Friday, December 27, 2013

Scram Kiting Part 3: The Other Race's Frigates

Gallente are the only race that I have the racial frigate skill trained up to V, and consequently, these are usually the only frigates that I fly.  However, I have done a fair bit of EFT-warrioring on other ships frigates (and I've been destroyed by more than a few of them).  Each race has a pretty good option, and I'm going to share a few of these fits in this post.

[Tormentor, Scram Kite]
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Heat Sink II
Damage Control II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

1MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I

Dual Light Pulse Laser II, Scorch S
Dual Light Pulse Laser II, Scorch S
Dual Light Pulse Laser II, Scorch S

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Energy Collision Accelerator I

Warrior II x2

This is actually a pretty solid ship overall.  It's a little bit slower than the Incursus, and it has slightly less tanking ability because it doesn't have the armor rep bonus to the hull.  DPS is very similar, but with a 10km optimal range it deals full DPS all the way out to the edge of scram range.  A key difference is that this ship is locked into dealing primarily EM-based damage with scorch crystals loaded, which could either be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on what you're fighting.

So far, these differences aren't huge.  The biggest advantage this ship has over the Incursus is that it can turn itself into a pretty good brawler simply by switching to faction multifrequency crystals.  In contrast, switching to Javelin ammo in an Incursus takes 5 seconds, and it doesn't gain any DPS by doing so (the only boost is to tracking).  The biggest disadvantage is that it has no DPS projection beyond 12km beyond its two drones.  Long range kiting ships will eat the Tormentor alive.  In practice, I think that this disadvantage outweighs the advantages it has with ammo selection.  The only time I find myself in unwanted brawls are usually when I'm fighting ships like Slashers, which I think would probably neut and kill the Tormentor just as easily as as the Incursus.

The other Amarr frigates are inferior choices for scram kiting: The Punisher and the Slicer only have two mid-slots, meaning they cannot fit a web, and the Executioner is too short on EHP and DPS to risk getting within scram range.

Let's move on to the Minmatar Frigates:

[Breacher, Rocket Brawl]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Ballistic Control System II

1MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50

Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Bay Loading Accelerator I

Warrior II x2

I really like this ship, and I've been on the wrong side of it more than once.  With faction rockets, it deals slightly less DPS than the rail Incursus, but it has free selection of its damage type, and it has excellent speed.  It also has a ridiculous active tank, capable of >9000 EHP assuming it uses all its cap boosters and nanite (feel free to correct my math).  The fact that the MASB and its rockets don't use capacitor also makes it relatively immune to neuts.  So what are the disadvantages?  Well, just one really.  T2 Javelin rockets only have a maximum range of 15 km.  Similar to the Tormentor, this ship will be wrecked by long range kiters.  If you're trained into Minmatar frigates, this is the ship to fly solo.

[Republic Fleet Firetail, Scram Kite]
Gyrostabilizer II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Damage Control II

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
1MN Afterburner II
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction

280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
[empty high slot]

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

The Firetail is a decent option.  It has better speed and a better buffer tank than most other T1 frigates, and it has great projection.  Similar to the Comet, it will wreck most T1 frigates.  However, it just doesn't compare in terms of tank and DPS to the Comet, and the amazing speed it has is mostly wasted when it fights within scram range.  Although this is really a pretty solid fit, I don't necessarily recommend flying this, because I think that there are better ways to fit a Firetail that play to its strengths (the topic of a future post!).

You might think that the Slasher and the Rifter could be fit in a similar way to the Firetail fit to provide a cheaper option.  Unfortunately, I don't think that these ships are viable options.  Neither has the ability to fit 280mm artillery without making significant sacrifices to EHP.  250mm artillery simply doesn't provide the same DPS that small railguns or pulse lasers can provide.  Go ahead and try them out, but I really think that both these ships are inferior options as kiters.

Lets end with the Caldari ships:

[Merlin, Rail Merlin]
Damage Control II
Overdrive Injector System II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

[Kestrel, Rockets]
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Ballistic Control System II

1MN Afterburner II
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Initiated Harmonic Warp Scrambler I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50

Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Bay Loading Accelerator I

The Merlin and the Kestrel are quite similar.  The Kestrel trades a low slot for an extra high slot, but both ships have similar DPS and max velocity.  The Kestrel also has great range with rockets, which allows it to overcome the problems with kiters that the Breacher has.  The extra low slot on the Merlin presents a couple options: the Overdrive I added actually makes it a decently fast ship.  With Genolution implants, you can change the DCU II to the Meta 4 version, and add a second Magnetic field stabilizer.  With an ACR in a rig slot, you can add an ancillary armor repairer, and get something similar to the Breacher fit I listed above.

Overall though, both of these fits are inferior to the Incursus.  Not only do they deal less DPS, but without a speed mod they are slower than an armor plated and rigged Incursus, and they have less of an EHP buffer.  Even with two magnetic field stabilizers, the Merlin only gets DPS which is roughly equivalent to that of the rail Incursus.  For solo PVP, I think the most interesting uses of these ships are armor tanked versions which use the extra mid-slot for different types of e-war trickery, such as a tracking disruptor or a dual-web fit.

The Hookbill however is the king of all scram kiting hulls:

[Caldari Navy Hookbill, Scram Kiter]
400mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Damage Control II

Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
1MN Afterburner II

Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Scourge Rage Rocket

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Bay Loading Accelerator I

This fit requires Genolutions 1&2, but it can be made to fit without implants by swapping to an Experimental 1MN Afterburner I and Meta 3 webs.  This ship is so good at fighting within scram range that it's basically unfair.  Dual webs give it supreme range control, and allow the effective use of T2 Rage rockets for extra DPS.  The tracking disruptor prevents any gun-based ships from dealing significant DPS against you.  On top of that, this ship still has 6789 EHP from its armor tank.  The biggest problem with flying a Hookbill is that you'll have difficulty finding a willing opponent, because this fit is hardly a secret.  I generally just stay away.

