Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Punisher in PvP

* As of EVE Online: Inferno (22nd May 2012), the fit listed below, and the bonuses applied to the Punisher have changed. As a result this fit is much less viable (although still workable if you absolutely must use autocannons). However, I will leave the post as it was for posterity. Also I'm lazy*

This is going to be a post aimed more towards the new guys at PvP, like me. It's going to be about what I've learnt while on random solo roams (often spent dodging Drakes) and what I've learnt from my corp in both group roams and while we chat. I'll focus on why my ship is fitted the way it is, something I personally never understood in PvP fits, the reasons why one thing was chosen over another. General combat tactics will also be based  on fighting against other Frigates. I have no experience fighting above my weight so I won't make guesses about how to do it ;)

I love the Punisher. It fits in perfectly with my attitude to what a fight should be in PvP, two sides beating the living daylights out of each other until one of them drops. Or explodes.The Punisher isn't as speedy or agile as the Rifter, nor can you treat it the same way. I've flown a Rifter, and to me, it always felt too fragile despite the praise heaped upon it by just about every PvPer ever. I'm not saying it's a bad ship, on the contrary it's likely the most powerful frigate in the game, as it can even take on cruisers if flown well. It just didn't seem to fit my style of fighting. PvP in the Punisher is about outlasting the opponent, in both tank and capacitor. Attempting to speed or shield tank a Punisher is inherently stupid, due to both its slot layout and low base speed, so it's nowhere near as versatile as a Rifter in terms of tanking types, but it more than makes up for it in the sheer size of it's armour tank. Plus the Rifter is well known as a badass PvP ship, so flying a Punisher will probably mean people underestimate you right up until they realise they've just hit hull and you're still sitting in 90% armour ;)

So essentially:
Pros of the Punisher:
- Large capacitor (For a frigate)
- Large Tank (For a frigate)

Cons of the Punisher
- Predictable tank (Armour only)
- Slow (Compared to other frigates)

Here's my current fit:

High slots
- 150mm Light 'Scout' Autocannon I  Rep Fleet EMP S
- 150mm Light 'Scout' Autocannon I  Rep Fleet EMP S
- 150mm Light 'Scout' Autocannon I  Rep Fleet EMP S
- Small Diminishing Power System Drain I

Mid slots
- J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
- Experimental 1MN Afterburner

Low slots
- Damage Control II
- Small Armour Repairer II
- 400mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
- Adaptive Nano Plating II

- Small Anti-Thermic Pump I
- Small Ancillary Current Router I
- Small Ancillary Current Router I

Here's the ingame description of the Punisher:

The Amarr Imperial Navy has been upgrading many of its ships in recent years and adding new ones. The Punisher is one of the most recent ones and considered by many to be the best Amarr frigate in existence. As witnessed by its heavy armaments, the Punisher is mainly intended for large-scale military operations, acting in coordination with larger military vessels, but it is more than powerful enough for solo operations.

Amarr Frigate Skill Bonus: 10% bonus to Small Energy Turret capacitor use and 5% bonus to armor resistances per skill level.

If you read that properly you might notice something weird about my fit. Incase you missed it, or Tl;dr, here it is -> 10% bonus to Small Energy Turret capacitor use

My fit is using autocannons. My reaction to this as a new player, (like many) was along the lines of "Hur hur, he's doing it wrong". Actually it makes perfect sense if you think about it. Normally ignoring a ship bonus earns you a slap around the face and a good trolling. But this is a capacitor use reduction, not a damage bonus. One of the pros of the Punisher is the fact it has a large capacitor, and while the bonus will reduce the impact of lasers on this, it'll still cut down on your inherent advantage. So why not use autocannons, which use zero cap anyway and have selectable damage types? Of course if you started as an Amarr pilot, you may not have cross-trained into small projectiles. This is probably annoying, but a couple of days or so training autocannons will have a huge improvement on the rate your cap goes down. Besides, selectable damage types is a massive advantage in a fight, allowing you to switch to a different ammo type if you don't seem to be making an impression on the other ship's tank. I normally keep my guns loaded with Republic Fleet EMP S for shield tankers (most common) with Republic Fleet Fusion S in the cargo for armour tankers.

