26 August 2013

Mission Failure Through Distraction

The mission was very simple - fit a Caldari Navy Hookbill for the Rebel roam and move it from Covryn to Adirain. The problem was that Starwalker got distracted from the primary objective by a cynosural beacon in Dastryns. He warped in and it was just a Reaper, it was not really worth killing it but that had never stopped him previously and so this Reaper was soon just another wreck in space.

A quick scan revealed a Navitas at a deadspace complex and he was sure that he had killed that capsuleer before. If he remembered rightly, the capsuleer was AFK before and so it proved again as first the Navitas was destroyed and then Hungry Sally's pod.

Given that he was so close to Covyrn Starwalker decided to drop off the corpse, to add to his gruesome collection of bodies. So having returned to base he had effectively gone nowhere but at least he had two kills to show for it. At the undock another Hookbill appeared on scan and soon Starwalker was at the deadspace complex.

The target Hookbill wanted to fight but it seemed to be rather strangely fit as no point was applied and given that he was firing missiles he was far too close to the beacon and warp-in point. With the scramble and web applied immediately the light missile Hookbill was in a straight DPS race and against rockets that was a losing race. The targeted Hookbill soon exploded.

After having dropped off the loot again Starwalker finally set off again to drop the Hookbill in Adirain. He had gotten a few jumps into the trip when he spotted an Incursus at a deadspace complex and it just seemed too tempting to keep going and pass it by. So he warped in to a complete surprise.

He was met at the acceleration gate by two Corax destroyers and a Federation Navy Comet. Starwalker activated the gate to try to escape but he was almost instantly locked and scrambled. It was futile to try and run as he MWD fit but he decided to check if a scramble was applied or a long point by aligning to the sun and hitting his MWD - he was scrambled.

Whilst he thought he would not have time to kill anything he decided to web, scramble and shoot the Comet. The incoming damage was too great for the Hookbill to survive and the only question was whether he could take the Comet with him. Unfortunately a Comet in low armour did not count and the Hookbill succumbed to the three man gang, still firing until the very end.

Mission failure complete. He had been distracted by killing ships along the way and he had now lost the Hookbill. He would have to head back to base and fit up another one and move that one to Adirain instead. At least he had killed a few ships with it before he had lost it.

18 August 2013

30 Month Review

The last few months had seen Starwalker able to spend more time in space and that had been reflected in his ascent to a top ranked pilot on Battleclinic. July had also seen a new achievement, the greatest number of kills in one month - 152 and losses - 35. Whilst ultimately his goal was to kill more than be killed he (not so) secretly enjoyed the fact that he had reached Top Ranked status.

He had also started to like the idea that his success ratio was greater than just over one kill for one loss. Battleclinic was reporting two kills for one loss and he wanted to see that trend continue. Whilst he knew that he had improved he also knew that he had lots of room for further improvement and still made plenty of mistakes.

That improvement was visible in a number of ways:
  • Better use of heat management with overheated modules, including module fitting placement to minimise heat damage from adjacent modules
  • More awareness and use of range during the course of a fight, especially when range control was established
  • Better selection of ammunition based on damage type (when selectable) such as rockets in a Kestrel
  • Better selection of ammunition based on likely range of fight such as starting a fight with Null ammunition in a Merlin against a Breacher or Caldari Navy Antimatter against an Incursus
  • Leaving quickly (when possible) when the odds were heavily stacked against a kill and in favour of a loss such as starting with an apparently solo fight and a gang arriving
  • Not engaging target where a kill was highly unlikely such as avoiding an Imperial Navy Slicer or light missile Condor in an afterburner Merlin
  • Looking for opportunities to have an advantage in a fight such as engaging kiters at the warp-in point to a complex
  • Surviving gate camps more frequently than dying to them
Whilst Starwalker was not a theory crafter he felt that his fitting skills were better than before because he considered how to take advantage of ship characteristics (fitting, bonuses, speed...). Similarly, he looked at Top Ranked pilots and how they had fitted ships such as Miura Bull and Patrick Kasper. Finally, he checked the ship fitting section on Failheap Challenge for ships of interest.

Over the course of the last 30 months Starwalker had summarised his key areas of focus for improvement as ships, combat, skills and base. Today:
  1. Ships flown were still predominantly focused on frigate brawlers like the Merlin. However, he did occasionally dabble with larger hulls and had only just lost his first battleship. One way or another he had flown a number of different ships but he still enjoyed the frigate the most. However, he was considering spending more time flying cruisers, although he had not yet decided on which ones
  2. Combat - he maintained better situational awareness but still did virtually no manual flying. Whilst he had wanted to improve this area for some time, he still suspected that he would be saying the same thing next year
  3. All his core skills were trained to a reasonable level and with over 50 million skill points that was a lot of skills. Starwalker had no particular new ship to train for but was considering focusing on one or two cruisers and one or two frigates to fly almost exclusively over the coming months
  4. Covryn had become his main base with virtually all of his equipment and a large number of ships. Adirain and Gultraten were operational bases with a few fitted ships and a jump clone. He had moved Starstepper to Stacmon with the remainder of his ships for easy transport to Covryn
It was strange to think that he had been in New Eden for two and a half years as it didn't seem that long but it was true. He had enjoyed the increased flight time in the last few months but with a recent in change commitments he would not have as much time going forward. Time would tell what that meant in practice.