The real strength of the Hookbill lies in its five mid slots.  There just happens to be another Caldari Frigate with a similar slot layout:

[Heron, Battle Heron]
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Warp Scrambler II
1MN Afterburner II

Rocket Launcher II, Inferno Rage Rocket
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I

Hobgoblin II x3
Warrior II x3

Don't laugh, it might be short on tank, but against the right target it can work.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Scram Kiting Part 2: The Tristan and The Comet

Tristan

The real power of the Tristan lies in its versatility.  The 3/3/3 slot layout, combined with the use of drones as its main source of damage yield a vast array of fits that are viable for solo PvP.  When you see a Tristan on d-scan, you never really know exactly what type of fit you're going to be up against until the fight starts (or if you scout the target and look up killboards!).  Here is a basic scram-kiting fit:

[Tristan, Scram Kite - 150mm Rails]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

1MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
[empty high slot]

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Auxiliary Thrusters I

Warrior II x5

With my skills and implants:
DPS = 129, 137 (overheated)
Speed = 1136 m/s, 1498 m/s (overheated)
EHP = 3391 + 90 dps/sec from reps

Approximately 2/3rds of the DPS comes from drones, which has both advantages & disadvantages.  The advantages are that the drone engagement range is >50 km with basic drone skills, the dps from drones is still applied even if you're jammed, damped, or neuted, and it has no dependence on your transversal.  The advantages means that this Tristan is much better suited for fighting against Slashers and Atrons that the rail Incursus struggles against. The downside is that drones can be destroyed, they can't be overheated, and particularly fast ships with MWDs can outrun them.

The Tristan does not have the natural tanking ability of the Incursus because it does not have a repair hull bonus, and it has one fewer low slot.  For this reason, I decided to focus more on speed with this Tristan fit by relying on an active armor tank and fitting a speed rig.  That gives this fit excellent range control, and the ability to disengage easily if the fight isn't going as expected.  At the beginning of this post, I wrote that the real strength of this ship is its versatility.  In terms of pure DPS and EHP, this ship is inferior to other scram-kiting ships like the Incursus, Tormentor, and Breacher.  If you find yourself slugging it out with one of these ships at the edge of scram range, be ready to pull range and run.

More recently, in part due to my hatred of brawling Slashers with neuts, I've been favoring a slight variation of this fit:

[Tristan, Scram Kite - 125mm Rails with Nos]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

1MN Afterburner II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Small 'Knave' Energy Drain

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Auxiliary Thrusters I

Warrior II x5

It essentially trades 150mm railguns down to 125mm railguns and adds a small nosferatu in the utility high slot, which provides defense against neuts, and allows the armor repairer to run for a few extra cycles.  With Genolution 1&2 implants, you can also swap up to a T2 DCU.  I chose Warrior drones over Hobgoblins in these fits for the extra speed.  Fitting Hobgoblins essentially makes this ship a sitting duck against long-range MWD kiting ships, which can easily outrun and destroy your drones.  In practice, I still have trouble with these ships even when using Warriors, but this may just be a sign that I need to train up Drone Navigation.


Federation Navy Comet

And now we arrive at the comet.  I love flying it.  It is so choice.  If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.  Seriously though, the Comet is like an Incursus that's superior in virtually every way.

[Federation Navy Comet, Scram Kiter]
Damage Control II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

1MN Afterburner II
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
[empty high slot]

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hobgoblin II x3
Warrior II x3

With my skills and implants:
DPS = 155, 173 (overheated)
Speed = 1161 m/s, 1520 m/s (overheated)
EHP = 7078 + 115 dps/sec from reps

To give credit where credit is due, I got this fit from Zenso Vici, who is a member of Eve University.

If you've read this far, it probably comes as no surprise that this is my absolute favorite frigate to fly.  It has excellent DPS, EHP, and pretty good speed considering that it is armor plated.  This ship can freely engage just about any other frigate out there, and it performs favorably against many destroyers and assault frigates.  There really isn't much else to say here, except that this ship is probably the single best scram-kiting frigate out there for solo pvp, with the exception of the dual-web + tracking disruptor fit Hookbill (which is nearly unbeatable).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Scram Kiting Part 1: The Rail Incursus

The key to winning any fight in EVE is to dictate range.  If you are able to maintain control at your optimal range, and outside your opponent's optimal range, then you will win the fight the majority of the time.  This is true even if you are matched against a superior hull.  Many of the frigates I have been flying are built around the principle of kiting the target at the edge of warp scrambler range (approximately 6.5 - 8.0 km).  Scram kiting is a powerful technique which is effective against a very broad range of targets.

The modules required are a warp scrambler, an afterburner, a stasis webifier, and weapons that are capable of projecting a reasonable amount of DPS out to a range of about 7-8 km.  There are many frigates and many fits that are capable of this, and in principle any frigate with at least 3 mid slots can work.  In my experience thus far, the Incursus, Tristan, and Comet are extremely well suited for this style of combat.  Lets start with the Incursus fit that I am fond of:

[Incursus, Rail incursus]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I

Hobgoblin II x1
Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S x500
Caldari Navy Iridium Charge S x500
Javelin S x500

With my skills, this fit has:
DPS = 128, 147 (overheated)
Optimal + Falloff = 6.5 km + 5.8 km
Speed = 1030 m/s, 1344 m/s (overheated)
EHP = 4448 + 124 dps/sec from armor reps

In practice, if you're able to land the scram and web on your target, and keep range at ~6.5km, then you're usually going to win.  This matches up extremely favorably with most brawlers.  The optimal range of small railguns is just outside the falloff range of blasters loaded with null ammo as well as autocannons loaded with emp, phased plasma, or fusion ammo.  Barrage ammo will land, but with significantly less DPS than you are dealing.

Fighting any of the following will usually result in an easy win:
  • All brawlers fit with microwarpdrives.  The warp scrambler disables their propulsion mod, while your afterburner remains active, allowing you the dictate range.
  • All brawlers without webs.  Specific examples include the dual-rep incursus, shield rifters, and triple-neut Tristans.  The lack of a web on your opponent will allow you to freely dictate range, regardless of whether he has an MWD or an AB.  The maximum range of small neutralizers is only 6km, and the neut Tristan can be kited outside of this range.
  • Punishers.  These ships, when fit with pulse lasers and scorch crystals can reach out to 11km optimal range, with similar DPS as is seen on the Incursus.  The Punisher cannot fit a web (because they only have two mid slots), which means that you can pull range and warp away if you are losing the fight.  Another advantage lies in the resist profiles.  Scorch ammo primarily deals EM-based damage, which is the highest resistance type on this Incursus.
  • Most other brawlers who fit an AB, scram, and web can be beaten easily, assuming that the fight begins outside of their optimal range.  This would include Merlins, Rifters, and Incursuses.  They typically don't have sufficient speed in order to close the distance against you.  Overheating your AB helps to dictate range.  The situation here changes if the fight starts at <1 km!

