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!