Thursday, October 29, 2015

This is why the Rifter is terrible

CCP announced somewhat recently that several ships will be rebalanced, including a few of the T1 frigates.  Among the changes, the Rifter is getting some extra PG and CPU, with a stated goal of allowing the Rifter to fit artillery or use its utility high slot more easily.  I think the Rifter will still be bad, and will perhaps become the new worst T1 frigate in the game considering the buffs to the Punisher.

Here is a Rifter fit which does not fit now, but will work after the December rebalance:

[Rifter, MWD Rifter v2]
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Gyrostabilizer II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Small Diminishing Power System Drain I

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

Stat line:
DPS (faction ammo + heat) = 163
DPS (hail ammo + heat) = 181
EHP Buffer = 2819
EHP from 8 rep cycles (w/ heat) = 2662

If you pvp with this in low-sec, you have to expect to encounter kiting MWD Tristans relatively often.  This seems like it should be a good matchup for this Rifter: it's an MWD brawler, which in principle should be a counter against a point-range kiting ship, right?  Simply slingshot, tackle, and kill it, right?  Nope.

Here is a MWD kiting Tristan fit that I came up with:

[Tristan, MWD Kite v2]
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender
Warp Disruptor II
5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I

Hobgoblin II x5

Stat line:
DPS (Hobgoblins) = 141
EHP Buffer = 6025

I'll start by assuming that a hypothetical fight between the two ships starts at 0 range.  This means that the Tristan has screwed up royally, and allowed itself to be tackled by the Rifter before it was able to apply any damage.  In this case, the fight in a DPS race, and the outcome is actually pretty easily to calculate: simply multiply the DPS & total EHP of the two ships and compare:

Rifter: 893403 (assumes faction ammo on the Rifter)
Tristan: 849525

(Normalized to the Rifter DPS * EHP):

Rifter: 1
Tristan: 0.951

A big assumption I've made here is 100% damage application from both ships.  This is obviously not going to be the case, because falloff and tracking for turrets are a thing, and because drone tracking can be a bit weird sometimes.  I don't have a good way to model this accurately, but I believe that if we were to account for this that it would tilt things in favor of the Tristan, mainly because damage application does not depend on transversal or range for the Tristan.  This means that a good pilot could manually pilot to maximize transversal against the Rifter in order to tilt the fight in his favor.

Regardless of that, the point is that even in an ideal scenario for the Rifter this is going to be an extremely close fight, and realistically (in a fight between two competent pilots) it will require near-perfect execution on the part of the Rifter!

And this is why the Rifter is going to be awful even after the buff.  It has bad EHP and bad DPS, to the point where it stands a very good chance a duel against a very common kiting frigate even in a fight that starts at zero range.  Extra PG and CPU will not change this at all.  What the Rifter really needs in an extra low slot, more effective turrets than what it has currently, or a significant buff to small projectiles (the latter of which is unlikely to happen I think, because it would make the Svipul even more overpowered).

And yes, I am aware that you could load Hail ammo, fit a Rocket Launcher in its utility high instead of a nos, and tilt the numbers more in favor of the Rifter.  That fit actually works now and from what I can see nobody ever uses it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Re-balancing Tech 3 Destroyer Propulsion Mode

A major reason that the Tech 3 Destroyers (T3Ds) are imbalanced is because of the way their propulsion mode is implemented.  The Svipul and the Confessor get a rather large bonus to their max velocity when they are in propulsion mode, which impacts their base speed with no prop mod running, their MWD speed, and their speed with a 10mn afterburner.  CCP seems to have realized that this was a mistake, and thus they made the Jackdaw relatively slow, and they gave the Hecate a bonus to MWD speed rather than max velocity in propulsion mode.

The way propulsion mode is implemented basically means that the Svipul and Confessor are overpowered, and that the Hecate is terrible.

Let's geek out over the numbers a bit.  Here are the figures for how the T3 destroyers are implemented today:

Def ModeProp Mode
Def Mode SpeedProp Mode SpeedMassMWD Speed10mn AB SpeedMWD Speed10mn AB Speed
* This is probably confusing, but base speed numbers are given with 0 skills, and speed with prop mod on are given with all-V skills

If you don't know how to interpret the base speed numbers, here are the values for a couple common ships:

Rifter: 365 m/s
Thrasher: 270 m/s
Stabber: 290 m/s
Rupture: 210 m/s

The max velocity of T3Ds in defensive mode seems reasonable; they're all considerably slower than a T1 Destroyer (Thrasher), which seems reasonable to me as they have massive EHP potential when they are in this mode.  The Jackdaw and the Hecate are actually slower than most Cruisers in this mode.

In Propulsion mode though, the strength of the Svipul and Confessor is very obvious.  Both ships have better base speed than any T1 Combat Frigate!  This is WAY too much speed!  Since this is granted to max velocity, this also grants them exceptional speed with an oversized afterburner in propulsion mode.  Given that both ships have sufficient CPU and PG to fit a 10mn AB without much of a problem (in addition to at least 1 nanofiber!), you end up with two very powerful ships.

The differences between the Svipul and Confessor in propulsion mode are very stark. The Jackdaw has rather poor base speed and a modest bonus to max velocity in its propulsion mode.  This means that its velocity with a 10mn AB is rather poor.  I think that this is actually the most balanced and most well-designed ship within its class.  Even though it's max velocity with its prop mod off is comparable to many cruisers,  I think this is reasonable because it has good DPS application at any range within scram range, and with its slot layout it can fit two webs rather easily.

CCP took a completely different approach with the Hecate, giving it horrible base speed, but very low mass and a very large bonus to MWD speed in propulsion mode.  This means that its speed with its MWD running is excellent, but its speed with an afterburner (either 1mn or 10mn) is horrible, and it can be scram-kited by any cruiser which has a web.  In my opinion, this means that blaster-fit Hecates are not viable for solo pvp and they are unlikely to be able to control range against anything they're fighting.

Re-balancing Propulsion Mode

I think that the speed in defensive or sharpshooter mode for all the ships is fine the way it is.  I also think that the MWD speed of all the ships in propulsion mode is perhaps a bit too high, but not by too much.  The only significant problem is with max velocity in propulsion mode.

