Monday, 31 March 2014

The New Rifter: Pre-flight impresions

Well. I'd like to think I had some hand in the Rifter being updated, but with ship development cycles being what they are, I think the blueprints were being finalized by the time I made my thought experiment.

The final decision: 10% Fall-off range

And I couldn't be happier! At least in theory.

Short range faction ammunition now extends to beyond scram range (9km), meaning that rookie pilots can keep opponents at bay without needing T2 weaponry. This also means that auto-cannon (AC) fit Rifters are much more competitive against blaster boats, who before were out-damaging them at those ranges.

The loss of tracking accuracy may mean tougher fights against pulse laser boats, in that getting close as you can will mean some of your shots will miss. However, ACs will still have an edge over slower tracking pulse lasers. It also makes the fight a lot more forgiving if you can't quite close the gap between you and the scorch-pulse boat.

The Rifter now becomes a theoretical attack frigate hunter. Kiting ships are at much greater risk from Barrage loaded ACs. Tougher and reasonably fast, the Rifter has a good chance of applying damage out to much longer ranges. Still not as flexible as a Tristan, the Rifter now has a good role in targeting faster, lighter ships.

Also, an interesting build to consider now: AC kiter. You can comfortably hit out to 16km, and 20km if you rig for distance. The natural speed of the Rifter helps maintain distance, and you'll be able to fit a web to control distance. Not too bad, especially considering your ACs are still effective at point blank range (and actually better with the required Tracking Enhancer).

As for the standard, brawler fit... nothing much needs to change overall. Accuracy from tracking is now swapped out for accuracy in fall-off. I've swapped out the rigs for two nano-pumps and and a burst aerator as below. The extra repair outweighs the firepower. Similarly I've swapped out the capacitor warfare for a rocket launcher secondary. I feel this extra bit of damage is necessary to make the Rifter competitive with other combat frigates.

[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

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

There are some issues I have with the Rifter now though. It's mostly to do with the secondary weapon system. Like I said, the rocket launcher is needed to stay competitive with other combat ships. This is fine at close range, but rockets are much more limited in range vs. projectiles. This is the split weapon problem: they operate at different ranges, meaning sub-optimal performance.

This problem is now magnified by the Rifter's range increase. Whereas before, a rocket was comfortably in range of the AC sweet spot, now it falls a little short of the mark. Most other high-slot options (neutralizers or vampires) are woefully short of using the Rifter's advantage.

It's hardly a catastrophic flaw. I've never heard anyone complain about the often empty high on a Slicer. But still... feels a little foolish on the designers part to do this. Ships with drone secondary weapons get away with this, since drones are effective at all ranges (part of the reason why the Breacher is my favourite brawling frigate. You can still apply about 1/3 of your damage whilst trying to catch that kiter).

Like I said before, I still think the 4-gun Rifter is the best way to go. But this is a nice step in the right direction.

But let's try this out in space!

Lessons learned

As the letter yesterday said, I'm leaving Stay Frosty, and joining the Republic.

My reasoning is simple. I'm simply not a pirate. I have tried, repeatedly, to target civilians. Once I even got a mining barge into structure. But, I let them go. No ransom. I just can't put in that final blow.

So, I'll sell myself as a mercenary. The Tribal Liberation Force (TLF) pays well, and freeing slaves sits much better with me than subjugating them. I've been officially branded a traitor in the eyes of Amarr and Khanid alike, to be shot on sight in their space. A traitor to God, the Emperor, the King, Empire and Kingdom.

I doubt I live up to the vilification the popular press has on me.

But what I do is hardly as interesting as what has been learned and what will be learned.

First: What did I learn as a 'pirate'?

In a word: attack.

One of the key strategic actions of the militias is short range patrol of vulnerable outposts. Or, orbiting plexes. This nets you loyalty points to spend at the militia quartermasters, as well as defensive fights. Other ships can and will attack you as you patrol.

Pirates, on the other hand, do not have this luxury. Orbiting a plex will get you a fight, but most likely just waste your time. Pirates need to attack.

I learnt how to assault a complex. To hunt and track down a ship using nothing but the directional scanner and knowledge of star systems. If you're looking to learn similar tactics, I highly recommend a stint in a pirate corporation.

As a small point, the majority of my kills as a pirate were brawling ships on the complex entry point. If you are capturing plex, I also recommend a kiting vessel. If you are assaulting, I recommend a tougher brawling vessel. There are, of course, exceptions, but if you are relying more on planning and strategy than flight skill (as my poor pilot-skilled self must do), this will make your life a lot easier.

Moving forward, I want to properly up-ship into cruiser capsuleer combat. The TLF will provide me with access to some higher grade cruisers, and ease the funding for this. Once I've got my cruiser eye in (and stop exploding with regularity) I may make go back to the freedom of piracy.

For now, I'm going to break my own advice, and use a brawling Rifter to go and capture some plexes. See you in space!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A letter to Rixx Javix

A letter to Rixx Javix, CEO of Stay Frosty, and Notorious Gentlemen of Impeccable Character

Dear Mr. Javix,

I am a formal man, and despite the informal and open way your organisation deals with recruitment, I wanted to give you the courtesy of an official resignation notice. I will be leaving Stay Frosty, to work for the Republic.

This is not a criticism of your corporation. For a group of capsuleers on the darker side of the law, I have found you to be the most welcoming, and most deserving allies in all of New Eden. Although I was one of your quieter pilots, corporation communications always warmed the void of space. I thank you and all Frosties for this.

I am, however, simply not a pirate. Despite flying your colors, and battling militia on both sides of the conflict, I cannot pull the trigger on civilians. For me, that seems to be a fairly glaring flaw in a pirate. I will sign a contract with the Tribal Liberation Force. Mercenary and vagabond are titles that suit me better for now.

I want to thank you for this glimpse of freedom in the stars. Your corporation showed me that we needn't be dogs to the Empires, or to other capsuleers. I wish you, Stay Frosty, and A Band Apart all the best fortune in the world. I may yet return home to Hevrice.

In the mean time, may your targets be stabless, and your targeting computer ECM free. If you're ever in Metropolis, I look forward to crossing fire with you.

Best regards,

Behnid Arcani