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.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Just plexin'

For the last few days I've been using my limited play time to run plexes. I'm slowly turning the LP into ISK, mostly through laser crystals. Not the most efficient items, although they are quite good, but I'm a firm believer in dealing in what you know.

I'm getting fights, such as this Firetail, and this Tristan, but I'm well into the Tormentor groove and, frankly, it's not a high player skill ship to fly: you hit 'keep at range', overheat your mods, and pulse your SAAR as needed. Perfect for someone like me, but not terribly interesting to read about.

Only if things go wrong do you need to deviate from this plan, and that has happened to me a few times. If you know a kiting ship is hitting the beacon, you want to use 'approach', rather than 'keep at range', or they can coast out of scram range on the back of that first mwd pulse. Some ships, though, could be either brawlers or kiters, and since it is generally worse for my fit to be too close to a brawler than too far from a kiter, I tend to default to 'keep at range' in the face of the unknown.

That means that a handful of times over the last few days I've been kited by Executioners, Tristans and other flexible ships. I can't catch them, but I can still fight them. I recall the Hobgoblins and launch the Warriors, and I switch out Multifrequency for Aurora. Without having to make the sacrifices that kiters make, I'm generally out-damaging them at their chosen range (thanks to the drones, even ewar won't keep them perfectly safe), and I have a much better tank. They tend to warp off as soon as they figure that out.

Recent events have given me some goals for the not to distant future, and I want to create an ISK buffer to allow for this new project. So while I will still be 'out and about', I expect I'll be doing more plexing than roaming.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Blood Raider Cerebral Accelerator - when is it worth it?

In my mind, one of the best possible ways to spend ISK in this game is on skill points. Skill points are unique - of all the assets in Eve, SP cannot be destroyed (T3 cruisers aside) or taken from you (legally, that is), and yet you can still sell them on if you find you no longer need them.

Granted, there are diminishing returns. Depending on where you place those SP, they can be more, or less, valuable to you. Support skills may be used all the time, but other skills may be far more niche.

But unless you are sitting on far more skill points than I am, SP are great. Despite having 40 million + skill points, I'm still looking at four months of training to max out the damage and tank of my T1 frigate. And that does not include the sensors, or some of the warp related skills.

For this reason, I've been scraping the ISK together to buy a skill injector. Now, however, I have another option: Blood Raider Cerebral Accelerators.

The above chart was pulled from Reddit. Basically, you look at your current skill points, and your current Biology skill level, and you will see the percentage of a skill injector yielded by the BRCA. So, until 1st December 2016, if the cost of the BRCA is lower than the equivalent percentage cost of a skill injector, then you are better off buying the BRCA.

With Biology 4, which you can train up to with your very first booster, each BRCA is worth 9.72% of a skill injector. But they are currently selling for roughly 1.5% of the cost of a skill injector. So I placed a buy order for enough of these to get me through to 1st December. I'm sure that the prices will drop even lower over the next week or so, but I'd rather lock my supply down early and not have to worry about it.

I'm training up Biology 5 to get the most out of the boosters. This last skill level is not actually the most efficient use of time - it's worth an extra three boosters over the next month, at the cost of roughly four days of training - but as this is the second year that CCP have run this event, there is a good chance that they will run it again sometime. And at that point Biology 5 will be gold.

Interestingly, some people run skill farming alts, and they are VERY happy with this event. They can use the BRCAs on their multiple alts, and then sell the SP on at skill injector prices after the event.

Eve players are amazing.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Tuskers win Alliance Tournament XIV

I can claim no credit for their win, but it's awesome to see the old corp doing so very, very well.

Fly dangerous, my brothers.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Tormentor v Rifter

The fight

I have not been able to play much this week, and what time I have had has been devoted to plexing Anka. It's a quiet system, so it's very attractive to Minmatar plex farmers, and I have my work cut out for me.

Sometimes, though, pirates and war targets come through looking for a fight. Often they pass me by - I'm in the smaller plexes because these push sov up that much faster, and their larger ships can't reach me - but from time to time a frigate or two will try and jump in on me. This was one such occasion.

