Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Combat Tactics for PvE

To be honest, a new pilot is not really ready for PvP other than friendly battles with mates or corp mates.  Your skills put you at a great disadvantage at the beginning.  However you have to do something to make money and this is how you get into PvE.  PvE stands for Player vs Environment which is another way of saying "fighting NPCs" You will need to do this if you want to run Combat Mission, go Ratting in belts or do exploration complexes.  This is a guide for new player combat.  As you get more skilled you will have more options available to you.

Fitting for PvE
There are a few standards when fighting PvE.  Ratting tends to be small groups but missions and complexes are often long and have a lot of damage coming at the pilot.  This means you need your tank to be as sustainable as you can get it.  A permanently running tank (perma-tank) is the ultimate goal but you can get away with using cap boosters or pulsing your repairer in low level sites.  You will notice that to run a repairer you need good capacitor recharge rates.  To begin with you should probably design your ship around your tank.  Get the tank worked out then add weapons.

Here is a list of modules types that increase your capacitor somehow;
  • Cap Recharger
  • Capacitor Power Relay
  • Capacitor Flux Coil
  • Power Diagnostic System
  • Capacitor Booster
  • Capacitor Battery
These are in the Engineering Equipment section of the market. The Shield and Armour Modules have their own sections in the market window.

It is very tempting to fit close range weapons for their high damage output but they have a problem.  If you are at close range to a target then you are inside THEIR weapon range too.  Fighting with close range weapons usually means diving head first into a group of enemies and hoping for the best.  It also has the disadvantage of requiring you to chase down every rat in the mission/complex.  For new pilots, it is usually better to use long range weapons and snipe from distance.  This often keeps you out of their weapon range and avoids incoming damage. Use long range ammo and you can attack from a good distance.  This technique has one disadvantage, when they get close and orbit you your guns have trouble tracking them.  The best solution is to keep at range by using an afterburner or microwarpdrive.  Optionally fit a stasis webifier and slow them down for your guns.  Flying away from the enemy will force then into a neat pile behind you for easy destruction.

This leads to the technique called "Kiting".  Imagine a kid running with a kite pulled along behind him.  You are the kid, the rats are the kite and the string is your weapons fire.  Basically head away from the rats and draw them along behind you.  This has the effect of reducing the angular velocity of the targets so your guns will track them easily.  Missile users get a little extra range too.  To use this technique you are going to need an Afterburner at least. Keeping targets at the 12 km to 18 km range will make life easier for your tank as well because rats often have close range weapons fitted.

Controlling Aggro
When a squadron of rats targets you it is said that have have aggression from them. This is often called "aggro".  You can tell if you have aggro from a rat because they will have either a flashing yellow (targeted) or flashing red (shooting) box around them in the space view and overview window.  Rats in missions and complexes are arranged in groups.  These groups aggro targets based on triggers.  The most common trigger is being attacked. Another is flying close to them or something else like a gate.  Some groups aggro because a group nearby has been attacked.  Lastly they may aggro because of drones attacking targets nearby.

You should try to avoid getting everything in the pocket (also called rooms) aggroing you at one time except under special circumstances.  Move away from close groups and then aggro individual groups one at a time.  This will help you control the incoming damage and Ewar effects used by rats.  Research each mission or site on the web and find out want triggers the aggro of each group.  If you are afraid to attack a rat with weapons because it might aggro nearby groups then fly close to one group and speed away when they get annoyed.  Lastly some directed Ewar modules will aggro one group without being considered an attack buy other groups.

Drone boat users have another problem.  It is really annoying when rats aggro your drones.  Usually a drone boat will aggro everything in a site before deploying drones.  Otherwise it needs to be really careful with the drones and call them in if they get attacked.  Also be careful of drones attacking spawn triggers before you are ready for them.  If you are a drone boat you should be micro managing your drones to avoid the traps.

Spawns are new groups of  rats entering the combat zone.  They will target randomly and even target drones.  Its usually hard to control who they attack so people in fleets should be careful of new spawns.

The Golden Rule
 The golden rule is this: Kill the frigates first and fast.  Why is that? I hear you ask.  It is because frigates are what kill you in missions and complexes.  They may not actually do the damage but they are usually doing some kind of ewar against you which is making you a sitting duck.  They often web you and that kills your tank and ability to control the fight.  Frigates are also the most common warp disruptor/scramblers you encounter which will stop you from warping away from trouble.  Level 4 missions are where you will start to encounter warp scrambling/disrupting frigates.  These are often detailed in the web references about missions.  I don't think I've encountered a high sec complex that has scramblers in it. 

Do Some Research
Its is a very good idea to research the mission or complex you are about to do on the net.  There are many good sites out there detailing the mission/site and telling you what you need to know.  The first thing you need to know is what damage the enemy is doing.  Tank your ship to suit.  Next find out what damage the enemy is weak to.  If you can customise your ammo/drones to suit then that will have a major effect on your fight (especially against bosses).  Next find out if there are any ships or towers that use webs or energy neutralisers against you.  You will have to deal with these fast as your tank depends on it.  Then see what ships are going to scramble you so you know what to kill first. 

Ratting Tips
Ratting is the act of going around the asteroid belts in a system and killing the random spawns of rats in the belts.  Ratting is a lot easier than Missions or Complexes.  You don't need a sustained tank as you will rarely face more than five ships.  in High sec you will not face anything bigger than a frigate.  Low sec can be cruisers and battleships in the same spawn.  Bounties in high sec rarely go above 15,000 but can be quite decent in low sec and Null.

So why would you rat when a mission will give you your own private rats to kill?   Well Spawns in belts have a small chance of being special.  In high sec and low sec there is a chance the spawn will either be a Faction Spawn or a Hauler Spawn.

A Faction spawn is a spawn of rats that includes a special rat belonging to one of the groups that are considered higher ranked than the normal rats.  For example for the Serpentis Corp there are Shadow Serpentis which are the Faction version. The bounty for these rats are much higher and they are tougher opponents.  The real money is in the special items they drop in their wreck.  I have seen items worth 400 MISK drop in high sec faction spawns.  They are the source of Tech 2 implants and some faction modules.  Always check the wreck of any rat that looks odd.  They wreck will also sometimes salvage into tech 2 salvage. 

Hauler spawns usually have some guards and some rats named hauler or loader etc.  They are Miner rats.  The odd rats will be hauling a quantity of minerals in their wreck.  In null sec there can be 40 million units or better in a hauler spawn.  They sometimes drop the rarer minerals too.  On very rare occasions they drop a mining module that could be worth a fair bit due to their rarity.

In null sec there is one more type of spawn to know about; The Officer spawn.  Officers are ultra rare and drop some really valuable loot.  However they are usually too tough for normal ships.  They are killed with carriers.  If you find one of these either call in a friend with a carrier or try to sell off the spawn to someone with a carrier.

Last note is about Incursions.  While an Incursion is affecting a constellation, there will be Incursion rats spawning in the belts.  They will be named like they were individuals but they don't drop anything worthwhile.  Also they are meant to be fought by a team or a very well setup ship.  New players should avoid ratting in Incursion systems