Friday, 20 December 2013

Deiknymi - Rifter: Final Thoughts

Kidrith Kodachi put it best when he discussed the Rifter:

"So to summarize, we have a ship that doesn't do the most damage or have the most tank, but is superior in damage type selection and tracking at short range or alpha strike at long range. In other words, a Frigate experience in hard mode."
 - Kidrith Kodachi

He's absolutely correct. The Rifter is renowned, partly because it is the first frigate many pilots engaged in capsuleer combat in. It was my first frigate, in what seemed like eons ago. I still remember hunting pirates in the belts of Metropolis, back when it was considered a legitimate career. I had a lot of fun in that frigate, and I think it's still in a hangar somewhere, gathering dust.

However, it is no longer the easy to fit and new pilot friendly hull it once was. The other frigates, with clearly defined roles and specialties, are now much more accessible. That's a good thing, and under no circumstances should a vessel claim the monopoly on new players as the Rifter once did.

The Rifter in it's current incarnation requires far too much piloting skill and knowledge to be as effective as other craft, at least for newer pilots.

To be a effective Rifter pilot you must have knowledge of:

  • Other crafts likely lowest resistance.
  • Other crafts likely operational range (tracking and falloff )
  • Damage reduction through range control 
  • Damage reduction through tracking advantage
  • Charge management (of about 6-18 charges)
  • Damage absorption through repair
  • Damage absorption through buffer

To put that in context, here is the list for the Kontos, kiting Executioner:

  • Capacitor management
  • Damage reduction through range control
  • Other crafts likely operational range
With relatively low firepower to damage absorption ratio, the Rifter's advantages are eclipsed by the skill required to take full use of them... and again, the Slasher outperforms it in all roles due to it's higher speed, and better fitting options.


Should it be fixed?

I think so. The argument that it's still viable is a non-argument. Yes, you can still achieve victory in it, but it will be a much harder won victory than if you simply used a different hull.

To that end, I recommend either the double-bonused version, or simply adding a fourth turret. The increased damage will make it more forgiving to pilots learning how to fly, and can be put to devastating effect by more experienced ones.

The usual counters are still there: range control, tracking disruption, and other e-war.

Gosh that was fun!

This thought experiment has inspired me to go out and see, armed with the knowledge I now have, if the Rifter is actually as viable as people claim. And I've spent enough time just thinking about them. I'm itching to get behind the pilots yoke, and load those autocanons.

So, as I love to be prepared, I'll start looking at resistances, and appropriate ammunition types to use. I'll post that in the coming weeks. For now... I have a wedding to attend.

My wedding, in fact!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Deikynmi: Rifter - Proposals (3rd Round): 4 Turret Rifter

In the final round of proposals, we will consider the Rifter with an additional turret.

This is not without precedent. The Kestrel, common favorite of the Caldari frigates, fields four launcher hard points, to make up for that particular weapon systems lack of punch. Projectiles have a similar, if not as pronounced, weakness.

It can be argued that Matari ships are known for their utility high slots, and that the Rifter should reflect this. Well, looking at the Amarr frigate line  up, we see utility highs, which are missing in the cruiser line up. In the Caldari frigate set we see the Condor with the utility high. Gallente frigates have access to two frigates with utility highs. What I mean by pointing this out, is that nearly all races can claim propensity to utility high slots, and we don't need to shackle ourselves to such a non-tradition.

Four turrets also neatly fixes a minor problem with the current Rifter: charge management. Flying an ancilliary repair, rocket launcher fit Rifter, requires you to carry around 6 different types of charges (EMP/Phased Plasma/Fusion/Barrage/nanite paste/rockets), to make full use of the projectiles damage type selection. That can extend to 18 if you want to maximize the use of the rocket launcher as well. Compare that to an Incursus: a maximum of 5, for a cap boosted ancillary repair unit fit... which is a little unlikely to see.

Fitting does not have to be changed. Please feel free to check my maths, but Powergrid and CPU should already be sufficient to fit that extra turret. Many pilots already treat it as a missile launcher spot, and using 150mm ACs actually makes the fitting more generous.

It also becomes an excellent ship for rookie pilots. They only have to train one weapon system to become proficient in Rifter piloting, giving them more time to develop the navigation skills, vital to the Rifter's style of play.

The Wolf already supports the Rifter fitting 4 turrets, so no work would have to be done to manipulate ship models.

Speaking of Assault Frigates, now we have a good lineage leading into both Wold and Jaguar. The Wolf leads on from the Rifter to be a simple brute force weapon, with the Jaguar following from the Slasher, as a more elegant, cunning ship.

The Republic has the Slasher for unorthodox tactics, and the Breacher for reliable payloads.The Rifter sits in the middle,as the quintessential Minmatar ship, at first barbaric and gaudy sporting so many weapons, but with the skill and finesse to put lie to claims of savagery.

Thematically, I think this suits the Rifter's character. It should be the hull of the Brutor, all guns and tough armour, blended with low animal cunning, snarling and confounding enemies of the Republic through agility. Aggressive, yet balanced.

But let's put aside the poetry in favour of numbers.

Proposal 4: Damage application bonus only

Tracking 7.5%
Fall off 7.5%

No. Turrets = 4

New DPS: 130
New range: 0.7km + 7.6km (Rep EMP)
                  0.7km + 11.9km (Barrage)

Slight buff to damage, but a significant buff to damage application. See the previous post for a more accurate look at the fall-off benefits.

It's still outgunned by blaster boats, and still out-ranged by pulse laser boats. However, it retains the Rifter's advantage of maneuverability, and flexible engagement options.

It's able to more effectively kite blasters using either Barrage or Faction close range ammunition. It will retain it's point blank advantage against pulses, provided the pilot can maintain transversal.

Compared to the Breacher, it has similar firepower and range, but with the Breacher putting out more reliable missile damage, but without the Drone management. It provides more buffer tank, but less active repair.

Compared to the Slasher, it offers a lot less flexibility in fitting options, but it can be argued that the Rifter lost that particular advantage a long time ago. It gains in firepower application and brute force, as opposed to the Slashers evasion and dirty E-War tricks.

Finally, it opens up another interesting fit for high Alpha artillery wolf packs. It would not be so good for solo, as the fitting mods needed to fit 4 artillery turrets would lose too much tank.

However, whilst damage projection may make me, who prefers kiting, quite happy, it's not compelling enough to newer pilots.

Instead, lets look at keeping the same bonus from the current Rifter, but with 4 turrets:

Proposal 5: Damage bonus, 4 guns

Damage 5% / level
Tracking 7.5% / level

Old DPS: 124
New DPS: 164

Slightly better damage than the double bonused proposal in the first round, better damage application on tight orbits. It's more limited in high slot variation, but again, the Slasher is better able to use such tactics.

To me this is the perfect Rifter. It has enough firepower to place it as a damage oriented combat vessel. It has a distinct role of shock trooper. It follows the Thrasher tradition of crashing into combat, and unloading storms of metal into space, but on a more flexible craft.

This makes it an excellent terrorist/freedom fighter vessel. It can attack with the conviction of the pilots belief in his cause, and withstand a

The only problem with this is the large alpha from artillery Rifters. That said, I think that also suits the Rifter's image, and the Matari guerrilla style of combat. Warp in, fire a salvo, disengage.

We don't need to discuss the double bonused 4-turret Rifter. For the firepower of that, only look at the Wolf.

Next time, we'll look at my concluding thoughts.

In the mean time, please, discuss the possibilities above. Do you think they go too far, or not far enough? Are there any glaring problems I missed? Have your own suggestions? Let me know.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Deiknymi: Rifter Proposals (2nd Round) Fall-off bonus

Fall off is a difficult topic to think about, and the maths of it quite beyond my feeble arithmetic skills.

However, in this modern age of information sharing, I can use the work of others to support my own investigations. Thanks to Eve University for a most informative page!

Proposal 3: Fall-off bonus

Damage:  5%/level
Fall off:    7.5%/level

Old range: 0.7+5.5km (Rep EMP)
                 0.7+8.3km (Barrage)

New range: 0.7km + 7.6km (Rep EMP)
                  0.7km + 11.9km (Barrage)

For a better understanding of how this effects damage projection, we will look at some arbitrary ranges, and see the projected DPS for each. Bear in mind, my maths is quite bad, and this are only rough estimates. If you'd like to do the calculations yourself, please do, and I'll update this page! This is only for auto canons.

The four ranges will be about half warp scrambler range, then about scrambler range, overheated web range,  a close kiter range (about the Kontos operating range) and then warp disruptor range.

One more thing: these calculations will also apply to both the Slasher and Firetail.



