Monday, 10 December 2012

Retribution: First impressions

Crime & Bounty Hunting: 

What I've seen of Retribution so far, I really like. The new targeting reticules are really slick, and the new criminal/suspect markers are very intuitive. A huge thumbs up to CCP there.

However, I wish CCP would have programmed some memory into the security selection button. I know this is designed to keep carebears and new players safe, but I just know that I'm at some point I'm going to forget to take myself off safe mode after logging in (or more likely, a disconnect) and the inability to shoot first will get me killed.

The new Arbitrator:

This is a really interesting one. What do I do with another 25 CPU and an extra low slot? I initially thought about adding another EANM II for extra tank, but the truth is that my fleet Arbitrator rarely takes fire as it is (and when I do take fire, I'm never pointed, so I can warp out), so the extra tank seems like a waste.

I then considered a damage mod for more drone dps, but Sule came up with a much better idea: a Signal Amplifier.

Now, the weakness of the fleet Arbitrator (besides it's low speed) has always been it's low lock range. In fact, some of my fits have dropped the an Ewar rig for a targeting range rig to allow me to actually make use of the range on my TDs in fast moving fleet fights. A Signal Amplifier would give me an even bigger boost, allowing me to drop said rig if I chose. And as a bonus, my targeting speed goes up, allowing me get those TDs into the fight that little bit faster. If that were not enough, the extra targeting slots are useful if I want to throw ewar drones on an additional target or two.

As a final change, I took out one set of ewar drones (now that ewar has been nerfed a little) for some salvaging drones - no more orbiting a warpable wreck while trying to salvage!

I took this new fit on a corp roam yesterday. A poor connection forced me to bail before we hit any serious action (I was taking about 60 seconds to load grid, and we were playing gate games with a couple of gangs around OMS), but in the skirmishes we did have, I was very happy with the new fit. I look forward to flying it more often.

The new destroyers:

I've not had a chance to fly the new destroyers, but I certainly bought a Dragoon and a Corax. I'm not sure how exactly I'll fit them up (I'll play around with them once I get my EFT updated), but I'm looking for them to do things that my frigates can't. This probably means something with high dps. Watch this space.

Other news:

This will probably be my last post for December, as I'm going to be on a long holiday this month, and I'll be spending all that time with family. However, when I get back, I should have Recon V trained, and I'm selling off some excess hulls to pay for a Curse/Pilgrim.

I'm also looking at changing the kinds of hull I fly. In the past, the only real way for me to combine armor and missiles was expensive Khanid ships (oh, how I long for a T1 Khanid ship - Oh, CCP, if you love me at all, please bring me a bright, shiny, Khanid T1 hull*). However, with drone skills I'm also able to fly a number of T1 Amarr ships, and my (slowly) improving shield tanking skills are also letting me fly T1 Caldari. This being the case, I'm now flying fewer expensive ships solo (reserving T2 for gangs and the like), which has prompted me to  clear out my back-stock of assault ships, bombers and interceptors, keeping back only one or two of each type.

As noted above, this will allow me to pick up one or two "toys" for more elite gang work on Tusker roams, which will hopefully make for some interesting posts.

*If you recognize the poem that inspired this line, you win the interwebz (one day only).

Monday, 3 December 2012

Why we fly, and why we don't.

Back when I was putting myself through university, I spent a lot of time playing World of Warcraft, especially around exam times. WoW wasn't exactly rocket science, so I could just log on and zone out, focusing just on grinding whatever battleground I happened to feel like (hint: it was always Alterac Valley, until they ruined it). I got my Unstoppable Force that way.

EvE, however, is just not like that. While there are any number of positive adjectives to describe EvE (such as "fun", "awesome", and "beautiful"), "relaxing" is not one of them. At least, not the way I fly.

Perhaps things would be different if I were a carebear. I imagine that high sec mining or mission running is generally pretty grindy and relaxing (unless a suicide fleet finds you, of course), but hunting other players requires a lot of focus. Focus is not relaxing.

So, although I've been able to log into EvE for the last few days, I haven't. Real life stresses have made me want to veg out in the evenings, so I've actually been playing LotRO (it's free to play, so I can just play it for a few days and then leave it if I want). I'd have logged in for a corp roam, but I'm guessing other people have been busy too, because our usual Thursday and Friday roams were not running. However, there does seem to be a roam this evening, which I'm really looking forward to.

Why are corp roams different? I'm not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with being among friends. More cynically, I could also suggest that the responsibilities of being alert to danger and finding the fight are divided among more people, making the whole thing less stressful.

Of course, EvE doesn't actually help either. Not only do I need to stay focused when I play (which is actually one of the game's real strengths), but I need to jump out of my training clone. So, subtly, I'm encouraged not to play when I'm feeling lukewarm anyway - not only may I not enjoy myself, but I put myself behind in training as well!

All of this is just a way of saying I've not forgotten the blog, but that I have no new fights to post at this time. Hopefully, that changes soon, because, like many people, I'm away for the second half of December. I need some new killmails!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Committing to a skill plan(ish)

While I've always had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to train, I've never been one to use skill plans or remaps to boost my efficiency. After setting my attributes to a fairly even distribution (bar charisma, of course), I've enjoyed the ability to plug in skills without worrying what their primary and secondary attributes might be.

In hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing. New players have a really difficult time knowing which skills they need, as well as when they are going to need them. A general attributes distribution allows for last minute rearrangements of skills without punishing the player.

However, the last two weeks have gotten me thinking. When my home internet connection went down, I called a friend and had them throw Advanced Weapons Upgrades V onto my skill queue, because I had no idea how long it would be before I could log back in. I'd been saving AWU V for the Christmas break, but I didn't want to lose any training time either. Then, after I got my connection fixed (sort of), I was swamped by work, so I just let it go on training.

In order to scratch the EvE itch while I couldn't play, I started reviewing the skills that I wanted to be training over the next few months. These included:

  1. Caldari Cruisers and Battleships
  2. Amarr Battleships
  3. Destroyers V
  4. Recons V
  5. HAC V
  6. Command Ships (if the changes to boosting look good)
  7. All the missile skills (I'm maxed out for frigates, but not larger ships)
If you noticed that all of these skills run off Perception and Willpower, pat yourself on the back.

As I had about six months of Perception/Willpower training (at least) ahead of me, I decided to bite the bullet and remap Perception/Willpower. I've got a bonus remap from last Christmas that I can use to return to a general stat distribution whenever I like, and I figure I'll probably get another bonus remap this Christmas. Might as well use them.

So, in the new year I hope to be playing with a few new ships, assuming that I can afford them (the T2 stuff would really stretch my budget right now, but if I fly cheap and win consistently, I should be able to afford them in January/February).

Otherwise, apologies for the lack of updates; we ought to be back to something a little more regular this weekend. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

PvP Crash Course: Manu

This is another PvP Crash Course video and fight analysis. I've been messing about with EvE and FRAPS settings, and I've managed something a little higher quality than in the past. I've also figured out why my voice has not been recorded previously, and fixed it. However, it seems that I've done so by excluding all other sound. So I'm still working on that one.

Manu was a much younger character than I anticipated taking on, but I was impressed by his enthusiasm and the quality of his application. Here is a small excerpt his EvEmail.

I am extremely new to Eve, i have been flying a little over 2 weeks now, and am in love with the game. I was waiting for my new computer for around 2 months and during that time read about, researched, and followed Eve as much as I could. This is the game I have been searching for and I am happy I have finally found it. While I love how Eve has so many different paths to make, I am in it for PvP. I joined RvB right from the start, day 2, so that I could get into pvp immediately. I have been playing daily and flying in fleets/roaming as much as possible, trying to take in as much as I can. Luckily I took advantage of the Buddy Invite program and got a nice amount of starting isk to support my early PvP.

