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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Fly a Curse

The Curse is a force multiplier, capable of taking on many ships simultaneously and coming out ahead, due to its multiple ewar bonuses.

But, it’s a highly advanced ship to fly, make no mistake.  Rather than a typical “get at optimal, apply damage” ship, the Curse pilot has to watch several things at once, have multiple targets locked, and apply different ewar modules based on each ship’s threat level.  Flying it successfully means understanding a great many mechanics, and recalling the various strengths and weakness of multiple enemies on the fly.

Suffice to say, you should have very good navigation, drone, ewar, armor, and fitting skills trained in order to fly a Curse effectively.  But pilot skill also plays a much larger part in success/failure than with most other ships.

Have I whetted your appetite yet?  Let’s begin.

Look at the Ship


A quick look at the Curse reveals deceptively powerful ewar bonuses.

Amarr Cruiser Skill Bonus: 7.5% bonus to tracking disruptor effectiveness per level and 10% bonus to drone hitpoints and damage per level.
Recon Ships Skill Bonus: 40% bonus to energy neutralizer and energy vampire range and 20% bonus to energy neutralizer and energy vampire range transfer amount.

At first, you may look at these bonuses and be underwhelmed.  After all, the Curse doesn’t benefit from a jamming bonus like the Rook, or a Web bonus like the Rapier.  But these bonuses are frequently underused and highly effective.

Of the most obvious benefits is the drone bonus, which will provide the bulk of your DPS. With a 150m3 drone bay, you can easily fit two flights of mediums, a small flight, and an ECM flight, or go straight for heavies and lights.  In either case, you can do some serious damage with these drones.

The tracking disruptor bonus is a game-changer, though.  With it, a single tracking disruptor can reduce enemy optimal+falloff or tracking by 60% - this can effectively eliminate a turret ship’s ability to do damage entirely.  What does this mean?  A Vagabond would no longer be able to kite.  A Talos or Brutix can’t track.  A DPS ship is effectively removed from the fight.  And you can multiply that by the number of disruptors you have.

Finally, while the transfer amount bonus for neutralizers and vampires doesn’t seem that impressive – operating at 200% of normal when fully skilled – the range bonus is incredibly dangerous.  With the Recon skill trained to IV (typical for most pilots), you can apply your neuts at 260% of range, more than one and a half times further than usual.  That allows you to get another cycle before your enemy is within range.

What does this mean?  Multiple interceptors can be capped out by the time they reach scram range.  Any active-tanked ship will be crippled.  Perhaps most importantly, our target will lose his prop module deep in your point range.

Suffice to say, you can destroy an uneducated enemy.  Forget EFT ehp calculations… your enemy has only as many hp as he sees on the fitting screen when docked.

Fitting Your Curse


Assuming a solo or small-gang use, here’s a fairly typical fit that provides maximum value.

[Curse, Solo Curse]
Damage Control II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II 

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
Warp Disruptor II

Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Conflagration S
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Conflagration S
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

Hammerhead II x5
Valkyrie II x5
Warrior II x5
Hornet EC-300 x5 

Let’s speak about the most obvious characteristic of this fit: you have two tank modules – a 1600mm plate and a DCII.  That’s it.  A highly-skilled pilot gets perhaps 25k ehp.  That means getting caught flat-footed will very quickly be deadly.  Avoid gate camps at all costs; a cloaked scout is highly recommended.  Your plate makes you very slow to burn back to the gate, and you don’t have the tank to survive the trip.

But for that lost ehp and speed, you gain a monster.  You can pump out 404 dps up close, and 338 out to your drone control range.  Given that your targets will tend to have low resists by the time you finish them off, that dps is multiplied significantly.  An example: if your target has 50% shield resists with hardeners on, your 404 dps will effectively double once your neuts shut them off.  Keep that in mind.

The mids are where much of the action is.  First, of course, you’ll have a web and a disruptor.  Why not a scram?  Quite simply, you’ll want to overload that WDII to extend your point range to prevent your target from escaping once those neuts and tracking disruptors land.  A scram won’t help very much, since your neuts will prevent your target from using an MWD anyways.  A Web is there more for tackling and for preventing extremely fast frigates from escaping too far before being capped out.

