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.