Monday, July 27, 2015

Lessons: Svipul Fight!

Svipul Fight!
This post is going to be a bit different from most lesson posts.  Instead of the usual path, I’m going to give the lesson right up front, then tell the story behind it.

The lesson is simple… it’s important to log in every day and interact with the game in some fashion, because you never know what may happen during that particular session.  Sometimes, you even stumble across a situation that’s so engaging and enjoyable that it leaves you feeling re-energized about the game as whole.  You wouldn’t want to miss out on that, right?

So sit back and I’ll tell you a tale of two Svipuls and the old schoolyard try.

I’ve been pretty open about being somewhat disengaged with Eve recently.  We all go through low points as a result of factors both within and beyond our control, and I was in the midst of one of them.  As I dig into the causes, I’m learning more about both my own interests and the game as a whole.  And that’s a good thing.

I’m one of those odd folks who seeks the unironic “good fight”, the kind that can result in a beautiful death or a proud victory.  These kinds of engagements require me to face the very real risk of both failure and success… too far in either direction robs it of the satisfaction.  I can count perhaps a dozen or so engagements I’ve had throughout my lifetime that I found intensely satisfying.  They not only top off my gas tank, they’re the equivalent of retrofitting me with a hybrid engine, replacing all the moving parts, and handing me free fuel for a year.

My standards are pretty high, and while few engagements meet them, a lot of them come close, “filling the tank”.  But I remember those special engagements like none other.  And over this weekend, I had one of those engagements. 

On my FW alt, I had been having a particular good run of luck.  I successfully killed an Algos with a drone Tristan, then killed a Slicer with a dual ASB Merlin (a sort of poor man’s Harpy).  In both cases, I killed a better ship through appropriate tactics.  I don’t fly with boosting links, and both of these classified as very good fights.  I flew well while engaging in a chancy fight.  I was proud of them both.

And, indeed, I was feeling pretty good about Eve after facing two opponents willing to bring a fight.  Against the slicer, my fit surprised him.  But against the Algos, he had to have figured odds were better than 50/50 that my Tristan was fit for range, and he jumped into my plex nonetheless.  Respect to both of those pilots, even though I can’t out them publicly without giving up my FW character.

Goonswarm is starting up a new special interest group that’s still in the primordial stage, but which focuses on solo and microgang fights in low-sec.  Suffice it to say, I’m really excited about it!  I’ve been moving some ships into our new staging system for this SIG, and found myself in Agoze in a Svipul.  As I was warping through, I noticed another Svipul on dscan in the general direction of a small complex.  With everyone else in local accounted for, I figured it was a solo pilot looking for some action.

Now, Talvorian is fully trained for all four T3Ds (they were the first skills I trained following each of the patches that introduced them), so I knew I’d be pretty well skilled for this fight.  A quick look at the other pilot told me he was -9.8, but only an early 2013 character, so I had about two years on him (2-year hiatus, remember?), but I’ve trained a lot of capital skills and things unrelated to destroyers.  He could definitely be my equal in this fight.

I was fit with dual medium ASBs, a setup that is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  But I knew I would be vulnerable to a web/scram Svipul fit, which isn’t that uncommon.  With artillery, my enemy could plink away at me from the edge of scram range without me being able to do anything about it.

But… Svipul vs. Svipul, man… I couldn’t resist!  So I took the gate and slid into the plex.  In warp, I swapped to propulsion mode, thinking I’d need to make every second count in this fight.  Plus, even if scrammed and webbed, the speed of a propulsion Svipul might be able to surprise and catch up to an unwebbed MWD Svipul if the pilot wasn’t paying too close of attention.  If I could get in close enough before that scram/web hit, I might be able to kill him before the speed differential drifted us too far away.  Plus, my dps with 200’s was about 440.  I felt pretty confident that I’d be able to out-brawl my opponent up close – only small gun specialization V could outrace me.  My fit was an “outblast and endure” one.

Upon my warp completing, I charged toward him with an overheated MWD, then started locking.  By the time my lock cycle completed, I was already within hail range.  But as my eyes snapped towards his speed shortly after applying my scram, I saw 650 and suspected I was facing an afterburner fit.  Just my luck!