Forgive my wobbly lines. My maths is far from perfect.

As a little aside, it does neatly show what ammunition you should be using at each range. About 5km is the turning point. I'll make another graph later on to show a comparison to blasters and pulses. Then I can more thoroughly explain Rifter tactics.

On with the bonus.

There is much greater damage application, but with the tracking problems mentioned before. Good firepower. It certainly has the edge over blaster fit frigates, but slightly less of an edge over laser boats. It would certainly give scram range kiters a shock!

It even has the option of using close range ammunition against scram kiters. Interestingly enough, the bonused close range ammo almost mirrors the DPS curve of unbonused Barrage.

Artillery Rifters would be even a huge amount of kiting ability, giving fairly high firepower into ranges only matched by specialist range ships. They will comfortably operate outside of scrambler range, and above dirsputor ranges.

I like this idea, but since the Slasher is faster, it could make much better use of the kiting range increase. It's a great bonus, but on the wrong hull. There also isn't a significant cost to using artillery on the Rifter. The fitting is a little too comfortable. The Slasher would have to make a lot more concessions in fitting modifications, meaning a lot more balance.

I'm also concerned that the loss of tracking would pretty much negate the benefit of the increased range.

There are variations on this bonus, but then we're just playing with numbers. It doesn't really capture the spirit of what the Rifter should be, or what pilots should be encouraged to do whilst flying one. The spirit of the Rifter is not in delicate kiting. The Rifter should be more of a rough and tumble fighter.

The biggest problem with this, however, is the Breacher. It's faster, and able to put it's theoretical dps out to better ranges (about 15km with Javelin rockets). Taking the Rifter out of competition with the Slasher, only to put it in competition with the Breacher should not be the result of any changes made.

I'd like to consider a slightly more radical proposal: The four gun Rifter. We'll look at that next time.

In the meantime, please post your thoughts about the above. Agree? Disagree? Think I should go back to the Academy to re-take mathematics? Let me know.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Deiknymi: Rifter - Proposals (1st Round) Damage bonus

Last time we looked at  what was not so good about the Rifter. Now let us look at giving the Rifter a new identity.

In the first round of proposals, and analysis, we will consider the ship as it is, and concern ourselves only with the improvements offered by the manufacturers. These are the so-called bonuses, called that because they are something unique ascribed to the hull.

The simplest of fixes would be to give the Rifter a slightly different bonus to it's guns. In essence, we'd be making the Rifter all about it's firepower.

Proposal 1: Rate of fire

Rate of fire increase 5%/level
Tracking 7.5%

Old DPS:     122
New DPS:   129
Range: 0.7+5.5km

Not spectacular. To compare it to an Incursus, it's Gallente rival, conservatively fit with rail guns for much greater damage projection, armour repair, and even speed:

Incursus DPS: 143
Range: 6.8+6.3m

Out-ranged and outgunned, the Rifter would lose horribly, it's only advantage being the energy vampire... unless fit with a rocket launcher for 141 dps. Hardly helpful. The Rifter does perform better in close-range tracking, but the Rifter isn't fast enough to make use of it. The drop in alpha also harms artillery fitted Rifters.

For the second option, we take inspiration from the double bonused Rupture.

Proposal 2: Double bonus

Rate of Fire 5% /level
Damage 5%/level

Old DPS:   122
New DPS: 163

Now that's a huge difference!

At least on paper. Actual damage application is lowered due to a massive hit to tracking. It no longer enjoys the excellent tracking versus Amarr lasers it had before. It is still better (by about 0.1 radians) but that's a far cry from the 0.3 radians it enjoyed before.

Alpha is kept roughly the same, meaning that artillery Rifters are also able to enjoy the damage boost, and fittings for all types stay the same. Shield Rifters would enjoy an even greater damage potential, but at the cost of any range control (choosing either a point or a web).

Whilst this is indeed a good buff to the Rifter, I still think in practice it would lose out to the more versatile Minmatar frigates: the Slasher and Breacher. Both these ships (in practice) are usually faster, and will be able to apply damage better than the Rifter. The Slasher still maintains the fitting advantages over the Rifter.

There's also the potential for over-powering the weapon systems... remember, we can add a rocket launcher for upwards of 175DPS. That's comparable to a blaster fit Incursus, but with much greater damage projection.

That said, I do like this version of the Rifter. It has the hallmarks of a great ambush/guerilla fighter, unloading a torrent of bullets before the enemy can counter. This gives the Rifter a shock trooper role, a perfect compliment to the more steady Breacher, and wily Slasher.

---

Commonly asked for is a fall-off bonus, instead of a tracking bonus, to differentiate the Rifter from the Slasher.

Initially I thought this was a simple thing to put the numbers down for, but after a quick review of Fall-off mechanics (which I must admit I was largely ignorant of before), it gets more problematic than that.

So lets look at that next time.

In the meantime, discuss how you feel about the above. Too over-powered? Under-powered? Bad maths? Let me know.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Deiknymi: Rifter - The Flaws

Last time we did a brief overview of the Rifter. We discussed it's strengths, and a little history. But now the bad news.

It is now obsolete.

When ship designers set about updating their blueprints, the Rifter was the baseline. The Incursus is designed to out brawl an armour Rifter at close range. The Merlin is designed to out damage a shield Rifter. Even the humble Executioner is designed to mimic the Rifter's scram range kiting ability, but with better damage projection (with the added bonus of the Kontos variant).

The Rifter sits in the middle of all the combat vessels, it's once vaunted flexibility now a curse. Now that the relative combat potential of frigates is equal, it simply cannot compete in any one area.

It can b argued that's it's primary strength is speed, but it is not competitive in this area, even compared to some other armour frigates.

Much worse, it's little brother, the Slasher, out performs it in a projectile-based flexible brawler/scram range kiter role, and most fits simply work better on the more nimble attack frigate. That ship even has more fitting options that the Rifter, often utilizing it's 4 mid slots for Electronic warfare.

The role of flexible craft is adopted by another vessel. The Tristan with it's drones can field a far greater variety of fits than the Rifter can, and thanks to it's more sturdy Hull, can withstand similar damage with less given to tank. The Rifter, once loved and adored for it's fitting and flight flexibility, is now without an identity.

Many pilots of New Eden have said the Rifter is now useless to fly, and by and large, I agree with them. I never worry about fights with this particular vessel. I have lost to many different ships, proving I am a terrible pilot. However, I have never lost against a Rifter.

Many pilots believe it is time to send the Rifter back to the shipyards, to be re-fitted for another role. But what role should that be? What it the identity of the Rifter in the modern world?

Most would argue that the Rifter is now a simple brute brawler. When placed aside the Slasher, it would appear so. When placed alongside other brawlers, it is simply under-powered. It has advantages, but these advantages are much too small to make a difference.

In summary:


  • No longer the most flexible
  • Not fast enough to make use of it's firepower application advantages
  • Over-shadowed by the Slasher
  • Relatively low firepower

The list is actually quite small, and there are pilots out there earning kills with the Rifter. It is, however, objectively less appealing than other frigates.

Next time, let us look at what to do about this.


Deiknymi: The Rifter - Introduction

I love theory. Deiknymi is the name used by ancient theory crafters to describe their thought experiments about science and philosophy. I'd like to do the same here with a ship. I do not have the full combat experience to provide a thorough discourse on what I wish to discuss, but many agree there is a problem with this vessel, and I'd like to theorize on fixes.

Let us discuss the Rifter...



What can be written about the Rifter that has already not been written?

This is perhaps the most well known frigate of New Eden. Back in the days when shipyards concentrated all of their efforts into perfecting one particular hull, with others given only niche roles, the Rifter stood out from among the others. It, quite literally, set the standard for combat frigates, and the state of modern frigate combat is a direct result of it's success.

The virtues of it's speed, flexibility and relative durability and firepower, have been discussed ad nauseam. I'll list it's merits here for the uninitiated, but I'd rather discuss the spirit of the ship.


  • Speed - The Rifter is the fastest combat frigate (Before fitting. Most Breachers are faster in practice)
  • Flexibility - A 4-3-3 slot layout lends itself equally to shield or armour tanking. It can fit the standard propulsion/web/warp disabler trifecta. A trifecta born from it's use on this particular hull. It's utility high can be used for extra damage via a rocket launcher, or energy warfare.
  • Weaponry - Projectiles have a generous fall off range, giving some degree of range flexibility, and also select-able damage types. You can always hit the enemy in his weakest spot.


There are literally thousands of documents on Rifter flying, and dozens of capsuleer corporations who identify themselves as Rifter pilots above all else. It was THAT popular, and it shaped the combat arenas we have today.

