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.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

I'm a noob again.

As you may recall, my wife and I decided that she and the children would move to the country to give our children the lifestyle we wanted for them while I continued to work in the city for the time being. Having just returned from a two week visit, I am happy to say that they are thriving, and the past fortnight has helped reassure me that the choices we have made have indeed been the right ones. But they do make for some odd contrasts.

Two days ago, for example, I was culling our first batch of ducks and preparing them for the freezer. I'd just finished repairing the roof on the turkey shed, and I'd scratch built a couple of doghouses for the dogs they are breeding.

Today, on the other hand, I played internet space ships.

It wasn't just the contrast between the very real world by family now lives in and the artificial world that I work in that made me feel like a noob all over again, though. EvE has changed. Much of what I thought I knew about frigates has been shaken up. My rockets have all been renamed. Even gate guns have apparently moved on without me.

This, I feel, is good. It's good because it drives home the fact that I don't have a clue what I'm doing with my new class of ship, and it will make me eager to learn rather than just treat the Arbitrator as an oversized frigate. That could get expensive, fast.

Although I had a number of Arbitrator hulls delivered to me, my efforts to turn a profit (and my natural loathing of clutter) meant that my hangar did not have any suitable modules for a hull I had never flown before. Instead, I settled for a short Interceptor roam (I did not find anything) which allowed me to refamiliarise myself with my home systems a little.

After my roam, I moved my alt back to Jita. Tomorrow I shall buy some Arbitrator modules, and start shipping them back to Hevrice.