This kind of introduction told me much of what I needed to know. He had the resources to actually afford the ships he would lose on the course (always a question mark for such a young character) and had already shown a serious commitment to pvp. Excellent!

There was some difficulty with fits, as Manu is obviously a very low skill point character. I also told him that he absolutely had to have Thermodynamics I trained by the day of the course, which I imagine ate up about a week or so.

I ran this course a little differently, as Manu is a Gallente pilot, focusing on the Incursus. With no utility high slot to power the active tank, above class kills are especially tricky for Incursus pilots. On the other hand, Manu could theoretically break the tank on my Vengeance, and would be very strong in on-class fights.

I therefore started with the larger hulls and worked down. This enabled us to discuss mechanics on hulls that could tank his damage easily, while allowing him to try and apply those lessons to later hulls where he actually had a chance of victory.

I've discussed the specifics of the course before, and this set of lessons was very similar, but with a very heavy focus on the mechanics of Overloading, as well as an in depth discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of Gallente ships.

The final lesson, then, resulted in the above video. After the painful experience of flying the Punisher again, I decided that I'd simply fly missile based ship but only use meta weapons and T1 ammo. In hindsight, this was a far better choice, as my familiarity with the systems meant that I was able to spend more time focusing on what Manu was doing rather than flying my own ship. Ultimately, I think that was more helpful.

Prior to the fight, we talked about our respective fits, and my slightly superior speed (thanks to being shield tanked). This meant that Manu would need to close range as much as possible, so that, even as I tried to back off, he would be able to maximise the time I spent within his optimal. I explained that the best way to achieve this was on the initial approach, when our respective momentums would carry us right past each other (I did not intend doing anything too tricky, like spiraling in). Overheating his guns early would be key, too, but he had to watch that they did not burn out.

On a side note, this was the day of the Tusker FFA, and the first time I let Manu hunt me, someone else got there first! Because they were also flying an Incursus, I thought Manu had found me and I engaged. As I'm talking him through the fight, he tells me "Um, that's not me." I nearly die laughing and use my better speed and range control to leave the fight and meet Manu at a safe. I reload my launchers, and we let the fight start.

The fight:

0:01 - Manu is a little slow to target me, perhaps because of low character skills, or perhaps because he waited until I was within scram range to start the targeting. Either way, I've got him scrammed and webbed before he even has me locked.

0:04 - As I've mentioned elsewhere, my guns are one of the last things I turn on, and I've already spent a few seconds considering my range and speed before I activate them. I'm not overheating, as I already have a significant skill point advantage over Manu.

0:10 - Manu has me scrammed but not webbed! I don't notice yet, because I'm watching our range and his speed. I can see that he's missed the opportunity to keep me close, but I want to see how he reacts. I'm hoping that he'll overheat his afterburner and hit approach. As it is, I'm too far out of range for him to hit me.

0:14 - Manu has opened fire, presumably to try and make sure his weapons are cycling when he manages to hit range. At this stage I'm pretty sure I've just selected a 5km orbit, and am not doing much else.

0:22 - Now, Manu remembers his drone, which is excellent, because I've forgotten all about it. He does not have T2 drone skills, but the fact that he's launched it is a very good sign.

0:28 - After having let Manu try and find his own way, I start commenting on the fight, suggesting that he overload his repair system. I've got a neut on this ship (and I'm cap stable with the neut running), but I prefer to keep the range advantage that I have rather than risk closing my orbit in order to use the neut. I also want the fight to last a bit, so Manu has a chance to try and think his way through this, and shutting down his tank would end the fight pretty quickly.

0:39 - With the repair system overloaded, I can't break his tank (until the repair system burns out, that is), which is a good thing. As noted above, I want Manu to have a little more time to try and catch me, and get as much as he can out of this fight. I also want to see how well he can keep an eye on his heat damage.

0:49 - At this point, I start to directly address the issue that Manu is having with this fight, which is range dictation. This is always going to be a key point for blaster fit boats, and I don't want to wait until after the fight before I raise it.

1:16 - After suggesting that he overheat his AB (which should have given him range dictation over me as I'm not overheating anything), I notice that he's still not closing the range. I take a look at my own speed, and see that I'm still doing over 1000 km/s. That forces me to double check everything, and I see that Manu never activated his web. I immediately draw that to his attention.

1:25 - Manu does activate his web, and my speed immediately starts to drop. Unfortunately, it's too little too late, and Manu explodes.

1:31 - Here, both Manu and I screw up. Manu does not get his pod out in time (a recurring problem for him), but I fail to stop my momentum in time, and so immediately after pointing him, I'm carried out of scram range.


Like most new pvpers, one of Manu's main difficulties is simply remembering the myriad of things he needs to do while in combat. Here, as is often the case, a single oversight turned a fairly even fight into pigeon shoot. It's unfortunate, but ultimately the lesson ought to be very useful.

I suffered from this many times when I started out, and it won't go away until you teach yourself to constantly review your modules - you don't just hit the button once and ignore it! Once you start doing that, you will still make mistakes (or lag will drop your command to the server), but you will also catch those mistakes before they are fatal.

What would I have done if I were in Manu's shoes? I would have simply hit approach, because tracking makes no difference against my rockets. I would have overheated my point and web on the initial approach, and taken them off overheat as soon as range allowed. I would then have overheated my guns as soon as I was in range, and left them there for as long as I could. Me being me, I'd totally forget to drop my drone.

While keeping an eye on my heat damage, I would have been focusing on range and speed, when it became clear than my opponent was trying to increase the range, I would have overheated my afterburner, to try and keep them within my optimal for as long as possible.

Finally, if it looked like they were going to outrange me, I would have dropped my web and started burning in the opposite direction, trying to get them to overshoot, so I could warp out.

Course feedback (instructor):

I'm not sure I would offer this course to such a young character again, and not because of anything Manu did wrong. There were simply some exercises that didn't work well because of Manu's lack of skill points. One example is where we were practicing the approach against turret cruisers. Manu was making perfect approaches, but his lack of Navigation skills meant that he was going from full hits to light hits, rather than to no hits. That does not really reinforce the learning point, as, from Manu's point of view, the result was not really worth the added effort of manual piloting.

Manu did seem to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of things that have to be done, and Gallente frigates are notorious for front-loading the pilot's work. Those first few seconds are really make-or-break for the Gallente, which significantly increases the learning curve.

However, Manu was also very enthusiastic, and I'm certain that with practice he'll overcome these initial challenges. He has the enthusiasm and aggression necessary to fly Gallente ships well, and I can see him becoming a very dangerous pilot once his support skills are up to par.

 For constant practice, I can't think of any place better for him than RvB. However, he will need to actively review his fights and work to correct any bad habits that he may develop. All solo pvpers need to be very critical of their own performance, as, ultimately, they are the only person that will push them to do better. We are our own coaches, and we have nobody else to blame if we fail to perform satisfactorily.

Course feedback (student):

A recent hurricane has meant Manu has been unable to send me any detailed feedback. However, in his verbal feedback, he told me that the course had really opened his eyes to how much was actually happening during a fight. We had delved deeply into the various mechanics of the fight, as well as basic manual piloting, and there was so much more to pvp than "orbit + F1".

Final recommendations:

I'm glad that Manu found the course useful, and I hope that he finds my post-fight analysis helpful too, when he can read it. I would also encourage him to continue with pvp, as he clearly enjoys it. While I have focused on the challenges Manu faces, he should not feel that he is in any way behind the curve. All he has to do is look at some early posts on this blog to see that I had far, far more to learn than Manu does when I was three weeks old.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Crow v Malediction

I've been having connection issues for the past week, which has meant no EVE and no updates. Hopefully, I get that sorted soon. In the meantime, here's another old fight I pulled out of my draft posts folder.

