Thursday, 13 August 2015

Bringing Back the Vigil

Rooks and Kings was one of the first organisations to really begin pushing the T3 cruiser meta, working up off the old Armour HAC doctrines so famously espoused by Shedoo (amongst others).

The recipe for success is fairly simple;
Add a bunch of low-sig long-range fit heavily brick-tanked armour boats with good resists
Ensure you have whoppingly awesome overblown logi (like, at least 25% of your fleet if not triage)
Kill all webbers
Keep moving and maximise transversal
Pew pew pew!

The whole doctrine (one of the few coherent doctrines) relies on two formulae; the tracking formula, and the missile formula. Both of these work for low-sig armour tanked AHAC/T3 doctrines because sig radius becomes important to shed inbound DPS. Yeah, yeah, preaching to the choir - you all know this. A lot of you, however, have got it via received wisdom (everyone else flies armour T3 blobs so you do) and use it because you don't need to know how a jet engine works in order to sit in an airplane. Some others know how it works, in principle, but you aren't really au fait with the exact specifics and limitations.

The key element of the AHAC Doctrine is signature radius and a limited minimum mobility. Seems straightforward, right? But what does it mean in practical terms. To explain this, I'll resort to graphs.

First the conditions of the experiment;
PYFA 1.13.2 DPS graphs were created for the following ship shooting Barrage M
Drone DPS was excluded as it's irrelevant to the argument (mostly)

[Rupture, AC]

Gyrostabilizer II
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Gyrostabilizer II

50MN Cold-Gas Enduring Microwarpdrive
Large Shield Extender II
Warp Disruptor II
Large Shield Extender II

425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
[Empty High slot]

Medium Projectile Ambit Extension I
Medium Projectile Ambit Extension I
Medium Projectile Ambit Extension I

The target was assumed to maintain a 1700m/s velocity (mostly because some variables have to remain constant). The target signature was analysed for values of 125, 250, 325, 500, 625, 750 and 1000m. Angular velocity was fixed at 45, 60 and 90 degrees for each signature radius increment. The values were collated and are presented in the following radar graphs.

How you read the graph is that the further from the centre, the higher the inflicted DPS.  The sig radius of the target increases counter clockwise from 0 to 1000. The angular velocity to the target is the colour of the line.

At 5km the Rupture in question has trouble hitting the target if it is moving at a higher angular velocity – no surprises. However the different in DPS between low and high angular velocity is not very marked compared to the influence of signature radius. For example, if sig drops below about 375, for each 125m less sig radius the inflicted DPS nearly halves. At 125m sig at 5km your damage is almost zero; at 250m sig it's 105 DPS.

The same holds true at 15km – here you can see that sig is less of a factor at 15km when it’s above about 375m regardless of angular or true velocity. The enemy is in the butter zone. But if you reduce the sig to 125m tracking and DPS fall apart dramatically and angular velocity becomes important again, though not as much of a factor as sig radius.

So, what are the lessons?

Firstly, without over generalising on account of each weapon system being different (and missiles being a separate case), you have to consider the little-known stat of weapon signature resolution before considering the usual rigamarole of tracking formula. If your sig radius is above the weapon’s signature resolution, you take more or less full DPS. I mean, something with 1700m/s velocity at 15km is common. At 5km, fairly unusual in sustained circumstances. So tracking of the guns isn’t the whole picture if the DPS applied to the target at 15km does wild hijinks when its sig resolution gets down to the gun resolution. That stands to logic.

AHAC doctrine works because you start with a low sig ship, such as a T3 with the correct subsystem, and you stick to an AB, then you double-down by getting maximum skirmish links in Evasive maneuvering and trim another 30% off that. You can often get hulls down to the 60-120m signature resolution with base 120K+ EHP. Just from the above work-through, you can see that sig by itself adds another 50-75% damage shedding on top of the EHP and that’s against cruiser guns.

Countermeasures are few. Two 60% webs on a target will help a little, mostly with reducing angular velocity (unless you screw yourself by orbiting too vigorously). Range is mostly irrelevant unless you are a blaster boat or fight deep in fall-off. In fact, if you get to close, tracking falls apart, so webs are at most useful for range control and mobility control to maintain tackle.

No, the best cure to an AHAC doctrine gang is in fact the humble Vigil, or if you feel pimped, the Hyena. Twin meta 4 TP’s will blow your target’s sig up by an added 90%. You can stack 6 EWAR mods on, so if you dose the target with >100% sig you’ll push it back up the sig radius curve and into full damage territory – certainly up from say 5 DPS applied back to 100 DPS applied. That’s a shitload of extra applied DPS.

