Thursday, November 21, 2013

Observations on Rubicon Interceptors

Well, as anyone who has been playing the game since Tuesday is aware, interceptors are all the rage now.  Early adopters like Black Legion have begun experimenting with Crow fleets with Sabre support.

Incidentally, I was flat-out wrong when I suggested CCP would purge all charges with the Rubicon expansion.  I saw at least one Sabre launch a whole series of bubbles, a fun trick each pre-Rubicon fitted Sabre can do once before having to reload.  They were having a little fun with it, making what appeared to be skid marks in space.  My 10-bubble Sabre is sitting in my hangar until I really need it.

On Tuesday afternoon, I watched them practice with the new mechanics in Doril.  In particular, I noticed that they spend some time setting up bookmarks and practicing warping to various locations.  No longer can an Interceptor simply warp to a station, be caught by his gang’s bubble, and tackle a
hapless victim.  Indeed, simply bookmarking the bubble itself won’t work either, as it’ll put the Inty right on the center of the bubble, and not on the periphery where all other ships will be stopped.  So setting up bubbles will take some time if an Inty is the primary tackle.

It was interesting watching Black Legion figure this out as they tested their comp.  I’m sure more than a few Inty pilots throughout New Eden will forget to do this, letting targets escape.  Because their Inty passed through a bubble they intended on being caught in.  Take advantage of it while it lasts, folks!

My opinion of the new Interceptors still stands.  I’m against anything that allows complete security, and the new Intys do exactly that.  Simply put, you can’t catch them, and you can’t purge them from your space.

Sure, this makes them ideal for quickly deploying mobile siphons and hunting down targets, but ultimately, they are 100% safe to use for travel.  They won’t die unless they choose to engage; engagement can’t be forced upon them.  And any ship that you can fly without any risk whatsoever is a bad mechanic.

But as far as a fleet comp, I’m still indifferent.  Sure, a fast-moving Inty gang is nice, but at the end of the day, they’re still just interceptors, and they pop very easily if you get webs on them.

And that’s the key to countering them… using tactics which mitigate their speed advantage.  But, you have an added challenge, because the interceptor gang absolutely controls the decision to engage.  You can’t surprise and bubble them.  You can’t lock them before they warp away if you jump through the gate.  So, you need to surprise them.

I’d recommend one of two options for fighting them.  First, you can always fly Rapiers, cloaked nearby waiting for the inty gang to aggress a bait ship.  6-7 should take out nearly any sized gang.  Even if they all primary one Rapier, they won’t last very long under so much webbing pressure.  You might take a loss or two, but you’ll end up isk-positive and be able to get those results with fewer pilots.

The other option is torp bombers, again with a bait of some sort.  Fit your gang with a split of 50% target-painters and 50% webs, and you’ve got a concealed force that can immediately decloak and lock (no locking delay, remember?).  Scatter webs, scatter points, and you’re gold.

All in all, you’ll likely see interceptor gangs roaming for ratters and miners, but I don’t really see them being very viable for long-term roams.  At their core, they’re meant to die while hopefully taking out something valuable as they do.  But they’ll only die so long as they choose to remain on the field.  When they decide it, they’ll end the engagement.

I understand what CCP was trying to do with interceptors, but I think they overpowered them with bubble immunity.  Time will tell if they bring the nerf bat out on them, but I imagine they will.  Until then, best get ready to fly and fight interceptor gangs.  I have a feeling they’re going to be the new Drake fleet.

And you’ll die very, very slowly to them, too.  Imagine all the tears you can harvest in all that time…

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