I'll post the most common fit on here, simply because it's so common many people forget to note it in the usual places.

[Rifter, standard]
Damage Control II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
200mm Reinforced Steel Plates II

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Small 'Knave' Energy Drain

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Projectile Collision Accelerator I
[empty rig slot]

These days, the NOS in the high slot is often replaced with a rocket launcher... the virtues of energy warfare and more stable capacitor management have fallen aside due to the rest of the frigate line-ups impressive firepower increase.

Next time, we'll look at the problems faced by a Rifter pilot.



Wednesday, 11 December 2013

War Record: Pulling the trigger

A few days ago, I was cruising through Metropolis low security systems in a Stabber, looking for organised non-capusleer pirates to kill (an activity knwn as belt ratting, or more accurately in this case, tag ratting).



I've written why, and will post soon, but the result is this: I landed in a belt with a Venture mining frigate.

I locked, and with a moments pause, pulled the trigger. His shields dropped in a instant, and his drones started to tickle my shields.

I hammered off the guns, and for a few tense seconds, just orbited locked in indecision.

It was a civilian.

It was an unprovoked attack.

It was a non-combatant.

The loss of ship wouldn't gain me any profit. I'd be lucky to get some ore.

It was not a fighting vessel.

The Venture just sat there, as confused as me.

Why couldn't I finish it off?

Eventually it remembered it had overpowered warp coils, and flew off to the relative safety of Hi-security space. I tried to open communications, but after a quick inquiry, asking if it was his first time in low sec, I received the brief reply of 'nope'. And then he cut communication.

He had only been a capsuleer for a week or two, and made the brave decision to mine in low security space.

I began to write him a message, complimenting him on leaving the shelter of CONCORD space, and was about to write some advice, but... I couldn't.

I still can't believe what I have done.

I wish I had the excuse that I didn't know it was a rookie capsuleer. But I did. He still had his ships name set to default, i.e. the pilot's name. I tracked him down using my superior knowledge of the Directional scanner. It wasn't even that hard. There was no challenge or value in the combat, and I sought it anyway.

I remember back in the early days of my career... almost like another life. I took a Stabber to low sec to hunt the belt pirates there. I lost that Stabber to a capsuleer pilot. It was even in the Metropolis region.

Before, I wrote about things coming full circle. I didn't realize how wide a circle that was.

I'm not sure I'm cut out for this kind of life...

No kill mail or official review. Now is a time for reflection.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Trade Log: Planetary Interaction Part 2: The Factory Planet

So, when I took over management of the planets I decommissioned two of his Hek based colonies. They were a flawed idea, but one of them is salvageable.

The reason I chose this planet, is simply because of the tax offered by the owning corporation. Really, if you have a planet in a hub system, keep the tax low. People will flock to your planet for factory purposes, and your profit will be huge: factory planets can host many capsuleers, since they don't compete for extraction.

It's a pretty much standard factory planet. P2 materials go in, P3 comes out. Have  look below. I've annotated the factories so it's easy to see how it's set up. Not that it's complicated...



Looks pretty right? It's current set up is wildly optimistic though.

It requires 120 Mechanical Parts, and 120 Consumer Electronics per hour to run full time. From this it can produce Robotics at a rate of 36 units/hour.

At conservative market values off 55,000 ISK, that would net about 1,980,000 ISK per hour in sales. This leads to 47 million/day, and  total of 1,425,600,000 ISK/month.

Not bad, huh?

Of course that's not the reality of the situation. Import and export taxes cut heavily into this, and if you're buying raw materials from the market, you'll be working with market forces... which usually are as fickle as the sea. Or so I've heard. The sea's the big open air water tank on planets right?

So you're probably wondering, why are we starting with the final product? Surely it'd be easier just to work out what we can harvest and produce from that right?

Well, if you're a miner, then yeah, you can do that. Life is simple. Go out, get rocks, sell rocks, and money is as good as the number of rocks you get.

Planetary interaction is a bit trickier than that. You could follow that plan with raw materials, buuut, you'll be better off hunting the low grade hoodlums in Hi-sec. Hek, you'd be better of mining.

Factories are the limiting factor in P.I. You can extract all the raw material in the world, but you'll only end up with warehouses full of junk whilst your factories chew through the material. Hence, we start with the final product, and work our way back.

In this case, the final product is Robotics. Why Robotics? Because everybody uses them, from POS fuel manufacturers to those dedicated Tech 2 production guys. Markets good, volume traded is high, and high volume usually means steady price... exactly what you need when you don't want to spend to much time messing with your mud ball.

We'll start by filling up this factory planet. Is that possible? Well, I don't know yet. We need to hit the spreadsheets.

Next time we'll look at the spreadsheet I created to wrap my head around the production line, and explain the step I went through. Then you can copy it and compete with me.

Why am I doing this again?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Trade Log: Planetary Interaction Part 1: Past experience

Planets...

Damn the things. Sometimes too hot, sometimes too cold. Dust and mud everywhere. Water leaking from the sky, that can carry acid. Earthquakes knocking down buildings. Bugs.

We work so hard to make ourselves capsuleers to get away from those dirty, insect infested balls of rock, and here's my Master telling me to start 'interacting' with them.

Two things before I continue:

  • The experiment went 'okay'. I managed to get a decent return on my investment, but once volume went up on an item, competition swooped in. As much as I'd like to trade this way, I don't have time to keep tabs on the price fluctuations.

If you're a full time trader, I do recommend it. If you have a boss demanding you waste time with environmentally unregulated balls, it might not be for you. Personally, I'll do it in a limited sense, but only on one or two items. As long as I make enough for 10 assault frigates a month, I'll be happy.

  • I'm still a slave. 

Behnid threatened me with freedom, but he was completely unaware of the tax benefits for being a slave in the Republic and Empire. I won't bore you with the details, but lets just say slaves aren't considered taxable in the Empire, and the Republic literally throws subsidies at you to get you to revolt. Good times.

Still, it can't be long before he's officially branded a traitor to the Empire. I may find myself in the hands of another owner, or even worse, in the heavily taxed bosom of Freedom. Don't worry, I have a plan.

Back to the mud balls though.

Before, my master engaged in Hi-sec Dirt-ball Interaction (P.I.). The profit wasn't amazing, but it was steady, and really, really, really easy money. Set up the planets, wait a week, empty what his colonial slaves had dug out of the ground, put it on market, and money happens.

The money was pretty low, and he eventually abandoned it in favour of... well, not doing it. Honestly there's not much point in maintaining harvesting planets once they're set up. They might not be the most efficient producers, but it takes about 30 mins/week to maintain, and one lazy afternoon of hauling.

He did this in Molden Heath, "modernising" production on planets there. Later, he created some factory planets in Hek, turning other peoples P.I. products into higher tier commodities. Doing this in the trade hub itself meant that finding materials was easy, and travel time between planets was very low.

On the downside, he was at the mercy of market forces, in the end, lost money on his investment. The factories went silent after a month, unused.

Well, until now...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

On reputation

I am a terrible capsuleer combat pilot.

Really, go look at my November kill board. 7 losses to only 3 kills, and one of those was a completely unfit Executioner.

However, since I started flying the Stay Frosty banner, I have seen something unexpected. Pilots, in the militias and other pirates, are running away from me.

I'm now wearing the reputation of others, from incredible pilots such as Rixx Javix, and the superb skills of Joffy Aulx-Gao. This reputation precedes me, and some pilots look at my colours, and simply flee.

There is a lesson in this.

Do not be afraid of corporations or alliances.

The value of a badge is the paint used to put it on your hull. It is not a shield, nor armour. It is not a damage multiplier, nor a range extender. You may have heard of other pilots talking about how they went up against a specific corporation, as though that is an excuse for their defeat, or somehow makes their victory more poignant. It is simple bravado, and unwillingness to see the real reasons for a loss.

Simply being in Stay Frosty doesn't make me a better pilot. Simply being a part of Goonswarm does not make you an expert on the intricacies of 0.0 sovereignty. It is tempting to apply reputations to people wearing labels before they are earned, but resist that temptation, and deal only with what you see in front of you.

Never assume that some people are naturally better.

They might have been more lucky, or more studious when it comes to their particular trade. However, that same luck will come to you eventually, and knowledge is free to all who look for it. Training your reactions to situations takes time, and the speed at which you learn is only limited by your investment in learning.

Assume perfect conditions, but act on probability

Today, I earned myself a Coercer destroyer kill. Coercers are very highly damaging ships, able to vaporize a frigate from the field, sometimes even before the frigate pilot can lock up a target. However, I took the chance to attack, balancing the odds of a perfectly set up destroyer, against the shock of a surprise attack.

