April 18, 2012

Adventures in Gimmickry, Part 2: The Malediction

Well, so long as Kahega is giving away trademark fittings, I may as well do the same. I have talked about this fitting in passing before, but here it is in more detail.

The Ship

The Malediction. It's one of the four tackle interceptors (the other three being the Stiletto, Ares, and Raptor). It's one of the fastest, but usually eschewed because it uses an armor tank - which is a bit detrimental to its speed/agility. Still, it gets 5% per Amarr Frigate level in armor resistances, which makes it pretty damn resilient.

Now, I have written a blog post in the past about how to fly tackle interceptors. Something about focusing on speed, a long point, fast targeting, a microwarpdrive, et cetera. I still recommend those fittings if you need a fast tackle interceptor, but for this... Throw that advice out the nearest window.

The Fit

Malediction fitting "I hate everything". Click for full size.
There you have it. That is an interceptor without a microwarpdrive, long point, sensor booster (or signal amplifier), and frankly a rather terrible fit. And what's that tracking disruptor doing there!?

The Reasoning

Combat interceptors (Claw, Crusader, Taranis, and somewhat Crow) rely on very high base speed (600-ish m/s) along with very low signature radius (30-35 m) to avoid most damage. So, what happens when you take the same principle and force multiply it using a 1600 m/s afterburner, a tracking disruptor, and a tanky hull? You get a nigh-unhittable interceptor.

Once the Malediction selects a target, it should also select the tracking disruption script to use. The tracking speed disruption script should be used against artillery, railgun, or laser ships, or any ship of a cruiser or larger class. Optimal range disruption should be used against blaster and autocannon frigates. When using tracking disruptions, it should orbit at 1-2 km to take maximum advantage of its speed, while when using optimal range disruption it should keep range to as far as it can. The scram range bonus helps in this respect.
Move over, Arbi, this is the real deal TD ship here.
"But why the Malediction?" you ask. It is true, the same trick works with the Stiletto (with a web, even), Ares, or Raptor just as well, but the key part here is the rockets. Rockets do not have tracking problems because of the Malediction's speed, and have the range flexibility needed when using optimal range disruption.

The tight fitting is unfortunate (as is the fact it requires a 1% CPU implant), but can be mitigated by excluding the nosferatu, and replacing it with an energy neutralizer or an offline salvager. I try to use the nos in order to preserve my ability to, for example, tackle Cynabals or Hurricanes. Because I'm crazy like that.

What It Can Do

True stories:
  • My first 1v1 victory against a capsuleer more than twice my age.
  • Tackle two Cynabals on separate occasions.
  • Defeat Taranis after Taranis in 1v1 fights.
  • Take on destroyers. Careful with the Thrasher, though. Also doesn't work against gimmicky Cormorant fits.
  • Break tracking of a Dramiel. His own bad piloting helped.
  • Almost solo'd a Loki that GCC'd on a lowsec gate. A Legion helped him at the last minute, unfortunately.
  • Great surprise support ship for frigate gangs.
Ultimate hero tackle!
What It Cannot Do

This deserves mention. Any tracking and range bonused ships are very hard to crack, particularly if they have good tracking to begin with. Same goes for drones and missiles, which are unaffected by TDs. Also stay away from ships with lots of webs. Ships with very large tanks (particularly passive tanks) are also problematic, as the little damage they do manage to do may chew through you eventually.

Jaguar and Wolf? Nope. Ishkur? Nope, those drones hurt. Vengeance? Don't even think about it. Daredevil? Yeah, no.

Merlin? Difficult, given its enormous tank and rockets. Rifter? Surprisingly difficult because of its speed, webs, and good tracking. Ships like the Slicer also require patience, good reflexes, and knowledge of how to break orbits, but they are possible to beat. 

Can't TD me, bitches!
The last thing it doesn't work against: people you have fought with it before. If they are competent, they will see you in a Malediction going at sub-MWD speeds and will set up a counter (longer range ammo, better tracking, kiting) before you ensnare them properly. Alternatively, in a fleet, you will find yourself being primaried quickly. 

