Surprise Your Enemies – Impress Your FriendsGorski Car
Hello friends, Gorski Car here. In this article I am going to talk to you a bit about flexibility and unpredictability when fitting your ships for frigate PvP. The frigate dueling meta very much in a rock-paper-scissors state at the moment. Many times a fight is won way before the actual battle, simply through knowledge about what beats what. This article aims to help you break out of the standard cookie-cutter mentality and discusses why using the “best fit” and being predictable is bad.
Flexibility and Predictability
good players can estimate if a match-up will be won or lost
In the state of current frigate solo PvP, good players can estimate if a match-up will be won or lost by knowing what the cookie-cutter fits are and how to spot them. This is why you want to stay unpredictable. By using an unorthodox fit you can sometimes trick experienced players into taking a fight if they assume the “standard” fit. They think that they will win, but if you surprise them you have the advantage. This can be achieved by something as simple as fitting rockets on a Garmur and go for full brawling, or armor tanking a shield tanked ship in order to use the extra mid slots for EWAR.
Let’s take the Caldari Navy Hookbill as an example. It’s a frigate with a high number of mid slots (5) and the ability to use both rockets for brawling and light missiles for kiting. This is a really simple way of being flexible because the enemy will not know if you are going to kite or brawl before they go into a fight. However, which tactics you will use is also very easy to identify. An experienced pilot might look at which weapons you have or check your speed for hints.
A common trait for most powerful frigates is that they are all very unpredictable and have many different good fits. For example, the Tristan can both be a brawler and kiter with the extra layer of having a popular energy neutralizing brawler fit as well.
Fits and Theorycrafting
Anyway, back to the Hookbill. I like to use this ship as a example simply because it highlights how you can use non-bonused EWAR and the massive number of mid slots to be highly unpredictable. Here is the standard baseline fit for a rocket brawling Hookbill.
The propulsion module is already a variable at this stage, and afterburning versions are more popular in lowsec. The standard here is a dual web fit with rockets, and that actually works very well. However, the point of this article is to be unpredictable so why not do something different. By going with tracking disruptors you can fit the Hookbill to be heavily favored against any turret-based ships and in many cases that almost guarantees a free win. This is something that your target has to take into consideration every time he fights you, but there is no way to know whether you are fitted with tracking disruptors other than checking your killboards before the fight.
We are still in vanilla predictable territory though. The TD brawl or damp-kite Hookbills are very popular fits and a look here confirms this. So why not go another level down. By fitting a full rack of ECM in your mid slots and (ab)using a mobile depot to make sure that you can switch to the correct racial jammers, you will be able to really surprise your targets. Since frigate PvP tends to be so short, it often just takes a single jam to ensure victory.
This fit is very experimental though, and in the end it actually relies on a roll of the dice to win fights. Even though good pilots tend to have luck and a complete lack of honor, there might be some people who actually feel real-life pain from flying a ship with ECM fitted. I still think it is an option that should get explored more for frigate PvP. I have personally used EC-300s on my Taranises/Dramiels with great luck and I even used the odd non-bonused jammer on different frigates, and they really do work.
Another thing to look at when we are discussing the Hookbill is that it actually can shoot quite far with rocket launchers. The ship has a 10%/level bonus to missile velocity and this can be used to create some really strange kite fits with rocket launchers fitted. The Hookbill gets 15.2km range with faction ammo, 12.7km range with Rage and 22.8km range with Javelins loaded.
This is somewhat similar to how a Slicer is also able to kite with a close range weapon system fitted. Kiting with rockets is still somewhat unpopular and not really used much but it is still something that you can legitimately do. By using a couple of range rigs you can bump the range of the Hookbill to over 30km. A fit like this might look very weird at first …
… but let me explain how this will work.
This is a fit I obviously would only run in lowsec given the lack of microwarpdrive, but it is also using that assumption to its advantage. Under the condition that your target will do the same and skip the microwarpdrive, you can actually kite by using an afterburner and a long point. The dual webs also help you in keeping range for even longer. This fit acts like a pseudo kiter similar to the way Worms and Tristans sometimes do. You try to kite for as long as possible to inflict damage while the targets get in range, but once they are in range you brawl them. Or in this case, kite at heated web range.
Something to take into consideration when kiting with rockets is that they actually do not project damage very far, and high speed targets can actually burn so fast that your missiles sometimes won’t hit, so don’t try to stay right at that 27km edge. Just because Pyfa says the rockets can reach that distance doesn’t mean that they will effectively hit a target at that range.
Hopefully this article has opened your eyes a bit towards the more weird choices you can make while fitting your ship in order to stay unpredictable. I used the Hookbill as an example here because it is simply one of the most flexible frigates but the same principle works for a whole lot of other ships.
In general, remember that mid slots are the most valuable slot when doing solo frigate PvP because of the increased flexibility and range control they offer. Also remember that there is nothing forcing a ship to be either armor or shield tanked (or even hull tanked). Many ships that are traditionally shield tanked actually work very well as armor tanked ships for solo PvP.
Go out, have fun and break some rules.