Friday, July 13, 2012

It All Happened So Quickly

When people claim Eve's combat is slow paced, they are speaking out of ignorance. Maybe they've seen a video on youtube or even played the trial for awhile. But everyone I know who has experienced PvP combat in Eve never says it is slow, dull, or easy.

I should note that PvP is Eve is not fair. And the fights that I am talking about are when the odds are against you.

Information pours in faster than you can process it, often paralyzing unseasoned pilots. Every After Action Review I conduct typically has me pointing out some obvious choice I should have made, but I was too overwhelmed at the time to identify and make it.

Some times I choose the wrong strategy: fleeing instead of fighting.

Other times there are tactical errors: like in this recent fight

I had the gang split on a gate with the Stabber and the Vengeance on my side. I pulled range from the gate, but fearing that the Stabber wouldn't follow me, I didn't overheat my MWD. 

ERROR: If the Stabber didn't want to fight, he would have jumped through the gate. Not maximizing my speed allowed him to catch and scram me quickly.

I finished off the Stabber, but then the rest of the gang showed up. I did not think they had as many as they did, but the majority of the incoming damage came from the Stabber, Vengeance, an Ishtar, and a Manticore.

ERROR: I failed to spot, lock, and shoot the Manticore immediately. His torpedo damage was immense, and all I had to do was sic my drones on the fragile frigate. Instead, I was shooting the Vengeance.

Removing the Manticore would have eliminated a significant portion of DPS. Would my Hurricane have survived? Doubtful. Even if I managed to kill the Vengeance after the Manticore, the other Assault Frigates would have likely caught up with me. But I would have had a better fight!

I was flying a shield Hurricane (low tank, but speedy) with big guns that have low tracking; this means I need to minimize transversal by flying directly away from my targets, hoping they chase after me in a straight line. 

I'm going to enumerate some of the decisions I had to make.

  • Jumped into system with Isktar activating gate. Stabber and Vengeance waiting to jump. I had at most 20 seconds to decide how to proceed. Do I go back through the gate? Do I start kiting and fight? Do I try warping?
  • Choosing to fight, I have to decide the direction to fly. What is my position relative to the enemies, the gate, and possible warp destinations?
  • What is my primary target?
  • Choosing to shoot the Stabber and burn toward a moon, do I activate my MWD? Do I overheat?
  • Turn on Damage Control. 
  • Lock the Stabber.
  • Overheat and turn on guns.
  • I have 2 energy neutralizers. Do I active them? On whom?
  • Launch drones. Engage which target?
  • Pay attention to my distance and transversal. Adjust accordingly.
  • What is my next target? (Based on ship class, potential threat, distance, etc.)
  • Could I warp? (i.e. Am I pointed? Could I kill the ships that are disrupting my warp drives?)
  • Am I scrammed? (Could I activate my MWD to pull range?)

There is too much to discern and decide. This is why it is folly for a pilot to spend his or her early Eve career running missions to accumulate wealth. The pilot learns nothing about actual Eve combat and gets frustrated when they lose expensive ships regularly. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

I Think I'm Getting Worse

After Saturday's less than superb performance, I was ready to start Sunday anew. I toss my shield Rupture over my shoulder and head into our neighbors' pocket to see what they're up to.

I was welcomed by a lone Wolf Assault Frigate whom I greeted with bullets. All I did was burn toward a celestial with an overheated MWD; he chased me at low transversal but quickly reversed when I ripped through his armor. He wasn't too keen on being kited and managed to escape (at 3200 m/s) when in deep structure. Too bad--that kill would have really lifted my spirits.

I went farther into the pocket, passing a small camp on one of the gates. They tried chasing me around system for a bit and then gave up. A Vagabond came out to pursue (and keep tabs on me), but I gave him the run around, and darted back to the entry system.

When the initial gang stopped chasing me, I figured they'd be waiting to gank me at my only exit. But after an hour or so of being a pest, I also assumed they'd get bored and either roam or dock up. Not so.

I was at the edge of the HIC bubble and chanced a getaway. I waited until the Stilettos orbited away and made a break for it. I was too busy spamming warp and hoping to fall off out of disruptor range that I didn't even think to shoot the Stilettos. One of the interceptor pilots was the Wolf from earlier, and he likely would have flown right at me again. I could have potentially killed both Stilettos and warped out!