That's woeth putting a toon into a fabulously mobile little firgate to fuck your foes in the cornhole. hard.


  1. I disagree, for reasons that will become clearer down thread. However, I'll concede that TPs are powerful, the first *unbonused* TP is equivalent to adding a TC to every ship in your fleet. Stacking effects apply, and bonuses don't add (in tracking terms) all that much. A lot of T3 comps will have ewar of various kinds spread in their fleet, so the chances of one TP are going to be fairly high - in general - a lot of the HAM Legion blobs have TPs in the mids.

    On the other hand, this:

    " A lot of you, however, have got it via received wisdom (everyone else flies armour T3 blobs so you do) "

    Doesn't have as many ill effects as you might think. One thing you don't mention is that when RnK were first trying this stuff out they often significantly outnumbered the fleets they faced (there were only 1 or 2 other wormhole entities who could get close to their numbers at the point at which they chose to fight).

    The real reason I disagree is because the graphs don't take into account relative movement. Whilst you are orbiting so that the opposition loses tracking, you lose tracking yourself. When RnK first started using T3s, it was fairly common for the majority of fleets to be comprised of battlecruisers (both skill and isk inflation had yet to take off - in home fights it was even worse, as people would bring T1 battleships - look at those early tussles with AHARM), at that point orbiting was a fairly viable tactic due to sig size differences. When everyone is using T3s then it becomes less viable - the sig reduction subs then don't make that much difference - if only because as corps get bigger the average pilot skill reduces.

    Last time I encountered RnK (three months back), their wormhole comp consisted of a devoter, nag, nid, four talisman bhaals and various webbing ships. Essentially they were hoping for moroses being dragged into their bubble. T3 blobs, or enough nags to take them down would see them exit through the static (they were prudently sat at 0 with their bubble up).

    1. This is the rock-paper-scissors, no wait, I mean scissors-scissors-scissors debating method. Saying things like "this one corp used this one thing this one time to do X" where X is shoot a moros and if it doesn't drop into your bubble you exfil like cowards does not address the sig radius argument. It merely reinforces the well-known fact that RnK only fight when the situation utterly favours their niche fleet comp and positioning (on a wormhole they'll evac from at the first sniff shit's going skwerly).

      You are also wrong about relative movement. Firstly, you haven't even defined this. To be clear, you have true velocity, and angular velocity. The PYFA tracking formula accounts for the movement of the target relative to your ship. So yes, if you are going 1700m/s toward your foe and he is moving 1700m/s away from you, then you use the 0 degrees angular velocity. Everything else is handled by a velocity and an angular velocity between 1 and 90.

      merely stating "relative velocity" is meaningless because that's like stating absolute velocity and ignoring angular.

      Again, you have to control some variables in any analysis. Maybe you don't work with as many 52 parameter datasets as I do on a regular basis in order to understand what a problem with N degrees of freedom is. But suffice to say, no meaningful analyses can be concluded where you wish to argue all variables at once.

      This analysis demonstrates that, if you isolate all other variables via fixing them, sig radius is critical for fighting AHACs. like you say, HAM legion blobs (I take it you refer to Lazerhawks here?) mix damps with TPs in utility mids. This occurs for a very good reason totally unrelated to RnK.

    2. We have some niche/extreme setups but mostly we measure ourselves by influence and the broad uptake of doctrines and concepts, by alliances both large and small.

      Initially when we ran T3/Guardians in nullsec (2009) it was thought of as very exotic - numerous pictures of D-scans with 10 T3s and 10 Guardians ended up adorning the threads on Scrapheap Challenge and the like. People didn't quite understand the comp, so brought all manner of things against it - but rarely the crucial webs & painters. The T3/G fleet had reasonably damage and reasonable neuting power (half the Legions were neut-fit) but the key was survivability - we'd often wear down an opponent over time, assuming the dangerous recon ships could be dealt with quickly.

      Some of our best fights of that period were against the vast capital fleets of IT Alliance & allies. These fleets often consisted of four to five times our number in carriers and dreadnoughts but with no real triage support of the subcap fleet. As a result, bonused painting and webbing ships could be quickly culled and the remaining unsupported capital force was eventually forced to log off (this era having different log-off mechanics) after we killed a few caps.

      Our T3/G era extended into early battles against CFC's max-alpha Malestrom doctrine, e.g. shown in Battle in Notoras and videos like that. Without sufficient recon support, even 150+ fleets were fightable with 30 T3/G. The turning point came when CFC and others learned to bring serious painting & webbing. Once the survivability is removed from the equation, or expensive slave-set T3s are being traded for Recons, the comp finds its limits. Thus it led to the faction battleship era (Navpocs, Bhaals, etc.)

      - RnK


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