Saturday, December 11, 2010

Incursion Rocket improvements - An EFT Analysis of my Claw vs Flycatcher fight

So last night I had a run in with a Flycatcher. A while ago I solo'd a flycatcher with a Rifter, so I thought that my Claw would provide for a good fight, but one that I would win. I was wrong. In short, thanks to the rocket boost from Incursion, rockets are now significantly more powerful then before.

Fortunatly my enemy in that fight managed to loose his ship soon afterwords, and the loss was posted to, so I have his likely fit. Lets have a look:

[Flycatcher, hydra flycatcher]
Ballistic Control System II

Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Medium Shield Extender II
Invulnerability Field II
Stasis Webifier II
Warp Scrambler II

75mm Gatling Rail II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
75mm Gatling Rail II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Thorn Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst II

That is a nasty little ship! No wonder my Claw had difficulty. Tech II rigs even. Lets feed it into EFT and see what difference the new rocket boost made.

 Here is the image from EFT before the Incursion patch:
Here is the image from EFT after the Incursion patch with the boost to rockets:

As you can see we have gone from a firepower of 225 DPS to 235 DPS. Is that all? Did CCP fail again to provide a meaningful boost. Not quite. The problem with rockets was not their DPS, rather it was the fact that the velocity of the target could significantly affect their damage. In other words, they were least effective against the very same fast frigate sized ships they were targetting. The main change to rockets was a nearly two-fold increase in their explosion velocity, making them very effective against small fast ships like my Claw. Lets have a look.

Here is the damage graph for that fly-catcher before Incursion:
And here is the damage post-Incursion:

There is an increase from 132 DPS to 179 DPS!. That is 35% increase.

Once resistances against armour are taken into account there is a 91 DPS vs 67 DPS. Since my armour repairer can heal about 17 HP per second the net damage is 74 DPS vs 50 DPS. This means that effectively he was able to chew threw my armour buffer 50% faster than before.

So capsuleers beware of rocket Kestrals and Flycatchers. They no longer suck!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

During a fight: adapt to the enemy or die

Those who are able to adapt and change in accord with the enemy and achieve victory are called divine.
-Sun Tzu

Last night I had a very nice little solo fight. I was in my Claw and took on a Dramiel. After dancing with him for a bit I eventually engaged him on a gate. To be honest I didn't think I had much of a chance. A Dramiel is a deadly ship. Basically it embodies everything you could want in a frigate (tracking bonus, falloff bonus, damage bonus) and adds in three drones, a faction ship tank and un-godly speed. To even have a chance I figured I had to engage him at point-blank range and hope for the best. I loaded my best anti-shield ammo (RF Phased plasma as I had not brought along EMP) and hoped for the best.

As he power-approached me on a gate I knew the fight was on. Instantly I activated everything but my armour repper. Within seconds both of us had lost shields. This was a little odd. I figured that he would have a shield extender. But as he hit armour two things happened.. One, I stopped doing any damage. Two he started repping his armour. Rather than a shield buffer tanked ship I was against an active armour tank. Very interesting

This is where the title of the article comes in. No plan ever survives first contact with an enemy. Time for a new plan. After checking the icons on the overview it was apparent that he had a tracking disruptor on me messing with my tracking. Even my fast tracking 125mms autocannons were not able to keep up with a fast moving ship so my DPS had dropped to zero :(. Meanwhile he was still hitting me with his guns, and his three drones. There was no way my SAR (small armour repper) could keep up to that onslaught. I needed to cut the angular velocity between us and do it quick.

I aligned for the sun and started motoring in a straight line*. This gave him a harder target to try and orbit. Thanks to my scram his speed advantage was cut significantly. I soon started to pull a couple km of range on him and angular velocity fell. My guns started doing damage again. Things started to shut down on my ship as I started to run out of cap. We were both using NOS on each other to power the armour repper, but we were both likely dry at this point so it was no use. At this point he should have reacted to my change in tactics. His plan of track-disrupting me was no longer effective, but he still had an advantage of speed and range. He should have started to kite me at this point. His ship had a fall-off bonus, plus his drones work at range, plus he had a warp-disruptor, so he could have moved to 10km and just waited for me to pop.  At the very least he could have warped away (my scram had capped out and so had his disruptor). Instead I managed to keep him between 2000m and 3000m, well within both of our fall-off range. Quite likely however he was having similar cap problems as me so instead he continued to try and maximize angular velocity which played to my strengths.

