26 January 2014

Slasher Meets Retribution

The Slasher had proven itself against a destroyer but not yet against a T2 frigate, it was about to have its chance as the directional scanner revealed a Retribution in a complex. Starwalker had fought earlier against another Retribution piloted by Sheja Laval and had learnt a key lesson - do not overheat too early. Starwalker had overheated guns immediately and then later had to turn it off as the fight progressed.

As it was, Sheja was in deep trouble with his Retribution - it was caught and in 50% structure. But he had also called in a friend, who had arrived in a Harpy and Starwalker had no alternative but to escape quickly. It might have ended differently if he could have overheated and finished off that last bit of structure, in short, when the Retribution was in low armour was when he wanted to overheat guns.

The Slasher warped into the complex and the Retribution was there waiting. Starwalker immediately went for a close orbit of 500m and applied his scram, web and tracking disruptor, which was loaded with the tracking speed script. The Retribution got some good solid hits in early and the Slasher had to repair the armour damage but after that the incoming damage was easily managed.

The Retribution for its part was completely at the mercy of the Slasher, it could not escape and it could not hit back effectively. As the Retribution armour dropped to around 35% Starwalker overheated his guns and soon the T2 frigate was just another space wreck. The pilot, Mekaniker, exchanged a good fight and noted that his lasers had been burnt out. Whilst that was true, and it could be seen at 23:00:15, it would not have affected the outcome.

19 January 2014

Slasher Meets Thrasher

Starwalker had fitted up some Slashers with the intent of taking on turret based ships, especially above class ships like destroyers and T2 frigates. The master plan was put on hold whilst he dispatched this Burst. When he saw this Wreathe in Amamake he could not believe an industrial was really mining in the asteroid belt but he went in anyway. It was not bait, it really was mining or perhaps AFK as the pilot was podded too.

Back on the master plan, Arnstur seemed to have a Thrasher in a small complex - it would be a great test as Thrashers could put out a metric tonne of damage and had a reasonable tank for a destroyer. The question was would it be artillery or auto-cannon fit. Starwalker decided to load the tracking speed script as the fight might start in brawl range and there would be very little time to mitigate the damage. There would be more time if it was at artillery range to change to the optimal range script.

The Slasher warped in and the Thrasher was waiting at zero, it was the right choice of scripts to have loaded. Starwalker immediately set an orbit at 500m and applied his scram, web and tracking disruptor. The first Thrasher high damage shot came in and the Slasher dropped to 50% armour, another hit like that and the Slasher would be a wreck. He started the small armour repairer and saw that the afterburner had not started, he started it - again.

The range was ideal for the Slasher and the repairer started doing its magic of repairing the armour damage and just as the armour was fully repaired another high damage shot got in and took the Slasher into structure. The Slasher was on fire but the Thrasher was being hit by the Gatling guns and its shield was being stripped away. The overheated armour repairer had repaired the Slasher damage again and the shields were slowly regenerating - it was looking good.

The Slasher had the Thrasher locked in tight and it was going nowhere, the Gatling guns were now chipping away the armour and Starwalker was confident of the kill, assuming no one else came into the complex. The Thrasher was finished and exploded into a glorious fireball of destruction.

12 January 2014

Damage Mitigation by Tracking Disruption

Whilst Starwalker favoured firepower he was also aware that overwhelming firepower was difficult to achieve in a frigate and even the firepower kings needed to survive long enough to apply their damage to achieve victory. This had usually been interpreted as more gank or more tank.

This blaster fit Merlin could put out tremendous gank for a T1 frigate (non-pirate, non-faction) and was very useful for a direct no holds barred assault but was the epitome of a glass-cannon. Any ship that could survive the initial blast would probably win:

It was the usual trade-off to increase tank at the expense of firepower and a common (and effective) blaster brawler would trade some DPS for more tank:

The problem for any blaster brawler was that many fights were not brawls at point blank range and as the range increased the issues for the brawler multiplied. Catching kiters could be done tactically such as at warp-in points but there was an alternative. To change the propulsion module and so increasing the speed:

The MWD fit Merlin would potentially catch kiters like the Condor or Imperial Navy Slicer but would sacrifice range control to any afterburner fit frigate. The fact that fitting theory always resulted in some sort of compromise was part of the endless fascination of New Eden.

