Monday, 19 September 2016

Executioner v Astero

The fight

Having messed about with the Punisher and decided that it's still an awful, awful ship, I picked up an Executioner, and modified a fit I lifted from EveUni. It has a nos and an active tank, which results in slightly lower damage, but enough staying power that you have a shot against some cruisers. What we would once have called a 'bleeder fit'.

I threw this fit together, and went on my first proper roam since my return. Up until now, everything I have been flying has been so underskilled or so experimental that I've just been dipping in and out of low sec. This fit felt solid, though, and it felt like time to be the hunter for a change.

System after system, I worked on my rusty D-scan skills as I hunted those ships that I thought I could take, and evaded those ships that I knew would crush me.

Eventually, I found an empty system between two busy systems, and I decided to bait rather than chase for a while. There was a Purity of the Throne beacon in the system, which I warped to, and I started slowly clearing the rats. Incidentally, this is one of the things I love about active tanks; you can fake being a pve player from time to time.

Within a few minutes I was joined in system by another pilot, so I started spamming my D-scan. Nothing showed up, though, so he did not seem to be targeting me immediately. Still, I remained watchful as I continued to orbit one of the cruiser rats, using my nos to perma-run my repair module.

Ironically, it's because I'm watching the D-scan so closely that I don't immediately notice the Astero uncloak next to me.

Seeing the Astero on D-scan (I'd not noticed it on my overview yet), my first thought was: 'what the hell is that?' The Astero is a ship that simply didn't exist the last time I was playing Eve.

'Show Info' tells me that it's some dual-faction drone ship. Assuming the drones are damage bonused - I thought the Astero was in warp towards me, so I was taking all this in very fast - I decided I wanted no part of this fight, and tried to warp out.

And that is when I noticed the Astero in local. And I noticed because he already had me pointed.

Fight reflexes kick in; I target, web, scram, and orbit. Figuring that I'm going to need to kill his drones quickly, I load IN Multifrequency, and prepare to target his drones. For some reason, though, they are not attacking me.

Not questioning my good fortune, I turn my attention to the Astero, and overheat my guns. Down, down, down go the shields and armor. At some point, the Hobgoblin IIs are withdrawn, but he explodes shortly thereafter.



Quickly checking the killmail, I can't believe what has just happened. Ignoring the silly value placed on the SKIN I lost fighting the Hurricane, this kill makes up for every ship I have lost since restarting Eve, including the various trash cruisers I lost ratting up my sec status.

A follow-up chat with my opponent proves enlightening.

As everyone but me must have realized, he warped to the beacon and approached me while cloaked. De-cloaking, he pointed me and released his drones. But at that stage, things started to go very wrong for my opponent.

To begin with, his drones must have been on aggressive mode, so when the rats near the beacon auto-targeted him, his drones ran off after one of the cruisers. While trying to correct this, my opponent suffered some 'technical difficulties'. I'm not quite sure what he meant by this, and it could mean anything from spilling his coffee to having his client act up to having his bluetooth mouse run out of batteries.

While dealing with these technical difficulties, his drones remained interested in the rats, rather than me, and he also forgot, or was unable, to activate his own repair system. By the time he got things sorted, he decided that the fight was lost, and that he would use his ECM drones to get out. So he recalled his Hobgoblin IIs, but was unable to launch his Hornets in time to save him.

Well, I've had my share of bad luck, so I'll take good luck when it comes my way. Mistress Fortune is a fickle lady, however, and I have no doubt that she will turn her back on me in time.

Now that I have had some more time to look at the Astero, and my opponent's fit, I can see that this was a fight that should have been inconclusive. With no web, he could not stop me from simply leaving, and his drones were going to have a hard time tracking me (especially the Hobgoblins). Conversely, I couldn't break his active tank as long as he had Nanite Paste available, and the Hornets allowed him to leave virtually at will.

Looking at my performance, there are things that I can be doing better, though.

First, I need to adjust to the fact that there are now ships capable of taking on frigates that warp, and move, while cloaked. This means that D-scan, while still very useful, can no longer be relied upon to give me advance notice of an incoming enemy. I need to keep a close eye on my overview as well, and I may move my D-scan window so that they are right next to each other.