The hunt:

After chasing around a Talos in my Crow, having a Rifter flee from me, and generally being avoided like the plauge, Lacal told me about a Malediction looking for a fight in Vif, just of the Lad gate.

I jumped in, and quickly scanned the Malediction to a belt. I jumped in at range, and closed the distance fast.

I could tell from his speed that he was AB fit, which meant a scram. So I settled into an orbit and opened fire, whereupon he would race towards me. I'd pull range to avoid getting scrammed, and he'd zip out of weapons range while repairing the damage he had taken. Rinse and repeat.

Having flown the Malediction extensively, I was not surprised by his point range, and managed to keep evading him for about 10 minutes. However, as he kept repping up to full armor, I was no closer to winning than he was.

Now, the smart money, the profitable money, would be to just leave, but after such an intense maneouver fight, I did not want to just let this go. So I decided on a risky move. I'd load close range ammo, overheat, and charge into range. While the Maledicition was a tanky ship, so is my Crow. I had a decent chance of overloading his repair system and taking the win. After all, I had a higher dps than him, and probably a bigger buffer (he was too fast for a plated fit).

On the other hand, my shield tanking skills are still weak. And without my mwd, he'd be doing full damage with his rockets, while mine would still suffer "tracking" penalties.

Despite the risk, this was the only way to end such an awesome fight. I charged in.

It was a very close battle. I think I took him by surprise, as I took out most of his armor buffer before he overheated his repair system. In the end, though, my weak tanking skills made the difference, and I was the one leaving a wreck in system.


I spent some time chatting with the pilot after the fight, and (ironically) he reads this blog, and was flying a Malediction inspired by one of posts. Heh. That'll teach me.

Apparently, I was also very, very close to burning out his repair system when I went down, so decent tanking skills might have swung things my way. It's good to know that my "cunning plan" was not completely off the wall.

Despite the loss, I was really happy with the fight. My opponent flew superbly, and it's one of those close fought battles can still give me the shakes. Absolutely fantastic.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Tusker Frigate FFA Results

Well, the Tusker Frigate FFA has come and gone (and an amazing time it was, too), and the results are up!

Congratulations to the winners, as well as everyone else who took part! If you missed out on the FFA, however, (or just really want to do it again) we might have something for you in the new year...

Monday, 29 October 2012

Drake v Magnate

I was looking through my unpublished drafts, and I found this post. It's fairly amusing, because it records my first impression of flying a Drake in "combat". Now, of course, I enjoy flying the Drake, but that was not always the case.

Yeah, so I destroyed a cyno ship in my Drake.

Not a big deal, really, but it was my first time flying my Drake in "combat". In fact, I only pulled it out to hit the cyno ship, and I only had a couple of T1 launchers on it (T2 launchers finish in a few days).

Still, I thought I'd record my first impressions.

To begin with, the ROF on the Drake is slooooooow. I mean, wow, I could go and grab a sandwich between volleys.

And the travel time on the missiles is very noticeable. I was engaging the Magnate at something like 60km, and I thought that I was bugged or something at first, because I fired and... nothing. More nothing. Fireing again. Nothing. Oh, hey, your first volley hit something.

Wow. How very irritating.

Lest anyone think I'm being too negative, I laughed myself silly when the station guns opened fire on me.

I'm actually looking forward to flying the Drake in real combat situations, but it's clear that I'm going to have some significant adjustments to make.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Tuskers & Alpha Volley Union v Various

The above videos were taken by someone with a far better computer than mine, and so are of pretty decent quality. This was a mixed Tusker and Alpha Volley Union black ops fleet, and we bridged around Gallente low sec, causing mayhem.

I was flying a Purifier (although I'm also tempted to fit up a Manticore), with a TD in the mids. I started out with a TP, but switched up when only one other person had brought a TD. This also made sense, in hindsight, as I have the bare minimum points in Target Painters, whereas my Tracking Disruptor skills are maxed out.

I won't go into any detail regarding the fights - it's all right there, after all, and a black ops gank pretty much only goes one way, when it goes right. Instead, I shall say that the roam was loads of fun, and I look forward to the next time we organize something similar. I enjoyed finally putting all my Torpedo skills to good use.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

PvP Crash Course: Bjarni

The final part of my PvP Crash Course is a 1v1 against me, and a fight analysis on this blog. Bjarni was the first student to take part in my course (although, from the mail that I am receiving, not the last). Here's what he has to say about himself. 

As you might have noticed, this character is fairly old, I made it with a few of my friends many winters ago. The idea of EVE, the intrigue, the backstabbing, the single shard universe where you can be "somebody", always fascinated me. But only that, 'the idea of EVE'. My experience was fairly different. My friends soon left and I was alone in the big black sky and quit soon after. Came back!.. then left again. Rinse & Repeat. It wasn't until several months ago when I figured out where it all went wrong. I relied on everyone else to get me somewhere, mostly ISK... making ISK felt like some dark art that only the most brilliant people could do, or the ones willing to spend hours upon hours in PvE. I was neither until I did the hard work of learning how play the market. Suddenly I had billions coming out of my ears but most importantly, I had options. The options to play EVE the way I wanted to. Which for me is PvP, all the way, but I quickly noticed that a side effect of being rich is that I got really cheap! And that I'm scared as hell of scratching my ships. But I'm working on that. Baby steps.

I've got some good friends in game who are recovering Carebears, and they're damn fine pilots. If I can help Bjarni find his feet in pvp, I'm happy to do it.

The course is divided into six lessons, and it ran to about three and half hours. In the first lesson we covered safe spots and D-scanning. In the second lesson we looked at how to fight against a brawling fit, and really took a close look at how missiles and turrets actually deal damage in a fight. The third lesson focused on kiting and maneuver. The fourth lesson included cruisers, drones and ewar. The fifth lesson focused on fighting against battlecruisers and the inevitable war of attrition that this involves.

The sixth and final lesson, then, resulted in the video above. I'm flying the Punisher, while Bjarni flies the Rifter. I chose the Punisher for the simple reason that my turret skills are frozen at the level of a six month old character. Flying the Punisher, therefore, helps simulate a fellow "noob".

Bjarni knew my fit, and before the fight we spent some time discussing it in detail. We focused on the comparative active tanks and ehp, as well as the respective optimal ranges. We looked at the implications of the neut in my utility high slot, and I told him that he was going to have to choose between evading my neut and pitting his tank and damage projection against mine, or trying to get under my guns while accepting that his active tank would be unlikely to work.

I then jumped into the next system, and Bjarni was to track me down on D-scan, and jump in on me. I reminded him that he had to keep me pointed, or I would try to escape if the fight went against me.

The fight:

0:08 - I turn from my initial vector to meet Bjarni.

0:29 - Just as Bjarni had to make a choice, so did I, and this is where I make it. It's a subtle thing, hitting "orbit", which is set at 2km. If I had wanted to fight at range, I should have changed course and required him to run me down while I used Scorch to hit him on the nose. However, if I wanted to use my neut, I needed to approach him at high speed so that our collective momentum would bring him into neut range before he could correct. In making my decision to fight in close I overlooked one point that I've not had to deal with in a while, but I'll get to that later.

0:35 - I open fire much earlier than I needed to, but I wanted my guns cycling as soon as I was within range.

0:39 > 0:45 - I start landing hits at 14km out. The next few hits are solid, wiping out 3/4 of his shields, while being barely scratched in return. The tracking then goes to hell as we race past each other. He's in neut range, though, so I start hitting him with that too.