Gimmick fits are very easy to gimp if expected. Their strength rests in being hard to anticipate.

The Bottom Line

Do you want a ship fitting so off the wall that most people don't see it coming, and then don't know how to deal with it? Fly this Malediction. Do you want a 25 mil ISK setup that screws over ships many, many times the cost without them seeing it coming? Fly this Malediction. Do you want a ship that makes both your allies and enemies classify you as an asshole? Fly this Malediction. 

Do you want a ship that is actually competent at what it's meant to do and competent in real combat to people's expectations (aka "is boring")? Look elsewhere.

April 17, 2012

Adventures in Gimmickry: The Cormorant

I’m Kahega Amielden, and this will be my first entry for Accidentally the Whole Frigate. I will make my introduction brief – I have been a friend of Petrus Blackshell since he began flying, and not too long ago I was invited to share my own insights here.

Today, I am going to look at one of the most underused ships among the capsuleer population, and one that is perhaps one of my favorites: the Cormorant. 

The Cormorant is the Caldari destroyer, and the role intended for it is rather obvious. It receives extremely significant range bonuses to hybrid turrets, and railguns are already the longest-ranged weapon system in the universe. When fit with railguns, perhaps using its plentiful midslots for tracking computers and the like, can put out great damage at absurd ranges.

This entry, however, is not about that use of the Cormorant. When fighting other capsuleers, knowledge is everything. One of the hallmarks of a good pilot is target selection – being able to know when you can win, and when you need to run away. To do this, you take advantage of the fact that most ship fits are rather predictable.

For example, a Rifter is almost always going to be fit with autocannons. Artillery Rifters do poor damage and are harder on your fitting resources (powergrid and CPU), and putting lasers or hybrid weapons on the Rifter will both be harsh on fitting resources and will waste the ship’s projectile tracking and damage bonuses. A pilot about to engage a Rifter will know almost exactly what he’s up against. This will enable him to either exploit the Rifter’s weaknesses or decide that he cannot win and refuse to engage.

This is an Incursus with a shield hardener and a sensor booster running.
You will never, ever see this. I hope.
Another factor at work is that most capsuleers are very susceptible to popularity. Certain ships are significantly more popular than others, and not always justifiably. As excellent as it is at its role, few serious capsuleers fly the Cormorant.

So what happens when an enemy frigate pilot sees a Cormorant on his scanner? He’ll either think the pilot incompetent and engage for an easy kill, or suspect a sniping fit and try to get close where such fits are vulnerable. What if this Cormorant pilot were to use his enemy's presumptiveness against him?

The above is a favorite fit of Petrus and I. Note that while it does have railguns, it uses its midslots for tackle and has an optimal range of under 15km. – definitely not the sniper fit I suggested above. Note the two stasis webifiers which allow me to keep the target anywhere I want him to be within 10km (or 13km if they are overheated).

So what happens when a capsuleer frigate comes in on this Cormorant? He’ll try to get in close so that the railguns have trouble hitting and he can quickly melt through the fragile tank. In practice, as soon as he gets to that 10km mark, the webs will turn on and he will be effectively stationary and helpless.
Many times, this is so surprising to the pilot that they cannot figure out what they should do. If this Retribution had quickly swapped to Scorch (long range pulse laser ammo) when he saw that he would be unable to get point blank, I would have melted quickly – he would have had at least as much range and damage as me with much greater tank. But he didn’t. He sat there, confused, while I burned through his armor. This brings up another important point: Being able to think on your feet is what distinguishes a good pilot from a poor one.

The interesting part is that outside of taking advantage of peoples’ misconceptions of what a Cormorant is, the fit itself is pretty poor. It has no hope of killing anything bigger than another destroyer, and with an afterburner it’s too slow to catch anything that doesn’t want to be caught. Pilots who would choose to engage would load long range ammo before hand, and be ready to shred it at the only range it can fight at.

The only redeeming quality to the fit is that it is deceptive, and yet it has met with success after success for an investment of under 3 million ISK per ship.

The lesson is clear: information is one of the most potent tools available to you. Making sure you know what you’re up against is crucial, and preventing your enemy from doing the same is deadly.