The best way I can think of to rebalance this is to split the propulsion mode speed bonus between a small bonus to max velocity and a larger bonus to MWD speed.  I had the following goals in mind (generally speaking):

1. Base speed in prop mode should be comparable to T1 cruisers or T1 destroyers.  I've somewhat arbitrarily shot for a base speed between that of a Stabber and a Rupture for most ships.
2. MWD speed should be similar to what it is currently (in all modes)
3. 10mn AB speed in propulsion mode should not be significantly better than that of a 10mn Thrasher
4. I gave the Svipul and Hecate higher base speed than the Jackdaw and Confessor, because these two ships cannot be scram-kited as easily (rockets and lasers have good projection anywhere within scram range).  I think this makes things a bit more balanced.

Here are the numbers:

Def ModeProp Mode
Prop Mode BonusDef Mode SpeedProp Mode SpeedMassMWD Speed10mn AB SpeedMWD Speed10mn AB Speed
Svipul50% MWD bonus, 20% Velocity Bonus23027616000001584139026781668
Confessor100% MWD bonus23523522000001324132623541326
Jackdaw33% Velocity bonus170226.6610000001554110920721479
Hecate50% MWD bonus, 20% Velocity Bonus20524615000001469125424911505
Base speed numbers are given with 0 skills, and speed with prop mod on are given with all-V skills

First of all, I left the Jackdaw's attributes the way they are.  Like I wrote earlier, I think the ship is fine the way it is.

The Svipul and the Hecate's bonus is now split between a +20% bonus to max velocity and a +50% bonus to MWD speed.  This ensures that both ships have reasonable base speed (similar to that of a Thrasher), and similar MWD speed than they have currently.  This required a mass adjustment to both ships, a rather significant one in the case of the Hecate.  Probably the most noticeable change here is a giant nerf to 10mn afterburner speed in propulsion mode for the Svipul.

In the case of the Confessor, I felt that a base speed of 235 m/s was fine, and instead gave it a +100% bonus to MWD speed along with a mass increase such that it maintains similar speed to what it has currently.  With these attributes, the Confessor will have arguably the strongest defensive mode within the class (with the highest speed, lowest sig, and excellent resists), but a somewhat weak propulsion mode.

As a final adjustment to the Confessor, I'd also consider a nerf to small beam lasers, which I believe to be too strong right now.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Re-balancing the Svipul

Tech 3 Destroyers (T3Ds) are exceptionally powerful ships, and have quickly become some of the most-used and most-hated ships in the game, because they have largely supplanted assault frigates (by being better in almost every way) and are generally considered to be overpowered given their ease of training and price.  Their near-immediate proliferation within null-sec (the Svipul in particular) made it extremely difficult to solo-roam null in T1 frigates, and actually caused me to give up and return to low sec for a while, as I could at least use Novice plexes to avoid them.

CCP recently created a focus group to collect input from players on how to rebalance this class of ship.  I personally have very little experience flying T3Ds on typical TQ roams, which is why I did not put my name forward to be in this focus group.  A lot of my enjoyment in Eve comes from doing 'more with less', and thus I usually avoid flying 'flavor of the month' ships, particularly those which are perceived to be overpowered by the community.

That said, I do have extensive experience with flying T3Ds and theorycrafting T3D fits within the last Alliance Tournament, and I frequently fight against other T3Ds when I solo roam on TQ.  Does this really matter?  Probably not.  But this is my blog, so I'm going to write about it anyway!

First, I'd like to point out that CCP has already agreed to address a few common concerns:
1. T3Ds will soon no longer be allowed within small FW plexes
2. Insurance payout for T3D losses will be reduced, making losses of these ships more costly

These are very obvious, and perfectly reasonable changes, and I think there's no reason to address this any further.  I originally intended to write about ways to re-balance all of the T3Ds in this post, but I quickly realized that it would be far too long.  Instead I'd like to focus on the Svipul, which is probably the most-used of the T3Ds and is generally considered to be the strongest.

The key to re-balancing all four of the T3Ds though is to take a hard look at their propulsion mode,  Using prop mode to grant a large bonus to base speed (in the case of the Svipul) is just overpowered as you will inevitably end up with a ship which has higher base speed than most frigates when it is in propulsion mode.  In the case of the Hecate, which only gets a bonus to MWD speed, this means that its base speed will be at the level of a fast Battlecruiser (and consequently the Hecate is substantially worse than the other 3 T3Ds).

The Svipul

Really, the whole package is just very strong.  The Svipul has numerous strengths which I believe to be perfectly legitimate, such as 2 utility highs, a very favorable slot layout, pretty generous fitting, and a very versatile selection of viable fits.  The problems arise with a few points:

1. Base speed of the Svipul in propulsion mode is too high
2. 10mn afterburner is too easy to fit and speed & agility with 10mn AB are too good.
3. DPS is too high (This one is perhaps debatable)
4. Allowing Optimal Range bonus in all modes is too strong for artillery fits (Also debatable) and gives little incentive for kiting fits to ever leave propulsion mode

The second point is almost inevitable in a way; the large difference in fitting requirements between Autocannons and Artillery mean that a 10mn aftburner with autocannons will fit with minimal fitting mods/rigs, unless you completely gimp the ability of the ship to use artillery at all.

The type of fit that people complain most about are the 10mn fits with a medium shield booster:

[Svipul, New Setup 1]
Damage Control II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II

Federation Navy 10MN Afterburner
Pithum B-Type Medium Shield Booster
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400
Warp Scrambler II

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer II
Small Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer II

406 DPS with faction ammo (hot)
2718 m/sec in Propulsion Mode (cold)

It's a bit expensive, but these are not uncommon in low sec, and are often accompanied with links & pirate implants (this fit benefits greatly from either snakes or crystals).  This combines good dps, a very good active tank in defensive mode, the ability to signature tank virtually any cruiser-sized weapon, and the ability to disengage from any unfavorable fight at will (unless it has multiple webs applied to it).  Most ships which are able to kite this don't have enough DPS to break it (e.g. a Slicer) it's able to out-brawl most other frigates and destroyers in a pure dps race and it's able to beat many cruisers by out-tracking their guns.