0:53 > 1:01 - We're both still hitting each other, and he's starting into armour while I'm at 1/3 shields. I overheat my guns, but then pull them off overheat because I miss three shots in a row.

1:10 - At this point I make what I feel is my first big mistake of the fight; I turn off my neut. I was starting into armour and not getting any real hits. Feeling my strategy was not working, I decided to try something else. What I did not notice at the time, though, is that Bjarni's web was off - he'd managed to keep everything else active (and lack of good hits meant he did not have to run the repair system), but I gave up just as I would have been about to see the payout.

After the fight Bjarni agreed that there were several points in the fight where a single neut rep more would have shut him down. I got too focused on my own cap, though, and didn't see what was happening to him.

1:24 - By this time, I've stabilised and I'm getting good hits again, so I'm convinced that I've made the right choice. But the lack of pressure has allowed Bjarni to recover some cap, and his web is up.

1:38 - Bjarni is now forced to run the repair system, and his web comes off again. However, he's started to get under my guns, while still landing his own hits.

1:48 - Bjarni has now restabilised, and his web is back up. With that nos, I can't afford to take the pressure off, and I know it. The overheat has gone back on the guns, and I'm switching up my crystals periodically as the range changes to try and keep the hits coming.

1:54 - This is actually a pretty important moment in the fight, because I give up on the orbit and just approach Bjarni, giving me a period of decent tracking. The results are immediate, and I start getting hits. He needs to repair, so the web comes off again.

2:14 - At this point the tracking benefits have worn off because his nav computer has adjusted for my change in flight. I'm missing again, and sure enough, the web comes back on.

2:23 - Here's where I actually get my head together and remember a few things about tracking. I align to the sun, and just start cruising. I've realised that he wants to be in close (and it's working for him), so I want to keep his orbit as regular as possible by flying in a straight line.

2:48 - My change of course gave me just what I needed, and I've got him down to half armor. However, I'd started the maneuver at half armour, and was now down to 1/3rd with an overheating repair system. Bjarni has adjusted his flying again, and I'm getting a few misses.

3:03 - I know I'm going to lose. I worked out the right flight pattern too late into the flight, and my only hope now is to neut out his point and try to warp out. His nos has paid for itself many times over, and is keeping him in the game.

3:07 - I do notice the dropped web this time, and it keeps me hoping for a stroke of luck. The grindiness of this part of the fight makes me kick myself; Bjarni's clearly hurting, and I'm landing hits, even with my poor turret skills. Had I flown like this earlier, I would not be trying to warp out now.

3:20 - I'm having to choose between my neut and the repair system, and only the neut offers any chance of salvation.

3:42 - Boom. Gf, Bjarni. Gf.


First, I need to compliment Bjarni on flying very well. While it would be easy for me to devolve into a rant about how much I hate turrets, the reality is that if either Bjarni or I had made some slightly different decisions, the fight could easily have gone my way. Instead, he managed his modules under my neuts brilliantly, and kept working his orbit to minimize my damage.

My first mistake was forgetting that lasers have an uphill battle against armour tanked ships. I've not used EM damage in ages, so I'd forgotten this until I actually started into Bjarni's armor. Thus, I think my whole premise of getting in, neuting him down, and smashing him fast was flawed. The length of this fight makes it clear that the key was incremental advantage, and I should have simply tried to keep at range as long as possible, and fly so that my tracking was as stable as possible.

My second mistake was not seeing how close Bjarni's capacitor was to failing. As Bjarni confirmed, and as should be clear from the video, he was having serious cap difficulties, but I just didn't see it as my focus was on the combat log as I tried to manage my tracking (not flying turret ships, I don't have angular velocity on my overview).

My final mistake was waiting so long before aligning to the Sun. The entire balance of the battle shifted at that point, and if I'd not been so far behind, it would have made huge difference.

Definitely a good fight.

Course feedback (instructor):

Even before I had a chance to review this video, Bjarni impressed me with this ship handling, and ability to learn and implement new tactics quickly. He really pushed himself on the anti kiting drills, working the maneuvers until he managed them, against both "aggressive" and "defensive" style kiters. If he had a little trouble triggering point, web, and weapons all at the moment of closest approach, it's because that's an awful lot to fit into one second window. I have no doubt that Bjarni will, with practice, become a very difficult, and dangerous, pilot to try kiting.

He also demonstrated quick thinking during the drone drills. Here, he was orbiting my Arbitrator while I sent out waves of different kinds of drones for him to practice webbing and destroying. Key to this process was keeping within nos range of my Arbitrator so that the active tank could be kept running. When he drifted out of nos range he immediately switched his nos to one of the drones, a tactic that he had first been told about only a few minutes earlier.

If Bjarni has a weakness, it's a caution bred of years of pve. He took nearly a quarter of an hour to find me via D-scan, and not because he didn't understand the process. Instead, he was simply very cautious about warping from place to place, and often chose locations based more on their perceived safety rather than their utility as a scanning point. If you know I'm in cluster X, for example, you should warp to planet X, because that planet will be at the center of the cluster, allowing you to separate each element of the cluster on D-scan. Warping to a moon, conversely, will often mean that you still cannot distinguish between different parts of the cluster, despite the fact that you are almost literally next door to me.

That said, I don't feel that this natural caution ever prevented Bjarni from taking calculated risks, and his "up close and personal" approach to the Punisher v Rifter dual did not suggest an unwillingness to take risks - it would have been very easy for him to convince himself to kite, but he didn't and won the fight as a result.

Course feedback (student): 

After making my views public, it's only fair that I give Bjarni the chance to do the same. Here's what he had to say:

Hello there Taurean,

I ran into 
Azual Skoll in Hevrice, I had two expendable Rifters still there and he was kind enough to blow me up and give me some pointers, nice people the Tuskers.

Overall I think the entire thing was spectacular, brought me out of my shell and taught me some new things which was exactly what I was after.
I wrote a little bit down after the course, let me know if I forgot something and I'll send you another essay.

The Duration: The length of the course was fine, EVE PvP isn't something you can explain in 60 minutes anyways and the techniques get absorbed at different rates to different people. Although it would have been shorter if I had asked a couple hundred fewer questions.

The Material: All of your techniques were well explained and in-depth, I don't think I ever needed a further explanation of what you just taught me. I felt like I was starting at the bottom of the pyramid and working my way up and learning more advanced tactics, which suited me perfectly.

The Execution: Besides the literal execution of my shiny Rifters? :( In all seriousness it felt really nice to lose my ships, it really cemented what you were trying to teach and what happens when it fails.

Suggestions: I believe we have similiar teaching styles and this is something I often use when teaching techniques to beginners in martial arts or Parkour.

A some kind of Before/After, I definitely noticed some improvement in my decision making and what to do in the Punisher duel. Some people might be less observant or harder on themselves if they lose and refuse to notice any changes from what you taught them. A straight up "You did "this much" better at the end than in the beginning." might be helpful to some people.

This is what I wrote up soon after your course, ask away if I missed something.

Bjarni Veigar.

I totally hold my hand up on the end of course feedback. It had always been my intention to do something comprehensive after I'd had the time to review the videos and digest the results, but I should have been clearer about that, rather than leave you hanging.

Thanks for the feedback!

Final recommendations:

I'm glad that Bjarni felt he came out of his shell, but what I want to make sure of is that he doesn't retreat back into that shell and disconnect with EvE again, as he has in the past.