The main things this Incursus will lose to are:
  • Brawlers fit with an AB, scram, and web which have significantly higher speed than the Incursus.  These are especially bad if they also have a neut.  The mortal enemy of the rail Incursus is the Slasher, and blaster-fit Atrons can also be a problem if the fight starts at close range.  The best way to fight these is to start the fight with an overheated web to give you more time to apply DPS while they try to close range.
  • Long-range kiting ships with a tracking disruptor.  If you're being kited outside of scram range by an MWD-fit ship, then switching to iridium ammo will often allow you to fight them off.  If the kiting ship has a tracking disruptor, then you're in big trouble.  Light missile Condors and Breachers are often fit this way. Of course, any kiting ship will die quickly if you are able to slingshot them into scram & web range.
  • Hookbills.  These have enough mid slots to fit an afterburner, warp scrambler, two webs, and a tracking disruptor.  This means they can beat other scram kiters in dominant fashion.  Don't engage these.

The most intense frigate fights are usually against other scram kiters.  In terms of pure DPS and EHP, the rail Incursus comes out ahead of rail Merlins, artillery Rifters, and rocket Kestrels.  An equivalent Tormentor fit has slightly higher on-paper DPS than this Incursus fit, but is also applying the damage type for which the Incursus has the highest resistance.  Rocket Breachers are a little bit scary, but the anti-explosive rig on the ship makes them beatable.

Destroyers and Assault Frigates can also be kited, and targets to look for are blaster Catalysts, Enyos, Harpies, and autocannon Thrashers.  I'm often pleasantly surprised at how many pilots don't carry Null ammo.  These ships are also very slow, so if it turns out that they are able to hit you, then you have to option of pulling range and disengaging.  Cruisers can be beaten if they are fit for PVE, or if you're able to surprise them while they're ratting or running a mission.  Cruisers with long-range guns won't be able to track if you maintain an orbit at 6km, and drones can be quickly killed using your web plus Javelin ammo.







Saturday, December 7, 2013

Skill Training Update

A month and a half ago I listed my skill training plan in this post: http://recklessabandoneve.blogspot.com/2013/10/goals-power-of-specialization.html

As usual, I got a bit side-tracked by other priorities.  This is what I have trained during that time (to the best of my recollection):
  • Gallente Frigate V
  • Navigation V & Acceleration Control IV
  • Cybernetics IV
  • Rapid Firing IV & Motion Prediction IV
  • Sensor Linking IV, Signal Suppression IV, Long Distance Jamming III, Frequency Modulation III
  • Capacitor Management IV & Capacitor Systems Operation IV
  • Fuel Conservation III & High-Speed Maneuvering III
  • Capacitor Emission Systems IV
  • Gallente Cruiser IV
  • Medium Hybrid Turrets V (just finished)

With my navigation skills & implants, this now means that I am faster than an "all-V's" character, with the exception of ships which use trimark and armor resist rigs (I need to make armor rigging IV a priority for this reason).  I also grabbed sensor damping skills and secondary support skills in order to fly a Celestis, which is an incredibly useful ship for gangs.  Finally, I trained some capacitor support skills, which I had been severely lacking.

One reason for the change was that I was stuck in a stupid int/per remap that I put myself into when I was two weeks into the game.  I wanted to get int/mem skills finished off to a level that I considered to be minimally acceptable before remapping into per/wil for the next 3-4 months.  I remapped just before starting on training medium hybrids.

The other reason my plan shifted because my goals changed a bit.  My original goal was to focus exclusively on improving the Gallente frigate fits that I like to fly, ideally to the point where my DPS would be within 95% of an "all-V's" character.  My new goal is to step up into flying cruisers and battlecruisers sooner rather than later.  Most of the ad-hoc gangs formed by the Tuskers call for these ships (either shield or armor), so it's good for me to be able to field several varieties of both ships.  The good part about Gallente ships is that they can be fit for either shield or armor tanks.  The bad part: the Vexor, Vexor Navy Issue, and the Myrmidon are VERY skill intensive, ideally requiring T2 heavy drones, T2 sentry drones, and Drone Interfacing V, in addition to the hull skill being trained to V.  The other option for me is the Ferox.  Although I only have Caldari battlecruiser trained to III at the moment, the Ferox receives its hull bonuses to shield resist % and to optimal range rather than to DPS.  This seems to mean that a blaster Ferox should work reasonably well as a shield BC for a low SP character such as myself.

With that said, the skills I finished actually leave me in a pretty good place as a frigate pilot right now, and there is still plenty of synergy between the secondary support skills for both frigates and larger ships. Here is my new plan:
  1. Gunnery V & all secondary gunnery support skills to IV
  2. Gallente Cruiser V
  3. Secondary Drone Skills to IV (e.g. Drone Durability, Sharpshooting, etc)
  4. Gallente Battlecruiser V
  5. Sentry Drone Interfacing V
  6. Heavy Drone Operation V
  7. Drone Interfacing V
  8. Advanced Weapon Upgrades IV
  9. Rapid Firing V (this skill is huge in terms of optimizing DPS on gun-based ships)
  10. Small & Medium Hybrid Specializations to IV
This will take a little over 5 months according to EFT.  At this point, I could either cross-train into a different race (I'm thinking Minmatar right now), or remap to int/mem and train all those support skills to V.  I still have one bonus remap left, and I receive a new remap in July 2014.





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I am a Pirate

If I am to be honest with myself, I'm not much of a PvPer.  At least not yet.  I am, however, starting to become a decent a pirate.

In my view, there is a clear difference between the two: a PvPer is someone who enjoys the challenge and thrill of a good fight against a well-matched opponent. A pirate on the other hand would prefer to gank, loot, and otherwise cause mayhem by whatever means necessary.  Whenever I undock, I'm out to cause explosions and collect loot, and if I'm engaging someone it's because I believe strongly that I'm going to win.  Thinking more like a pirate has made me much, much more successful.  I managed to score 23 kills with the incursus hull that I finally just lost a couple hours ago, which is a level of success that was basically unthinkable to me a month ago.  I can list a couple of principles that have helped me:


1. Combat probes are your friend

I have an alt on a second account that trained into Covops frigates, scanning, and hacking.  I was using him for null-sec exploration in order to make some extra isk.  One day about 3 weeks ago when I was hanging out at a mid-safe in Hevrice, Araziah (a Tusker) tried using his scanning alt to probe me down.  I noticed his combat probes and left the system immediately.  I had already learned my lesson when I was probed down and ganked by Brave Newbies after I killed several of their miners (loss: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=19985823).

