Sunday, April 5, 2009

Double knock-out

I'm becoming very fond of Molden Heath low-sec. It's not far from my base and the configuration is perfect - if you view it on a 2D map, you can circle the whole region via low-sec and then return home. It often provides me with interesting fights - and today was no exception.
The circle of fun

After few uneventful systems, I scanned a Retriever mining ship in a belt in the dead-end system of Sakulda. I warped there, modules flashing, but I was too late - the pilot had already warped away and left behind a chain of secure containers, filled with ore. I knew he had to come back, so I warped back to my scan spot and kept an eye on the scanner. I expected an Industrial, so a Cyclone battlecruiser was a shock. However, after already killing one earlier today, I felt optimistic and warped to the belt.

I had bookmarked both ends of the container chain and warped to the one with the lowest letter. Unfortunately, the pilot cared less for order than I do, and was a hundred kilometers away, already engaging the belt rats. I employed a tactic that has served me well in belt warfare: instead of afterburning to him, I bookmarked the wreck closest to him, warped to the planet and then back to the bookmark. I came out of warp on top of him, tackled him and settled into a tight orbit. The pilot was amused - he exclaimed to his buddies in local that some fool in a frig dared to engage him.

Unlike the first Cyclone of the day and his medium drones, this pilot packed two flights of Warrior II drones. I cursed, but then discovered I could pop them in a few seconds each. A minute later, the drones were no more and the belt was empty save for me, the battlecruiser and a battleship NPC, whose services I promptly enlisted. He had large guns mounted which usually missed me, but he also had two rocket launchers that kept taking chunks out of my armor. I activated my NOS and started the game of armor repairer micromanagement, keeping a watchful eye on potential corp mates of my target.

To my surprise, the game kept going on and on. My readouts inched lower, every cycle leaving my armor a bit shorter. My fire was having very little effect on his shields - they went down, but the combined action of me and the rat was working very slowly. After what seemed like hours, his shields were gone. I swapped my RF EMP ammo for Hail (t2 short-distance ammo with poor tracking but high DPS) and continued the work. Somewhere by the end of his armor, my NOS started having little effect and I concluded that his capacitor was gone.

By the time he was at half structure, I had some 400 effective hit points left. I had to turn off the web to provide more power to the armor repairer. We were both inching toward 0 and I was starting to think I might actually win - when my Rifter blew up.

I quickly gave my pod the order to warp away and typed a "gf" in local, when I noticed that my opponent was sitting beside me in a pod of his own. It seems that his final salvo and mine (aided by the BS rat) were so close that we both died at the same time.

I docked in a nearby station and looked at the kill mail. The mystery of his powerful shields was solved - in addition to powerful shield defense and damage augmentation modules, his ship was rigged! Battleclinic places the vaue of his ship at 75M ISK - not a bad exchange for a 7M Rifter!

The power of NOS

When I first started flying the Rifter, my skills were so low I had problems with all aspects of fighting: from warping around the solar systems and catching targets to tracking and hitting them. Even when I knew what to do, I often couldn't. To remedy that, I made improving those skills a priority. After my damage potential improved, the buffer tank became the problem - I only had a limited time until I had to run (or die). When I could fit an active tank, the capacitor became the bottle neck - the pulsing of the armor repairer is practically an art form :) I decided to try using an energy vampire to remedy that, which required another week of training so I could fit it on my Rifter. Finally, I could use the NOS - I fitted it to the ship and embarked on a voyage to Molden Heath low-sec to test it out.

After some uneventful scouting, I hit paydirt: first a 2 versus 1 with two Rifters (first, second) in Heild, and then I found a Mackinaw mining an ice belt. The NOS gave me confidence against his drones; my previous experience has taught me to keep a scramble and orbit around the main targets while I web and pop the drones one by one. Despite my armour getting critically low at one point, additional capacitor energy I was able to syphon from the target enabled me to repair the damage. After the drones were down, I opened a conversation with the mining pilot and ransomed him for 40 million ISK - doubling the ammount in my wallet and recouping all the costs I had buying and fitting my Rifters.

Mackinaw mining barge
(image courtesy of EVE wiki)

The day finished with a consensual fight with another Rifter in my home system. As he had only Tech 1 guns fitted, the extra range afforded to me by Barrage proved decisive and his ship went up in a cloud of smoke.

My successes with the NOS Rifter boosted my confidence and I engaged a Cyclone battlecruiser today; the fight was long and at moments it was touch and go, especially when the BC used his afterburner and web to increase distance while I was busy webbing and killing his drones and a volley wiped out half of my armour - but after 17,500 of damage, I won and chalked up my first BC kill.

Cyclone battlecruiser
(image courtesy of EVE wiki)

I'm so satisfied with the way my Rifter handles that, for the first time in a month, I'm back to studying learning skills. I think my next learning challenge will be overheating - it's just so useful.

Here is the fit of my NOS Rifter (cca 7M ISK in value) - try it out and tell me what you think!

[Rifter, Rifter PVP Active AB NOS]
Small Armor Repairer II
Damage Control II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Monopropellant I Hydrazine Boosters
X5 Prototype I Engine Enervator
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
E5 Prototype Energy Vampire

[empty rig slot]
[empty rig slot]
[empty rig slot]