To this end, I'd recommend that he join a decent pvp corp and find a target rich environment. While I might ordinarily recommend Red v Blue, my gut tells me that Bjarni's the kind of pilot that has an appreciation for the big picture, and the context of the fight in relation to some larger goal. Thus, he might find even more enjoyment in faction warfare or null sec. Perhaps commenters can suggest reputable corps for Bjarni, as I have no direct experience with life outside lowsec, and my FW stint lasted less than 24 hours.

I would also encourage him to keep focusing on small ships for the time being. I really feel that one of his strengths is going to be his piloting, and smaller, more nimble ships will reward him more fully for that skill than larger, slower hulls.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Tuskers v Rennfeuer

Several of our members are keen wormhole hunters, and thanks to these pilots, the Tuskers generally know, at any given time, exactly where the wormholes in Hevrice and the surrounding areas lead. On this particular day, we found a wormhole leading to nullsec, so an impromptu HAC fleet was assembled, and yours truly flew fleet ewar again.

It was the same half fit Arbitrator from before, and I was eager to do my bit to ensure that the enemy hit us no harder than a particularly undernourished school-girl. To quote Fezic from Princess Bride, "My way's not very sportsman-like."

We jumped through the wormhole. This was actually the second roam that day, the first having been a BS fleet, and now the reason why we were limited to HACs; nobody wanted to get trapped deep in null.

The fight:

Our scouts had already located the enemy, so finding the fight was easy. However, this fight was to work out very differently from the last one.

Instead of a brawl, our engagement turned into a running fight. This, in and of itself, is not too remarkable; the Tuskers are quite used to running fights. What we are not used to is the fact that we were not the ones running - they were!

They had an Oracle fleet, along with some ewar. They burned away, forcing us into a stern chase, while they used their range to fire on us. Clever fellows.

Now, what made this fight interesting for me was the speed at which everyone was moving. The Oracles were cruising along comfortably at 1600m/s, whereas my Arbitrator only does about 1100m/s. I had also warped into the fight at a respectful range, as the Oracles had a strong ability to pick me out if I strayed too near. This meant that by the time both sides disengaged, I was 160 km from the Oracles, and unable to bring my ewar to into play!

Both sides warped out with a few kills scored.


This is an obvious issue for fleet ewar - I need to keep up with the fleet! Unfortunately, the obvious way of doing so (losing the 1600mm plate) will just get me alpha'd. Apparently the Arbitrator will be getting a speed boost this winter, which it clearly needs.

It's also an interesting distinction between logi and ewar. Logi need to be within range of the friendly fleet, but ewar needs to be in range of the enemy fleet. While hanging out with the logi is reasonably safe, in running fights like these I need to break away and act aggressively to close the distance between my ship and the enemy dps.

I'm also still working on my final fit, but right now I've boosted the targeting and TD range with rigs, so next time I should at least be able to participate for more of the battle. I will also consider burning away from the fight once I lose range, so that I can warp back in again on my fleet mates.

Despite the speed problem, it was a fun fight, and I look forward to running fleet ewar again.

I can also say that I would strongly recommend a stint as ewar to anyone wishing to become an FC. I've learned more about fleet engagements in two fights as ewar than I did in dozens of fights as tackle. Seeing the big picture puts everything into perspective.

Friday, 19 October 2012

PvP Crash Course

Recently, a number of things have come together that have started me thinking about how new characters get their start in pvp. EvE just lost I Legionnaire for real life reasons, but he left a financial legacy to the Tuskers with a request that we use it to help new players learn pvp. The Tusker Frigate Free For All on the 27th is a part of that legacy.

Some of the pilots that I first encountered as rookies are now daring and capable pilots flying ships that I'll probably never fly. They have outgrown the advice I initially gave them, becoming skilled hunters in their own right. Seeing that development has been amazing, and I'd like to be part of that again.

All of this has convinced me that, on an occasional and case by case basis, I'd like to offer one to one pvp lessons for new characters. I'm not going to charge for my time, but I'm not interested in time wasters either. If you are both a noob and serious about learning solo pvp, send me an EvEmail convincing me that you have the enthusiasm and commitment to make teaching you worthwhile. Your attitude will be the single most important factor in my decision, followed closely by the amount of play time I currently have available.

I'm not going to go too much into the course details (which will probably change in response to feedback in any event), but here are some up-front facts applicants will need to keep in mind:

1) Although I'm not charging, expect to spend some money. You will be required to obtain a number of T1 frigates (hull and fittings to be discussed prior to the course) and move them to Ranellies. You are almost certain to lose those frigates, although insurance should cover the cost of your T1 hull and fittings.

2) While most courses seem to focus on long roams with an instructor, this course actually pits you against me, although under a series of controlled exercises. The advantage of this is that I can actually control the kinds of engagements you "find", and the learning points we cover.

3) The engagements are going to be overwhelmingly in my favour, because this allows me to draw out the length of the engagements, which in turn allows me to cover multiple discussion points without needing to blow you up prematurely in self defence. So whereas some courses will leave you with some feel-good killmails at the end, this one is unlikely to ('grats to you if you manage it though!).

4) The course is aimed at players with no more than a few months of play time because that's when I started learning pvp, so I have a pretty good grasp of what needs to be covered; by extension the lessons may well prove too basic for older characters. The emphasis is on giving you practical experience with moving through and fighting in low sec, and familiarizing you with the different kinds of targets you will encounter. As an introductory course, we won't be running repeated drills, for example, but practicing a technique once or twice and then moving on.

5) Mumble is mandatory, as is a working microphone.

6) My intention is to FRAPS the lessons and make the videos available to you after the course.

7) For those with a bit of ISK, Azual offers outstanding training. He has a great deal of experience, having run the Agony PvP University, whereas I come from the School of Fracking Up So Badly You Learn Not to Do THAT Again.

If the above interests you, send me an EvEmail with the following information:

a) How long you have been playing EvE, and what you've been up to in that time.

b) Why you want to pvp, and why you think you need or want this course.

c) Give me an idea of the kind of frigates you see yourself flying in the future, and the frigates you can fly now. Include details of favoured weapon systems, as learning points for missiles, for example, will be different from turrets, and different again from drones. This information will help me to customise the lessons to you and your pvp goals. If you are unsure, that's fine too, but as someone with strong preferences about how I fly, I'm happy to try and accommodate others with similar feelings.

d) Anything else you think I should know that might convince me that you should be on this course.

And in the mean time, fly dangerous.

Edited for real numbers.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tuskers v Null Sec

As promised, I've got some Arbitrator fleet engagements to write about. I won't go into every last movement of the fleet, but I will focus on the parts where I feel learning points arise. If my recollection of these events is a little fuzzy, it's because I did not FRAPS it - I'm not risking a DC when I've got corp-mates counting on me.

The fight:

There were about a dozen of us, mostly in armor HACs, but with me flying an Arbitrator, and two logi to back us up. I'd just grabbed something from the corp hanger, and it mostly consisted of a strong buffer tank, a prop mod and three TDs. Very much an unfinished fit.

We had taken down the occasional BC that had wandered into us, but we had yet to really find a proper target. However, our scouts were telling us that this was about to change, and that there was an enemy gang in our path; numerous BCs backed up by several Guardians. While I am unclear on the number of Guardians (I think it was about four), it was clear from the initial report that we probably lacked the dps to break the logi chain, and most of our pilots had brought dps drones rather than ewar drones, leaving us little chance of breaking their lock with ewar.

Still, it sounded like a fun fight. They outnumbered us, although not by too much, and they had heavier ships. Positioning would be key, and so we warped to gate, putting the HACs in close and the logi further back (for positioning purposes, the Arbitrator is a logi). When they jumped through, the HACs would brawl it up, and keep the BCs locked down and unable to hit the logi. Their logi, on the other hand, would have to sit in the middle of the fight.

