I've never got on with destroyers. These are ships designed to prey on smaller ships, and to me that is the opposite of a fun fight.
Don't get me wrong - I am glad they are in the game, and see the important role they have to play. It's simply that the excitement for me is in fighting on-class or above-class ships, rather than focusing your efforts on destroying smaller, weaker ships.
But T3 destroyers are a thing now, and they did not even exist the last time I was playing. The different modes are interesting, and I can see how a great deal of player skill goes into deciding which mode you should be in at any given time.
Having decided to give them a try, I deliberately waited until after the expansion; there was no point in learning 'pre-nerf' T3s for such a short period. I therefore cannot comment with any authority on the changes, but one of my corp-mates expressed the view that T3s are now what they always should have been: decent ships that could excel at one thing at a time (speed, dps, or tank), and switch flexibly between those things.
And that sounds about right to me.
I put together a brawling, 10mn, active tank fit with double nos in the highs. In keeping with my desire to take on above-class ships, the plan was to get in close and orbit with the 10mn afterburner helping me evade damage while I wore them down. The nosferati would keep my tank running, and fight any neuts I encountered.
I've been trying to find a suitable test for nearly a week now, and I finally committed to a fight last night.
I saw the bait Gnosis on the gate, and there were a couple more Gnosi on D-scan. For such an uncommon ship, this was unlikely to be a coincidence. On top of that, it had been one of those days that were slightly 'off', where nothing goes smoothly, and loads of little things go wrong.
So the correct play was to keep flying, and probably to log off for the evening. But I you can't spend all your time being risk averse, and I wanted some actual combat experience with my fit. So I resigned myself exploding and warped to an obvious celestial (if the stars aligned and everything went right, I did not want him de-agressing and jumping out).
He followed me, of course, and I quickly dropped into my orbit and started applying dps. I set my orbit to 1km, but the 10mn agility penalty pushes me out to about 3.5 km. That's one of the reasons I have range rigs fitted, so that I can still use multi-frequency crystals for max damage, regardless of which mode I am in.
It turned out that he had an active armor tank, and I was well on my way to breaking it when his friends showed up. They came in one at a time, so he might have been multiboxing.
I decided that it was time to leave, but when my speed dropped to essentially nil, I realized that the bait Gnosis was packing multiple webs, and I wasn't going anywhere. I turned my focus on taking him with me, but the first two reinforcements seemed to have a rack full of neuts. They were not able to shut down my dps completely, but it was enough to slow me down and save their comrade.
Finally, a fourth Gnosis jumped in with actual dps, and with my active tank shut down by the neuts, I did not last long.
I have mixed feelings about this one. Having committed to the fight, I do not believe I could have altered the final outcome, but I could have improved my performance slightly. In particular, I am not happy with how long it took me to shift from speed mode to sharpshooter once I landed tackle. That was lost dps, simply through being new to mode shifting in combat.
I was pleased with how much dps I put out against a ship obviously set up to tank heavily. I was pleased with how little damage I took from his drones. In general, the fit did exactly what I wanted it to do, and while I think it probably wants a deadspace repper rather than a SAAR, I feel confident that I could have taken any one of those Gnosi.
But that's the issue, isn't it? The big weakness of any brawling fit is that you are committed to the fight once you begin. And how many solo fights are really out there in null sec? Given the number of days I spent looking for one, the answer seems to be 'not as many as I would like'.