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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, October 7, 2016

Am I Starting to Like PvE?

In my last post, I talked about taking a few moderate risks to get a ratting carrier into the dronelands. My goal wasn’t just to earn isk, though that is a nice side effect. Rather, I wanted to become more comfortable with flying a carrier and comfortable with the fighter controls. While I’ve been able to fly capitals for a few years now, I really haven’t used them often in combat. Most of my experience with them came in the form of POS repairing.

But now that I’m in system and settling down to actually use the carrier, it’s quite profitable, in more ways than one. In some ways, it’s a bit different than I expected.

It’s the prefect time to do this little experiment. NC. is engaged in our slow milking of Tribute, so Talvorian is in KQK pretty much every night. In between fleets, though, there really isn’t enough time to go roaming, find action, and get back, so it’s the perfect time to do a little carrier practice.

Over the past six days, I’ve ratted for perhaps an hour and a half each day. For those of you interested in the isk, my latest tick just put me over 1 billion after corp taxes. In my time, I’ve seen one faction spawn and two drone carriers spawn. None dropped anything interesting. I wasn’t able to take down the carrier spawns solo in my fit, though. For most of that time, my damage was modified only by Fighters II and Gallente Carrier III, though I did complete Fighters IV during the course of the week.

The ticks aren’t as good as many people experience, but that’s okay. Once I get to T2 fighters, EFT tells me my dps will increase by 600 when shooting both lasers and rockets. That should help with the ticks.

The most valuable part of the experience isn’t the isk I’m earning, though. I could do that just as well market trading or running cosmic signatures in relative safety, and the drops are usually better. No, the real value comes from getting a feel for the carrier.

While my fit does have a single hyperspatial velocity optimizer, the effect on its warp speed seems negligible. While I’m sure it does help get me to fighting faster, it feels like it takes forever to cross a system. I’ve been surprised at how quickly it aligns, though. When I land on a site and drop drones, by the time I activate my Networked Sensor Array, lock targets, and give the order to apply damage, I’m already at half speed. Turning, though, is next to impossible. For one of the carrier spawns, a corpmate and I landed on each other, bumped, and spent the next five minutes realigning. But when it’s operating on its own from a dead stop, the align time is quite acceptable.

At first, the fighter controls felt uncomfortable. When the fighter panel is up – even if you detach it from the HUD, you aren’t able to activate your ship modules with hotkeys, even if they’re mapped to F4-F9, those not used by fighters. That’s awkward and frustrating. While I can understand making the first three F keys control your fighters, it’d be nice to have full control if you lay out your modules correctly.

The fighters themselves respond faster than ship modules do. Typically for me (being in Eastern USTZ), there’s a delay at the end of a cycle as the server catches up with my commands. That doesn’t seem to be the case with fighters; the moment that little red circle around my fighter turrets completes the cycle, it’s ready to fire again. I don’t know how CCP made that happen – and I suspect doing it for fighters and doing it for modules are different animals – but I’m glad for it.

I’m impressed at fighter tracking, and I understand the dilemma CCP faces. Generally speaking, my fighters are applying full damage to frigates flying under about half of a typical PvP fit’s AB speed. From testing I’ve done on Sisi, it looks like most tacklers can survive several volleys from fighters before dying. The key has to be speed. At the 500 m/s drone rats travel, they take full damage; at the 1 km/s or greater player frigates travel (under AB), they can mitigate some of that damage. For ratting, though, it works beautifully, without problems.

In trying to manage my damage application, though, I agree with the people calling for individual shortcuts for fighter squadrons. Though, I’d probably simplify the proposed suggestion a bit by allowing you to toggle control on or off for each fighter. So, 1, 2, and 3 would highlight or deselect each fighter, while F1, F2, and F3 would still manage their individual weapon systems. It just seems easier to have on/off toggles for each. I wouldn’t want to have to hit six buttons every time I wanted to active an MWD and lasers, if I could hit 1, 2, and 3 one time, then just hit F1 and F2 at each activation.

Fighter MWD is a bit awkward, as it’s very easy to overshoot your target. In a PvP setting, I have to imagine that being locked into an MWD for so long would be bothersome. I wonder if there’s a possibility to reduce both the duration and recharge time by half or so. It seems like it’d be more useful. Does that overpower, though? I wonder.

Boy, I love those rockets. There’s nothing more enjoyable than doing a 10k alpha strike, while still being able to warp off afterwards (sorry, dread siege pilots…). Oddly, I’ve found the lasers on Templars to be more accurate than the rockets, which seems backwards to me. But, now that I know that little tidbit, it’s a small matter to save the rockets for battlecruisers or battleships (the latter for PvE) and use lasers for everything else.

In a nutshell, I don’t feel a lot of anxiety while flying my carrier. That surprised me. Maybe it’s the complete absence of other pilots around our system or the fact that I’m reasonably confident that being aligned, with an exit cyno ready, and having fighters in space means I’ll be able to shred most tackle that lands on me. I don’t feel exposed and hunted the same way I did in capitals before the split. Does everyone else feel that way?

At first, I thought it was a result of comfort, but I’ve only been flying the ship for a short while. Typically, I only start to feel comfortable after several weeks. Maybe it’s a result of me routinely flying around in 600-mil PvP ships for fleets, a 1.1 bil ratting Tengu, or carrying around 3 billion worth of merchandise to stock a market with. Is my attitude just skewed by a fattening wallet?

Regardless, I’m feeling very comfortable now, and am starting to understand the capabilities of the ship. I’m very pleased on that account!

But, no, I’m not starting to like PvE. I’m finding anomaly running to be a horrible grind, broken only by testing out the ship, watching for neutrals, and managing incoming damage to my fighters. So far, I’ve only lost two fighters, and both were the result of me tabbing to another program. It’s actually quite easy to avoid fighter damage, at least for PvE. With dedicated dps being applied by an actual human, I imagine they’d be quite a bit squishier.

I am, though, liking what PvE can tell me about the ship.

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