11 August 2013

Strategic Base Moved

Starwalker had a strategic base at Hek, where Starstepper was located. Hek contained all of his ships, modules, equipment and ammunition and Starstepper transported it as needed to Covryn and Gultratren. That transportation requirement had gone up considerably over the last three months because Starwalker had more time in space and had lost more ships:
  • July 2013 - 35 ship losses to 152 kills
  • June 2013 - 27 ship losses to 76 kills
  • May 2013 - 18 ship losses to 73 kills
This compared to a prior average of around 8 ship losses per month and 20 kills. Starwalker had deliberately kept each base of operations at a few fitted ships because the ships he flew and the way they were fitted varied. Consequently, this higher level of activity meant that a lot of Mammoth logistic trips had been done in the last three months - and he wanted to spend less time doing transportation.

The simplest solution was to make Covryn his strategic base with a small selection of additional fitted ships at operational bases at Gultratren and Adirain. Logistically, that decision involved moving more than 3,500,000 cubic metres and twelve billion ISK worth of stuff, well beyond what he would reasonably attempt by himself.

So multiple contracts were setup for Black Frog and Red Frog and everything was moved to Covryn and Stacmon. All the modules, equipment and ammunition went to Covryn along with a small number of T1 and T2 frigates. Many more frigates and some destroyers, cruisers and battlecruisers went to Stacmon.

The Mammoth had a capacity of around 18,000 cubic metres and so it could move any battlecruiser or smaller ships as needed the one jump from Stacmon to Covryn. The irony for Starwalker was that he had just completed the relocation but would have less time in space going forward and so perhaps the move was not really needed at all. If so, he had just wasted around two hundred million ISK.

8 August 2013

Pointless Fit for Fun

Starwalker rarely ever flew without a point or scrambler but another Rebel suggested that a Merlin fit with dual webs and a medium ancillary shield booster was a lot of fun. More than that, the intended victim rarely ever noticed that they could simply warp away at any time. So in the interest of flying a pointless fit ship for fun he fitted a Merlin:

[Merlin, AB2WMASB]

Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
1MN Afterburner II
'Langour' Drive Disruptor I
'Langour' Drive Disruptor I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50

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

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

The original fit suggested was slightly different based on the fact that they had genolution implants and consequently a little more fitting room. In short, Starwalker had replaced the thermal resistance rig for a current router, down graded the webs and used a damage control instead of an overdrive injector.

Starwalker got three kills where the victim stayed and died:
  1. This Atron pilot came in close and was simply hammered
  2. The Tormentor put up more of a fight by trying to establish some range but it was held close and decimated
  3. The Republic Fleet Firetail was a trickier proposition. Artillery fits were common and that would pose a problem. However, Starwalker engaged anyway to see what would happen and this pilot chose to orbit close with an auto-cannon fit. In the straight up brawl that followed the Firetail lost
Emboldened by the success of the last engagement with a Firetail Starwalker engaged the next one too at the warp-in to a plex. This time the Firetail scuttled away despite the two webs being applied and Starwallker knew that it was MWD fit and without the MWD being scrambled there was no way he could get close. Inevitably the Firetail was fit for artillery and it was not long before the brave Merlin was destroyed. 

Whilst Starwalker liked the sheer firepower of this Merlin he also liked to be able to scramble a ship. It was a fun ship but it was a fit that he would put back into his box of tricks for use on the right occasion such as in a gang when someone else had the scramble applied.

2 August 2013

Spin in a Megathron

Starwalker liked flying frigates but occasionally he would fly something larger just for the fun of it. He had a Megathron parked in Adirain and decided to move it to Covyrn for no real reason apart from the fact that he could.

As he was travelling he noticed a Harbinger in an asteroid belt. It seemed unlikely that he would catch a ratting battlecruiser as he only had fit a Micro-Jump-Drive (MJD) fitted and no other propulsion module. The MJD was there as an escape mechanism with its ability to jump forward 100km when not scrambled. Inevitably the Harbinger was 30km away from the warp-in point and easily escaped.

As Starwalker landed on the out gate a little Condor arrived too and both ships jumped through. On the other side the Condor locked the Megathron and established a long point at around 20km. There was no chance the Condor could take down the Megathron alone so it must be for a gang. Starwalker shot at it to show interest and of course the large hybrid turrets had a virtually zero chance of inflicting any damage. The Hoboglin IIs were no more successful than the large turrets.

However, after a couple of minutes nothing else showed up and it seemed pointless to be pointed by a Condor without a fight so Starwalker aligned to a celestial and started his MJD. A few seconds later he was 100km away and then warping on to the celestial.

Not far from Covryn Starwalker jumped into a cruiser gang and his heart sank. There were about a dozen cruisers and faction cruisers of all different varieties, ranging from 10km to 30km away. He held cloak to see if they were simply moving through but they waited. It seemed that he would die as this was a gate camp but he selected the out gate to be able to align and MJD when he had killed the close tackle. He decloaked.

The Megathron slowly aligned and the gate camp seemed confused as to whether to engage or not. Precious seconds went by and then one cruiser started to target but before the lock resolved the Megathron had warped. Starwalker was surprised and pleased to have "survived" but also ambivalent about going back to take on so many cruisers, in short, he did not know what the Megathron was capable of yet.

So, discretion being the better part of valour Starwalker continued his journey and docked up. No doubt he would lose the Megathron at some point but he did not intend to throw it away by trying to take on too many ships.