2012-06-07

Life in a Wormhole: Get Thee Back Into the Tempest #eveonline

Subtitle: "I Do Not Always Post Ship Fittings, But When I Do, They're Bad"

There's only one NPC-owned Customs Office in the system -- a planetary structure that the former occupants didn't convert to player ownership -- and its presence vexes me. Em and I have arranged a good time to destroy the structure and replace it with our own, and that time is now, or at least it's coming up really soon, and Bre is stressing about it.

While the customs office itself isn't a big deal, there is some other 'bashing' stuff coming up as well, and as a result, she's feeling the need for a decent high-damage PvP ship. The problem is that Bre is really quite specialized in a few things (frigates of every shape and size, EWAR, and missiles of all sizes), and none of her current ships really fit the bill. Anything bigger than a frigate and she's pretty much confined to Caldari ships (she's Gallente, but her missile skills put her in Caldari hulls most of the time), and while she picked up an armor-tanked Scorpion for a fleet awhile back, the ECM-platform lacks a little something in the DPS department -- namely, the "D".

Also, it's not really a ship that she flies very much; if there's a situation where ECM is called for, one of our many blackbirds are far cheaper to risk, and her Kitsunes boast more powerful jams. Robbed of its main purpose, it's only flown to kill unwanted wormholes, and really any battleship can do that.

So, in short, what she's looking for is a missile-based ship that will do good damage when a structure needs to blow up, and which serves a second role Bre's not already handling with some other ship she prefers -- which probably means "PvP DPS".

That doesn't leave a ton of options. Em points out that a Raven battleship does the structure bashing just fine, but it has a -- perhaps justifiable -- reputation as a poor PvP ship in any situation where it's likely to be used. Em explains that, fitted with cruise missiles, its damage is moderate but unimpressive. The range is good, but the travel time on the missiles means that a comparable ship from another race, fitted with turret-based weapons, will apply similar damage nigh-instantly, while the Raven needs ten or twenty seconds for each volley to finally get where it's going -- that's not attractive in many (any) PvP situations. You can go with high-damage Torpedoes, but while the damage is much better, the weapon system's short range (usually less than twenty kilometers) means the Raven has to get up close and personal, which puts it at a range where it can easily be swarmed by fast, small ships that can avoid much of the torpedo damage and tear the Raven apart bit by bit.

He makes some good points, but it occurs to me that the nature of PvP combat in wormholes provides us with a unique situation where the Raven's weaknesses can be negated, and maybe even turned into strengths. A bit of fiddling at the drafting board, and some good suggestions from Em, and we come up with the a design that Bre sells off her Scorpion to pick up and fit.

[Raven, Bashing and Hole Defense]
Reactor Control Unit II
Damage Control II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Warp Disruptor II
Prototype 100MN MicroWarpdrive I
Stasis Webifier II

Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Prototype 'Arbalest' Torpedo Launcher, Scourge Torpedo
Large EMP Smartbomb I
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I

Hammerhead II x5
Warrior II x5


Even 'downgrading' from tech2 launchers to the Arbalest models, it's more than a bit of a tight fit (requiring both good fitting skills and Bre's Genolution-Core implants to work), but when it's all said and done she's happy with the results. Using plain old missiles on structure bashes, the DPS is in the 800s, and switching to faction torpedoes pushes the numbers just a skosh north of 1000.

"Sure," you might say, "but what about all those problems with PvP you mentioned?

Well, lets take a look at those.

Range
PvP in a wormhole is a bit of a change from typical null- or low-sec combat, and a lot of the difference in range. In null-sec, you're likely fighting on a gate, at relatively long ranges -- two forces jumping through the same gate may be over 30 kilometers from each other and well outside the Raven's torp range. Wormholes, however, have a much smaller 'dump' area (8km) meaning that the target will never appear outside the Raven's effective range.

Also, this ship doesn't particularly mind being up close, especially in a wormhole environment. The tank is quite solid, and the web plus microwarpdrive should allow the ship to keep its targets where it wants them.

Smaller ships
We're addressing the 'small ship' problem in two ways, one environmental and one via the ship design.

Environmental: The simple fact of the matter is that small ships -- anything smaller than a battlecruiser -- is pretty rare to see in a wormhole, especially if you're talking about anyone jumping into the system to try their hand at shooting sleepers or assault a tower. Strategic cruisers are the exception, but in general tech 2 cruisers/destroyers/frigates are rare and often highly specialized, tech 1 versions are largely non-existent. Thus, between the ships commonly seen, the short range, and that web, the Raven shouldn't have too much trouble applying damage to the most common targets.

Design: But lets say we do have to deal with those smaller ships. First off, the Heavy Neutralizer is quite effective at shutting down the systems on smaller ships (including those pesky tech3 cruisers), and its effective range is longer than any other system on the ship -- enough to tag anyone fighting at short to even low-medium range. A single cycle will shut off everything on a frigate or destroyer, and 2 or 3 will ruin the day of most cruisers or battlecruisers. Pesky frigates will also find themselves with a face full of light drones, and if they venture too close, there's the AoE damage from the large smart bomb (which doubles as a defensive tool for killing enemy drones, and which -- in OUR wormhole -- fires out an extra two or three unexpected kilometers -- just enough to affect otherwise wary attackers.

Is it a perfect design? Not at all -- it would probably flail ineffectively and die in a lot of situations, but we're not taking into a lot of situations -- we're using it in a wormhole, in a couple specific situations that maximize its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses a bit.

In any case, Bre is happy with it, and jumps back into the system with Quothe fitted and kitted for the evening's bashing fun. The combined firepower of the battleship and a half-dozen tier 2 and tier 3 battlecruisers drops the customs office quickly. Ty, Em, and Dirk head out to known space to return to the c6, while Bre and CB stick around to handle their PI setups. Berke ducks out to known space as well, only to return a few minutes later with a Player Owned Customs Office and the required enhancements to get the thing running, all of which he anchors and assembles.

System assimilation: Complete.
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