Friday, 14 August 2009

Sniper HAC's - the Ishtar

So when Manasi was wondering about sniper HAC's today, the ships he mentioned were the Zealot, Muninn and Eagle. All capable ships for their respective races (some more than others *cough*Eagle*cough*); but that doesn't matter for Gallente people wanting to tag along on sniper HAC roams.

The two options available to Gallente pilots - the Ishtar and the Deimos have their strengths, but also drawbacks. I'm still trying to figure out how to make good use of the Deimos' rig slots, but I fear that'll take some reworking of the whole concept I've come up with so far. So, without further ado, this is what I've come up with for the Ishtar:

[Ishtar, sentry sniper]
Damage Control II
Small Armor Repairer II, offline
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Adaptive Nano Plating II

Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range
Passive Targeter II or a second Sensor Booster II
Omnidirectional Tracking Link I
Omnidirectional Tracking Link I

Drone Link Augmentor I
Drone Link Augmentor I
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Sentry Damage Augmentor I
Sentry Damage Augmentor I

Warden II x5
Bouncer II x5

First off, let's see the numbers - with reasonable skills (which for the serious Ishtar pilot means Drone Interfacing V):

> DPS: with Wardens 400; with Bouncers 450+ => V. Good
> Alpha: with Wardens 1600-ish; with bouncers 1800/1900-ish (4 second duration * calculated DPS)
> Range: with Wardens 105km [30 falloff]; with Bouncers 84km [42 falloff] => Good
> Speed: 1300-1350(ish) => OK (considering we bring a 1600 plate)
> Tank: 37K ehp buffer; small repper to fix yourself up if you've managed to escape in less than great condition => V. Good (considering the average Zealot falls to shreds after taking around 20K damage)
> Tracking: 0.016 rad/s, which is better than what the Zealot using Aurora ammo can hope for

The numbers look good on paper, but in the field it's different. When the FC starts calling primaries, you launch drones, lock and start shooting - which is all dandy if you've set up hotkeys for drone actions such as attack and scoop to cargo. The funny part comes when this isn't from a stationary position. Sentry drones are dead in the water, so if the FC tells you to align to someplace and maintain speed while shooting, you've next to no way of getting those expensive T2 sentries back (except warping back alone, which isn't something you'll want to do, as it usually means you getting one-volleyed, doomsdayed or killed in some other hilarious way by the enemy fleet).

So for all it's worth, here's the pros and cons of the sentry sniper:

+ Great DPS, insane Alpha strike - no other sniper setup can go over 400dps, and it gives the Muninn a run for its money in the Alpha strike department. Actually, if the figures are correct, it's Alpha is better than Manasi's Muninn's.
+ Damage type can be changed to suit needs
+ Great EHP buffer compared to competitors
+ Drones keep firing when you're jammed... they have funny ways of selecting the next target after the current SOB under fire snuffs it, and I can 100% guarantee they won't pick the same as your FC (and almost 100% sure they'll split fire on 2 or 3 targets)
+ Your speed doesn't count diddly for tracking. Sitting duck or pedal to the metal - it's all the same.
+ Due to the space left in the drone bay (75m3 with Heavy Assault Ships IV, 125m3 with Heavy Assault Ships IV), you have room for several more flights of smaller drones. 1/2 flights of meds and 1 flight of lights, or 1 flight of meds and 3/5 flights of lights... you can pretty much bring whatever you damn well please. Warriors to fend off ceptors, repair drones to help your gang between fights... the list can go on. Or you can simply bring more sentries...
+ Look Ma, no ammo... free cargo room FTW

- You can easily "misplace" drones if you're not careful
- Your source of DPS can be destroyed, aside from being prone to misplacement
- No gun overloading for you; actually aside from the obvious (MWD), overloading is pretty useless on this ship (although with that damage output... who the fuck needs to?)
- Have I mentioned the fact that you will lose your drones? (hint: Gallente custom is to name each one... you'll stop doing that after about 2 sorties)

So in conclusion, while it is true that without being used to flying it you will most likely die, the Ishtar, with it's minuses compensated by its very attractive pluses is a very powerful tool in the right hands (and with a bit of luck you might not have to buy new drones). It certainly requires finesse, a steady hand and if at all possible a lag-free environment. If you prefer the "I roll my face on the keyboard and stuff dies" approach, FOTM Zealot is your ship.

Stay tuned for a post about the Deimos, although I fear it might be beyond help as a sniper.

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