Even a more 'basic' MWD buffer fit Svipul shares many of the same advantages.  In propulsion mode the Svipul has higher base speed than any combat frigate, and nearly double the base speed of even relatively fast cruisers (like a Rupture or Thorax).  Suitonia demonstrated the strength of such a fit, which takes advantages of the strengths of the ship and even adding two small neuts for additional utility.  This is his fit:

[Svipul, Buffer]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Small Core Defense Field Extender II
Small Core Defense Field Extender II
Small Core Defense Field Extender II

Defense Mode = 26K EHP Buffer
Propulsion Mode = 18K EHP Buffer
9 Effective Turrets

I chose a couple different metrics to illustrate how strong the Svipul is, particularly the propulsion mode.  Choosing Shield EHP to illustrate tank potential is somewhat arbitrary; I am well aware that ships like the Svipul, Thrasher, and Rupture are often armor-tanked.

Eff. TurretsBase SpeedShield EHP
Svipul (prop)94791818
Svipul (def)92882726
Base speed is the max velocity with prop mod off, no speed mods/rigs, and all-V skills.  Shield EHP assumes nothing is fit

The comparisons that most interest me are the ones between the Svipul and the Sabre and Jaguar.  Particularly the fact that the Svipul in prop mode is just flat-out superior to both of them.  No need to apply any brain-power whatsoever; simply be in prop mode, approach + F1 and you can beat a Sabre or Jaguar with a AC Svipul regardless of how they are fit (granted: this is in part because the Jaguar is completely terrible).  I also included the Rifter in this table just to show that a Svipul in propulsion mode has a higher base speed than the fastest T1 combat frigate in the game, which is pretty ridiculous.  I'd also like to point out: apart from the fact that 9 effective turrets might be too much, defensive mode doesn't appear to be particularly overpowered to me.

As far as Artillery fits go, since the Svipul gets its range bonus regardless of the mode it is in, there is very little incentive to ever leave Propulsion mode, unless you absolutely need the extra lock range or tracking that Sharpshooter mode gives you in a given situation, or if you screw up and get tackled by something, in which case you'll probably want to switch to defensive mode.

There are numerous other kinds of Svipul fits: MWD Artillery, Dual Armor Rep with 10mn AB, etc.  But the common theme which makes all of these fits strong is the simple fact that propulsion mode is too good.  I do not believe that the versatility in fitting possibilities is a problem (in fact, I think this should probably be the key discriminator for the Svipul in comparison to the other T3Ds!)

Suggested Changes

1. Change the Small Projectile Turret Damage bonus for each level of Minmatar Tactical Destroyer from +10%/level to +7.5%/level
2. Completely change Propulsion mode to give +20% to base speed and +50% to MWD speed (instead of +66% to base speed).  Remove the +33% bonus to inertia modifier.
3. Increase mass slightly to 1600000
4. Instead of an optimal range bonus, give the Svipul a +7.5%/level tracking bonus in all modes per level of Minmatar Tactical Destroyer.  Give the Svipul a +50% optimal range bonus in Sharpshooter mode instead of the tracking bonus

The aim of these nerfs are to slightly reduce DPS, make 10mn AB fits less viable, and give the ship more of an incentive to use sharpshooter mode as opposed to propulsion mode in kiting fits.  As a result of these changes, these will be the new stats:

Eff. TurretsBase SpeedMWD Speed10mn AB speed
Svipul (prop)947927452343
Svipul (def)928816481407
New Svipul (prop)8.2534526781668
New Svipul (def)8.2528815841390
Assumes a T2 10mn AB and a meta 5mn MWD.  Assumes all V skills.

10mn fits would be roughly the same speed and agility as a 10mn Thrasher, which has existed in its current form for years and which isn't considered to be particularly overpowered.  The speed with an MWD is nerfed slightly, but it is still considerably faster than most cruisers and assault frigates when it is in propulsion mode.  It's new base speed in propulsion mode would now fall between a Stabber and a Thrasher, and it would be slower than a Sabre or a Jaguar, which I believe is very reasonable.

I personally do not think that giving it the full 'Hecate treatment', wherein the ship is given horrendous base speed in favor of a very large MWD speed bonus in prop mode, is reasonable for this ship (or even for the Hecate quite frankly).  Honestly that just makes brawling fits pretty useless, at least within the context of solo pvp, since the ship would then be able be scram-kited by a Hurricane.  I think that all of the Tech 3 Destroyers prop mode should be given a similar treatment, bar maybe the Jackdaw which is probably fine the way it is.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Video: Breacher Guide

Back with a new video, this time on the Breacher.  This is probably my favorite solo T1 frigate today.  Enjoy!

Here are the fits:

[Breacher, Rockets v2]
Ballistic Control System II
F85 Peripheral Damage System I
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
1MN Afterburner II

Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Nova Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Nova Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Nova Rocket

Small Bay Loading Accelerator I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

Hobgoblin II x2
Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket x300
Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket x300
Caldari Navy Nova Rocket x300
Navy Cap Booster 50 x18
Nanite Repair Paste x24

[Breacher, MWD Rockets v2]
Ballistic Control System II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Cap Booster 50
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive

Rocket Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Rocket
Rocket Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Rocket

Small Bay Loading Accelerator I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I

Hobgoblin II x2
Caldari Navy Mjolnir Rocket x300
Caldari Navy Nova Rocket x300
Caldari Navy Inferno Rocket x300
Mjolnir Rage Rocket x300
Nova Rage Rocket x300
Navy Cap Booster 50 x18
Nanite Repair Paste x24

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Tuskers ATXIII Recap

Our AT run has come to an end with a 5/6th place finish, having lost only two matches against the eventual winners, Warlords of the Deep.  Although we didn't place as well, and didn't take home any ships this year, I felt that we were actually a much stronger team this year.

In ATXII we were basically clueless in terms of theorycrafting, but managed to get deep into the tournament by getting good at executing a few drone-based comps.  This year, our theorycrafting was much, much stronger, and we weren't really surprised by any of the comps we saw (apart from maybe PL's Moracha setup, that was pretty cool).  In the end, we simply got beat by a team that was better than us.

And now for a recap of each match!

Match 1: Quebec United Legions

Quebec frankly doesn't have a strong tournament history, and eve-bet odds had them as 11:1 underdogs at one point, which I believe were the worst odds of any match in the entire tournament.  Regardless, we still take every opponent 100% seriously and we decided to bring what we felt was one of our strongest all-around setups: dual Typhoon Fleets.  It would eventually turn out to be an almost "meta-defining" comp once Warlords, Camel, and Exodus started running it frequently.

