Monday 28 February 2011

Punisher 6.5

The fit:

3 Gatling Pulse Lasers 2 (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
5W Infectious Power Malfunction

Cold-gas Arcjet Thrusters
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Inhibitor

Small Armor Repair System 1
Adaptive Nano Plating 2
Damage Control 2
200mm Rolled Tungsten

Because I'm mid move, and my current Punisher is rigged, I did not have it to hand when I decided to take a break from hauling and roam around Molden Heath.

I took the opportunity to try a Gatling Pulse build, and I noticed that I might be able to fit an Energised Adaptive Nano Plating 2 instead of the ANP 2. I did not have one with me, but if it does fit then the GPL version would actually have a better tank, as well as better tracking and cap usage, all for a little less range and dps.

The hunt:

Notionally, I was making bookmarks, but I usually do that in a speed rigged Executioner. Instead, I brought my Punisher and hoped to find a fight along the way. I was not disappointed.

I was making gate safes around Oddelulf, and I noticed that my scanner kept showing another Punisher. I was jumping all over the place, so I could only conclude that it was following me. Deciding that I wanted to be caught, I warped to the sun and waited.

Sure enough, the Punisher arrived a few minutes later. He had warped in at 100km, perhaps assuming that I would be trying to avoid pursuit. As I had actually warped to 0km, because I wanted to be found, he was quite a way off.

I was very careful not to move, as I did not want to scare him away. I had my first look at the pilot, a 2009 character named Fuzzyface with a security status of -7. A professional pirate, then. Given the discrepancy in skill points and experience, I assumed this was a losing fight

Fuzzyface then warped out, and I guessed he was going to warp back in at zero. I hit my afterburners, and moved away from the warp in point. No sense letting him land right on top of me. I was sure to stop before he got back, though, and I resume my "afk" behaviour.

Again, I had guessed correctly, and Fuzzyface warped in on my old location. This time he turned straight towards me, and hit the gas.

He was coming in fast (or at least as fast as a Punisher can), and he was coming in directly, as I'm guessing he thought I would flee. This being the case, I knew that he was going to overshoot before having to stop and reverse course. His abrupt change in direction would force his speed to drop, and this would let me establish an orbit of my choosing, which was fine by me.

On the way in, Fuzzyface had been blasting away with something I did not recognise. It might have been a blaster (wtf?), or it could have been the Conflagration - I've never actually seen that fired. Either way, I knew his tracking would not be as good as mine, so I had set my orbit to 1km. Because I was moving in so close I did NOT turn my afterburners on, because you never use your full speed in close anyway; and I had a better use for the cap.

Turning on my point and opening fire, my combat log showed me that we were both landing solid hits, so I moved in to 500m. This was about the limit of my tracking, but it was above the limit of his. Most of his shots were missing, or hitting for only a few damage. Most of my shots were hitting solidly, with a few glancing shots, as the tracking fluctuated.

I also turned on my neut. I've put a few skill levels into my neut since I last used it, and I was also running a more cap efficient ship; Gatling Pulse Lasers are easy on cap, and my afterburners were turned off. I was confident I could win a cap war.

From there, things went pretty perfectly. He was doing very little damage, and I had enough extra cap that I could keep myself topped up. He was capped out (or close enough that he could not use his repper, if he had one), and I was chewing through his armor. If nothing changed, the fight was mine.

Of course, things did change. Fuzzyface called for help, and help arrived in the form of a Rapier flown by his corp mate. I saw the thing warp in, and thanked whatever peverse part of my nature had led me to move a cheeky 30km off the warp in point. I overheated my weapon rack and prayed that I would at least pop Fuzzyface before the Rapier got me.

Unfortunately, the Rapier was artillery fit, and so the range suited it just fine, and he started pounding me with his guns. Surprisingly, I probably could have tanked that, as Fuzzyface was dealing no meaningful damage. The Warrior 2s, though, were another matter. I exploded just as Fuzzyface was about to go into structure.

I saw it coming, though, so I was spamming the warp button like there was no tomorrow and I managed to get my pod out.

Post battle review:

Despite losing the battle, I felt really good about the whole thing.

First, it justified my move to Molden Heath. I was out for about 20 minutes (albeit on a weekend) and stumbled into a fight. Excellent.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, my two month old character went up against a 2 year old pirate and nearly won. I had anticipated nearly every move he made, I had taken control of the fight, and I was smacking him around pretty badly.

In fact, I had forced him to do the equivalent of calling in an air strike to win a knife fight ("Dude, this noob is kicking my ass. Please save me!"). That's why I put the Rapier picture at the top of the page. I fought a Punisher, but it was a Rapier that killed me.

Moral victory aside, I still ended up on the wrong side of a killmail, and there were some things I could have done better. My move off the warp in point was arbitrary; if it helped, it was accidental. But in the future I will pay more attention to where the warp in point is, and try and plan accordingly.

It also occured to me, after the fact, that I did not check to see if Fuzzyface's point was still active. I assumed it was, but as I had been neuting him for our entire fight, it could have fallen off. If so, I could have warped out when the Rapier warped in. I fixated too much on the new arrival and I stopped paying sufficient attention to my target.

I am pretty happy with the fit I used, though. While I am sure there will be cases where the additional range on the DLP really pays off, the extra tracking was golden here, and as I tend to use my cap as a weapon, the lower cap requirements of the GPL fit well with my overall strategy. If I can fit an EANM2 as well (due to the GPL's lower cpu requirements) then I will almost certainly make the switch to GPL once my stock of DLP runs out.

Lessons for the future:

This is Molden Heath, with real pirate corps. They have friends nearby, so plan for that.

Sunday 27 February 2011

I'm moving.

I have spent a lot of time in low sec recently, but you wouldn't know it from my posts.

You see, Amarr low sec is a galactic cul de sac; it doesn't go anywhere, so you generally only find established locals. Typically, this means industrialists, who feel quite cosy and snug behind their forcefields, and feel no need to come out and play with me.

So I have decided to move. This is a real pain in the neck, but it needs to be done. I knew that I wanted to find an area of low sec that was within a few jumps of a trade hub, had multiple high sec entrances, and was part of the main network. Based on these criteria, I narrowed it down to Placid an Molden Heath.

Molden Heath won.

I am very conscious that some of the most infamous pirates in New Eden operate out of Molden Heath, and my own efforts will pale in comparison to theirs. However, Molden Heath has the benefit of being "proven". If I'm not finding targets there I can't blame it on the system; it's because I'm doing something wrong.

I've started moving my kit, and I will start setting up my bookmarks over the next week. Hopefully, I start getting the fights I'm looking for.

Saturday 26 February 2011

The Merlin Method

I was reading the Eve forums recently when I came across a post by a pve player that was taking his first steps into pvp. His chosen ship was the Merlin, and he was looking for suggested fits.

My reply:

I don't know a thing about fitting Merlins, but I do know a little about learning pvp.

There are various viable fits out there, but until you have the necessary experience, you have no way to tell the good fits from the bad fits, and the bad fits from the fits that are good, but will seem bad because you are not flying correctly.

By picking a T1 frigate you are already heading in the right direction. However, I would recommend that you take things a step further.

Buy 20 Merlins, and then lose each and every one of them in solo pvp. After each loss, think about what went right, and what went wrong. Keep a record; this will help you build on your experience. Try different fits; see what works for you.

About two weeks ago I started this process with 20 Punishers (if you are interested, you can check out my blog ), and I can honestly say that, although I am not finished, and still have a lot to learn, I am a much better pvp'r for the experience.

Some of the issues I faced are analogous to the issues you face. Which weapon system (lasers or autocannon)? Neuts or nos? Can I do without a webber?