Second, I made the wrong call by orbiting in close with IN Multifrequency. The ammunition type was right for the drones - you don't want Scorch's tracking penalty while trying to hit them - but the added damage over Scorch would have made no difference against his tank.

A wider orbit would have increased my speed, though, giving his drones greater tracking problems. The orbital velocity of a Hobgoblin is only 660 m/s, so they would have lost a lot of damage just microwarping to catch up, and then falling behind again. This also would have made them much easier to kill, despite the durability bonus on the hull.

Having killed his drones, I would have had all the time I needed to kill the Astero, up until the point he released his Hornets and escaped.

Ironically, doing things 'right' would probably have let him get away, as I would have wasted time killing his Hobgoblins before turning my attention to him. The extra time would have let him get the Hornets out and escape!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Maller v Hurricane

The fight

I've been impatient to get into cruiser, so I've used the Purity of the Throne event as an excuse to hop in a Maller and go and clear some sites. All good fun.

As I'm heading out of low sec after one of these runs, I get caught by a Hurricane sitting on the gate; he's clearly a fast-locking, custom fit. Still, I'm in a Maller, so I cruise back to the gate and get ready to jump out.

Except I don't.

Despite only having T1 guns, I do have a T2 tank with about 38k EHP, and I really want to see how long I last. I only have a second to make the decision because I'm taking damage, and have been the whole time I burned back to the gate. In that second I decide to throw logic, reason, and rationality out the window and engage.

That. Was. Fun.

The Hurricane had an active armor tank, and my guns, drones, and the gate guns were not enough to break that tank, so he was never in any real danger. But that was never the purpose of the exercise.

I left the mwd off, and tried to get under his guns. He had already opened the fight with a neut, but I've got capacitor rigs and the Maller has excellent cap, so it did not make nearly as much difference as it might have.

He had drones too, of course, and I briefly tried webbing them and shooting them down, but that didn't work. In hindsight, it might have been more worthwhile to send my Acolytes after his Hobgoblins; I pick fast, high optimal drones to deal with frigates, and they should do decently against the slower drones.

In the end, though, I went boom.


I do not think that there was anything I could have done to change the outcome of this fight once I decided to engage. That said, I do think there was room for improvement.

Overall, I think I flew too much like a frigate pilot. Getting under his guns? They're the same size as what I'm packing, with better tracking, and on a custom fit for killing smaller ships. It was never going to happen.

On the other hand, I instinctively left the mwd off, because a frigate using that around a battlecruiser is going to die. But thinking about it, I doubt it would have significantly increased the damage I was taking, as I was probably already taking close to maximum damage. What it would have done is allow me to hold outside of web and neut range, which works to my advantage in this fight. I don't have Scorch, so my low damage would have gotten lower, but I might have lasted long enough that he ran out of cap for tanking the gate guns.

Again, the webbing and shooting of drones is a frigate pilot's trick, hardly something that a cruiser can pull off. I do need to test the Acolytes against Hobgoblins, though. The Maller is in for the long fight, and that kind of dps reduction could make all the difference in some cases.

I absolutely can't complain about the tank, though. It was brilliant, and the fight lasted well over a minute, as I got six repair cycles off before I lost count. He had only a single neut, which meant I could reliably pulse my repair module between neut cycles. Between the neut and his active tank, he must have been eating cap boosters like candy. Heh. Next time I see him I'll have to troll him by sitting on the gate without engaging, letting him waste resources against my tank before jumping out.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Solving the Punisher

The Punisher has always been a problem ship. It's base speed is slower than the other combat frigates, and it also lacks a web slot. This means that even if you catch something, it can just leave if things start to go wrong, and with the Punisher's low dps, they have plenty of time to do so.

Alternatively, you completely give up the ability to dictate range, and your guns have the worst tracking of all the races. So there is every chance that you will just die, very, very slowly, as they fly under your guns.

You don't even have game against cruisers any more, as an mwd cruiser is faster than a Punisher outside of scram range, and if you are within scram range they can just neut you out. An afterburner cruiser is also faster, once it webs the Punisher.

So, yes, the Punisher is a problem ship. But can it be solved?