As I was jumping out of the system, I finally made the connection.  I already had a second account with a scanning alt, so why wasn't I doing the exact same thing?  It's taken me a while to become proficient at dual-boxing, but I had one particularly good day recently:

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101792 Scanned down and ganked a retreiver at a mining mission site.  I podded him after he declined to pay a ransom.

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101797 Ganked a Probe at a data site.  Unfortunately, Eve-Uni guys are very fast with their pod saver tab.

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101802 I found an Executioner at a FW plex that had closed.  I assume he was afk.  I got the pod too.

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101800 Another gank at a hacking site.  Much nicer ship this time.  I've always wanted a Sisters' probe launcher!

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101864 After I killed his Atron, the guy warped his pod to a mid-safe and then logged off.  Big mistake.

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101863 Finally, I found an empty shuttle floating in the middle of nowhere


2. Good Target Selection

When I started soloing two months ago, I would take just about any fight that I could find, and I was losing the vast majority of the time.  Today, I scout all of my targets carefully before I engage.  I described the process in detail in an earlier blog post: http://recklessabandoneve.blogspot.com/2013/11/above-class-kills.html.  I have several recent kills which may look impressive to some on the surface, or might make me look like a crazy bastard for taking.

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101685 Incursus vs. Harpy.  Harpies are slow, he was blaster fit, and he wasn't carrying Null ammo.  I knew all of this from his killboard before engaging, and therefore I knew I was capable of winning without much trouble provided that I could get to the edge of scram range early in the fight.  Worst case scenario, I could have overheated my web, pulled out of range, and warped off if I was losing.  I had a very similar fight with an Enyo about 3 weeks ago, which I also won.  It's fights like these that make me very unenthusiastic about flying assault frigates.

For similar reasons, I've been engaging destroyers with much more confidence recently.  Even if they are well fit, my superior speed means that I can always pull away and escape if I am losing:

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101384 Comet vs. Thrasher
http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101712 Incursus vs. Talwar
http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=100484 Incursus vs. Algos

I'm only really wary of fighting Dragoons, because of the neut range bonus.


3. Take every advantage you can find 

If I come across two cruisers who are fighting each other, I am certainly not above killing them both:
http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101116
http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101115

Apparently this is dishonorable, since they were pretty upset with me and made sure to let everyone else in local know about it.

I also recently took another look at Leadership skills.  I previously rejected them, because what use does a pirate who mainly flies solo have for these?  That was until I realized I could have my scanning alt train the skills, and pick up free bonuses to locking speed, armor, shields, targeting range, and agility for my main in the process.  Shortly after this, I took another look at links and I just started training my alt towards a  boosting Loki.

I've also been naming my ship after my scanning alt.  I figure that a fairly new player in an NPC corp looks much less scary than a Tusker.


4. Be Aggressive

I'm getting to the point where I'll engage almost anything if I can catch them ratting.  If your opponent is not expecting a fight, it places you at such a huge advantage.  Most people will panic and not respond appropriately.  It helped that none of these guys were fit particularly well:

http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101505 Comet vs Dragoon.  Yeah, so I lied about not engaging Dragoons.  Big whoop, wanna fight about it?
http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101857 Incursus vs Caracal
http://killboard.the-tuskers.info/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=101174 Comet vs Hurricane




Friday, November 22, 2013

Station Trading for Lazy Slackers

Virtually all activity in EVE falls within one of two categories:

1. Blowing up internet spaceships (PvP).
2. Making ISK

Generally speaking, PvP in EVE is a great way to lose ISK.  At some point, every player has to come up with a way to make enough ISK in order to keep flying.  There are lots of ways to do this.  The method I have chosen is to station trade, and I'd like to devote this post to describe my trading approach.

If you're looking for a guide about how to maximize profits, then look elsewhere.  My whole goal is to spend as little time and effort as possible, which essentially turns this into a passive source of income.  I update my orders once per day, which takes between 15-30 minutes.  With 1 billion ISK invested, I can expect to make 25-50 million ISK per day in profit.  In terms of ISK/hr of active playing time, this is nearly as good as multi-boxing level 4 missions (or so I hear).  Since I'm usually flying cheap T1 frigates and I pay for my account, this is easily enough income for the foreseeable future.  If I were more ambitious, I estimate that I could probably make 150-200 mil/hr if I were to invest all my isk into the market and babysit all my orders.

Compared to most other PVE activities, station trading is ridiculously easy to get into.  My station trading alt never undocks.  He has maybe 3-4 weeks worth of trading skills trained, and I spent exactly zero time grinding missions to raise his corp standing in order to reduce my tax rate.  Hell, I don't even have margin trading trained.  Despite the perception that most people have of station trading, I have never made a single spreadsheet and have never really seen the need to.  Again, my approach is not at all optimal in terms of making ISK, and I don't really care.

The skills I'd recommend are:

Trade IV
Retail V
Wholesale IV
Accounting IV
Broker Relations IV
Margin Trading IV

This is really just a good goal to set.  I don't have all of these trained, and probably won't bother to unless I drastically need to increase my income.  Wholesale IV is already overkill for the amount of trading that I do.

When looking for an item to trade, use the following criteria:
1. The profit margin between the buy and sell orders is at least 6% (ideally, greater than 10%).
2. The item has a steady volume, and is traded relatively frequently.  I hate sitting on items and having unfilled buy orders.  My goal is flip everything I buy within a day or two.
3. The historical median price is in between the buy and sell prices.  Alternatively, the median price bounces between the buy and sell prices on a daily, or semi-regular basis.  Some items may have a nice profit margin listed, but has all the trade activity occurring on one end of the margin (rigs tend to fall into this category).  You want to avoid those items.
4. The value of the market is high enough to make trading worth your time.  This obviously depends on how much capital you have invested. More specifically, I look at the profit margin multiplied by the daily volume.  I typically try to invest anywhere from 2-5% of my capital into one particular trade.

Before you ask: no, I will not tell you what items I trade, nor will I tell you where my station trading alt operates.  You'll have to figure this part out yourself.