Simply copying a fit that you are told is good will not make you a better combat pilot. Figuring out a good fit, one mistake at a time, will.

Good luck, and good hunting.

We ended up chatting in game, and hope to meet up this Sunday for some pvp.

Merlin fits:

All that got me thinking about the Merlin, though, a ship that I have never faced and never really thought about. Now that I look at it, the Merlin is a pretty impressive little ship.

With four midslots and a shield resistance bonus, the Merlin is clearly a shield tanked ship. However, from there, a pilot has a number of different options.


The hybrid range bonus suggests fitting either blasters or rail guns. With blasters, you probably want to fit your lows for speed (although not a particularly fast ship, the Merlin ought to get to "keep" it's speed, because it is shield tanked), and sacrifice some tank for a web.

Your missile slots are probably rockets. You aim to get in close and deal high damage, relying on your resists to keep you alive until your opponent pops. Your weakness will be ships that can kite you. You may also want to sacrifice a dps high for a nos, as you are cap dependent, and fighting in neut range.

Rail guns:

Rail guns, on the other hand, require you to keep range, as your tracking will not be sufficient against opponents that get in close. This probably means that, again, you fit your lows for speed, but you can possibly do with out the web. This would allow a little more tank, and against many opponents the range will also mitigate much of their dps.

Your missiles will probably be javelin rocket launchers, or light missiles. Your weakness will be ships fast enough to close distance and lock you down.


Equally, however, you could fly a bit more like a Punisher, and fit autocannon. With Barrage, you have a fairly decent range, but still have the tracking to fight up close. Pair that with rocket launchers, and you have a ship that fights decently (but not spectacularly) across the whole spectrum of scram ranges.

The autocannon fit would not need to be fit for speed, and could probably do without a web. The weapons are cap-less, too, although you probably need all four slots for weapons to make up for the reduced autocannon damage. These elements would free up the lows and some of the mids, though. Would active tanks or passive buffers become viable? I've seen battleclinic fits that have more ehp than Punishers.

All in all, an very interesting ship, and any new Merlin pilot has a lot to consider.

For Sunday:

Although my opponent will have even less pvp experience than me, I expect this to be an uphill battle. Whereas I am struggling to put together the basic pvp skills, I imagine that he will have many of them by default, and will out skill me when we face off.

In my favour, though, is the laser's natural strength against shield tanks, and the fact that I have already settled on a fit that I like.

It ought to be fun.

Friday 25 February 2011

Punisher 6.4

The fit:

3 Dual Light Pulse 2 (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
5W Infectious Power Malfuction

Cold-gas Arcjet Thrusters
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Inhibitor

Small Armor Repair System 1
Adaptive Nano Plating 2
Damage Control 2
200mm Rolled Tungsten

Small Auxiliary Power Relay

Same set-up as before, but I have upgraded my mid slots and my neut. I very much like the additional performance - thanks to FNG for the recommendation.

The hunt:

My failure to engage any miners in the last few days had irked me, and with the locals quickly learning not to use jet-cans, my window of opportunity was drying up. A change of tactics was needed.

I dusted off my trusty Sigil and stuck two warp core stabilisers into the low slots, and a damage control. I wanted to look harmless, so turrets in the top slots were out, but I did put some neuts in. I also installed a couple of shield extenders. My thought was that if I flipped cans in what looked like a mining vessel, the other miners might actually engage, or at least take their ore back.

This being the plan, the stabs should allow me to warp back to a station (even if they had a scram) and grab my Punisher. The DC and extenders would allow me to tank moderate damage while I aligned and warped out. The neuts were an afterthought, in case I did ran into more than one point - I might be able to shut one of them off.

They say that no plan survives contact with the enemy, but this one actually did. I approached a Procurer and flipped his can, which had several tens of thousands of units in it. I dumped it all into my can, loaded up my Sigil, and warped to the station.

Just as I came out of warp, the Procurer gained that little skull icon we all love to see in high sec. Docking, I switched to my Punisher and warped back, hoping that he was still there.

He was.

The battle was very short, and a little disappointing. This was my first fight with a mining ship, and I simply crushed him. His single drone was not even backed up by any significant skill - a T2 drone and a decent tank would have at least made for the possibility that he might win, but as it was, he stood no chance.

Victim: Pavel Burlakov
Corp: RUS zeus inc.
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Procurer
System: Hilaban
Security: 0.9
Damage Taken: 566

Involved parties:

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.3
Corp: Viziam
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Dual Light Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 566

Dropped items:

Strip Miner I
Expanded Cargohold II, Qty: 2
Survey Scanner II
After the battle I looted his wreck and was shocked at just how much money he had plowed into his fittings. And I thought my costs were high!
I sent him some mail telling him that he had more guts than most of the local miners, and that he could come and get his stuff - I had left it in a jet-can. 
I was about to warp off, when I noticed that the other miners at the belt seemed particularly interested in the stuff I had just dropped. They were not going to do a thing while I was there, of course, but I suspected that they would scoop it the instant I left. And I was damned if I was going to give up good loot just so they could have it.

So I waited for the pilot to get back. And I waited some more. As he did not show, I convo'd him and asked him if he was coming back. I got no answer, so I explained that his stuff was worth a couple of mill, and while I did not want to leave it unattended, I also did not plan on sticking around for long.

That's when I received a notification that I had been added as a contact with negative rating. No other reply. So I took back the loot, and went on my way, feeling far less guilty about attacking a high sec miner.

I'm guessing that miners have a mining channel, because although I did not see anything in local, nobody else dared to flip one of my cans for the rest of the evening, despite my non-threatening little Sigil.

Post battle review:

There is not much to say, here, except that if this pilot was representative of what ORE miners are like in combat, I shall not be afraid to engage one again.

It also strikes me that there is no situation so bad that a poor attitude and bad manners can't make it worse. This guy could have gotten all his fittings back and, assuming he had insured his ship, have lost nothing more than a little time. But poor attitude cost him a couple of million that he did not need to spend.

I actually have another story on that point, but there are plans in motion that I don't want to reveal yet. We'll see how things work out over the next few days.

Lessons for the future:

In Eve (as in life?), being a victim is as much an attitude and state of mind as anything else. This guy did not have to jet-can mine (he is greedy), he did not have to use a ship which is seemingly incapable of combat (he is greedy), and, knowing the previous two points, he did not have to steal back the ore I had taken from him (he is greedy). Finally, he did not need to be there when I got back (he is stupid).

Dead miners. Three parts greed, one part stupid.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Can flipping.

I've been doing a great deal of can flipping recently. It's not because can flipping is my favorite kind of pvp, but it is quite easy to fit into a short play session. If I have 30 minutes before dinner, and then an hour after dinner, then just heading out and flipping some cans is one of the quickest and easiest ways to find a fight.

This is especially true if there is risk of something (or some one) pulling me away from the computer unexpectedly. In high sec, that's fine. In low sec, that's a trip to your clone vat.

Now, my preference has been to flip cans that want to be flipped. Some of my earlier fights were of this nature. But I recently decided that I should overcome my trepidation and try to pick some fights with large mining vessels.

If that last sentence was confusing, it's because I was confused. You see, I assumed that mining vessels would be on par with cruisers and battleships, but with mining rather than combat bonuses. So I was actually quite intimidated when I flipped my first can on a hulk. I was fully expecting that this 3 year old character would stomp my little frigate into the ground with his big, bad super-ship.

Of course, that's not what happened. In fact, nothing happened. Miners, it seems, are very, very loath to enter into combat with any one, even a T1 frigate noob like me. Over the course of the last few days I have stolen millions of ISK in ore. I don't need the money - I have not even bothered to sell any of it - but I did not get a single fight out of that.

