December 20, 2012

Question From A Newbie: "I jumped into a gate camp! Help!"

This question is brought to you by Gibbous Outamon of Rifterlings, and by the letter G (for gank!).

So you're going about your business and jumping through a gate. You arrive on the other side, and find yourself in a group of baddies. Welp.

They want your body.

What do I do?!

Okay, first things first. There is something really important you must do:

No, really. You have 60 seconds of cloak. That's enough time that the enemy gang (depending on its size) could probably kill you over and over and over again. Just relax, and figure out a solution.

The three most common things to do are to either simply warp off, crash the gate, or run the camp. While there are other solutions (fight, light a cyno, cloak-MWD trick, call in the blob/cavalry, etc) they are not within the scope of a sudden "oh god, I'm in a gate camp, what do I do" situation, and thus are not covered here.

Option 1: Warp off

This thing here:

You could definitely try this. However, if you fail (they target you and point you), you will most likely die.

Option 2: Crash the gate

This is a bit more sophisticated than option #1, but it is still pretty simple. The objective is to get back to the gate you came through. Steps:

  1. Find an opportune moment to do this. Either when they are not particularly near you, someone else draws their attention away, or something. If none of these happen, try to wait for as long as you can (to aggravate the campers, or hope something does happen).
  2. Hit "approach" back to the gate.
  3. Hit that propulsion mod! HIT IT HARD! (You do have a propulsion mod, right?)
  4. Turn on any tank modules you have! Active tank, resists, everything! You only need to survive a few seconds!
  6. Once within 4-5 km, spam the heck out of the "jump" button. GOGOGOGOGO!!
  7. If you have a MWD and they turn it off, be cool and coast to the gate. 
  8. Jump!
  9. Mock the assailants in local before changing system.
  10. Watch for anyone following you through the jump. You may need to evade again on the other side.
Or, in lovingly-rendered drawings:
The sound effects are completely necessary for this to work.
Caution: at no point should you return fire! This will stop you from going back through the gate! Don't let the adrenaline get the best of you.

Now, I should specify some caveats:
  • Excessive webs will keep you from reaching the gate. If a Rapier or similar is present, you are likely dead.
  • Microwarpdrive ships are vulnerable to fast-locking enemies with warp scramblers. If there are frigates around, you may have to be extra careful.
Lastly, remember this does not have a 100% success rate. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but this is usually one of the best ways to escape.

Option 3: Run the camp

This is the least normally applicable thing to do, but it is feasible when your ship is exceptionally fast compared to their ships, and they do not have very good long range capability. Often, if this is true, option #1 is more applicable, but there is a middle ground of cases where #1 is not possible. 

The concept behind it is banking on you being technically "caught", but then escaping. This means that yes, you will be pointed, and will take some damage, but you will be able to somehow escape. This escape is via a combination of sheer speed and blapping their tacklers (frigates/interceptors). Its success rate is iffy, but when it works, you feel like a badass.

Cynabal approves of this product and/or service.
The steps:
  1. Make sure your overview is showing all brackets in space (yes, including moons). 
  2. Look around for a warp-able celestial object with no enemies "in your path". This is a judgment call -- there is not much advice I can give here. If you are in a bubble in nullsec, try to also find the fastest way out of it possible.
  3. Select it, hit "align". Turn on and overheat your propulsion mod.
  4. Watch for enemy response.
    1. If fast ships start chasing you, hold your course and mow them down.
    2. If long-range ships are pounding you too hard, try to alter course to break their tracking (if they're guns, not missiles).
  5. Stick around to mess with them (particularly effective in a Vagabond or Cynabal), or warp off.
  6. Mockery is required.

And, of course, the caveats:
  • This is a bit more resilient to webs, but a Rapier still spells doom.
  • Does not work if they have high long range damage (artillery, heavy missiles, etc)
  • If you screw it up and something heavy/resilient tackles you, you're screwed.
  • Kiting experience is very useful in pulling this off.
  • If you die doing it, you look very stupid.

So, when do I do each of these?

I was going to do a long-winded explanation of this, but I can't think of any better one than just a flow chart. So... here you go (click to zoom in): 

And, last but not least...

Good luck, and don't beat yourself up for dying if you do. Learning to avoid and handle gate camps is really hard.

Now, go forth and pew!

October 10, 2012

Magic Nullification: Countering Kiting

So, since kiting is definitely not magic, that means you can fight it, right? Right. But how?

You can't point this!

First, you have to realize the one major weakness of almost every kiting ship: it usually cannot take, or deal, as much damage as a brawling ship. It naturally follows that you should try to hit it harder than it's hitting you. How to do that depends on your ship/fit, what type of kiter you're facing, and other factors, but here's some general advice:

  • Close distance if you can. The closer you are, the more you will be able to punch the kiter in the face.
  • Load long range ammo if you can. If you can afford it, always use T2 guns for this very reason (Scorch, Null, and Barrage ammo are your friends against kiters).
  • Overheat, overheat, overheat. This especially applies to your warp scrambler and stasis webifier, both of which gain range when overheated -- possibly giving you that small edge to get on top of the kiter.
  • Use your electronic warfare. Many kiters are easily crippled by electronic warfare (tracking disruptors, sensor dampeners, energy neutralizers, etc).
  • Run away, or get a friend. Kiting ships don't usually do spectacular damage, so you may be able to hold up until you can jump out or dock up, or until a friend can come help. You can even holler in local if there are people who may be interested in killing the kiter. They might kill you as well, but at least that way your kiter dies too.
Blob mode... engage!