But, to my surprise, he started creeping in closer.  The damage was coming in slowly but regularly, much faster than I’d expect with artillery.  I honestly didn’t register what guns he was using, but I could tell he was brawler fit.  It’d be a dps race.  My shields fell to 10% before I activated my first ASB.  After two cycles, I began bleeding armor and dutifully applied my second ASB.  At this point, I was certain the fight was over, that I was done for.  His shield was still at 40… then did it pop up to 45%?  He was booster-fit!  At this point, I had to start pulsing the overheating on my autocannon to prevent them from burning out, and I knew my dps would suffer.  If I couldn’t get him deeper in shield with overheating, how would I beat him without it?

With the second ASB, my shield began to recover enough that I could pulse the reps.  All the while, I was watching his shields and range, seeing that he was keeping a tight orbit while his shield drifted down, down, down.  I didn’t see another boost to his shield, though, and after a painfully long time (it seemed), his armor and hull collapsed in three cycles with my guns.  I was shocked at how quickly it turned.

It was an epic fight, and I appeared doomed right up until the end.  What a way to finish!  But I was curious about his fit, and checked the killmail: a passive-regen Svipul… I’ve spoken before about expecting the unexpected and including a few surprises in your fits, but I didn’t expect passive regen!  And it appeared to serve him well, allowing him to tank 10.5k of actual damage – with a Svipul’s resists, that was at least 29k ehp, a very tanky fit.

I convo’d the pilot and learned that with links, his fit had a passive shield regen capable of enduring 333 dps of punishment.  If my fit was an “outblast” fit, his was an “outlast” one.  And in this case, he didn’t have links running.  It was a straight-up fight, and it was thrilling.  Either one of us could have won it.

On my part, I stayed in propulsion mode for too long, and should have switched to defensive once he moved in closer.  He stayed in defensive mode – where I should have been! – so I was at a defensive disadvantage.  If he’d have pulled range, he would have beaten me – his passive regen would continue to rep his shield, whereas my ASBs were a finite resource.  I suspect he also had Minmatar Tactical Destroyer V, based on the regen rate and damage he mentioned during our conversation. 

Sure, there are a few other lessons in there about remembering why you made the decisions you make, but the big lesson for me was the validation of my decision to undock.  On paper, the fight wasn’t remarkable; it included only one kill costing around 60 mil.  But every aspect of it… from the exhilaration of sliding into the complex not knowing what his fit was, to the panic as my shields dipped to 10% then held around 30% for the rest of the fight, to the surprise as his tank finally broke and he exploded… it embodied all of the best parts of Eve for me.

If I had decided to shrug my shoulders and assume I wouldn’t have any content, I’d have missed that enjoyable experience.  I could have given into the “there’s no content” narrative and not read through the Goon forums, never learned about Microbees, never moved to the SIG’s staging area, and never undocked that day.  All of that required work and preparation.  And all that effort was validated through that one fight lasting a little under two minutes.

I’ve said before that as humans, we create our reality.  Our perceptions are fluid, influenced by facing, trajectory, and context.  They’re delicate things in a “special snowflake” sort of way, but while they can be soured quickly, so too can they be redeemed.

But you have to go out there and grab that content.  Eve really is an awesome arena, and still contains combatants.  What it offers has remained unchanged through all this FozzieSov business… provided that we keep searching for what we long for most.  And that search defines us.

(Ed. Note: I'm bad and can't read a kill report correctly.  Edited to reflect that he was, indeed, afterburner-fit.  Thank you to the anonymous reader who pointed it out!)


  1. "On my part, I stayed in propulsion mode after failing to realize his initial 650 m/s speed was just a snapshot as my scram shut off his mwd and he slowed down."

    " ....(switching to defensive mode when I realized my scram shut down his mwd),"

    Where is that MWD you're talking about? He lost his speed because he switched from Prop to Def, that's all about it. He was AB fit.... damn Talv.

    1. Yeah, I'm bad and misread the icon. I've edited, and taken another lesson: read through the text modules, not just the icons! Thanks for pointing it out!

  2. Damn, that's a great fit. Saving that one for personal use for sure. I would be interested to see your fit as well Tal.

    As for the lesson: I think we all forget from time to time how important it is to not get stuck in a rut. Whether ingame, or in real life, habit is a silent, but tremendous force. Every once in a while we need to make an effort to break this habit, to try something new, or something ignored too long and almost forgotten. New challenges invigorate, but they're rarely handed to us on a silver platter. Go out and find them!!!