As luck would have it, the pilot was new to Faction Warfare, and I was able to slip under his turrets into a tight orbit, setting myself up for victory. 

As a quick aside, the new pilot, sreimm, then acted in a manner true to the spirit of the thinking warrior. He asked for help. He did not wail at the loss of his vessel, but sought to discover the reasons behind its loss. If you are reading, this attitude will serve you well in the future, and I fully expect you to surrounding yourself in flaming wrecks in the future!

The fight would not have happened if I did not take the chance.

Do not be afraid of space

In the past two weeks, I have flown industrial vessels throughout low sec, setting up planetary industry to supplement my traders income. As you can see, I have not lost a single industrial.

I went through gate camps, and sat in space assessing planets and customs offices. No one came after me, or even had a chance to get a lock on me.

The myth of dangerous space is just that: a myth. Fly intelligently, and low security space is as safe as high security. 

More to come on my Planetary Industry efforts...

Friday, 29 November 2013

Full Circle

Today, we will talk about circles within circles, and unplanned positive outcomes.

Despite being a proud Khanid, and the lengths I've gone to fight their natives, I have a tremendous fondness for the Republic regions.

A long time ago, back when I first began as a capsuleer, I had grandiose dreams of setting up Imperial colonies in the fringes of Republic space. I imagined myself as some kind of missionary, bringing the light of civilization to the poor Matari savages. Well... we were all young once.

Since I was developing planetary industry there, my goals fell in line with the Republic Fleet, and I worked with them a great deal to drive away the Angel Cartel pirates that infest their space. I spent a great deal of time in Molden Heath, and I consider that region to be my first home in space.

Then King and Crusade called, and I set my guns to the very people I sought to protect, not so long ago. For nearly a year I attacked my former allies, all for the sake of greater diplomatic relations with, lets be honest, an incompetent military ally. (Really, they've been entrenched in a war with the same opponent for years now. Either make a push, or pursue peace.)

Now, making full use of the freedom regained by joining Stay Frosty, I have moved back to the Republic regions. We have a staging area just adjacent to the Marr/Minmatar FW zone. It's a nice 'coming home' kind of feeling.

Quite happily, the Stay Frosty staging area in Heimatar lines up quite neatly with my old Molden Heath staging area, and also my market slaves base of operations in Hek. Everything is on the same 15 jump line, providing a variety of space to explore along the way, from Crusade space to more lawless territory. Much better than that, is that my old caches of weapons and ships in Amarr territories are on the opposite side of the rich FW hunting grounds.

I have a circle of arms caches and stashes around the entire FW zone.

The benefit of this cannot be stressed highly enough.

One of the most demoralising aspects of solo capsuleer combat is the inevitable retrograde pod voyage. In other words, running away after a fight. Depending on your luck, this flight back to your staging area might be only a few jumps, or something much more arduous.

However, by having multiple equipment stashes across space, you cut this particular downtime down to a minimum. You extend your particular range in space by a great deal. It also gives you a clear patrol path to follow... simply plot from cache to cache, meaning that a roaming map is not needed.

Not only this, but the statistics can be useful. If you find yourself re-stocking a particular cache more than the others, then this will give you a good idea of where to find battles, or at least willing opponents. Population is an easy thing to measure, but the willingness of locals to fight is a good deal more difficult to calculate (I chased an Executioner for an hour around Heimatar the other day).

Am I suggesting that all pilots create their own networks of supply caches? Well, perhaps for the logistically inclined.

At an individual level, it might not be worth your time, particularly if all you want is the thrill of combat. However, such supply networks at the corporate level provide a clear advantage, particularly for small gang and solo based entities. Members will appreciate the convenience, and be much more likely to stay with the corporation once the shine has worn off the corp logo.

It depends on how much of a support service you'd like your corporation to be, as opposed to a social group.

So at the end of that rambling, which I'll label as Strategikon, whilst not really being concise enough to be called so, I just wanted to point out my own good fortune, and the benefits of creating circles. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Enjoying space again

Usually, I fly around the faction war zones.

There are a great many pilots to duel, and engagements can be, to a degree, forced into terms you desire. For example, novice complexes are secured to only frigate sized vessels.

However, since I joined Stay Frosty, and have no reason to spend my down time defending complexes, safe-guarding or capturing systems for the greater good of the Empire.This means that I have more time to simply enjoy being in low-security space.

And it is rather enjoyable.

In the last week, in among my hunts in the FW zones, I spent a lot of time exploring low-sec. That's not Exploring, meaning tracking down various relics and unguarded telecommunication hubs, but just, well, looking around.

Low-sec is peaceful.

The FW areas might be afire with the deaths of capsuleers, but just a few jumps off the beaten tracks, and you'll find areas of space almost forgotten. There are sights to see, and, maybe a little more significantly, sites to exploit.

There are a number of untapped combat anomalies floating around low security space. Serpentis criminals are in abundance in these not so well patrolled space lanes, and the peace-loving CONCORD are more than willing to pay money for their blood.

I spent a few days bombing around in a Talwar destroyer, attacking targets in both belts and curious scan sites.

The money I got was negligible compared to what my market slave brings in (I really must look into that.. I'm not sure my current lifestyle suits slave ownership), but it was most relaxing. Probably just what I needed after moving from Amarr space to throw in my lot with pirates.

That's not to say it was all hum drum, by the numbers patrolling. There are, as always, other pirates to fight!

The destroyer was lost to a Kestrel. A close fight, and one I probably should have won, if I went with the suggested fitting for the Talwar, which called for an armor plate. Put simply, his frigate was built more sturdily than my destroyer, and the difference in firepower not enough to overcome the difference in defense.

The way the fight came about is the subject of a later post, one that about hunting technique and use of the Directional scanner. There are hundreds of written works and videos about this topic already, but I'm not convinced I have to concept clearly in my head yet. I've always held that you learn best by teaching others, so, I will attempt a guide to help with my own professional development.

There is also now a raised question of income. During bust cycles of my slaves profit growth, I would supplement his investment capital with goods from the Crusade Quartermaster. This is no longer an option. I will need to think of a new supplementary income source.

Monday, 25 November 2013

War Record: The First Week

Whilst I'm not strictly at war with anyone, I still like to prepare reports. It's a good tool for skill development.

My initial hunts didn't turn up much, but the behavior of capsules in the Federation/State war zones is... odd.

I found a Caldari State militia man defending a complex with a Venture mining frigate. Despite it being a civilian ship, he was participating in a combat role, so I engaged. Unfortunately the Venture's overpowered warp coils escaped my warp scrambler.

Quite why he was in a mining frigate is beyond me, but his ship is well equipped for running away. I'd like this to be an isolated incident, but, well... read on.

The second target I found was a kiting Tristan. The Tristan is a drone specialist ship, sporting 5 of the little bees at any one time. A very flexible ship, able to deal damage effectively at any range, due to it's drones. Brawling fits are typical of brawlers (very tough and damaging), whilst kiters, again, are typical, if a bit on the slow side.


I affectionately dub this ship the War Bunny.

When fighting a kite Tristan, there are two possible tactics. Simply engage, ignoring the drones, treating as a regular turreted ship, or target their swarm, crippling the damage output.

Initially, I treated it as a normal turret ship. However, my attempts at a slingshot were thwarted quite handily, so I set to destroying his drones instead.

The fight ended with me unable to catch the frigate itself, but taking out his entire complement of drones. Cost of rockets used was much less than the cost of the drones, so, despite a lack of kill mail, I'll count it as a victory.

The rest of the week devolved into several cat and mouse games, with no real engagement, except for this peculiar kill.

An unfit Executioner, defending a complex. Even more strangely, the pilot self destructed his capsule, even before I had a chance to lock him again. Not that I would destroy his pod, but I stayed to watch him commit suicide, simply out of curiosity.

I'll say this for the Minmatar Republic. They're not as weird as the Gallente and Caldari.

Review

My hunting strategy isn't getting me any worthwhile engagements. I shall need to think upon this some more.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Stay Frosty

So, I joined Stay Frosty.

Run by the infamous Rixx Javix, this corporation is a motley collection of skilled pirates and rookies looking to escape the drudgery of High security space.

I'm not sure how well I will fit in here. I led a more disciplined life in the Crusade, and my targets were usually Republic Militia types, or aggressive pirates. I never shot first against those not flying the Tribal Liberation Force flag.

Pulling the trigger against any combat vessel is something I will have to learn.

Pulling the trigger against a civilian, or non-combat ship... well, that will be the source of some inner debate.