The Nos is also to aid your capacitor. My tactic with the Punisher is to always be draining the other guy's cap, so you'll want to switch your nos on at the same time as your guns. Once your percentage drops below his, you'll start to steal it. You have the advantage in cap size, so while your percentage of cap will be lower, the actual number will be bigger than his. When he caps out, pray he's active tanking because then he'll literally go into freefall in regards to repairing damage and maintaining speed through afterburners etc.

However he may be passive tanking ( i.e using no cap to tank, which is less common but still happens) which is why you've got the 400mm plate as a buffer, to give you time to wear his tank down, and the SAR II (Small Armour Repairer) will help with this. Your resists are are already high due to the other bonus the Punisher gets (5% bonus to armor resistances per skill level), but the Damage Control II and Nano Plating add to this even further, making your tank surprisingly strong for a frigate. Your lowest resist (thermal) is filled by the anti-thermic rig, rounding your resists off nicely. This is great for new guys like me who like a bit of a "safety net" with their ships. The whole idea behind the Punisher is outlasting the other guy, so in a straight up fight you should win, but it also (obviously) depends on the tactics used by both sides. Energy neutralizers are death to you, which is why I normally avoid cruisers, as utility highs are often to fitted with neuts to murder frigates that get too close.

The there are two main problems with this fit, speed and damage. Your speed, even with the afterburner on, is under 1000m/s (atleast with my skills) and most of that is down to the 400mm plate. While you could downshift to a 200mm plate, you'd be losing a hell of alot of buffer for only a small speed increase, which I don't feel is worth it. A big problem with the 400mm plate however is the fact you need two of your rig slots to make it fit, something that I can't seem to avoid. In order to have the powergrid to fit it, you need two Ancillary Current Routers. These are mildly expensive at just over a million each, but the ability to fit a 400mm plate far outweighs this in my opinion, despite the effect on your speed. But if you prefer your frigates speedy, why the hell are you looking at the Punisher?

The other problem is damage. While this is lessened somewhat by using faction ammo (it's worth it trust me) and best named T1 guns (T2 autos are quite far down my list of important stuff to train), the focus on tank in the low slots means you have no room for a gyrostablizer/heat sink (if you ignored my advice and put lasers on anyway). This will reduce your overall DPS, but hopefully your tank should allow you to last long enough to murder the other ship before you die. An alternative to this fit is to drop the 400mm plate to a 200mm plate, and then use those two empty rig slots for weapon rigs to increase your DPS at the expense to your tank. It's not something I would do, but its an option for those who dislike the rather bulky way I've jammed on the 400mm.

I hope this has been useful to other players starting PvP in Amarr ships, or even interested those who normally fly Rifters. I've probably missed something mildly important, but I think I've got the main ideas down behind using a Punisher against other frigates. Go out and grind them down!

Tl;dr Give the Punisher a chance, it's alot of fun to fly :D

Sunday, 29 January 2012

For serious...?

If you haven't seen this you need to. Killmail.

Yes it is. Yes it did. And it's been API verified. That is some seriously awesome flying there by Angeliq. When people told me Tier 3 BCs were paper thin, I thought they meant they'd die to a couple of cruisers or a frigate gang. Not a Velator. To be fair, the Tornado is clearly set for a sniping fit with a non-existent tank and three sensor boosters, but even so, a rookie ship killing a battlecruiser is funny as hell.

Full write up by Angeliq here. I recommend you read it, it definitely made my day better ;)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

First kill!

I'll be the first to admit it, I'm fairly useless in PVP. That's probably a bit of an understatement infact, a monkey smashing the keyboard would probably fare better than me in a fight. So imagine my shock when I managed to kill an Incursus today. Although it was a duel to be fair, no epic LowSec chases for me.

I'd been meaning to get into PVP for sometime now. I'd trained some basic skills and some useful things like Overheating and wandered around lowsec promising myself to attack the first thing I saw. Of course when that thing turns out to be a smart-bombing battleship, I think I was well within my rights to run for the safety of high-sec. So instead of being the PvP god I wanted to become, I was sulking around Amarr in my PvP Punisher. (I had used my rudimentary knowledge of fitting to make an attempt at a PvP fit before I ran it past one of my corpmates. He got me to change most of the fit).