Once you have identified an item, go ahead and place a buy order.  I generally do not place a buy order for more than 10-20% of the total daily volume.  This is because I want my orders to close quickly, and my inventory to move fast.  I also don't want my own orders to influence the market value too much.  Also, don't try searching the market for the "best" item with the largest profit margin.  This is a waste of time!  As soon as you see an item that fits the listed criteria, start trading it immediately.

My biggest piece of advice: DO NOT PLAY THE 0.01 ISK GAME.  This is futile, unless you want to sit at your computer updating your orders for hours straight.  You will want to out-bid buy orders and undercut sellers by a significant amount.  This may not maximize your profit on each trade, but it WILL save a ton of frustration and make your inventory move faster.

As with anything, you'll get better at station trading the more you do it.  It may be boring, but considering that both the skill requirements and the amount of time invested are minimal, I feel like this has to be the best way to make isk in EVE.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Above Class Kills

I have recently applied, and been accepted to The Tuskers, and I apparently now join a long line of Tusker EVE bloggers!

The main requirement to join the Tuskers is that the applicant must link five solo kills, two of which must be against a ship which is "above class", or supposedly more powerful than the pilot's own.  Quickly browsing the recruitment forum, one can see that the failure to meet this requirement is the main reason applicants are ultimately turned away.  I've also recently seen many posts on the EVE subreddit from new players (or old carebears) who are still hunting for their first solo kill.  I have found my solo fights to be the some of the most thrilling and rewarding moments I have experienced within EVE thus far.  As someone who only started collecting solo kills recently, I would like to offer my perspective on how a relatively new, low skill-point player can get started.

First of all, this requirement might sound like a major challenge, but it actually isn't all that hard.  As with many things in EVE, there is a learning curve here.  You will start off by losing badly.  A lot.  The five solo kills I posted on my application to the Tuskers were literally five of the first solo kills I ever had, and it took me a couple weeks of concentrated effort and failure in order to collect them.  However, I've now found that the first few kills were the most difficult.  As a result of learning a lot of hard lessons on the way, picking up a few tricks, and gaining confidence in myself, the kills are now coming much more easily.  Less than one week after I submitted my application, I racked up enough kills in order to meet the requirement again, including two fresh above class kills.

If you have literally zero experience with PvP in EVE, then my recommendation is to join a training corp, or a faction warfare corp, and get some experience with group/fleet PvP first.   If you jump straight into solo PvP, you will not only lose, but you will probably not gain a good understanding of why you're losing, and you'll miss out on an opportunity to learn from your corp mates.  I spent time with Red Federation and with Eve University's Low Sec Campus, and I found them to be both newbie friendly and loads of fun.  The rest of this post is going to assume that you have some basic knowledge, such as how to use d-scan, how to set up your overview, etc.

The Setup: Ship fits and Skill Training

Start with T1 frigates. The Tormentor, Incursus, Tristan, Slasher, Condor, Merlin, and Breacher are all fine ships.   I cannot stress this enough: make sure you are using a decent fit on your ship.  Seek the advice of more experienced PvPers.  If you find yourself losing again and again, there is a chance that your fit is horrible.  If you need any advice for a particular ship, ask in "The Tuskers Public Channel" in EVE, and someone will help you.  As an example, I'll give an Incursus fit here, which has proven itself to be very effective:

[Incursus, Rail incursus v2]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I

Hobgoblin II x1

The strategy when using this ship is to kite your opponent at the edge of warp scrambler range (6000-7500m).  The combination of an AB, scram, and web, will allow you to control range, and the optimal range of 125mm railguns just happens to be right in this sweet spot.  This is highly effective against many ships fit with autocannons or blasters, which are generally unable to project much DPS at this range (even with Null or Barrage ammo).  If you are able to land the scram & web, you'll also be able to make quick work of any ship that is MWD-fit and set up for kiting outside of warp scrambler range, such as a Condor or an Executioner.

You will need a minimal level of skill point training.  Set up a training plan that will allow you to use all the T2 modules, especially the T2 weapons.  Training the core fitting skills (Power Grid Management, CPU Management, Weapon Upgrades, and Shield Upgrades) will help fit your ship if you are short on CPU or power grid.  Plug the fit into EFT, and compare your DPS with that of an "all V's" character.  If your DPS is around 70-75% of an all V's character (or higher), then you should be fine in most of your engagements.  If you need more DPS, work on your ship hull skill (get racial Frigate IV, at least) and get the associated gunnery/missile support skills to III or IV.  Don't go too crazy with trying lots of different ships and fits; it will help immensely if you focus on learning to fly a few ships well.

There is a tendency for people to think that soloing in low sec is futile, because the majority of people have maxed skills and an alt providing links in the system.  On the contrary, I firmly believe that an "all III-IV" character, with T2 weapons, is fully capable of winning fights consistently if you pick your targets well, and set up engagements such that they start in your favor.  The vast majority of my fights have not been close.  I usually either win easily, or get smashed. I have only had a handful of fights where an extra 10-15% DPS/EHP from skills, boosts, or links would have made a difference in the outcome.  You do not need to spend months training skills in order to be effective.

Choose a base of operations that is close to Faction Warfare space in low sec, preferably a trade hub such as Stacmon or Hek. Buy 20 of your frigate of choice, and immediately fit all 20 of them.  This way, when you lose one, you have another ship all set up and ready to go.  Start with the expectation that you are going to lose all 20 of these ships within a couple of weeks.  A fight in EVE requires you to process a lot of information, stay calm under stress, and act quickly without making any fatal errors.  This is very hard for a new player.  It will take time to get past the "PvP shakes" that we all love so much, and you will do some very stupid things in your first few fights that will immediately be obvious after the fact.  I've lost because I forgot to launch drones.  I lost once because I neglected to turn on my prop mod.

Setting up an Engagement

In most of my fights, the outcome is determined before the engagement actually starts.  If it starts within my optimal range (and outside of my opponent's), then the fight is really more of an exercise in not screwing up rather than flying my ship well.  It is critical that you set up a fight such that it starts in your favor.  Keep in mind, if you are up against a higher-class ship that is properly fit to kill your ship and prepared to fight, then YOU WILL LOSE no matter how great of a pilot you think you are.

Whenever I jump into a new system, I start collecting information immediately.  My procedure loosely follows these steps:

1. Check local.  How many other pilots are in the system?  Check each pilot's information, and you will be able to see their corp/alliance, how old their character is (which gives a rough estimate of the level of skill points & PvP experience), their security status (more negative means they are more likely to actually want to fight), and whether they are part of a faction warfare militia.

