Friday, August 15, 2014

Lessons: My Wife Fit a Ship

Some time ago, I wrote about the fun of playing Eve with my wife.  Her knowing about Eve and Eve mechanics has some hilarious side-effects.  For instance, when I was trying to explain a Marketing presentation I was putting together, I compared social media for our particular industry to a shield boost amplifier.  For a few months, she’s called targets for managing our children the same way ECM pilots coordinate (“Jam the baby, she’s painting with pudding.  I’ll primary the toddler.”).

After a particularly hard day with the kids (one screaming non-stop for no reason, the other one throwing tantrums because we threw away a plastic Dixie cup she grew attached to), she’s been known to say, “Today felt like TiDi.”  And when I’m roaming while we watch watch something like “So You Think You Can Dance”, she trolls me when she looks over and sees no modules beside my S/A/H/C wheel.  “Ha ha, you died again.”

One of the other side effects is that she takes an interest in Eve, and in embarrassing me whenever possible.  I tolerate this because I love her.

Thus, the Roving Guinea Pig was born.

The Rise of the Roving Guinea Pig

I’ll talk about things I write on this blog with my wife.  One of the things I mentioned was the early ideas behind a post I wrote about surprising your opponents.  So, when my wife saw me craft a few trial ships for PvP, decided she wanted to do the same.  Very quickly, she decided she was going to build an embarrassing lossmail.

My wife knows enough to make her dangerous, but she isn’t so fully indoctrinated with the Eve fitting meta that she would immediately reject any idea as stupid.  She has knowledge and intellectual curiosity, without even a hint of bitter vet syndrome.

I did set some guidelines on the fitting, though.  I wanted to gain some information out of the fight that would eventually kill me, so I insisted on an MWD (I’d be using it in null primarily) and that she pick either shield or armor tank.

Other than that, she could do what she wanted.  Off the bat, she liked the sound of “battlecruiser” better than any of the other ship types.  After all, it had “battle” right in the class.  As we’re heading to the shore next week, she was naturally pre-disposed towards “Hurricane”.

Great… we have a ship.  The first thing we had to do was name it, of course.  I first rejected some of the obvious joke names – I didn’t want anyone I fought to immediately know it was… oddly fit.  So she settled on Roving Guinea Pig, for obvious reasons.  Right…

In fitting the ship, she preferred missiles for range, so we started with a full rack of missile launchers.  Does she want close-range missiles or long-range ones?  “Long range, just because.”  Okay, so we go with heavies.  We have four more high slots… what should we put in them?  “More weapons, of course!”  So she has me add some 220s for maximum tracking.

I should point out that my wife is descended from Cossacks, so she instinctively recognizes one of the tried-and-true principles of Eve… if you’re looking to hunt someone, you should prefer gank to tank.  Gank will allow you to kill targets faster.  Tank will only cause you to die more slowly.  If you need that extra 10-20% of your tank, you’re probably already dead anyways.  You’d likely have been much better fitting extra DPS in the form of Gyros, Mag Stabs, Heat Sinks, BCSes, or DDAs.

Why is this a good idea?  If you’re blobbed, no amount of tank is going to save you; the incoming dps will obliterate you whether you’re at X ehp or 1.4X EHP.  If you’re facing 2 ships, they have to take time to whittle you down.  In this scenario, you need to kill one ship as fast as possible, to reduce total incoming dps.  If you’re only doing 200 dps, you may not be able to kill your first target until you’re nearly dead, which means you’re taking 100% of the enemy dps that whole time.  If, on the other hand, you can fit a damage mod and do 250 dps, you can take your first target down much faster, reducing incoming dps to 50% of the total enemy dps much sooner.  That could mean the difference between taking your first target down and chasing the other off or killing it and dying shortly before or after killing that first ship.  Killing your enemy quickly is always preferable to dragging the fight out longer, particularly when fighting outnumbered.

