Ninjering 101 covers basic techniques that all ninjas should master. Stuff like using scan probes, fitting a salvage ship and rudimentary combat. And not talking in local. Please. Never talk in local. This one is about timers and flags and such. Also, someone gets blown up \o/
Fighting in High Sec is a fairly unique experience in EVE, especially in the densely populated areas which we frequent. A bit of situational awareness and a knowledge of game mechanics go a long way towards making you a more proficient warrior in this battlescape. Or rather, a slightly less terrible player. Yesterday I fought a Scorpion Navy Issue and the outcome was decided by game mechanics rather than brute DPS. I'll take you through the fight blow by blow and explain what's going on. Grab a coffee. Pay attention. There will be an exam.
|Sitting comfy? Let's get started.|
Once upon a time in Aunia
The day found me in the lovely system of Aunia, stripping wreck fields in a triple-salvager Probe named Vicky. I was trying to work out how much ISK per hour a newbie might make in this profession (it's about 20-30 million) when a fellow by the name of Zarbow decided to take offense and throw a few cruise missiles my way. How rude! I promptly spooled up Vicky's warp drive to dock in Aunia's one station and fetch my trusty Cynabal Marilyn. As I landed, however, so did Zarbow.
Mechanics: Weapons flags and docking radius. Zarbow was under a 60-second weapons flag and unable to dock. We were both within docking range of the station.
Problem: Although Zarbow could not dock and get to safety for another 45 seconds at least, I was not in a combat ship. I'd have to dock, board Marilyn, undock and engage. He might warp off while I was docking and I would not be able to tell where to. If he stuck around, I would then have to melt Zarbow within the remaining ~30 seconds before he could dock. I would incur a 60-second weapons flag myself which could be a problem if any of the half a dozen neutral onlookers decided to take a swing at me.
Options: I could either get Marilyn out and try for the kill, or attempt to lure Zarbow back to a more favorable battlefield.
I really didn't want to engage on the station so I swung Vicky around again and returned to the mission. Zarbow had shot me once and gotten away with it – he would likely shoot me again. To my surprise he landed back in the mission very shortly after me, with three minutes left on the Limited Engagement timer. An engagement in a mission pocket was much more to my advantage. So I brought Marilyn out of the Aunia undock and promptly mis-warped her, landing 90km away from Zarbow. I cursed, kicked in the microwarp drive and burned for Zarbow as quick as I could. Zarbow opened up on me once more. That's when the mission rats decided they wanted to play too.
Mechanics: Mission rat AI and missile damage calculation. Missiles do damage based on the target's speed (slower target = more damage) and signature radius (larger radius = more damage).
Problem: The pocket turned against me and I was hit by a battleship rat and a statis webifier. This slowed me down significantly, while my MWD was still ballooning my signature radius. With Zarbow's own target painters adding to my signature radius even more, his cruise missiles were hitting me pretty hard and so were the rat's.
Options: Hang on and call for backup or break off and try again.
Although Zarbow had proven susceptible to being baited back into a fight (and had just reset our five minute LE flag), I had shown my hand by showing up in a Cynabal instead of a Probe and that significantly decreased the likelyhood of him sticking around. I called for backup and soldiered on. After landing point on Zarbow I got into orbit, switched off my MWD to get rid of that awful signature bloom, and started laying into his shields and capacitor.
Leffy had to jump two gates to get to Aunia and landed his Osprey 90km away from us. There was something funny about the warpin in this pocket. My shields were beginning to buckle. Zarbow 's active tank was breaking under my energy neutralizer, but he still had a battleship's worth of armor and hull for me to chew through. Marilyn – being only a cruiser, after all – would be fairly short work once her shields gave out. Leffy was closing in but not fast enough. I broke off as I hit 50% armor and approached Leffy for a few quick licks of RR. Zarbow warped just before I could re-establish point.
And I forgot to take screenshots, so here's a picture of a sexy ninja lady. That should up my Google traffic a bit.
|Hah! Caught you Googling for ninja porn. Pervert.|
I followed Zarbow to the station and saw him warp away again as I landed, this time towards the Auvergne stargate. Marilyn may not tank missions very well but she aligns like a boss and I caught up with Zarbow on the stargate, both of us still under about 30 seconds of weapons timer. This left us in a similar situation as earlier on the station, except now we were both low on our tanks.
Mechanics: Weapons flags not only prevent you from docking, but also from using a stargate.
Problem: There was only a short while left on the timer and Zarbow had had the opportunity to recharge his capacitor and get a few shield boost cycles in. He might be able to tank it out.
Options: Engage Zarbow on the gate and hope that he'd either break before the timer ran out or re-aggress. Alternatively, sit there staring at each other and see what his next move would be.
Zarbow had now felt the sting of Marilyn, seen Leffy's RR, and fixed himself firmly on bravely running away. His options were many. He could jump the gate to Auvergne, warp to a random moon where I'd be hard-pressed to find him, or even warp back to station and dock. Under these circumstances I chose to fight it out on the gate. To my delight he shot back – resetting his 60-second weapons flag and sealing his fate.
|Indeed there was.|
Not every mission runner gank is a clean story of warp in, grab point and melt bear. In more complex scenarios it pays to be aware of game mechanics such as suspect flags, weapons flags and how they limit the options available to both yourself and your prey. CCP has made this relatively easy by displaying the flags accurately and prominently in the top-left of your screen, and by providing a very thorough devblog on how they work. So here's your homework, kids: read that devblog carefully, think of how it affects our line of work, then read it again and again until you know the flags by heart. Some day it's going to make the difference between blowing up a shiny faction battleship and being left stranded on a stargate.