So, now that that general advice is over with, let's look at some particular tactics for messing up kiters.

1. Break the kiter's approach

Remember this little piece of advice I gave aspiring kiters on how their approach should work?

How a kiter sees you
Well, you're going to get a similar thing, except in reverse! You want the kiter's path to directly intersect yours, landing you on top of him. 

But wait, it's not that simple! If you were thinking "I'll just hit the 'approach' button", you will still die to most kiters, as they see you approaching and will simply burn at an angle (as in the above illustration). When you see a kiter approaching you, watch for the direction his engine trails show up in, and double click in space directly opposite to them. This looks like (from two perspectives):

Yes, I used the same "ship burning semi-sideways" image as before. So?

When you do this, it will either end up with you catching your kiter, or him having to make a snap decision to switch direction to dodge you -- which you need to be prepared by switching your own direction, until one of you catches the other. If you're trying to catch him, overheat all the things to have a better chance at doing so. With some luck, the sudden burst of speed and tackle range will catch him off guard and win you the fight.

Storytime: This is how I got my first kill of a T2 ship in a T1-fit Rifter! I had just quit a fleet in a huff (they had sent me to scout several systems away while they got in a sweet fight) when I ran into this guy. I broke his orbit, held him down, and won the fight with about 1/3 structure remaining. I'm still proud of it to this day. As anyone who flies with me can testify, I have only gotten worse at flying since then.


2. Break the kiter's orbit ("slingshot")

All kiters are potentially vulnerable to this once they set up their orbit, especially if their agility is poor or their speed advantage isn't significant. Many kiters are surprised by the almost magical sequence of everything suddenly going wrong: their point/damage dropping, soon followed by being caught and killed.

How it works: 
  1. Double click in a random direction in space, preferably right behind where the kiter is.
  2. Turn on your propulsion mod (MWD preferably, but AB can work too)
  3. Run a cycle or so in that direction.
  4. Double click in the complete opposite direction (possibly slightly to the side), overheat things, and get ready to catch yourself a kiter.
Why it works:

Second panel: That is the scariest blue dot I have ever drawn.

When you burn out in one direction, the kiter's inertia keeps carrying him along the original orbit -- which is now too far from you. If he is using the "orbit" button, he will start almost approaching you. This leads to a very easy catch. If he is being smart and manually piloting, it may be harder, but at least it cuts out the damage for a bit, and makes him work harder for killing you.

3. Terrain advantage, or friendly help

If you ever tried to kite someone near asteroids or a station, you'll have noticed it is incredibly difficult to kite while constantly colliding (bumping) with your surroundings. As someone being kited, you can use this to your advantage.

Simply stick around stations, asteroids, gates, or other collidable objects and use them as nets to catch you a kiter.

Kiter's worst enemy.

Bonus points: substitute a friend for these for an asteroid that can tackle! (and don't tell your friend he's only an asteroid to you)

4. See it coming, and act accordingly (run away!)

Kiters are the bane of some ships' existence (e.g. afterburner blaster ships). There is little they can do to win against a kiter. So... learn to use your directional scanner, local channel, and intel channels. You can also warp in at safe distances, or try other classic "safe practices". These will all help you not be surprised by kiters. 

This also includes knowing what some common kiting ships are. It's up to you to form a mental list of these, but so far as frigates go, here's a sample list of ships for which kiting combat fits are very common (other ships can kite too, but are somewhat uncommon): Executioner, Condor, Coercer, Cormorant, Thrasher, Slicer, Hookbill, Retribution, Hawk, Harpy, Ishkur, Wolf, Crusader, Crow, Sentinel, Dramiel, Daredevil, Worm. If you have more, please let me know in the comments.

Over time, you can also become familiar with identifying the speed of a ship, and inferring its fit from that. For example, a Retribution moving at 400 m/s base speed is kiting fit; one moving at 300 m/s has a plated fit, and won't kite.

... the less unexpected your enemy will be!

5. Scram range (-ish) kiters

This sort of kiter presents extra problems since he is typically expecting a warp scrambler and a stasis webifier -- and can kill you despite you "catching" him. If one of these has engaged you, it means that he is already confident he can kill you (he has done his job selecting targets) and you most likely are vulnerable to something he is doing.

This means you are either dealing with someone who knows what he's doing (and you will have to do all of the above, possibly repeatedly, to win this) or he doesn't, in which case he will fold up easily. In both cases, you have to fire all the weapons ever. That's as much as I can tell you.

Pew Pe-pew Pew!

The... end?

