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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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How to Fly a Dual-Rep Harpy

RIP the obligatory Damage Control, may you live forever in memory.

For those of you living under a rock, all hulls now receive a base 33% hull resist across the board, with damage controls now offering only a 40% boost. Combined, fitting a damage control still gives you a 59.8% overall resist, pretty close to the normal 60%.

Since then, we've seen a number of threads on Reddit from fitting warriors talking about why it still makes sense to fit a damage control on your ships. And generally, I agree with the comments they made. At the moment, damage controls still don't suffer stacking penalties, which means those shield and armor resist bonuses are in addition to and don't result in penalties for other resist modules.

That's a great benefit, of course, and it does provide a lot of value. But the simple fact is that ships that fit the damage control have a slightly smaller tank, while ships that do not fit a DC now had a slightly larger tank. This change is perfect for my dual-rep Harpy. it's time for a "How to fly" article!

Looking at the Hull


Let's start where we always do... by looking at the hull. The Harpy is a Caldari assault frigate with bonuses to small hybrid weapons.
Caldari Frigate Skill Bonus (per level)
10% Bonus to small hybrid turret optimal range
4% bonus to Shield Resistances
Assault Frigate Skill Bonus (per level)
10% bonus to small hybrid turret optimal range
5% bonus to small hybrid turret damage
Role Bonus: 50% reduction in MWD signature radius penalty
Looking at those bonuses, it's clear that if any ship can do without the extra shield bonus from a damage control, it's the Harpy. That additional 20% boost to shield resistances puts the Harpy in a good place, with minimum resistances sitting at 40% and 50%.

On the offensive side, the hull itself allows for no drones, so all of your damage will be in hybrid turrets. The bonuses are all for small hybrids, meaning you'll be damage-locked to thermal and kinetic damage. The good news is that you'll be about equally effective against both shields and armor, which means you'll notice that you won't need to worry about shifting ammo as you progress in the fight, save for any range control.

The double bonus to optimal range - both on the Caldari Frigate and the Assault Frigate skills - gives you a tremendous engagement profile. With Void ammo and max skills, your optimal + falloff is about 4500 meters - fully half of scram range - while Null gives you better than a 9 km range. The 50% role bonus reduction in MWD signature radius penalty means you don't need to fear an MWD approach to get into a good, tight orbit, either.

And, honestly, there really isn't a reason not to fit an MWD. With a 9 km range with null, you can continue to do good damage to nearly any ship that can shut down your MWD; if you dip out of scram range, you can reactivate your MWD to charge in again, and typically get within Void Optimal before your target can reapply a scram and slow you down. The only kind of ship you really need to far is a very fast kiter with light missiles - they can stay permanently out of your range while peppering you with light damage. Outside of that, the hull bonuses really shine. An afterburner really isn't necessary, despite an expectation of fighting in scram range.

So, how should you fit the thing?

Dual-ASB Fitting


The Harpy is capable of projecting damage anywhere within scram range, has a 5 sec reload time to shift ammo types, and has a natural bonus to shield resists and MWD signature bloom. From these facts alone, you can likely deduce that you should use a shield fit and some sort of hybrid weapon.

Not only that, but the Harpy has sufficient powergrid to fly that rare combination... dual medium ASBs. With such a setup, you want to set your first ASB to auto-reload and auto-repeat, and your second ASB to auto-repeat, but NOT auto-reload. When you take damage, you want to use the reloading ASB first, so that when it expends its charges you automatically begin the 60-second reload cycle. You can then shift to the second ASB, which you can sip and - if necessary, use with capacitor if you need an extra cycle or two at the very end.  The goal of this second ASB is to help you survive long enough for your first ASB to complete its reload cycle.
[Harpy, Dual ASB]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Co-Processor II
5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50
Warp Scrambler II
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
[empty high slot]
Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer II
Nanite Repair Paste x100
Void S x3000
Null S x3000
Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S x3000
Navy Cap Booster 50 x81

As I mentioned at the beginning, this fit has been modified to take advantage of the change to damage controls. By replacing a Damage Control II with a Magnetic Field Stabilizer, you're able to boost the dps to 288 - an increase of 40 - while sacrificing only 50 ehp/sec repair. In reality, the ehp you're losing is a little higher, as you lose some buffer as well, but the trade-off is well worth it.

Generally speaking, there are two truths in Eve PvP: 1) your enemy will not pursue a fair fight, and 2) given enough time, you will be blobbed. If you want to PvP, you want to do as much dps as possible. Increasing your "gank" factor allows you to kill ships quickly. Increasing your tank only allows you to die more slowly.

Generally when you're on a roam, you have a finite number of pilots on your side. That might be one (solo roaming), or ten. But your overall strength is limited. Your opponent, however, likely has friends nearby. The more time it takes for you to take down your target, the higher the likelihood that reinforcements will arrive in time to save him.  So if you have to choose between boosting your damage by 18-20% or gaining 20-25% more tank, always opt for the former. With this fit, overheated you're doing 333 dps. That's a fearsome amount for a frigate.