It seems like the first step is to equip a long point. If you have a scram, anything with a web can just hold you in place until they get outside of scram range, and then warp away. But if you have a long point, then once then the web will only get them so far; after that, it's your unmodified speed against their unmodified speed, at an engagement range that the Punisher is completely happy with.

Of course, that means you need to get your unmodified speed higher than their unmodified speed.

The obvious approach is an mwd, and I spent the weekend messing about with mwd fit Punishers. The results were unimpressive, but not because the speed was not fantastic - I was doing 3.6 km/sec with some of my fits.

No, the problem is that at those speeds, small energy turrets simply don't work very well. The pulse turrets don't quite have enough range to fight at the 16(ish) km that the mwd Punisher wants to sit at to prevent lunges into scram range or dashes for safety. Even rigging completely for range, you are hitting 14 + 3.1 km with Scorch, and the tracking penalty on Scorch hurts you at those speeds.

Beam turrets, of course, can hit those ranges easily. But you are too fast for beam turrets, and you simply can't track effectively at those ranges. Hulls with tracking bonuses would probably be fine, but the Punisher is not one of those hulls.

You also run into the typical mwd signature penalty against big ships. I was taking notes while orbiting an npc battleship when a Bellicose jumped in on me, and I was slow to notice. Talk about perfect storm; throw the target painter in, and it only took him two volleys to take me out. He got the first volley free, and the second as I was aligning to warp.

So, even if I could come up with a decent mwd fit, I'd be limited to engaging other frigates. That's of no use to me, because I can't rely on artificial FW mechanics to limit my opponents to small ships; I need the widest possible engagement envelope.

In fact, I'm seeing far fewer frigates generally. From what I've read, ship re-balancing has made cruisers the new frigate: a well rounded, all purpose, flexible, fighting platform. I look forward to flying them myself.

Right now, I'm messing about with 10mn afterburner Punisher fits. The speeds top out at 2 km/sec, and the tank is ridiculous. Yes, maneuverability is poor, but no more so than for a cruiser. Other than mwd frigates, nothing can outrun me beyond web range.

The strength of the Punisher is the tank, and the ability to fight effectively at almost any range, thanks to the ability to swap out crystals. The 10mn afterburner seems to give me the speed I need to keep up with a fleeing foe.

What I now need to pin down is the weapon system. Beams will allow me to engage all the way out to point range, but I risk afterburner + web fit frigates getting under my guns. I think I can solve that by flying in a straight line (I do 800+ m/sec even under a web if I'm moving an a straight line), which will probably force even the fastest afterburner frigates into trailing orbits. With the tracking bonus from Gleam, and my massive tank, this ought to be enough.

Alternatively, I could fit pulse lasers. This gives me fantastic tracking up close, but opens me up to being kited by mwd fits, as I can't actually hit out beyond 19 km, and I'm not agile enough to try breaking away.

This is all experimental, while I wait for Medium Energy Turrets V to finish training, so feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Punisher v Rook

So I've spent the last few days on EFT, trying to work out what I'm going to fly, and how. Because I fly solo, and can't rely on Faction Warfare, or RvB, or some other conflict to guarantee targets, finding and catching targets needs to be part of the fit, which to my mind means a long point and MWD.

Now, I have over 8 million skill points in missiles, but only about 1 million skill points in turrets, so I'm a noob all over again. I'm still waiting for Medium Energy Turrets V and some turret support skills to finish training, so I'm stuck in frigates for the next little while.

Looking at the Amarr frigate lineup, the Punisher, which conveniently happens to be the hands-down most gorgeous ship in all New Eden, seems like a good place to start. And it has changed so much since I last flew it. Gone is the silly utility high slot that tried to force a slow ship without full tackle into a close range role. Instead, we see more turrets, and more low slots. It just screams 'kiting fit' to me.

This is what I'm currently running:


Small Focused Beam Laser II x4

Warp Disruptor II
5MN Cold-Gas Microwarpdrive

Small Armor Repairer II
Damage Control II
Overdrive Injector System II x2
Adaptive Nano Plating II

Small Energy Locus Coordinator I
Small Capacitor Control Circuit I x2

With perfect skills (and mine are far from perfect), it 3654 km/s with 3774 EHP. It's cap stable without the repper, and can hit out past point range. Ideally, it wants to engage at roughly 15 km, where it does 96 dps with IN Standard S. Once I get the measure of my opponent I can boost the damage significantly by moving closer and using stronger crystals; I just need to be confident that I'm not going to eat a neut or web.