My trusty, battle-proven Punisher
So there I was sitting on my ass outside the main tradehub in Amarr feeling sorry for myself and a little bored when I saw the can on my overview. TI FRIGATE I V I!! An Incursus was floating next to it. I've always been suspicious of these fights but I wanted to get a taste of PvP before mission running sucked out the last of my soul. Checking the pilot's history showed him to be a 2007 player. That meant he definitely had the skillpoint advantage, aswell as experience. I then checked out his corp to make sure they weren't all camping in the area to gank me halfway through. Just him in the system. I was sorely tempted, but also worried by his three year advantage. Not only that, but I was well aware of the recent blaster buff, and three years meant he must have T2 blasters on that thing. I hesitated.

Then I almost slapped myself around the face. How could I ever become a PvP god if all I worried about was how I was going to lose to older players? Suddenly determined, I flew straight at his can. He saw me about 10km out and started to orbit me. I continued to orbit his can for a while, trying to decide on tactics. I went for the "turn on everything and pray" approach. I locked him up, turned on my Damage Control and took his ammo in the can.

Pretty much instantly my shields melted and I panicked. My Caldari side was screaming "OH MY GOD THE SHIELDS, THE SHIELDS!!!". Then I remembered that I was flying an Amarr ship based around armour tanking. Derp. I fired up my autocannons, my nos and my scrambler and settled into orbit next to him. I hoped he was shield tanking because I was having some serious trouble breaking through it. But glancing at my armour showed me I was still at around 80%. We traded blows as a Providence floated by only a few kilometres away. It was oddly peaceful. Then his shields broke. His armour started falling faster and faster and my heart started to flutter. My overheated armour rep was keeping me around 50% armour and I was chewing into his hull. His damage control was slowing me down, but my tank hadn't yet been broken and I was sure I would win. I was right.

I sat back in my chair, heart hammering from the adrenaline rush. I hadn't even realised I had leant forward so far. "Gf" appeared in local. A huge smile spread across my face. "Gf dude" I replied. My first true PvP fight, and I had won. I looted his wreck, sold what I couldn't use and kept the rest. I sat in the station and excitedly told my corpmates of my victory, small as it was.

I can easily see why people love PvP. Already I want to go back out and kick some ass, the adrenaline rush and surge of joy when I won was amazing. Though part of me knows it's a little sad to get this excited over exploding pixels, the rest of me can't wait for the corp roam planned for next week. Thank you snowman1 for giving me the PvP bug!

Tl;dr PvP is way more fun than Incursions. And I love Incursions.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Leave Incursions as they are (It's not what you think)

When I first started EVE, Incursions seemed the Big Scary Thing only experienced players and fleets would dare attempt. I was in awe of the ships worth several hundred million, or even several billion, owned by the richest of these daring players. I wanted to be one of them. To me in my fragile Punisher frigate, they had everything. Cool ships, war stories and enough money to buy a small country. I won't lie, the first reason I got involved in Incursion running was for the cold, hard ISK. When I started EVE, the flow of ISK was everything to me, and it got me into Incursions.  But that's not the reason I stayed.

Before I get into my reasoning properly, I would like to point something out. I am very much a lone wolf player, and not in the 'expert at solo PVP' lone wolf sense. No, I'm a lone wolf in the sense that I'm an ISK loving carebear. Even though I'm in a corp, most of them live in a different time zone, and I see them very little. This suits me fine, I very rarely get lonely missioning. But the problem that I found with Level 4 missions after a while was that I was getting very little ISK for the effort I put in, or so I thought. So obviously I looked around for a better paying job and found Incursions. Or more specifically, the posts on the EVE forums screaming "ZOMGWTFBBQ BILLION ISK AN HOUR FLEETS IN HIGH SEC, CCP Y U NO NERF" etc. Being the ISK-grabbing whore I am, this grabbed my attention. A billion isk an hour? Count me in!