I flew a Typhoon Fleet in this match.  I'd never flown a Typhoon Fleet in any practice before, but I was forced to do because Bemir, one of our usual BS pilots, wasn't available.  Our team literally only had 15 active pilots during the tournament, so our bench wasn't very deep.

CCP was running on a very tight schedule on Day 1, and we had less than 1 minute after landing on grid before the match, which really threw us off.  This is one benefit of having had >100 practice matches; we all basically knew what we had to do and we got it done, quickly nuking their logi and rolling to a win from there.

Match 2: Curatores Veritatis Alliance

I was pretty nervous about this match.  CVA is regarded as a very solid mid-tier team, and frankly we had not been playing well in practices at all during the previous week so I felt that it was very possible that we could lose.

We didn't have a clear plan for what setup we wanted to bring.  When the bans came in though, the Typhoon Fleets were open so we decided to bring the same thing again, with Blackbirds replaced with Confessors (for no reason in particular, just gut feeling that Confessors would be better).

I felt much better once we landed on grid and saw their comp.  They only had frigate logi, and 720mm artillery Sleipnirs, which would never have been able to tank the incoming damage from two Typhoon Fleets.  They also didn't have enough raw DPS to break our Oneiros easily.  We played very well, and walked away with a 100-0 win.

After watching SirSqueebles stream after the match was over, we found it very amusing that the commentators confidently predicted that we'd lose.

Match 3: Warlords of the Deep

We stressed out over this match for the entire week.  We knew we were underdogs, but felt that it was definitely possible for us to win.  We had a few ideas for what we should run, many of which were taken off the table by their ban of Oneiros + Guardian.  We felt we had two choices at this point: either bring the Sleipnir rush comp that we brought, or the RLML-based setup that we eventually ended up bringing against Afterlife and Shadow Cartel.  In the end, we made the wrong choice and ended up in a pretty unfavorable matchup against a Sleipnir/Orthrus kiting setup.

Match 4: Out of Sight

Our potential opponents for this match were either Out of Sight or Rote Kappelle.  We spent most of our time studying Rote...but imagine our surprise when Out of Sight pulled out a pretty big upset!

We wanted to bring our Typhoon Fleets again, but they were banned by our opponent.  We decided to replace them with Machariels, and down-grade two of our Confessors to Heretics.  The comp is slightly weaker with these changes, but it still pretty similar in a lot of ways.  Despite what the commentators thought about Machariels, we were still confident that it would match up well with what Out of Sight had shown up to this point.

Out of sight brought a comp that was nearly identical to what they brought against Rote Kappelle.  We were well-prepared for this, and had a pretty good understanding of how their ships were fit and what we needed to do to win.  Since this was an elimination match, we played more cautiously than we needed to, but still eventually ended up with another 100-0 sweep once we broke through their Bhaalgorn.

Match 5: The Afterlife

Afterlife are a very strong team, and we spent a lot of time preparing for this one.  We felt that our RLML setup matched up well against them, and that it was very strong considering the set of bans we had.  We also believed that we needed to run something a bit different than what we had shown thus far, and everyone in our team (bar our logi pilot!) really liked our RLML comp.

What we didn't know was that Afterlife owned an Etana and were willing to use it.

We knew that we did not have the DPS to break their Battleships through reps, or the Etana's local tank.  Fortunately, we had spent some time discussing what we would do if we were to match up against a Basilisk or Proteus tinker setup (which are both similar to the Etana comp, but a lot weaker), so we had a good strategic plan for what we needed to do.

We moved to the edge of the arena, and tried to land jams on the Etana.  Once a jam landed, we'd try to nuke their tackle ships with rapid light missile spam.  We lost a Maulus and our Kitsune, but fortunately we took down enough of their frigates to narrowly take the match on points.  Really good fight, and lots of credit to Afterlife for having the balls to bring an Etana to the field.

Match 6: Tactical Narcotics Team

TNT had a great run in the tournament up to this point, but we had enough confidence in ourselves at this point where we felt that we could beat them with most of our comps.  We brought our Typhoon Fleets yet again, and were amused to see that they brought their infamous "Mr. Magoo" RLML kiting setup again.

For those who didn't follow the tournament much, TNT's setup would literally anchor all of their ships on their FC, who would lead them around the arena.  This was mocked by the AT commentators, but to be honest, it is probably more effective to do this than to try to have inexperienced pilots try to manually pilot their own ships poorly.  To TNTs credit, they did win two matches by doing this!

TNT made two mistakes:

1. Their comp didn't have any links.  This, combined with having all their ships anchor on their FC, made them pretty easy for our linked tackle ships to catch them.

2. They put a frigate-sized MWD on their Scimitar, which was promptly tackled and killed by us.  Ooops!

We ended up taking the match handily, losing only a Vengeance.

Match 7: Shadow Cartel

Shadow Cartel were one of our main practice partners, and we knew each other's setups well.  In addition, they're a very, very strong team year after year, so we knew this would be a serious challenge.

Shadow banned Oneiros + Guardian, which kind of screwed our plans up a bit.  Our contingency for this scenario was to run our RLML setup again, which we felt would do well against them.  Shadow Cartel had a tendency to run setups with a lot of bombers, which our RLML comp would do well against because:

1. RLMLs absolutely destroy bombers.
2. Bombers have nothing good to shoot at in our RLML setup, apart from the Claymore which can simply hide at the edge of the arena.

They brought a Basilisk + bomber turtle setup, which was one of the potential setups we had been expecting.  We played very cautiously (which was correctly noted by the commentators), but eventually picked off their bombers, their Hyena, and their Basilisk to give us a win on points.

Match 8: Warlords of the Deep

Tuskers vs. Warlords grudge match incoming!

This was our 4th match of the day, and we had very little time to prepare after the Shadow Cartel match.  Warlords banned armor logi against us again, which removed several of the comps we would have liked to run.

What was somewhat fortunate for us, was that we had spent the entire previous week of practice testing what we would do in case of an armor logi ban, and we had a pretty decent pool of comps to choose from.  The comp we ended up bringing would have matched up ok against a lot of other shield comps, but did not match up particularly well against the Basilisk / Widow turtle comp that Warlords brought.

We tried our best, and eventually killed all of Warlords' bombers and tackle frigates (bar the Cambions), but the match was basically over once our first Barghest died.  It was a great fight.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Punisher is the Worst Ship in Eve

Image result for eve punisher
Thar she blows!  It certainly does blow...

