Friday, October 25, 2013

A Fleet for C4 Wormhole Space PVE

I live in C4 wormhole space.  We make much of our money running C4 sites.  This post shows some of the fits we use to do this.

Some History

The fits we run sites with have evolved, along with the sites we are willing to attempt.  We started mainly using Tengus, running C3 sites in systems connected via our C3 static, as well as gas/rock sites (super easy) in ours.  Then we realized that we could do excellent DPS with battleships.  And we started doing the easier anoms in C4, and quickly realized that this pays quite well.  So we bought Navy Scorpions (which are hard and have better DPS than Tengus), and started running these sites.

Then we started thinking about the data and relic sites.  Two of these are no harder than anoms.  However the other two have a very scary last wave: four sleeper battleships that all NOS, scram, and web, doing 1928 DPS.  We also got a serious dunking in C3, which made us that much less interested in running T3s and expensive faction battleships.  You lose 400m ISK and skillpoints when you die in a T3.  We don't have training time to spare.  And you lose 700m ISK if you lose a Navy Scorpion.  Ouch.

Fleet Design Goals

Now, there are certainly ways one can run hard C4 sites other than what we do.  But regardless of fit, there are some general principles of the fleet design you want.  First, you have to understand the enemy, as this sets the base line of what you must have to be successful.  Any ship lost is a failed site.  The nossing and large DPS presents a huge problem for the active tanks that we use.   Logistics become necessary.

After the primary goal of survivability is achieved, the secondary goal is to generate lots of DPS, in particular against sleeper battleships.  The less time spent in sites, the more you can do and the more ISK you make.  Or you can do more of something else.  And finally, the tertiary goals are cheapness, ease of use and ability to GTFO in case of gank.  (Generally, one should always run sites zipped up.  But you won't always be able to do that, and there is always the potential for new connections that you get lazy and don't notice immediately in spite of the discovery scanner.)

Now: the fits.  There are just two: a Raven and a Osprey.  The fleet must have two Ospreys, and is probably not worth running with less than two Ravens.  After that, you just keep adding Ravens.  More DPS is always good.

Ravens for DPS

Here is our current DPS fit:
[Raven, Sleeper Killer]
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Signal Amplifier II
Damage Control II
EM Ward Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Thermic Dissipation Field II
Kinetic Deflection Field II
Pith C-Type Explosive Deflection Field
Large Micro Jump Drive
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Cruise Missile Launcher II, Mjolnir Fury Cruise Missile
Large S95a Remote Shield Booster
Large Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Large Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Large Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer I
Hobgoblin I x5
High slots and most of the lows are used for DPS; these generate 755 DPS with my skills at long range. Furies are used on sleeper battleships.  (The exact type of Fury missile is not important -- just buy whichever one is cheapest.)  Use precision missiles on cruisers.  Ravens hit hard out to the typical 100km+ range that sleeper battleships often appear at in C4.  In fact we use a low slot to extend range.  The midslots and rigs are used to make the thing as hard as is reasonable given the constraint that I am cheap.  This fit has an 48000 EHP in shields -- plenty to tank 2000 DPS for long enough that logistics can notice, wait out a current repair cycle, and gets reps going.  The Raven's high hardness (5.577) means that logistics don't need to transport as much shields to keep pace with the damage.

The drones are used to kill sleeper frigates, and for some additional DPS against some of the cruisers or battleships which come up close.  You might try tech II drones; we find that the sleepers almost never target tech Is (other than jammer drones), but they do target tech IIs.  We tend to carry extra hobs and also an emergency set of ECM drones for escape.

The large micro jump drive is not used against sleepers.  It is there only as a GTFO if your fleet gets jumped.  If you see anyone unexpected on grid, or even on dscan, you should immediately stop worrying about sleepers and attempt to escape.  Align to a celestial and try to warp free.  If they bubble or point you, spool up your jump drive, and hope the point is not a warp scrambler.  Micro jump clear and then warp.

The utility high can also be a drone range extender.  If you have more than two Ravens, drone range is probably better for all Ravens after the first two.  The S95a will require cap transfer to run for more than a few cycles.

Logistics

So how do we keep those Ravens alive against 2000 DPS?  Logistics.  Since we are relatively low skill, we have been using a pair of these:
[Osprey, Chain Logi]
Beta Reactor Control: Reaction Control I
Photonic CPU Enhancer I
Damage Control II
Thermic Dissipation Field II
EM Ward Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
Pithum C-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster
Pithum C-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster
Pithum C-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster
Centum C-Type Medium Remote Capacitor Transmitter
Large 'Regard' Remote Capacitor Transmitter
Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I
Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Hobgoblin I x4
This fit uses a lot of faction parts, but they are all cheap ones.  The total cost of the fit according to EFT is 40m ISK.  The fit is as hard as can reasonably be gotten, given the need to pack in shield repping and some energy transfer.  (The nastier sleeper battleships have enough nossing to tap out any friendly, which is what the Centums are for.)

The Osprey gets some rather ridiculously large bonuses which this exploits.  One of them is its 200% bonus to energy transport amount.  This means that the Regard part by itself gives 972 energy per 5 seconds -- which is more than enough to power everything on this fit, with excess left over to overcome sleeper nossing.  The Osprey's bonus to shield transport means that with Caldari Cruiser V, the fit can transport 1287 shields each 5 seconds.  That's 257 shields per second -- which is, by itself, not enough to tank 1928 DPS with the hardness that the fit has (4.29).  Yet it can (barely) withstand that much damage.  It does it by virtue of its small signature (keeping sig down is the reason for the faction shield extender rather than tech II).  It also helps to have a good fleet booster. 

All the shield boosting of both Ospreys can be used on the Ravens, which is 514 shields per second.  With the Raven's hardness, that is 2871 DPS.  More than enough to keep them alive.  In fact, you rarely need to use more than four shield reppers on a Raven.

The Osprey fit has a small margin for error in the hardest C4 sites.  (We are planning to move to T2 Logistics soon because of this.)  But it is cheap, and low skill, and can be made to work.  

Operating Procedure

Running the fleet is fairly easy.  Everyone warps in together.  The Ravens park.  Their signature is too large and speed too low to get any reduction in incoming damage from movement, and their range is long.  (You can orbit an anchor if you want but it is not necessary.)  The two of them with S95as should lock up both Ospreys to rep them if needed.  

The Ospreys take more significant set up.  After warp-in, they should immediately lock each other and get their cap chain going.  They should also turn on one shield repper on each other; generally this is left on all the time.  Running one shield repper on each other all the time gives them in effect a larger buffer if the sleepers target one of them.  Next they should get into orbit at 5000m around an anchor battleship.  5000m is far enough to get almost maximum speed, but close enough that the battleships can shield rep them at need.  Next, they should lock up everyone else in the fleet and start applying reps as needed.  If a ship is getting heavy nossing, use the Centum to keep its capacitor high.  Finally, they can launch drones and use them to help kill frigates.  If they don't have enough targets, delegate drones.

Against a full 2000 DPS assault with webbing, an Osprey may need more reps than the other Osprey can apply.  This is when the Ravens' S95a comes into play.  The first two battleships can run theirs permanently so long as the Ospreys provide cap to do so.  

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