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.