But the TDs, as I mentioned, will each take one dps ship out of the fight.  Fly with range scripts loaded.  If you’re in a 1v1 situation, applying both will ensure your enemy’s maximum falloff range is 16% of his original range.  That’s devastating.  Once your enemy gets in close (if he does), you’ll want to switch to tracking speed scripts.  At 16% of tracking speed, even small guns will have a hard time hitting you.

Running your neuts will eat a lot of your cap, so use the cap booster for a quick injection of energy.  Do not forget about your cap booster; it makes all the difference, as you’ll likely be capped out after two cycles of all three neuts.  Fit the largest cap charge you can; the reload round-time is only 10 seconds, and reloading a single large charge is more efficient on a cap per second basis than reloading multiple smaller ones.

And finally, your bread-and-butter… the neuts.  Running three medium neuts will entirely cap out T1 cruisers and below in a single cycle, and nearly any battlecruiser in two cycles.  Be sure to stagger the activation of your neuts.  You want to ensure your target doesn’t have enough cap to ever activate their prop module or shield booster/armor repper.  If you hit them all at once, you’ll have a 12-second period when your target is recharging cap, a large enough period to let him activate something to keep him alive.

I’ve included two small pulse lasers primarily for taking out enemy drones.  Any weapon system works fine, but I use lasers to help add dps to the EM hole of neuted T1 ships.  With everything you need to think about when flying a Curse, damage type isn’t something you want to worry about.

The rigs can be changed, but you’ll need an ACR even with AWU V (incidentally, AWU doesn’t provide much value, since this fit has only two small guns; the powergrid savings is negligible).  Feel free to fit whatever else helps your fight.

If you fly with an Engineering 603 implant, you can upgrade to a T2 1600 plate, which adds some ehp, at the expense of more speed.

For drones, there are really two ways to go… a flight of heavies and one of lights, or mediums (with extras), lights, and jammers.  I opt for the second because it gives you another option: a chance to escape if you get blobbed, as happens often during roams.  Heavies are slow and prone to being shot, even by TD’d ships.  Plus, if you have a target dead-to-rights, the extra dps isn’t necessary to really finish him off; your medium drones will do fine enough.

Your align time is very slow, so I recommend aligning out immediately upon engaging your target.  You need to realign very carefully and deliberately to avoid succumbing to the speed/align weakness.

You’ll note a lot of meta-4 modules in lieu of T2 modules: tracking disruptors, neuts, MWD, web.  The meta-4 and T2 versions of each of these are identical in bonuses and performance, but the meta-4 options provide better overheating options.  I tend to overheat a single neut (on the edge of my fitting), my MWD, and my point, but you can also overheat TDs in special cases.  It’s best to squeeze out the maximum value from those modules, and meta-4 gives you the edge on a T2-flying opponent.

Target Selection


With a heavily tracking disruptor-focused ship, you should naturally avoid any heavily-tanked targets that shoot missiles.  Tengus you find in areas of space with rats who do omni damage are often omni-tanked, and some of those will be cap-sipping fits that use rigs to fill resistance holes.  If you’re in Guristas space, though, feel free to engage, but bring Amarr drones to do EM damage.  Generally speaking, pilots who fight Guristas have an unfilled EM hole that leaves them with 13k ehp against EM damage.  Drakes and Cyclones have an EM hold that is often filled with active hardeners.  Feel free to take them on, but keep at range in case you need to escape quickly or they have help arrive.

Nearly any turret-based ship is fair game.  Their guns can’t track when you’re applying your ewar correctly, and they’re easy kills.  Medium and large guns will be particularly ineffective.  Ships with small guns may still track, but they won’t last long enough to be a serious threat.

Drone boats are tricky.  If you are facing a drone boat, keep your range and apply your web to enemy drones as you kill them one-by-one.  If possible, get your enemy to commit his drones first.  You can then web them and use your small drones to kill them.  If you attack first, you’ll need to watch for enemy drones.  You’ll need to recall your own drones before launching a light flight to counter his drones.  Once they’re down, your can set to work on your target.  Watch for ECM drones, which your target may loose as a last resort.