It's not technically against my Family's oath, and now I've left the Khanid Navy, I certainly won't face court marshal for it. I might have trouble if I ever wanted to go home again, but once you undergo the capsuleer process, you tend to sever ties to grounded life anyway. But, I feel it violates the spirit of my Oath. Destroying a ship which cannot fight back is hardly bringing the light (well, except for the obvious laser blasts and consequent explosions).

However, piracy is what I'm here to learn.

I'm here to learn how to fight like an outlaw. A lifetime of military service has me wrapped up in so many rules and regulations that I'm consistently confounded by electronic warfare, and unorthodox tactics. I hope for these unorthodox ladies and gentlemen to teach me their ways.

The first thing I shall change: My patrol hunting pattern.

From now on, I will no longer orbit complexes. There is no value. I do no one any favours by hovering outside a station, and in fact can only cause panic to the people on board. Now:

  • Aggressively enter complexes known to have capsuleers.
  • Spend no more than 4-5 mins in each system looking for a capsuleer.
  • All combat vessels are to be engaged.
  • Other pirate faction vessels to be engaged as targets of opportunity and profit.
This is something I could have done in the Crusade, but the lack of trust between militia mates means that entering a complex with a militia member inside might result in friendly fire.

I have brought a stack of 5 Kontarion Breachers near to Hevrice, the home land of Stay Frosty. I shall have to get used to the Gallente and Caldari low security systems, but at least I lessen the risk of awkward encounters against Crusaders.

I hope the honourable Mr. Javix doesn't mind the slight edits I did to his corporations emblem. I'd like to keep a small link to my past.

Many pilots are talking about crossing the Rubicon, a reference to a truly ancient history. I believe that today, I have crossed my own personal Rubicon.

I haven't received any word from my family about my actions.



Saturday, 16 November 2013

To dark places

I sit here now, thinking deep thoughts about my career.

When I first started, I was proud to follow my King's decree. I believed in my objectives. I believed in having a reason to fight.

The desire to do a duty, even to a figure I had never met, gave me the impetus to strike out beyond safer places of space. The Crusade forced me into danger. It forced me into combat with other capsuleers. Under my King's orders, I was prepared to carve a bloody swathe through the stars, leaving a rail of my own cloned corpses and wrecked ships.

I fooled myself into believing that King Khanid's ideals and goals aligned with my own. Independence from the Amarr Empire. Freedom from tradition. Defying God's law, as told by theocrats. These attributes made me proud to bear the Khanid badge, proud to declare myself a Khanid Kataphract.

But it is illusion.

King Khanid is simply another Empire ruler. He serves his own interests, and is willing to do anything to get what he wants. This makes him admirable. To not be constrained by tradition or others' laws is freedom for him.

But without guidance, without someone else's goal, you must have one of your own. The ship does not sail without a destination in mind. Even those ships have something to look for.

What is my purpose?

In the Crusade, I was a simple soldier. Learning how to fight was my goal. A simple life: follow orders, do as well as you can, and get rewarded.

So what now?

I have my oath, but an open ended 'Learn to fight' goal doesn't have any real conclusion to it. My current plan of arbitrary 'Get x kills' is hardly compelling. But what else is there for me to do? There's no great war for me to fight. The current Empire Wars are only the bizarre outcome of controlled self-interest, regulated to the point of irrelevance.

There is nothing to really fight over in the Crusade. There is a lot of money to be made, but my market slave is nearly producing a fully fitted cruiser a day for me, at no real effort on my part. So why fight at all?

And after a week of wrestling with the concept, I still have no definitive answer for what I want to do in the end. All I really know is that I want to get better. To what end, I don't know. Perhaps that will be my goal. A romanticized drift through New Eden searching for a new objective.

My family's oath is to walk in dark places. I think I have found a dark place to walk. There are shadows there, shadows with skill and experience beyond what any in the Crusade can teach me. I'd like to walk with them for a while.

I hope they accept my application.

I hope my family will understand.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Strategikon Arcani: Kontarion Breacher

I believe I am coming to understand the mind set of a brawling pilot.

I have a certain distaste for it myself. Simply engaging and bullying your opponent from close range is hardly befitting of the intelligent warrior. But I can see now that there are nuances to learn when fighting within a few kilometers. And brawling is a part of flying the Kataphract Slicer. 

Equally, although I have respect for Minmatar fighters, I don't understand their mind set, or fully understand their tools of war. As I said before, Matari ships are gutter fighters, their use of projectiles in the age of space travel a sign of the desperate freedom fighter. Amarr ships are more like phalanx soldiers, well armed and armoured, but lacking flexibility.

Fortunately, the Minmatar are not wholly disimilar from the Khanid. As a people, we Khanid are mentally robust, and unlike our Amarr bretheren do not cling to tradition and dogma as a shield against reason. The Tribes, in their search for weapons, have many ships dedicated to missiles and rocketry... a trait which the Khanid can certainly sympathise with!

Khanid designed vessels are all missile based, with technology borrowed from our Caldari allies. In true kataphract fashion, our vessels exemplify thick armour and the tactical flexibility such a weapon system offers. The Republic, in one of it's rare bouts of wisdom, produced a frigate similar to this, albeit shield based instead of amour... clearly the Republic has yet to find funds to reproduce the advanced alloys coming out of Khanid Innovations.

So without any further exposition, presenting the Breacher.


Do not be fooled by its... spartan appearance. This is a tough vessel, and an extraordinary ambush predator. 

Relatively light on it's feet (for a full combat vessel) it provides extremely strong shield defenses. Whilst not as tough as Caldari shields, it can repair it's shield strength very rapidly.  

It fields two light drones, which make up roughly a third of it's firepower. I like drones. They provide firepower at any practical range, and whilst they need to be looked after, they can be relied upon to hound the target.

Missile systems have a travel time before firepower is applied, but unlike turrets, do not need to track or account for falloff. In fact, rockets, whilst giving a lower damage than other weapons, can better a pulse laser in range, and that's before rigging!

These elements all combine to make it an almost perfect training brawler.

[Breacher, Kontarion]
Damage Control II
Overdrive Injector System II
Ballistic Control System II

Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
1MN Afterburner II

Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Small Bay Loading Accelerator I

Hobgoblin II x2

This set up is fairly mundane, but the simplicity is balanced with effectiveness. With my skills, rockets hit out to about 7.6km, which lends itself to some brawling tactics:
  • For pulse laser ships, keep as close as you can. The tracking on lasers is relatively weak, so you will mitigate damage this way.
  • For blaster and autocannon fit ships, maintain a 6-7km orbit. With the fall off from those weapon systems, you'll be out of the bulk of their firepower. 
Keep an eye on your drones, but they're fairly autonomous. If the enemy starts shooting at them, bring them back in, then release after the enemy has forgotten about them.

Repair your shield as needed. Unlike most active tanks, the Ancilliary shield booster is quite immune to energy neutralizers. In addition, your rockets don't use capacitor either... so long as you're in range you can deal damage to your target.

This can be seen in this Tristan fight. My capacitor was drained completely, but the drones and rockets punched their way through regardless. A bright ray of sunshine, on an otherwise terrible month.


Monday, 11 November 2013

Arzad, and the character of the Crusade

Sleep has been elusive of late.

When I first started in the Crusade, it was when the Amarr forces had been pushed to their breaking point. Only a few strongholds held out.

My own contribution to the inevitable turning tide was negligible. But turn, the tide did.

Crusdaers had a sudden surge in skill, passion and above all, luck. They pushed the Republic capsuleers back, taking several systems.

One such system was Arzad.

The taking of Arzad was... special.

Jamyl Sarum, the Emperor of Amarr ordered the system to be bathed in slave blood. Not warior's blood. Not Matari. But slave.

A freighter was brought to the Infrastructure hub by capsuleers. It was full of slaves. The Crusdaers fired upon the defenseless freighter. Their lasers stripped it's hull quickly, and it detonated, killing many of the slaves inside.

They were the lucky ones.

The wreck floated in space, slaves still surviving inside. Slowly, their pressurised cargo containers lost integrity, and they suffered an agonizingly slow death, as their oxygen was depleted.

After an hour or two of taunting the Republic, daring them to rescue their bretheren, the Crusaders opened fire again, vaporizing the wreck, condemning the slaves inside to the harsh vacuum of space.

I very nearly left the Crusade that day, King's orders be damned.

I stayed believing in Khanid II. I stayed trusting his leadership would never set the Khanid Kingdom on such a bloody thirsty and psychotic path. We Khanid may be harsh taskmasters, but slaves are still a valuable resource for us. We are never so wasteful.

So I stayed, turning a blind eye to the psychotic nature of the Imperial Navy, and the Crusade.