Honestly, we have some really good FCs in the Tuskers, and the plan sounded really solid. However, it was dependent on the enemy jumping into us, confident of their weight in ships and pilots. It turns out, though, that for some reason the gang decided not to jump into our cunningly laid battleground.

Realising that we would have to take the fight to them, we all approached and jumped through the gate. They  clearly had eyes on us, however, because they immediately sprang their own ambush, warping to the gate as soon as we jumped through.

Fortunately, we have members in corp who compulsively spam their Dscan, and so we saw them coming before they started landing on grid. Acting fast, Sule ordered us to jump to a particular belt at range, and we managed to all get off the gate before they could land and point anyone.

On landing at the belt, the logi and ewar (ie, me), immediately burned straight up, putting as much distance as we could between ourselves and the landing point. When the enemy fleet followed us to the belt, they landed among the HACs, with the logi again at a distance. Although it had required some quick thinking and fancy footwork, our original plan was intact.

What followed was a massive brawl. I piloted around the fight at about 60km, always aligned to something, and kept two Hurricanes and a Vigilant pinned down by reducing their optimal and falloff by about 80%. I like to think that at least one of them tossed their keyboard across the room in frustration.

Our logi pilots were brilliant, largely keeping the fleet in one piece, except for poor Dian, who was primary when a Falcon uncloaked and disrupted our rep chain temporarily. It cost them the Falcon, though.

Beyond that, the fight was a bit of a stalemate. We tried switching our dps around, but their Guardians were able to keep up. Similarly, our own Oneiros, combined with the dps hit they were taking from my TDs, were enough to counter their damage. We probably would have pulled out, but they had a few of our own tackled, and we don't like to leave people behind if we can help it. So we stayed.

Eventually, a third party lit a cyno, and we found ourselves hot dropped.  Everyone scattered, and nearly all Tuskers got away. The other side was less fortunate, and we scored some killmails that we would otherwise have missed.

Bidding them all a "gf" (they'd fought smart and willingly engaged us in a belt, after all), we turned for home.


I completely accept that this was a very easy first fight for me as a new ewar pilot - which is exactly what I needed. Nobody tried to kill me, and I was able to focus on maneuver and ewar without distraction.

What I saw, I really liked. I looked at the enemy fleet with completely new eyes - as a tackler, you are just trying to stay alive while pinning down the primary. This is almost the definition of tunnel vision. As ewar, I'm looking for the strongest members of the enemy fleet, and trying to take them out of the fight. It was great fun.

However, it also gave me a chance to find some of the limitations to the Arbitrator. To begin with, my TDs have a much longer range than my actual ship does. I would have liked to hang out with the Oneiros, so we could offer mutual protection to each other from drones and interceptors (alright, so I could protect them while they keep me topped up), but that was not possible. My targeting skills are maxed out, and both my low and mid slots are spoken for. Getting more targeting range with therefore involve rigging, and I'll be putting together a dedicated fleet fit soon.

In the high slots, range mods for my drones seems sensible. Fleet fights often require me to warp and short notice, so while I carried a range of drones when flying solo, I feel like I want to carry multiples of only a few kinds of drone, and probably small drones at that - the larger ones spend a lot of time traveling between targets, and I can carry fewer of them.

On that note, it seems like a mix of Warriors (fast), ECM, and repair drones would be best. I know repair drones are not great, but as a frigate pilot I know that there are some targets that need topping up that logis don't have time for. And, as this fight taught me, sometimes the logis can't help. Perhaps those drones would make a difference. Something I'll have to test.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Arbitrator 04.01

The hunt:

I was roaming, as usual, and due to time constraints I kept myself fairly local. Several times I encountered a Vexor running faction warfare plexes, and seeing this as the perfect opportunity to test my Arbitrator, I kept trying to jump in.

Unfortunately, the pilot was always some distance off the gate, and every time I jumped in, he'd warp off to a station and log out. I'd see him again ten minutes later, one system over, doing another plex.

After repeating this pattern about three times, I switched to my Crow, jumped into his plex, overheated my point and mwd, and actually managed to catch him. From there, it was a simple matter of outrunning his Hobgoblins and evading his guns while chipping away at his tank.

Eventually, he exploded.

I had a video of the fight, but it cut off half way through because the partition I had FRAPS on ran out of space. And watching me kite a Vexor down is going to be about as interesting as watching paint dry if you don't get to see an explosion at the end. So no video today.


I could have posted this as a standalone Crow v Vexor fight, but I chose to post it as an Arbitrator fight. Why? Because the fact that I couldn't kill the Vexor in an Arbitrator is just as important as the fact that I could kill the Vexor in a Crow.

I'll be honest, I'm not liking the Arbitrator as a solo boat. It just doesn't let me do anything new. I'm a pretty decent frigate pilot, and I can reasonably attack most frigates or cruisers (and some battlecruisers) in just an interceptor - active tanks are the only thing that I really struggle with, and I can escape from those fights fairly easily.

With that in mind, I'm not really sure what the Arbitrator offers in a solo environment. I'm not saying it can't be a decent solo boat (pilots I respect have sworn by it), bit I'm not feeling that it fits my roaming and fighting style. I don't bait, and I don't camp; I go on long roams and try to catch lone pilots before they know I'm there. Ship handling (keeping range and transversal) is the single most important factor in my fights.

So I don't see myself flying a solo Arbitrator much more. Instead, I'll be looking to explore the Arbitrator in a fleet role, as that does offer something that an interceptor does not.

Of course, because I'm posting about a week or so behind my flying, and I make this claim secure in the knowledge that I've already flown in a couple of gangs as fleet ewar, and am very much enjoying the role. It's what Arbitrators were made to do, and they do it well. I'll have some posts coming up all about that, so expect to see plenty more Arbi action, just not in solo fights.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Arbitrator 03.02

The hunt:

I'd been up and down the Aeschee pipe without finding anything, so swung through OMS looking for targets. On jumping through OMS into Heydieles, I found myself in the middle of a camp.

After a quick look around, realised I was going to explode, and started FRAPS. Let's walk through my thought process, and better pilots than I can tell me where I went wrong.

0:00 - I've zoomed all the way out, and taken a look at the geometry of the camp, which is something I always do when I encounter a camp. I can see that there are five ships, at various ranges, with one group near the gate and another further out.

What's important here is that I'm beyond scram range of any of the camping ships (ignoring links & faction gear, of course), but that burning back towards the gate will take me towards the enemy ships. With my mwd, I don't recon I'll make it back to the gate once a scram lands, especially with five ships focusing on me.

Equally, all the celestials in the system are on their side of the gate, so aligning to anything and trying to warp off will mean cruising into scram range, and I doubt I can warp off before a long point catches me anyway.

I settle on a third option, then, that I've used several times when flying an interceptor. I'm not sure it will work with this hull, but it seems worth a try - I'm going to immediately overheat my mwd and burn away on a vector that opens the distance between me and the camp as fast as possible. If I can get some range, I can then turn and warp off. Unlike my interceptor, the Arbitrator is not going to be faster than these ships, but I can hope that they don't feel like overheating anything to catch a T1 cruiser.

I consider trying to use my tracking disruptor on one of the dps ships, but discard the idea - none of them are flashy, so I'd just attract gate fire. I have to wait until after they've stopped shooting.

0:13 - I've thought about things, and I'm now starting to move.

0:17 - The Arazu hits me with a scram at 21km that shuts off my overheated mwd. Ouch! However, only one of the Tornados is actually moving, so I'm almost instantly carried out of his scram range. The damage is done, however, because my mwd was shut off, and it happened so fast that I didn't actually realise what happened until I watched the replay.