So, she gets this point.  She’s seen and learned just by watching.  Impressive.  We’re at a ship with three launchers, four guns, a 10mn MWD, and a DCII (sort of standard issue for any larger ship).  Moving on to the mids next, she adds a warp disruptor – I discouraged her from the faction disruptor, namely by refusing to let her fall into the “bling is better” camp – and decides to add a trick in the form of two tracking disruptors.  Combined, they can reduce the tracking or range of a target’s guns a bunch (about 80%, if I recall correctly).  Regardless of the amount, a ship won’t be doing any sort of damage at all without those guns.

In the lows, she starts to realize some of the issues with this fit.  She has guns, she has missiles, she’s dedicated herself to an armor tank (since the mid slots are used up), so she decides to bonus all the things.  EANM for resists, a 1600 plate for buffer, a DDA for drone damage bonuses, a Gyro for projectile damage, and a BCS for the missile damage.  Add in ammo and drones for flavor, and the soup is done.  The Roving Guinea Pig is done.

Analyzing the Fit

Some of you may be saying, “So… what’s wrong with that fit?”  And, in truth, this fit sits somewhere between a comic fit and a serious fit.  Part of it may be my fault – I required an MWD and armor or shield tanking, so I did push her more towards “reasonable”.  I think I’m going to let her go hog-wild next time.  I could see people in null-sec flying around in a ship like this.

That’d be a mistake, though.  For starters, a Hurricane is bonused for projectile damage, so projectile weapons HAVE to be your first choice.  You absolutely need to fill up every turret slot with guns first and foremost (this fit left one slot on the table unused).  You can make a case for 220mm autocannons vs. 425s, but you need guns.

An MWD is usually a must for low-sec.  But that exposes you to another question… if your MWD is shut off, it likely means an enemy ship is in within 10km: how are you going to deal with that?  Popular options are webs and neuts to slow down anything that tries to slip under your guns – a webbed, fully neuted interceptor is a dead interceptor.  Now, the problem of light tackle is mitigated somewhat by the missile launchers, but an interceptor under MWD can outpace much of the damage from missiles, if not avoid them entirely, if the pilot is extremely skilled and his ship is fast enough.

The mids aren’t really a problem; two tracking disruptors and a point suggest that this ship is meant for taking on turret ships equal to or larger than it.  If you can keep some range, you can do very well, particularly against blaster ships.  So, the mids get a passing grade, as they include a “trick” in the form of unbonused TDs that can effectively cancel any incoming DPS from turrets.

The lows, though, are unfocused.  DCII is critical for anything with a decent amount of hull HP (cruiser or above, certainly), but trying to bonus both missiles and guns splits the effort and puts that 10% bonus for missiles on an unbonused weapon system.  On a fit meant to be intentionally bad, this is fine.  But on your fits, don’t do it.  On paper, it may seem as if avoiding the stacking penalty by having a full 100% of the effect applied to both missiles and autocannons is smart, but when you add in the fact that the missiles are unbonused, it tips the idea of splitting your damage mods into the category of “suboptimal”. 

The Fall of the Roving Guinea Pig

Looking at the ship she gave me, I decided that it’d be smarter to fight larger ships than smaller ones.  I honestly didn’t have a way of responding to small targets, so I hoped for a ratting target or something I could take out.  With Razor based in Vale next to Geminate right now, I realized I could finally do what I always wanted to do – kill Guristas ratters with their focused kinetic resistance profile.

So I made my way the 20 jumps to the BWF-Oijanen gate at the end of Geminate, stopping along the way to warp to anoms when I found neuts in system.  Guristas Forsaken Hubs are the only way to go; Havens or Sanctums would have ships I’d be unable to kill in my Guinea Pig, and the rest of the anoms are suboptimal ways of making isk.  But, I’d invariably find that everyone safed up the moment I entered local.  I even made my way back without incident.  Very disappointing.

A couple nights later, I decided I wanted to have some fun with the tank-of-the-month: hull-tanking.  This recently turned from being a hilarious joke to a surprisingly effective and surprising tank choice.  I took the Guinea Pig to BWF- and decided I’d stow it near Oijanen, then hoof it in a pod to Jita to buy one.  If I got in a fight on the way, so be it.

