Ratting

WARNING! Fairly long post ahead, verbal Diarrhoea aplenty. You’ve been warned.

The efficiency with which I manage to completely miss what I’m aiming at never fails to amaze me. I am convinced if I aimed a gun at a barn I could shoot myself up the arse quite capably.

So I decided a while back that the reason I don’t enjoy PVP is because, if I’m honest, I’ve never really done it that much. Fair enough too. So, as I have iterated here in the past , I decided to take drastic action and join a PVP training corp in low sec. To get half decent at PVP, that was my aim, and an excellent idea it was, too.

So I’ve been in the corp about two weeks, getting kills and generally having a ball in low sec, when it’s announced that we’re going on a road trip to null sec. Fair enough, no problem with that – kill some people in null sec instead of low sec, sure.

Except we’re not in null to PVP, we’re there to rat. This was NOT what my aim was, if I remembered correctly. Seems our senior corp is busy shooting and being shot at in a war campaign, so we’re keeping up the ole’ sec status for them by ratting their havens and such for them.

Now, the thing is, I’ve done this. Lots of it. It’s bloody boring. Fly in, stop. Kill everything, scan next one, rinse and repeat; as the old saw goes.

I did this for a few evenings and watched the wallet fattening up, nothing like it used to, ‘cos I don’t have my Machariel with me, just a T2 fit Maelstrom; but definitely making good ISKies.

Chased a few neuts around and helped kill a Domi who obviously wanted a ticket out the quick way, unless sitting on a hostile undock on your own in null sec is some new tactic I’m not familiar with.

There’s been good opportunities to get to know my corpies a bit better, which is invaluable when you’re trying to settle into a new corp and get past the “he’s prolly a spy” stage.

There’s also been some unexpected entertainment provided by our head instructor, who was the first to lose a ship to rats, quickly followed by three more, all Drakes.

Upon asking why he was so glum the night before last, he replied, “I’m mourning my fourth Drake loss.”

“Come on,” says yours truly in my best encouraging tone, “it can’t be that bad, you must be getting used to it by now.” I think I may have lost some Brownie points with him there, he seemed a touch miffed at my attempted encouragement. I really need to work on my political correctness a touch, I think.

Anyhow, I was getting bored with the whole process of doing something I had done a thousand times before, in a much better ship, in a much faster fashion and I was getting fed up. Fast.

Until I hit upon an idea. What if I was to turn the ratting trip, with all its attendant repetitiveness, into a PVP training trip?

How? I’m glad I asked.

By putting away the Maelstrom and undocking in a Hurricane instead. Now I can hear all the conventionalists howling, “Drake, Drake, Drake!” However, I would ask you to hear me out.

I agree, the Drake is indeed the battlecruiser of choice, due to its battleship sized ubertank and ability to throw missiles at things a long way away, where they can’t hurt you back from.

I got to thinking, however, of the Minmatar philosophy; you know the one, launching yourself down a staircase on an office chair with an Uzi in each hand, screaming incoherently and firing indiscriminately.

I thus decided to try out a different approach, something different. Of course in the manner of good sales and marketing people everywhere today, first I had to come up with a suitably edgy and funky title for it. Thus it was that I used something I coined during a conversation one day and bestowed upon an old friend of mine, who now wears that same term proudly as a corp title.

We all know about shield tanking, armor tanking, hull tanking, speed tanking and signature tanking.

Now I have come up with a new form of defense, in honour of my aforementioned buddy, it’s called Face Tanking.

The thinking behind face tanking is simple. They cannot do DPS to you, if you’re literally zooming around inside their cargo bay. Incredibly, it works.

Don’t believe me? Don’t blame you, really. It’s really a load of bollocks, but I thought the name was pretty good. In actual fact, it’s a combination of speed tanking and signature tanking, with a bit of shield tanking as a get out of jail free card.

Basically, it’s a shield rigged 425mm Autocannon fit Cane with a Nosferatu (Medium Diminishing Power Drain) and cloak in the high’s (cloaks just in case of unwelcome visitors), Afterburner2 & Large Shield Extender2 and Med shield booster with hardeners in the mids, Damage Control2, Gyrostabilizer2’s and Tracking Enhancer2’s in the lows, plus 5 light drones of whatever flavour works best.

Now, before any EFT warriors start poking holes, poking fun or any other pokey type behaviours, (in my best American voice) just let me say this: it works. Really, really well.

Soloing hubs in fairly rapid fashion with 10 mill ISK + bounty ticks kind of well. And I haven’t lost one yet. Errrmmm … probably shouldn’t have said that …

By comparison, our chief instructor and slayer of Drakes does 8 mill ISK bounty ticks in the same hubs, with better skills than I have.

There are some cautions here, though.

First, remember how I said I was wanting to get PVP training while ratting? Hmmm? Well, now I do. Because the only way to use this fit to it’s full potential (and without dying horribly) is to fly it manually, with the ship zoomed out a fair way. Which is what PVP’ers tend to do, or so they tell me.

So here’s how it works: you fly in to the hub at about forty or fifty clicks distance and straight away turn on the afterburner (it’s cap stable without the repper on) and fly in towards the structure at a good angle, keeping your transversal up as much as possible (make sure you have your transversal velocity on in your overview). Use your drones to start killing the senty guns and launchers first (they really hurt), followed by the frigates and then the cruisers. Use the AC’s as soon as you know you’re going to do decent damage (for me with all medium AC skills at 5 it’s about 30k using -50% range ammo). All the time you must adjust your angle of approach to keep your transversal at optimal. During this initial approach is the only time I sometimes need the repper running, then I use the NOS on the battleships to bump the cap back up.

From here on in you stay as close to the structure as possible, flying in such a fashion as to maximise transversal on all the remaining BS’es, going from one to the next and face tanking them by staying at 500 to 2,000m away from the one you’re currently shredding.

One thing I must stress, DON’T, – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS MINMATAR -, STOP! – if you do, your death will be swift and spectacular. This means turns should not be so tight that you lose too much speed, and you must avoid collisions with structures and ships at all costs. This gets pretty complex once the BS rats start to split up and it takes a lot of constant double clicking in space. I always have the next target in mind as I adjust my direction, as soon as the current target pops you should already be on your way towards (sort of) the next one.

If this sounds like madness to you, that’s cool. Don’t do it then. Grab a Drake and go get a coffee and donuts between spawns. If you want to be clenching your butt and chewing your nails while ratting, however, I cannot recommend this highly enough. As I get more practice, I set new goals for myself. I can now do the entire hub from start to finish without using the repper at all, most times. I have gotten one 11 mill ISK bounty tick without a faction spawn and in the last few I was having extra fun by flying in between the structures.

The big thing for me is that manual flying is becoming second nature, and I’m actually enjoying ratting for a change. I’m also learning to get faster at turning the ship, engaging and disengaging mods, switching targets and trying to lose as little speed as possible.

Is it as much fun as PVP? No, of course not. There’s no unpredictable behaviour from rats, it’s like fighting the civil service, really. The rats don’t hot drop you, switch targets or suddenly bugger off if they’re in danger of dying. It is, however, much more fun than ratting in a BS, or a Drake or four, for that matter.

It’s all in the mind, you know.

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