Monday, December 16, 2013

Scram Kiting Part 1: The Rail Incursus

The key to winning any fight in EVE is to dictate range.  If you are able to maintain control at your optimal range, and outside your opponent's optimal range, then you will win the fight the majority of the time.  This is true even if you are matched against a superior hull.  Many of the frigates I have been flying are built around the principle of kiting the target at the edge of warp scrambler range (approximately 6.5 - 8.0 km).  Scram kiting is a powerful technique which is effective against a very broad range of targets.

The modules required are a warp scrambler, an afterburner, a stasis webifier, and weapons that are capable of projecting a reasonable amount of DPS out to a range of about 7-8 km.  There are many frigates and many fits that are capable of this, and in principle any frigate with at least 3 mid slots can work.  In my experience thus far, the Incursus, Tristan, and Comet are extremely well suited for this style of combat.  Lets start with the Incursus fit that I am fond of:

[Incursus, Rail incursus]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

1MN Afterburner II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

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 Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I

Hobgoblin II x1
Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S x500
Caldari Navy Iridium Charge S x500
Javelin S x500

With my skills, this fit has:
DPS = 128, 147 (overheated)
Optimal + Falloff = 6.5 km + 5.8 km
Speed = 1030 m/s, 1344 m/s (overheated)
EHP = 4448 + 124 dps/sec from armor reps

In practice, if you're able to land the scram and web on your target, and keep range at ~6.5km, then you're usually going to win.  This matches up extremely favorably with most brawlers.  The optimal range of small railguns is just outside the falloff range of blasters loaded with null ammo as well as autocannons loaded with emp, phased plasma, or fusion ammo.  Barrage ammo will land, but with significantly less DPS than you are dealing.

Fighting any of the following will usually result in an easy win:
  • All brawlers fit with microwarpdrives.  The warp scrambler disables their propulsion mod, while your afterburner remains active, allowing you the dictate range.
  • All brawlers without webs.  Specific examples include the dual-rep incursus, shield rifters, and triple-neut Tristans.  The lack of a web on your opponent will allow you to freely dictate range, regardless of whether he has an MWD or an AB.  The maximum range of small neutralizers is only 6km, and the neut Tristan can be kited outside of this range.
  • Punishers.  These ships, when fit with pulse lasers and scorch crystals can reach out to 11km optimal range, with similar DPS as is seen on the Incursus.  The Punisher cannot fit a web (because they only have two mid slots), which means that you can pull range and warp away if you are losing the fight.  Another advantage lies in the resist profiles.  Scorch ammo primarily deals EM-based damage, which is the highest resistance type on this Incursus.
  • Most other brawlers who fit an AB, scram, and web can be beaten easily, assuming that the fight begins outside of their optimal range.  This would include Merlins, Rifters, and Incursuses.  They typically don't have sufficient speed in order to close the distance against you.  Overheating your AB helps to dictate range.  The situation here changes if the fight starts at <1 km!

The main things this Incursus will lose to are:
  • Brawlers fit with an AB, scram, and web which have significantly higher speed than the Incursus.  These are especially bad if they also have a neut.  The mortal enemy of the rail Incursus is the Slasher, and blaster-fit Atrons can also be a problem if the fight starts at close range.  The best way to fight these is to start the fight with an overheated web to give you more time to apply DPS while they try to close range.
  • Long-range kiting ships with a tracking disruptor.  If you're being kited outside of scram range by an MWD-fit ship, then switching to iridium ammo will often allow you to fight them off.  If the kiting ship has a tracking disruptor, then you're in big trouble.  Light missile Condors and Breachers are often fit this way. Of course, any kiting ship will die quickly if you are able to slingshot them into scram & web range.
  • Hookbills.  These have enough mid slots to fit an afterburner, warp scrambler, two webs, and a tracking disruptor.  This means they can beat other scram kiters in dominant fashion.  Don't engage these.

The most intense frigate fights are usually against other scram kiters.  In terms of pure DPS and EHP, the rail Incursus comes out ahead of rail Merlins, artillery Rifters, and rocket Kestrels.  An equivalent Tormentor fit has slightly higher on-paper DPS than this Incursus fit, but is also applying the damage type for which the Incursus has the highest resistance.  Rocket Breachers are a little bit scary, but the anti-explosive rig on the ship makes them beatable.

Destroyers and Assault Frigates can also be kited, and targets to look for are blaster Catalysts, Enyos, Harpies, and autocannon Thrashers.  I'm often pleasantly surprised at how many pilots don't carry Null ammo.  These ships are also very slow, so if it turns out that they are able to hit you, then you have to option of pulling range and disengaging.  Cruisers can be beaten if they are fit for PVE, or if you're able to surprise them while they're ratting or running a mission.  Cruisers with long-range guns won't be able to track if you maintain an orbit at 6km, and drones can be quickly killed using your web plus Javelin ammo.

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