I orbit the beacon at 5 km in a Tormentor. I want to be close enough to snag kiting ships, but not so close that blaster brawlers land right on top of me. The Rifter lands about 6 km out, and we both rush to engage. He's in a brawler, then.

I overheat my guns, SAAR and (initially) my scram, but I forget to overheat my afterburner. This allows the Rifter to get into an orbit of about 1.5 km, where I'm doing no damage beyond what my drones are bringing. He has clearly fit a SAAR as well, though, and my drones can't break his tank on their own.

Seeing the problem, I align to the sun and overheat my afterburner, trying to keep our transversal velocities as low as I can. It helps, but I've given my opponent too much of a head start, and I'm fairly certain that I'm going down. By the time my SAAR is on it's last nanite charged cycle, I start spamming the 'warp' button so that I can get my pod out.

I hit warp after an explosion, but I notice that I'm still in my ship. Deep in structure and trailing fire, to be sure, but still in my ship. Did I manage to burn out of point range? That seems unlikely. Wait, is that his pod on my overview? I won?

I am so pro, I tell you. So pro.


So what actually happened? Chatting with my opponent, the story was amusing. Apparently, he burned out his guns trying to break my active tank. Realising he could no longer win, he turned to burn out of scram range. The instant that he broke orbit, though, I started hitting him for full damage, and it was enough to finish him, because his SAAR had also run out of charges!

Ironically, if he had just turned off his scram he would have survived, as I was spamming 'warp' in anticipation of my imminent loss.

I fought Torfn a second time that evening - the fight had been close enough that he fancied his chances the second time around - but this time I remembered to overheat my prop mod, and he was not able to achieve an orbit. The Tormentor puts out some pretty face melting dps (when it can apply it), and the result the second time around was not even close. Whereas the first fight forced me to use a full load of paste in my SAAR, the second fight only pushed me to use three charges.

Of course, because I'm an elite pvper, I managed to burn out my prop mod when I forgot to stop overheating it after the fight.


Still, our first fight, or rather the closeness of it, was very thought provoking. If my opponent had an extra rank in Thermodynamics, I would have lost. Another rank in Small Autocannon Specialization, the same. Those tiny percentages add up, and can swing a fight.

Since coming back to Eve, my skill queue has been a mess, full of 'wouldn't that be nice one day' skills. After the fight, I cleared everything, and filled my queue only with skills that affect the damage or tank of my Tormentor. Like all split weapon ships, the Tormentor is very skill intensive to fly, and lasers are perhaps the most skill intensive of all the weapon systems, thanks to their capacitor draw.

It will take me four months of training to max out my Tormentor - more if I want to include non-Hobgoblin drones - but I think it will be very worthwhile in the long run. It's a ship that I'm really enjoying, and those skills will apply well to a great many other ships.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

More on tracking

In an earlier post I compared Gatling Pulse Lasers II and Dual Light Pulse Lasers II on a Succubus (both loaded with Scorch) and found that unless we wanted to fight in overheated T2 scram range, the GPL actually applied more damage than the DLP, despite having a lower raw dps.

This started me thinking about damage mods v tracking mods. I had not given much thought to the rest of the fit because I was not interested in absolute numbers, but in relative numbers. As long as the fits were identical, the test was valid. For the record, however, the Succubi each had two Heat Sink II and Small Energy Collision Accelerator I.

The above graph, then, shows us the original GPL Succubus (red) orbiting the original Kestrel (who is again trying to orbit us to mess with our tracking). It also shows us a Succubus with the Collision Accelerator swapped out for a Metastasis Adjuster (green) and a Succubus with a Heat Sink swapped out for a Tracking Enhancer (blue).

Interestingly, the tracking rig out performs the damage rig at every possible range. In this situation, at least, a tracking rig is much better than a damage rig (and also uses up less calibration).

