Friday, 24 July 2009

The Hot Stuff

With the completion of my lessons on thermodynamics, I have started to think about the application of this skill during combat; namely overheating. This is the art of increasing the power going to various systems for a short period of time to increase their effectiveness. So weapons fire faster, armour repairers repair more, nosferatus drain more etc. Basically everything is better. The downside however, is that the extra power creates extra heat that the systems can't deal with, which results in damage. So this means you can only overcharge the systems for a short time or risk rendering them useless which is not particularly helpful in a fight. Due to said restrictions it can be very important at which point in a fight you use this advantage. Used in the right place and it can mean the fight goes in your favour. Use it in the wrong place and the odds can quickly swing in your opponents favour. So I have done some thinking and talked to a few other pilots about how and when to use this ace in the hole.

Straight of the bat I thought of at least two examples of when overheating would have won me the fight. The first instance was a very close fight that I had with a Tristan that ended with me in my capsule and my opponent in less than half structure. A tactical overheat of both my weapons and my repair systems would have allowed me to survive longer and deal more damage. These two factors combined could have turned the tide of battle in my favour. The second example was when I lost an Atron. My little ship didn't quite have the speed to escape the Breacher that was orbiting me like a bird of prey. An overheat to the afterburner would have given me enough speed to escape its warp jammer and I would have lived to fight another day. It's easy to identify where an overheat or two would have helped in a previous encounter, but I suspect that pinpointing the ideal time in a fight is a lot harder. With so much to pay attention to, and battles being as fluid and ever-changing as they are, the moment when the critical overheat could give you the edge or break a stalemate can come and go in an instant.

I have several friends who make great use of overheating and I have also sought out other experienced pilots and coaxed them into talking about when they apply overheating and in what circumstances. The general consensus seems to be that there are several types of scenarios where it is commonly employed.

The first situation involves the longevity of the ship. For example, your armour is going down a little too fast for your liking and your repairer isn't compensating. The overheat increases its effectiveness, giving you additional time in the fight so you can finish off you foe or make your escape.

The second is damage related. Not quite able to break your enemies tank? Need to finish him off quickly before his mates arrive? No problem. A bit of extra juice to the weapon systems increase their rate of fire so damage is dealt faster. This Increase in damage can overwhelm a tank or make for a quick kill followed by a quick getaway.

The third is tackling based. Generally for warp scrams/disruptors. The overheat increases their effective range. Don't think you're going to get in scram range fast enough? Overheat and make sure you get that tackle, and ensnare your prey before it can escape.

These are just a few basic scenarios where this highly versatile skill can be used in. With a few minutes of thought I came up with several other ways that you could use it to gain dominance in a fight. When and what to overheat is also very situational so while there are a few scenarios and rules to think about they can all be blasted out of the airlock in a second and a whole new set of rules can apply. The more I think about this skill the more I realise how versatile it is and how long it is going to take me to identify when, where and what to overheat. I'm going to have to experiment with the application of this skill, I don't think that any amount of theory can prepare you for the various scenarios and their permutations that can be encountered in the real world. So of for some thrills and spills and plenty of heat!

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Continuing with my pledge to diversify my ship choices, I have been trialling the Atron. I have to say I love this highly underestimated little frigate, and I mourn the fact that it isn't more widely used. Mind you if it was, it wouldn't be underestimated so maybe it's not such a bad thing! While this little ship may not be able to support the DPS or tank of the more commonly used frigates it does have a rather large speed advantage. This gives it a tactical flexibility that the other frigates lack. This speed allows it to dictate range and so you fight on terms that suit you instead of that suit the opponent. It is much the same principle as interceptors. If things don't go your way though, using the Atron's speed, you can break out. It is also an ideal scout, and tackle ship.