Part of that is my fault. I would shift all the ore into my can and wait for them to try and steal it back. However, I never got any indication that I had the right to attack them, even after they took the ore and warped out.

It seems that when I added their corp to my contacts (to check for corp mates) it overrode the little skull that comes up when someone is an outlaw. I only realised this after yet another hulk warped out on me and I removed his corp from my contacts. As his orange marker disappeared, it was replaced by the red skull we all love to see.

I suppose that the lesson here is that while miners are unwilling to engage, they are sometimes foolish enough to try and steal back ore, which amounts to the same thing, when I'm not being an idiot.

Perhaps I will get some fights out of this.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Punisher 6.3

The fit:

3 Dual Light Pulse 2 (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
Small Neut 1

1 MN Afterburner 1
Warp Scrambler 1

Small Armor Repair System 1
Adaptive Nano Plating 2
Damage Control 2
200mm Rolled Tungsten

Small Auxiliary Power Relay

I have taken on board FNG's comments about my T0 modules, and I will be replacing them next time I am online. However, this fight occurred before that advice was offered. I am also going to be testing Gatling Pulse Lasers 2 at some point, as the higher tracking and lower cap usage appeal to me, and the additional range offered by the Dual Light Pulse 2 may not be as useful in practice as it seems on paper.

The hunt:

I've been doing a great deal in high sec recently, but I really need to start broadening my horizons. Time for a proper low sec roam; those roaming skills are just as important to develop as the combat skills.

Armed with that resolution, I decided to take a stroll through my adopted low sec network. It's just so different from high sec roams. In high sec I just warp into the belts one at a time, perhaps using my Dscan to cover groups of belts at once. Not in low sec, though.

I began by warping to my random safe in each system. I'd then look at the bios of everyone in local, and see if there were any likely targets. If there was, I would warp to each of the celestial groups and try and find that target on my scanner. Incidentally, I have gate safes, I have random safes, and I even have a few deep safes (one of the benefits of exploration), but what I have never seen anyone talk about are hunting safes.

It seems to me that a safe spot (much like a gate safe) 300km off a planet in each celestial group would allow you to warp in, scan the group, and warp to target (or warp out). You could even get far enough away that you are off grid, giving your target no warning of your approach (or your passing). It would be loads of work, but probably worth it in those areas you plan to hunt often. Perhaps a job for next weekend.

Anyway, I managed to use the Dscan to pinpoint a Rifter pilot in a belt. The character was exactly one day younger than me, so I thought it would be an evenly matched fight. Now, I've heard loads about Rifters, and while half of it probably hyperbole, I was pretty sure that he would have a significant speed advantage over me, but a slightly weaker tank and way less cap (although he is using cap-less weapons).

I warp in on him, and he is 20km off the warp-in point fighting a Sansha Lord. This npc had a 500,000 bounty on him, so I can see why the Rifter was interested. The pilot was tanking the damage (flying under the guns and/or an active tank), but the Lord's own tank was formidable. It would probably take the Rifter several minutes to finish him off.

When the Rifter saw me burning towards him, he wisely warped out. I took note of his direction and followed, but he immediately re-warped, and this time he lost me.

We spent some time playing cat and mouse through the belts (this part of the hunt is just awesome, by the way, and not something you get in high sec), and eventually he decided that he could take me (presumably he had been buying time to read my bio, etc). I warped into a belt at 20km (as he was unlikely to warp to zero, I tried playing around with my warp distances in the hopes of landing on top of him, or at least not being too far from him), and found him waiting for me. We burned towards each other, and I opened fire.

At first, nothing much happened. We whipped past each other, with neither of us scoring hits. I immediately started hitting him with my neut, and began playing with my orbit to try and keep the tracking manageable. As he was using missiles and projectiles, he found his sweet spot first, and I started taking damage.

When my cap was at about 50%, however, my neut started paying dividends. His speed dropped, and so did his point, so he must have been capped out - although his web stayed on for some reason. This gave me control of the range and tracking, and and my beautiful T2 guns began pounding the hell out of him.

The battle was all but decided at that point; there was nothing much he could do, except escape in his pod. Victory was mine.

2011.02.20 15:11:00

Victim: leyzar
Corp: Tesla Tech Industries
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Rifter
System: Gemodi
Security: 0.4
Damage Taken: 4648

Involved parties:

Name: Sansha's Ravager / True Power
Damage Done: 3788

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.3
Corp: Viziam
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Dual Light Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 860

Destroyed items:

Upgraded 'Limos' Standard Missile Bay I
Fusion S, Qty: 2520 (Cargo)
Monopropellant I Hydrazine Boosters
Fusion S, Qty: 32
150mm Light Carbine Repeating Cannon I

Dropped items:

Beta Hull Mod Inertial Stabilizers
Flameburst Light Missile, Qty: 100 (Cargo)
Sabretooth Light Missile, Qty: 3 (Cargo)
Fusion S, Qty: 64
Stasis Webifier I
Caldari Navy Sabretooth Light Missile, Qty: 84 (Cargo)
150mm Light Carbine Repeating Cannon I, Qty: 2
Mark I Modified SS Overdrive Injector
Sabretooth Light Missile, Qty: 31
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
While the killmail reflects the Rifter's earlier battle with the Sansha Lord, he was at full "health" when we engaged.

Post battle review:

To begin with, I love my neut! While I would probably have won without it (I had managed to start getting solid hits on the Rifter before his speed dropped, and my dps was higher), he might also have been able to warp off if I had not been able to shut down his prop mods. I need to work on my neut skills, but at this stage there is a massive queue of skills demanding training. It seems like the more I train, the more skills I need.

On the other hand, I did nearly cap myself out by leaving my repper on when I did not need it. Stupid mistake, and one I need to avoid making again.
Looking at my opponent, his mid slots tells me that he was fit for pvp, but his low slots look a little weird. And while I am of course most familiar with the 2000+ hp Punisher, his 860 hp tank seems a little weak.

I'm also confused about how he could take four times his hp in damage from the lord and still be at full health to face me when he did not have an active tank. Perhaps he had made serveral runs; docking for repairs and modifying his fit? I don't know enough about killmails to be sure. Maybe he had a repper, but switched to a more pve based fit to take on the Lord.

Still, the difference between our fits is striking. Despite being of the same "age", and despite my 700,000+ skillpoint investment in pve, I'm still packing mostly T2 pvp gear. Thinking about it, though, I was in a very similar position when I started this blog, but looking critically at each battle has forced me to work on fitting skills that I otherwise would not have invested in, and pushed me to actually purchase in better modules for my ship.

There but for the grace of God, and all that.

Lessons for the future:

I need to pay more attention to which modules are running, and which are not. I have been putting a great deal of attention into my opponent (speed, tracking, mods running, hits/misses, etc), but far less into my own ship. I've got to try and fix that without paying less attention to my opponent.

Hunting safes are also going on my to-do list.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Training, jump clones and Estel Arador Corp Services

The problem:

I started playing Eve shortly after training skills were abolished, so I never had to choose between long and short term skill training. I'm grateful for that.

However, the advice of so many (out of date) guides to prioritise long term training was not lost on me. When I made my first 100 million, shortly after my trial account was converted into a full account, I bought myself a set of +4 implants. They cut about 20% off my training times, and they are easily the best in-game investment I have made.

Of course, every time I pvp'd, I was at risk of getting podded and losing my hard earned investment. I knew that to avoid this I would need a jump clone for pvp, and so I began grinding standings with the Theology Council.

Boosting your standings is a long, mind numbing process, and I just couldn't stay focused. I wanted to pvp, but if  I did not want to loose my implants, I needed to do loads of pve first. And of course, pve required me to train different (ie, non-frigate) skills, which called the whole concept of boosting my skill training into question.

