February 21, 2010

"Confirming Arty Is Epic For Shooting Interceptors"

Update (2018-05-31): In retrospect, it appears I took the loss of my Hurricane a bit hard.  While it did result in a solid overview of movement/tracking, I would like to apologize to Makalu by including this fantastic music suggestion with this post.
Quote from Makalu Zarya, whose gang popped me in my Hurricane battlecruiser because I shot back at an interceptor that tackled me off a gate:
[ 2010.02.20 05:15:19 ] Makalu Zarya > confirming that arties are epic for shooting inties
He was, of course, using sarcasm on me, to add insult to injury, but in fact what he said wasn't far from the truth... in some circumstances. Before explaining that, I should point out the educational value of my loss. In this engagement, I made two critical mistakes that newbies should probably take good note of:

1. Range: The interceptor appeared at 30 km range, and warp disrupted me at 20 km. I shot back, forgetting my optimal range was 40 km, and my accuracy falloff was 30 km (see this other entry about range if you're confused). Needless to say, I missed horribly, and his friends came in and blew me up. Point of note for newbies: unless it is a really unbalanced fight, don't shoot outside your range. You will only fail to hit, waste ammo (or capacitor, or both), and get an aggression countdown on yourself.

2. Aggression: The situation was that I was waiting at the jump gate, since I was ahead of my fleet and they were due to pass through soon. This is a smart strategy because if enemies pop up and shoot me, I can just jump through, and they cannot follow. Why? Because every time a pilot commits an aggressive act, they are not allowed to use any DED-sanctioned gates for 1 minute. Shooting via guns or drones, activating an offensive module such as a warp scrambler, and repairing another aggressor all count as aggressive acts. In this way, I was hoping to avoid an unfavorable engagement.

My strategy backfired, however. I was a bit too trigger-happy, and fired at the interceptor, which flagged me as an aggressor, and cut off my escape route.

I sort of sealed my own fate there, but while Makalu was right about it being "epic" to try to shoot an interceptor at this close a range with artillery, it is quite true that artillery can be epic at killing 'ceptors.

Ships guns have a tracking attribute, measured in radians per second. This indicates how far the turret can turn in order to keep pointing at your enemy. Radians are a unit of measure of angles, and an angle of 2π (about 6.28) radians makes a full circle. In the case of my Hurricane, I was using six 720mm Howitzer Artillery I turrets, which have a 0.03278 rad/s tracking speed. In order to simplify the math (and drawings), let's consider my position, my target's position, and my target's motion to be all in one plane, and assume that I am standing still.

(Click for larger version)

I am at 75,000 m, a bit far away considering my range is 50,000 m, but I am within my falloff, so I should be fine so far as % chance to hit. Now... Can my guns track this target? Let's see. To calculate the angle of motion that my guns have to track, I  need to know his transversal velocity relative to myself. This means, I need to know how far he is moving perpendicularly to my line of fire.

The transversal velocity can then be translated into the tracking angle necessary by some simple trigonometry. Namely, taking the arctangent of the ratio between the transversal velocity, and my range.

The effective angle my turrets have to track also depends on the ratio between my guns' tracking resolution and the target's signature radius. A Crusader's regular signature radius is 32 m, and 136 m if he is using a 1MN Microwarpdrive II. My guns have a 125 m resolution, and since it's safe to assume that any interceptor involved in combat is burning around with his Microwarpdrive, the ratio I have to be concerned about is 136/125, or 1.088. Incidentally, the larger resolution of larger guns is the reason that dreadnought guns will never hit a frigate, or other such occurrences.

Calculating in reverse, my 0.03278 rad/s tracking speed translates into 2,673.38 m/s maximum in transversal velocity that I can track well. Any more than that and my accuracy gets flaky. Astute pilots reading this would say "wait, but a Crusader goes at over 4 km/s, that's not even close!" Yeah, that's true. However, that assumes that the Crusader is orbiting me! For his transversal velocity to always be maximum, he cannot be approaching or departing. Or standing still.

Excellent frigate and interceptor pilots know that in order to get into range to a sniper like me you need to spiral slowly, keeping your transversal velocity just too high to track, but also approaching at the same time as quickly as possible. However, most pilots just charge, or run away. Some do nothing in particular, since they don't notice me until too late. The bonus of using artillery for this is also the huge alpha damage: with my poor beginner skills, I still deal 976 damage with a single volley.

This means that at first I was like

And then they were like


Confirmed. Arty is epic for shooting 'ceptors.

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