I need to think of these things before I die.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Busy Day

I lost three Battlecruisers yesterday.

A Hookbill was poking around right when I logged in. I undocked in a Cyclone, and was gonna fight it once I knew if he had friends or not. Then one of my brethren came outside in a Drake, and the Hookbill warped off.

The Drake warped to the gate, following the interloper, jumped through, and reported a Hookbill and Sabre. I was fairly sure there were more, but decided to fight anyway. When I jumped through, the frigate and interdictor were dancing around us, at about 30-60 km, and I couldn't catch them.

Plus one in system. A Hurricane shows up on scan. If that's all they have, then this shouldn't be too terrible. Hurricane lands right in front of me, and I open fire.

Some points on the video:

  • I managed my capacitor fairly well during the fight; one my in injects was completely neuted away before I used it, but other than that, I think my timing was good.
  • I burnt my guns out because I was too busy watching my cap/shields. I died shortly afterwards, but it still shouldn't have happened.
  • I should have called the Hurricane primary from the beginning. Because if I had, it would have died, and I likely would have lived. For whatever reason, my Drake fleetmate decided to shoot the Sabre until I explicitly said otherwise. The Hurricane didn't die either: he launched ECM drones and managed to warp off when he was in deep structure. I was the only casualty.

My Drake friend logged, so I went out alone in a shield Hurricane. And of course along my route I get caught by a Stiletto interceptor. He doesn't shoot me at all, so he is just pinning me down until his fleet arrives. I try a few times to slingshot him into neut range, but it doesn't happen. I jump back home with the Stiletto very close behind.

Eventually his fleet shows themselves: the Hookbill from earlier, a Drake, and a Stabber Fleet Issue. They are sitting at our station, and I undock in a kiting Rupture to see if I can take out the Stiletto or Hookbill from afar. I warp around system a bit, but when I get good positioning on the frigates, the Stiletto is well-piloted. He approaches me at an angle, and too fast for my guns. So before I get tackled I warp back to station; doesn't look like I'll get to pick any of them off.

(It is possible that the Stiletto would simply hold at range with a point while the Hookbill came close at a very low-transversal vector, letting me blast it into debris. But once again I was afraid of the SFI, and once again we will see that it is not the kind of fit that makes the SFI really shine. I should just assume that enemy SFIs are fit like baby Vagabonds, and not a real threat.)

I tell them in local that it is just me here (everyone else is AFK). They aren't interested in station games, so they leave.

But then some people wake up. We get a little fleet together, composed of me in an armor Hurricane, a Drake, and a Rupture.

We quickly pursue them to the out-gate, isolating their Drake. We are too slow to hold tackle on it, so he warps off. But they know we are looking for a fight now.

We jump into them on the other side of the gate and start shooting. Our Drake was tanking for some time before we could follow him, but we manage to kill a Brutix, his juicy pod, and that SFI.

You can hear me at the end of the video excitedly shooting their Talos. I burnt out one of my webs and MWD, so he pulls range, and blows me up. "damnit."

I think I did well in that fight, other than burning out my modules. If I had the second web and my MWD, could I have kept the Talos pinned down such that his guns would have trouble tracking me? I have no idea.

A while later, Eebsy and I go out in armor battlecruisers to christen his new boat, and die to a gang because we had no maneuverability and no fast tackle. We tried to catch the Curse that came through first, but it was too fast even when I had use of my MWD. A few minutes later, the rest of the fleet finished us off.

Even though I lost 150mil+ ISK in ships and modules, it still was good fun, and I had some good fights.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Destroyer Denouement

Now that I am in a fresh Thrasher (part 1), Eebsy and I depart toward a different section of Syndicate.

When we get there, we find a Tengu and a Legion: both Tech3 Strategic Cruisers, both completely out of our engagement envelope.

We double back, and I ask, "How badly do you want a fight? Do you want to blow up?" Eebs exclaims positively, and I know exactly where to go.

Syndicate is split into halves by a single system that also connects to the only high-sec entrance. It is camped 90% of the time and is always active. Even if it is not, lower Syndicate is very busy during the US timezones. We march south.

The system right before FD- has two pilots in local that have belonged to NPC corps for several years. It is very likely that they are cloaked, scouting alts for whatever is on the other side of the gate.