I was out testing this fit in a lowsec pocket, where ratting lets me get used to how the ship flys, and how I need to manage my crystals, while slowly raising my sec status. Not really looking for a fight, I only had T1 crystals, and my dps is an anemic 75 with Standard S.

Having now properly set up my overview, I noticed immediately when Annetoli warped into my belt in a Rook. I was fairly certain he was not there for the rats, but I was content for him to make the first move, as I didn't want to take the sec status hit so close to -2. What I did do was put my ship into a 20 km orbit around his, practically before he finished landing on grid.

He immediately pointed me and opened fire, as well as launching some drones. I returned fire with Radio S (I was keeping at 20 km at this stage), but did not point him. Partly because there was no need to do so as long as he though that he could still win, and partly because I did not want him to know that I was fit for pvp.

It turns out, Annetoli could not catch me, and he could not hit me. His Hobgoblin drones trailed uselessly behind me, so I didn't bother trying to destroy them. In retrospect, that was a mistake because I would have liked to have tested the tracking, but I really need to have Gleam loaded for that, and I was not carrying any.

I could hit him just fine, though, so I started to whittle away at this shields. That, of course, is when he hit me with ECM.

We went around like that for a while, with him not able to hit me, and me not able to target him, until eventually I warped out, and we had a good chat.


Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II x2

Large Ancillary Shield Booster x2
Adaptive Invulnerability Field
50MN Y-T8 Compat Microwarpdrive
Multispectral ECM II
Warp Disruptor II
EM Ward Amplifier II

Heavy Assault Missile Launderch II x5

Medium Ancillary Current Router II
Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer II

The ECM is an experiment with for Annetoli, and I think it was a good one; if nothing else it meant that he could escape a fight that might otherwise have turned against him. Taking Warriors rather than Hobgoblins might have made a difference, as the extra speed would probably have let them apply damage.

He also needs to carry some Javelins.

Because I got to set the range of the fight, neither of us were in any real danger. But it was good to feel the old habits coming back, and it was a nice little test of my nano-Punisher.

I moved on to do some more ratting, and the fit clearly needs work. I'm moving so fast that even at 20km I'm having trouble tracking targets, even cruiser size targets. I also get hit so rarely that I probably don't need the Nano Plating; my repper can easily handle the incoming damage.

So, back to EFT.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Everything has changed.

I logged back in for the first time in more than three years. I felt the calling again, and bought a laptop just for Eve, as I've been on tablets exclusively for ages now.

Nothing works, now. My fits don't work, and won't let me leave the hangar. My hotkeys don't work, and I have to press everything manually. My overview doesn't work, and I try and sift through the clutter.

I recognize the system names, but not the names that appear in local. I was kicked from the Tuskers years ago, but I've not seen any of my old shipmates in my journeys, so it is probably just as well. To fly under that banner without my old comrades would be bittersweet.

It adds a sense of loss, though. This is not the continuation of an old story. This is a new story.

Eve is a complicated game, and coming back after such an absence is difficult. I lost a few ships relearning basic skills that I used to take for granted.

But, oh, the rush. The heart pounding excitement of pvp. I was prey, this time, but each time I escaped to go about my business was a victory.

And I won't be prey much longer.

I also came back to a stack of Evemails; far too many to respond to. I want to thank everyone that took the time to write, and hope that you have found what you were looking for in some other part of New Eden.

When I came back to the game, I was broke, with ships that didn't work, and -10 sec status. After a weekend of ratting in bad ships and turning in Security Tags, I'm now -1.9, and no longer barred from high security space.

So I'm moving.

I want to return to my roots, and head back to Amarr space. I intend to sell what little I have, and start over. I'm going to run missions to keep my sec status up, and look for solo pvp where I can. I also want to finish the Sisters of Eve mission arc. Back when I started, Dagan had a 100 dps armor tank, which meant it was impossible to for a new pilot to kill him in a T1 Amarr frigate. Now, we have some unfinished business.

I don't know how often I shall post - I make no promises in that regard - but it's good to be back, despite the changes.

Fly dangerous, my brothers.