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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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Fly a Dramiel

There are a variety of ways to fit each ship in New Eden, and a lot of them are bad.  In this guide, I’ll show you the most popular way of flying the Dramiel, some of the pitfalls, and some of the considerations you should keep in mind.

What leads me to choose a particular ship for one of these guides?  It’s simple: I see a lot of people flying ridiculous fits that die ignobly.  Just because it’s a pirate frig doesn’t mean it’s good at everything.  Like my How to Fly a Curse and How to Fly a Cynabal guides, there are exceptions to what I put here.  But the vast majority of players will want to start with a more traditional fit before branching off to a fit meant for a very specific situation.

Also, please keep in mind that the setups I’m proposing are for solo or small gang usage.  You should never fly a Dramiel in a large fleet environment.  It’s stupid, and you will die. 

So, let’s jump into it.

Look at the Ship


Ah, the Dramiel.  It’s a ship of legend in Eve, having made the careers of many famous PvPers.  Without links, it can get to 4-5 km per second and still turn on a dime, making it a versatile little weapon that can slowly plink down a target while staying safely out of range.  But how can it do all that?  Let’s look at the ship.
Gallente Frigate: 7.5% bonus to Small Projectile Turret tracking speed.
Minmatar Frigate: 10% bonus to Small Projectile Turret falloff.
Role Bonus: 100% bonus to Small Projectile Turret Damage, 50% bonus to warp speed and warp acceleration.
Being a pirate faction ship, you need two different racial frigate skills to V to maximize this ship.  On first glance, it may seem like the Minmatar Frigate skill is more important, since it expands your engagement range.  But the Gallente tracking bonus is equally important.  It won’t necessarily help taking down your primary target, but it will allow you to more effectively hit drones.  And since tiericide, a lot more ships can fly drones.  Speed will help you outpace them, and that very speed that helps you will make your tracking all the more important.  With both skills to V, 200mm Autocannon IIs have an optimal + falloff of 15.5 km and a tracking speed of .40 rads… with Barrage.

This ship makes great use of basic ship skills, including Hull Upgrades, Mechanics, shield skills, and – most importantly – your gunnery and navigation skills.  I can’t stress the latter two skills enough; you need to be able to go as fast as possible, while doing as much damage as possible.  Speed is your friend, but to maximize that speed means you won’t have overly impressive damage.  You want to leverage every native bit of dps you can get.

Another area you want to consider training up well is your drone skills.  A Dramiel has a 20 m3 drone bay with a 15 m3 bandwidth, meaning it can fly three Hobgoblins to augment damage, with one in reserve.  You want to get everything you can out of those Hobgoblins; even 10 dps more can make a huge difference in taking down a target before help arrives.

But more than these skill bonuses, the ship has a base speed before navigation skill modifiers of 460 m/s, agility that makes turning almost instantaneous, and a low sig radius.  This combination makes it difficult for guns to track it effectively; when they can track, they still have a hard time hitting it.

Take a look at those role bonuses, too.  With a 100% increase in Small Projectile Turret damage, you’re effectively shooting four guns instead of the two you have fitted.  It also has the side-effect of allowing you to sip ammo, leaving extra room for loot.

The other role bonus is intriguing, though.  The Dramiel warps and accelerates to maximum warp faster than usual, making it an excellent initial tackler.  It has a lower sig radius than an interceptor and a larger native tank, meaning it can take a little more punishment.

But, as you can see from the bonuses and some of the native stats, this ship is meant to remain at range and attack targets.

Fitting Your Ship


The most famous fitting strategy for the Dramiel is still the best: the dual-prop.  With this type of fit, you use the MWD to close range or escape from a dangerous situation, and the afterburner to keep your signature radius down while still maintaining distance on your target.  If the worst happens and you find yourself scrammed (why the hell were you in scram range to begin with?!?), you can still hit your afterburner to recover.
[Dramiel, Dual Prop]Micro Auxiliary Power Core II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Damage Control II
Medium Shield Extender II
1MN Afterburner II
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
200mm AutoCannon II, Barrage S
200mm AutoCannon II, Barrage S
empty high slot]
 Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Core Defense Field Extender I
 Hobgoblin II x4
This fit does require you to have Advanced Weapons Upgrades V, Power Grid Management V, and CPU Management V.  If you don’t, you’ll need to drop your Medium Shield Extender II to a meta-4, which drops your tank by about 6-7%.