Sort of. Both kiting and countering it require lots of practice, and every time you do it (whether you are successful or not) you are bound to learn something new. Try them both, too: knowing how to kite helps you counter others' kiting, and vice versa. Read both the last post and this one, grab a friend (or an enemy, I'm not picky), and go practice. Pew pew!

October 8, 2012

Magical Kiting 101

Bittervet note: Only frigate kiting is covered here. Vagabonds, Cynabals, Zealots, Tengus, Machariels, etc can go... do something else.

I love flying kiting ships from time to time. Now and then, a newer corp member calls me a space wizard because kiting seems impossibly difficult to do (probably as a result of a bad experience trying it straight up). My saying "it's not that hard" doesn't really help, since it somehow just reinforces the space wizardry. Well... I'm here to tell you:

I am not a space wizard! Kiting is not space magic!

Marvel at the lack of magic in this picture.

"Okay, so then how do you do it?"

Well... Kiting (and doing it properly) can be complicated, and can vary in difficulty depending on what ship you pick, your fit, and your target. So, let's outline some basic steps:
  1. Pick a ship and weapon system, keeping their stats (speed, damage, tracking, fittings) in mind
  2. Pick a non-point-blank range you want to operate at
  3. Decide how you will control range to your target (alternatively, settle on a selection of targets you will be able to keep range from; alternatively, decide how to handle something catching you)
  4. Create a fit encompassing #1-3; try to build in a "surprise" or "ace up the sleeve" if you can
  5. Fly it. Correctly.
Seems simple, right? Eh... almost. "Kiting" is merely the concept of fighting a target by using speed and superior damage projection. Beyond that, there are kiting ships and there are kiting ships, and each type of kiting requires different techniques. Some examples are orbiting with a MWD at 20 km or so, versus simply holding range at 20 km or more, versus kiting just on the edge of warp scrambler range (with a MWD or AB), versus kiting within scram range with an AB. With that in mind, let's start looking at a step by step breakdown of kiting:

1. The Ship

No magic, just a Slicer.

Lots of ships can kite. The only prerequisites are being able to be relatively fast, and being able to fit a relatively long range weapon. An optimal or falloff range bonus helps, as does fitting long range ammo, or other tactics (side point: T1 kiting fits are hard to come by; train T2). Let's look at some examples of different types:
  • Imperial Navy Slicer (Amarr) - Featured in the snapshot above. The Slicer is a quintessential MWD-kiting frigate. It is capable of very high speeds, excellent agility, and the combination of its damage bonus, optimal range, and pulse lasers with Scorch crystals means it can hit for very good damage as far as 22 km away, with very little tracking problems. All this comes at the cost of it being a bit paper-thin though.
  • Harpy (Caldari) - This assault frigate is not remarkably fast/agile, but it mounts a giant tank and has two optimal range bonuses. This means that railguns are right at home on it, and can easily get 20+ km ranges with damage beating the Slicer's, while having many times the tank -- meaning it handles itself better if it gets caught, or against bigger ships.
Its base hull might be the "Merlin", but that is a reference to the bird of prey, not the wizard.
  • Caldari Navy Hookbill (Caldari) - Fairly fast and agile, it can be flown with light missiles for very long range, or with rockets for borderline-scrambler range. Its 5 mid slots allowit to have great flexibility, and few frigates can fight it toe to toe due to the nasty surprises the Hookbill often brings to the table (a combination of webs, tracking disruptors, sensor dampeners, or tank). Handles itself well within or without warp scrambler range.
  • Ishkur (Gallente) - Compatable to the Harpy, but faster and has the nifty unique ability of throwing a full flight of drones at its target, resulting in reliable, range-independent and tracking-independent damage. Gets most of its hit points by just fitting a Damage Control, which is really convenient.
  • Wolf (Minmatar) - Is faster than most other assault frigates, and can take its pick of autocannon or artillery for kiting, giving it the freedom to choose between great tracking and dangerous up close, or great alpha strike.
Of course, lots of other ships can kite, but these are just some examples. Now, on to the next part:

2. Range, and Controlling It

Dramiel, king of range control, whether it kites or not. 
While kiting can be simply distilled to "keeping out of the other guy's range", specializing your own ship to work at a particular range -- and to be able to keep itself at that range -- is the right thing to do. Some broad categories of ranges and their characteristics are:

  • Scram range (5-10 km). This is within the operational range of warp scramblers and stasis webifiers, so an afterburner, scrambler, and (possibly) web of your own are mandatory to control optimal position. You may want to have a way to manage people who do get in close.
  • Borderline scram range (10-14 km). This range is one of the most difficult to keep, since it requires careful management of overheated modules (scramblers, webs, afterburners, and microwarpdrive pulsing). Few ships can pull it off, but it can catch enemies quite off guard.
  • Skirmish range (15-28 km). This is typically outside the range of hard tackle modules, which means a lot of fast zipping around with microwarpdrives. In some ways, it is the easiest to fly, as getting out of sticky situations is easier. However, you either have to be very fast, very good, or able to handle being caught -- if you're not, you will die.
  • Sniping range (30+ km). Not for solo combat unless you can kill your enemy before they have a chance to warp. Typically means death if you get caught, so stay aligned
45 km beam laser sniping Coercer = almost magical

Pick one, and pick a weapon system for your kiting ship to match it. Make sure your range/speed do not break your weapon system (for example, using railguns in scram range is usually a poor idea, or using artillery on a super-fast ship like a Dramiel or Claw is also a poor idea).