I tell Eebs to hold as I jump in.

"Sabre, Enyo, Rifter, Thrasher, Stiletto." That fleet that is actually not terrible for us to engage.

My initial plan was to reapproach the gate, hopefully getting a few to shoot at me. Then, depending on who shot, didn't shoot, or jumped, I'd tell Eebs to come through or I'd jump back to him. I didn't notice right away that they were 265 km from the gate, but they soon warp directly to it.

The Rifter jumped out (possibly on accident), and a Retribution Assault Frigate on Eebs' side lands and begins to scram him. I tell Eebs to jump and call the Sabre as primary target.

We kill the Sabre right before Eebs blows up, and I quickly switch to the Thrasher--I know how thin they can be, and there is no way I could catch that Stiletto nor kill the Enyo before I die.
Your group of 200mm AutoCannon II is well aimed at Melissa Blick (Thrasher) 'Stallman Collapses!' <AGONY>, inflicting 440.4 damage.
My final shot takes away half of the Thrasher's armor. If I got off another two or three, then the destroyer would have been space rubble.

I wish Agony "gf", and we take the Pod Express home. Killing a Sabre Interdictor for two destroyers is nice trade (73 mil vs. 30 mil).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tackling a Talos

The Star Map displays vacant and derelict systems in upper Syndicate (a common, unfortunate state for the past few weeks); only one or two dabs of activity. I glance through my hangar, pondering what ship to use in tonight's high jinks.

I initially thought I would go out alone, but my friend and corpmate expresses interest in spaceship violence. I undock in a Thrasher, and he, in a Coercer--both cheap tech 1 destroyers.

I've been favoring Destroyers over Assault Frigates for my roams lately. The destroyer isn't quite as tiny (signature) nor as nimble as an AF, and it lacks the nice tech 2 shield/armor/structure resistances, but it can do as much if not more damage than an AF at 30% of the ISK cost.

Eebsy and I set out toward our destination and find the system seemingly empty. There are a few people docked up, and some wrecks at an asteroid belt. As I am leaving, I sight a Hound stealth bomber on my scanner, and thus suspect he is ratting in it. We feign ignorance and wait in the empty system next door. After a few minutes, we decide to go back for the Hound.

Local chat displays one fewer pilot in system when we return, which leads me to believe that the Hound moved on. I warp to the only other gate.

To my surprise, I see a Talos on scan. I narrow him to a belt and tell my friend to be ready for when I get tackle. I warp to the belt, and the battlecruiser is already 90 km from me. I begin to fly in his direction, minding my transversal velocity. He doesn't run, but instead locks me and begins firing. A Talos is a glass cannon--they are fast for battlecruisers, but also lacking in hitpoints; they fit battleship-size guns (one class up), and thus can be very devastating. I adjust my vector to fly at about a 45 degree angle to his, to keep my transversal velocity high (to evade his shots).
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle hits you, doing 1834.7 damage.
Well it worked for awhile.
That one lucky shot eliminated all my shields--my primary defense. I'm still about 45 km from him. We are moving at nearly the same pace: ~1800 m/s. He slows down to about 1500 m/s, which leads me to believe he's turned off the overheat on his MWD. I turn on mine to close distance.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle misses you completely.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle barely scratches you, causing 184.8 damage.
Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle barely scratches you, causing 365.5 damage.

He's starting to get some glancing blows against my armor, but he's dropped to 200 m/s, likely burnt out his MWD.
You have started trying to warp scramble Skrunkle (Talos)
I land a scram on him, but he wasn't trying to get away to begin with. His tactic was to kite me in hopes that I flew directly at him with 0 transversal, allowing his guns to do full damage. With him tackled, I call in Eebsy.

But then: sadness.

Neutron Blaster Cannon II belonging to Skrunkle barely scratches you, causing 568.4 damage.
Ship stopping.
I sling past him briefly in an elliptical orbit since my MWD was still on. He gets another lucky shot that blasts through my hull completely.

We offer 'gf' to each other in local, and I warp my pod away. Eebs had entered system when I requested, and is in warp toward my wreck. Without a MWD, the Talos pilot is likely concerned with my cohort, so he leaves the belt. Eebs examines the wreck and surprisingly finds most of my modules intact! We head home so that I can fit up another Thrasher with all my damaged goods.

The night is still young.