Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Finding a fleet comp.

As I wrote in the past couple of blog posts, our Corp has found itself in more and more fights in our own home wormhole. Normally, we use our hole as a giant retarded Titan, and go out and try to find PVP wherever our static and chain may take us. Sometimes, with a boring or bad exit, we might have to turn it off and on again by rolling our static and rescanning the chain. Based on the outcome of a couple of our most recent fights, it became apparent that our current home defence doctrine was a little dated and hadn't been used in so long that most members actually didn't know what ships to use or what fits to have on them. It was decided that we needed a new fleet comp, and the call was put out to members to each come up with some kind of doctrine meeting a specific set of requirements and purposes. There was also an ISK incentive for the person who created the fleet comp that was eventually decided upon.

I took part (I ain't gon' turn down iskies bro') , and it got me thinking about how you should approach creating a fleet doctrine from scratch. The following was my thought process for creating my suggestion for this competition.

Purpose:

In this example, the purpose is a fleet concept that can defend a home wormhole and give chance if successful in driving the attackers off. Another example would be a cheap frigate gang for lowsec roams, or a fleet based around camping gates or hunting ratting ships.

Requirements:

The requirement for this example is that it must be lower than battleship size due to mass restrictions on wormholes, it must be shield based, it must be mobile enough to chase an enemy and it must be able to support capital ships.

Opposition:

It's always wise to design a fleet doctrine around a known enemy composition. In our case, it's highly likely that we'll be facing armour T3s with either Guardian or Capital support. 

Their are multiple instances of large blocs designing specific doctrines based purely on that of their enemies (such as the Foxcat (Navy Apocs) doctrine vs 100mn Tengus, or Fuck You Fleet (Celestis) vs Slowcat blobs.

A frigate doctrine is most likely going to be designed to fight against other frigate gangs, and hunting doctrines should be designed around being able to catch, kill and escape before support arrives.

Cost:

In most cases, cost isn't a huge issue but it's worth considering how much a doctrine ship is going to set back a pilot. Some pilots are poor, and so a doctrine must include cheaper versions or cheaper hulls in order for it to be successful and accessible to your whole corp/alliance

Skills:

As above, not everybody in your corp/alliance is going to have perfect fitting skills, which is why, when theory crafting, you should take this into account. It's no use getting that ship to use every last bit of CPU or PG at All Level V skills when the pilots who are going to be flying it have to start downgrading mods or switching things around. I have, and you should have, an EFT (or Pyfa) character that has what I call "average" skills. 

This means most things at level III or IV, with maybe some of the support and fitting skills a little higher. This is obviously dictated by the pilots it's designed for as some groups, all pilots will have very good support skills whereas some groups will be full of relatively new players.

DPS:

This is the meat of your doctrine and in my opinion, should focus on being what it says it is, Damage. In my doctrine designs, I very rarely put things like armor reps or points, preferring to either do more DPS or be more tanky.

As fleet size decreases, the need for each pilot to bring more utility increases, so a small gang fit is likely to be less tanky but have a point, or a web, or a sensor damp , or a tracking disruptor whereas in a large gang, this can be left for the Support ships. 

Remember that not everyone has all the T2 weapons, and will have specialised into a certain race or a certain damage type. I always try to come up with at least one ship that uses each weapon category for my DPS section. I.e for a missile based doctrine, I'll include a comparable hybrid weapon ship, a comparable projectile based ship and a comparable laser based ship. It's not always possible, but you should at least try to do so.

Logi:

This is what wins you fights. When designing the fit, think hard about what it is that Logistics ships do. They rep things, and they try not to die. That's it. A key consideration for designing Logistics is how many of them there are likely to be. If there are going to be a small number, you might consider making them self rep with an ASB or AAR, whereas if they will be more numerous, you can concentrate on making them able to rep more, or on being jammed less, or surviving longer (or combination thereof). ECCM is a critical thing for any Logistics ship. 

The first thing I do when entering into a fleet fight is launch my ECM drones and stick the on a Logistics ship. Having ECCM counteracts this and you are much less liekly to get jammed out. A jammed Logi is a useless Logi. A lot of people forget drones on Logistics ships, despite them getting pretty good bonuses. Having a flight of rep drones for each Logi effectively means your 1.0 Logi pilot is not a 1.3 Logi pilot. 

