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!

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