There are many fine pilots here. Many who are helpful, and many who act like decent human beings. But even these could not stop Arzad. And so now, they are tarnished by the actions of others they could not stop.

And that includes me.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Breaking news: Amarr Admiral killed by Capsuleers

As far as I can tell, an Empire led assault on pirate systems in both Curse and Syndicate ended in an utter massacre at the hands of capsuleer run corporations who dwell outside of CONCORD's jurisdiction.

High ranking Empire officers were killed, including Admiral of the Imperial Navy's Third Fleet, Ran Karetta.

As the ship loss record clearly shows, the Admiral was ambushed and murdered by an ad hoc coalition of capsuleer alliances. Their guilt is quite obvious to any who care to look.

I'm sure the Emperor is in fierce debates now, coming up with a response to this grievous crime. 

King Khanid has also informed me that he is looking with suspicion at those capsuleer corporations bordering the Khanid Region. Such a communication from my King can only mean that he is considering a change in my orders. We shall see.

For now, let us wish the good admiral a pleasant afterlife. Incompetent as he was in commanding a fleet, he has paid the price for his shortcomings, in a most final manner. Here is a short quote from scripture, that was said to be the admiral's favourite:

"Face the enemy as a solid wall
For faith is your armor
And through it, the enemy will find no breach
Wrap your arms around the enemy
For faith is your fire
And with it, burn away his evil"
- The Scriptures, Amarr Askura 10:3

Clearly, dear admiral, lasers are better at burning, and sound tactics better defense, than faith.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

War Record: Compounding stupidity

The Kataphract Slicer was handily destroyed by a Firetail, fit with both a scrambler, tracking disruptor, neutralizer and webifier.

Even though the Slicer could brawl in a pinch, the guns were disrupted, speed limited to about 100m/s and the capacitor drained. The fight was ended within seconds, and the Firetail's shields barely scratched... which didn't matter, as he was fit with an armour plate.

How do I know this? Civility and diplomacy. I congratulated him on his victory, and politely asked for his fit, which he was kind enough to send me. Remember, the Arcani are pledged to learn from shadows.

How did this happen?

I warped to an acceleration gate, where he was already orbiting. Foolish. He locked me up faster than I could get away, and from then on, I was doomed.

Review

So what could have been done better? Simple enough: don't warp so close to the acceleration gate. Warping to the complex itself always lands you at a beacon, but the acceleration gate can be approached more cautiosly.

New routine: Warp to 30km.

This engagement again highlights my weakeness towards Electronic warfare, and close quarter fighting in general. I dislike brawling. I believed it to be the domain of gutter fighters, and the unthinking brute. This fight has taught me better.

Minmatar ships, whilst they can be adequately fit for long range warfare, are ambush predators. These are the weapons of guerrillas and terrorists, not the true fleet ship. They have their advantages in catching the enemy off guard, and doing unexpected tactics.

Amarr ships, whilst they have an edge in conventional fights, have limited tricks up their sleeves. They are soldiers weapons, designed to exemplify traditional combat values: firepower, damage application, and defense.

My training so far has just been with Amarr tactics. Clearly, I cannot win by simply understanding these tactics. I will learn how to fight like a Minmatar. Once they are understood, they can be defeated.

My kill counter will be reset. I still have yet to check off the first step on my plan.

***

The next loss was hardly even noteworthy. Experimenting with a Slasher, I landed at a complex I expected to be empty, only to find 3 frigates already brawling. The reason: my D-Scan setting were wrong.

Utter stupidity.

To be honest, those pilots should have taken my clone as well. I deserved that.

Review

Check your settings. Idiot.

As my old teacher used to say, on a week like this, it's time to put down your gun, make yourself some tea, and contemplate your multitude of sins. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Trade Log: Depreciation

No, I don't mean I don't like my customers!

Depreciation is when the value of an item decreases over time. Take an obvious example: the humble Gallente potato.

The Galpo is worth s most when it's freshly dug from the soil. Obviously there are price differences between planet side and station vat grown samples, but nevertheless, it's the freshest and most expensive as soon as you get it out of the ground.

Then, it starts to get older. Day by day it gets less fresh. It goes wrinkly. It develops buds. The flavour goes, it starts to dry out. It can take a while, but eventually, your potato will rot. Have you ever tried to sell a rotten potato? It's value plummets.

The same is true of any item you buy in New Eden.

When you buy an item, with the intent of selling it, it's value to you is the profit you can make from it. Generally speaking, it's at it's peak value the moment you buy it... then the clock starts ticking.

Let's start with what I call Market Depreciation.

As any trader can tell you, the markets of New Eden are fiercely competitive. Prices are undercut, buy orders over bid. Once you set an item to sale, it will inevitably fall in price. I can't think of a logical time when prices will increase, except for a sudden and drastic surge in demand, or a catastrophic drop in supply.

This is your items depreciation. Most traders hedge their bets, taking a 20% hit n their projected profits to represent this. I'm one of them, introducing as many worst case scenarios into my calculations as I can.

You should to. My own calculations (since I have occasional obsessions with arithmetic), take into account standings, taxation, travel time etc. However, it's not really necessary. Just do as most others do: 20% off projected profit. It'll keep you smiling when your wallet balance is better than expected.

But that's not the only other form of depreciation. Let's look at Profit Depreciation.

If you're a serious trader, or looking to supply a soldier whose skills aren't stellar with a frigate every day, then you should really start calculating in terms of Profit/day.

The calculation is easy enough:

Profit per day= Profit ÷ days to sale

Calculating this way actually gives you a much better idea of what an item is worth... or at least, worth to you as a trader.

Say you have a very expensive implant. You got it cheaply, and you can make 100,000,000 ISK from flipping it to someone else. Sounds great right? But it takes 10 days to sale.

Profit/day = 10,000,000 ISK

Not too shabby. But, say you have a cheaper implant, that you can only sell for 50,000,000 profit. No brainer right? Go for the better profit margin. But lets check Profit/day. How long does it take to sell. 2 days.

Profit/day = 25,000,000ISK

Better than double! And you get your money back quicker, which means you aren't subject to Market Depreciation for so long!

The point is this: Big wide profit margins look good, but can be misleading. Estimate how many items you can sell in 10 days, and see if that super-shiny implant is worth the trouble of buying, when you could get two cheaper ones for better Profit/day.

Happily, every Region in New Eden keeps a record of market fluctuations. It's that funny graph on the market window. Very handy.

So why is this on my mind right now?

Well, to do with my experiment. Profit margins in Hek are very wide, but volume of items sold is pretty poor. Right now I can expect to have an item sitting on the shelf for a week, if not longer. And yes, the profit off each will pay for a fully fitted frigate, but I think the same items can do better.

Just to be clear, I'm not manipulating the market. I'm working with market forces... whether it's sustainable or not is up those same market forces. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Trade Log: Market Experiments

Every now and then, I like to experiment with the market.

Now, don't get me wrong, I understand my master's orders... I still maintain my other business. But when those a stable, such as now, even the clink of coin flowing into the bank can become dull.

When this happens I like to fiddle with market forces and see what the results are. My goals with trading are to keep my master happily supplied with ships to blow himself up in, but since that Slicer of his hasn't gone boom yet, we have a bit of a breather.

Today's experiment: Volume increases in Hek.

Traditionally, Hek is good for it's low volume, but wide margins. There's money to be made if you're patient, and don't expect ISK to pour like a waterfall, but more like periodic geyser.

The downside to high margins is that volume of sales are low. So, the idea is simple: lower sell prices, and raise buy prices, to see if we get more product mobility. I'm going to invest a relatively small sum, and see what the results are. I'll track the progress, and see if I can update you guys on how it goes.

Theory: Decreasing the gap between Buy and Sell orders will make items sell faster.

Counter argument: Market is already balanced due to laws of supply and demand. Basically, the amount of items flowing already satisfy the people living in Metropolis... in which case, we'll see no change.

Why?: I have a soft spot for Hek. I've pretty much made all of money here, and, well, my family came from here.

End Date: 03/12/2013 (Subject to my Master's needs)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

War Record: My weak spots

Some things confound me more than anything else. My weak spots, whilst obvious, is no less frustrating for being so. In fact, it's much more irritating because of it.

On a recent patrol, I took my Kataphract Slicer into a Medium complex. The Republic Fleet cruiser gurading it was relatively easy to take down... a close orbit of less than 5km meant it's slow guns couldn't track the agile Slicer.

This was the first time I had entered a Medium Complex, and I was looking forward to finding what targets I would face. A cruiser? A destroyer? What ship would seek to end my Kataphract's survival streak?

A pirate frigate appeared on scanners.

Disappointing, but I readied my weapons, and quickly exained what type of vessel it was.