Starwalker decided to experiment with a new T1 frigate fit with damage mitigation as the key feature, a ship that relied on speed and a tracking disruptor. This would potentially work well against turret based ships but would die quickly to rocket, drone or missile ships. The key reason for looking at the fit was to be able to take on above class (turret based) ships.

The Slasher looked like an ideal candidate for the experiment. It was a fast attack frigate with four mid-slots to fit the holy trinity (propulsion, scram and web) and also had a fourth slot to fit the tracking disruptor.

The key idea was to find a turret based ship and orbit at 500m. The signature was tiny at 30m and the speed was well over 1400m/s - even webbed it would be hard to track; with a tracking disruptor applied it would be very hard to hit.
  • 125mm Gatling guns were chosen because the intent was to fight at 500m and these had the best tracking with a selectable projectile damage type
  • E5 Prototype Energy Vampire was to counter energy neutralisers and support the small armour repairer
  • 1MN Afterburner was to ensure that range control could be established even if webbed. Fitting a MWD would be possible and might be a better alternative for engaging kiters, however, the tank was tiny and the Slasher might not survive the approach to the target
  • J5b and X5 are to scram and web the target respectively
  • DDO Photometry Tracking Disruptor would be used to mitigate turret based damage; generally optimal range script for kiters (point and scram range) and blaster ships and tracking speed for laser and projectile scram and generally close range ships
  • Small Armour Repairer to repair damage from approach and from the occasional hits that make it through the speed and tracking disruption
  • Damage Control to keep the resistances as high as possible. Although fitting an armour plate was possible it would also decrease the speed
  • Rigs respectively increase speed, agility, firepower and tracking. One alternative might be to fit only damage rigs as the firepower of around 100DPS is hardly frightening, although it should be enough to get the job done
The Slashers and modules were bought and deposited in Gultratren. It was time to see how this ship would do in the wilds of Heimatar and Metropolis. The general idea was to find any turret based ship, especially above class, and avoid any rocket, missile or drone boat.

9 January 2014

Kestrel versus Miura Bull Incursus

Starwalker had joined the Black Rebel Rifter Club (R1FTA) because of Miura Bull and was disappointed when Miura left for new pastures. When Miura started a new corporation, the Screaming Hayabusa, Starwalker had briefly considered leaving R1FTA but had decided to stay where he was.

After nearly three years in New Eden Starwalker had never clashed with Miura Bull in combat, that changed when he warped into the complex chasing an Incursus - it was piloted by Miura Bull. The usual pleasantries were exchanged - lock, scramble and fire - and the fight was on.

Starwalker was in his experimental Kestrel fit that favoured tank and gave up range control, relying on the range of rockets to hit and an overheated afterburner to stay in scramble range. Whilst the tank was impressive it was still vulnerable to a well flown kiter - Radzak87 had maintained a range of 23km or so and simply worn down the tank, it had taken over 15,000 HP to destroy the Kestrel but the end was inevitable.

The Incursus was hitting extremely hard and the Kestrel's shield buffer tank was going down but in return the Caldari Navy Nova rockets were stripping away chunks of armour. The Kestrel suddenly bit deep into armour and Starwalker decided it was time to play his ace - the medium shield ancillary booster. It started repairing the shield damage but perhaps it had been started too late - the Incursus was now tearing at the Kestrel's structure.

However, the Incursus was also in deep trouble and despite the repair work it was going into structure too. The slugfest continued for another few seconds and then the extra shield repairs for the Kestrel tipped the balance as the Incursus exploded. Good fights were exchanged in local and Starwalker took his loot to station and to repair a badly damaged Kestrel that was spewing flames behind it.

A railgun Incursus was not a high damage frigate but the weakness of the Kestrel firepower is apparent from the graph where the rockets are averaging around 50 DPS, which is not much more than a kiter. The increased DPS from the Incursus corresponds to when Miura pulled range and the subsequent decrease was Starwalker overheating the afterburner to get closer.

Maintaining scramble range may also have been helped by Miura trying to stay in range to get a final volley through Kestrel structure.

The euphoria was short-lived as Starwalker decided that a Deimos, Cynabal and Republic Fleet Firetail must be fighting, he had seen the Firetail warp to the empty medium complex and no other pilots were in the same corporation and they had all arrived at different times. Unfortunately when the Kestrel landed there was just the Cynbal and Deimos... waiting. The Kestrel could not survive this type of cruiser abuse and it too was destroyed.