3. Your Fit

There really isn't an easy way to describe how you should fit, other than putting an emphasis on range control and damage. Tank is auxiliary (but needs some consideration), and extra doodads (tracking disruptors?) can also come into it, but really it's about staying away and doing damage.
  • High slots: Appropriate weapons, possibly a nosferatu (cap is vital for range control) or an offline salvager, too.
  • Med slots: Your choice of propulsion mod based on your chosen range and appropriate tackle. Tank (if you're shield tanked), webs, or other cantrips are secondary.
  • Low slots: Damage/range mods, nanofiber internal structures, overdrive injectors, damage control (not strictly necessary, but nice). Think twice before armor tanking, it is usually counterproductive.
Ishkur belonging to this Warrior not pictured because it's so good at kiting (not because it's magical).

Most fits end up pretty straightforward. Have some examples of my own:
  • Shield Rifter (scram range). Uses Rifter's superior speed to keep range. Usually works better with T2 guns and Barrage, but the base autocannon falloff can be sufficient.
  • Edit: Condor and Slasher (scram range). At Azual's request, these deserve mention as faster but more fragile alternatives to the shield Rifter. With its 4 mid slots, the Slasher can even pack some surprise electronic warfare of some kind. I haven't used them myself in this way, though, so I can't link you my fits.
  • "Spanish Inquisition" Malediction (scram range). Can either out-range or out-track most frigates, plus is rather unexpected. More details in a dedicated blog post.
  • "Long Arm of the Law" Comet (borderline scram range). Decent tank, great damage, and can out-run most frigates. Those it can't outrun, it either webs so it can, or tracks perfectly (because they have a MWD running).
  • Dick-Cormorant (borderline scram range). Keeps the target at arm's length (12-13 km away) using overheated webs, while shredding it with railguns. More details in a dedicated blog post.
  • Super Slicer (skirmish range). Incredibly fast and hard to hit, but it can hit things very well at up to 22 km, with no tracking problems (pulse lasers are short range weapons, yo!)
  • Bittervet Harpy (skirmish range). Not quite as fast as the Slicer, but much better range, and can take far more damage.
  • Hotpocket Coercer (sniping range). Named after the guy I stole the fit from, this lovely just sits far away and applies constant damage. Frigates unaware of it can do can easily get caught by surprise and blown up before realizing what's going on.

4. Your Piloting

Even if you got all the above right (or copied one of my fits), you are still liable to die horribly. No, it's not because kiting is magical, but rather because...

Using automatic piloting (orbiting, keep range) is ineffective, predictable, and can/will get you killed!

To really master kiting, you have to know when to manually pilot, and when to just let things happen. Especially at the start of a fight, you never ever want to use automatic functions. Yes, manual piloting means double clicking in space. Yes, it involves split-second reaction times. Yes, it's easy to screw up. Yes, having a faster ship helps. Let me break it up for you:

The Approach. You want to manually try to approach your target at an angle, so you ease into range. Burning into the target is not good (as he may catch/kill you), and burning behind him will just make you not catch him. Have a helpful diagram:

Of course, if he realizes you're doing this and shifts path to try to make you head into one of the red areas, you will need to shift your own trajectory. It takes some practice to master this step, so get a friend and try practicing catching him (with him trying his best to not be caught). This will give you both valuable experience for real combat situations in which you're either trying to kite, or to counter a kiter.

The Range-Keeping. Once you get in range, how do you stay there? For some ships, like the Slicer, the answer may be "hit orbit". However, that is only the case if you have the speed and tracking for it. The Harpy, for example, breaks its own tracking if it tries that, while others are not agile enough to maintain an orbit if the target suddenly springs for tackle. Some useful techniques to learn are microwarpdrive pulsing (activating your MWD only now and then), overheating at the right time, and burning in straight lines.

You can also practice this with your friend.

The Not-Getting-Ganked. Sometimes you will be dealing with multiple targets, and keeping distance becomes much more of a chore. If you were orbiting, you might not be able to. You have to watch for flanking, or simply burning into one of the targets. Like this:

Rendered in loving detail by yours truly.
Simply heading away sometimes helps by peeling off the fastest of the targets, so you can kill it. Alternatively, you may just have to...

The GTFO. An advantage of kiting is that you do not have to commit 100% to fights. Always try to have an escape route open if you're not winning.

The End.

That's it. No more magic. That's all. Yes, it's that "simple". Of course, there are individual ship nuances, special gang setups, and special considerations for kiting using bigger ships, but do you really want a bigger wall of text than this post already is?

