had finished badly for Starwalker.

However, he had realised afterwards that a key problem was that he had not changed targets fast enough. The neuting ship, like electronic warfare ships (Griffin...) represented the biggest danger and he had to do something about them immediately either fight or flight. When each neuting ship had arrived he had a small window of opportunity to react, to try and kill it before his capacitor was empty.

The first time it had happened he had not even switched targets to the greater threat (Sentinel). With the Crucifier he had switched targets but it had been just a little too slow and he had died anyway. So far, he had not tried to run but that would also have been an option. In short, if the fight changed with a new entrant then he needed to do a fast threat assessment and change targets as needed or make a run for freedom.

The month of May had also seen a lot of Rebel fleets out and about. Peri Simone still FC'd fleets but it was good to see that other pilots were also trying their hands at the reins. Patrick Kasper, Laassaalos Kiblos and Angron Vail had all been FCs recently and the various roams had been great fun. One of those fleets had been themed around the Rifter hull and Starwalker thought it was still a great looking ship, even though it had been eclipsed recently by combat improvements to the other T1 frigates.