A Maulus. An Electronic warfare ship, specializing in Sensor Dampening. It also fields drones, making it an excellent kiter.

Sensor Dampeners do exactly as the name suggests. They reduce your locking distance, or increase your locking time. For a kiting ship, this is effectively a combat nullifier... if you can't lock a target at range, your strategy is useless.

But, foolish and cocky from my recent good luck, I attempted to close to short range against the frigate, loading Multi-frequency crystals, determined to brawl the target down.

The Maulus entered, and sure enough, the Sensor Damp hit, bringing me down to a limited lock range. What followed was the most tragic display of piloting on my part, and an excellent display on his. He was similarly fit with a MWD, and could kept out of range of Kataphract, sling-shotting around me with ease, his drones pummeling my ship.

I believe I got off one salvo on him.

Seeing my armour slowly whittled away, I decided disgression was the better part of valour. I overheated my MWD and burned away, putting enough distance between him and myself to escape.

After a quick compliment on his skill, I left the system, soundly defeated, my tail between my legs.

Review

This patrol highlighted all of my weak spots, and lays them bare for me to think upon.

First of all, over confidence will get you killed. I underestimated my opponents advantage, and did not act cautiously enough when attacking a new threat. Lesson learned: act with caution against EWar frigates.

That said, I do not know the weakness of the Maulus. I assumed paper thin defenses, but that's not something you can count on when you can't even lock. Does it have low speed? If I destroy his drones, is he out of options? These things I must know.

Second, my piloting skills are terrible. The Kontos Exectuioner largely removed this problem for me, the equipped Webifier allowing me to make mistakes and maintain distance at the same time. I've come this far by working around my problem. I must tackle my failings head on.

Third, I have not considered defenses against EWar. I was unprepared to counter Sensor Damps, despte having lost a ship to one before. I lost a Coercer to a Hookbill wielding a Sensor Damp (I can't find the kill mail... I do however have an odd capsule loss I don't remember). I must find a defense against Sensor damps...

All in all, a reminder that I have much to learn from these shadows.


Friday, 1 November 2013

100% and Moving Forward

When in sevice to a cause higher than yourself, personal acheivement pales in comparison to the overall aim. Such is the pride I find in service to the Khanid Kingdom.

However, when such personal achievements do occur, I see no reason not to celebrate them!

In the last month, I lost 0 ships. This meant my efficiency in combat was 100%! I reported this to my King, and he rewarded my family with the leasing of one of his private asteroid belts. Not an uncommon gift, but apprecited none the less.

The caveat is this though: I only performed two patrols in October. But still, 3-0 is not bad.

With this in mind, I'm re-opening my old Plan. I hope to get a 5-kill solo patrol streak, before learning the intricacies of Fleet Command. In addition to this, I will start adding Small Complexes to my target list, hoping to take down Republic destroyers. At first I shall attempt to use the Kataphract Slicer, but I may need to change to a destroyer myself.

On a recent patrol I found that the cruisers guarding Medium Complexes could be easily taken down with the Slicer, by flying in close orbit. I will add this to my list of patrol targets, with the aim of finding what ships make their way into such arenas.

Despite a relatively poor exploration trip, October was a good month!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

War Record: Return of the Kataphract and Anti-Piracy

My return to the Crusade, and the first flight of my Kataphract Slicer, could not have had a more fitting story.

My first patrol point put me on course for Taff. I have a strange fascination for this system. It presents a unique opportunity within the Crusades fighting zone... that of a civilian refuge. Some pilots on the Minmatar side who live there, the corporation Taff as Nails, recognize this too, calling it Fortress Taff. It is a cul-de-sac  collection of systems, easily defended, allowing exploitation of the resources.

But enough of that. My first stop proved to be in Gulmorogod. A minor Minmatar complex's cloak failed, and I quickly took the initiative to claim it for the Crusade. As I was overseeing the handover, a rookie pilot warped in.

If you are a new Crusader, be warned: this can lead to your destruction.

Typically, the more psychotic militia pilots will shoot you on site, for two main reasons.


  1. They believe you to be a spy
  2. They believe you to be a thief of Loyalty Points, the currency used to curry favour with the Crusade quartermasters.


Happily, I am not as paranoid or greedy as the common mercenary. My slave provides me with ample funds, and the Crusades armoury merely provides the occasional bonus. I gave the pilot some advice, and offered him the credit for the capture. He was greateful.

Unfortunately, as we were speaking, two pirates attacked! A Punisher and a Rifter, exploded into the station!

To my shame, I lost contact with the rookie pilot, and set myself to the task of destroying the Rifter. It went down surprisingly quickly, no doubt in thanks to the Kataphract's boosted lasers. I turned my attention to the Punisher, and stripped it's shields, before it escaped. An error on my part... I must pay closer attention to my Warp Disruptor.

I messaged the rookie pilot, and thankfully he had escaped unharmed. I think that seeing his companion fall so quickly had him rattled, and he lost concentration. The rookie pilot came back, and he took the complex, planting a Ni-Kunni marked Amarr flag on the station.

Good for him. New pilots should be shown leniency by their militia mates, and more importantly, shown how to survive. I wish him luck in his future patrols.

Continuing with my journey...

In Taff, another complex presented itself for capture. I leapt to the attack, sweeping away the lonely Minmatar regular fleet frigate, again, overseeing the removal of Matari personnel. As soon as it was captured, another pirate attacked!

This time, a Dramiel, one of the most powerful frigates in New Eden. I stuck to my plan, blazing away at range. it launched drones which hammered away at my shields. A quick ammunition switch to Multi-Frequency allowed me to damage his drones enough to force him to disengage.

I was migtily relieved, and cngratulated him on a battle well fought. He invited me to another duel, which I politely declined. If you think me a coward, then I can only excuse myself by saying my objective was complete in that system. Taff was brought to a vulnerable state from my capture, and I had other appointments to keep.

On the return home...

My flight home proved very eventful.

After a few hours stay in a Crusade held station, I took to capturing another minor complex, this time in Kourmonen. This system is usually a hive of Republic capsuleers, but I was looking to test the limits of the Kataphract Slicer.

Again, as I was capturing, a pirate attacked!

This time a Firetail. This time, the pirate had equipped a Micro-Warpdrive, and caught me with a Scrambler and two Webifiers. I was clearly a dead man, reduced to under 100m/s of speed.

But let it never be said that a Khanid goes down without a fight!

With a lion's roar I pushed my modules to their limits. I would not allow this rat to sully the maiden voyage of Kataphract! I would not allow this predator of the weak to dishonour the Khanid way of combat!

My armour repairer worked furiously as plasma bullets and EM rockets hammered away at my armour. My pulse lasers burned brightly, sending pure white rage into his hull!

The Kataphract was brought into structure, unable to keep the barrage of damage away.

Suddenly, the deadly percussion stopped. The Firetail detonated into a ball of flame!

The Kataphract Slicer had survived a duel with it's natural predator. The pirate flippantly broadcast I was lucky. I agreed, and congratulated him on the battle. He didn't take it well, devolving into a vulgar display of bravado and threats. I simply smiled in my still intact ship, and left for Kamela.

Pirates beware. The Khanid Kataphract has returned!

Review

The Kataphract Slicer flew exactly as intended. I will say, however, it's important to overheat the repairer as well. Keep an eye on it. Deactivating the module turns off the overheating, and you should remember to re-heat before using again.

Sadly, I only killed pirates today. I must find more Republic targets. Not that I'm ashamed to show these criminals the courage of the Khanid!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Strategikon Arcani: The Kataphract Slicer

My return to the battlefield also brings with it a new direction. I must start learning new flight techniques. The Kontos Executioner has served me well as a training vessel, teaching me the importance of range control and damage application. Now, we will look at how to effectively wield a kontoss, without the aid of a Webifier.

But first, a history lesson.

Early Khanid settlements were on Arthra, now caled Amarr Prime. The Amarr civilization grew on an island of the coast of Khanid lands, the isolation no doubt leading to their zealous obsession with God. The Khanid themselves lived on the mainland, tribes of horse masters engaging in petty squabbles with each other.

When the Amarr left their cloistered island in the Reclaiming, the Khanid were the first to be absorbed into their growing empire. We became famed mounted warriors, adopting a heavily armoured style. Our warriors and mounts were covered in gleaming chain mail. Such was our prowess, that the Amarr, whilst all other civilizations crumbled before them, recognized the Khanid as equals.

This heavy cavalry warrior is known as the kataphract: quite literally meaning 'fully enclosed.'

Heavily armed and armoured, these were flexible assault troops, often required to field both lance and bow, well defended, but used offensively.