Now, get out there and practice! There is no recipe for success other than knowing what you're doing, and you won't get that from a silly blog post. Go! Shoo!

Soon you'll be a bittervet in one of these kiters. Then you'll see magic.

September 9, 2012

Signature Radius: Why do I care?

Ever wonder why some ships are so hard to hit with guns? Or maybe why it takes so long to target them? Or why Drakes get hit by everything forever? Or asked yourself what target painters are even for? Or heard the term "signature tanking"?

They are all referring to the same thing: signature radius.

What is it?

A ship's signature radius (measured in meters) is a way to describe how "big" it is. If this were a primitively built shooting game with manual aiming, you could imagine it as a ship's "hit box". Note that it does not directly correspond to the ship's physical size. For example:

The Punisher is 65 m long, and the Rifter is 110 m long. However, the Punisher has a slightly larger signature radius, at 37 m vs the Rifter's 35 m. This means that the Punisher is "fatter" not only in its speed, but in how easy it is to hit.

What does all this even mean?

Signature radius has several applications:
  • Higher signature radius = you are targeted faster. The bigger you are, the more quickly other ships can get a lock on you. This is why frigates are slow to be targeted, while targeting capital ships is a matter of a fraction of a second.
  • Higher signature radius = you are easier to track. Signature tanking, or "speed" tanking, relies on being fast and with a low signature radius to not get hit (it is also a lie, but more on that later). This is also the same reason Drakes get hit by everything forever: their signature radius is huge.
  • Higher signature radius = bigger missiles can hit you. The damage you take from missiles is directly related to the ratio between the missile's explosion radius versus your signature radius. While a rocket fired at a frigate feels like an explosive bullet, a torpedo fired at a frigate feels like this:

  • Higher signature radius = you are more easily probed down. Probing down a frigate is much harder than probing down a battlecruiser

Okay, sig radius is important, but what can I do about it?

There are a few ways to increase, or "bloom", your sig radius. Remember, increasing it is bad for all the reasons listed above. They include:
  • Shield extenders. These add a flat amount to your sig radius. Ships with a large armor buffer are easy to hit because they're slow. Ships with a large shield buffer are easy to hit because they're huge.
  • Shield rigs. These increase your sig radius as the rig penalty. The increase can be reduced a bunch by training good rigging skills
  • Activating your microwarpdrive (!). An active microwarpdrive increases your velocity by 400-500%... but also increases your sig radius by the same ratio. This is the reason that MWDs are generally completely ineffective at avoiding damage (unless you're using them to keep range, in which case they can be effective). This effect is extremely drastic: a MWDing Drake has almost the signature radius of a carrier.
    • It needs to be noted that interceptors and assault frigates have this bloom factor drastically reduced. Zipping around with a MWD on is encouraged in those ships.
  • Using Rage or Fury missiles. They just do. Note that the signature radius is increased for every launcher using these missiles. That means that a Drake with Fury's will have a larger signature radius increase than a Caracal with Fury's (7 launchers vs 5 launchers).
  • Putting up a heavy interdictor bubble. Deal with it.
  • Target Painter (on target). Perhaps the most underused electronic warfare, but it makes things like bombers awesome.

For as easy as it is to increase your sig radius, it is much harder (or, more expensive) to shrink it:

  • X-instinct combat boosters. These can be expensive, though, are illegal in hisec, and can have severe draw-backs.
  • Skirmish warfare links. Either from a battlecruiser, or bonused from a Claymore or Loki, the Evasive Maneuvering boosts can reduce the signature radius of everyone under the "command" of that ship in the fleet structure. This is the most common method, since it involves a massive boost to fleet effectiveness without putting the boosting ship in any serious risk. This method is very expensive, though, and requires great skills.
  • Halo implants. This is the most expensive method of these three, and can lead to hilarious killmails.
  • Armor tank, or get another ship. Some ships simply aren't meant to dodge fire. Try Minmatar ships, or speedy Amarr ships (yes, they exist).

Combining these methods can lead to hilarious consequences. For example, a Claw can have a signature radius twice as small as that of a Warrior II drone!

What are some standard/approximate figures for sig radius?

  • 25 m - Light drone
  • 30-45 m - Frigate
  • 60 m - Destroyer
  • 90-140 m - Cruiser
  • 240-300 m - Battlecruiser
  • 320-500 m - Battleship
Note that these figures are raw (before blooming factors). With bloom factors included, the ranges become rather big.

So... why does nobody care about sig radius?

Its effects aren't usually easily observable, and are often misattributed to tracking, explosion velocity, sensor boosters, etc. 
So lonely.
This is also why target painters are underused and underestimated. At short range, webs are somewhat more useful at helping to hit things, while at long range, other EW is usually more desirable for more direct effect.

Still, awareness of sig radii and how you can use them to maximize your ship's performance in battle, combined with maybe a TP or two at the right time, can lead to... PWNAGE.

August 13, 2012

Rifterlings Frigate Tournament #1 - Punishers Rock

So, let's end this prolonged absence. Recently, Rifterlings had its first frigate tournament, organized by Kahega Amielden. Woohoo!