The solution:

Then I discovered Estel Arador Corp Services. I know it sounds like a line from a bad infomercial, but that's what happened. For those that don't know, EACS is a free jump clone service. They have jump clone rights to over a thousand stations, and when you join you are entitled to those same jump clone services, which allows you to create as many jump clones as your skills will allow.

The whole thing was very simple; I applied to join (blank application), and within 24 hours I was in my new corp. I created 3 jump clones, and four days later I was automatically kicked out of the corp before my (low) standings began to drag down the corp's standings.

Now, I pvp in a bare clone, but whenever I know it will be more than 24 hours before my next session (which is fairly frequent for me) I jump into my training clone before logging out. It's perfect.

With a couple of extra clones, I have some more options if/when I decide to kiss my security status goodbye. I can "seed" clones in areas that I am likely to want to go to, but would otherwise be hard to visit. I can have a couple of bases around New Eden, and jump between them as hunting requires.

As it's free, I would encourage anyone who is short a few jump clones to try Estel Arador Corp Services. And then tell people about it.

Monday 21 February 2011

Punisher 6.2

Going forward, there will be slight change to the opening pictures of my Punisher Plan posts. Initially, I had intended to have a different Punisher picture for each post, and I thought that 20 Punishers was about doable. If, however, I am actually going to survive some of my fights (*gasp*), then I may well need rather more than 20 images. This being the case, I'm now going to start each pvp post with a picture of my opponents ship, rather than my own.

The fit:

3 Dual Light Pulse 2 (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
Small Neut 1

1 MN Afterburner 1
Warp Scrambler 1

Small Armor Repair System 1
Adaptive Nano Plating 2
Damage Control 2
200mm Rolled Tungsten

Small Auxiliary Power Relay

The hunt:

Another day, another high sec roam. I began cruising the busier belts, and in the course of my travels I came upon an Arbitrator mining away. Now, I know from experience that rigging an Arbitrator to mine does not require sacrificing one iota of dps, so I very nearly left him be; my past experiences against cruisers has not been encouraging. However, one thing gave me pause; he only had 4 mining drones out.

As former drone user, having less than 5 drones out screams poor drone skills. This being the case, I thought it was worth the risk. On the other hand, I also decided to orbit at nearly 6000m, as this would put me near the edge of scram range, so if things went wrong I had a chance to bail.

So I flipped the can, and moved into my chosen orbit. The Arbitrator obligingly started targeting me, and I returned fire (he had opened with his missile launcher). He was quite slow to get his combat drones out, and things went really, really well for me. I was taking only minor damage, and he was half way through his armor. I love Scorch!

However, while I was on the "backswing" of my orbit, he decided it was time to get out, and engaged his afterburners. I tried to turn in time, but it was no use. He broke free of scram range and warped off!

I was pretty choked at having let him get away, and I spent the rest of my aggression timer searching the other belts for him, but I was pretty sure he had gone to a station to repair. Eventually I moved on.

Later, though, I came back through that system and found the Arbitrator back at the same belt. Overjoyed at the second chance, I flipped the can and hit orbit. This time I was nice and close; he was not getting away this time! 

Except, he did not need to; the fight went quite differently. He immediately started neuting me, trying to shut me down. I noticed right away, however, so I was able to burn out of his scram range and warp out.

I quickly docked (for the free shield repair) and went back for more, but he had left the system.

Post battle review:

This encounter was a huge learning experience for me, largely because it was so full of mistakes.

First, I let my target get away. I saw it happening, but I couldn't prevent it. Suddenly, all those agility skills seem far more valuable than they did before. Sometimes, you need your ship to respond right now. While I won't be able to train them any time soon, navigation skills just went up the priority ladder.

However, I also failed to look at where he was going. I had the right to combat. If I had immediately taken a guess at his location and warped to zero, I might have been able to get the kill. 
Then I wasted my aggression timer searching the belts when it was quite obvious that he was not coming out until the timer expired. If  I had left the system for a few minutes, though, he might have ventured out early. I got so involved in trying to find him, I did not stop and think of how I might lure him out.

Round two was quite different, and it was only after the fact that I realised why. In the first battle I had outranged his neut! An obvious point to most pilots, perhaps, but I have never been able to control the range before, and it is only since moving to T2 guns that I have been able to deal respectable dps outside 3000m. Quite by accident, though, I had done exactly the right thing when we first clashed. If my nav skills had been better, or I had been orbiting a little close (but still outside neut range), I would have easily won our encounter.

Despite noticing immediately that I was being neuted, and responding appropriately, I still could have done more in our second encounter. I was only at half cap when I got out of neut range, and I had taken very little armor damage. If, instead of fleeing, I had kept range, I could probably have turned the battle around. Instead, I got rattled and bailed. Not blowing up is great, but winning is better.

Lessons for the future:

Scorch range > scram range > neut range. This is awesome, and I need to learn to work with this. Nav skills will help, but are beyond my immediate reach.

When faced with a fleeing target, pay attention to where they are going. I might be able to catch them there.

Finally, I need to Keep It Together. I'm throwing away kills just because I get rattled.

Sunday 20 February 2011


I went on another early morning exploration run in low sec. This time, the sites were just too much for my little Punisher: wave upon wave of spawns, stasis towers, webs, that sort of thing. So I retreated and purchased an Arbitrator to make use of those drone skills I have lying around.

After running the sites I made over 20 million in profit once the cost of the Arbitrator and fittings were taken into account. Again, all from a single system. I love low sec. I should be fine for ISK until next weekend.

It does occur to me, however, that I'm going to want to fly T2 eventually, and that will be a huge burden financially, so I'm going to need to get more serious about exploration at some point. My skills are already sufficient to find the sites, but there are a few more skills I should pick up.

T2 drones seems like a bit of a must have. I'm only about 4 days away from T2, and it would make running the sites much easier, and it also fits in with flying a Pilgrim eventually. Plus, if somebody tries to gank me, I can actually put up a bit of a fight.

Hacking/Salvaging/Archeology could also use a bit of a boost too, as I occasionally run into things that I simply can't loot.

I'm about a week away from getting into a covert ops, and then a couple of days away from training covert ops up high enough that the scanning bonus is at least as high as my T1 ship. While this would be very awesome (I really want to fly a T2 ship sooner rather than later, and this would give me an excuse to do so), the truth is that my T1 ship does just fine, at a fraction of the cost.

My Arbitrator also needs a decent fit. I really loved the passive shield tanked Arbitrator that I used for mission running, but that fit does not work for low sec exploration. I'll have to look for a fit that suits me over the course of the week.

Ultimately, the 7+ days or so will be taken up by my fitting skills (they'll save me about 1.3 million per Punisher, and free up the rig space for something else, if that's what I want). After that I'll take a look at what is most pressing.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Punisher 6.1

The fit:

Following on from my last post, I decided to go all out on my Punisher. If I was going home in a cloud of vapor, it would not be because the fit let me down.

3 Dual Light Pulse 2 (Navy Multifrequency & Scorch)
Small Neut 1

1 MN Afterburner 1
Warp Scrambler 1

Small Armor Repair System 1
Adaptive Nano Plating 2
Damage Control 2
200mm Rolled Tungsten

Small Auxiliary Power Relay

I went with the neut over the nos because I believe, long term, this is the better choice. Against other frigates, it makes up for the missing mid slot, and also provides some 1v1 gtfo if you can shut down their point . I recognize that right now my neut skills are weak, but I don't want to be leaning on the nos if I don't intend to use it long term.

