Saturday, April 25, 2009

lasers go pew pew pew

All the while my drones chew on you.

It's a long established fact that the Myrmidon, lacking a turret bonus, is often fitted with exotic weaponry compared to normal hybrid arms favored by the Gallente Federation. Commonly this takes the form of capacitor warfare modules, remote repair equipment, autocannons for a capacitor independent bite, or even smart bombs to fend off enemy drones. Much less common and far more entertaining is using medium energy turrets to blast through the opposition.

Lasers are normally eschewed on unbonused vessels due to the dramatic capacitor and fitting requirements they impose. That virtually all Amarrian gun boats have a 10% per level reduction in laser capacitor use highlights just how much of a cap hog they are (This bonus brings them roughly in line with hybrid turrets in cap usage). Pair this high cost to available energy with the typical active tank on a Myrmidon and the jury is out on the matter. Mostly.

What many individuals disregard are the traits which make energy turrets so viable in today's battlefield: range, damage and flexibility. Boasting the best optimal of any close range weapon system, pulse lasers with short range crystals are able to deal full damage where other weapons are in heavy falloff, which inflict markedly reduced damage for it. The T2 range ammo for pulse lasers, Scorch, allows engagement ranges unheard of compared to autocannons or blasters.

This range paired with good damage makes lasers remarkable, but the third major selling point is the ability for lasers to quickly adapt to chaotic battlefield conditions. There is no wait to change between crystal types, nor do they wear out quickly. This means a laser fit ship is able to hastily change from short to long range crystals as a situation develops, and does not have to worry over ammunition reloads as other turret or missile systems do. All these traits lend to consistent, deadly fire dealing maximum damage where other weapons would fall short. Pretty cool trade off for ships that can accommodate the extra fitting and capacitor requirements.

Having trained Gallente Cruiser to three, I decided to give the Myrmidon a try. Being the inspired, mischevious person that I am, lasers were the obvious choice for the ship. With Raxip unavailable, I set off along my typical roam path through Molden Heath in search for fights.

Jumping from Oddelulf into Istodard, I happened upon a small gate camp consisting of a Cerberus and Sacrilege. A quick scan of the locals confirmed that they were indeed alone, giving me a snowballs chance in hell of taking the pair by myself. I broke from the gate cloak, and started MWDing back to the stargate, hoping they'd interpret my action as cowardice. Neither of the HACs were outlaws, so I'd need for them to fire on me and incur sentry fire for victory to be possible.

Fortunately for me, both ships obliged, racing to place tackle on my battlecruiser and followed soon by missile ordinance. My larger hull shrugged off the heavy explosions, dual MARs fighting back damage as offensive systems responded to the aggression. A mixed flight of heavy, medium and light drones launched from the drone bay, moving to consume the Cerberus in fire. A disruptor, followed soon by a webifier and scrambler completed my tackle on the Caldari HAC, denying it the ability to MWD away from the battle while the more capable Sacrilege slugged it out with me. Focused Medium Pulse Lasers lit the void between our two ships with white brilliance, each strike adding a noticable drop in the Cerberus's shield reserves.

Even with sentry turrets on my side, the situation I had gotten myself into was dire, lending a note of desperation to my actions. This was evidenced by virtually every module on my ship running overheated to stave off destruction as I tried to put down the Cerberus. It was exhibiting much more of a defense than I anticipated, likely due to the thermal damage type my drones were inflicting. Even with the potent passive tank, the Cerberus just wasn't intended for close range brawling, its tank failing about the same time mine was kissing structure. Its shields gone, the HAC folded in seconds.

With the Cerberus destroyed, I shifted my attention to the Sacrilege. Lasers stabbed out at the HAC, followed soon by my swarm of drones. This time my drones were striking directly into the weakest resistance of their prey, and coupled with sentry and laser fire, the Sacrilege was dropping faster than the Cerberus was. The Sacrilege attempted to stave off defeat by targeting my drones; my close proximity to the HAC and my drone flight meant I could recall and relaunch them with ease. Striking through the last of its structure, an Ogre II touched off munition stores, the explosion ripping through the ship until breaching reactor containment. The sapphire inferno that followed was remarkable compared to the opposing pilot's ability with the vessel.

The field mine, I finished armor repairs and began scooping loot from the nearby wrecks. The fight wasn't over however. The nearby stargate flared to life, depositing another ship into the system.

A Dominix decloaked two dozen kilometers away from me, lumbering towards my smaller Myrmidon with speed afforded by a 100mn MWD. A flight of Ogre IIs launched from the battleship as Aura calmly informed me that my warp drive had been disrupted.