0:18 - I'm alpha'd by the Hurricane. However, because it happens so fast, I don't actually notice at first, because I went from a full health Arbitrator to a full health pod after a flicker that looked like a glitch out of the corner of my eye (I was watching ranges and aggression on my overview to activate my TD). So I sit there like a muppet instead of warping off!

0:22 > 0:24 - The overview picks up the fact that I've been aggressed, so I start trying to activate my TD (really should have started the targeting earlier - another learning point), and I notice I now don't HAVE a TD. Oh.

I instantly select a celestial and start trying to warp out. However, the Arazu has clearly now overheated his scram, and shuts down my pod. Nothing more I can do here.



I don't think there was any way out of this camp for me. Perils of flying bigger ships, I suppose. Still, that doesn't excuse the mistakes I made.

First, although zooming out helped me come up with a plan, I really ought to have zoomed back in to keep an eye on my ship. Getting moving again after the brief hit with the scram could have made a difference if the gang had less alpha.

Next, I should have started targeting my TD targets right away, as cruisers have a far longer lock time than frigates. Although I never had the chance to use the TD, I would have wanted it active before the second volley.

Finally, I should have noticed immediately when I went down, and used the fact that I had broken lock and was outside the Arazu's normal point range to simply warp out. I had loads of time, if I had just taken advantage of it.

That said, I do think I made the right call trying to pull range on the tackle. None of them even started their engines, so they were never going to be able to catch me again if I could tank their damage for even two volleys.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Arbitrator 03.01

Corp Roam

The weekend started with a corp roam; I've not flown with the corp recently, so I was really looking forward to getting out and about with "the guys". The theme was shield AFs, which meant I was flying a Hawk for the very first time. Good times were all but guaranteed.

I won't bore you with the fit, except to say it was mwd fit with two webs. I LOVED the new rocket animations, and loved the speed an mwd gave me. Thus inspired, I spent some time on EFT putting together a Vengeance mwd fit that I'll try out after the changes to missiles come through. I also look forward to revisiting my Malediction (probably my favorite hull in the game, honestly).

The roam, though, was a lot of fun. The gang - about a dozen pilots - scored a few kills, including a budget Tengu. We then all died gloriously after running into a massive TEST gang coming back from a "real fight" somewhere else. Nobody was bothered, though, as the fleet op had been advertised as a crash and burn job (keep going until we are destroyed) and it was getting late. I'd even named my Hawk "Born to Burn", in expectation of it's demise.

It's good to fly with friends.

Arbitrator Roam

The next day, inspired by our long roam through null sec, I broke out my OGLE map, and went on a long, long roam in my Arbitrator. 50+ jumps. It felt really good to be out and about again, as my recent roams (barring the corp roam) had all been quite close to home.

Sadly, though, the roam was a bust. I missed no less than a half a dozen frigates that I would have caught with a long point, as well as an Osprey ratting in a belt. By the time I got back to Hevrice, I was so wound up with frustration I just logged off in disgust.

But not before ripping out my scram and putting a warp disruptor in its place.

Hopefully, next weekend I actually catch something in my Arbitrator.

Looking forward

My training is being pulled in different directions right now. I want to train shields for the shield Arby I want to try (and later the buffed Caracal), I want to train Assault Missiles for my Drake and one-day-Sacrilege, and I want to train turrets because, um... well, everyone else seems to like them.

Hmm. Looking back at the above, I'm pretty sure I know what skill set is going to draw the short straw.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Arbitrator 02

Edit: I've largely convinced youtube to behave, and the above video can now be viewed in HD. It's not perfect, but it's leaps and bounds better than what it was. I'll try and improve the base recording (FRAPS) if I can do so without lagging out during a fight. For those on limited bandwidth, these posts should be able to stand without the video, which is intended as a bonus.

The hunt:

I'd had to go to a board meeting on Saturday, which mean I really only got to play on Sunday (I had to travel to and from the board meeting, and by the time I got back I was to wiped out to play). I got up early, though, and went for a roam that probably lasted about two hours.

I roamed fruitlessly, however. I'm learning to hate my scram, as I missed three targets that were within the range of a long point when they warped out. The Arbitrator is no faster than my Vengeance, and if I'm going to slowly chug towards escaping targets, my Vengeance does that just fine, but with less of a reputation (some people in local told me specifically that they would not fight because I was in an Arbitrator). I even hurled myself into a fight with two destroyers, assuming I would die in a fire, only to have them run out on me.

With the roam a bust, I logged out for down-time, and came back on later in the day. I spent another hour or so roaming, and played tag with some guys in OMS, but still nothing. I was jumping through Heydieles, though, when I spotted a Rifter at an FW site.

Local was packed, and I was pretty sure he would have buddies. He was the only one at the site, though. Perhaps I could sneak up on him? Unlikely, but I wanted a fight, so I warped to the gate.

The Rifter was sitting there, outside the plex, prealigned. As I landed, he activated the gate, and jumped in. Now, I knew it was a trap, and hitting my D-scan told me that there was at least one Stabber Fleet Issue within 14 AU that had not been there before, as well as another Rifter. I could bail, but what fun would that be? I activated the gate.

Landing on top of the Rifter (I guess his plan was to hold me in place?) I snagged him with my overheated scram and hit "approach". Removing the overheat, I hit him with my medium neut, and then the small neuts. I then deactivated the medium neut (did not want to cap myself out needlessly) and unleashed a flight of Warrior II.

Got all that? Yeah, it was a very busy few seconds. And that's when I remembered to turn on FRAPS, and the video starts.

0:00 - I've got three neuts running, and my scram. The TD is NOT running, because I don't think it will help (I'm not going to get under his guns) and I don't think I need it. There is another Rifter in the plex, but he's too far away to be an immediate threat. D-scan tells me I have company coming.

0:01 > 0:04 - Stabber Fleet Issue lands, followed by a Rupture and another Stabber Fleet Issue. Yep, this is going to be as painful as I thought it was going to be.

0:07 - Despite thinking "I'M GONNA DIE!!1!!!!1", I some how manage to watch my modules, and I turn off the third small neut. At this point he ought to have been capped out, and I'm just keeping him shut down. I don't notice at the time, but I'm not actually pointed; running just wasn't on my mind.

0:15 - The Rifter goes down, but the other cruisers have managed to point and web me, and are starting to open fire. I've still not got a firing solution on the Rupture, and things are about to go wrong very, very fast.

0:19 - This is my big failing for the fight. It's only now that I actually start targeting the next ships, and cruisers target much more slowly than my old frigates (equally, I used to use auto return target, so I don't have the habit of lining up further targets). I don't think it would have made an ounce of difference to the outcome of the fight, but it's a really obvious learning point I can take from this. Equally, I should have switched drones out, because my Warrior IIs are not what I need against cruisers. My TD is still not active, but being webbed and scrammed (with the enemy at blank point range) I'm pretty sure that my TD was simply not going to do anything relevant.

0:26 - Taking fire from all three cruisers, I go down in flames, but warp my pod out. The start to finish of my armor damage was about 8 seconds - even if I had turned my repair system on, it would not have finished a cycle.

So, a fast and furious fight, with me taking out one Rifter, but losing my Arbitrator to his friends. BC tells me I came out ahead in points, but barely.


Well, I really enjoyed seeing the video, and being able to go through that second by second felt really useful. Feedback on the new format is appreciated.

In hindsight, there was probably less of a trap than I thought (or a different trap). There was only one Rifter on scan when I jumped, yet when I landed on the gate there was one Rifter at the gate, and (unbeknownst to me) a second Rifter in the plex. I'm guessing that the Rifter in the plex was the one I scanned down, while the Rifter on the gate was another hunter, who, playing tackle for his gang, just happened to land on the gate at the same time as me.