The hunt:

I started with a short roam through low sec, but I saw no viable targets. Flashy reds in tech 2, mission runners in battle cruisers or battle ships, that sort of thing. Leaving low sec behind, I started to cruise through some of the busier areas of high sec, where I have had fights before. Of course, the problem with high sec is that very few people will engage you if they are not pretty sure they will win.

I was passing through some belts when I came across an unattended can. Show info informed me that the pilot was less than a month old, and in an npc corp. Some further searching through the local pilots led me to a Punisher holding distance the far end of the belt. I guessed that he was looking for a fight, so I flipped the can.

I did not want to scare him off, however, so I started down the belt in a leisurely fashion, as if I was unaware of him, and had just scored some free Veldspar. Sure enough, as I passed him, I was locked, scrammed and nos'd.

Activating my own scram and afterburners, I also hit him with a few cycles of my neut. While I appreciated that I had little to no capacitor advantage over another Punisher, I guessed that my cap skills were better than his, so it was unlikely to hurt, even if it was unlikely to help.

We both went into orbit and opened fire on each other. This was the first fight that I had not been webbed, and the added speed meant that I was barely hitting him. My overview confirmed that I was at the upper end of my tracking.

I increased my orbit from 1000m to 2000m and started hitting more regularly. My combat log was still showing "barely scratched" about half the time, so I will need to take another look at my default orbits, or think about cutting my speed under these circumstances.

On the other hand, my opponent was having even more difficulty landing hits. I'm guessing that, as unfocused as my skill progression had been, I still had more points in gunnery than him. This, and my T2 guns, meant that  he was into structure just as I was entering into armor.

As is so often the case, the outcome was clear long before it arrived, but this time I was on the winning end. My opponent exploded, giving my my very first kill!

2011.02.19 19:28:00

Victim: Gash Shoun
Corp: Imperial Academy
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Punisher
System: Pasha
Security: 0.9
Damage Taken: 1257

Involved parties:

Name: Taurean Eltanin (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.3
Corp: Viziam
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Ship: Punisher
Weapon: Dual Light Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 1257

Destroyed items:

Small Nosferatu I
Adaptive Nano Plating I
Multifrequency S
Dual Light Beam Laser I

Dropped items:

Heat Sink I
Damage Control I
Small Armor Repairer I
Gatling Pulse Laser I, Qty: 2
1MN Afterburner I
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Multifrequency S, Qty: 2

Elated, I convo'd my opponent to give him a gf. A pilot after my own heart, he told me that he had indeed been in the belt looking for a fight, and that the whole thing had been loads of fun. I dropped his kit off in a can and told him he was welcome to have it back, and wished him good hunting.

I did keep the Scrambler, though, as it was better than mine, and if I'm going to make a living at this, I need to gain something from the fight.

Post battle review:

Well, my dps is still poor. However, this time it is my fault as a pilot. I did not control my range and speed sufficiently to maximize my dps. I can at least console myself that I noticed the issue and took steps to correct it. I also need to recognize that my opponent, while lacking in skills, actually had a pretty decent tank. The Punisher's natural resistance to EM, the pilot resistance bonus, a damage control and resistance plating all add up.

All told, it was not a particularly challenging fight, as I had a huge skill and fit advantage. Equally, only minimal piloting was required. However, it does drive home just how much of a difference focusing on your skills and investing in your ship makes. Two weeks ago, I was that guy, except with a worse fit tank (his high slots leave much to be desired). Now, I am able to take him on with relative ease.

Equally, I need to recognize the vast gulf between me and older pilots when it comes to character skills and equipment. This gulf will narrow over time, but I need to continue focusing on choosing targets intelligently, or I am simply going to be turning my ships into very expensive fireballs all over New Eden.

Lessons for the future:

I need to exercise greater control over my range and speed. While I will often be unable to control these elements as much as I would like, I should not be ignoring them.

With patience, appropriate targets do exist, even for people of my skill level.

A busy day.

Well, it's been a busy day.

I spent several hours tearing around low sec in a travel fit Executioner. I was making gate safes and random safes, as well as getting to know the area. My goal is to start doing proper roams through low sec, looking for fights.

There are two low sec zones in Tash-Murkon that looked promising when I zoomed through them. The larger one links into Domain and null sec, and has about 13 systems. No clear pipe; more like a lattice, which should mean it is not gate camped that much.

Small Energy Turrets 5 finished, and so I can now use Dual Light Pulse and Scorch. Unfortunately I am .75 MW  short of the fit that  I want, so I am training up Weapon Upgrades 5 and Advanced Weapon Upgrades 3. This should take me over a week, which is pretty frustrating. That being said, I have long needed to work on my fitting skills. It will mean that Thermodynamics has to wait, though.

In the mean time, I can either drop the nos for a cloak, or I can rig a Current Router. Both add about 1.3 million to the cost of my Punisher, which I am not happy about.

Biting the bullet, I went out and did some low sec exploration, which was very lucrative. I made 40 million in the very first system, and called it a good day's work.

Tonight I will try and get my first roam in, but I am not actually expecting to find a target. If I don't get blown up by someone tougher than me it will be quite the success.

Friday 18 February 2011

Punisher Plan: 1st Quarter Review

Five Punishers down, and one quarter of the way through the Punisher Plan, I have begun to see patterns emerging from my fights, and I need to address them.


First, I like flying. It may sound obvious, but the reason I want to pvp in a frigate is because I enjoy the speed and manouverablity as compared to larger ships. I don't feel any need to be the fastest ship in the system, but I just don't enjoy fits that limit my ability to zoom around.

Given that I like to play that way, I need to actually start playing that way. Right now I mainly try to cling to my target like some kind of burr so he can't get away. But frankly, my targets trying to escape would be a huge step up for me right now.

I'm going to grab a few Executioners, equip them with mwd and pulse lasers and go ratting. I'll practice manual approaches and keeping range while I whittle them down. Hopefully this will improve my piloting skills.


Right now, I don't have any; T1 guns and ammo do not cut it in pvp, especially when you are fighting larger ships (more on that later). 

In order to use T2 weapons, though, I need to commit to lasers or projectiles. In the end, I have decided to go with lasers, in part because I enjoy them more, but also because I am not interested in flying non-Amarr ships. Althought the Punisher gets no laser bonus, many Amarr ships do, and investing in energy turrets and support skills will pay off when I fly those ships.

That said, I am very glad that I took the time to experiment with projectiles, and I would never fault someone for using them on a Punisher.


My fits are getting more expensive, and will become even more so with the move to T2. Whereas I was paying less than a million ISK per ship lost, that is no longer true and I'm guessing that I will be into the double digit millions by the time I get properly fitted. My wallet won't support that for too long, and I will need to break up pvp with some pve earnings.

The most effective way of doing that (for me) would be exploration. I have the skills and equimpent. However, I'm going to give ratting a go, as low sec ratting will give me a chance to learn those low sec survival skills that I will need. And, who knows? I might get some good fights out of it.

If anyone can recommend a section of lowsec reasonably near Amarr space that is noob friendly, I'd love to hear about it.


When I look back at my last five "victims", I see:

A (pvp) faction cruiser
A pvp fit cruiser
A pvp fit cruiser
2 faction (pvp) frigates
A pvp fit cruiser

While I never want to turn into one of those guys that only takes fights he knows he will win, I do think I should be looking for fights I can win. 

I need to develop the patience and skills to actually survive and earn a living in low sec. This means going on roams, either in low or high security space, to find fights with other noobs. As I mentioned above, recommendations are appreciated.


There are so many skills that you can easily ignore in pve, but which are so important in pvp. I need to hit those skills hard.

First, I need to train Small Energy Turrets 5. Then Science 4 and Thermodynamics 1; if I am going to lose my ships any way, there is no reason not to overheat.everything.