To mirror this, we will need a true master of frigates.


The Imperial Navy Slicer.

Advanced laser technologies increase the range of this vessels weaponry, extending our reach beyond that of the Kontos Executioner. Significant increases in power output to weapon hard points give this ships two turrets more punch. It can be flexibly fitted, giving more armour, more speed, or even more range. For those in the Crusade, this ship is easily obtained.

Today, we will look at a balanced ship, one that lives up to the potential of the thinking warrior.

The Kataphract Slicer

[Imperial Navy Slicer, Kataphract]
Fourier Transform Tracking Program
Heat Sink II
Overdrive Injector System II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Damage Control II

Faint Warp Disruptor I
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I

Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Scorch S
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Scorch S
[empty high slot]

Small Capacitor Control Circuit I
Small Energy Locus Coordinator I
Small Energy Locus Coordinator I

The rig slots are my personal preference, but at least one Locus Coordinator is a must. My own ship exchanges the Fourier Transfrom Tracking Program for a Tracking Enhancer 2, but this requires some implants.

This vessel is a true Kataphract; able to wield it's 'short' range weapons to beyond 20km, with the speed and agility that was once associated with cavalry. Not only that, but it fields the armour lacking on the Kontoss Executioner, able to withstand more punishment, and patrol for longer before re-docking, truly a ship 'fully covered'. It also carries several plates of black armour... hardly the true Khanid Black, but better than nothing.

I cannot claim full credit for this fitting, as I started with a basic layout given by a very dark shadow indeed: Rixx Javix. His fitting for the Slicer formed the basis for the Kataphract.

Like his ship, this is a flexible vessel. Our running order is still to kite, to give us a chance of tactical withdrawal. However, our much improved defenses allow us to engage in close quarter fighting as well. Since we can only control range with our speed and piloting, this option proves extremely useful.

Fighting drill:

  • Overheat weapons
  • Orbit at 18-20km
  • Fire
  • Manage heat
  • Repair as needed (turn auto-repeat off)
  • If the enemy closes and lands a scram on you, switch to Multi-frequency crystals, and hope God is smiling on you that day.

This ship is fairly expensive. If you are still unsure of your skill, stick to the Kontos Executioner.

As the infamous pirate Javix says, be daring. This ship will be enable you to engage a wide variety of targets. However, my own advice is this: be smart. This ship is flexible, but flexibility comes at the price of excellence in any one field. Brave men die in glorious fashion. Smart men go home to their wives.

Return of the Kataphract!

Whilst I freely admit I am a slave to my King's commands, that doesn't mean I don't see value in what I do. it certainly doesn't mean I can't have my own goals in mind.

My investigations of wormhole space reveled far more mysterious than this soldier can decipher. Exploration, whilst a pleasant break from the battlefield, is clearly not my forte.

I will post my findings later on, but for now, I am returning to the crusade. My King has put far more learned men than me to the task of investigating wormhole space, and exploration in general. I will post my own findings here in due time.

For now, I have been returned to the Crusade. Let the Minmatar rebels tremble in fear. Let pirates retreat to their shadows. Let Amarrians bear witness once more to a true Khanid warrior.

My goal is as always:

Walk in dark places,
Learn from shadows,
Bring the light.

I will learn and teach my fellow pilots how to succeed in combat. I will teach them how to survive to come home to their families. I will show them that civility need not be lost on the battlefield between immortals.

The Khanid Kataphract has returned!

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Geztic Shuttle

There is  mysterious shuttle orbiting the sun in Geztic.

It flies in an orbit around a beacon, almost on top of the sun. Aura, the ship-board computer, registers it as a pirate target, displaying it as a red cross.



It doesn't respond to hails, weapons will not fire on it, nor do any modules. After some reading, I found other capsuleers found that using ECM on it seemed to affect it. Which is curious in itself.

Aura states that there is a single life-sign, which shows signs of a cryogenicaly frozen mind.

If you're curious, I do suggest reading more about what other capsuleers have written. I only note it here, since it was the most interesting thing I found in the Khanid region.

I found it unsettling. Such a mysterious, and apparently indestructible, ship, barely 5 jumps from the Khanid homelands... and within 10 jumps of all the other major households Prime systems.

Far more scholarly men than me can surely make more sense of this. I simply find it disturbing, and too close to home.


Friday, 25 October 2013

Not much of value

So my careful investigations of the Khanid revealed this:

There are Blood Raider pirates in the region.

My King was hardly pleased with this, and was even less than pleased with the material I liberated from the pirates. He already knew the Blood Raiders were around.

In total I acquired around 20 million ISK worth of parts and training manuals. This is mostly due to my terribly inefficient scanning and collection routines, which will be the topic of a later Strategikon. Hardly worth the two-week effort, considering my one day patrol netted me around 50 million ISK in loyalty store goods.

I think, perhaps, that exploration is not my defining skill.

I ran a combat site, however, a Blood Cathedral. I picked up some bounties, and some some interesting items, along with the pleasure of eradicating the Raiders from Khanid space. That proved lucrative, and might be a potential supplementary income source, particularly in the worm hole sites.

All in all, not a very fruitful investigation. With more practice, I'm sure I can increase my exploration findings, and I'm sure that the Anoikis space data and archaeology sites will be more bountiful.

I did come across something perplexing in Geztic though...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Promotion

I had a pleasant surprise once I reached my staging station. I've been promoted to Arch Lieutenant.

This involved a typically long winded Amarrian ceremony, with more hymns and praising God than is bearable for any involved, at the end of which the rank insignia was, with great pomp and grandiosity, clipped to my uniform.

An Amarr insignia. On my Khanid uniform. The King will not doubt smile at that.

Once I managed to escape from the various priests and other recently commissioned Junior officers, I retreated back to my quarters.

The insignia itself is quite an ornate little thing, and has an inscription on the back:

"The word of the Lord is pure,It is a shield for the faithful,Brought unto men by the Angels,As a guiding light in the darkness""- The Scriptures, Prophet Anoyia 8:15

There is definitely a similarity to my families oath. The Arcani believe in bringing the light of understanding and knowledge to dark places.

Knowlegde certainly can be a shield to those who believe in it, but I rather believe in knowledge given to me by men, rather than that of Angels. No disrespect meant to Angels, but from what I've read of the Holy Texts, at least half of them do not have humanities best interests at heart.

The capitalization on Angels is also rather curious. The obvious link is to the Angel Cartel, an organization waist deep in rumors of Jovian secrets. But that gets into the realm of fantasy and deep conspiracy. Still, it might bear looking into. I can't really find when the Prophet's scriptures were written.

The rest of Prophet Anoyia's scriptures start off in simple church propaganda, talking about the the great Emperor leading the people in God's stead. They finish on a more general note of good behavior, referring to the Amar as the 'Chosen', and a call of obedience.

Either way, I appreciate the guiding light of knowledge being part of the Amarr war philosophy, if not entirely part of their practice.

That Angel line does have me curious though.

War Record: Routine patrol

Today I completed a routine patrol of the Crusade conquest zones.

Why? Well, whilst I hardly think of myself as a mercenary, there were a few items in the loyalty store I wanted for my projects, and needed to endear myself to the armorer. I also felt a little guilty about leaving the front lines so abruptly.

In any case, I planned my patrol as usual, hitting Minmatar held complexes, as usual, flying my favorite frigate, the Kontos Executioner. It's upgraded a little now, since my fitting skills allow a bit more power, but the idea is the same.

Nothing much of importance happened. A few ships dropped in on me as I was capturing, but wisely thought better of tackling a Khanid fighter! My fellow crusaders have been doing well in my absence, so there were few systems for me to capture in.

On the way back I noticed a friendly complex whose cloak had failed, and went to provide cover until they repaired it.

Another Executioner appeared on scans.

After a quick comment to the complex crew not to panic, I readied my weapons, and the capsuleer working for the Minmatar entered.

The fight was short, and altogether uneventful. I was a little rusty, allowing the other ship to graze my armor, but he was defeated in good order.

I sent him a quick courtesy, which was ignored. No matter.

After the complex was restored, I flew back to my staging area, and repaired my ship, and went to smile sweetly at the loyalty store vendor.

Review

My piloting was sloppy. I failed to maintain my orbit of him, and lost warp disruption twice, and over compensated my orbit allowing him to get close. Foolish.

It was not a display of my skill, but more accurately his pilot errors. Even when I was close enough to his scrambler range, he failed to shut down my Micro Warp Drive. I was lucky.

I must maintain better discipline when it comes to orbiting. I think perhaps my early tent-pegging exercises are no longer enough.

I will begin working on my manual piloting skills.