The AB puts your speed at 1,727 before overloading with a sig radius (even with the MSE II and CDE I) of only 41.6.  That’s ridiculously hard to hit.  With the MWD, you’re going 4,696 with a still-respectable 242.

You shouldn’t have any problem hitting anyone with that tracking, as I mentioned above, even at the range you need to fight at.  And that range is most-definitely beyond overheated web range of 13 km (or as high as 16 km+ if you have reason to believe your target is flying with a faction web).  Let me repeat that bit.  You have to begin every fight outside of overheated web range.  Depending on how it goes, you may be able to move in closer.

Do not fit a scram on your Dramiel.  Ever.  When you fit a scram, you’re committing to an engagement range at a maximum of 9-10 km any time you fight.  For a fast kiter, this is a ridiculously stupid prospect.  With a Dramiel, you don’t employ range dictation, you ARE range dictation.  If you’re choosing the right targets, you shouldn’t ever be in danger of being scrammed or webbed, unless you did something stupid like fitting a scram.  You’re not a Daredevil.

I see so many Dramiel fits where people fit scrams and try to engage close.  This represents a clear misunderstanding of the purpose of this ship.  A Dramiel bonuses attack range and speed.  You don’t want to get into a brawl.  You want to laugh as your ridiculously small ship tears a much bigger prize a new one.

Flying the Ship


Like its big brother the Cynabal, the Dramiel is meant to attack larger targets by literally flying circles around them.  You’re looking for targets hosting weapon systems that you can either outrun or which can’t reach you.  Cruise-based ships are good candidates, as are brawling setups and armor-based targets.  If you know they have plates, you’re golden; they likely aren’t overloaded with range mods and will be slower than shield-based tanks.

Under no circumstances should you ever attack a Recon in a Dramiel.  Unless he’s ridiculously poorly fitted, you’ll never win that fight; at best, you’ll attack, he’ll ewar you, and you’ll leave.  But that’s just a waste of your time.

You should think carefully about attacking frigates.  If you do, you should make decisions as if you were in a Firetail – fight only if you can definitely maintain range and avoid their primary weapon systems.  These ships are going to be much closer to your velocity, making slingshot attempts more successful (in general) than slower-moving targets.

When you warp in to a target, your goal is to reach that area between overheated web range and the edge of point range.  The exact distance will depend on your own courage and how quickly you want to take down the target.  More range is generally safer, but watch the incoming damage carefully to look for railguns, lasers, and artillery cannons, along with under-sized light missiles and – especially – rapid light missile launchers.

Opponents who do close-range damage are easy victims.  You’ll watch helplessly as you maintain range and plink away at them while you outpace their guns.  They’ll launch their drones at you in a vain hope to hit you.  When they do, immediately target and destroy them in turn, both with your guns and your own drones.  If your drones go down first, disengage.

You’ll notice that your opponent’s drones will have to engage their MWDs regularly to keep up with you.  When they do, their sig radius will bloom and they’ll be flying straight at you.  This is when your guns will do their most damage.  They won’t last long, and every time you pull range, it’ll mitigate the incoming dps significantly.  While the last patch increased optimal and falloff range for drones, you won’t stay in that range for too long.

I’m going to repeat the same advice I shared in my Cynabal guide.  Simply hitting the “orbit” button can be dangerous.  You don’t have a web, so your target will be going at full MWD speed.  It’s very possible that, should he change direction, your range could compress by 3-4 km before your orbit adjusts.  If you’re 17 km away, this could bring you into web range, albeit briefly.

