They say you shouldn’t undock in anything you’re not prepared to lose. My recent duels with blogging forefather and upstart colonial Kirith Kodachi seem to show I’ve taken this ethos a step further and only undock if I’m prepared to do everything in my power to ensure my own destruction. This is the first of three posts analysing exactly how and why I fail at PvP.

Shady Kodachi’s negative security status meant that a low-sec system was to be our duelling ground. After theorycrafting my ship loadouts in PyFA, I headed across high-sec to Dodixie under fire from the Gallente Faction police (they’ve got long memories, I have no idea what I did to upset them) to make the necessary purchases before Kirith’s alt couriered everything to our chosen system of Aliette.

The stage was set for a best-of-five match, with a combat in each sub-capital ship class starting with frigates then destroyers, cruisers and if necessary battlecruisers and finally battleships.

Kirith was a busy man with pressing real-life commitments so his time was limited. I was already running behind schedule so I hastily threw my chosen Merlin loadout together, but disaster struck – there wasn’t enough powergrid to online the afterburner. What?! Has PyFA lied to me? I knew I should’ve stuck with EFT.

However, in referring back to my planned loadout I saw my error – I’d forgotten to purchase the required powergrid-optimising “Squire” implant. Kirith graciously offered to offline a module to make things fair, but I declined. Instead I botched a sub-optimal fit together by installing a second Power Diagnostic System II instead. The loadout was as follows;

The Ship: Merlin, SSS Kanuck Killa

High Slots
Rocket Launcher II x2
75mm Gatling Rail II, Javelin S
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Mid Slots
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Invulnerability Field II
Stasis Webifier II
Cold-Gas Arcjet Thrusters

Low Slots
Power Diagnostic System II
Damage Control II* Power Diagnostic System II

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Core Defence Field Extender I
Small Ancillary Current Router I

*Squire PG2 implant required

Key Statistics
Effective Hit Points: 8,560 7,304 EHP
Shield Resists: 66%/63.3%/72.4%/77% 61.2%/58%/68.5%/73.8%
Damage Output: 64.2hp per second/159hp per volley
Capacitor: 1m10s 1m30s (stable without neutraliser at 48.8%/56.6%)
Speed: 864m/s with Afterburner
Cost: 13m ISK approx

The Strategy: Rifter Killer

Given Kirith’s skills were undoubtedly maxed out across the board he would have his choice of ships. His logical ship choice was a Rifter, generally considered the best T1 combat frigate.

The plan was to have a shield tank tough enough to withstand a close-range assault from autocannons whilst having the versatility to deal reasonable damage at any range under 10km; the Rifter would almost certainly have the speed advantage to dictate range, even when tackled (given that he’d be tackling right back). I didn’t bother with a scrambler as warping away would forfeit the duel anyway. I took the decision to sacrifice some damage output in favour of the energy neutraliser in the hope that he would have an active tank I could undermine.

The Duel: Merlin vs. Rifter

As the battle was joined, I allowed myself a smile as I had predicted Kirith’s ship and fit almost perfectly. My only concern now was whether my weakened tank would hold up to the ferocious assault of a face-ripping Rifter. We started slugging it out at point-blank range, orbiting tightly. I tore through his shield quickly (I’d loaded EM rockets in case he’d gone for high-damage gyrostabiliser/shield tank fit), but made the mistake of not switching to kinetic when it was clear he had an active armour tank.

Even so, I was looking comfortably on course for victory as his armour hit 50% whilst my buffer shield was well above that. I had him at 50% structure when my shields finally gave, but surely it was too late for him.

At this critical moment, my rockets ran out. In that long ten second reload period, everything changed. Somehow, Kirith found enough capacitor from somewhere to pulse his armour repairer whilst my armour melted and my unprotected hull was exposed and stripped. Against the run of play my Merlin exploded, leaving Kirith’s smoking Rifter surprisingly victorious.

