February 9, 2010

On Ship Progressions

If you are a Minmatar capsuleer like me, you probably started out at one of the stations of the various universities, were given a Reaper frigate, and told to get a move on. It had a Civilian Gatling Cannon (or whatever) equipped, which strangely takes frequency crystal charges, but does not need them to deal the pathetic damage it does. Oh and you also had a Civilian Miner. Plus, it's the ugliest of all Minmatar ships, and that's saying a lot:

After doing some of the tutorials in spacefaring, you probably ended up with a Slasher, a couple Rifters, and a Probe. However, while flying around ye olde Rens trade hub, you may have noticed that you are the small guy there. What are these Ravens? The Hurricanes? And what about those fancy ships that have a "II" next to their icon?

Upon inquiry, you would have found out about the different chip classes/types, and the skills necessary to fly each. Common sense dictates that you should try to train up to be able to fly as many types of ship as you can, right?


While the raw firepower of ships increases with size, price tag, and time spent training, firepower is not even close to the deciding factor in a fight. For example, if I were to fly a Hurricane battlecruiser with a regular skirmish fitting  into a fight, several things would happen:
  • This gang is a skirmish/snipe gang, so my allies would keep at range.
  • I don't have the necessary skills to be able to fire at 100 km like my allies, so I would have to move in to 60-70 km.
  • Enemy tacklers target the closest and highest value target (me), and hold me as still as possible, while orbiting close to me.
  • I cannot get away, nor can I kill them.
  • I become a free kill.

Because of my lower skills, it is more useful to do something of this sort instead:
  • Avoid long range battles, but equip long range artillery anyway. However, use a passive targeter to mask my targeting signal.
  • Warp in to about 70-80 km of a close range brawl.
  • Put the passive targeter on small, but crucial ships (such as interceptors, interdictors, etc.)
  • Fire once or twice, and laugh when they die before getting a chance to retaliate.
  • Because I am at relatively long range, I have time to conduct an emergency warp if I have tacklers heading at me or I'm taking damage.
The uses of this strategy are fairly limited, though. And, especially because I only deal maybe 70-80% of a fully skilled battlecruiser pilot, I am fairly useless. So what can I do to be most useful for the skills I have? The answer: use smaller ships.
"But my Rifter is useless if it comes across a Rupture, isn't it?"
No. Sure, in a 1v1 fight you wouldn't be able to bring it down, but you can certainly run away. It would never catch you (most of the time). Alternatively, if you have friends nearby, you go in close to it and warp scram it while yelling at your fleet over voice comms detailing them on the latest 1% change in your armour level. Even if you die, one of them may have jumped in and also achieved a point on your target, allowing the others to destroy that Rupture.

Plus, if you want to just be a pain to your enemies, or to accomplish a goal such as hindering their operations, you really don't need anything bigger than a frigate. If I can draw out 5 ships to kill me, including two T2 ships by using just a Rifter, I'm happy.

Then again, they may have overreacted maybe mistaking me for one of my corp-mates, who has a habit of taking a Rifter through enemy space and killing interceptors and covert ops ships with it, despite his fit not being worth any more than 1 million ISK and their ships alone being upwards of 30 million ISK. His example is a case-in-point. He is an excellent Fleet Commander, and can fly battlecruisers or battleships if he wants to, but for some jobs, small ships do just fine. And that, I'm afraid, is where starter pilots need to fit in.

1 comment :

  1. Interestingly enough, I wrote a counter-point to this very idea just a few minutes ago over at http://blog.newbastion.com where I argue that upgrading to a larger ship as early as possible can often be the best idea.