Opponents being kited will try to “slingshot” you.  If you’re obiting, your opponent will wait until you’re at a point in your orbit traveling away from his intended direction, then he’ll overload his MWD and burn in the opposite direction.  If you’re very unlucky or using a wide orbit (a tackle orbit of 20 km, for instance), this might be enough for him to pull enough range to escape, and this variant is called an escape slingshot.

There’s another kind of slingshot, though, the compression slingshot, where your opponent isn’t trying to escape, but rather close range on you.  Once he pulls range, your orbit will adjust to bring you closer to him.  This reduces your transversal speed and sends you heading directly for him, potentially directly enough that his guns can track you, applying much more damage.  But that’s not the main objective.  The main objective is for him to cut his MWD to rapidly drop speed, then turn and head directly towards you while re-engaging an overheated MWD.  For a brief time, the two of you will be MWDing towards each other.  If you’re not careful, you’ll be in web and possibly scram range.  -1 Dramiel.

If you are going to orbit, watch your opponent’s speed and transversal carefully for any changes.  Always be aware where your opponent is in relation to your ship so you can double-click and adjust your vector to counter any slingshot attempts.  It’s much better to try to fly manually, double-clicking in space to set your vector.  In this way, when your opponent does a slingshot, you can manually approach him obliquely, which will also allow you to veer off more quickly if he decides to cut back.

It’s worth mentioning that the last few expansions, and tiericide in particular, have not been kind to the Dramiel.  Whereas previously it was the fastest ship in the game, now its speed is eclipsed by interceptors (as, honestly, it always probably should have been).  Whereas it used to be safe at range, a lot more ships have drone bays now, and you have to be aware of all of the sources of enemy DPS.  All drones are a little bit more dangerous to you now.  In particular, don’t be fooled by a Worm’s or Gila’s two drones… they both pack a punch, and will obliterate you if you’re caught and unable to escape.

When flying with a small gang, you want to last long enough for your fleet to arrive.  Staying between overheating web and point range, you can always turn and burn away if you find yourself in trouble.  Nor do you need to concern yourself overwhelmingly with aligning to a celestial – your MWD will let you pull plenty of range from this kind of target.  In a small gang, you’re there to use your faster-than-usual warp speed and quick acceleration and agility to pounce on targets faster than they believe you capable.

Advanced Tactics – Web Transit


I mentioned that it’s important to begin every fight outside of web range.  That phrasing is deliberate.  As your fight progresses, you’ll begin to gather some data about your opponent.  Look at the dps you’re doing; is your opponent’s shield going down faster or slower than you anticipated, indicating an armor or shield tank, respectively?  If your opponent is shield-tanked, you may want to try moving a little closer.

Does your opponent have a point on you?  How many mid-slots does his ship have?  It’s very possible that he only has a point; if he has a shield tank, a point, and is going at MWD speeds, chances are that he doesn’t have a web and scram fit as well.  You can find out if he does by taking advantage of a trick that exploits the Dramiel’s speed.

The Dramiel travels so fast that you can actually float into web range and burn out again, even if your opponent tries to web you.  Webbing a target isn’t immediate; the reduction in speed takes some time, and within this time, your naturally high speed can carry you out of web rang again, allowing you to transit through web range safely while getting your opponent to tip his hand about a “secret” web.

It requires careful timing, though.  For this trick, you want to wait until your orbit – whether manual or automatic – has you traveling in the opposite direction of your opponent.  As you begin to move past him, alter your orbit inward, so you cut through the edge of web range.  If your opponent sees your range drop, he’ll likely apply his web, if he has it, thinking, “This is my chance!”  The web will immediately begin to slow you down, but at this point, you’ll already be even with him.  Your initial speed of almost 5k/s will quickly carry you out of web range before he can turn and pursue you.  At that point, the web will shut off and you’ll be free again.

If he does web you briefly, you’ll know that he’s fit with a web, and you’ll have to keep your range.  If he lands a scram on you also, watch for it and use your judgment on whether you need to activate you AB (overheated, of course) to get past that last bit of range or if you can make it out of scram range fast enough.  If you do make it, be sure to reactivate your MWD as soon as you’re clear.