5 January 2014

Wearing Down a Tank

The Breacher was a good frigate that had a bonus to shield repair making for a very strong tank for a brawler. This shield tank could also be combined with either a small ancillary armour repairer or armour buffer to add a little extra staying power for difficult fights. This was the fit that Starwalker used:

[Breacher, ABSAARMASB]

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

Hobgoblin II x1
Hobgoblin II x1

It died to a kiting light missile Condor because it had no way to hit the target at around 22km (Javelin only reached out to around 15km) and despite a strong tank it could be worn down and eventually destroyed. The Condor's applied DPS with Caldari Navy Scourge Light Missiles could be seen as around 40 DPS:

Whilst that average might be a little high it also gave an indication of why the Breacher died, it could not sustain its tank indefinitely:
  • Medium Ancillary Shield Booster had charges and once those charges were exhausted then the remaining shield (and ship) would be destroyed very quickly
  • Small Ancillary Armour Repairer could temporarily repair (52 HP x 3 Boost / 4.5 Second Cycle Time) 34 HP/S for 36 seconds (8 Charges x 4.5 Repair Cycle) and then would stop for 60 seconds whilst it reloaded its Nanite Paste
  • Heat would increase the repair amount but would also only provide temporary relief until the module was either burnt out or returned to its normal level of operation
To survive a kiter wearing down a tank required the repair cycle being sustained indefinitely above the level of incoming damage. (It was generally useless to expect the kiter to run out of ammunition as those pilots were prepared to wear down the target and knew that they needed plenty of ammunition.) Replacing the Small Ancillary Armour Repairer with the best of the best - a Corpii A-Type Small Armour Repairer - would not help because:
  • Corpii repaired 135 HP every 4.5 seconds for a sustained tank of 30 HP/S - it too would die to the light missiles it would just take a little longer

To try and improve the Breacher tank was difficult:
  • More buffer (armour plates) would have no significant impact to the outcome
  • Second armour repairer might help but would completely change the fit
  • More resistance, in this case kinetic and thermal resistance would again completely change the fit
  • Increased speed would mitigate some damage, requiring either implants, boosters or faction modules
  • Reduced signature would help and could be most easily achieved with boosters or implants
Since improving the tank would be difficult and improving the range was impractical it left only two options
  1. Avoid engaging kiting ships in a brawler
  2. Exploit a tactical advantage such as when a kiter landed at a warp-in point and was potentially in scramble range, even if only temporarily

1 January 2014

Black Rebel Hawk Down

Starwalker liked the Hawk, it was a capable ship with an excellent tank and adequate DPS. Rockets were not a high damage system but had the advantage of a consistent level of damage over the entire range, unaffected by traversal velocity or tracking disruptors.

[Hawk, AB2MASB]

Damage Control II
Co-Processor II

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Stasis Webifier II
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50

200mm AutoCannon II, Barrage S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Rocket

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

The Hawk's tank was provided by the dual medium shield ancillary shield boosters and they allowed it to take on more than one ship at a time. Sometimes taking on a one versus many was a decision taken before the fight started such as warping in to a small gang. At other times a one versus one became a one versus many.

Starwalker was inside a small complex around 70km from the warp-in when a Federation Navy Comet and Tristan entered. He aligned away and started to burn away, he did not want to appear too aggressive. The Tristan was clearly using a MWD and quickly closed to kiting point range of around 23km and launched a wave of drones. The Tristan was outside of Javelin range so Starwalker started to destroy the drones.

After having destroyed a good number of them the Comet arrived and ventured in close for the kill. Once in scramble range the Comet found itself the target of the Hawk's rockets and being orbited but it was not relying on just a Tristan to help as a Merlin and Imperial Navy Slicer also arrived in the complex to get a kill.

The Tristan strangely decided to leave, perhaps it decided that it wanted to get more drones, in any case the fight was now against the Comet, Slicer and Merlin. The Merlin came in to point blank and joined the Comet in applying the hurt but the Comet was nearly done and it soon exploded.

The Merlin decided to beat retreat and extracted itself from scramble range with no shield left and the Slicer was pushed out by the Javelins. They both decided to retreat but Starwalker was now after them. He knew the Slicer could run at any time but he might get the Merlin.

The only slight problem was that the Hawk was on fire so it would need careful management. The Hawk went in and the Merlin was soon in deep trouble and then another wreck but Starwalker had misjudged the level of damage coming in and the Slicer claimed the Hawk. It had been a good fight.