I often ask at least one Logi to have the opposite set of drones with them (i.e. Armor drones in a Scimi or Shield drones in a Guardian). If your Logisitcs fits have any kind of DPS except ECM drones, you should feel bad.

Support:

Support ships, or Force Multipliers, are the other thing that mean you win more fights than you lose. Depending on the fleet size, support roles include scouts, tackle, ECM, damps, TDs, firewalls (things with smartbombs to kill drones or missiles), links, neuts etc. Any gang that doesn't role with at least some support is a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. 

In a smaller gang, these roles might have to be tacked on to your DPS ships (in the form of a midslot utility module). In a larger gang, it comes from specialist ships (either T1 or T2). They're great for a newer player to fill (about a week for a new player to sit in a decent Griffin).You should try to fill as much of the Support spectrum as possible as they all have their uses, but if you know what you're going to be fighting, you can alter the rations of the Support to match. For example, if you know you'll be fighting turret based ships, bring more Tracking Disruptors. If you know you're going to be fighting a sniping or kiting fleet, bring more Sensor Damps. If you're going to be fighting out numbered or are simply risk adverse, bring more ECM ships. 

Hictors and Sabres are a great replacement for each individual fleet Member having an individual point. The exception to this is if you are fighting ships with Micro Jump Drives, in which case you should ensure some of your fleet have Scrams. 

Links, either by on grid command ships, or off grid boosters also fall under this section, and it's worth the time to work out how the fleet performs both with and without links, and which links help the fleet the most. Don't forget that links affect the whole fleet, not just the DPS. Information links are great for making sure that your Logi don't get jammed. Remember that that link which makes the Logi rep more also makes them use more cap.

Compatibility

You can create some amazing ships in EFT that fulfil a role perfectly but then when you get into an actual fight, you'll find that the ships don't go well together. This might be obvious to some, but it's often overlooked. If all your ships are meant to group together, they must all go at roughly the same speed. 

A good FC will move at the pace of the slowest member of the fleet, but often that isn't the case and that one Recon that is AB fit in an MWD fit gang is going to get left behind and will die. The same principle goes for cap stability. Being cap stable is great, but most good fits aren't. Each doctrine ship should have a ~similar~ level of capacitor stability so that half way through a fight, your Logi ships are suddenly complaining that they have no cap left to rep anybody or your DPS ships are so cap dry their hardeners are all turned off. 

Each ship doesn't have to be exact, but try to make them roughly the same. If you're using cap injectors, remember that you will have retards in fleet that don't bring enough charges, so it helps if all ships use the same size so that someone can give that idiot some more cap boosters. This should go without saying, but I've seen it done in the past; don't mix armor and shield in the same fleet.

Size:

Think about the scale of your fleet. If you know you regularly role with 10 pilots, base your fleet concept around that and make sure all the boxes are ticked. If you know you're pulling 100-200 pilots, figure out the ratios of what you need. A rough base is 25% Logi, 15% Support and 60% DPS, but those bases are going to move a lot depending on who you have available and what they can (and want to) fly. 

Think about scalability. What's the smallest number of pilots to make your doctrine work and fill all the roles, what's the largest? Does it scale infinitely?

Adaptability:

So you're flying a specific doctrine to fight a specific threat, and suddenly you hear that your enemy has reshipped, or you are now faced with a third party entity that you haven't prepared for. What do you do? Well luckily, you;ve read this, and your fleet is prepared. In every single one of the fits I design, I include a Mobile Depot. They're cheap and infinitely useful.

I also try to include the refit options; different hardeners, different weapon systems, different utility mods. In a 256 man fleet, this isn't going to be as easy (although you could just drop a carrier and refit from that) but for a smaller fleet, it's amazing. Enemy fleet reshipped to be a direct counter? Not any more. You've just refit to tank specifically against their damage and you've all fit Sensor Damps. You win.

Presentation:

Presenting your fleet comp is another key thing you need to do right. Most groups have some kind of Out Of Game option such as a forum to do this in. You need to give the fits for every ship in either EFT or Pyfa format (prefereably both) with an very clear explanation of how that pilot is expected to fly that fit. "Shoot things" is not a good explanation. "Anchor on the FC, apply Target Painters and Damage to the primary target, use ECM drones on hostile Logi or Support" is a good explanation. 

For each fit, you should also suggest a set of implants that go well with that ship, what ammo types (and quantities), what drugs, and what spare modules to bring if you go down the Mobile Depot route. Don't expect the gaps to fill themselves. Also try to give "alternate" fits for the less skilled, such as fits with meta guns or other meta mods in the place of T2.