The Tracking Enhancer, however, massively under performs compared to the Heat Sink, except at ranges where we we shouldn't be using GLP anyway. To be fair, this is probably because the Tracking Enhancer splits its bonuses between tracking and optimal/falloff, and as our brawling Succubus can already hit all the way out to scram range, we are not interested in additional damage projection. For other weapon systems, the Tracking Enhancer could have much greater value.

Performing a second test, I pit each of these Succubi against an afterburner fit Merlin charging into range as the Succubi try to orbit him.

Here, things are less clear-cut. While the Tracking Enhancer still massively under performs, the damage rig pulls ahead of the tracking rig - very slightly - at the range we most want to fight at. However, if the Merlin manages to get closer than 8 km, the tracking rig starts to do more damage. Significantly more damage, in fact, once the Merlin reaches 6 km.

So for fighting on-size targets, the tracking rig is probably better than the damage rig. It offers clear advantages against opponents who try to use their piloting to mess with our tracking (ships not relying on turrets to do damage), and situational advantages against against pilots that are trying to close with us. The downsides are minimal, and only occur in a flight pattern where we should be winning anyway.

Depending on the rest of your fit, the reduced Calibration requirements could also be an advantage. Two damage rigs mean that you can't fit a third rig. Two tracking rigs don't have that problem.

Of course, I do need to point out that this all goes out the window once you start taking on up-sized targets. Assuming you have a cruiser+ webbed and scrammed, tracking is simply not going to be an issue. At that point the question becomes whether or not you can break their tank, and damage rigs clearly do more for you in those circumstances.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A look at the Tormentor

[Tormentor, Solo in lowsec FW space]
Small Focused Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency S
Small Focused Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency S
Small Focused Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency S

1MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Compact Stasis Webifier
Initiated Compact Warp Scrambler

Heat Sink II
IFFA Compact Damage Control
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

Small Energy Collision Accelerator I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hobgoblin II x2
Warrior II x2

I take no credit for this fit; I lifted it from Eve Uni. The notes on this fit are informative: "Fly it by keeping at range at 7000 (or slightly less if you're afraid of losing your 7500 scram), always overheat guns and SAAR for as long as possible, overheat prop against brawlers trying to catch you. Be careful, because of the latest warp scrambler tiericide, your scram's range is only 7500 so you might lose it if you're not paying attention: you'll probably need to overheat it if you realize the other guy is trying to run away."

After losing my last Executioner, I felt in the mood for something different, and I picked up a handful of these Tormentors. They are more expensive than many T1 frigates, both because of the drones, and also the SAAR.

Flying this fit is every bit as easy as the note suggests, and it's a very flexible fit. It brawls, but hits out to long point range with Radio or Aurora. This combined with some fast drones, makes the fit very difficult to kite. You are unlikely to kill the kiter, but you can probably drive him away.

That said, no fit is perfect, and this one is no exception. Despite making this my 'go to' fit for the last little while, I don't actually have any kills. This is because the fit suffers from a split personality. On one hand, the fit survives by scram kiting - out ranging your opponent to minimise his damage while applying your own in full - but on the other it only has a 7.5 km scram range, forcing it in close. Even the normal variations in 'keep at range' at 7 km will cause the point to drop off fairly easily, so getting away from the Tormentor (one of the slower frigates in the game, moving at a stately 1,090 m/s) is a doddle.

Yes, you can overheat out to 9 km, but if you do that too early then you will burn out your point because you are also overheating your afterburner early to make up for your low speed. That's a lot of heat in the mid slots. And 9 km is cold scram range for a T2 scram, so it's still not terribly impressive.

I'm very much tempted to switch the T2 afterburner for a meta version so that I can upgrade scram to a Faint Epsilon meta version. This brings my base speed down to 1,040 m/s (a decrease of less than 5%) in exchange for an 8.3 km (9.9 km with heat) scram range. I think the trade is probably worthwhile.