Offensively, I was amazed out just how totally I shut down the Rifter. I've fought cruisers in frigates before, and I've never thought it that big of a deal - it's just something that any Tusker takes for granted. But being on the other side of that fight is pretty eye-opening; he never stood a chance, and went down very fast.

Defensively, the Arbitrator is clearly great it 1v1 fights, but this build lacks the resilience to brawl it up. I miss that aspect of combat, and I could see myself getting into the revamped Maller, if I can get my turret skills up. Or a revamped Caracal. But then, I've always loved tanky ships.

As I noted earlier, though, it was really frustrating to be roaming in such a slow ship but with such a short point. I'm wondering how I might find a faster, longer pointing Arbitrator. Perhaps with guns and defensive (as opposed to offensive) neuts. Something to work on.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Arbitrator 01

The fit:

Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
400mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Medium Armor Repairer II

Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon Microwarpdrive (not called that anymore, I think)
Medium Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Navy Cap Booster 800
Warp Scrambler II
Tracking Disruptor II

Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Energy Neutralizer II
Small Energy Neutralizer II
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Medium Nanobot Accelerator I
Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I

These first five Arbitrators are going to be classic fits. After that, I'll try some of the shield Arbies that people have recommended. And after that, Arbitrators will hopefully be buffed, and I can work on new fits.

The fight:

I'd been roaming for a little bit in the space near Hevrice - nothing too arduous. I tried jumping in on a couple of Assault Frigates running FW plexes, but I did not manage to catch any. It got my heart pounding, though! I'd forgotten how my body reacts to EvE PvP.

Then a call came out over coms for backup against a Cyclone plexing in Loes. There happened to be a T1 cruiser gang around, so I joined their fleet and made best speed for Loes. I was the first to land on the gate (with FRAPS running, and everything ready to go) and I was asked to jump through and warp to the plex.

I hit jump, and everything froze. I informed fleet, and tried to unlock my computer, but I eventually needed to restart EvE completely. Thus, rather than jump in all together, with some e-war to mitigate damage, we arrived one after another.

Relogging, I joined the fight, jumping in at range. I hit the Cyclone with tracking disruption, and was asked to set my drones on clearing his drones, which I did. Unfortunately, our tackle had already taken too much damage, and was going down - the Cyclone's missiles were unaffected by my drones or ewar. I was therefore asked to make sure I was in position to take over tackle because I was the only other ship with a scram, and the Cyclone was hitting 1700 km/s when we let him activate his mwd.

Activating my mwd, I closed the distance fast, and managed to get my point onto him just before our tackle went down. I shut down my mwd, but I took stupendous levels of damage while it finished it's last cycle. I immediately activated my repair system, but did not (sadly) overheat immediately; I'd forgotten how much longer medium repair system cycles were than small repair system cycles.

I also started triggering my cap boosters, as all this mwd use and repair work had left me pretty low. As my mwd cycle dropped off, the damage lessened, and I hoped that I'd get into a tight orbit around him but, if memory serves, he also had me webbed, and so was able to prevent me from getting under his guns.

With the mwd off and the repair system finally overheated, I gave ground grudgingly, but it was still clear that he was going to break my tank within 30 seconds or so. I announced this on coms, and further tackle made arrived in system just in time to stop him warping off.

I had managed to hold point long enough for somebody else to arrive, but ultimately my poor Arbitrator blew to pieces.

It was enough, though, and the reinforcements took down the last third or so of the Cyclone's structure.

It was a brutal fight (albeit made worse by misfortune and the noobiness of yours truly), but lapotiere stood and fought against the wolves, making is work for our kill. Not to mention taking a few of us with him. I wished him a heartfelt "gf" while warping my capsule away.


I'm not sure why my system crashed, but I can't help but look suspiciously at FRAPS. I've gone through session changes with FRAPS running before, though, so it might just have been bad luck. We'll see.

Disconnects aside, flying the Arbitrator is hard. There were a lot of modules to run, as well as drones to manage. Granted "heavy tackle" is not normally a job assigned to Arbitrators, but I know that I could have performed better than I did. I need to get on top of that module management, though.

If there is one thing I know I am going to hate about this fitting, though, it's how fast I burn through cap. I know that cap stability is a luxury most pvp ships can't afford, but this is so far at the other extreme (12 seconds, actually) that it gives me the heebie-jeebies. Yeah, that's a word.

While it's early days, my general first impression of Cruisers is positive - more so than Battlecruisers, and even some of the specialty frigates (such as Bombers). I'm less certain about e-war, though - I'm a tank and spank kind of pilot, and all this ewar vodoo is outside my comfort zone - but I'll ride this one out. However, I do think I'm going to start bringing my small and medium turret skills up to scratch. With the Caracal and the Omen being buffed, I could see myself moving sideways, rather than back to frigates.

I'm just sad that CCP did not give me a T1 Amarr missile frigate. Still, they did give me a drone frigate, so I can put my drone skills to good use on some cheap ships.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sea trials - a test of your systems.

Well, I've just bought 20 Arbitrator hulls (because they are cheap) and fittings for five of those hulls (because they are expensive!). I'm feeling pretty space poor right now, but if I'm honest I could always start selling frigate hulls if  I were desperate for the cash.

I've been trying to decide on a format for presenting (and learning from) my kills. I could always follow the Punisher Plan format, but that seems a little dull - I've been there and done that. Equally, I'm experienced enough that my mistakes will (hopefully) be harder to catch. Not noticing I've neuted out my opponent's point, for example, is something that, by definition, I've not noticed. Hard to catch that from memory.

The obvious solution, then, is to simply record my fights. Having downloaded FRAPS, I now present a test video. Edit: Now a much improved video from youtube.

Now, the video itself is nothing exciting. I'm just flying around a little bit, setting up my overview, and testing out my new hot keys (I have more modules to manage than I did in a frigate, so some shuffling has been necessary). I'll possibly do a post on hotkeys later, if people are actually interested.


As far as my HUD is concerned, there are a few key features. First, none of my windows actually touch the side of my screen, which means I can always see where the targeting icons are (often crammed against the side of my screen). Second, my module HUD is up top, not at the bottom. This is because I want to be able to focus on as small a part of my screen as possible when fighting. By putting my modules at the top, I can focus on the top right corner of my screen, as it has my targeting (which is vertical), as well as my overview.

The scanner is just below the overview, so that I can quickly keep an eye on the local area if I'm worried about being mobbed. I'm tempted to switch that for local chat, as that's often a better indicator of what is happening that the scanner. I've also been known to miss comments from my enemies (like "Ransom!") just because I'm not looking at that part of my screen.

I'm not terribly happy with the location of the drone screen, but then that's a new addition. I'd like the box to be taller, so that I can control flights of drones without scrolling. Ideally, then, it would be at the edge of my screen. I'll play around with that, but it does give you a pretty good idea of what I've been using since my first month or so of playing.

Other issues

Just as I used that flight to work out some in-game issues (like hot keys), I used this video to work out some bugs too.

As you can see, the video becomes very choppy once I launch my drones and get into combat with the rats. EvE also slowed down, which is an issue I've not had before. True, I had a few other programs in the background, but I really need to improve the performance issue or this is just not going to work in combat. Given that I've had to massively compress the quality of the video in order to post it, I can probably reduce my FRAPS settings without impacting the final product.

If the picture seems a little "squished" horizontally, that's because of the resizing after compression. Watching the video in a slightly different aspect (16:9 seems to work well) reverses this. I'll see if I can't gradually improve what I'm doing as I gain more experience.

If any more experienced FRAPS users have any hints I'd love to hear them.