Okay fine, maybe you don't find that too exciting, and you're just here for talk about frigates. If so, then you're actually in luck, because I am going to give you the super-duper scoop on the different matchups and how they went. So, let's begin with:

Round 1: Punisher vs Merlin

Transmaritanus battled Cara Mayson, coming out the winner using his Punisher. The key to this was actually the Punisher having an energy neutralizer.


The Merlin has a Caldari capacitor (read: very weak), which it was depending on to run its blasters, afterburner, and invulnerability field. The latter is especially draining on frigates, which resulted in an easy win for Transmaritanus, who shut Cara's Merlin down. The Merlin being weak to lasers probably didn't help.

Round 1: Slasher vs Incursus

Shan T'var defeated JAk Oliver by using a kiting Slasher with 200mm autocannons. JAk was absolutely unable to close the more than 10 km distance with his Incursus, and was kited to death.

Too fast!

The choice in 200mm autocannons for kiting is interesting, as Shan was kiting outside of scrambler range (more than 10 km). As you may know, despite recent improvements in the slasher's design, it does not bonus its guns' falloff range, which makes kiting with it difficult. Still, Shan pulled it off for a win!

Round 1: Slasher vs Incursus (again)

This fight actually swung the other way, with Babar Baboli beating BadMrFr0sty's Slasher using his Incursus. I actually don't have a killmail link for this one, as it was won by time-out.


See, the tournament had a special feature to prevent draws: a capture point. Similar to how faction warfare complexes can be captured by one party staying within the capture range for the proper amount of time, the arena had a "beacon" at the center, which could be captured by either side staying in range of it for 2 minutes.

Babar's Incursus had dual armor repairers, while Frosty's Slasher had artillery. This match was pretty much lost for Frosty from the start, as artillery has no chance of penetrating the Incursus' active tank. Babar wasn't able to catch Frosty, so he just sat on the beacon for two minutes, winning the match.

Round 1: Punisher vs Rifter

Antenes triumphed over Khon in a Amarr vs Minmatar kite-off. Saw it coming?

Khon had a shield-fit Rifter that was set up for kiting. The Punisher, however, had two advantages: great range projection, and perfect damage to kill the Rifter's shields. Khon may have won if he foresaw these and orbited close to the Punisher instead of kiting, but alas he did not, which resulted in Antenes having a great time blasting the Rifter away.

Round 2: Punisher vs Slasher

In a fight reminiscent of the last one, Transmaritanus beat Shan's kiting Slasher in a kite-off.

Pew pew!
Similarly to in the last fight, and perhaps even more so, Shan had range control, but didn't use it fully to break  Transmaritanus' tracking. This resulted in the Punisher sitting back and frying the Slasher with its lasers.

Round 2: Incursus vs Punisher

Antenes fought Babar Baboli's Incursus and won using his Punisher.

Pew pew pew!
Antenes actually sported a web and afterburner, which gave him the winning range control over Babar's dual-repairer Incursus. Of course, the Punisher's damage wasn't enough to kill the Incursus, but it was enough to sap it dry of capacitor boosters, after which point it was an easy victory. The Incursus could do little to the Punisher orbiting it at 8-9 km, as Babar appears to have made an equipment mistake and loaded Void ammo (short range, high damage) ammo instead of Null ammo (long range, lower damage) for his blasters.

Final Round: Punisher vs Punisher

In an exciting final round, Transmaritanus beat Antenes in a "mirror" duel.

Pew pew pew pew!

Transmaritanus ended up coming out on top because of better micromanagement of laser crystals and range control, which was compounded  by a couple slip-ups in piloting by Antenes. So, congratulations to Transmaritanus on his victory, and the free fitted T2 frigate he won!

But wait, there's more!

Bonus round: Punisher + Punisher vs. Republic Fleet Rifter + Imperial Navy Tormentor

To top off the event, the winner and runner up got to fight a duo-duel with some very expensively fit frigates piloted by Kahega and myself, with the reward being claiming any loot that dropped from our ships. The result?

You guessed it: Pew pew pew pew pew!
At the start, Kahega and I had a miscommunication, leading to him entering the fight with the two Punishers far before I was able to help, resulting in him dying first. Once I got on the field, I was able to quickly finish off Antenes, who was in a Rifter because he accidentally let his Punisher get killed by station guns. It then came down to a Punisher vs Tormentor fight, which I lost mostly due to the Punisher's extra tank, and the fact that Transmaritanus was packing an armor repairer on his Punisher -- which was very effective at reducing the already little damage my lasers dealt to his armor. 

It was very close, but in the end it was a good fight and all the delicious faction drops went to Antenes and Transmaritanus. Congratulations to them!

Some closing thoughts from Kahega

Shamelessly ripped off of the Rifterlings forums:

Fights are often won before the first shot is fired. Some fits just will not work against other fits if the pilot is in control of what they're doing. "Typical" PVP fits are usually rather versatile and capable of taking almost anything. You can do a lot of "gimmicky" things that are extremely effective in circumstances, but usually these have major problems elsewhere.  
A lot of you flew some rather inventive stuff - dual-rep incursopodes, kiting slashers (both AC and artillery). However, in the end, the winner and runner up were just some guys who flew some rather mundane laser punishers. 