If you're not going to be the FC, explain how your doctrine should be flown, and what it can engage and what it can't. 

Try to also give a rough price. It's all well and good suggesting a Pirate Battleship doctrine with a spattering of faction or deadspace modules, people will love what it can do, but if that pilot then goes to buy one and realises it's way above what he can afford, he'll just not come on your fleet and maybe ask you for some money. 

Ask for feedback. Eve players like talking about spaceships and can be amazing for pointing out any mistakes you've made, and how you can adapt your fit to make it slightly better.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Good luck systems

I wasn't going to write a blog post today. I had to wake up early for an appointment that both wasted my time and cost me money. I've been in a bad mood all day.

I got home and logged on to find a couple of corp mates scanning out a fairly large chain, so I jumped in to a Helios and started scanning with them. Whilst scanning, someone jumped into two industrials coming out of a C2 wormhole but were unable to catch them, so on a different character I logged in an interdictor and cloaked up off the wormhole hoping to catch them coming back.

I continued to scan and found a high sec. Upon jumping through, we were delighted to find that it was the system of Odin. Our alliance is called Odin's Call, so we believe this system to be quite good luck. 

And it was.

Another scanner was in a C6 and watched as an Archon jumped out into a C5 that had a LS connection. Thinking he was rolling the hole the scout started to prepare to jump before the hole collapsed. After about 20 seconds, there was no Archon return and we realised that he must be leaving the hole. 

I rushed my dictor back to the lowsec and arrived just as he decloaked. It was then I realised I couldn't bubble. No matter, I had a scram and the carrier was pointed. Arriving at the same time was a friendly Tengu. 

The Archon launced heavy ECM drones and jammed me out. He then switched them straight to the Tengu and then warped off before I could regain me lock on him. Well played Archon. Well played.

A hostile Vigilant jumped through seconds later and my Sabre was pretty much toast. He kited all of our fleet hardcore. A Hurricane came through at the same time as some of our reinforcements and was quickly sent on his way to explosions.

What happened next was unexpected. A Proteus jumped straight into us and we started laying it on. He was starting to break our T1 cruisers/battlecruisers until my Sabre pilot came back in a Scythe. We continued to smack on the Proteus, expecting either the Archon to come rep him, or him to jump back into the wormhole. He didn't. It was worth 850m and dropped about 400 of it.

Like I said, good luck systems.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Back to normal...

Yesterday I wrote that I wouldn't be updating this blog daily. That, however, was before I got home and logged in to an evening of Eve Online. A couple of cool things happened yesterday that I thought were worth noting.

I mentioned yesterday that a hostile Loki named Funny Viking had been sighted in our home hole yesterday. Someone had sent a corp mail warning everybody to be cautious over the next few days. Turns out, someone had just purchased a Loki in home hole and the whole thing was a coincidence. 

When I logged on, the corp was rolling the static hole in order to find a decent entrance/exit so that we could link up with our Alliance bros, Space. One of the new statics had a High Sec static for it's own, and it was deemed suitable. As Space were en route, I took the opportunity to throw some loot out to market. My normal process for this is to haul the loot (comprising of some sleeper loot, PI, salvage and PVP loot) through the holes and deposit it in a station. I then contract it to my out of corp industry/market alt, who lives in high sec and just runs round buying and hauling things. Once the loot is contracted, the wormhole character goes back into the deep and the High Sec character takes over.

This was all going well and normally until the HS character got to the station to pick up the loot in order to take it to market. As I slid out of warp on to the station grid, I noticed a yellow wreck on the undock. That's normal, I assumed it was a dead cyno or something of that nature until I realised I was in High Sec, and that the wreck was full. I docked and undocked and took a look inside. 31m of loot. Score. After checking with my more High Sec inclined corp mates, I scooped it and re-docked immediately. I convo-ed the pilot to whom the wreck belonged and queried what had happened. Apparently, he'd been killed by Concord due to his sec status vs the sec status of the system (1.0). I have no idea why he didn't come back and scoop his own loot, but his loss is my gain. Not a great deal of gain, but I'm one of those people that never says no to free stuff.