If your opponent doesn’t activate a web or scram on you, try the trick again until you’re confident that he’s not simply extremely disciplined.  Some pilots like to play coy.  Once you’re convinced you’re not facing a scram or web, then go in for a comfortable afterburner orbit, slip under his guns, and apply your full damage to take him down faster.  Just remember that you’re much closer now, and that you need to spiral out to escape if his friends arrive.

Advanced Tactics – Engaging Multiple Slow Targets


If you make the decision to engage multiple targets, you first need to decide whether you want to try to pull one away from the pack and kill him first (and if that’s even possible) or take them all on at the same time.  If you do want to attack them at the same time, you need them to be clumped together.

Surviving in a Dramiel means keeping your transversal velocity up.  You need to be going around your enemy fast enough that his guns don’t track you well enough.  The more enemies you face, the more attack vectors you need to be watching.  Put simply, you need to strafe not only one target, but all of them, to maintain transversal.  If at any point you find yourself in range of an enemy who you’re flying directly towards, you’re in for a heap of trouble.  The further away the targets are from each other, the more difficult your job is.

This is where it pays to be in three-dimensional space.  Let’s say you’re facing two targets and they slowly begin to separate.  Your goal should be to manually orbit perpendicularly to the line between them.  Or, put another way, you want to orbit the equator as your opponents spread out at either pole.  This will buy you some time so you can maintain transversal on both of them.  At some point, though, their distance from each other will be so great that you can’t maintain transversal any more; when this happens, you need to pick a target and focus exclusively on him – ideally the target with the longer-range weapons.  Your goal here is to force the other enemy to come in closer again, to re-engage you, at which point you can resume your equator-poles orientation.  If your opponent comes right on top of his friend, then resume orbiting them both again.

When facing three or more opponents, you can use the same tactic if only one of them is pulling range; if you find yourself with three opponents spreading out enough that you can’t avoid their guns, it’s time to bail.  Highly skilled pilots can face this situation, but if you’re reading this guide, chances are that you’re not one of them.  I’d bail, myself.

Summary


Dramiel still is a fantastic ship that combines decent frigate dps (around 150 or so, fully skilled, before heat or links) with exceptional speed, agility, and range.  But CCP has succeeded in its goal of nerfing the ship; it’s not the immediate go-to that it used to be.  Recognize the limitations and advantages and you can still fly it extremely effectively.

Just please, for the love of Bob, the Empress, or whichever diety you claim, don’t scram-fit a Dramiel.

17 comments:

  1. You fill the gap left by the altruist .. thanks for the great infos ...

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  2. First thing that happend to me as I took out the dram was another dram scram and webbing me...

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    Replies
    1. That's a perfect example of why the Dramiel is meant to take on larger targets, and why you should be careful attacking frigates. Dramiels shine when they have a clear maneuverability and speed advantage over the competition. A scram-fit brawler Dram will destroy a range Dram if it gets in close. If you're flying a faction-point Dram, you may be able to plop him, but tracking will be an issue.

      tl;dr, Drams succeed at hitting big, slow things, and keeping up their speed.

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    2. but isn't that the case with any frig? i mean you dont have to be in a dram to kite.. what makes the dram special

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    3. The Dramiel has an incredibly small signature radius, which means that even under mwd, large saliva have a hard time applying their damage.

      Add to that the fact of your dual- prop and you can move fast up close, under both a web and scram, yet still avoid taking damage.

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  3. I can't believe I was flying Dramiel so wrong. Well, I had the idea that they were meant to kite. I even fitted them with a point. But then people kept telling me to use a scamb.

    I have a few questions:

    1. You engage most targets at kite range with barrage?
    2. A comet with rails. Do you get in brawl range as close as possible and use fusion ammo?
    3. When you are kiting do you use microwarpdrive or ab? I am guessing if your enemy has ab probably using your own one is better since you can more easily track shots?

    Thanks for the article.