I had a slight advantage of higher resists, a tech-2 repper (no cap though), and a larger buffer. He had more overall DPS (thanks to the drones) but was shooting RF EMP which was fighting against my highest resistances. In the end my choice of going with Phased Plasma because I had no EMP decided it. I was in 40% structure as he popped. GF all around I looted and then limped to high-sec to repair my burnt out afterburner.

The moral of the story is to have a plan at the start of a fight, but pay attention. When things change either adapt, or run. Look at the icons on the overview showing e-war effects and note what is being done to you. If they loose point, and you are about to loose a 100m isk ship... then run. There were lots of things I was ready to react to. For example. if he had tried to kite me at 15km, I would have switched to his drones.

*Note: The other option at this point would be to approach gate so that his orbit would crash into the gate, killing his velocity both transversal and angular.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shameless plug ... Proposal in the assembly hall

I have put the first point from my 5 Things to improve the new player experience in the Assembly hall for the CSM to look at. Go and have a look at [Proposal] Every Race Needs a 'Rifter' and also a 'Thrasher'

I would appreciate it if people went and gave it a thumbs up (or thumbs down).


Thursday, December 2, 2010

New T2 Ammo Choices for Short Range

One of the big changes with the new expansion is the boost to the short range T2 ammo. Long range T2 ammo has always been popular. Barrage, Scorch, and to a lesser extent Null have all been used extensivelly to increase the range of short range weapons despite the fact that they deliver a significantly lower damage load to faction ammo. The short range T2 ammo does deliver the same punch as the faction ammo, however it came with many severe drawbacks to things like signature radius and cap recharge. This combined with lousy tracking made short range T2 ammo drastically inferior to faction ammo.

With Incursion this has changed. Short range T2 ammo is now boosted. Gone are the weird crippling side-effects. Reduced is the tracking penalty, and boosted is the damage so that it now hits significantly harder than faction ammo. Lets have a look start with Autocannons since I know most about them...


In the past when  going up against a ship that I believed was armour tanked I would load RF Fusion into my guns. I had barrage for the rare case when I wanted to kite, but usually I just wanted to get up close and personal. Now there is another option to choose from...

Hail S has delivers a combined load of 15.4 base damage. This is a full 12 % more then the equivalent RF Fusion ammo. While the optimal range is the same as RF fusion S, Hail has the additional drawback of 50% less falloff and 30% less tracking. In effect this means that against slow moving and/or large signature radius targets, if you can get to optimal range, Hail is what you want to use.

Lets imagine an example of two identically fit armour tanked Rifters engaging each other, both trying to get into point blank range. One has loaded Hail S and the other has Republic Fleet Fusion S. As they approach the RF Fusion Rifter is doing more damage. However once they are both at 500 metres, each being scrammed and webbed with a low transversal velocity, the Rifter with Hail S will be doing nearly 12% more damage. In the end the Rifter with Hail S will win. If the Rifter with RF Fusions S had instead tried to keep range at 5000 meters or so, then the ship firing Hail S would be deep into falloff and the Rifter firing R Fusion would win. However if the ship with Hail S had instead loaded Barrage S, then the tables would turn again.

In other words for a Rifter... at 1000 m

Hail > RF Fusion > Barrage

at 3000 m
RF Fusion > Hail > Barrage

at 5000 m

Barrage > RF Fusion > Hail

Interestingly, because of the tracking penalty

at 100 m or any situation where a combination of angular velocity and signature radius causes tracking issues to start...

RF Fusion > Hail > Barrage

I should also note that there is one case where Hail completely fails... shooting at drones. They are too fast / small. So don't go engaging that Ishkur with Hail S fitted.

Pulse Lasers

Pulse Lasers face a similar situation. Conflagration now has the same range as imperial Multi. However it has the following two drawbacks. Like Hail, tracking is 30% slower, it also consumes 25% more capacitor to fire. IOW it is the same as the old Conflagration but with less of a tracking penalty and 10% more damage. Since Lasers have a pretty decent range to start with, I think that this ammo is going to be pretty popular in slug-fests. Expect many a pilot to fit this ammo type along with scorch for when things get close.


I think a lot of Hybrid weapons users are going to be very disappointed. Like Pulse Lasers, Blasters have an improvement to damage output and less of a penalty to tracking. The problem is that blasters are already cursed with close range and mediocre tracking that this ammo just magnifies it's weaknesses. I can see it being used in rare cases to squeeze out a more DPS in EFT, but in space this ammo just isn't going to cut it. I really wish CCP had decided to give this ammo the sort of boosts it needs to make blasters a more viable weapon type.