Saturday, October 26, 2013

Evolution of a fit: the TD Merlin

This loss mail here has probably influenced my current play-style more than any other:

http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=108712

Fortunately, he was killed by someone else shortly after killing me, so I am able to see how he was fit:

http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=108716

I saw the rifter in a plex on d-scan, and just dove right in not really knowing what to expect, but figuring that I would just try to out-brawl him.  What happened was that I was given a lesson on "scram kiting", which utilizes a AB/scram/web combination to dictate range at the edge of warp scrambler range.  Being in a blaster fit merlin, I was unable to project any DPS on him, even with null ammo loaded.  His ship was also faster than mine, so even with a web & AB of my own, I was unable to close the distance to him, even with my AB overheated.  A an attempt at 'yo-yo' maneuver to get within blaster range failed, and there was little I could do aside from watching myself die slowly.

After this loss, I did a couple things: 1. I immediately queued up afterburner IV to pick up a speed bonus, and 2. stopped flying blaster merlins and incursuses in solo PVP.  This loss caused me to reflect on the importance of range dictation, and quickly made me realize that there are simply too many ships out there that can effectively kite a blaster merlin or incursus.  Today, I primarily fly Gallente frigates fit with rails, and rail Merlins, many of which take advantage of scram-kiting in order to dictate range.

My fits & piloting technique are both still evolving.  I posted a rail Incursus fit in the last post, which I have used to some effect.  The only issue I have seen is that the fit feels fairly "cookie-cutter", in that someone facing a rail incursus is probably expecting something very similar to that fit, with only minor variation. The Merlin on the other hand has a lot of versatility added by the fourth mid slot, and lately I have been flying a version with a tracking disruptor.  That brings me to this loss here:

http://killfeed.eveuniversity.org/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=115727

I was sitting in a plex, and saw the incursus coming in.  Knowing that this is precisely the type of fight that I wanted, I sat tight, and orbited the beacon at ~15km.  I would likely either be facing a dual-rep blaster-fit incursus, which my merlin would be able to scram-kite fairly easily, or a rail incursus, over which I would have an advantage because of my slightly better speed and my tracking disruptor.

It turns out, he was rail-fit, and I still lost.  He had approximately 30% structure remaining when I popped.  There are several lessons to take form this:

1. My opponent had far more skill points than me.  If this fight had taken place 1 month later, when my skill training plan was complete (see previous post), then I almost certainly would have won.
2. I was able to dictate range in this fight, but I didn't choose the correct range.  I tried to keep him slightly within my optimal range, because my biggest fear was that he might slingshot his way outside of scram range and get away.  If I had kept him slightly further away from me, I probably could have won because of the way falloff mechanics work (but it would have still been very close).
3. The biggest lesson here: my fit was simply not very good.


This is the fit I was using:

[Merlin, TD rail merlin]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Damage Control II

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
1MN Afterburner II

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

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


With the skills I had at the time, this has 116 dps and 3042 EHP.  Notice the lack of tank on this fit.  Let's look at an alternative, after replacing the 2nd MFS with armor plating:


[Merlin, TD rail merlin copy 2]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Damage Control II

Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I, Optimal Range Disruption Script
1MN Afterburner II

125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
125mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S

Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I
Small Tracking Diagnostic Subroutines I
[empty rig slot]


This fit has 98 dps (a 16% decrease) , but 4145 EHP (a 36% increase!).  In a simple, "back of the envelope" analysis, this fit would clearly have been superior for my engagement against the incursus.  Although my dps is reduced, the extra EHP more than makes up for it, and I fully expect that I would have won the fight handily.  The only thing I lose is a small amount of speed, but I believe that this is a small price to pay, and shouldn't limit my engagement profile too much. I am going to be flying this fit for a few weeks, and I'll post an update on the results later.

There are a couple variations on this fit, which I think are probably superior:

1. Replacing the tracking rig with a hybrid collision accelerator.  Unfortunately, I don't have enough levels in Advanced Weapon Upgrades to fit this yet.
2. I believe an active rep version (with an AAR) may be superior, provided that I survive long enough to use all of the nanite paste charges.  The added advantage is that there is no speed loss associated with the active tank.  The only problem I have with this is that my capacitor skills are simply not very good yet, and my cap life is a bit too short for my liking.  I'll revisit this after training Capacitor Management IV, and Capacitor Systems Operation IV.







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