July 31, 2010

Fancy Ships: Part 2

In my last entry, I mentioned the following ships whose performance I would evaluate: the Republic Fleet Firetail, and the Imperial Navy Slicer. I have had much more experience with these two frigates than with the Cruor or Succubus, so these reviews will be a bit more colored by anecdotal experiences flying these ships.

First up...

Republic Fleet Firetail

Funny little ship, this. I first hopped into one about two months after I began my career as a capsuleer. I wasn't even able to use T2 guns yet, or any T2 modules, at that. What happened, of course, is an expensive loss because I misheard an order of "Don't tackle that Hurricane!" as "Tackle that Hurricane!"

It happens. But, I didn't fly it for a while until I had the  proper gun skills, and once I flew it again, it was wonderful. Until I lost it again. Then I bought another one, to try a different fit with it. And I lost it. To a Rifter. Maybe it wasn't an ordinary Rifter, since its pilot had implants, hardwirings, and knew everything he could about his Rifter. But still.

The Firetail is often compared to two other ships. Most often, it is referred to as a breed between an interceptor and a Jaguar assault frigate.

The Jaguar is a heavy shield tank boat, with good speed and good damage. It is popular amongst Minmatar T2 Frigate pilots who like the extra tactical advantage of the 4/4/3 slot layout better than the Wolf's pure damage 5/2/4 layout.

The Firetail is identical to the Jaguar, except for these points: (numbers extracted from nearly identical EFT fittings)
  • It has lower damage potential, but better tracking. (50 less DPS, but with 150% the Jaguar's tracking)
  • It is faster. (1.2 km/s difference with microwarpdrive)
  • It is more fragile, and also lacks adequate EM shield resistance. (2000+ HP difference)
So what's the point? An interceptor can easily overtake the Firetail in speed, and it can probably dodge damage better as well because of its reduced signature radius. Plus, the Claw, Crusader, and Taranis can all bring more damage to the table than the Firetail can. In my opinion, I don't see the use of a Firetail except as a "stepping stone" to fly a T2-strength ship but for a higher price and lower specialization. A shinier Rifter, if you will.

Price: 25,000,000 - 35,000,000 ISK

Some yet do not compare it to the Jaguar, but instead to the Dramiel. I cannot comment on that, though, since I am still flummoxed about the fact I lost my Dramiel to an...

Imperial Navy Slicer

That's right. I pilot a Dramiel so badly that I lose it to a ship worth less than half of its price. I am epic.

If there's something I have to hand to the Amarr Empire, it's that its engineers have good ingenuity. The Slicer was designed to counteract the best of Minmatar frigates, a task that it performs admirably well. Like the other empires' navies' special ships, the Slicer is a blend between an assault frigate, and an interceptor. In this case, it combines the Retribution's devastating damage and range, with an interceptor's speed.

Here's how the numbers run with one of the popular fittings, assuming perfect training:
  • Speed: 4.27 km/s
  • Damage: 124 DPS
  • Range: 19 km optimal, with 2.5 km falloff
But there's gotta be a catch, right? There's always a catch. Yeah, there is:
  • Tank: 3700 effective HP
  • No microwarpdrive signature radius reduction.
 So yeah, don't get caught.

From what I've seen, the Slicer has become a FOTW (Flavor Of The Week) here in Providence lately, in use by both friend and foe. I presume it is because of the large number of single-frigate patrols or scouts flying about. The Slicer is an excellent scouting ship, along with an excellent solo-fight ship. It can outrun most other frigates, and the ones it can't outrun it can just kite slowly and wither them down before they get close enough to deal any damage.

The counter against one? A cruiser, or other resilient ship that has drones or long range weapons. Don't expect to kill a lot of Slicers that way, though. After all, the Slicer's long operational range gives it great potential for getting out of sticky situations.

Price: 25,000,000 ISK

Oh, and did I mention a Cruor with a True Sansa Stasis Webifier should make short work of a Slicer as well? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it would.

July 21, 2010

Fancy Ships: Part 1

So, you've been flying your Rifter for a long time, right? So long that you even trained Tech-II ships, and have flown its bigger brothers, the Wolf and Jaguar. Maybe even flown some fast interceptors, tricky electronic attack ships, or the occasional elusive stealth bomber. They are excellent ships, much better than their basic T1 counterparts. And yet, why is it that seeing one of these flying at you inspires fear into the heart of many non-suicidal* frigate pilots:

* i.e. not me
A creation of the Angel Cartel pirates, the Dramiel is a very powerful frigate. It's fast, its tank is hard to break, and it has drones! However, many pilots wonder if ships like the Dramiel are worth paying many times more than for a T2 ship. And since I appreciate cheapskates so much, I will spend money in their stead in order to rate these frigates (donations appreciated).

Unfortunately, as I cannot yet use T2 drones properly, I cannot comment on the Dramiel's full capabilities. Instead, tonight I will talk about a couple other frigates, starting with one I liked so much, I actually bought a second after losing my first: the Succubus.