Flying the Ship


Really, the question about who you should attack rests not with “who”, but “how many”.  You can easily attack 3-4 targets and win with this ship.  If your target gang includes one kiter and two tacklers, you should put your TDs on the kiter, and put all your neuts on the more dangerous tackler.  Remember to stagger your neuts.  Do not, under any circumstances, split them; you’ll only render them ineffective.  With a Curse, if you succeed in neuting your target, he’ll crack like an egg; fail and you’ll die quickly.  For an example of what I mean, check out my write-up on an engagement in which I screwed up.

Be sure to keep your range from battleships, which may carry smart bombs, and dictate your engagement range against other ships.  Facing a brawler?  Don’t let him get right on you, since he may be able to apply his DPS even when tracking disrupted.  Versus a kiter, try to close range.  As you do, swap your scripts from range to tracking speed.

A word about those scripts… expect to take a little damage when you swap your scripts, usually one volley’s worth.  Against a single opponent, you won’t face much trouble.  Against multiple ones, though, that damage will add up.

When flying as part of a small gang, you’ll want to completely change your strategy.  Rather than engaging directly, hang on the periphery of the fight.  Your tracking disruptors have a 62km optimal range – use it.  If something comes in close to you, neut it, web it, and kill it with your own drones.  Those TDs will help your fleet members take down the enemy in safety and comfort, and your other ewar will keep you safe.  Make sure you don’t drift too far or close as the fight progresses.  Just because a single enemy is slinking towards you doesn’t mean you need to pull additonal range.  If you can kill it, or if it’s your current fleet’s primary, you shouldn’t be afraid to engage your drones and neuts.

If you do find a solo target, enjoy the experience.  Most of your fights will likely happen against larger gangs.  That’s what makes flying a Curse so dangerous; it’s a known killer, so people bring superior numbers.  When that happens, you either have to have multiple equations running in your mind at once, or you die.

Summary


The Curse is a force-multiplier, and can defeat multiple ships.  But that doesn’t mean it can easily defeat multiple ships.  More than perhaps any other ship, pilot skill and focus contributes the most to success.  I strongly recommend waiting to fly it until either A) you’re comfortable in a fight against multiple opponents, or B) you have isk to burn and a true desire to improve your skills.  As of this writing, Curses are selling for 110 mil, which isn’t bad, but it’s still a 150-mil loss if you do something stupid.

Flying an Arbitrator doesn’t really compare as far as practice for a Curse… the Arbitrator is much softer and weaker, to the point that the tactics described don’t work.  The Arbitrator is exclusively a fleet ship with defensive neuts; the Curse is a solo and outnumbered ship with offensive neuts.  I would caution you from thinking your Arbitrator skills will directly translate to Curse skills.

Give it a try.  You may start to learn why the Curse is my second-favorite recon ship, behind the Rapier.

5 comments:

  1. Good write up. I'm a huge fan of the Curse, but I lean towards the Heavy Neutralizer fit these days. It's an absolute monster, and no one expects it.

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    Replies
    1. True enough. But, a heavy neut option usually requires you to get in closer to apply the small neuts you'd usually fit to keep the target at 0 cap, and that carries some risk.

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  2. Thanks for the awesome writeup!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like the fit alot, but am a fan of 100mn ab fits. This is based off of yours. What do you think?

    [Curse, Solo Curse]
    Drone Damage Amplifier II
    Drone Damage Amplifier II
    Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
    Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II

    Experimental 100MN Afterburner I
    Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
    Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
    Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
    Warp Disruptor II
    Imperial Navy Medium Capacitor Booster, Cap Booster 400

    Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
    Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Conflagration S
    Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
    Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Conflagration S
    Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I

    Medium Ancillary Current Router I
    Medium Ancillary Current Router I


    Hammerhead II x5
    Valkyrie II x5
    Warrior II x5
    Hornet EC-300 x5

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You trade a little speed under optimal conditions for consistent speed, but the 100mn AB fit gives you a little leeway in case your enemy sneaks up on you. It'd also let you fight Arazus and Lacheses safely. However, you shouldn't ever enter into web/scram range; the web and lasers are meant as anti-drone and anti-tackler tools only.

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