31 March 2014

Last Sliver of Structure

Starwalker had been in two very close fights recently, fights that had ended with both combatants in deep structure. Most interesting had been the fight with a Thrasher, which as a Minmatar destroyer was designed to kill frigates.

The Thrasher had first been spotted near the Sun in Covryn and Starwalker had arrived there in an especially fit Breacher (tracking disruptor) to take it on. However, it was around 100km away and as the Breacher moved closer it simply warped away. So, disappointed, Starwalker returned to base and undocked in a Tristan instead to head out for a roam.

Jumping through to Iges and scanning from the gate nothing interesting appeared on scan but the same Thrasher pilot from earlier arrived in system. Starwalker warped to the sun at 100km and started to scan from the sun. He did not expect the Thrasher to arrive at the sun but was prepared just in case, then it suddenly appeared at close range.

Starwalker immediately went into action with lock, scram and web. The default orbit range was set to around 4km and from the incoming damage it was clear that the Thrasher was auto-cannon fitted. Starwalker increased the range as both ships tried to get the kill.

The damage dropped as Starwalker increased range to around 7.5km but it was still hurting badly and soon the Tristan was on fire. But the good news was that the Thrasher shields had gone and the race was on to see who would die first. Starwalker knew that he could have escaped as he had complete range control but he also wanted the kill.

It was very close as the ships slugged it out with the Tristan now reliant on its small ancillary armour repairer to work at 70% efficiency. It was going down to the wire as the Thrasher was trailing flames too. Starwalker's Tristan had just 3% structure left when the Thrasher exploded into a glorious fireball of destruction.

The fight had been incredibly close and there was no way to be sure when it was in progress who would win. Starwalker knew that it could have gone either way but he was very pleased to have got the kill. Killing a destroyer in a T1 frigate was always an unexpected pleasure.

24 March 2014

Do or Die and Escape

Starwalker had his fair share of deaths at the hands of a small gang but he was also starting to survive some of those engagements. Whilst his attitude towards a fight had previously been almost exclusively "do or die" he was now adding "escape" to the options.

He had scanned an Incursus at a complex and he warped in looking for the kill in his Breacher. The fight started normally enough with lock, scram, web and fire but he noticed that the Incursus had only applied a scram and nosferatu. More than that the incoming damage was very low, it seemed like the Incursus was simply tanking and waiting for his friends to arrive.

Suspicious, Starwalker set the directional scanner to around 1.4 AU by simply removing the last digit (7) from the scanner range and hit scan. Nothing on directional scanner immediately but Starwalker started to increase the range from the Incursus, which was easy with the applied web. This had the dual benefit of reducing the incoming damage and giving an easy escape option. A second hit of the directional scanner revealed a Republic Fleet Firetail and Merlin inbound.

That was too much to take on and Starwalker decided it was time to get out of Dodge fast and he overheated his afterburner to slip out of scram range. The two frigates entered and before they could establish a lock the Incursus' scram dropped and Starwalker was away. A quick subsequent check confirmed that the three frigates were working together.

16 March 2014

Nogusha in a Rail Incursus

Gallente frigates were a common sight in faction warfare space, the prime hunting ground for a fight. Spotting an Incursus in a complex was not unusual and it was even more common that it would be rail-gun fit rather than blaster fit.

Starwalker was in his Breacher and knew that taking on an Incursus would be a tough fight. When he warped in he found the pilot was Nogusha, a top ranked pilot in Screaming Haybusa and a former corporation mate in R1FTA. The fight hadn't started yet but it had just got harder, no rookie mistakes from this pilot.

Nogusha had selected his spot and the engagement began at his preferred range of around 7km. Starwalker had set a close orbit but he had no speed advantage to close the gap, even with an overheated afterburner. He launched everything at the Incursus, his Caldari Navy Nova rockets and his pair of Warrior IIs. The railguns were quickly forcing the Breacher to repair the incoming damage and his medium ancillary shield booster was doing a good job.

The Incursus too was suffering and its small ancillary armour repairer was clawing back the damage but not enough as the damage slowly worked its way towards the structure. The Breacher though had run out of capacitor charges and Starwalker had started his small ancillary armour repairer. The two ships went into structure together but the Incursus was belching more flames and the race to destruction ended with the Incursus exploding and the Breacher with 50% of its structure left.  

The Breacher was a flaming mess but it had survived. Good fights were exchanged and both pilots acknowledged that it was a tough fight and close.

9 March 2014

Three versus One

Starwalker was roaming around Metropolis in his Breacher when he scanned an Incursus in a complex. The Breacher arrived to find the Incursus waiting. Starwalker was using his favourite fit that was based on fitting both the Medium Ancillary Shield Booster as well as the Small Ancillary Armour Repairer.