Then, I think, I need to work on my capacitor and gunnery skills. And navigation. Frankly, all of my skills are crying out for attention. But I can try and focus on the most relevant ones right now.


I received an game message asking me if I wanted to join a pvp corp. I have been giving this some thought, and I think I am going to have to decline. While there a number of reasons, the biggest in my mind is that I have no kills. At all. Not even one.

Joining a pvp corp with no kills would feel like marching in a veterans parade without ever having served in the forces - it's just wrong. I need to feel like I actually have something to contribute to any corp that I join, and right now I just don't have that.

I also want to actually make this work on my own - at least for a while - and to know that my first kill was something I earned all by myself. So for the moment, I'm keeping it solo.

Punisher 5

The fit:

In an effort to explore different options, and to give 400mm plate another try, I came up with this fit:

3 150mm autocannon
Small Nosferatu

Warp Scrambler 1
Stasis Webifier 1

Damage Control 1
Small Armor Repair System 1
Adaptive Plating 2
400mm Rolled Tungsten

Although I knew this would not be a fast fit, speed is simply never going to happen with 400mm plate. I thought I might try embracing that, and going for a web instead. Getting to the target might be difficult, but I should be able to hold onto them pretty well.

The hunt:

This fight found me, actually. I was sitting in a belt looking for a can to flip when a Stabber warped in and dropped a can practically on top of me. I flipped it, and the fight was on.

I webbed him. He webbed me. The fight was practically in slow motion. He was faster than me, of course, as he also had an afterburner, and he pulled away slowly.

We hammered each other, but as he got further away my combat log indicated that we were both now in falloff. I am guessing that he was using 200mm autocannons (or larger), because he seemed less affected by that I was. In the end, he reached a range where I was hitting for partial damage with every volley, but about half of his volleys hit for full damage.

It did not end well for me. I tried to change direction to increase my transversal, but the Punisher was so slow to respond that I never actually made the turn until far too late.

Post battle review:

I have to say that I really do not enjoy 400mm fits - I doubt I'll try them again in the near future. That being said, I can see how (in the hands of a better player) they are absolutely effective. The amount of punishment I absorbed was ridiculous, despite the fact that I was essentially a stationary target against a combat fitted cruiser.

In this particular case, things would have worked out far better if I had been packing lasers. Better optimals would have helped keep me ahead in the damage race, and I could have instantly switched to a higher range ammunition if I needed to.

As for the afterburner v web issue, I did not feel the lack of an afterburner. There was nothing that I wanted to do that an afterburner would have let me do. Of course, I did not need to approach my target (he approached me), so this kind of fit might work best for pilots that enjoy baiting their prey rather than chasing them down.

Lessons for the future:

If I can't control the range, I need a plan for dealing with it. I also feel that where you fit a buffer tank, you need to go all out on damage. I'm still using T1 guns, which is an issue, and I did not fit any kind of dps enhancement. A gyrostabiliser might be called for.

The fit is not pretty, or subtle. But I think if a pilot liked it, it could be turned into a real beast.

I have some other observations, but they relate to my fights as a group, rather than this one specifically, so I'll put them in a separate post.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Punisher 4

The fit:

In keeping with my decision to try a wide array of fits, I decided to go with something really off the wall.

3 150mm autocannon (Fusion)
Small Nosferatu

1 MN Afterburner 1
Warp Scrambler 1

Small Armor Repairer 1
3 Capacitor Power Relay

With the three relays, I was cap stable running everything, including the repper. With no plates I would be fairly fast, and I would hope to rep any incoming damage.

While I was not wildly optimistic, it certainly was different.

The hunt:

I wandered around flipping cans, but nobody seemed interested in fighting. Finally, I encountered a Firetail sitting next to a can in Pasha.

I began to orbit the can and familiarise myself with the Firetail. While doing so, I was locked by Cruor. Checking my overview, I saw that the Firetail had been joined by his corp-mate.

I have to say that it was jolly decent of him to lock me. As it was clear that I would be initiating a fight, he could have hung back and jumped me once the fight began. Instead, he let me know ahead of time that this would be a 1v2. I'm surprised that either of them felt that the other would be needed, but it was still pretty cool of them to warn me.

With an invite like that, I could hardly say no, so I flipped the can and engaged the Firetail.

What can I say? Either his tank was uber, or my damage was fail (or both). Barely scratching his shields, I switched targets to the Cruor, but had no better luck. They were well within my falloff, and I had no problem tracking them, but it was not enough.

My repper could not keep up with the pounding the two ships were giving me, and I went boom sooner rather than later. I warped out, defeated.

Post battle review:

Looking back on the battle now, I see some things I did not at the time. Things that apply to all my fights so far, but that I did not really understand until after Punisher 5, so I will save most of those observations for my next post.

What I did know was that I was still not very happy with projectiles, and that a repper alone was not enough. I am pretty sure that I don't want to go with a straight buffer fit (for weight reasons, if nothing else), but the repper is not something I should rely on being able to use. It's simply a nice bonus when it works.

Lessons for the future:

I don't like heavy plate, but I also don't like pure repping fits. I do, however, like resistances, although I appreciate that they suffer stacking penalties and diminishing returns. While I need to give 400mm fits another go, I suspect that a combination of resistance, small plate and repper are going to be the way forward for me.

I'm going to give projectiles another shot (pardon the pun), but I'm just not impressed by them so far. I don't have the speed to make the additional tracking ability necessary, and my opponents are generally able to set the range, which often means high falloffs for me.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Punisher 3

The fit:

3 150mm autocannon (EMP)

1MN Afterburner
Warp Scrambler 1

400mm Rolled Tungsten
Adaptive Plating 2
Damage Control 1
Small Armor Repairer

This is a fit I stole borrowed from FNG (you can find his blog in my blog list - it's worth reading), but he adds a small nos in the empty high slot. He needs to rig for extra power grid, though, and I'm not quite ready to sink that much ISK into a hull that will last about 15 minutes after being fitted.

I was pretty eager to head out, as I had Small Projectile Turrets 4 trained up, and my 5th level of Amarr Frigates. The fit came highly recommended, and was a huge step up from my previous builds.

However, as soon as I hit space I got the feeling that this was not the fit for me. With the 400mm plate the Punisher is even slower than usual, has very poor acceleration and (worst of all) has a very slow reaction time. I'm not looking to fly like a Rifter, but I felt a little too much like an under gunned cruiser for my liking.

Still, I wanted to give the fit a fair shake.

The hunt:

I set out to flip some cans in Tash-Murkon, and I spotted the same Osprey that I fought with Punisher 2. I was keen for a rematch, because taking on the same ship would give me a basis for comparing the fits. It would have been nice to have the nos, but the only thing it might have done is give me an extra cycle on the repper. I am realistic about how little difference that would make.

So I flip the can and wait for the neuting to start. I (ponderously) move in close, but this will not be a battle of maneuver; I am webbed at least once.

EMP starts to tear through his sheilds, while his drones start to whittle me down. Once I hit his armour, though, my dps drops right off. With no cap for the repper, it is clear where this fight is going.

However, it is clearly going to take a while, so I have some time to look around. I notice that the angular velocity of his drones is around .8 rad/sec, which is faster than even autocannons can track. I can clearly give up on trying to take out drones without some way of dropping their transversal (web/mwd/etc).

I also check out my overview. I know he is neuting me, but there is nothing on the overview that will quickly tell me that at a glance. I'll have to see if  can do something about that.

I toy with the idea of trying to get out of scram range, but with a top speed of about 40 m/s it's just not going to happen. Eventually I go boom, and I am left feeling dissatisfied. While the fight had finished like all my other fights, it had just been less fun.