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    Replies
    1. Good questions. A lot of people do use a Dram with a scram, but this seems particularly chancy. Being in scram range means you also need to fight within web range, and this is dangerous in a Dramiel.

      1) Yes, I use the Dramiel to engage in kite range... normally. I may move in once I'm absolutely certain I'm not facing a web, though, but I have to be certain.
      2) I wouldn't fight a Comet with rails without refitting to a scram/AB Dramiel. But, then again, I'd probably try to refit into a Daredevil instead.
      3) I use the AB once I'm in range and have a decent understanding of the other pilot's fit. An MWD can make it easier for you to be hit, especially by missiles, whereas an AB still gives you speed, yet a low sig radius.

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    2. I for long felt really frustrated flying dramiels. I love the ship and consider in terms of design one of the coolest ships around. Besides, all its speed makes it a rush to fly.

      However, I just didn't understand how to fly them. Yesterday after I read your article, I decided to retry them following your advice. I killed a tormentor, nothing special. However, he barely scratch the paint from my ship. Now I see the potential of flying a dramiel. Oh... and here's my fit:

      [High]

      2x 200 AC II
      1x Rocket Launcher II

      [Mid]
      1MN Afterburner II
      5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
      Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
      Warp Disruptor II

      [Low]
      Internal Force Field Arraw I
      Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
      Nanofiber Internal Structure II

      [Rigs]
      2x Small Projectile Ambit Extension II
      1x Small Anti-EM Screen Extender I


      I managed to fit a rocket, it helps me to kill drones more easily and offers a bit more dps if anything gets close to brawl range. I also noticed they made some updates to ac and barrage no longer has so much range so I added two ambit extension II, which increases my falloff to 18km.

      Any suggestion? Thanks Talvorian

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    3. Glad to hear it worked! Did you fight in FW space or elsewhere?

      The Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor probably isn't necessary for the cost... use the Faint Warp Disruptor and overheat when necessary for a cycle. Your speed is so good that you'll likely not even notice an extra 4.4 km range, and to apply damage you'll need to be within 20 km anyways.

      Nice kill!

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  4. Actually, with two ambits and targeting implant I have 20 kms falloff instead of 18 km as I previously mentioned.

    True, I just fitted t2 disruptor because I still don't feel very comfortable with the ship and that always give me an extra range. Yes, I typically fight in FW space. Actually, the dps isn't fantastic but it still broke a dual rep tormentor tank at 18 km so not bad :)

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  5. What kind of targets do you usually go for with your suggested fitting? What ships do you shy away from? How long would it take you to kill a rocket Hawk with this fit?

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    Replies
    1. With this fit, I'd only fight ships larger than me. So, I'd never take on a rocket Hawk. A web/scram version would be better for that. Better yet, fly a Daredevil... more dps and a 90% web.

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    2. Maybe I've just been out of pvp for too long, but I'm surprised that a kite Dram can take out cruisers. Seems like dps would be too low to effectively grind out a big tank.

      Why would a web/scram be better for a rocket Hawk? I'd think the ability to dictate range (and stay out of precision rocket range) means you win the fight without even needing to keep radial up. But forgive me, I'm brand new to pirate frigs and hesitant to jump in full force because of cost. I do have perfect nav/frig/fitting skills though.

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    3. It's still doable, but you have to be careful about what you take on. The meta has moved a bit beyond this fit a bit. In particular, I'd avoid any light missile ship.

      I'm testing a web/scram, dual-rep Dramiel now, and will let you know how that works.

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    4. Indeed Talvorian, I flew your fit and it's pretty fun. I actually got a few kills but afterward, I notice it was lacking in terms of targets.

      I've since then change to a dual prop, rep armor fit, using bulkhead II as rigs. I also installed a few halo implants, they're super cheap and with drugs you decrease your signature to +/- 21 m, which is really small. My idea is to speed tank, I yet have to test more and see how it goes.

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    5. Nice tip. I really need to get into the drug manufacturing business and using them as frequently as I should.

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