Monday, 27 February 2017

Astero v Drake

I'd been travelling over the past week, so I'd had little to no Eve time. But my Friday night static connection had brought me to Lonetrek, which had been very good to me last Saturday morning, so things were looking promising. After taking down a couple of Ventures and a Merlin, I called it a night.

The next morning, my first potential target was a Drake on D-scan. Not at any obvious belt, I checked my scanner and narrowed him down to an Outgrowth Rogue Drone Hive. I know nothing about this kind of 'plex (or pve in general, to be honest), so I warped in at 20km, in case there was an acceleration gate that would uncloak me.

There was.

Acceleration gates are a tricky thing. I have dim memories that once upon a time you could activate them without breaking cloak if you got the approach right, but that seems to have changed during my time away, as I've not been able to duplicate that effect since my return.

Instead, I drop cloak and wait for a few seconds before activating the acceleration gate. I can't help being visible on D-scan, but I can make sure that my re-cloaking delay has ended before I appear on the next grid, so at least he won't see me when I land. Note: this doesn't work in FW plexes because the beacon uncloaks you.

If he's watching short range D-scan I'm blown, but if he's watching long range D-scan, I'll be gone again before he can narrow down the distance. And it's not as if Asteros are an uncommon pve vessel. With positive sec status, I'm doing everything I can to make it easy for my targets to stay complacent.

I land in the first room, and it's empty. I make my way to the next gate, and repeat the process. This time I land in a room with two gates, and a number of wrecks. However, there is also a Drone Commandeered Battleship, which is clearly some kind of boss that he'll be back for. I move off the warp in, and wait.

Sure enough, within a few minutes the Drake lands, piloted by a 2013 character. No noob, then. With the real possibility of a maxed out tank, I decide to let him engage the DCB before making my move.

His approach is 'interesting'. At first I thought he was afterburner fit, but after mentally readjusting for the size of his ship, I realized that he had an mwd. He was pulsing this, and heading straight towards the DGB. I followed at a respectful distance.

Now, this certainly cut down the time spent in transit (the DCB was over 60km from the warp in point), but it also meant that he was presenting a very large target with no transversal to what I assumed was a tough boss-rat. Presumably, he knew that his tank could take it, but it did mean that his tank was working a lot harder than it needed to be. Which was great news for me.

And, of course, it meant that he was not aligned to warp out.

When he got the distance down to about 40km, I decided to make my move. Uncloaking, I slipped into a moderate orbit - I wanted to keep my speed up to help tank his missiles - and pointed him. I was delighted to see that his tank was hovering at max regen (25-30%), meaning I ought to be able to tip him over the edge quite easily.

I began by clearing his drones, as my fight with the Gnosis had taught me the folly of trying to skip this step. Acolytes are perfect for this, and I swept his Hornets aside easily.

My opponent was busy too, however, and hit me with a neut. That took me by surprise, because the last time I flew a Drake it had no utility high slot. However, I can tank a neut fairly well as long as my repairer is not having to run constantly, and with no web or drones he was not applying damage well enough to put me under too much pressure.

Between my dps and the DCB, which was still landing solid hits, the Drake did not last long. My research has also told me that you don't take the massive sec status hit for podding someone you have a 'limited engagement' with. In other words, if he shoots back, I can pod him, even in low sec. So I did.


Looking at this fight, I can't help but think back to Punisher 18.5. I took on and killed a Drake in my little Punisher as one of my above class kills in applying for membership with the Tuskers. History doesn't necessarily repeat, but it certainly rhymes.

Good times.

I'm glad that I'm constantly pushing the boundaries in my little Astero. Taking the little ship up against the big ship is what I enjoy most about Eve, and fights like this, where you are trying to out think as well as out fight you opponent give me the greatest satisfaction.

My current balance of gank:tank seems about right, although more of either is always a good thing. As ever, though, my fits are in a state of ongoing refinement, and I'm sure I'll end up tweaking it again sooner or later.

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