I have played Eve since 2013.  During this entire time, the Punisher has been the worst ship in the game.  There is no role, circumstance, or situational use that the ship excels at, except maybe as a ridiculously overtanked bait frigate, or as a tanky 2-point screening ship for an AT team, and even then one could argue that the Tormentor is better.  The Punisher is simply horrible.

I never really flew a Punisher ever, mainly because I understood from very early on that it was sub-par.  I decided to give it a spin throughout the past week simply to demonstrate how bad it is.  I mostly succeeded in killing poorly-fit ships, or people who made very big piloting mistakes: 

Two Mid Slots

The Punisher only has two mid slots.  This is often cited as its biggest drawback.  It is indeed a major one, because it means that a Punisher cannot fit a web, and within scram range it is is incapable of controlling range against anything.

That said, there are several other Amarr laser ships which only have two mid slots, and all of them are fairly strong within their class.  Lets look at what separates the Punisher from the Crusader, Slicer, Retribution, and Coercer:

Effective TurretsTracking (%)Optimal (%)Speed (m/s)

Every other ship here either has a tracking bonus, an optimal range bonus, or both.  That is a major difference.  The Crusader is probably the ship which is most similar to a Punisher.  Within its ship class (combat interceptors) it has the most effective turrets and very good speed.  On top of that, it has a great tracking bonus, which helps make up for the fact that it cannot fit a web.  The Punisher has none of these features; it's number of effective turrets is fairly average for a T1 frigate (it's the same as an Incursus, Rifter, or Merlin for example), it has no drone bay to help it deal extra damage, and no tracking or optimal range bonus. 

So: a Punisher's guns can be out-tracked by Blaster or Autocannon ships who orbit at 500, a Punisher's guns can be out-ranged by kiting ships, and the Punisher's DPS potential is clearly below average.  On top of that: the lack of a web and complete lack of range control means that virtually every other ship can disengage from a Punisher at will, meaning that even if a Punisher has the advantage in a fight, it's possible that it could still miss out on getting a kill.

Comparison with the other Amarr T1 frigates

I'm just getting started.  Let's compare the Punisher to the other Amarr T1 frigates:

Eff. TurretsMid SlotUtility HighDrone BWCap Bonus?Armor Resist Bonus?

So the most obvious difference: The Tormentor and the Executioner both have an extra mid slot which is usually fit with a web.  This alone makes them much better as solo PvP frigates.  Because of the way the tracking formula works, a 60% web is equivalent to a 150% tracking bonus in terms of pure dps application.  That is a huge advantage for these two ships over a Punisher, particularly because none of the 3 hulls has a tracking bonus.

On top of this, both the Executioner and Tormentor have much better capacitor because they get a -50% cap bonus to laser usage whereas the Punisher does not.  The Tormentor also has more DPS because of its drone bay, and the Executioner has much better speed than a Punisher in addition to the same utility high slot.  The Punisher's only advantage over the other two ships is its 4%/level armor resist bonus.  This usually means that the Punisher just dies a bit more slowly than it otherwise would.

Unlike the Executioner and the Tormentor, the Punisher also does not benefit from the recent small beam laser buff at all.  Its lack of a web, lack of a tracking bonus, and horrible capacitor means that it cannot realistically use beam lasers at all, at least not in a fit that expects to ever kill anything.

How to use the Punisher

The Punisher is the one frigate in the game that I recommend people not fly, ever.  The Rifter is also sub-par, but still serviceable, and the Slasher is also weak apart from one fit which is ridiculously overpowered against the right targets.  The Punisher is just plain bad.  That said, an MWD brawling fit will at least have some value.  It is still very much capable of slingshotting and killing MWD kiting ships such as Condors and Tristans, which are actually quite popular in low sec.  This is the fit I have been using:

[Punisher, MWD]
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Heat Sink II
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

5MN Microwarpdrive II
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I

Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency S
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency S
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Imperial Navy Multifrequency S
Small 'Knave' Energy Drain

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

Nanite Repair Paste x100
Scorch S x3

An afterburner-fit Punisher is exceptionally horrible and cannot realistically win any fight against anything unless your opponent is bad.  An AB fit cannot slingshot kiters, and even with the AB, it still cannot control range against very well any ship which has a web because it doesn't have a web of its own.

Suggested Changes to the Punisher

The Punisher needs to be completely reworked.  The entire Amarr T1 line of frigates all consist of laser ships, which is pretty boring.  Simply adding a mid slot and a bit of CPU to the Punisher would indeed help the ship, but it would also make it into a clone of the Tormentor.

Gorski Car suggested turning the Punisher into a missile ship, and I tend to agree.  I would replace its energy weapon bonus with a +7.5%/level rocket damage bonus, and replace its turret slots with launcher slots.  This would give the Punisher 4.125 effective launchers; less than a Kestrel, but slightly more than a Breacher.  The Punisher would still do less DPS than a Breacher because of its lack of a drone bay.  The Punisher would also need a 3rd mid slot, and some extra CPU to fit a web.  A rocket ship without a web would be even more useless than the Punisher is today.

Eff. TurretsDrone BWResist BonusUtility High

I think this would strike a nice balance; the Punisher would be the only armor T1 frigate with a missile bonus and a utility high slot, and would have the best buffer tank and least DPS of all the T1 missile frigates.  It would also be a nice stepping stone into a Vengeance, a Malediction, or a Heretic for newer players who are specializing in Amarr ships.

The other logical option would be to turn the Punisher into a drone ship, which would make it a first-step into a Dragoon, a Prophecy, or an Armageddon.  I suppose this is also an option, but I think it would be difficult to implement this in a way that doesn't turn it into a clone of a Tristan.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kiting Rail Comet vs Eve University

I had a pretty good fight recently in my Rail Comet vs. Eve University, so I thought I'd upload it along with some commentary about how I approached the fight.  They had a Cormorant, a Blackbird, a Comet, a Tristan, a Slasher, and a Thrasher against my Comet, and I was able to walk away with 3 kills.

No links were used in this fight.  I did have 3% hardwirings, and a Zor's speed implant.