Sometimes, this alone can give you enough information.  If you're flying an Incursus, a Thorax is usually pretty scary, and it's not normally something you'd ever consider engaging.  However, if the Thorax in question is being flown by a character that is two weeks old, then it becomes a juicy target, no matter what kind of ship you're flying: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=20184758

2. Check D-scan.  My D-scan window is always open.  Even before I de-cloak after jumping, I'm already pulsing my long D-scan to get an idea of what other ships are in the system with me.  To pin-point any targets, I typically start by checking all the faction warfare plexes.  After this, I'll check all the celestials and asteroid belts.  Use some caution when jumping on targets, someone sitting in a plex is at an advantage because he can set up at his optimal range.  He can also check D-scan to see what ships are incoming, and simply warp away if he feels that the fight is not in his favor.  On the other hand, a great way to get a kill is to catch someone who is ratting in an asteroid belt.  If you are the aggressor, many people will panic once they are engaged.  This catalyst didn't even try to fight back: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=20341457

3. Check their kill board.  Let's say you have a list of people in local, and you've found a couple of targets sitting in different plexes.  You have no way of knowing for sure who is in which ship unless you warp into the plex and check for yourself.  You can, however, look up each pilot on eve-kill and check their killboard.  This gives valuable information about how experienced they are in PvP, what types of hulls they typically fly, and (most importantly) how their ships are fit.  For this reason, I pretty much always have a web browser window with eve-kill.net open when I'm playing.

Between information gained from Local, D-scan, and Killboards, you can deduce who is in which ship with a stunning level of accuracy.  Most people use the same ships and fits over and over again, and you can use this information to your advantage and score kills that you normally wouldn't consider to be possible.  For example, most would argue that it's suicidal for a Tristan to dive into a plex when a Comet is sitting inside.  Aside from having less drone bandwidth, a Comet is basically superior to a Tristan in every way.  Compound this with the fact that the Comet is probably set up in the plex right at his optimal range, and he should be favored to win the fight regardless of whether he's fit with blasters or railguns.  Also, consider that the pilot was several years older than mine, and he probably had as much as 10 times as many skill points.

However, from his past losses, I'd seen that not only was this the only pilot in the system who regularly flies comets, but that this particular pilot fits his Comets with an MWD and blasters.  My Tristan was fit with an afterburner, a warp scrambler, a web, and railguns.  So I was able to easily dictate the range of the fight, and kite him well outside the range of his guns, while applying all of my DPS.  The result: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=20177024

4. Look at their ship.  Checking the killboard doesn't always help.  Sometimes pilots will fly many different variations of fits within the same hull.  Sometimes the information is not readily available.  There are two ways you can deduce how he is fit:

A. Look at his ship, and see what kind of guns he is using.  You can do this as long as you are within 100km of your target.  The Altruist has a great chart on this:
http://www.evealtruist.com/2013/01/turret-and-launcher-reference-chart-v2.html

B. Add velocity to your overview, which will let you determine whether he has an afterburner or a microwarpdrive based on his speed.

These two pieces of information can give a rough idea of what his fit is, and what his optimal range is.

5. Know your enemy.  Just because your opponent is flying a "superior" hull, doesn't mean that he is favored to win.  For example, the Incursus fit I listed above will usually beat a catalyst that's fit with blasters, simply because it can kite them outside of their optimal range with relative ease.  This is knowledge that comes from experience.

A couple of days ago, I ran across an Enyo while flying a Tristan.  Enyos have a combination of DPS and tank that is virtually un-matched among all the frigate hulls.  However, they do have one problem: An Enyo is SLOW.  Much slower than just about any T1 frigate, even if they are heavily armor plated.  I only knew this because I had been playing around with Enyo fits in EFT less than an hour before this fight.  This fight was mine to lose because of my superior speed and projection (which I actually almost did =\): http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=20379954

That's really about it.  I'm still a noob and that's about all I know.  In the kills I linked, you'll notice that I didn't write much about the actual fights themselves. That is because in each case the fight wasn't particularly special, and in each case I won fairly easily.  The outcome was essentially decided before the fight started.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Another thought-provoking loss

It's pretty easy to avoid fights in low sec.  In fact, it's pretty rare that I end up in a fight that I don't want (I often lose anyway, but still...).  The only real exception is whenever I happen to land on the acceleration gate to a plex at the same time as someone else.  That is what happened this time.  Here is the loss: http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=116067

I saw an Atron within a plex that I wanted to destroy, and apparently the Breacher had the exact same idea that I did at the exact same time.  I had never fought a Breacher before, and I only had a vague notion of a 'kitey' light-missile frigate, similar to a condor.  That turned out to be completely wrong, and he was a straight-up rocket brawler (from post-fight killboard searching, most Breachers seem to be rocket brawlers.  Live and learn).

About 3 seconds into the fight, I realized my first mistake: Breachers get a bonus to explosive damage, and I neglected to fit an anti-explosive rig on my Incursus.  This wasn't a case of simple negligence, I had actually thought about this and I consciously made the decision to go with a trimark instead of an anti-explosive pump.  I believe now that this is a bad idea.  Although increasing explosive resistance is useless in most of my fights, neglecting the rig means that I would now have to completely avoid fights against breachers, rifters, kestrel pilots who are smart enough to carry nova rockets, firetails, thrashers, and talwars.  I would also have to pray that Tristan pilots throw hobgoblins at me instead of warriors.  It just doesn't make much sense to limit what I can engage; it's already hard enough to find a good fight as it is.

Make no mistake about it, I got flat-out wrecked in this fight, and once it had started there was probably nothing I could have done in order to actually win.  With that said, a major blunder in my piloting was that I didn't try to maximize my velocity in order to mitigate the incoming dps.  My opponent was more-or-less stationary, and I simply kept him within my optimal range.  This was a terrible move, but it's one I made because orbiting would have been an even worse move, and in the heat of the moment I couldn't come up with a viable alternative

What I should have done was to manually move directly away from him.  Even though I was webbed, moving at 40% of my maximum velocity would have reduced incoming DPS by ~15-20% if he were using nova rage rockets (which I believe he was).  How do I know this?  I recently discovered the dps chart feature in EFT, which is an AMAZINGLY useful tool.  As an example, I'll show why orbiting the breacher would have been a bad idea.  Below is a chart showing dps vs. range, with both the attacking and targetted ship stationary.  Just for fun, I included my Incursus fit, plus an similar Comet fit (which is a tracking-bonused hull).  Below this is the same chart, shown with the attacking ship orbiting the target at its webbed velocity.  You can easily see that the tracking penalty negates any benefit to incoming dps that I would have gained.  The Comet fares better than the Incursus, but it's still clear that orbiting is a bad idea.