The Conclusion

How did I lose? In hindsight, this fit was perfectly suited to killing Kirith’s Rifter. The ship and the fit weren’t at fault, just the pilot. I made the following mistakes:

  • Forgetting the Squire PG-2 Implant forcing the replacement of the DCII with a PDUII cost me 1,256 EHP. I suspect Kirith had a lot less than that left at the end.
  • I was using the worst possible damage type (EM) against an armour tanking ship. I should have exploited the likely kinetic hole.
  • My combat brain is a headless epileptic chicken on speed. I was randomly overheating things without any clear strategy, just because I’ve heard it’s the thing to do.

Closer adherence to the Law of the Seven Ps is in order here: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

Watching Kirith’s FRAPS footage of the combat shows how relaxed and in control he was throughout, even when defeat was a real possibility. His controlled heat and module management seems orderly and focused. All credit to Kirith, I believe his disciplined armour repairer management won the day for him.

In contrast, I wish I could show you the frantic face-chewing and random button-mashing that was occurring at my end.  Actually, I don’t.

To summarise; in my opinion the right pilot won, but the wrong ship.

SCORELINE: Canada 1-0 England

Next: Part Two – The Destroyer Duel


Carole Pivarnik · 06/12/2011 at 21:34

Well, if its any consolation, I speak from experience when I say KK is a tough opponent 🙂 Also from experience…the more you do 1v1's, the calmer and more deliberate your actions become. I bet you feel very differently by the last duel in this series. Watching videos of how others manage their mods in a fight was a huge eye-opener for me.

Seismic Stan · 06/12/2011 at 21:40

Thanks for the encouragement she-who-was-once-Mynxee. Sadly, the entire series of combats took place in one session and I'm afraid my performance is likely to continue to disappoint.

Anyway, it's my thing to be a bit shit but fearless. I reckon that'll encourage other PvP-shy players to give it a go. You don't have to be any good to have fun.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Szilardis · 06/12/2011 at 22:22

Before or after Crucible, this is my favorite frigate, and this fit has assassinated many a rifter. I kite between 4 and 5 km, and if being neuted a little manual piloting saves the day. And for love of god, heat the AB and guns.

[Merlin, PVP – Buffer – Ions]
Damage Control II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

1MN Afterburner II
Stasis Webifier II
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Warp Scrambler II

Light Ion Blaster II, Null S
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Phalanx Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Phalanx Rocket
Light Ion Blaster II, Null S

Small Core Defence Field Extender I
Small Core Defence Field Extender I
Small Core Defence Field Extender I

Azual · 07/12/2011 at 12:28

Always the curse of rockets – I swear they wait until the critical moment before they decide to reload on you!

It's an intentive and well thought out fit, props for that – sounds like it could easily have gone the other way.

Seismic Stan · 07/12/2011 at 12:38

Thanks for sharing the alternative fit Szilardis, at some point I'll see what I can do to lose in that too. 😉

Azual, I know right? I wish there was a skill, module or rig that could influence reload times. Although had I been hitting with a more effective damage type, the fight would have been over long before I needed to reload.

Nashh Kadavr · 07/12/2011 at 13:29

i say join up with the black guards and join many ill fated roams to contribute to training…

you cant learn when you do things right all the time, you only learn when you make mistakes.

Seismic Stan · 09/12/2011 at 17:17

I keep toying with the idea of jumping ship, and Kadavr Black Guard are certainly one of my favourite possibilities, but I'm not sure my unpredictable and infrequent in-game activity is suited to anything beyond casually idling in my own corp.

Nashh Kadavr · 09/12/2011 at 17:52

Well you would be very welcome anytime…

Anonymous · 10/12/2011 at 04:28

There's no point using a T2 rocket launcher if you aren't going to take advantage of specific T2 rocket traits. That's a lost point of pg for nothing versus named launchers.

On the other hand, with the prevalence of shield tanks on frigates, rage rockets might have worked in your favor.

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