Two other weaknesses spring to mind. This frigate can't hit anything of equal size with any amount of transversal, so a sufficiently fast brawler can spiral in on you. And anything with missiles can allow you to 'keep at range', dropping your speed to nil, and applying the missile damage in full. And at that stage it is simply a dps race. If they have Rage loaded, it is a race you will probably lose.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Executioner v Succubus

I recently lost my last Executioner. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that I threw it away.

The fight

I was in the Amarr fleet plexing Labapi into vulnerability when the FC sent me to run a Novice plex that had become available, so I was on my own when a Succubus entered the plex.

Now, I'm not exactly new to low sec, and spamming my Dscan is second nature. Hell, I even have Dscan mapped to one of the thumb buttons on my mouse so I can keep spamming it while I'm manual piloting or selecting targets. So I saw him coming from a mile away, and could easily have warped out.

But it was a Succubus.

I'm working on a Succubus. I wonder what his Succubus is like. Oh damn, I'm really going to do this, aren't I?

So, yeah. He jumps in, and we start to dance.

I know from my fitting work that a 1mn Afterburner II on a Succubus does just under 2 km/s cold, and nearly 3 km/s heated. I do 3.9 km/s cold, and 5.7 km/s with heat. In theory, there is no way he can catch me. Unless, you know, I'm trying to hold point while applying dps. Oh, and deadspace afterburners and speed fittings boost his numbers in a big way.

As I've discussed in an earlier post, the kiting Executioner can't actually apply dps while in orbit at any speed, and I certainly can't out track a Succubus, so winning this one means keeping my transversal to a minimum. That means 'keep at range' and manual piloting.

I notice right away that he has a long point, which is very interesting. Is he fitting beams? If so, I'm in trouble. But he's lunging for me like he needs to get into range. Dual point? Web? Even more interesting.

He never manages to get closer than 14 km from me, but that ends up being enough, because my tank is paper thin, and his is not.


I convo'd the pilot afterwards to congratulate him and to ask for his fit. He declined to share it with me, but he died to a gang the following day, so I have it anyway.

No beams, but Small Focused Pulse II hits out to 11+3.1 km with Scorch. The deadspace AB and Nanofiber II let him stay at that range just long enough to chew through my 2.5k ehp at my worst resists. Well flown.

That said, I don't actually like the fit.

A Succubus with a web has the ability to control the range against almost any other afterburner brawler. If you equip a scram, you also have the ability to control the range against mwd brawlers. After that, you want to try to have enough speed to slingshot mwd kiting ships; you'll never match their speed, but you can still be fast enough to catch those that try to fight. That's what I expected him to do against me.

If, instead, you equip a long point, you increase your ability to abuse afterburner brawlers by kiting them beyond scram range. Is this really useful? You should already abuse those poor fellas pretty badly. You then lose the ability to control the range against mwd brawlers (they're still faster than you with the mwd on), and while you may slingshot mwd kiters into web range, once they apply heat many are still fast enough to pull range again.

Worse still, some cruisers are fast enough that you will be forced into trailing orbits if you don't shut down their mwd. That means they stand a pretty good chance of being able to hit you.

So this fit trades the ability to engage any serious mwd ship for the ability to stomp afterburner fits even harder than it does naturally. I don't really think that's actually a good trade, although in the current FW meta you can probably make it work. Heck, my Executioner would probably have come out on top if I'd fit for a little less gank and a little more tank.

Still, interesting stuff.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Faction warefare update

One of the things that I have really enjoyed about faction warfare so far is the greater context in which the fights take place. Unlike a pirate, who simply fights for fun and profit - both excellent reasons for fighting, by the way - the faction warfare pilot is also fighting for his 'team', whatever that might mean for him.

From reading various forum posts, it seems the Amarr militia has always had a reputation for a strong sense of identity, with a fair amount of mild roleplay. As such, there are a large number of pilots who take the war fairly seriously. 'Amarr Victor', or more humourously, 'Amarr Ahkbar', are common warcries in militia chat, and nobody fusses about divided loyalty points when it comes to forcing plexes in a heavily contested system. Fleets run almost every night.