Incidentally, it turns out that the Osprey pilot had read this blog. He convo'd me after the fight to tell me so - which felt really awkward! I felt like the local special needs kid throwing a tantrum while the neighbors nod understandingly. Sinister agent of destruction I am not! We had a good laugh, and wished each other well.

Post battle review:

A couple of things really jumped out at me about this fight, mostly relating tothe new fit. I hate it. 

That's not to say that it isn't a good fit. Despite my newbishness, it stood up to a flight of drones for quite a silly period of time. But I did not enjoy flying it, so I don't see myself using 400mm fits on a regular basis. I probably will give it another go, though, because it warrants a second try.

I was also not very happy with the autocannon, but I can't really put my finger on why. Despite the fight lasting much longer than my last encounter with the Osprey, and despite the cap-less damage, I actually did not feel like it did more damage to him than I did with my shorter lived laser build. Theoretically, the dps of the two systems should have been identical, so the greater time should have resulted in more damage.

I've always enjoyed lasers, and perhaps projectiles are just suffering from "not-laser" sydrome. I'll definitely give them some more time, though, to see if I get used to them.

Lessons for the future:

I need to try out a wide range of fits to find out what I enjoy flying. Then I need to make that fit work.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Meet our hero redux.

I recently got around to using the new character creator, so here is the obligatory "new pic" post, although it is probably less relevant for me than more established characters.

Still, I like the change.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Punisher 2

Racing back to battle after the loss of Punisher 1, I was eager to re-enter the fray.

The fit:

3 Dual Light Pulse 1 (Multifrequency S)

1 MN Afterburner
Warp Scrambler 1

Small Armor Repairer
Damage Control 1
150mm worth of low level plate

I had not yet had time to absorb all of the implications of my earlier battle, and my fit simply used some powered-up guns and a nos.

The hunt:

As a noted in an earlier post, my expected opponent was surprisingly reluctant to re-engage me (this was high sec), so I continued on my way, looking for a fresh opponent.

In Tash-Murkon I came across an Osprey mining with a Sigil. I was keen to test myself against another cruiser,  and I thought that the Sigil (which had no visible turrets) would be unlikely to interfere. The two pilots were in the same corp, but had no corp members in the system.

The Osprey pilot was a bit older than me, whereas the Sigil pilot was only a few weeks old. Satisfied that I stood some (small) chance, I flipped the can and then turned to orbit the Osprey.

In hindsight, the Osprey was clearly only packing mining lasers in the turret slots, but at the time I was surprised not to be taking fire. However, the pilot was packing 4 Hobgoblins, which began chasing me around. More worryingly, I began to loose capacitor fast, and I was quickly webbed.

I realised that I was being neuted, so I turned on my nos, afterburner and point. I turned my fire on the Caldari vessel and hoped to win the damage race. Again, the repper was able to keep up with the damage - right up until I ran out of cap. Then, my meagre buffer gave out, and I was gone.

As for myself, I had burned straight through the cruiser's shields, and was into their armour, which I understand is most of the battle against Caldari pilots. Not exactly a close fight, but it really taught me a great deal - more, I think, than my earlier battle.

Post battle review:

First, I failed because I used a fail fit. The gold standard for Punisher buffers is 400mm of Rolled Tungsten. I was packing 150mm of something very much not Tungsten. As I had been dealing reasonable damage to the Osprey, the whole result of the battle could have been different if I had fit my Punisher with a decent buffer.

This was also the first time I had ever had my capacitor attacked directly - and I didn't like it! I had placed too many demands on my capacitor (repper and weapons), and suffered accordingly. I immediately put 4 ranks of small projectile turrets into my training que. I do not ever intend to be so cap dependent again.

Equally, however, I could work on improving my cap regeneration to the point that I am not relying on a cap reserve. One or more capacitor power relays (perhaps with a nos) might be an alternative to adding the kind of buffer that would slow my (already lethargic) Punisher down. I would need, and want, to test both approaches.

I also need to critically evaluate my approach to drones. I ignored them this time, as I had met with very little success against drones in my previous encounter. However, Hobgoblins are much slower than Warriors, and if I had managed to destroy them my lack of cap would have been a non-issue; I had all the time in the world.

Finally, I need to be more conscious about why I am using modules. I turned on my afterburner out of habit, but there were no drones to avoid. I wasted valuable cap running a module I didn't need.

Lessons for the future:

General objective: stop sucking.

I want to train and test a projectile turret Punisher fit. I also need to always fly with a proper 400mm buffer, except where (experimentally) I am running a dedicated, cap stable, active tank.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Lasers v Projectiles

The issue:

While I am not quite ready to post Punisher 2 yet (largely because I don't have access to the killmail right now), one of the questions that encounter raised was the issue of lasers or projectiles on a Punisher.

Each side has its adherents. Laser fans point to the improved optimals (& therefore dps), as well as seamless ammo switches, while projectile enthusiasts extol the virtues of cap-less weapons, damage customization and unparalleled tracking.

After Punisher 2 I decided to train small projectiles to level 4 so that I could test the difference myself, but it does not hurt to run some projections to get an idea of what to expect.

Sample numbers:

The classic Dual Light Pulse with Multifrequency S will deal 12 damage (crystal) x 2 (turret) every 2.7 seconds (rate of fire) for a raw dps (ie, ignoring skill bonuses and enemy resistances) of 12x2/2.7=8.888.

The cost of this dps is 2.67 GJ every 2.7 seconds. However, I will include controlled bursts 5 here as well as the Punisher cap bonus, because these bonuses do not have an equal effect on autocannons. Therefore GJ/s is 2.67*(1-.5)*(1-.25)/2.7=0.371. For three of these (a full rack) our GJ/sec is therefore 1.112.

By comparison, a 150mm autocannon firing Fusion/Plasma/EMp will deal 12 damage (ammo) x 2.475 (turret) every 3.375 seconds (rate of fire) for a raw dps of 8.8, which is almost exactly what we would expect from the Dual Light Pulse.

Of course, while optimal + falloff is roughly equal for these weapons, the lasers have far higher optimals, and so are likely to do more damage in most situations, although the autocannon's higher tracking will make up for that in some cases.

However, the autocannon dps is completely cap free.

Preliminary conclusion:

Frankly, this seems like really poor game design. The autocannon does not have to sacrifice any meaningful amount of damage to be entirely cap free.

When you consider fittings, things get even worse. The DLP requires 6MW and 8tf, while the 150mm requires only 2MW and 6tf, allowing us more room to fit tank.

In short, at the tech 1 level, there is absolutely no reason, at all, to fit lasers over projectiles on a Punisher.


Up until now we have ignored the elephant in the room: Scorch.

With tech 2 weapons, projectile pilots can choose from Hail & Barrage. Hail is a high damage, short range ammo that was (until recently) strictly worse than faction Fusion/Plasma/EMP. Barrage, however, still packs a decent punch (ammo damage of 11), but comes without the 50% range penalty of Fusion/Plasma/EMP/Barrage. This ammunition allows Rifter pilots to fight at some range against targets that would out dps them at close quarters.

However, Scorch, the laser equivalent of Barrage, takes this one step further. In additon to removing the 50% range penalty of Multifrequency, Scorch adds a 50% range bonus! A Punisher using Scorch has a 33% greater range than a Punisher using Barrage, without losing any of his dps.

What does this mean?

As Punishers are most certainly not Rifters, and have no intention of kiting anyone, the initial response might be "so what?" However, the "so what" comes when we fight a Rifter, or anyone else that might try to kite us. Scorch allows us to reach all the way out to (4.5+1.5)km*1.50%=9km with a Dual Light Pulse. Which, coincidentally, is enough to cover scram & web range (once gunnery range skills are taken into account). Anyone we can't shoot, interceptors aside, we have a good chance of warping away from.