Once our Space bros had arrived, we went out on a roam. Initially, I wasn't really in the mood, but when they found a fight after just one jump, I quickly re-shipped in to a Caracal and went to join them. We had a couple of pretty good fights which culminated in a three (or possibly four) way in the same system as the first fight but about 20 minutes later.

Someone also caught it on Fraps if you're into that kind of thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrjY0CFI1gg

The last thing that I thought was worth mentioning was a new money making tactic I discovered on Reddit. After telling someone that it would be impossible to run a C5 relic/data site with a solo Ishtar, I was proved utterly and completely wrong by a posted video. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTQDOsDd6SU

The video details how to do such a thing and immediately after watching, I went and refit an Ishtar of mine and ran a data site. The only downside of the whole concept is that an Ishtar with a T1 data/relic analyser makes it almost impossible to hack the cans. I do have a workaround in plan which involves a Stratios and a Falcon in addition to the Ishtar, but I've yet to trial it.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

It's been a while... again.

If I recall correctly, my last post started very similarly to this one in that it was an apology for not updating the blog more frequently.
 
That was in February, and for that I apologise. I've been going through one of those phases that are commonly known as "winning eve". I've remained subscribed, but been playing a lot of other games and only logging in to update my skill queue and go on the occasional fleet.
 
I can't remember what I was up to in February, so I'll just recap my Eve position.
 
I'm still with 0ne Percent, a C5 inhabiting wormhole corp. A few months ago, a rogue director stole a rather large of amount of ISK from the corp and, along with a few cronies, defected. As he was a director, he was fully able to access all the POS in our home hole, and he rifled through everybodies SMAs and CHAs and took all teh shiny things he could find. A couple of members were hit very hard (such as a new guy who has around 20 faction cruisers for some reason). Luckily, I was not affected at all, but as I'm fairly wealthy in game, I lent the corp 5 billion ISK so that some of the members who were hit hard could be repaid. The total amount stolen stood at around 30-40b ISK, and by running (and taxing) C5 sites and loot from kills, we're down to less than 10b left to be repaid. Other than ships and modules, the miscreant also took a corp wallet that was our savings towards entering the Alliance tournament. 0ne Percent has AT history, and we were gearing up our money making operations and starting to prepare our doctrines and training schedule for the upcoming AT. The theft has utterly destroyed our chance of entering, but there'll always be next year.
 
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In terms of what I've been doing with my pilots, I now have 2 capital capable pilots. One is now able to fly an Archon, a Chimera and a Naglfar, the other just a Chimera (for now). They both aren't perfect, but I'm at that point where the skills are taking quite some time (T2 Siege/Triage etc). I haven't purchased a Naglfar yet due to security. Capitals are so big, they need their own Ship Maintenance Array, and the POS I live in is already full. I've been considering putting up my own POS so I can store my Capitals in a hangar rather than having a character sitting in them at all times. Unforntunately, due to the way POS roles work, this still wouldn't be fully secure, as well as being pretty expensive for me to run. Not to mention I'd have to haul all my own damn fuel.
 
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I decided I needed an independent way of making my own ISK, so I trained up two of my pilots to be able to fly remote rep Tengus. The fit is very simple. Each Tengu has a rack of heavy missile launchers in the highs, a fully passive shield tank in the mids and damage mods (plus a Damage Control) in the lows. In one of the high slots, there's a single large remote shield transfer. The fit is cap stable, can tank around 700 DPS. and each Tengu outputs about 450 DPS. Some may ask why I went with two Tengus, rather than one pimp Tengu (or even two pimp Tengus). It's pretty simple. The two Tengu's are not shiny. In total, they cost me juts under 800m ISK and that included the additional subsystems and other fits that I'll go into later. You can easily fit a single Tengu with a faction shield booster and Heavy Assault Missiles that can solo C3 sites. However, it requires a significant amount of micro management, which is then duplicated if I threw a second pilot in to the mix. With this setup, I can warp to 0 on the site, set up the rep chain and push F1 until the site is complete. That's it. Due to the extremely low micro management, I can then concentrate on D-Scan and checking for new signatures, which are the key to keeping me alive. The setup does pretty well, and I've tried it out a few times. I reckon it brings me about 150m an hour if I find a C3 hole with plenty of sites. It can run in wormholes that have wormhole effects except a Wolf-Rayet. because that would be uber-dumb. If I do have the misfortune to be ganked, I'm only losing two ships worth 400m each, with the chance that at least one of them will escape, rather than losing a pimped faction solo Tengu worth 1.5b. I've been tempted to play around with a RR Ishtar operating under the same principle but even more AFK. Drop drones on aggressive and come back 10 minutes later. The only flaw with this plan is that they might prematurely shoot a trigger and spawn the next wave, which would then be too much DPS. I think it would need some faction stuff to work properly, but would still probably be cheaper than Tengu's, but with the bonus of not losing skill points if I do die at any point.
 