The fit:

[Federation Navy Comet, MWD Kite]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

5MN Microwarpdrive II
Warp Disruptor II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge S
150mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge S
[empty high slot]

Small Hybrid Locus Coordinator I
Small Hybrid Locus Coordinator I
Small Hybrid Locus Coordinator II

Warrior II x3
Acolyte II x3
Caldari Navy Thorium Charge S x500
Javelin S x160
Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S x160
Spike S x160
Nanite Repair Paste x50

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Nerdy Look at Scram-Kiting Frigates

One of my favorite blogs is FiveThirtyEight, which publishes a variety of articles that apply statistical analysis to topics ranging from Politics to Sports.  In a comment on one of my youtube videos, someone suggested that I compare the various scram-kiting frigates, so I thought I'd try to apply a similar type analysis to this.  This is by far the nerdiest post I've ever written, and I'm sure that it will appeal to maybe five people in total.

A scram-kiting frigate is one that is designed to fight at a range of approximately 7.5 km.  These are very common in low sec faction warfare, and typically fit an afterburner, a warp scrambler, and web in their mid slots.  These types of fits are a "hard counter" against brawling ships that fit microwarpdrives (MWDs), and are very strong against brawling ships that fit an afterburner, provided that they are able to control range for long enough to get the kill.

Let's look as the ships.  Check this document for all the fits I used (in EFT format):

I make no claim that my fits are the best ones.  Although I try to play to the ship's strengths, I have a personal bias towards maximizing DPS, active tank potential, and speed (roughly in that order).  As such, I tend towards fitting damage rigs, and I avoid fitting any armor plates.  I have flown many of these fits in actual combat, but not all of them.  If you can link a better fit for any of these ships, then I'm happy to re-run the numbers.

Speed (m/s)DPSEHP BufferEHP ActiveEHP Total
Beam Executioner1736193256727195286
Beam Tormentor1425234312836126740
Pulse Executioner1736157256723934960
Pulse Tormentor1425196312828926020

The Punisher and the Slasher are missing here, because I think they aren't viable scram-kiting ships (at least not in a conventional sense).  The Punisher only has two mid slots so it's unable to control range against anything, and the Slasher has anemic DPS at scram range.

Speed: Maximum speed in m/s, with a heated afterburner.  Every ship has a T2 afterburner, no speed mods, and no speed rigs (such as polycarbons).  This provides a good basis for comparison of the various hulls.

DPS: Pretty self-explanatory.  The DPS number in the column assumes that guns & launchers are being heated.  For ships with drone bays, I used Hobgoblins for this calculation.

EHP Buffer: This is the passive EHP buffer that's given in EFT.

EHP Active: EHP provided by any active tank modules.  There are several assumptions made here for the sake of simplicity:

1. All active tank modules are being heated.  Every fit I am using has either an Ancillary Armor Repairer (AAR) or an Ancillary Shield Booster (ASB), or both, in the case of the Breacher.

2. All 8 charges in the AAR and all 9 charges in the ASB are used, but no additional charges are used once the charges run out.  This won't necessarily happen in a real fight; a high-DPS ship could potentially do enough damage to kill you before you get all your charges off, or you could potentially get some extra cycles once the charges run out.

3. The ship gets the full EHP rep amount from every charge in its AAR or ASB.  There are no charges wasted by "over-repping" when your HP is already full.

EHP Total: The sum of EHP Buffer and EHP Active


A scram-kiting frigate has a few potential matchups.  To simplify:

1. A mirror-match vs. another scram-kiting frigate.  This type of fight is a straight DPS vs. EHP race on both sides.  Whichever ship has a better combination of DPS and tank will usually win, although whichever ship is faster can typically disengage at will and warp away.

2. A match vs. a brawler.  A brawler tends to have have weapons with much higher DPS and much better tracking than a scram-kiter, but at the cost of having much shorter range.  A scram-kiter will win if he's able to control range outside of the brawler's optimal range.  A scram-kiter will lose if the brawler is able to close range to where he can apply his full damage.

3. A match vs. a point-range kiting ship.  An MWD kiting ship is designed to fight at a range of 15-20 km, outside of the range of typical brawling and scram-kiting ships.  This is a difficult match for a scram kiter if he's unable to apply his warp scrambler and web because his ship is typically not designed to fight at a range beyond ~10 km.  Typical MWD kiters are light missile Condors, MWD Tristans, or Slicers

Fighting vs. Scram-Kiters

This is a pretty simple situation: both you and your opponent will be trying to fight each other at the edge of scram range.  You'll likely both be applying your full damage to one-another, and whoever is flying a ship with a better DPS*EHP will usually be the one who gets the kill.  To model this, I created the "DxHP" figure of merit, which is simply DPS x EHP / 100000.  The higher the "DxHP" number, the more likely the ship will win when matched up against another scram-kiting frigate.  This is not the only thing that matters of course, the DxHP number is somewhat an oversimplification because it ignores things like resistances and damage types for specific matchups.  Here are the ships sorted in order of DxHP:

ShipSpeed (m/s)DPSEHP TotalDxHP
Beam Tormentor142523467401.58
Pulse Tormentor142519660201.18
Beam Executioner173619352861.02
Pulse Executioner173615749600.78

When I first joined the Tuskers in 2013, the Rail Incursus and the Breacher were generally considered to be the kings of these kinds of matchups within the corp.  What has changed since then are the buffs to small beam lasers, and the introduction of small transverse bulkhead rigs, which give a +20% boost to hull HP.  This change greatly boosted the DxHP of both the Tormentor and the Executioner compared to their pulse-laser variants.  The Tristan, having the most structure HP of any T1 frigate, benefited the most from the introduction of the bulkhead rigs.

With the buff to small beam lasers, the Tormentor is #1 by this DxHP figure of merit by a long shot. It's somewhat balanced by its below average speed and by being locked into dealing only EM and Thermal damage.  The Tormentor is also fairly one dimensional; regardless of whether it's fit with pulse lasers or beam lasers, and the way the Tormentor's opponent would approach the fight is roughly the same in either case.  This can make it very easy to counter (for example by loading up on EM resistances or by bringing a ship which can fit a tracking disruptor).  Despite this, I think CCP went a little bit too far with their changes to beam lasers, and right now they're probably a bit too strong.  To be fair they were one of the worst weapon systems in the game prior to the change, and it's great to see people using them now.

