Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ammo, the Wolf, and the current state of frigate PvP.

Well, how time flies.

Me, Kalaratiri, and Tabor have split from Teraa Matar and formed a new organization, Skadi's Call, to focus more on small gang and solo combat. Teraa Matar are great people, and theyre a great organization... a decision I make with a heavy heart. Ailing health also led to the decision, as TRA was growing large (by my standards, 25 or so members!) and I was having a difficult time managing it. Kikia, my friend, good luck. You'll need it with that batch.

To the matter at hand; the Wolf! The current state of frigate and  AF combat, especially in the warzone, is: kiters. Loads of them. Falloff and Artillery Wolves, Hawks and Hookbills with TDs, Vengeances, even rail Ishkurs and Enyos. This has led me to change my fit once more; I now run one gyro and one TE. This gets me 12k falloff with high damage ammunition, and 18k!! with barrage. Kiting wolf? Go away or die. I have more tank than you.

The question of what ammunition to use is one I face every time i enter a fight, and thankfully, I have developed a good set of guidelines. Of course, ammo selection is infinately more complicated when more than 1 target is involved, but hey, that is part of the fun!

First; anything which kites beyond scram/web range gets barrage fired at it. The only things which will do this often are slicers, certain rifters (who will have a TD) certain firetails and dramiels, who will also have a TD, certain wolves, and Hookbills. Speaking of Hookbills, a new theme is LML hookbills with MWD, long point, and THREE sensor damps. Thankfully, as they dont want to get too close, you can usually slip from point range. If not... well, we cant kill everything, 100% of the time, now can we? I am jealous of those midslot options, but at least outside the warzone, hookbills are not that common.

Barrage is also used on Hookbills or any other T1 frigate which kites inside web range with a TD, as their resist profile isnt as complicated as among T2 ships. Webbing/TDing arty jaguars, while rare, also get beat up with barrage. Anything else, I will use a short range, high DPS ammo; Fusion, EMP, or Phased Plasma, and always RF variants. Rail Enyo? Inside web range? Stick with fusion, same with ishkur. Outside? Get barrage loaded quick.

Versus enyos, ishkurs, jaguar, and wolf, I use fusion, unless one of the above conditions is met. I also use it on that rare occasion where I fight a armor hurricane (never ends well, I try anyway!) or rupture.

Versus harpies, hawks, and sometimes vengeances, I will load EMP. Yes, a hawk or harpy which dual EMP rigs will have a slightly lower overall EHP profile vs Fusion. However, in the off chance they do not, which is common, EMP is a much better choice. I generally use Plasma on vengeances, but EMP is a good choice, as any vengeance (save Dual SAR fits) WILL have plugged the thermal hole. The profile is still very close, however.

Versus retribution, usually vengeance, and all T1 who are not TDing me and are inside scram/web range, ie, Daredevils, Destroyers, Rifters, Comets, etc, I use Plasma. Learning who has what, and when to swap ammo types, when not to, is a trick that comes with time. However, the above is a good guideline; I keep short range ammo loaded when i am on my way in. If i need to swap  to barrage, odds are the incoming DPS is fairly light, and I will have time to do so.

AFs, our usual targets, can be broken into 2 groups; those which kite our 2 midslot wolf, and those which melt our face off, cause we cant web them away. What do we do?

Group 1, kiters, consist of Hawks, Vengeances, and certain Wolves and Enyos. These are things we want to get as close to as possible. Vs the rocket boats, keep your AB on, and use approach, as any speed we can get will help mitigate damage a bit. Try to start if possible at 0; i will warp around and force them to chase until I get them to land on me at 0-10, and then do my all to land solid early damage, depending on falloff and that initial DPS advantage to win me the fight. If it is a kiter who isnt using rockets, ie, a wolf, often I just shut my AB off to conserve cap for my repper. They will often die before they realize how hard I am hitting and wont have time to align out. Kiting wolves tend to not fit DCUs... which is why I dislike them.

Group 2, things which melt our face. This is the Harpies, Enyos, Ishkurs, and most Jaguars. These, I will do my all to start at 20-30k and begin landing damage long before they can respond. As I have said before, it is Kiting, but with intent to be caught; if you do this too long, theyll just bail. Early damage is how I beat enyos and harpies, and I honestly dont think I can kill one if we start at 0 unless I am very, very fortunate. Always heat that repper as soon as they land scram, as the hurt is coming.

Group 3 is other Wolves and Retributions. Most of these wolves will be plated, and will either have 150s and/or a plate, and no TE, so i am faster and have better range. Sit at 7-8k and kill them with impunity. Retribution? If you need me to explain how to kill a Retri in a wolf, you should probably fly something else. A wolf will simply win with better speed, and much better resistance against its damage.

Finally, Hail. yes, Hail! When do you use it? Should you?

With our TE and our newfound tracking bonus, a Wolf with hail has better tracking than it did with EMP before the changes... you know, when I was killing every DD and Dramiel with 200s? Yep.

Hail's range sucks. Its tracking sucks. But, it has a place. When?

Vs anything with low explosive resists and that is also webbing you. What? When its webbing you? Did you hear that right? Why? We're moving slower??!

That is the point. You are moving SLOWER. An unwebbed wolf, say, fighting another wolf or a dual MSE jag, will be outtracking its own guns without very, very careful range management. Even vs a target bigger than you, say, a rupture that for whatever reason dosent have a web, you will do less damage if youre orbiting at 500-1000 with AB on with hail, than you will with fusion.

Weird, eh? Honestly, I use hail for one purpose; ratting. I have tried it in combat vs other frigs, and I dislike it. That being said, Darkstar Pwnyouall from my good friends at Black Rebel Rifter Club, swears by it! He uses it vs Harpies, Enyos, and Jags, as I said, anything with lowish EXP resist and a web, and he has great success with it. I may look into it in further detail sometime, but for me, 4 ammo types is enough to manage.

Notice, I didnt link any kills. That isnt because I dont have any, far from; the past 6 weeks have been epic. I just have decided to focus less on "look what I killed" and more on "This is what I do" for the moment. Others do the storytelling much better than me anyway.

Off to get a cup of tea and figure out what I want to do this afternoon. Fly it like you stole it!