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.
Posted by Taurean Eltanin at 04:30