For those that don't know - and until recently that included me - the Amarr militia essentially dominated the warzone in the first half of 2016. This domination was so complete that apparently a number of our top corps got bored, and decided to move to null sec. Combined with the summer holidays, a number of Minmitar corps were able to roll back the entire warzone with aggressive plexing - the key to capturing systems.

By the end of September, though, Amarr players were back at their keyboards, and new FCs were learning the ropes, filling the void left by the loss of some of our strongest corps. The Amarr now hold a number of systems, and I have been involved in the recapture of Roushzar and Labapi.

The Minmitar have been fighting back, of course, so as we capture more systems we need to devote some time to defensive plexing, but we are still able to start pushing a number of systems in the Bleak Lands. Anka is particularly active for me, as I base out of Gammel, so it is my default plexing system.

Morale in the militia is high, and I'd thoroughly recommend faction warefare to anyone who has been on the fence. To a certain extent, it's much like being -10; I still need neutral alts to haul goods, and rarely leave low sec.

A word of caution - CCP has been very clear that they intend to end the Amarr-Caldari and Minmatar-Gallente alliance in favour of four-way war. So make sure you join the militia you actually want to fly for, rather than the one that you are told is (currently) the most profitable. I suspect that milita hopping is going to become much more difficult over the next six months.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Size matters

When putting together a fit, we all like big numbers. Big damage. Big ehp. Big max velocity. We want big. But big numbers can be misleading. And sometimes we don't understand those numbers as well as we think we do.

The above graph is taken from EFT, and it shows two identical Succubi shooting at a Suitonia fit Kestrel (faction warfare version). The Succubi and the Kestrel are moving in opposite directions, at full speed, which fits with how they would actually face off against each other. The Kestrel uses rockets, so he wants to mess with the Succubus's tracking as much as possible, and the Succubus wants to keep velocity high to minimise the Kestrel's rocket damage.

The red line is the applied damage of Gatling Pulse Laser II using Scorch, and the green line is the applied damage of Dual Light Pulse Laser II using Scorch. The fits are otherwise identical. The raw EFT dps of the GPL fit is 161, and the raw EFT dps of the DLP fit is 167.

Despite being 6 raw dps lower than the DLP fit, the GPL fit is actually applying more dps at every range up to about 9.2 km - past cold T2 scram range.

This is very interesting, but does it hold true in other common scenarios?

This second graph shows the same two Succubi, this time shooting at a standard buffer fit blaster Merlin. The Succubi are still in orbit, but the Merlin is moving directly towards the Succubi as it tries to close the distance and get into range.

Once again, the GPL outperforms the DPL out to about 9km, although the DLP is starting to catch up by the time we reach end of the GPL's optimal.

So, for the Succubus at least, we can say that unless you intend to fight at overheated T2 scram range, DLP is simply a poorer choice than the GPL, despite the higher raw dps.

Fighting at that range risks letting your opponent escape through manual piloting, though, and there are a variety of ships that you don't want to fight at that range. Examples would include larger ships, where you want to get under their guns so that you can grind them down, laser ships, who will project their best damage at that range, and long range turret fits, where you will again want to get under their guns.

On top of that, the GPL has a lower cap draw (useful when fighting under a neut, although otherwise irrelevant for the cap stable Succubus), and lower fitting requirements. The difference in fitting is enough to upgrade us from a meta web to a T2 web, for example, giving us an extra 5% speed advantage.

Now, we have to be cautious when applying these graphs to other ships, because Succubus moves at 1,894 m/s with a T2 afterburner, dropping down to 852.3 m/s after the Kestrel or Merlin apply their meta web. Those speeds push the tracking on any turret. 

On the other hand, the Succubus also gets a tracking bonus, which to a certain extent counteracts the additional speed. A GPL - raw accuracy score 308.125 - tracks nearly as well as a Light Electron Blaster II - raw accuracy score 438 - after the Succubus's 37.5% tracking bonus. So I would imagine that for many frigates with neither a speed or tracking bonus this relationship between the GLP and the DLP will hold true.