My mind raced, setting priorities while instincts took over and started locking up the enemy drone flight. Still adjacent to the Sacrilege wreck, I scooped as many 800 charges as possible to replace those I previously ran through and then I set into motion. Pulsing my MWD, my battlecruiser easily outpaced the battleship, maintaining enough distance to be out of range of blasters while in range of my warp disruptor. Watching my capacitor, I confirmed the Dominix lacked any heavy energy neutralizers. This fight was doable: the adrenaline high of a second underdog engagement in as many minutes refused any thinking otherwise.

My plan was simple: stay the hell away from blasters; kill his drones. Once his drones were dead, I could use my superior range to bleed him to death. The slow speed of the enemy Ogres meant one popped before the flight came into firing range; my webifier allowed me to track them once in close range, and for my own heavy drones to easily keep up. My dual reps were more than enough to keep up with incoming damage, and with each drone I swatted aside the damage fell lower and lower. After sending half a dozen heavy drones to their doom, the Dominix recalled the rest, realizing that he’d be unable to break my tank. Further, chasing me while running his MWD meant he was over 30km off the gate, facing a target he couldn't shake while taking sentry gun fire. The enemy pilot wisely turned around and started back to the stargate.

Victory in sight, I pursued, chasing the larger ship at range with Scorch ammo loaded, my drones finally turned lose against the enemy battleship. After nearly a minute of this though, the Dominix's tank showed no sign of breaking, and he had managed to make it back into range of the stargate. I needed to do something drastic to keep him from fleeing. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to close distance and slug it with the larger ship at point blank range.

Closing in had the desired effect, and the larger ship once again launched drones and renewed his assault on my ship. My Myrmidon took a few volleys of blaster fire before closing into a tight orbit: even with a webifier on me, the large bore weapons couldn't track my vessel. However, at close range the Dominix was better able to guard his drone flight, recalling and launching drones which were taking fire. This also meant replacement drones didn't have to speed back into range of my ship. My armor repairers were fighting a losing battle against this sustained fire.

The Dominix has over double the drone capacity than the Myrmidon: it can carry a total of three heavy drone flights if the pilot deemed necessary. However, having lost so many drones chasing me, and with sentry guns switching from his ship to his drones, the tide of Ogres faltered, until running out utterly. The Dominix was left with only medium and smaller drones, which my repair modules were capable of matching. With the larger drones destroyed, I set to work once again on the Dominix.

Lacking proper drones to break my tank, and unable to track my orbiting vessel with his turrets, the opposing pilot eventually recalled his drones and stilled all hostile EWAR active against my ship. Banking on the prolonged combat having run through the battleship's 800 charge reserves, I threw myself against his ship with everything I had. My lasers burned with increased intensity as I set them to overheat, however my arsenal was too slow in blasting through the battleship's armor tank. The enemy pilot jumped through the gate with roughly 10% remaining, leaving a “GF” in local as he left.


  1. Nice blog here. I can fly Minmatar BCs, and was thinking of cross training to try the Myrmidon. I'm also interested in the Amarr weaponry, so your article tells me I could put both together.

    I've toyed with the idea of solo PvP - I don't seem to enjoy the big fleets. A fleet battle can be quite spectacular, visually, for sure, but you don't get that rewarding sense of a win when there are dozens of you on one primary. A one-on-one when it's all your skills that make the difference seems more exciting. I've flown in some small roaming gangs and they are more fun than bigger fleets. So your blog encourages me to try the solo route.

    Do you worry about keeping your sec status up? If you're solo there are advantages to be able to go to hi sec.

    I like your writing. The posts aren't so short and they're easy to read. Keep posting. :)


  2. @ Bob:

    Many folks, including my partner Raxip decide to go down the outlaw path. I think it's well and good, and definitely instigates more fights. However as I like to pilot larger ships, I don't want to be vulnerable to small frigate gangs that wouldn't have sentries to worry about. Therefore, yes, I do have to watch my sec status.

    I travel frequently through nullsec for PvP, typically shooting a BS rat every system I run through if there are no targets. That strategy keeps my sec status in check, while not driving me insane with boredom. Also, as I have an alt to move equipment and ships from one place to another, I keep my sec status around -4.5, which allows me to easily move to a 0.5 system, pick up the larger goods and pilot them back to my base in lowsec.

    If you already have your battlecruiser skill trained, and have good drone skills, the day or two to train Gallente cruiser to 3 is worth the wait. The Myrmidon is a brute with any turret system in the highs, and allows you to feel what armor tanking is *really* about.

    I will admit to missing those large fleet engagements, but not by much. By and large small gang combat is where it's at as far as 'fun' PvP goes in this game. Solo PvP is also a blast: it's much more viable that what you see in other MMORPGs on the market at present.