Monday, 31 October 2016

Tormentor v Merlin, Merlin... and Merlin

The fight

So, I was doing a little plexing, when two Merlins appeared on Dscan. If memory serves, they both had the same ship name ('Merlin'), so I was fairly certain they were together. I needed to decide immediately whether I was staying or going.

I wish I could say that there is some clever way I have of deciding these things, but so often it's simply a spur of the moment impulse. How bored am I of plexing? How much whiskey have I had while plexing? What do I think my odds are, and what is my appetite for risk? For whatever reason, I decided I was going to give this one a go.

While there are Rail Merlins out there, gang ops are almost always going to use Blaster Merlins because the weaknesses of blasters are far less significant with multiple webs, and multiple ships: it's easy to hold one Merlin at bay when you are both webbed, but it's almost impossible to hold two Merlins at bay when you are double webbed.

So I immediately opened my orbit of the beacon to 6 km - I wanted to be able to start the fight already at my preferred range, and I was certain that I did not have to worry about these guys doing a runner. My Hobgoblins were already deployed, and I switched to IN Multifrequency, preheating my guns and SAAR.

Fortune favoured me, as one of the Merlins landed ahead of the other; perhaps his friend got caught on the gate for a moment or two. Whatever the reason, I immediately hit 'keep at range', and once I got the lock, my web was the first module I activated. I then proceeded to force-feed him overheated Small Focused Beam Laser II.

Things were going as expected, with me pummeling the first Merlin while evading his damage, when the second Merlin arrived. This guy I could do nothing about; I simply had to hope I could deal with the first Merlin in time to pull range on his friend, and to do that I needed to burn through his SASB.

It took Merlin number two a little longer than expected to settle into face melting range. Looking back, I can see that he was mwd fit, so he probably overshot me at first, and needed to come back around before he really started applying damage. My SAAR was able to keep up (barely) long enough for me to finish the first Merlin, and I overheated my afterburner to pull range on the survivor.

Once I landed the scram, I had total range control, and I was able to pull away from his dps just as my supply of paste ran out. One of the glorious things about the SAAR v the SASB is the fact that you can keep running a SAAR (assuming you have turned auto-reload off) even without the paste, so able to tank what little damage he was still doing while repping my armor back to full. The Merlin exploded shortly after I managed to pull range.

Hands shaking so badly that I could barely type, I threw them a 'gf' in local, and went to loot the wrecks. And, naturally, I triggered my Dscan.

Now, I don't know about you, but I find the Eve client very buggy. Sometimes the overview shows you multiples of a single object, sometimes it shows you objects that have long since gone, and sometimes it just won't show you anything.

So, when my Dscan showed me a Merlin named 'Merlin' within 1 AU of me, I wondered if this was an echo from my last Dscan pulse (which I had taken after the first Merlin was destroyed but while the second Merlin was still around). By the time I had refreshed my Dscan, of course, the third Merlin had landed.

I was in no state to fight. I was out of paste, low on cap, and my modules were maxed out on heat damage. But I no longer had a choice, so I hit 'keep at range' and started bringing my modules back to activity.

At first, things seemed to be going well; he landed at range and I tore through his shields. But he was relentlessly gaining ground, and all of a sudden, he triggered his SAAR.

What. The. Hell?

Why would you armor tank a Merlin? Doesn't he know he's wasting a ship bonus? Wait. Checkyourspeedcheckyourspeedcheckyourspeed. Double webs.

At this point, I know the fight is lost. Simply put, we are both dps boats propped up by SAARs. Only, he has a full load of paste, and I don't. Against a shield Merlin I might have stood a chance if I could evade his damage long enough, but two webs give him total control of the range. He burns me down.

Warping my pod out, I am unjustifiably angry. I don't mind losing a ship, but did it have to be right then? I had just survived a 2v1! Give me a moment of glory before stomping me into the mud.

Reshipping, I come back, looking for a rematch. Determined, but not stupid, I think twice before jumping into the plex. I'll be landing within 2 km of him, and I won't get any further from him than that, not with two webs. Time for something a little different, then.

I load Gleam. Gleam is my little Tormentor's insurance policy. It's the most damaging ammunition that small laser turrets can load, more even that IN Multifrequency, and it comes with a tracking bonus, so it applies that damage better than Multifrequency, too. But it only has an optimal of 3.5 km, so I only use it when I cannot control the range against my target. Usually, this means I'm shooting at drones, but it will work just as well against a double web Merlin.

SAAR and guns preheated, I jump in. Sure enough, he's right on top of me. I launch drones and open fire, but instead of keeping at range, I align to the sun and overheat my prop mod. I want the lowest possible transversal.

There is no finesse in this fight; it is brawling in it's purest form. My fit against his fit. My character skills against his character skills.

It's a fight he loses.

I catch the pod.

'omg' he types.

'that dps!'

I'd love to chat, but there is a Kestrel showing up on short range Dscan, and I hate making the same mistake twice in the same day. I send him home.


I actually had a good chat with poor Phill after I got myself out of the plex. He hadn't actually had anything to do with the other Merlins; he was just looking to test his new fit against a Tormentor or other scram kiter. We had a good chat and I wished him well.

Looking at the killmails, I was able to see the mwd fits of the first two Merlins. Clearly, this helped me a great deal, because it meant I could completely control the range on any given Merlin, much more easily than usual. That, combined with the slight delay between the two ships landing was all I needed to win the encounter.

Phill's fit was very interesting, an unexpected counter to the scram kiting ships that are usually the bane of the slow, short ranged Merlin. What I found most interesting, though, is that in our second fight he died after only two reps cycles (as shown by the amount of past left in the SAAR).

The Tormentor's dps is very high, but it's just insane when you load Gleam. While the capacitor holds out, you have 52 overheated seconds of blazing glory, dealing 235 damage per second, while repairing 117 effective hull points per second.

Heading back to the hanger, I knew that it was time for me to leave faction warfare. It had served its purpose, helping me to re-learn old skills. But it wasn't home.

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