The rail Incursus and Breacher are also both very strong by the standards of DxHP, mostly because of their strong active tank.  This is somewhat balanced by the fact that it requires excellent module micromanagement in order to gain the maximum benefit from your active tank.  If you run the modules when repairs aren't needed, then you risk wasting charges.  This is especially true for the Breacher, which has two active tanking modules!  The Incursus has average speed and the Breacher's is slightly above average.  The Breacher also has a relatively small signature radius (36 km) and full damage type selection.  Their performance can get a little bit out of hand when adding Blue Pill boosters and Crystal implants to the Breacher, but otherwise I don't think these ships are imbalanced at all.

On the other hand, I believe that the Tristan is a bit too strong right now.  It's main strength has long been that it has a very wide variety of viable fits; they could be brawlers, triple-neut fit, scram-kiters, or fit as a long-range MWD kiter.  However, the versatility came at the cost of not excelling in any particular role.  A scram-kiting Tristan would never beat a Tormentor or a rail Incursus for example.  The introduction of the bulkhead rigs gave the Tristan a major boost to its EHP potential without any trade-offs whatsoever.  It actually has more buffer EHP than a Kestrel with a Medium Shield Extender!  Furthermore, the drone rebalance 1 year ago made acolytes very strong, so it effectively has full damage type selection now (whereas before only Hobgoblins and Warriors were viable).  I think CCP should really consider reducing the Tristan's base structure HP in order to compensate.

The bottom tier ships are the rail Atron, pulse Executioner, and the shield rocket Condor, and I think that these should probably not be used right now as "pure" scram-kiting ships in the current low-sec meta.  Each of these ships is great with different fits thought.  The Rifter deserves it's own discussion (more on this later).

The mid-tier ships in terms of DxHP are the Pulse Tormentor, the Rail Merlin, the Kestrel, and the Beam Executioner.  The Executioner perhaps does slightly too much DPS right now (thanks to the beam laser buff), but is hardly out of control.  It's thin buffer and weak active tank means that it likely won't win a fight against the other top-tier scram-kiting ships.  What it excels at is it's ability to freely disengage from a fight because of its speed.  I am personally not a fan of the Merlin for solo PvP because it is ridiculously slow, but it's certainly a serviceable scram-kiting ship.  It's also fairly versatile, in that an armor-tanked version can utilize an extra mid-slot for e-war (in the form of a tracking disruptor or a second web), which can give it an edge in certain matchups.  It's also fine as tanky fleet tackler or in a brawling frigate gang.  I actually think that the Kestrel is pretty good and that it has advantages that aren't well-captured by the DxHP metric, specifically that it has 100% damage application at any range within heated web range (regardless of transversal), and that it has full damage-type selection.

Fighting vs. Brawlers

When fighting a brawler, the scram-kiter wins by staying outside of the brawler's optimal range (where he cannot be hit).  This is easy for the scram-kiter when the brawler is in a slower ship, and such a match-up is typically an easy win.  The more difficult fight is when the scram-kiter is up against a brawler that's faster than him.  In this case, the brawler is eventually able to get to a range in which he can easily out-damage the scram-kiter.  The scram kiter wins by trying to keep his distance for as long as possible, during which he applies all his damage to the brawler so that hopefully by the time the brawler is able to get in close then he will have taken too much damage and it will be too late for him to win.

I created another metric to evaluate how well a scram-kiting frigate would match up against  a fast brawling ship.  I call this the "Brawler Figure of Merit" (BFM), and it is a reflection of how well a scram-kiting ship can control its distance and apply damage against a fast brawling ship who is trying to close in to his optimal range.  I'll discuss the methodology in the next paragraph.  If you don't care, or if it confuses you, just keep in mind that higher BFM is better, and it's determined solely by the DPS, speed, and projection of the ship, then go ahead and skip to the table.

The formula I'm using is:

BFM = [DPS] * ([PROJECTION] - 5000 ) / ( (2018-[SPEED])*0.4 ) / 6642

Where DPS is the dps of the ship and SPEED is the speed in m/s with an overheated afterburner.  The origin of the other numbers come from a hypothetical match-up against the quintessential "fast brawler": a Dramiel.  A Dramiel fit with a T2 afterburner and no speed mods will move at 2018 m/sec with its afterburner overheated, and if both you and Dramiel opponent apply webs to one another, then your velocities will be reduced by 60% (or multiplied by 0.4).  Assuming that the fight will start at over-heated web range (13 km), and that the Dramiel will start applying significant DPS and/or get under your guns when it gets to within a range of 5 km, , and this is the time during which you have to apply your damage.  Your ability to apply damage to the Dramiel is limited by the maximum projection of your ship, which is why this factors into the equation.  For turret-based ships, I used optimal + falloff / 2 for this number, for missiles I used the optimal range.  For the Tristan I chose 12000 as a guesstimate; it gets roughly 2/3rds of its damage from drones (which don't depend on range) and 1/3rd from its railguns.  The number "6642" is the total EHP of a cookie-cutter T2-fit dual-prop Dramiel.

This metric does underrate the missile and drone ships (because a Brawler can't "get under" their guns), and also probably underrates the pulse laser ships as well as the Rifter slightly, because they have superior tracking to the railgun and beam laser ships.  A BFM of 1.0 means that the ship is capable of applying enough damage to kill this Dramiel in the time that it takes for it to burn from overheated web range to a range of 5 km.  Whether it is realistic for the ship to actually beat a Dramiel, I'll leave up to you.

Speed (m/s)DPSProjection (m)BFM
Pulse Executioner1736157125001.57
Beam Executioner173619398001.24
Pulse Tormentor1425196125000.93
Beam Tormentor142523498000.71

BFM favors the faster hulls with good projection, particularly the Atron and the (Pulse!) Executioner.  The Tristan also comes out looking pretty good, especially considering that the BFM will slightly underrate a drone ship's actual performance against a fast brawler.  A Pulse Tormentor also looks surprisingly good, and it's worth noting that BFM does not consider that it's capable of switching to multifrequency crystals and acting as a pretty decent brawler in its own right.

The ships that don't perform well are the Incursus, Merlin, and to a lesser extent the Beam Tormentor.  This makes sense, especially considering the relatively poor tracking of railguns and beam lasers and the below-average speed of the ships carrying those weapons.  The Rifter on the other hand, is unique among these ships in that it is actually somewhat of a "fast brawler" itself.  It's fit with short-range autocannons and what allows it to be a scram-kiter is its falloff bonus, and therefore I think the BFM doesn't well represent the Rifter here (I still think it's not a good ship, just not 0.3 points worse than a Merlin!).  As an example, a fight between this Rifter and a blaster Atron is more-or-less just a close-range brawl.

