Friday, May 18, 2012

The Tornado now officially scares me.

Back in the old corp, when we were mining and missioning in a dead-end pipe in Lonetrek, our system was infected by a griefer who liked to bump miners and gloat that he was invincible, that he owned the system.  He was in an NPC corp so he was immune to war declarations, he never actually used offensive modules so he was under CONCORD's radar, and he just kept bumping people in their mining barges until they were ready to tear out their hair.  They couldn't maneuver, they couldn't stay in range of a rock, they couldn't even warp away to dock.

In short, the only way to get rid of this pest would have been to suicide-gank him, and he was too fast and too well-tanked; he only needed to be able to survive for about 15 seconds or so, long enough for CONCORD to vaporize whoever was attacking him.  Nothing but a battleship could possibly hit him hard enough quickly enough, and that battleship would then be doomed.

Then the Tier-3 battlecruisers were released.

After one frustrating night of mining that turned into a night of getting punted all over a belt by the griefer, I was sent a mail with the griefer's fit - while he'd been making a pest of himself, other people had managed to run ship scans on him and doped out what he had on his Stabber.  And I realized that, theoretically, the just-released Tornado battlecruiser might be able to do the job.  Killing the griefer would require massive alpha damage, targeted to his weakness - he had a strong shield, but he hadn't reinforced against shielding's natural EM weakness - so the natural weapon of choice would be the 1400mm artillery cannon.  Their rate of fire is slow enough that you'd think you could brew a cup of coffee as they cycle, but the amount of damage they deal all at once is, on paper, terrifying.

I'd theorycrafted a fit that would let me slam him with a warp scrambler (take his oversized microwarpdrive out of play) and multiple stasis webifiers, plus modules and rigging so that I could keep pace with him when he was webbed, plus a full rack of eight 1400's loaded with faction ammo tailored to the hole in his shield tank.

Ultimately, the griefer gave up and moved out of the system before I could test the Tornado fit, and I passed the Tornado on to someone who felt he could use it in faction warfare.

But the sense of how powerful those guns could be never left.

I picked up a Maelstrom for mission running - the only other ship capable of mounting that full rack of 1400's - but while I was bringing my skills up to par, I generally armed it with either autocannons or 1200mm artillery, because the 1400's are incredibly greedy for powergrid and CPU.  1200's are shorter-ranged and not nearly as powerful per shot, but they fire twice as fast and track better than the 1400's, as well as being much more forgiving where a ship's powergrid and CPU are concerned.  Finally, I reached a point where I could fit the 1400's on the Maelstrom without gutting my shield tank to make room for them ... and then I got a near-perfect mission to test them out: Guristas Extravaganza.

Guristas Extravaganza differs somewhat from its more popular cousin, Angels Extravaganza, in that ships will camp at longer range, out to 50km, and their electronic-warfare method of choice is ECM jamming, which will wipe out any target locks you have.  If you don't know how long you'll be able to hold the lock on your target, you'll want to make every shot count, and the 1400's massive alpha damage is just what the doctor ordered..  Of course, the 1400's are nearly useless against cruisers and frigates, but two salvos can blow through a battleship's shields and armor and leave it with its structure half-gone.

And if you turn those guns on a battlecruiser?  One salvo will take it from full shields and armor to thirty percent structure. If it's lucky.  More often than not, it was one shot, one kill.

And don't let the optimal range numbers fool you - even if the optimal on the 1400's as I had them set up was 33 kilometers, that was coupled with a 55km falloff, which meant that any one gun had a 50-50 chance of hitting a target out to 88km, so those Gurista battleships orbiting at 50km have something like an 80% chance of getting the full effect of a salvo.  Sure, you can only throw three salvos a minute, but not many NPC ships will be able to weather those three salvos.

Eight 1400's have to be respected.

And since militias are fielding Tornados, which are probably fitted either for autocannon's nasty sustained damage, or for "8x1400mm of FU," to quote Corelin of the Mad Haberdashers, it worries me that the next time I see one of those things, I'll be next in line for a one-hit kill.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Some things you just don't do

Things I've learned:

Don't engage a cruiser or a battlecruiser with a stealth bomber one-on-one.

I made that mistake earlier this week, when Gallente militia swarmed our low-sec rally point in Black Rise.  I was keeping eyes on a complex warp-in gate, a fleet-mate was engaged with a Rupture, getting hit hard, and pleading for assistance.