Of course I would have to socialise and learn how to work in an experienced, professional fleet of hardened, battle-scarred veterans, but I reckoned I could muddle my way along. I soon realised that a simple Raven was not going to get me into an Incursion fleet. Judging by the shiny ships I saw flooding the gates towards Incursion areas, I would at the very least I would need a Navy Issue Raven, with some faction damage mods to wow the Fleet Commanders (I had decided based on my current skill set to stick with missiles, and that meant being a sniper). Gritting my teeth, I began to grind L4's. After a month, and massive training into shields and cruise missiles, I felt ready. I bought my CNR. I payed for faction ballistic control systems that cost more than a Battleship. I followed the fit posting etiquette in BTL Pub, headed towards the Incursion site and waited. And waited. And waited some more. My god was there alot of waiting. What people seem to conveniently forget about Incursion fleets is the amount of time you spend getting in one. You're not making ten million an hour, nevermind a billion, while sitting on a gate waiting for an FC to send you an invite. And even when you get an invite, people drop and join constantly, so chances are you'll do a site then wait five minutes to replace a logi, or a DPS guy. But anyway, I'm waiting on the gate...

Then suddenly it happened. An FC named A Archer suddenly spoke up, asking for sniper fits in the Amarr Incursion. I tentatively X'd up and posted my fit amongst the other hopefuls, but my faction mods made me stand out from the crowd. Instant fleet invite. My jaw dropped. I was in. I was one of those pilots lusted after by the new guys. I was one of the few, the proud, the brave. I was also about to become incredibly rich. I warped into fleet, was told what tags to shoot at and how to call for logis, a crash course in Incursion running so to speak. I tried not to screech with excitement down the comms as we lined up on the entrance to an Assault site. "AAA" in the fleet chat. We warped a few seconds after the anchor. The tagger gave us our targets. We were clean and professional. No other communication was needed, just the simple "Snipers switch to tag B" "Rayl needs cap" floating over the fleet comms. I had a huge grin on my face, it was exactly how I imagined. Then, the incredible happened. The FC called open comms, and then all hell broke loose. Arguments raged over My Little Pony, Songs You Shouldn't Like But Secretly Do and Are Gingers Hot or Not? Links to cat videos on Youtube were dropped in the fleet chat like some sort of relaxant, favorite porn sites were swapped and arguments broke out over how to properly fit a Battle Badger to surprise gankers.

I was appalled. This wasn't some fine-tuned machine. This was a group of mad people blindly smashing through a Sansha stronghold while mildly intoxicated and discussing ponies. And then I realised something even more insane. I was having the most fun on EVE I had ever had. Incursion fleets are so massively social and hilarious, you just have to get involved. The fact I was earning about 18 million every 15 minutes was just a huge bonus. The real draw for me to stay was the brilliant personalities behind those avatars, and the insanity that was formed when they were in a fleet together. I can't thank my first fleet enough for showing me the real joy behind EVE, the people in it.

And that's why I don't want Incursions to be hit so hard with the nerf bat they get hospitalised.  Not because of the ISK not because of the LP, both of which flow like water, but because of the people that will leave Incursions if they don't feel like it's worth it. The mad people. The people who unashamedly discuss ponies. They won't bother doing Incursions, they'll go and do something else, like wormholes or trading. And that would be a hell of a shame, because the only people still doing the Incursions would be the cold professional killers, in it only for the ISK, not the social experience, intent on perfecting their completion times and treating newcomers with disdain at their lack of skill or knowledge. I don't want Incursions to be like this because I'm certain I'm not the only player who needs these nutters to show me the best part of EVE, the utter hilarity a group of strangers can enjoy. So please, when you're raging about how Incursions are ruining the economy, think about what they're doing for the player base instead.

Tl;dr  Incursions are so much more than an uncontrollable ISK faucet. They're also an amazing place to have fun and socialise in a game where it can be easy to be the lone wolf.

Our Incursion fleet with my CNR near centre, just before we jumped. Sexy post-Crucible Nebula is visible too ;)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Drake nerf ? Bad idea...

One piece of news I've been hearing alot about recently is the potential "Drake Nerf" as mentioned by the CSM. Honestly I don't think it'll work, and if anything it'll cause more harm then good. Don't get me wrong, I can see what they're trying to do, I just don't believe it is going to help in the long run. The idea behind the whole "REMOVE TEH SHIELD BONUS" is to make Drakes less dominant in PvP. Not too sure on the loss of the kinetic bonus but it's not the loss that's important. It's what it's going to be replaced with.