In addition, the webbed Succubus is still slower than an unwebbed afterburner frigate, so if your unbonused frigate ends up fighting something that has no web, the GLP are going to be even more greatly favoured.

There is one serious caveat, however. The point at which the GLP starts to go downhill is determined by it's optimal range. So if you have less than Sharpshooter V, that inflection point is going to start getting closer and closer to your target, and you will need the DLP in order to project damage out to unheated scram range.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


hot rod
noun: hotrod
  1. 1.
    a motor vehicle that has been specially modified to give it extra power and speed.
verb: hotrod
  1. 1.
    modify (a vehicle or other device) to make it faster or more powerful.
    "I was told the program did an even better job of hot-rodding hardware"
  2. 2.
    drive a hot rod.
    "as a teenager he preferred a steady wage and time to go out hot-rodding"

We make our own goals in Eve, and something that I've never really done is fly maxed out ships. My do-no-actual-work playstyle doesn't stretch the ISK that far.

All the same, I like the idea of a ship that I'm constantly tinkering with as a hobby, like that classic car in the garage that you only ever drive for recreation - never serious business - and that you keep upgrading, mostly for your own amusement.

Now that I have a little money coming in from FW, I've purchased a Succubus hull. As pirate faction ships go, it's pretty cheap, largely because it's not actually very good.

It's not a bad hull, but it's not in the same league as the Garmur, or the Daredevil. And it looks like a particularly aggressive beetle. But, to be honest, souping up the spaceship equivalent of a VW Bug is pretty amusing.

I'm using this as an excuse to really dive deep into fitting decisions and game mechanics, and I already have a few posts in the works.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Managing to not die (much)

When you are space poor (and refuse to do actual work, like mining, exploration, running missions, etc), not dying is a big part of your strategy for stretching the ISK.

Despite that, I've taken a lot of fights. Some - ewar Condor, Navy Slicer, Hurricane, etc - have not gone my way, so I've used the speed of my fits to disengage without loss. Others would have been kills but for the warp stabs that seem to be depressingly common in faction warfare.

Much of this is a result of my self imposed targeting restrictions. For sec status reasons, I'm limiting myself to actual FW targets, at least until my sec status is comfortably positive. And the FW meta, like any meta, is heavily influenced by it's environment. In this case, the (com)plex rules.

For any given plex size, you either want to be flying the bare minimum (this would be the warp stabbed plex farmers) to keep your isk efficiency high, or you want the strongest ship that can actually enter the plex (everyone else). So T2 ships are relatively rare, faction ships are very, very common.

That's not to say that T1 ships can't be effective, but they usually need some kind of niche or mechanic that they are trying to exploit. This could be kiting Condors with loads of ewar, or scram kiting Tormentors and Kestrels that try to use damage projection and range control to fly within a very narrow range band that allows their applied dps to exceed that of technically stronger ships. Or Tristans, which are just OP.

And you also find fits that are direct counters to another fit, and are brought out specifically for that fight, rather than as a general roaming fit.

But I see far more Daredevils, Dramiels, Garmurs, Navy Slicers, Navy Mali, Republic Firetails, etc, than I do T1 frigates that aren't plex farmers. When I'm less space poor, I shall have to try some of these myself.

My one lossmail is actually from PvE. A Clone Trainer rat is worth about 20 million ISK, but they have great tracking, a web, and a very powerful active tank. To take one out in a frigate is a bit of a job, and this one went a little wrong when my ship bounced off an asteroid with coded dimensions much larger than what was visually represented screen - the infamous 'invisible asteroid'. This is one of the perils of fighting in belts, and the loss of transversal speed allowed the rat to destroy my frigate before I could recover.

I reshipped and got him the second time, though, so I at least covered my losses.

I also joined some FW fleets, which were led with more enthusiasm than skill. While my skills may be very rusty, I still remember how the Tuskers ran frigate fleets and these fleets were very... different. It's the first time that I've flown in a group that I felt could accurately be described as a 'blob'.

