Friday, 28 January 2011

Skirmish Interceptors Part 1 - One Man and his Inty

With the first run of Agony's long awaited Skirmishing class coming up, I think it's probably worth a post on the topic. When I joined Agony I spent my first year or so flying this role almost exclusively, and I can absolutely recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to be just another gun.

First of all, I should probably explain what a Skirmisher is. In Agony, a Skirmisher is a pilot who operates independently from the main fleet whose main role is to locate and tackle targets. This may be in a +1 or -1 position (that is, one system ahead of or behind the main fleet) or it may be further afield. Skirmishers also double as scouts, providing early warning of hostile gangs in the area.


The Ship

The ship of choice for this job is the fleet interceptor (stiletto, ares, malediction or raptor), and that's what I'm going to be focusing on in this article. The high speed, long point range and ability to hold a target alone for a very long time make these ships especially suited to operating away from the fleet. Other popular choices include combat interceptors (who tend to take a more hands-on approach), dramiels, interdictors and t1 frigates. Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses with regard to the role and will go about it in a slightly different way, but the general principle is the same.

How you fit your ship for this job is very important. Whatever ship class you choose, there are two things you absolutely require:

  1. Speed - You're going to be covering a lot more distance than the rest of your fleet as you duck into side systems on bounce around planets looking for a target. If you can't do this quickly, your whole fleet will be slowed down (which is bad!). You also need to be fast enough to catch a target when you find one, whether that means physically burning towards them to tackle or chasing them in warp as they try to escape.
  2. Survivability - When you catch a target, you need to be able to hold it until your fleet arrives. Sometimes this might be 30 seconds, sometimes it will be 5 minutes. If you're dead by the time your fleet gets there your target will have escaped, and you'll have died for nothing.
In terms of fleet inties in particular, you're going to want a MWD (obviously) and a t2 warp disruptor (aka point) to make the most of that tackle range bonus. Make sure you've got enough locking range to make the most of your maximum point range, taking into account overheat if you've got it. Personally I like to have a sensor booster so I can swap for range script when burning in on a target (if you start locking at 50km you should be able to tackle the moment you get into range).

Another thing to bear in mind is cap stability - depending on your skills, some of the fleet inties are not completely cap stable with MWD, point and sensor booster running. You don't need to keep going forever (and depending on your range, may be able to turn your sensor booster off after the initial tackle) but make sure you've got enough cap stability to hold tackle until backup arrives.

I strongly recommend you fit some tank too. A damage control at lest is pretty much essential - for the first few months I flew my inties with a pure speed fit, and while you can evade a lot of the incoming damage I've definitely lost more targets to dying/having to bug out than to not having one more nanofibre in my lows. You may even want to go tankier again, usually by fitting a medium shield extender (the stiletto is especially good for this thanks to its extra mid). This generally requires an MAPC to fit which loses you another low slot, and your signature radius takes a hit, but almost doubling your effective HP is hard to turn down.

As far as guns go, don't try fitting artillery/rails etc and shooting the guy you're tackling - your small amount of dps is really not that significant. Instead, fit guns with decent tracking and if possible, flexible range (autocannons are perfect, especially so since they don't use any cap). These are for shooting the drones, which will inevitably be sent after you. We'll talk more about drones in a later article.

Other than that, try to keep your speed high, and your signature radius low (unless you get a significant benefit, for example by fitting a shield extender).

In case you haven't guessed already, the stiletto is my favourite. It's generally the most expensive inty (at the time of writing, this is the case by a significant margin), however the extra mid and low signature radius make it both survivable and flexible. I've also flown the ares (which I like) and the malediction (which I wasn't really impressed with). Here are some fits I fly regularly:

[Stiletto, Track Skirmish]
Damage Control II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Overdrive Injector System II

Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Warp Disruptor II
Sensor Booster II
DDO Photometry Tracking Disruptor I, Tracking Speed Disruption

125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Barrage S
125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Barrage S
TE-2100 Standard Missile Bay, Caldari Navy Flameburst Light Missile

Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Small Semiconductor Memory Cell I

This is the fit I used for a long time. This one is cap-stable without the track, and thanks to the cap amount rig is able to keep that running too for quite a while. Obviously the track makes this excellent against turret ships, but you're still fairly fragile at 3k EHP and if your target has friends things can go bad very quickly. These fits are from before the rocket buff; a rocket launcher may actually serve better now for anti-drone. The other alternative is a core probe launcher if you're skirmishing in an area that has a lot of sites.

[Stiletto, Tough Skirmish]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Damage Control II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
Warp Disruptor II
Sensor Booster II
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction

125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Barrage S
125mm Gatling AutoCannon II, Barrage S
TE-2100 Standard Missile Bay, Caldari Navy Flameburst Light Missile

Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I

This is the afforementioned MSE fit. I've used variations on this quite a lot recently, and I'm considering switching to it for good. You have about 5k EHP compared to 3k for the fit above, and the speed is about the same thanks to the second polycarb rig. You're not completely cap stable, but can run everthing for about 7 minuts with good skills, which should be enough for most situations. If you drop the missile launcher to a rocket or probe launcher you can fit a MSE II for a few hundred more EHP, although the sig penalty is also slightly larger than for the meta 4. For an even tougher fit you can swap the polycarbs for shield rigs taking you up to just over 6k EHP in exchange for about 400m/s and another sig increase - ymmv, let me know what you think if you try it.

You can do similar things with the other fleet inties too, although you'll need to swap the sensor booster for a targeting range rig to do a MSE fit.

That's about it as far as the ship goes. Next up, we'll talk about how to actually fly these things!

3 comments:

  1. Hey Azual,

    I've been flying the Stiletto a lot lately and I'm a big fan of putting Defender missiles on it. I think I first heard about that fit from Glepp. It sure mitigates a lot of damage from the ever-present Drake.


    Cheers,
    Maudite

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can you give us armor ace pilots some examples?
    I prefer Amarr rigs, but anything to build off of would be pleasent.
    I just started reading, so its possible you have already and I just havent got to that artical yet.

    Good hunting,
    Blacksheep8Delta

    ReplyDelete
  3. Personally I prefer shield tanks for almost any inty. However if you wanted to armour tank one, I'd probably look at something like this:

    [Malediction, Armour]
    Damage Control II
    200mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
    Adaptive Nano Plating II

    Catalyzed Cold-Gas I Arcjet Thrusters
    Warp Disruptor II
    Sensor Booster II

    Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Foxfire Rocket
    Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Foxfire Rocket
    Rocket Launcher II, Caldari Navy Foxfire Rocket
    [empty high slot]

    Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
    Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I

    ReplyDelete

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