Pilots who live in regions haunted by Sansha's Nation may recognize this spiked little bugger:

Actually, "little" would not be a proper word for it, considering it's the most massive frigate I have flown. At least visually, it is maybe twice more massive than a Rifter. Plus, the image above shows a Succubus as flown by its Sansha original owners, not yours truly. The modified capsuleer version features an extra laser hardpoint, an advanced shield module, and improved thrust compared to its original version.

So what's the big deal? Let's take a look at some stats:
  • Damage: Combining the electronics expertise of Caldari frigates with the laser technology of the Amarr allows the Succubus to deal near-Destroyer amounts of damage. Its two lasers provide the equivalent of 6 lasers of the same calibre, before the bonus that familiarity with Caldari frigates gives it.
  • Tracking: The fewer hardpoints means more of the ship's tracking computer can be used for each gun, giving improved tracking of targets that results in larger calibre lasers being more efficient at close range.
  • Tank: While not the hardiest frigate, the Succubus is a tough nut to break if its (rather poor) T1 shield resistances are patched up.
However, despite its merits as a damage boat, the Succubus remains a not-too-popular frigate. So unpopular that its price is less than half of that of a Daredevil or Cruor (more on the Cruor in a bit). I don't know what the public finds unappealing about it, but here are some defects I spotted:
  • Speed: With a T2 afterburner on, the Succubus only reaches a disappointing 850 m/s, despite it not having a bulky armor tank. This eliminates the possibility of it having "keep at range" as a viable tactic, and needs to depend more on its target coming up close.
  • Capacitor: A lesson I learned the hard way is that the Succubus thrives on its capacitor. From its guns, to its propulsion, to maintaining its shields, it cannot operate without proper energy reserves. An energy vampire is strongly recommended, and if faced with too much energy drain, the Succubus will simply be shut down.
  • Bailing: If it gets in trouble (energy neutralization, too much damage,  or out-of-class fight) the Succubus has little way to disable its enemy and escape. In other words, the "die in a fire" potential is a bit high for its price.
But don't let those turn you off from flying it yourself! I am personally planning to use it as fire support in small frigate fleets, to provide damage that most other frigates can't bring. for faster ganks, or for bigger targets.  

Price: 45,000,000-55,000,000 ISK.


The ships of the Blood Raiders strike fear into the hearts of the residents of the Amarr Empire. Or their veins, I suppose, they're just as good a place to draw blood from. Drawing upon cutting edge Amarr energy warfare technology, and upon Minmatar speed superiority research, the Cruor is fearsome to capsuleers as well.

A Cruor shutting down a Succubus.

It is a pretty awesome ship. Still somewhat bulky like the Succubus, the Cruor boasts an even larger capacitor (the largest of any frigate), which gives it a much more stable ground to tread on when its enemy is an energy neutralizer. Why? Because its specialization is energy neutralization, which gives it many times over the neutralizing power that any other frigate has, with the possible exception of the Sentinel electronic attack frigate.

On top of that, the Cruor's on-board electronics are specially configured to work especially well with stasis webifiers, which can turn speed-tanked ships into lumbering, fragile ships for the Cruor's lasers to slice through.

But now, let's get a bit more technical with these advantages:
  • Energy drain: With almost 100 GJ per neutralizer (which it uses two of) per cycle, it is scary considering most frigates' capacitor levels. A Rifter's capacitor, for instance, only holds around 300 GJ. Its drain has shut down a Taranis in a mere few seconds in a test battle, and has accidentally killed a Rifter because it turned its damage control unit off. Yikes!
  • Stasis webifier: With a T2 stasis webifier, the Cruor boasts a 90% speed reduction to its target. This effectively makes the Cruor faster than almost any other ship it can web.
  • Escape potential: Due to the fact it can run most frigates dry of capacitor, the Cruor always has an escape possibility from a sticky situation by shutting down the point of its assailant.
Of course, these bonuses come at a price (in ISK and in other things). While still not as in the spotlight as the Dramiel is, the Cruor sports a much higher price than the Succubus... Perhaps because its drawbacks are really not all that bad.
  • Speed: The Cruor suffers from the same low base speed as the Succubus. However, this is mitigated by its awesome web. It especially does a good job if fit with a special long range web, such as a Sansha-made one, but this drives its price even higher than it already is.
  • Tank: With only 3 low-power slots and poor T1 resists, it can't fit much of an impressive tank. It could be better if it were rigged to absorb more damage, but that sacrifices some of the advantage it would get from capacitor rigging.
Even though I have not combat-tested the Cruor against actual hostiles, I like it more than the Succubus. It's a bit pricey for its capabilities, but if you want a great ship that a Dramiel will think twice about attacking and that can summarily dispatch a Taranis, you need to try the Cruor out.

Price: 90,000,000 - 110,000,000 ISK.

I hope this will encourage some pilots to save up a bit of ISK and fly one of these great but unpopular ships.

Coming soon: commentary on a couple of special frigates flown by the Minmatar and Amarr navies: the Republic Fleet Firetail, and the Imperial Navy Slicer.