Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Astero v Rupture

From time to time I have found myself enjoying one ship so much that I fly it almost exlusively for a while. First it was the Punisher, and then the Vengeance. Now, it seems to be the Astero. And yes, I'm clearly a big fan of tanking bonuses. This should surprise no one.

Eve rewards this kind of consistency. Not only do you get to know your ship, and your fit, fairly well, but you also have time to max out the relevant skills for that ship, getting more out of it than you otherwise would. You push the boundaries after each success, work on your character skills for that ship, and develop your player skills, bit by bit.

This weekend was an opportunity to for me to do just that. Having taken on a succession of destroyers, I was now looking for cruisers to test myself against. I was fairly confident that my tank could deal with any T1 cruiser that wasn't neuting me, but I was unsure of whether my dps would be enough to break a mission runner's active tank. I've noted previously that I don't think that DDAs on an Astero are correct, but there is no point in being over-tanked if you don't have the dps to win the fight. I won't know whether I've gotten the balance right until I test it.

My low sec static was a blast from the past: Molden Heath, where I first started flying with the Tuskers, all those years ago. Running the infamous loop, I soon encountered exactly what I was looking for.

Outside of FW space, cruisers in low sec are often mission runners, so I had brought a combat scanner along with me. In this case, though, I managed to pin him down in an anom, so I was able to jump in without having first risked giving away my intentions with combat probes.

He was kiting out the anom rats, which meant I had to slow-boat about 100km under cloak, trying to intercept him without being decloaked by the wrecks, or the rats trailing behind him. As anyone who has tried piloting through asteroid belts will know, what you see on the screen is often slightly different from what the game code says, and what is an irritation for most pilots can ruin a cloaky pilot's approach.

I was not helped in this by the cloud of drones that kept zipping back and forth between the rats and the Rupture. Presumably his drones were on 'passive' mode, returning to his ship after each target, leaving again when a new target was designated.

Getting to within 20km, I decided to drop cloak and lunge the remaining distance. I would always prefer to drop cloak a little early on my own terms rather than be decloaked involuntarily a little later. If I drop cloak then I can immediately use that time to activate my afterburner and launch drones, whereas being decloaked isn't always immediately obvious, and I'm just slow-boating along while being plainly visible.

While I can't back this up with any numbers, I believe that I am strongly aided in this by my sec status. We ALL immediately notice the flashing red ship that warps in or decloaks next to us. But when our overview is full of clutter (such as mission rats), it often takes us a few seconds to see the plain grey ship that suddenly appeared amidst the debris.

And so it was in this case. I had moved into a close orbit without any reaction from my target, and it wasn't until my scrams landed that he seemed to notice me.

In these situations, mission runners face a difficult choice: do they try to kill me quickly, or do they shoot the rats to reduce the dps they need to tank? In this case, the pilot decided to shoot at me directly, which is pretty reasonable, given the tracking on autocannons.

Unfortunately for him, the Astero has a very small sig, and with neither a web nor a tracking bonus he couldn't stop me from getting under his guns. His missiles continued to hit me, of course, as did his drones, but it was not nearly enough damage to threaten my tank.

My own dps, on the other hand, was being augmented by a couple of rats. I have no idea how much damage they were doing, but the combined total did seem to be higher than his passive shield regen. 

Still, I kicked myself for not bringing some Conflag for this situation - even if I didn't need the extra few dps to break his tank, I was conscious that we could be interrupted at any minute. As I spammed my D-scan, I comforted myself that we were a good 100km from the warp-in.

In the end, I had the time I needed, and the Rupture went down. I grabbed the loot, and beat a hasty retreat in the face of all the rats that were now targeting me.


Looking at the killmail, I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, the T1 guns mean that my tank didn't really get much of a workout, but in truth I don't think it would have made any difference - I was well and truly evading his damage.

He had a T2 tank, though, which is what I was looking for. The presence of the rats muddies the water somewhat, but the reality is that there are almost always going to be rats of some kind when you ambush a mission runner/ratter.

In this case, I was shooting into his worst resists (EM & thermal), while he was tanked against the rats (kinetic & explosive), so it worked strongly in my favour. I'll need to keep that in mind, for example, if I'm hunting in Amarr space, where pve players will be tanked heavily against me by default.

More testing of the tank/dps balance is required, but it was a positive first attempt.

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