Friday, 8 April 2011
Combat Scan Probes
Recently, I have been taking my first steps into combat probe scanning.
It's a natural progression for me, since non-combat scanning is my primary source of income. And it's a pretty incredible feeling, to sit at a deep safe, covered by your cloak, while you watch everything that happens across the system.
You can monitor the gate camp on the far gate. You can watch the Stabber and the Harbinger, partners in crime, waiting out their criminal flag at an old mission or exploration site, 20 AU above the ecliptic plane. You see drones abandoned by the mission runner when he had to warp out, and the resupply container someone left in one of their safe spots.
The only difficulty is that there is very little you can do with this information on your own. The extended probe launcher takes up nearly all of my Magnate's already generous supply of CPU. Most frigates can't even mount the module, and larger ships still have to give up a huge amount of their fitting resources.
A covert ops ship is purpose built to mount the EPL, of course, and does so with fitting room to spare. But these are poor combat platforms. CCP clearly intended combat probe scanning to be a role within a larger team, which is why most solo pilots that use combat probe scanning have a dedicated alt for the role.
However, I don't like alts in any of the games I play. If I'm going to develop high scanning skills (and I probably will at some point) it will be on my main. Most of the time I suspect that I will use combat probe scanning in systems where I have a combat ship ready to go, so a quick trip to the station gets me ready for combat.
On the other hand, I could see myself playing the role of scout for a small gang and I dislike the idea of being completely useless once the fight has started. That's lead me to start thinking about ways a covert ops can continue to contribute after the fight has started.
Strictly, a covert ops can mount guns, so adding to the dps (even if only a little) is an option, but it would likely make very little difference - all the while putting the covert ops pilot at risk.
Ewar is another option - the optimal range on tracking disruptors is 48km before skills. With 4 midslots, an Anathema could easily spare a couple for tracking disruptors, and could usefully support the gang called into deal with the target. Target painters are another option, depending on the composition of the gang.
Nevertheless, the biggest draw for getting into a covert ops has to be the fights that I know I'm missing when I roam in a combat ship. There have been numerous occasions where I have tracked down a potential target on my D-scan, only to find that there are no celestials for me to warp to at their location.
I had been assuming that I would be moving into a Crusader immediately after my Punisher, but perhaps taking some time out to fly and use a covert ops first would help me find targets.