Each Tengu carries a number of things in the cargohold for those "OHSHITOMGWTF" moments that are what makes Eve so much fun. The things they carry are identical and are as follows:
 
Interdiction Nullifer Subsystem
Covert Reconfiguration Subsystem
Covert Ops Cloak
2 x Warp Core Stabs
Probe Launcher + Probes
Warp Disruptor
Mobile Depot
 
In every system I visit, I make a couple of safe spots. The idea is that if I'm suddenly confronted by a gang of people who are trying to kill me, and I manage to escape, I can go to the first safe spot, drop the Mobile Depot, warp between the other safe spots for the time it takes the Depot to online, the go back to it and refit to a cloaky Tengu setup and hopefully either avoid the baddies altogether, or take them on in a fight.
 
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After 3 or 4 months of inactivity, I started up my PI farm again a few nights ago. The farm has previously been written about, and brings in a not unreasonable amount of ISK each month for very little effort. Logging in late last night to reset a PI planet cycle, I was only paying partial attention to the game, and hadn't checked our corp mapping software at all. Apparently we were connected to another C5 hole, occupied by Probe Patrol of Ixtab, a fairly large corp/alliance that we didn't have the pilots to fight last night. I was happily warping around between customs offices whilst trying to make a googledoc spreadsheet do what I wanted it to do (concacentation) when a Loki suddenly decloaked 23km from me. I immediately hit my cloak button but was obviously at 0 to a POCO. As he locked me up, I returned the gesture and started to log on to comms. I own two Epithals which are used to handle my PI operations over my six accounts. For some unexplicable reason, they are two different fits. Both have cloaks, both have double invulns and that is where the similarity ends. One of them has align and warp speed rigs, the other has shield rigs. One has a full set of warp core stabs, the other has a pair of stabs, a DC and a nano. One has prop mod, the other has a point. Can you guess which one I was in?
 
The fucking pointless one. On the plus side, it meant I could slide into warp with an o7 in local.
 
Apparently a cloaky Loki was sighted on D-Scan earlier today (despite the connecting hole now being gone) called Funny Viking. I think it's probably the same guy, and I think he might be a little mad.
 
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I've set myself a goal for the next 12 months which is for my gross wealth to be over 100b ISK. At this moment in time, I'm sat at  25.2b raw ISK, another 2b in modules and assets (inculding PI/gas waiting to be sold) and about 5b in ship assets (including the carrier). That puts me at 32.2b, so I'm 1/3rd of the way there already.
 
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I bought myself a Rattlesnake last week. That's a lie. I actually built myself a Rattlesnake last week. Someone in corp had been running DED sites, and a Rattlesnake BPC had dropped. He was trying to sell it at 350m ISK, which is a steal considering the minerals needed came to about 144m, and the sell value of a Rattlesnake hull is sitting at around 600m. I took the BPC off his hands, took it two jumps out to a station with slots and had Red Frog haul the minerals over night. Four hours later, I was the owner of a Rattlesnake battleship. A beast of a ship, that is getting a rather generous buff in the next expansion. The only thing I hadn;t considered is that the only pilot that I have that can fly a Rattlesnake is also a pirate in High Sec, and thus trying to get the Rattlesnake home would be rather difficult. Repackaged, the Rattlesnake is 50,000m3, so hauling it in an industrial other than an Orca is impossible. Buying a 800m ship to transport a 600m ship through a wormhole seems rather stupid, so I had to wait a few days and convince a corp mate to move it in for me. In all likelyhood, it will very rarely see the outside of the SMA except in a home hole defence situation. We rarely run escalated C5 sites, but when we do I'm normally dualboxing a combination of Web Loki/Triage Carrier/Dreadnaught (*delete one as applicable), so wouldn't be flying a DPS battleship. I think it's the first faction ship I've ever owned.
 
That's it for this post. Hopefully I'll get back into the routine of updating the blog a few times a week. Every day is a bit of an effort, and it burnt me out in the past, so I probably won't be returning to that regime.