I have learned a ton from this tool.  You can see what range & velocity you need to get under a cruiser's guns, you can see how your ammo selection affects dps in specific circumstances, and perhaps most importantly, you can see why mashing the "orbit at 500" button is never, EVER a good idea.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Evolution of a fit: the TD Merlin

This loss mail here has probably influenced my current play-style more than any other:

http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=108712

Fortunately, he was killed by someone else shortly after killing me, so I am able to see how he was fit:

http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=108716

I saw the rifter in a plex on d-scan, and just dove right in not really knowing what to expect, but figuring that I would just try to out-brawl him.  What happened was that I was given a lesson on "scram kiting", which utilizes a AB/scram/web combination to dictate range at the edge of warp scrambler range.  Being in a blaster fit merlin, I was unable to project any DPS on him, even with null ammo loaded.  His ship was also faster than mine, so even with a web & AB of my own, I was unable to close the distance to him, even with my AB overheated.  A an attempt at 'yo-yo' maneuver to get within blaster range failed, and there was little I could do aside from watching myself die slowly.

After this loss, I did a couple things: 1. I immediately queued up afterburner IV to pick up a speed bonus, and 2. stopped flying blaster merlins and incursuses in solo PVP.  This loss caused me to reflect on the importance of range dictation, and quickly made me realize that there are simply too many ships out there that can effectively kite a blaster merlin or incursus.  Today, I primarily fly Gallente frigates fit with rails, and rail Merlins, many of which take advantage of scram-kiting in order to dictate range.

My fits & piloting technique are both still evolving.  I posted a rail Incursus fit in the last post, which I have used to some effect.  The only issue I have seen is that the fit feels fairly "cookie-cutter", in that someone facing a rail incursus is probably expecting something very similar to that fit, with only minor variation. The Merlin on the other hand has a lot of versatility added by the fourth mid slot, and lately I have been flying a version with a tracking disruptor.  That brings me to this loss here:

http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=115727

I was sitting in a plex, and saw the incursus coming in.  Knowing that this is precisely the type of fight that I wanted, I sat tight, and orbited the beacon at ~15km.  I would likely either be facing a dual-rep blaster-fit incursus, which my merlin would be able to scram-kite fairly easily, or a rail incursus, over which I would have an advantage because of my slightly better speed and my tracking disruptor.

It turns out, he was rail-fit, and I still lost.  He had approximately 30% structure remaining when I popped.  There are several lessons to take form this:

1. My opponent had far more skill points than me.  If this fight had taken place 1 month later, when my skill training plan was complete (see previous post), then I almost certainly would have won.
2. I was able to dictate range in this fight, but I didn't choose the correct range.  I tried to keep him slightly within my optimal range, because my biggest fear was that he might slingshot his way outside of scram range and get away.  If I had kept him slightly further away from me, I probably could have won because of the way falloff mechanics work (but it would have still been very close).
3. The biggest lesson here: my fit was simply not very good.


This is the fit I was using:

[Merlin, TD rail merlin]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Damage Control II

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
1MN Afterburner II

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Collision Accelerator I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
[empty rig slot]


With the skills I had at the time, this has 116 dps and 3042 EHP.  Notice the lack of tank on this fit.  Let's look at an alternative, after replacing the 2nd MFS with armor plating:


[Merlin, TD rail merlin copy 2]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Damage Control II

Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
1MN Afterburner II

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Tracking Diagnostic Subroutines I
[empty rig slot]


This fit has 98 dps (a 16% decrease) , but 4145 EHP (a 36% increase!).  In a simple, "back of the envelope" analysis, this fit would clearly have been superior for my engagement against the incursus.  Although my dps is reduced, the extra EHP more than makes up for it, and I fully expect that I would have won the fight handily.  The only thing I lose is a small amount of speed, but I believe that this is a small price to pay, and shouldn't limit my engagement profile too much. I am going to be flying this fit for a few weeks, and I'll post an update on the results later.

There are a couple variations on this fit, which I think are probably superior:

1. Replacing the tracking rig with a hybrid collision accelerator.  Unfortunately, I don't have enough levels in Advanced Weapon Upgrades to fit this yet.
2. I believe an active rep version (with an AAR) may be superior, provided that I survive long enough to use all of the nanite paste charges.  The added advantage is that there is no speed loss associated with the active tank.  The only problem I have with this is that my capacitor skills are simply not very good yet, and my cap life is a bit too short for my liking.  I'll revisit this after training Capacitor Management IV, and Capacitor Systems Operation IV.







Goals & The Power of Specialization

As of this post, I have 4.8 million skill points, which automatically puts me at a disadvantage in the majority of my solo engagements.  Eve can be daunting at times, because of the sheer number of skills and the amount of training time required in order fly ships to the best of their capability.  Many of my corpmates in Eve University are able to fly a wide range of ship classes for many different races, but I find it difficult to imagine that many are able to fly them to their full capability.  Honestly, this is probably fine for fleets & gangs; a meta-fit cruiser is probably better for dps roles than a T2-fit frigate.  However, for solo PVP, I'm pretty certain that flying higher ship classes would simply lead to more expensive loss mails for me.

Although there are a lot of different ships I'd like to be able to fly, I've come to the realization that I'd be much better off if I focused my skill training.  After all, skills needed to fly a Prophecy are useless if I am sitting in a Frigate (which I am, 95% of the time).  Last week I made the decision to put aside most of my training plan, and focus exclusively on flying Gallente frigates and training the associated support skills.  This decision makes sense for a number of reasons:

1. I already have T2 small hybrid guns trained
2. My drone support skills are decent; I have Drones V, Scout Drone Operation V, and Drone Interfacing IV all trained.
3. Hull upgrades V is trained, meaning I can fit a T2 armor tank

All of these are well-aligned with flying Gallente frigates well.  Furthermore, the Incursus, Tristan, Atron, and Maulus are all very viable options for solo & small gang PVP.  As much as I love the Merlin, the remaining Caldari frigates would require me to cross-train a lot of missile support skills, and that is going to have to wait.