I was tired, and I'd just taken a NyQuil for a bad cough, so I was mentally primed to do something stupid.

I decloaked my Nemesis and engaged with torpedoes.

And I got cut to pieces.

I'd forgotten to turn on my sensor damps, and I'd engaged too close; I was shredded in seconds.  Once I'd docked my pod, I decided it was probably time to call it a night.

Fast forward a couple of days.  I've run a couple of missions in hi-sec to earn back the ISK to buy a new Nemesis - got lucky with "Silence the Informant" and scored an Arbalest heavy launcher, which pays for a cover-ops cloak all by itself - and I've bought the hull, cloak, and fittings, and brought them all back to Black Rise.

Then one of the old hands calls out: any corp mates in Black Rise willing to help test out a super-tanking Drake?  (It's one of our standard fits, but he's testing out how good it would be with the addition of a couple of T2 shield rigs; he manufactures rigs in bulk and can spare a couple to put on a Drake.)  I figure, what the heck; it'll give me a chance to test the gank on the Nemesis in somewhat more controlled conditions.

The test goes rather well.  We discover that the Drake can absorb a hell of a lot of damage, more than one Nemesis can throw with my skill set (with standard Inferno torpedoes, anyway; I wasn't going to waste faction ammo on a friendly); I discover that with two good sensor damps, I can chop a Drake's targeting range to less than my optimal torpedo range.  I also discover that a Dominix can get its tank broken by a Drake and a Nemesis acting in tandem.

Then the Drake throws one volley of missiles at me, just to see how well I can tank it.

One startled squawk later, it is clear that one volley of Scourge Fury heavy missiles will one-shot a Nemesis.

On the bright side, the cloak was salvageable from the wreckage, so I don't have to shell out for a new one. And I did get reimbursed for the hull, plus a little extra for the humiliation factor.

We all learned something.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Small victories

The situation: Our CEO had just recruited a new guy to the corp, who was interested in linking up with us and starting to run faction warfare ops.

The problem: The guy and his Prophecy-class battlecruiser were docked up in Rens, in Minmatar space, and since his application had been accepted, he was now a legitimate target for hostile factions.  And the direct routes to our hi-sec base of operations led him through the depths of Gallente space, where he'd be running from the Navy as well as the factions.

The call: "Hey, Marc. You're an armor tanker, right?"  (I am.)  "How would you fit a ship with the best possible armor tank if you needed to put on a couple of warp core stabilizers?"

The solution: In the middle of dinking around with potential fits (need the stabs to break warp scramblers, need a damage control, need resists - put on a plate? Sacrifice speed for buffer?), I decided: the hell with it, let's just find the guy another route out.

Over to the Dotlan maps, tell the computer to plot a course that avoids Essence and Sinq Laison, and voila!  Two jumps get him from Minmatar space to Ammatar space, then three more jumps and he's in Amarr hi-sec, and from there, he's got a clear run through friendly empire space to the corp's home.  I put up the waypoints in corp chat and let him know that if he's willing to make a somewhat longer trip, that route should be safe for most of the way.

He decides to go for it.

Him: "Holy @#$%!  Just got jumped undocking from Rens!"
Me: Oh, sweet mother of mercy, I just got him killed, didn't I?
Him: "It's OK, I warped away."
Me: *phew*

Him: "OK, I'm in Gallente space now."
Me: What the frak?! Did I miss a waypoint?
Him: "Warping through. OK so far."
Me: Please, whoever's watching over New Eden, I don't want my screwups to be responsible for getting two corpmates slagged in the same week...
Him: "OK, I'm in Caldari space."
Me: Thank you, whoever and wherever you are.

Him: "Docking up now."
Me: "Woohoo!"
Corpmates: "Welcome to the war."

It's not a killmail on a Titan, but it's a positive.  Gives the corp some extra firepower, and if you can establish a bit of rapport right at the beginning, it can help out when you're in the thick of things.

Especially since I've actually been doing the corp a bit of good from back in hi-sec, while in low-sec I've pretty much been getting myself shredded.  Still prone to dumb mistakes - although, to be fair, they haven't been hellaciously costly ones.  (Tried to get an Iteron into low-sec to collect a bunch of bargain Cormorants - ran right into a massive gate camp on the first jump and got melted and podded.  On the bright side, the Itty was empty, so all I really lost were the modules and rigs.  The implants that got blasted out of my head were probably the most expensive part of the loss...)