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.