I've already spoken about the reasons for fitting an MWD instead of an afterburner, so that really leaves the selection of engagement range. Really, you've got two options in light of the optimal bonuses. Either you can fit your Harpy with rails and a warp disruptor, or blasters and a scram. Leaving aside the fitting requirements for rails - you'd have to make additional trade-offs to fit rails on the Harpy - it just doesn't make sense to use the rails in a solo setting. Any ships you would engage in point range would either be too fast for you to hit without a tracking bonus (frigs) or be able to apply damage to you better than you could to them (cruisers or above). Rails simply aren't viable on a Harpy.

This fit gives you 18 shield rep charges, 333 dps overheated at half-scram range, and a smaller sig radius under MWD that allows you mobility without having to pay all of the cost.

Flying the Ship


Despite its Caldari nature, you want to fly a "dual-ASB Blarpy" much like you would a Gallente ship - charge in to point-blank range, overheat, and hammer away at your target. There is slightly more finesse to the process, however, as you have to manage a few things simultaneously if you want to survive.

Most critically, you'll want to watch your tank carefully. This process begins by setting your auto-reload correctly. It's very easy to find your second ASB coming to the end of its charges while your first ASB still has 15-20 seconds remaining. If you've turned off auto-reload on that second ASB, you'll be able to burn capacitor for a cycle or two to tide you over for those precious few seconds. But if you've set it up incorrectly, you could easily pop before the first reload finishes. At the same time, you need to watch that you don't "over-rep" your shield, wasting some of your hp boosts in the process.

But almost as importantly, you need to watch the quality of your hits and your range carefully, and trade ammo types as both change. In general, I'd recommend carrying at least three types of ammo. I'd start with void by default - high-damage ammo with a slightly weaker tracking.  But as you and your target close, it's possible you'll orbit so tightly that you'll slip in under your own tracking. In those cases, switch to faction antimatter for enough of a tracking improvement to make a difference. And if the alternative happens - your target webs you to try to shift to the edge of scram range - switch to null ammo; you'll still be getting about 200 dps, which is still respectable for a frigate.

You'll need to watch a third factor, though, as well. Most pilots, when facing blaster boats, will try to pull distance to operate at the edge of scram range. Generally speaking, small blasters can't really perform very well at that distance. As your target does this, you may find yourself out of scram range. This could happen because your target isn't careful, or because you're able to deliberately accomplish it by some manual piloting. When this does happen, you have an opportunity.

If you find yourself freed from scram range temporarily, you have a chance not to escape, but to double down: overheat your microwarpdrive and approach. Chances are good your opponent may not even realize his scram dropped for a time. and in that brief window you can close range to be within your void optimal.

Target Selection


With this fit, I've successfully taken on whole fleets of T1 frigates, but you must still take care on which ships you face. In particular, you need to watch out for kiting frigates that fight in point range, but well outside of scram range. Ultimately, you're unable to project damage outside of scram range, so you need to avoid light missile ships.

However, feel free to engage drone ships like the Worm or Tristan. You should have no problem killing their drones long before you take too much damage. Just be sure to switch to Antimatter ammo for the better tracking than void.

When fighting larger ships, you need to exercise some caution. Ultimately, the Harpy is effective, but you will need some help to take on cruisers and above (with the natural exclusions of logi ships and focused fits like Tornadoes).

It's in small gang where the Harpy really shines. With the dual ASBs, you have the ability to tank about 350 dps for nine cycles, which should be enough time for your fleet to kill the target if you chose targets effectively. Beware multiple enemies, though - their dps can really add up unless you can mitigate incoming damage by picking off targets one and a time.

In fact, the Harpy really excels when it's being swarmed by lesser ships. Your ideal situation should be for multiple T1 ships coming in piecemeal; it's quite possible to kill them each in 3-4 volleys while sipping your ASB.

Ultimately, the most dangerous part of flying a Harpy is being too cocky. I've tried to take on command destroyers before... to nearly disastrous effect. However, go for T1 destroyers all you like. You have the tank to break them if you fly smart.

Conclusion


The Harpy is a great ship ideally suited to being flown as a dual-ASB, in-your-face monster. It's an odd duck, though, in that it's not meant to fight larger or smaller ships, but to punch its weight, particularly against multiple T1 targets. It's a ship meant to build your confidence, and shines remarkably well in a small gang environment.

Fly dangerously!

5 comments:

  1. Great analysis and advice. So far my Caldari Assault Frig of choice has always been the Hawk, but I'm really tempted to try your Harpy now.

    Quick fitting idea though: Upgrade the Ancillary rig to a t2 and you'll be able to add a Rocket Launcher in the open Highslot as long as you fly with a CPU Implant (5% needed with current Fit, 3% if you downgrade the Scram to a Faint Epsilon). This will give you an additional 22 dps for the price of a t2 rig.

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  2. I challenge your Harpy to a 1v1 against my dual ASB Hawk :)

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  3. Forgive me for being a noob and Leo for commenting on a year old post. Why auto repeat on and auto reload off? I'm pretty new to pvp and this boat looks like fun, but I don't get why you'd not want your second booster to reload? I could see auto-repeat since you might only want a trickle from it, but I'm a noob, so...

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    1. In a typical fight, it's over before your empty ASB reloads, particularly in frigates. While it's reloading, it's of no use to you. Having at least one set to NOT auto-reload allows you to activate it for capacitor for an extra cycle; that can make a big difference between dying and surviving by the skin of your teeth.

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