In other words... When it comes to who's really on top, it's the pilots, not the ships. This tournament featured some very innovative and intelligent flying, and actually surpassed our expectations for skill displayed and fun had.

Stay tuned for details on other Rifterlings tournaments in the future!

June 27, 2012

An Open Letter to Late Night Alliance

I normally keep politics and other such crap off of this blog, but it seems like the best place to put this. The only other options are trying to mail nonexistent or unresponsive diplomats (which has already failed) and posting on the CAOD forums (which I refuse to do because that is a terrible place).

The purpose of this is to address the now one-week war between Damu'Khonde allliance and Late Night Alliance, why it happened, and its future (such as when it will stop). There seems to be a lot of misinformation (disinformation?) about the war, and I aim to rectify that.

What's going on?

In-militia war. Not pretty.
Long story short: for more than a month, my corp (Rifterlings), and my alliance in general (Damu'Khonde) had been having issues with being shot by militia friendlies. Every time it happened, we would see Late Night Alliance as the ones doing it. It usually happened in Amarr complexes, so I assumed my corpmates were leeching complexes and I campaigned to make them stop. A couple of them were, but most were not. The shootings, however, continued.

I tried to make diplomatic contact only to discover LNA had no real organized diplomacy, and I was unable to get any results or to make the friendly-shooting stop. I then investigated more, and found that the main culprits are the KA POW POW Inc corporation, who appear to often shoot even other friendlies, not just Damu'Khonde members. We even had an incident where KPP aggressed and killed our fleet in an asteroid belt.

The friendly-shootings were beginning to impact corp morale, and discontent was very high. After an unfortunately failed last ditch attempt to sort things out, spearheaded by Transmaritanus (who has been the most helpful and friendly member of LNA in this whole affair), Damu'Khonde declared war on LNA in order to get at KPP.

The War

This war is simple. The purpose is to rectify the fact that we were getting shot by friendlies. We are now getting shot by flashy reds. We can deal with that.

The purpose of the war is not to sabotage the militia, or to antagonize or vilify LNA as a whole.

Since Damu'Khonde is the aggressor in this war, we can choose when to end the war. The 70 mil ISK per week is not a problem, so we can keep this going forever if it must. However, since in-militia wars suck and an united front is better to attack the Amarr with, we are willing to end it immediately upon one of the following two very easy things happening. Either:

A. KA POW POW Inc is booted from Late Night Alliance, as we will stop holding the whole alliance responsible for the crimes of one corp. Since the start of the war, I have learned that KPP is intricately involved in LNA leadership, so this is unlikely to happen. This leaves the only option being:

B. Late Night Alliance as a whole makes an official and public dedication to stop firing upon militia friendlies without warning or real cause. Simple as that. Allies need to depend on each other to not shoot each other, or they're not allies.

You silly Rifter pilots, you're losing the war.

I am well aware of our performance in the war, and that we are not winning the proverbial ISK war, nor the ship count war. However, guess how many of us have been killed by friendlies since the wardec? None.

That means I can gladly say "objective accomplished".

What is the future of the war if no resolution is reached?

It will continue unabated. In fact, the pressure will only be upped as we learn to deal with LNA better.

There is going to be another source of pressure, though: the Ushra'Khan alliance.

There have been rumors flying around about Ushra'Khan planning to join the militias' efforts against the Amarr, and I can confirm that they are true. I can also confirm that Damu'Khonde will be merging its membership into Ushra'Khan, and we will be continuing Damu'Khonde's current operation -- including the war with LNA.

Update: I ought to clarify. The D'K-U'K merger has nothing to do with this war, and this is not us calling on "big brother" as speculated upon in the comments.

"The ball is in your court"

I have gotten this message about the war second or third hand from LNA leadership, and it is what encouraged me to write this. The cause of the war has not changed, so the war will continue.

"Unfortunately for some, just being in militia does not make you blue to us."

Damu'Khonde also operates NBSI, but we do not shoot Minmatar militia members without warning or cause. Our members are instructed to treat all allies with respect. In case of complex LP-leeching, they are instructed to politely ask the offender to leave and give ample time and warning for them to do so before taking drastic measures like opening fire.

Yes, alliance members and corp members take priority over militia allies. Yes, an alliance needs to defend itself as an unit against all threats; I will never condemn the fact that, despite being blameless in the war and having good relations with D'K, AUTOZ is standing beside their alliance-mates.

However, joining a militia has an implied step of accepting a whole cohort of new allies. For those allies to stay allies, you need to treat them as such. That involves not shooting them on a whim

The bottom line

Most of LNA as I know them are cool people and very good pilots. I have flown with many of them in the past, and have had good times and good fights. It's a shame to be at war, and I do not want to be at war with most of them. I get the same feeling from multiple LNA members I have talked to. They are unhappy about the war, and agree that shooting friendlies is not fine and that KPP is problematic in general.