I went for a blaster setup on this test run. Deciding that it probably wouldn't do too well going toe to toe with another blaster frigate, I went in search of cruisers; their guns being too big and slow to track me, when I'm in their face and have my engines to max. It wasn't long before I found one. A Moa class cruiser, that is generally a long range ship. Perfect. I warped in, locked and jammed him and orbited him as close and as fast as I could. He went down in short order, and I didn't get hit once. The pilot had fitted a rather peculiar tank that I had to break through. The little Atron obviously had more teeth then I had given it credit for as it did it in a surprisingly short space of time.

Next I had a few fights that I had to back out of, as they didn't favour me particularly well. One was a Caracal that I had against the ropes. He was only saved by the timely arrival of several friends so I had to get out of there sharpish. Shame really, I would have liked to clock up another cruiser kill in the Atron. Next I tried a mock fight with my friend Katsutro. I wanted to see how it faired against a tough, close range frigate like the punisher. I got some decent damage on him, but he was landing the occasional hit that was slowly eating through my armour. So I ramped up my speed. This stopped him hitting me, but I also started to have trouble hitting him. I need to train up some of my gunnery skills to improve my turret tracking to compensate for this. I wasn't putting out the damage so I had outrange his scram and escape.

The third engagement I tried, was more for shits and giggles than anything else. I didn't expect to beat the ships formidable tank, but I knew he wouldn't be able to hit me. You never know it might have been really badly fit. The ship in question, was the Amarrian heavy interdictor: the Devoter. He was an outlaw so I was free to engage him at the gate. I got into a tight orbit around the tech II cruiser and started blasting. His shields went down easily, but then I hit the anvil of his armour. It was evidently a well fit Devoter as the bar for his armour had gone down only a few percent after a minute or so of blasting. It was a passive tank so I could have beaten him just would have taken about half an hour. Meh, I had half an hour to spare. He still wasn't hitting me, and I had a cargo hold full of ammo so I just kept blasting. I even wryly tried to ransom him for his ship, but he didn't go for it. Then there was a local spike, four or five pilots in the Devoter pilot's corp. All this effort for little old me in my 5mil Atron. It was oddly satisfying. I had to quickly outrange the warp jammer before his mates showed up. Not an easy thing to do when the person jamming you is a heavy interdictor. They have a 30km point, so I had to burn out of there fast. I went to warp just as a couple of battleships and a few cruisers landed next to their mate.

The next ship to feel the bite of the Atron's teeth was a rare faction frigate; a Caldari Navy Hookbill. It was an outlaw and had jumped through a gate and landed next to me. I locked and jammed it. I opened up on it and it started going down. My speed protected me from the worst of the fire but I was still taking damage. He was going down faster though, especially after Latro joined in. The pricey frigate exploded, but unfortunately his pod got away. He did have a few expensive modules fitted to his ship but, annoyingly, they had all gone up in flames and we got left with the dregs.

Next I wanted to try out the Atron as a scout/tackler. I tracked down a Harbinger battlecruiser, for the small fleet I was in. It consisted of me, Ronan, Latro, and a Tusker groupie. The fast lock speed makes the Atron ideal as a tackling ship. I warped in and immediately got point on him, and started blasting. He had already been mauled by the sentry guns at the gate he had warped from so we had a good head start. I held him there, once again sustaining no damage, until the rest of the fleet arrived. We went to work on him, and ate through the rest of his armour and structure. We were going to ransom him for his ship, but there was a local spike. All corp mates of his so we popped his ship. Just then a group of battleships and battlecruisers, landed on grid with us so we warped out.

This is where the so far heroic Atron met its match. Of all things it was a Breacher aided by rats. How embarrassing. The Breacher jumped me at a belt. It was fitted with an AB and a long point and orbited me wide at about 20km. I knew I wouldn't be able to get near it, but with some clever flying I could get out of its point range. I got to 23km away from the Breacher, I would be able to warp any second. Then the rats locked me, and webbed me. With my speed gone, I couldn't get away and I was toast. Ah well, it's only 5mil.

I've got to say I loved flying the Atron, and I shall continue to do so. I have plans for a rail gun fit that I also want to test out. And I still have those unformed plans to fly a Maulus at some point, I have a couple of fits in mind. Diversity is so much more fun.