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.