This is an Incursus fit that I have been flying recently:

[Incursus, Rail incursus v2]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I

Hobgoblin II x1

With my current skills, this gives me 4379 EHP, 115 DPS, and overheated speed of 1176 m/s in EFT. An all V's character will have 4479 EHP, 144 DPS, and a speed of 1356 m/s with this fit.  Clearly, I have a LOT of room for improvement here.  With proper training, I can improve my DPS by 25% and my speed by 15%.  My gunnery skills in particular need a lot of attention.  This my short-term training plan:

Gallente Frigate V
Navigation V
Acceleration Control IV
Evasive Maneuvering IV
Rapid Firing IV
Sharpshooter IV
Surgical Strike IV
Motion Prediction IV
Trajectory Analysis IV
Small Railgun Specialization III
Small Railgun Specialization IV
Cybernetics IV
Gunnery V
Combat Drone Operation IV

This will take about 4 weeks to train, but will leave this fit with 129 DPS and overheated speed of 1261 m/s.  I added Cybernetics IV (which is long overdue), primarily to unlock Zor's Custom Navigation Hyper Link, which gives me another nice speed boost.  My implant set will then be: 

[Slot 1] Genolution Core Augmentation CA-1
[Slot 2] Memory Augmentation - Basic
[Slot 3] Neural Boost - Basic
[Slot 4] Genolution Core Augmentation CA-2
[Slot 6] Eifyr & Co. 'Rogue' Navigation NN-603 (+3% Speed)
[Slot 7] Eifyr & Co. 'Rogue' Evasive Maneuvering EM-703 (+3% Agility)
[Slot 8] Zor's Custom Navigation Hyper Link (+5% AB/MWD Speed Boost)
[Slot 9] Inherent Implants 'Lancer' Gunnery RF-903 (+3% Firing Rate)
[Slot 10] Inherent Implants 'Noble' Hull Upgrades HG-1003 (+3% Armor)

Which then pushes this same fit up to: 133 DPS, 4512 EHP, 1344 m/s speed (over-heated), which will leave me only 8% below an "all V's" character in terms of DPS.  This is only the beginning; I still have a lot of skills support skills which need attention, but I am completely convinced that this is the best path to improving as a player.  One of the most successful PVP pilots in the Eve-Uni LSC also flies Gallente Frigates the majority of the time, and has skills like Small Railgun Specialization V, Drone Interfacing V, and Gallente Drone Specialization V trained.






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stupid Losses

I have now been playing Eve Online for three months, and I have lost many, many ships.  More than a few of them were lost because of a combination of my inexperience, ineptitude as a pilot, and enthusiasm to throw myself into virtually any engagement.

To phrase it differently, some of my losses have been flat-out stupid.  In my first post, I'd like to document some of the more memorable ones.

Let's start with my very first loss mail:

http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=19163843

I had just joined Red Federation, and I saw an Augoror Navy Issue outside our station.  Pretty much all that went through my mind at that time was: Flashy.  Shoot it.  I didn't know what an Augoror Navy Issue was and I didn't care.  I didn't know about aggression timer and docking mechanics either.  Didn't care.

If you have any experience in Eve at all, you can probably guess how quickly I died.  You might not think there was much to be learned from this (aside from "don't be an idiot"), but on the contrary, I probably learned more from this loss than any other I have experienced.  I immediately learned, and understood the aggression timer & docking mechanics.  I quickly learned that I needed to learn what each ship type was and what its capabilities are (which I am still working on).  Most importantly, I learned that if I am going to engage someone, I need to have a good idea of how I am going to win before the fight happens.

Next up: http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=113743

Engaged a Manticore on a gate, and was annihilated by the gate guns.  Every aspiring pirate had this happen to them once, right? RIGHT?  Yeah, I'm an idiot, but I'll definitely never do that again.

Third: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=20003940

This is a case where I scouted the pilot on eve-kill, and knew I'd be facing a HAM Caracal.  I figured I'd throw my dual-rep Incursus at him, just to see what would happen.  I figured that if I could keep my speed up, load void into my blasters, and overheat that I could rep through the damage and eventually score the kill.  Didn't work.  While I had virtually no chance of actually winning this, I did make a few mistakes: the biggest of which relying on the "orbit at 500" button.  The more I think about this, the more I think that using this button is almost never the right thing to do.  I'm going to dedicate a whole separate post to this later.

I could go on forever, but I'm going to end this post with this one: http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=19965874

I had been out looking for a fight for a while, and I finally saw an Incursus on d-scan at a station in Hevrice.  I warped to the station at 100km, and slow-boated around, just to let him know that I wanted a fight.  He eventually warped to a novice plex, and I warped at a range of 50km.  The logic here was that I thought he might be blaster fit (I was rail fit), and didn't want to get caught on the acceleration gate at zero if he was.  My whole plan for winning was to kite him within scram/web range.

I have already made a mistake here.  I could have easily looked at his ship to see whether he was rail fit or blaster fit.  If he was rail fit, I would know that I was probably up against a fit very similar to my own, against a pilot with far more experience and skill points.  The only right choice here would be to avoid the fight, and move on.

I warped into the gate at range, and saw my opponent sitting on the gate at zero.  I loaded spike in my guns, and moved within range.  I launched my drone, and starting firing a few volleys.  I wanted him to burn towards me, and start the fight off the gate, which would help avoid any of his corp-mates from warping in and blobbing me.  My plan was then to switch to faction ammo, and scram kite him at my optimal range.

This didn't happen.  Instead, he killed my drone, and took the gate into the plex.  Now that I'm down a drone, I should have just given up, gone back to high sec, bought a new drone, and found a new fight, right?  That would have been a good idea.  Instead, I followed him into the plex, we fired away at each other at our optimal range, and predictably I lost the fight.  I was still fixated on the idea that he might be fit with dual reps, and that I would have been able to kite him and have a good chance of winning.  Obviously, the only correct decision here was not to take the fight, and I had ample opportunity to gather enough information to come to that conclusion.  Once I lost my drone, it should have been even more obvious.

Most of my blog is going to be dedicated to my losses, for two reasons: 1. I lose ships VERY often, and 2. I find that losing a ship inspires more thought and analysis about my approach to PvP than anything else.  A good loss can have me thinking for DAYS about what I could have done differently.