As you would expect, the main achievement of this fleet was getting most of the members killed repeatedly. My survival without loss was actually quite challenging. It was good fun, though. And more importantly, it's starting to integrate me into the FW community, where paranoia about 'spais' is rampant.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A tale of two fits: Executioner v Condor

Small kiting ships are a very solid choice for flying solo, and for running FW plexes. Although the dps and tank are far lower than for brawling fits, the ability to evade bad matchups or roaming gangs is very useful. If you don't have support nearby, running, very fast, is often the correct decision.

However, there are huge differences between kiting ships, and understanding the mechanics that govern how you fight the ship is very important. Take these two fits as an example:

[Executioner, Executioner - solo beam]
Heat Sink II
Heat Sink II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Warp Disruptor II
Small F-S9 Regolith Compact Shield Extender

Small Focused Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Standard S
Small Focused Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Standard S
Small Focused Beam Laser II, Imperial Navy Standard S
[empty high slot]

Small Energy Locus Coordinator I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

[Condor, Condor - nano]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Ballistic Control System II

5MN Microwarpdrive II
Warp Disruptor II
Stasis Webifier II
Small Shield Extender II

Light Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Light Missile
Light Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Light Missile
Light Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Scourge Light Missile
[empty high slot]

Small Bay Loading Accelerator I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I

On paper, these fits are very similar. The Executioner does 120 dps, and 3903 m/s, with 2702 ehp. The Condor does 90 dps, and 4002 m/s, with 2582 ehp. Both are cap stable, and can hit out to point range. Both are shield tanked, with the EM resistance hole closed (lasers are one of the main weapon systems that can reach out to a kiting frigate, and Amarr drones are the most likely to catch them and kill them). While the dps seems a little different, that's largely an artifact of the two different weapon systems.

However, actually killing your opponent in these ships requires you to fly very differently. Especially if, like me, you are not a master of the often referenced and rarely explained 'manual piloting' that the best pvpers use.

Suppose you hit 'orbit' at 17 km, with your mwd on, so that your opponent - let's assume an afterburner frigate - can't easily catch or hit you. This throws you into an actual orbit of roughly 19 km.

The Condor will hit easily under these conditions, while the Executioner will probably miss with every shot. Tracking is a two way street, so flying in a way that wrecks your opponent's tracking also wrecks your own tracking. If your tracking is much better than your opponent's, such as when using blasters against a laser ship, you may not care, but in this case we care very much.

Of course, the Condor won't do full damage, because moving targets take less damage from missiles, and irrespective of how you fly, your opponent is unlikely stop moving. But some damage is better than none, and unless you run out of ammunition, you'll win eventually.

So the Condor can protect itself with range and tracking, and hitting 'orbit' is a solid choice (subject, always, to responding to your opponent - you can't just hit the button and call it 'done').

Let's suppose instead, though, that we hit 'keep at range'. This is dangerous, because we have very little transversal (and a massive signature, thanks to the mwd), so anything that can hit us will do so for significant damage.

As long as our opponent can't do that, though, the Executioner is actually in a very good place. It will hit for full damage with nearly every volley, because as long as the range and tracking are fine, we don't really care what our opponent does. In fact, we are probably more difficult to slingshot using 'keep at range' because our momentum is lower.

The Condor, however, gains nothing from 'keep at range', as changing the way we fly does nothing for our dps, and our defensive web already helps us prevent people from catching us with a slingshot.

Let's imagine our opponent has drones, though. Perhaps he's in a Tormentor. Dangerous drones, but not immediately lethal. Now, 'keep at range' is suicide. Forcing the drones to chase us is our only chance.

Both of these fits can deal with drones. The Condor can web and destroy them (probably using 'precision' missiles), while the Executioner can switch to Gleam, and shoot them down as they trail behind in a neat little row. The difference is that the Executioner has to deal with the drones first because flying to survive the drones probably means being unable to hit the frigate, while the Condor may well be able to simply outrun the drones permanently while still landing solid hits (this is especially likely if the other pilot has chosen to launch Gallente drones).