The one recent change he had made was to change the shield rigs for another missile damage rig. General fitting wisdom decried dual tanks but on occasions it was a useful addition to the ship's defence. Starwalker had reached the point where he made up his own mind about a fit, he felt he had earned his stripes going through the levels of understanding:
  1. Copied a fit, not really understanding why that particular combination of modules were used, their strengths and weaknesses
  2. Fitted a ship with a general understanding of the ships and modules and fitting rules but not exploiting the ships strengths and/or mitigating weaknesses. Using general fitting rules such as
    • Fit modules to fight at a certain range (close, scram or point)
    • Fit weapons of all one type/range
    • Fit MWD and warp disruptor or afterburner and scrambler
    • Fit either an armour or shield tank
    • Use zero or one fitting module such as an Auxiliary Power Control or CPU Upgrade to enable a particular combat fit
  3. Fitted a ship understanding why the modules are selected or not selected, complementing the ship's bonuses and the purpose of the fit
Starwalker considered a dual tank justified on this ship and he was confident that he would destroy the Incursus. As he engaged though a Slasher and Rifter also landed at zero and he made an almost instant decision to switch targets as the Incursus had only just recently entered armour.

Whilst Starwalker had no reason to believe that this was a three versus one situation he assumed that it was and decided to kill the ships in an order of "kill-ability". It was a term he had heard when Kil2 and Kovorix had discussed the order of target selection:
  1. Slasher - as an attack frigate it would likely have the weakest tank and the Incursus would have the strongest tank
  2. Rifter - it would be next purely because the Incursus would be last
  3. Incursus - it was the most dangerous ship because it had a combination of good damage and a strong tank
It was always a hard decision to switch targets but Starwalker did and also tried to maintain range by heading towards the Slasher. It worked as the range from the Incursus increased to around 5km and the Rifter was about 7km away. The Slasher went down quickly and then the Rifter was targeted. The medium ancillary shield booster was overheated and working full time but was running low on charges. As the Rifter went down the shield booster ran out and Starwalker started the armour repairer and could finally focus on the Incursus.

Starwalker pulled range and the Incursus damage dropped dramatically, the armour repairer had saved the Breacher. The Incursus was toast.

It had been very satisfying and Starwalker was please with the fight and fighting three at the same time had been a really good experience. Sometimes the kill-board time on fights seemed like they were more than one versus one but targets simply arrived in quick succession. One example, this Executioner came into the complex where Starwalker was waiting and it was nearly dead as this Slasher arrived and it died as well.

2 March 2014

Benefit of Drones

Starwalker had a penchant for brawling frigates and liked to roam in low security space. The engagement envelope was somewhat limited - generally other brawling frigates. It was possible to catch bigger prey in a frigate such as a battleship but that was a rarity. Similarly, generally avoiding point range kiters (Slicer, Condor...) was advisable unless they could be caught such as at a warp-in point.

Usually Starwalker avoided the Griffin on the basis that being jammed permanently throughout a fight was no fun. However, drones changed the equation significantly because they would continue to fight irrespective of whether their mother ship was jammed. This became important when Starwalker's Tristan entered a complex and chased the Incursus that was there.

Within seconds of the fight starting a Griffin entered and Starwalker quickly locked it up and sent the drones after it - just before he was jammed. Luckily he had been fast enough, the drones were doing their work on the Griffin and Starwalker concentrated on trying to get out of range of the Incursus.

The drones were destroying the Griffin and for some reason it decided to stay and die rather than run, probably to help the Incursus get the kill but it did not work. The Griffin went down and with targeting restored the Tristan's blasters and drones went back to work on the Incursus. The Incursus exploded and the 2v1 was over.

Starwalker had been helped by the fact that the duo were newer players but what was satisfying was that tactically he had reacted quickly and with the right response. He had seen that the greatest danger was from the Griffin and that it needed to be neutralised immediately, he had then tried to keep as much range as possible from the Incursus to reduce the blaster damage.

Whilst drones could be easily destroyed the benefit of drones was that they:
  1. Would be able to continue to fight even if the mother ship was jammed
  2. Would operate over a significant range from the mother ship, in particular against point range kiters
    • Some point range kiters would fit their ship to achieve a speed of well over 4km/s to outrun the Hobgoblin IIs
    • Warrior IIs had lower damage but were significantly faster and could catch most point range kiters. Consequently, Starwalker carried 5 x Hobgoblin IIs and 3 x Warrior IIs
Starwalker fitted his Tristan for scram range fighting as when he ran into a kiting (MWD) Tristan fighting at point range he simply destroyed the drones. A few times now he had effectively chased off a Tristan because its offensive capability had been destroyed. Whilst those fights had not resulted in destroying the kiting Tristan the more important point was that Starwalker's brawler frigate had not been destroyed.