It's also notable that the ships with good DxHP tend to have low BFM, which feels relatively balanced; the better your ship is at a pure DPS race at 7.5 km, the more vulnerable you are to being out-brawled at close range.

Fighting vs. MWD Kiters

An MWD kiter will be trying to fight you at a range of approximately 18-22 km, which is outside of your over-heated web range and inside of warp disruptor range.  This is also usually outside of a scram-kiter's optimal range.  If a scram-kiter is unable to land his scram & web early in the fight, then he is unable to control range and he is going to have a very difficult time winning the fight.  An AB-fit ship usually doesn't have enough speed to slingshot properly.

A few of the ships do have to option to switch to longer range ammo, and this combined with their ability to signature tank with their afterburner can mean that they can force a draw.  I created the "Kiter Figure of Merit" to try to quantify this:

KFM = [EHP Total]*[DPS at 20 km] / (4804 * 189)

Again, higher KFM is better.  The numbers 4804 and 189 are the total EHP and DPS of a common Slicer fit that is using scorch ammo, and thus a KFM > 1.0 means that the ship could conceivably win a pure DPS race against a Slicer at a range of 20 km.  Whether it is actually realistic for the ship to either beat or force a Slicer to retreat in a real fight, I'll leave up to you.

EHP TotalDPS at 20kmKFM
Beam Tormentor67401531.14
Beam Executioner52861130.66
Pulse Executioner496000.00
Pulse Tormentor602000.00

Ships armed with pulse lasers and rockets have limited projection, and typically cannot apply any DPS to a kiting ship.  Many of the ships have 0 KFM for this reason.  The Rifter's DPS with barrage at 20 km is so low that it may as well be zero.  Although, the Kestrel technically does have >20 km optimal range when using javelin rockets, because of the mechanics involved with missiles chasing a moving target, I do not believe that it is realistic for a Kestrel to reliably hit an MWD kiting ship.

The Tristan scores very well here because of its drone-based DPS.  This is also somewhat unrealistic, because against a fast-moving kiting ship drones will sometimes have difficulty keeping up with a moving target.  Even if only 50% of the damage were applied though, the Tristan still performs better than nearly every other T1 frigate hull in the game.  The other ships which match up well are the tankier ships which are armed with beam lasers and railguns: The Tormentor and the Incursus.

A Look at Rockets

Rockets are awesome.  Although their on-paper DPS doesn't look any more impressive compared to turret-based ships, they have two major advantages:

1. Damage type selection (Although the Condor and Hookbill are bonused mostly to kinetic only)
2. 100% application against a webbed target, regardless of range or transversal.

This gives rockets a couple advantages in a 1v1 against turret-based ships: they can attempt to either orbitr close against railguns and beam lasers, and they can maximize transversal if they're in a dps race at 7 km against pulse laser ships.  This allows them to perform above their "DxHP" in a dps race against other scram-kiting frigates.

As an example, look at this DPS chart of a beam Tormentor shooting at a Breacher.  The Tormentor does 193 DPS heated with multifrequency crystals on-paper:

At 7.5 km, by maximizing transversal, the Breacher is able to reduce incoming DPS to 135 at 7.5km!  And it's reduced by even more at closer ranges!  This is a 30% reduction to the incoming DPS,  In this scenario, the Breacher would still be applying the entirety of his DPS against the Tormentor.  Rockets still apply all of their DPS against their target even at brawling range, giving them an extra edge against fast brawling ships because they can't exploit the tracking of a missile ship.  This is why I think that the Breacher and Kestrel are far better against scram-kiters and brawlers than their raw DxHP and BFM numbers indicate.

What About the Rifter?

Poor, poor Rifter.  It's out-classed in virtually every metric that I could come up with.  While I don't think that it's a good ship, I think it's probably slightly better than what the numbers suggest.  It's gotten better ever since its tracking bonus was replaced with a falloff bonus.  Because it can use autocannons, it has the highest-tracking of any scram-kiting ship in my list, meaning that in principle it can be a pretty good brawler without refitting or even changing ammo.  It also has above average speed, and a relatively small signature radius (35km - same as an Atron).

Given all those advantages, the Rifter is still out-damaged by the pulse Tormentor with dual-light pulse lasers at all ranges, and it's out-damaged by a blaster Atron with ambit rigs and null ammo at every range beyond 5km.  It also has below average EHP, not good for a brawler,  Its slot layout isn't helping matters either, as it is sorely lacking in low slots that would help it boost its DPS, EHP, or speed.  While the same fit can either scram-kite or brawl, it's really not very good at either.

While the falloff bonus is great, the Rifter still needs some help.  I think adding an extra low slot without adding CPU would be a decent change.  This would allow it to fit an overdrive or an adaptive nano plating in order to address one of its shortcomings.


A few ships really stand out to me as excellent scram-kiters

1. Beam Tormentor
2. Rail Incursus
3. Dual-tank Breacher
4. Tristan

The Tristan is extremely strong at the moment, thanks to the introduction of hull tanking rigs.  It also has the ability to apply damage exceptionally well at any range, which gives an extremely wide engagement profile.  I honestly think that it needs a slight nerf.  I also believe that CCP buffed small beam lasers a little bit too much,  and that a reduction to their DPS of ~10-15% wouldn't be unreasonable (alternatively, they could increase the CPU requirements).

The ships that I personally wouldn't use as scram-kiters are:

1. Rail Merlin
2. Pulse Executioner
3. Rocket Condor
4. Rail Atron

I think the Merlin is too slow and too vulnerable to fast brawling ships.  Additionally, being shield tanked is a pretty big disadvantage against laser-based ships, which are becoming more and more common today.  The Rail Incursus is pretty much just plain better.  The Condor and the rail Atron are very bad against other scram-kiters because of their poor EHP and DPS capability, and the Pulse Executioner just looks inferior to the beam version is the vast majority of situations.

I probably wouldn't use a Rifter either.  This ship still needs some help.  However, I'd like to try it out for myself (I've never really flown one!) before I render a final judgement.