I would urge these members to speak up to their leadership and to try to get this resolved. It is via internal pressure from its membership that an alliance changes anything, especially when it is not your own corp that is the problem. I myself have been part of an alliance with a similar "apple" as part of its basket in the past. They were some of the best pilots in the alliance, but were a giant pain to deal with. After numerous diplomatic incidents and friction with other alliance members, the only way it changed was by enormous pressure from the rank and file of the other corps who were unhappy with the situation.

Alternatively, if nothing changes, I would like to remind everyone that there are tons of other good corps and alliances in the Minmatar militia that are recruiting.

Update: A Resolution

As of today, the war is ending. Feanos of Ushra'Khan did what I could not, and negotiated peace while getting LNA to agree to our terms: not firing upon militia friendlies without warning or real cause. That means:

  • If we enter a plex with an LNA member there we will be asked to leave before being shot, not be shot without warning.
  • If we are near a wreck that an LNA member wants to loot, we will not be shot on sight.
  • Most importantly there are now diplomatic channels to deal with disagreements between members, so we do not have to resort to war again.
I believe this is peace in our time. 

Nah, who am I kidding. We have Amarr to kill. Let's get at it!

May 31, 2012

Question From a Newbie: "How does overheating work?"

Today's question comes from Navani Shahni of Rifterlings.

Ever been in a fight and hear your FC order something like "overheat and get him down quick!" or "heat your webs and points for tackle"? Ever wonder what they meant, and why this "heat" thing is so important? I will tell you!


Or, as known in official terms, "overloading", is when you super-charge your modules to juice them for more efficiency, at the expense of them taking damage from being overworked. Some modules have different effects when overheated than others, and there is a whole art to how to do it right, but first...

What do I train?

There is only one skill required: Thermodynamics. It's that simple. Thermodynamics is one of the single best skills ever. Even better, it "gives you the ability to frown in annoyance whenever you hear someone mention a perpetual motion unit".

Just look at that face. You just know someone mentioned  perpetual motion in the vicinity.
Only Thermodynamics I is strictly necessary. Every successive level reduces damage taken by your modules by 5% when they take damage. It helps with overheating for very long periods of time, but for short bursts it's largely irrelevant.

So how do I do it?

Modules that can be overheated have a small section at the top of their button show up as green. To overheat a module, simply click on the green part of its button, and its next cycle will be overheated.

This thing, here.
You can also overheat by adding Shift to your hotkey for activating the module. In this case, Shift-F4 toggles overheating on my microwarpdrive.

But, you said it damages my stuff. How does it damage my stuff?

Note that I am going 3700 m/s compared to my non-overheated speed of 2800 m/s.
Above, you can see an actively overheating microwarpdrive. Its top section glows yellow, and as it has been running for a cycle or two, there is now a partial red ring around it. The more red, the more damage the module took. You can also mouse over it to see the exact percentage it has left. 

Also, note that the warp scrambler and the tracking disruptor are also damaged. Overheated modules do not always take damage. Instead, they have a chance to damage themselves, and other chances to possibly damage modules on the same rack. I have had instances where I have burnt out modules that weren't even related to the module being overheated -- like breaking my shield extender because I overheated by afterburner and my scram.

So we're... burning out modules now?

Yep. See how the microwarpdrive has a full red circle, and turned itself offline? It burnt out. Also note how my ship is now lacking an usable propulsion mod. Lesson to be learned? Don't burn out your modules. Bad things happen when you do. Just remember to stop overheating once in a while.

How do I repair this?

The simplest way is to just dock and use a station's repair service. If your mod isn't completely burnt out, there is also another way: nanite repair paste.
It allows you to repair your modules while you're still in space, by just right clicking them and picking the option to. The mods are not usable while the paste is active, and doing this requires some extra skills. This is usually not worth it unless you do not foresee being able to dock (on a nullsec roam, for example).

Can I lessen or prevent damage somehow?

Yes. Both offline modules and empty slots contribute to your ship being more heat-resilient. Empty slots contribute a bit more, but you can't online them to do cool things like you can offline modules. T3 cruisers also have a subsystem to reduce heat damage, but that's an entirely different story.
Curse you, T3s. *shakes fist*

Any last tips?

  • In a frigate, never not overheat. You need every force multiplier to win a fight, and often your modules don't even have a chance to burn out before the fight is over.
  • Microwarpdrives kill themselves in two or three cycles. Be careful.
  • T1/deadspace/faction modules take less damage than T2 modules do from overheating. If you plan to rely on a lot of overheating, consider not using T2 modules.
  • Know what overheating each of your modules does in advance, so you know when it's appropriate to  do so.
  • Remember to stop overheating if you don't need to. No need to overheat a web if your target is at 2 km.
  • Heat damage is very random. I have out-performed someone with Thermodynamics V with my measly Thermodynamics II in the past. It's really weird. Any lack of exact details or numbers in this post is partly due to it being so random.

The Bottom Line

Overheat overheat overheat! That will be all.