So for now, I'm going to be using autocannons because it's not worth putting any T2 mods on my ships yet. But I'm clearly going to have to revaluate when I do hit T2, as the game clearly changes.

Punisher 1

On Thursday I set off in my first of 20 Punishers. I was looking for some pvp, but I was hoping to find someone as new to pvp as me. Being insta popped by a high SP character was not going to give me the time I need to actually get a feel for player v player combat, so I went back to the noob zone where I started - Pasha.

The fit: 

3 Gatling Pulse Laser 1 (Multifrequency S)
Small Rudimentary Energy Destabilizer 1

MN Afterburner 1
Warp Scrambler 1

Damage Control 1
Small Armour Repairer 1
50mm Reinforced Christalline Carbonide Plates 1
100mm Reinforced Christalline Carbonide Plates 1

Now, I knew fitting this out that the fit was far from ideal. When using energy weapons, the Punisher is typically fit with Dual Light Pulse, 400mm plate and a resist plate. However, I was pretty sure that I was going to blow up with even with a perfect fit, and I had this stuff in the hanger.

To my mind the big question was neut or nos. Neut is meant to be great against frigates, but the nos gives staying power against cruisers. I went with the neut, as more posts seem to recommend it.

The Hunt:

So, out in Pasha I flew around the belts flipping cans and trying to provoke a fight. Nobody seemed to be biting at first, but I come across a Navy Stabber flown by a one month old pilot just sitting by a can (ie, not mining). As he was clearly looking for a fight, I flipped the can and hit orbit.

However, the pilot did not seem to react, so after a few minutes I warped to another belt. He followed, but not to zero, and instantly targeted me, so I suppose he just did not want to start the fight with me already under his guns. Seems reasonable.

But I was not about to let him start at the range of his choice either, so I warped before he opened fire. On a hunch, I then warped back to his can, which I had bookmarked earlier. I came out right on top of him and instantly went to orbit.

This time he decided to target me and open fire anyway, despite the close range. He also launched 3 Warrior drones and activated his point. I returned the favour, orbiting at 1000m.

My shields evaporated immediately, of course, but I was pleased with how my armour was holding up. I activated the repairer, and tried to consider my options.

His shields were not dropping quickly, so I guessed that he was shield tanked (which would explain why I was not webbed). His drones (which as an Arbitrator pilot I had a healthy respect for) were doing the bulk of the damage, so I decided to tighten my orbit to 500m (making his tracking task even more difficult) and concentrate my fire on his drones.

This failed miserably. Sure, he couldn't hit me with his autocannon, but despite the fact that I had opted for the lasers with the highest tracking, I was barely able to hit his drones, while they hit me just fine. Eventually, I ran out of cap trying to rep the damage, which turned off my afterburner. At that point I also started taking damage from his turrets, and I went boom.

I warped out to grab another Punisher, and gave the battle some thought. Although I had clearly screwed up in my targeting priorities, my loss was due to running out of cap. If I targeted the Stabber, and had a nos, I thought there was a fair chance that I could break him before I popped. I quickly fitted a Punisher accordingly, and returned to the scene of our battle.

However, the Stabber pilot was less interested in a rematch than I was. I sat there orbiting him, but he refused to engage. Eventually I wandered off, looking for a fight elsewhere.

Post battle review:

While I am still clumsy with the D-Scanner, I was able to use it to locate cans to flip. I imagine this will get progressively easier with time. I also had the good sense to check out my target before engaging. While his faction cruiser certainly outclassed my T1 frigate, I correctly guessed that he would not have developed the skills to pilot it at full effectiveness. 

Although it did not help me much, I was able to start the battle on my terms; decent (if basic) situational awareness. Equally, I was able to use transversal to neutralise my opponent's turrets. 

I recognized that the drones were the real threat, but I spent far to long trying to hit them when it should have been apparent from the angular velocity column in my overview that I could not track them. And when I did realize that I could not hit them, I did nothing to try and change the situation (such as pulse my afterburners).

Following on from this, I was using the best possible laser turrets to combat drones, and it still didn't work. Granted, my drone cruiser training has left me with most of my gunnery skills at 3, but I am shocked at just how ineffective I was. I wish I had checked the angular velocity on my overview, as it would have given me an idea of just how close (or far off) I was to actually hitting them. 

When I finally died, it was because my cap ran out. I had been perma running my modules, which would have been a contributing factor. He was looking for a fight, so I probably did not need to scram him until I actually started to deal damage to him.

Despite my mistakes, a nos could have changed the result of this matchup. I was able to tank his damage just fine until my cap ran dry.

Lessons for the future:

I need to get better at actually collecting and using information during the fight. I suspect/hope this will come with practice and familiarity.

I also want to try a nos over a neut, but frankly, I just need to get better at dealing with my capacitor generally. I need to figure out what I want to be using in for, and prioritize those functions.

Finally, I need to work out a better way of dealing with drones. This may mean tanking them while I race to pop my opponent, or it may mean learning how to trick them into lowering their transversal.

Friday 11 February 2011

The Carebear Legacy

So what has my six week foray into pve cost me?

I have just over 2 million SP; 350k of that are devoted to drone skills I have no immediate need or use for, and the same again in exploration related skills. That's a (short term) waste of about a third of my training or playing time, giving me only four effective weeks of training behind my character.

That hurts.

It's not all bad, of course. Flying a cruiser has taught me something about the limitations larger ships suffer, and it has given me a healthy respect for drones. More importantly, however, I've got no financial worries. Despite some foolish spending choices, I still have about 80 million in the bank, which will keep me in Punishers for a while.

I'm also pretty well set up to make more money when that runs out. While exploration provides an erratic income, it's pretty decent, and far better than I could make running missions at my SP level.

I can also see myself flying a Pilgrim eventually, so I don't think any of my skills (except the points in medium energy turrets - what was I thinking?) will be wasted in the long term.

But right now? It hurts.

The story so far.

Although I started Eve wanting to pvp, I very quickly became distracted. Eve is, after all, an awesome sandbox. So much so that I really lost my focus.

First, I ran all the tutorial missions (or most of them - really wasn't interested in mining or industry), just like everyone said I should. And they were right. But I fell in love with exploration. The idea of finding hidden treasure is pretty much irresistable.

I started regular high sec exploration runs, and I quickly found that running the sites required more than my little frigate, or even my destroyer, could handle.

So I moved up to a cruiser. The Arbitrator was the only one that interested me, so of course I started training drone skills. And as I had this great cruiser, I started running missions, because I could use the loyalty points to buy faction ammo, and exploration implants.

Without realising it, I had morphed into an unintended carebear. It didn't help that my one experiment with Faction Warfare was terribly dull - groups of high SP players with pimped ships camping gates and podding noobs. They had mad skills, I tell you.

So what happened? Well, I ventured into low sec. I went in cloaked and scanned down a region for Radar/Mag sites. I found one and came back in with an Arbitrator and cleared the site - about 10 million in loot. Not the best site I've ever run, but still a nice haul for a noob.

Then, one jump from safety, I hit a Blue Flint gate camp.

To my (meagre) credit, I spotted the camp right away, and spent some time deciding what to do. My passive tank Arbitrator had no MWD, so burning back to the gate was out. I just had to hope to hit warp before they got me. I'm sure you know how that ended.

I did manage to get away in my pod though, and I contacted the killmail pilot to give him a gf, and find out what I should have done to escape. We chatted a bit, and he invited me to sign up with them for pvp tutelage. I did not take him up on the offer, but I was left with one final thought.

That was awsome.

Sneaking around through low-sec. Trying to outsmart the pirates. The final showdown.

Yeah. This was what I had been missing. Time to get back to pvp.