Sunday, November 25, 2012

Red Versus Black & Blue

Last week I challenged Connall Tara, host of the Fly Reckless podcast and ship fitting aficionado, to a duel. When I listen to him on the podcast and his love for analyzing ship fits and theorizing the possibilities I know he is a kindred spirit to me. So it only made sense to challenge the youngster and see if I still had what it takes to win a duel.

Sense I issued the challenge he had the traditional choice of ship class. I suggested we would perhaps wait until after Retribution dropped and use the new destroyers, but he was eager for one on one combat and wanted to exercise his muscles in a larger ship class so opted for battlecruisers.

Before we get to what ship I chose, let's talk about the pilot match up. Connall Tara is a member of Red Versus Blue and thus has a lot of experience in small gang and solo warfare. So while he may not have been around Eve as long as this old pilot has he has the advantage of honing his PvP skills and reflexes a lot more. On Battleclinic he has over twice as many kills as I do and is ranked in the 16 thousands compared to my mid 50 thousands.

On the other hand, I've been around as long as dirt and have cross-trained all the factions' ships and all the weapon systems and all the tanking methods. When facing an arranged duel, one thing you do is to try and predict the possible ship's your opponent will take and for me that its nearly impossible as I fly all the ships; my killboard history has Ferox, Oracle, Hurricane in just the last three months.

In addition to my flexibility, I have been in quite a few duels against notable pilots and I understand that a duel can be very different from normal PvP, and that helps to negate some of Connall's superior PvP experience.

Overall, I think we are well matched on paper.

First thing I did before selecting my own ship was check Connall's own history. I know from the podcast that he flies both Caldari and Gallente now and I could see from the killboards that he has flown a battlecruiser once in the past three months, a triple repped Myrmidon. I figured it was either that or a Drake as I don't think he has trained large hybrids weapons for a pocket battleship and a Ferox is too slow for either a blaster or rail fit in a duel (Ferox is better when your opponent underestimates you).

Whether a Myrmidon or Drake, I was facing moderate damage coupled with heavy tanking. I figured he was going for the former so my initial setup was a kiting Tornado.
Program is Pyfa. Stop asking!

I figured if the drones were a problem (i.e. I could not shoot them down) I might be in trouble but I was fairly confident I could burn away and blast them as they chased. Then kite the Myrmidon down out of his guns' range.

But if he did show up in a Drake, I was going to have a very hard go of it. I feared either way it was going to be a very lopsided victory for one of us. So I looked at options.

I was determined to use a pocket battleship as I wanted the cool factor on my side so I looked at the Oracle. Its a nice ship with good damage projection, but that works better in small gangs or fleets and not so much one on one. I was too slow to maintain optimal against all but the slowest targets and I was sure Connall was not bringing an armour buffer tanked Ferox! So I looked at the Talos and decided to go for overwhelming firepower at close range, hoping it could overcome the defenses of the Myrmidon or Drake before going down.

The Talos has a nice trifecta of nice damage, some tank (33K EHP), and some mobility to catch another battlecruiser. With buffed Void ammo I get a theoretical 1093 DPS with my skills and the drones add another 93. Overheating can push that north of 1300 DPS. The speed is 1282 m/s maximum which should be enough to catch another battlecruiser outside of a fast Minmatar one which I'm 99% sure Connall can't fly (yet). The web and scram should be enough to slow any battlecruiser target down enough to track with Void ammo, but I had a spare mid slot and I decided to further increase my damage application with a target painter which I believe should increase the quality of the hits. The only question is if my damage potential is superior to my opponent's tanking potential.

The Actual Fight

We hooked up in Kinakka in Black Rise which I think is roughly between our home systems and has Gallente control so I can dock and high sec adjacent system for easy travelling to low sec for Connall. Time zone differences meant I logged in on Saturday afternoon so my opponent was not staying up too late.

Once we were both online, we undocked and agreed to meet at planet IV. I saw Connall in a Gallente Myrmidon and I hoped it was a convential setup. I wondered if my Talos gave him any pause but on Skype he said nothing. Maybe the dark skies of low sec was unnerving him. ;)

I landed at planet IV first and launched my drones. The Myrmidon came in and landed right beside me at zero and I breathed a sigh of relief. He locked me up quick and I was webbed and scrammed in short order, my shields half gone before I finished locking. There was those RvB honed reflexes I was worried about. I set orbit to 6500 meters and turned on my web and scram and painter and blasters and told my drones to get to work.

So there we were, both webbed and scrammed to a virtual standstill, blasting away at each other while drones whirled around in a haze around us. No chasing, no tricks to save either of us. Will my damage outpace his tank?

It didn't take very long to find out. With my Talos having 10% armour left, Connall's Myrmidon exploded in a pleasing flash of light.

He had brought a dual repping setup which is solid in usual 1v1 situations against enemy battlecruisers, but against a tier 3 pocket battleship setup for maximum damage application it simply lacks the tank. He could repair a portion of my damage per second but the ship lacked any buffer to absorb the rest and victory was mine. A tripled repped Myrmidon may have had a better chance but even then the damage of the Talos is fierce and fast and may have overwhelmed the ship even then.

Good fight, Connall. Better luck next time. If you take anything away from this little tussle it should be this: train large hybrids.

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