My problem is that pretty much everyone who started out missioning was, at some point or another, told to get a Drake, even if they didn't start Caldari. Case in point, i'm an Amarr pilot and I use missiles (Blasphemy I know, but missiles make such an awesome BOOM). The classic ship development told to newcomers is something like:

  1. Caracal 
  2. Drake 
  3. Raven 
  4. CNR 
  5. Golem if you're addicted

It makes perfect sense. Caldari are the well known kings of PvE mainly due to the Drake and the Raven. Infact if you're careful and don't mind spending about 10 minutes per battleship to break it's tank, you can solo Level 4's in a Drake. It's that powerful.

Hell I've told newbies to get into a Drake ASAP to provide them with funds even if they don't plan on remaining a missioner as their EVE "career". The Drake's tank is literally one of the highest non-capital tanks you can get in EVE, and because of this it is used extensively in both PvE and PvP. I used a Drake myself while grinding for Level 4 missions, and a well fit Drake can literally be ignored for hours in a L3 mission and still be at 50% shields when you come back. It may not punch very hard, but my god does it refuse to die. Because of this, you can make mistakes in a Drake and not lose it. I sure as hell made some mistakes (the classic "forgetting to bring any ammo" springs to mind here). But with such a huge tank you can afford to. Though I daresay the Drake made me a little lazy about tanking (two invulns and you're laughing all the way to the bank), making for a bit of a shock when I reached the Raven, but the Drake is still an excellent ship.

The sticky problem is that the Drake is the perfect safety net for new mission runners, and this proposed nerf is going to hit the PvE crowd way harder than the PvP crowd it's aimed at. Without its insane resists, the passive tank of the Drake is going to fall through the floor. This isn't as much as a problem for the PvP crowd who use Damage Controls like some sort of religion, but for the PvE guys it's going to be catastrophic. With the loss of the resist bonus, the passive tank on the Drake in unlikely to be enough for L3 missions, let alone L4's. L3's are going to require much more thinking on the part of the pilot, and while this isn't a terrible thing, I'm pretty sure it's going to result in a hell of a knock to the income of newcomers. With the 'safety net' of the Drake gone, one mistake during a mission is going to mean you lose that 30 million ISK ship, and that's going to make a sizable dent in a wallet only a few months old.

"But Seraph!" you say "The first rule of EVE is 'Don't fly what you can't afford to lose!'". And yes, you'd be right. But be honest. As a noob with no real choice, sometimes you have no option to take a risk to earn some cash. Otherwise you're going to be mining for months before you get anywhere. And mining is soul-destroying. By extension of this, you could even say that nerfing the Drake will result in more rage quit unsubscriptions. But that's probably thinking about this too deeply.

Besides, the numbers of Drakes used in PvP is likely to increase after this, due to the fact the kinetic bonus is being dropped for a missile speed bonus. This means that Drakes can now fire any damn missile they like without wasting a ship bonus, and it's going to be a shock for PvPers when those Drakes you filled your kinetic hole against, start punching you in your thermal resist really damn hard. Not only that but this speed increase will also increase the range of Drakes to something like 75 - 85km. Few ships can hit out that far besides snipers, but the Drake doesn't have the tracking problem a sniper does. So not only is that Drake punching you much harder, it's also doing it from further away, so you're basically tickling it. That loss of tank for the Drake doesn't seem so bad now you're only hitting him half the time.

Tl;dr = The Drake nerf may sound good in theory, but in practise it's just gonna screw over the new guys. And that's hardly fair on them ;)

Monday, 23 January 2012

A Quick Introduction...

After reading so many EVE blogs for months now that made me really enjoy the game on a far deeper level, I've decided to start my own. I have no idea what i'll talk about or how frequently i'll post, but hopefully it will be interesting for you to read.

So a quick introduction. My main is called Seraph Minayin. As of this post, I've been playing EVE for around 8 months, however for much of December (2011), I didn't log in due to lack of interest, right before Crucible gave me the EVE-bug all over again. So now I'm back, planning for the future, and trying to have some fun along the way. If you're interested, why not stick around?