The trip out was uneventful, but as I returned with my new hull-tanked Brutix Navy Issue, I stowed it one jump out from Oijanen and committed myself to losing my Guinea Pig, no matter how long it took.

Ironically, jumping into Oijanen, I saw – of all things – a Brutix Navy Issue sitting on a gate.  I thought it was strange to see the very same ship I just bought on the gate, and I immediately started attacking it.

This was a rookie mistake.  I forgot I was in low-sec, so I took sentry gun damage.  However, the shields and armor were dropping, but not so fast that it indicated I was facing a hull-tanked BNI.  I was still in shield with an armor tank, and my tracking disruptors were doing well at mitigating the damage from the BNI, but I was taking gate guns.  I could take this guy down and would have plenty of time to warp out.

Then the second Brutix Navy Issue landed on grid and began attacking me.  Now my shields and armor melted rapidly, and before long, the Roving Guinea Pig died a quick death.

Going Back For More

Feeling that the addition of the second BNI and the gate guns definitely made the difference in that fight, I popped one system over and waited out my GCC as I switched to my new hull-tanked Brutix Navy Issue.  I was hoping they’d think, “Two BNIs beats one BNI” and engage me, at which point I could melt these armor-tanked BNIs easily.

Once my GCC ended, I warped back to the gate and – conveniently enough – both the BNIs were stil sitting on the gate.  This time, I waited for them to aggress me.  When they did, I started biting into them, and noticed that the first BNI’s shield and armor were dropping much more rapidly.  “Ah,” I thought, “the gate guns are making all the difference.”

And then I ran head-first into his hull.  Which didn’t budge.

I knew instantly that he was, in fact, hull-tanked, and that I was, in fact, dead-to-rights.  My only option was to de-aggress, which I did as soon as my drones responded to my recall command.  With the tank on a hull BNI, I had no problem slow-boating it under scram back to the gate; I just had to wait out my aggression and jump to safety.

But I was dual-webbed and dual-scrammed (one from each BNI), and they knew all about bumping.

I watched helplessly as I was kicked 5km off of the gate, only to slowly burn 2km back while they lined up their next bump, at which point I was kicked away again.  My aggression came to an end, but I was losing the race to the gate.  All that remained was to wait the interminable time as they chewed through 86,000 hp over the course of two minutes.  That’s about 215,000 ehp.

Why didn’t I realize the Brutixes were hull-tanked earlier?  There were two reasons.  First, I hadn’t come across many hull-tanked ships in my previous battles, and I felt it was still a new enough meta that the chances of coming across hull tankers was somewhat low.  Even with them both flying ships that are ideal for hull-tanking, I simply didn’t think hull-tanking was a well-enough known “thing” yet.

But, secondly, I judged a hull tank based on the damage my Roving Guinea Pig was doing to them during the first fight.  I was applying the lessons I learned about Hurricane DPS from my usual Hurricane fits – which do about 800 dps – to the RGP, which was at about 550, and I misjudged how much damage I was doing.  Put simply, the BNI was holding up so well not because he was armor-tanked, but because I was doing a lot less dps.

Had I avoided taking gate guns by waiting for the BNIs to engage me first, I would have ran into the hull during the first fight, and realized that they were hull-tanked without having to enage with my Brutix.  But, as it was, I went down too quickly to really learn what I needed to learn with the Roving Guinea Pig.

I suppose I did manage to learn lessons from the Roving Guinea Pig even in its death… don’t apply your knowledge about what kinds of damage a ship class does – always be aware of what dps your specific ship fit does.  And when you come across a ship type that is best at a particular role, particularly a trendy role, always expect that trend, even when you think it’s too new to be well-known.  Trends catch on like wildfire.  All it needs is a week and all of New Eden will be playing with a new toy (and hull-tanking is definitely more than a week old). That, and gate guns, man.  Gate guns.

But as to flying a ship my wife fit… I’d totally do it again.  The Zombie Guinea Pig will fly again.  And this time, I’m going to be hoping for bat-shit crazy.

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