Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to find a fight in EVE.

In my own experiences, as well as from talking to a few other people, one of the questions I am asked most often is "How do I find people to fight?"

Well... the answer to this depends on what sort of fight you want. If you're in a fleet, well, follow your FC. He or she will know where to take you to find action. However, as this whole thing is directed at solo roamers, whether FW combatants, nullsec roamers, lowsec pirates, or people who may be a little bit of all of the above, lets examine a few tricks. ((Note: Due to the content, ie, finding pvp in a video game, from here on, I am just writing from an OOC perspective, to make things easier)) This focuses on the perspective of a roamer, so I dont cover camping a gate, which is a dangerous PITA for a solo frig or AF anyways (But, at times, I have done it, and with success).

Step 1. The MAP. Yes, the map you can access by pressing F10? You can find people with that. In fact, I started using it more than I have before, thanks to an outstanding tutorial video made by solo pvper Kil2. The tutorial video can be found here and it is a straightforward, easy to understand introduction to the use of the map for this purpose. One caveat I would like to mention; just because the map shows 4 people active in system over the last 30 minutes does not mean 4 will be there when you jump in. It means, over the past 30 minutes, there have been an average of 4 people there. They may all be gone, or you might find a roaming gang of 30. But it is a definate point in the right direction, and using it as Kil2 describes to find pockets of activity is an outstanding way to get some shooting done. Also, if you havent, he has a series of fun pvp videos and even runs a live stream several times a week. Check it out.

Step 2. Know the area. I know from a long period of living in Minmatar losec that if I want fights, the places to go are the region from Amamake down to Hadozeko in Metropolis/Heimatar, the Creo-Corp plexes in Heimatar and Molden Heath, and Molden Heath in the Bosena/Heild area. Knowing your territory is exceedingly important. You can learn who to expect to bring good fights, who to bring blobs and falcons, and who simply not to waste time with. Finding a fight is not the whole story; being able to find a winnable fight is. Border systems (( Such as Amamake )) are often good places, though they can be extremely risky due to the large number of people in them. This, plus the map as outlined in 1, is often as far as you need to go, but here are a few more tricks...

Step 3. Make yourself easy to find. Sit in a belt (not at 0, of course). Sit at a DED plex. If you jump through a gate, or undock from station, and you see someone you wish to fight, warp to an obvious celestial. In null, you may attack them immediately, of course... if you know what lies in the station or on the other side of the gate. If they seem reluctant to engage, they will either 1) jump/dock as soon as you engage them, or 2) will not follow you when you warp to said obvious celestial. If they do things like point you immediately, but DONT follow you off gate or station, you can bet your last dollar they have help coming. Make them come to you, so you have a bit of time with them alone, or dont take the fight.

Step 4. Nullsec entry systems. Often, the entry systems into nullsec will be camped. Sometimes by a few people, sometimes by a huge gang, ocassionally by soloers. I will sometimes roam around and peek into every nullsec entry, and even go 1 system in (Null entries are always huge regional gates; campers much prefer the smaller, standard stargates that are generally 1 system in from the low/null boundary gate) to find some pew. This can be risky, as gangs of recons and/or sniper Tier 3 BCs are common, but you can almost always burn back to the gate or warp off if it is something you dont want to try.

And Step 5. When all else fails, just ask! I will often yell in local if i see another AF or 2 if they want a fight. Sometimes they say yes. If they dont respond, but keep looking for you, it can mean 1) They have no idea what language you're speaking or 2) Theyre tackling/baiting for a gang. Proceed with caution, though this will often save the day, and get a fight when nothing else will.

Learn to use that D-scanner, which will be something I will go over in my next post. Until then, fly it like you stole it! Good luck, and if anyone else has any tips that I havent covered... let me know, I'll add them.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Jaguar

Greetings all! I hope that the Fates have been kind to you, as they have been to me. Before I start on my new examinations of the Jaguar, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who follow the blog, comment, help me out with advice and gifts, and who in general enable me to do this stuff. I mean it, thanks. Every piece of advice on a fit, every isk, every ship, is something I use, something which hopefully will help me improve. I really appreciate it.

And without further delay, lets take a look at the ship which will always hold a special attachment for me, the Jaguar. Back when I was a new pilot, I yearned for the day that I could fly it, and I spent much of my first year in this ship, running agent missions and making timid forays into lowsec for a bit of exploration. When I decided to take up frigate combat versus other capsuleers, it was the Jaguar, not the Wolf, which I first moved on to after the Rifter, and I had some very encouraging early successes with it.

And, even then, before the current incarnation of AFs, a few pretty discouraging failures, due to limitations of the ship itself.

The plus side of the Jaguar is its speed and slot layout; it is the fastest AF in the skies, and it has a rather delightful 4/4/4 slot layout, with plenty of CPU to make use of it, unlike the Wolf, who's CPU makes me scream. Seriously, does Boundless Creation put a pocket calculator processor in those things? The Jaguar has a nice tracking speed bonus and like its sister ship, the Wolf, two damage bonuses. Its Optimal Range bonus, however, is fairly useless with standard autocannon fits, as their optimals are so short to begin with, adding 10% per level to nothing, is still nothing.

So... why fit them with autocannons?