The Executioner has one more trick, though. 'Keep at range' is not the only way of improving your tracking without manual flying. Because angular velocity = transversal velocity / distance, you can reduce your angular velocity by flying in a wider orbit.

So, if we set 'orbit' to 21 km, rather than 17 km, putting us in an actual orbit of roughly 23 km, we may well find that we can start landing hits without slowing down. The danger, of course, is that we are only 1 km away from losing point on our target, and with an overheated afterburner, a good pilot might be able to do that. But in exchange for that risk we put more distance between ourselves and danger, while keeping our speed nice and high, and probably improving our applied dps.

Meanwhile, the Condor gains very little from this wider orbit. This, in turn, leads us back to the fitting room, where the Warp Disrupter II has lower value to the Condor than it does to the Executioner.

By downgrading the Condor's midslots to meta items, and dropping the damage rig, we can replace the Nanofiber II with a Ballistic Control System II. This pushes us up to nearly 100 dps - a 10% boost - while dropping our speed to 'only' 3,824 m/s.

Is it worth it? That depends. But recognizing how you will actually have to fly a ship helps make fitting room decisions easier.


This blog went private recently, because I needed to do some admin. Just as I've forgotten how to play Eve, I've also forgotten how to blog.

One of the most important rules about blogging is to talk about what you've done, not what you intend to do. The reason is fairly straightforward: people change their minds.

On the whole, this is a good thing. We try something, and if we don't get the result we wanted, we try something else. But reading about changes in direction can be confusing, especially when you only get the highlights, and not the experiences that led to a particular decision. Or when the blogger goes back and forth on a particular idea or topic.

So, a little cleanup was in order.

Alright then, what has happened?

Over the last few weeks? Mostly bad stuff, honestly. I've lost far more ships than I've destroyed. I managed to CONCORD myself by attacking someone in high sec (I learned about green/yellow/red safety options that day). I decided to experiment with decent implants, something I've never done before, and lost them within 24 hours. 


The first time was when my pod was dropped 1000m from the docking perimeter of a station being camped by Minmatar militia (you'd think that Amarr Prime would do something about that, but no), and the second time was when I was trying to warp out after a close fight with a Tormentor, and hit the 'enter planetary mode' button that looks just like the 'warp and jump' button, and sits in exactly the same place.

I consider my surfeit of luck in destroying the Astero fully paid up.

The common theme, though, is that I failed to respect the game. Sure, I knew that I was a little rusty, and a little older, and I knew that there had been some changes to New Eden. But, y'know, I had this. This was my game.

Hubris. And I've paid the price. I'm now space poor, clawing my way back up. And that's fine. That's probably as it should be. I can get back on top, as long as I respect the game.

It's just going to take a while.

Monday, 3 October 2016

24th Imperial Crusade

I've spent the last week away, and that has meant that I couldn't play Eve. That has not meant that I couldn't spend time thinking about Eve. And I did a lot of that.

Faction warfare is something I've never really done, outside of accidentally signing up as a noob. But with the Purity of the Throne event, followed by the Coronation of Empress Cadiz I, I decided it was time to do my patriotic duty and fight for the Ammarian people.

All right, the idea of trying something new, and being able to shoot at people without lowering my sec status, might have had a certain appeal. I also recognize that a game like Eve is much better when played as part of a community. Perhaps I will find some of that community in the militia.

So I am now based in Gammel. I would have liked to have based in low sec, but after the summer blitz, Amarr does not have any secure low sec staging areas. Gammel is good because it has two stations in system, making the stations harder to camp, and two low sec entrances, making the gates harder to camp. Both systems are fairly quiet, which suits me as I learn the ropes.

It's a little bit out of the way, being nine jumps or so from Amarr, but that is the price I pay for a quieter system. Being able to pronounce the system name is just a bonus.