Lets first look at what the Jaguar does WELL. It is, bar none, an outstanding heavy tackler for a gang. Working in tandem with an Interceptor, you can take over holding something down (and often with a scram, where an inty may have only a point) and be very difficult to scrape off. The problem arises in the current environment of Tier 3 Battlecruisers, who may kill our Jaguar in a single volley, so it, much like Interceptors, must be watchful for this. I enjoy dual prop fits with an MSE and scram when I am in a gang, scouting and tackling, as it gives me the best balance of survivability and speed. I wont share a fit here, theyre pretty easy to work up, you guys can figure it out!

However, if we want to go out solo roaming in our Jaguar... things are not as clear-cut. The old standard for many years was 150s, a neut, MSE/AB/scram/web, and DCU/gyro/TE, with rigs to personal taste. It had a hard time vs. Hawks, but theyve always been nasty, other than that, was on par with, or better than, most other AFs and frigates out there. Now, however, this fit dies, often, to just about every other AF? What has changed?

For starters, the AF updates have REALLY turned the table upside down. Most AF's tanks improved markedly, where the Jaguar's did not, and most also now have expanded fitting and/or slots to control range better, tank better, and apply their DPS better. The jaguar got a tracking bonus (Tracking speed was never an issue for it in the first place) and one sort of "meh" lowslot; this dosent offset the ships who recieved extra mids, tank bonuses, or range/damage bonuses.

Basically, all the other AFs, excepting maybe the Wolf and Ishkur, got markedly better. The Jaguar stayed right where it was, with one extra low slot. It has very, very poor gun range with ACs (in general) and spends much of the fight in this configuration trying to burn into gun range (or away, if fighting an enyo, for example) and not doing anything but taking damage. Every other AF, excepting possibly the Enyo, can apply DPS adequately from the instant it enters scram range, and the Enyo has roughly twice the Jaguar's damage output, offsetting the lack of time it does damage by sheer volume of damage it applies once in range. So, what can we do? We try to find a way to apply meaninful DPS from the instant we enter scram range ourselves, and play to that speed advantage, right? Let's see:

[Jaguar, Shaguar]
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Damage Control II

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Coreli C-Type 1MN Afterburner
Medium Shield Extender II

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
5W Infectious Power System Malfunction

Small Core Defense Field Extender I
Small Anti-Explosive Screen Reinforcer I

Numbers? Well... discouraging. 154 dps at 1.3 + 9k is nothing to write home about, and we had to use two TEs both because we lack the CPU for 2 gyros, and because we need that gun range to begin applying said DPS. It is somewhat vulnerable to kiters (yay) and almost all AFs, especially since the introduction of ASB modules, can easily tank its mediocre damage. You can also get a 200 fit with 2 gyros and a nano, which will get us into range faster and does much better damage, but that time we're creeping into gun range, which can take 20-30 seconds against anything which can web us back, is time we're taking damage and they simply arent. I love Autocannons, I truly do... but I think theyre a poor choice on a solo Jaguar in the current environment.

So, lets see what we can do with Artillery guns! Since i lost one today, and people can look it up, no harm in sharing it now:

[Jaguar, Arty]
Internal Force Field Array I
Fourier Transform Tracking Program
Gyrostabilizer II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Coreli C-Type 1MN Afterburner
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Cap Booster 50
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Faint Warp Disruptor I

280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP S
280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP S
280mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Salvager I

Small Processor Overclocking Unit I
Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I

Numbers... well, 1119 base speed, same as above, but we have 136 DPS (( Volley damage is what matters for arty fits, in this case, 940 )) applied at a 13+14 range with standard high-damage ammo; basically, if we can point it, we can shoot it. Our tank is meh, as the ASB has only 10 cycles available before its 60 second load, but reps us a huge chunk per cycle. This fit will work with a T2 AB and a Pseudo Damage control if you're budget minded (My loss was, still getting used to it) but a C type will work, and gets 70 more msec; probably not worth the 20m cost for the AB + DCU. Fitting a Gistii B requires a meta MAPC.

How do we fly it? Well... carefully. I managed to derp up and lose mine to a dual ASB hawk by getting too close, and then was unable to burn back out of his range before I went down. I was, however, punching right through his shield into armor on most shots, and he had emptied both ASBs when the fight ended. One more volley (ie, not derping as SOON as I did) would have won the fight. To be fair, it may have been a bit easier in my Wolf, but I have a feeling the Wolf wouldnt be able to break it in time. The idea is to stay at 15-16k range, and heat your web to "keepaway" if they get too close. You have 10 cycles of that booster, and that is IT. If it runs out and youre still taking heavy damage, well... get ready to warp that pod out. Even inside this range, had it been anything other than a dual asb hawk, it would have died, as it simply couldnt have repped the volleys fast enough. A Vengeance perhaps... but we'd have had a much easier time burning back away from it. It has a Succubus that was also dual ASB fit (( CCP, mental note... when EVERYONE is fitting 2 of these,  might be a sign to re-examine them )) a Dramiel (Which was pretty horribly fit) and an Ishkur to its credit so far, and the loss was my fault entirely for being, as I have said before, rather bad at kiting. I cannot get a T2 point on this thing; wish I could, that 4k range makes a HUGE difference.

Hopefully, I get better at it sooner rather than later.