Flieger, grüß' mir die Sonne, grüß' mir die Sterne und grüß' mir den Mond. Dein Leben, das ist ein Schweben, durch die Ferne, die keiner bewohnt! - Hans Albers, F.P.1 antwortet nicht (Adaptation in the 80s: Extrabreit)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Anaconda test pilot

I exchange my freshly bought Lakon Type 9 after the only few trade runs at the end of my last session, for the Anaconda. The plan is to explore things I did not yet explore, i.e. turreted guns and the C8 plasma launcher on an Anaconda. For a proper fashionable outfit, I install two C6 burst lasers as my main armament, complemented by two C2 missile launchers, for the "oh crap" moment. Louise Lacalle Station also has C3 turreted multicannons, so I can finally try them out according to plan. Next station, Aulin Enterprises, and this will be it, back and forth, for the rest of this session, until that goddamn C8 plasma launcher will appear in the shopping window! I am commited to be a test pilot tonight, and this I will be, in more aspects than I thought.

- the Anaconda´s precedessor in the 21st century

To make use of the Anaconda´s sufficiently cavernous cargo hold of 228 units, I jump to Tilian and drop off some consumer electronics (126k Cr.). I load terrain enchancers for Eranin and realize too late that I could have jumped directly to Aulin from here. The Anaconda for sure has a longer jump range than my previous Lakon Type 9. In Aulin, I am unlucky as expected, the plasma launcher is not for sale. I am prepared for a long game session. In the meanwhile, I fill the remaining weapon mounts with two C6 cannons, and one point defense for testing. Then it is time to ship my bulk freight to Eranin. Before I jump out, I remember to set the turrets from "fire at will" (which means "fire at yellows, too") to "fire at target only", so that I do not forget this in the heat of battle.

- Anaconda, 32nd century

On my way to Azeban Station, I drop into an unidentified signal (US). Two security vessels hunt a "wanted" sidewinder. I deploy weapons and join the hunt. I have to re-assign fire groups because of the bug which erases the setup which I do in the instance where I bought them. My two C6 burst lasers wear the Sidewinder down in no time. Suddenly, the security vessels turn red and fire at me. I know immediately what happened as memory from something I have read quite some time ago in the ED forums dawns on me; the turrets fire setting is erased each time you drop back into normal space. Goddamnit. How long does Frontier already know about this bug?

By the time I have destroyed the sidewinder and fully realized the situation, my shield are already gone. Partially, this is my own fault, because I forgot to reset the power distribution from "travel speed" (4 pips in engine) to "combat shields" (3shield3weapon). I also have great difficulty to get into a firing position. Those two Eagles just zip around me too fast. I set full reverse speed, and it helps. The first Eagle comes into firing position, and I immediately launch my "oh crap" missiles and fire my burst lasers. We were close range, so the Eagle dissolves almost instantly. The second Eagle thereafter is no problem as my Anaconda slithers around, hisses angrily and shoots forward to snap the hapless remainder. I doubt if one Eagle has enough fire power to destroy a fully shielded Anaconda.

- C4 and higher class lasers look much better than the small versions!

Damage report: 83% hull, and I am now wanted by Eranin jurisdiction for a 1.500 Credit bounty. Despite the bounty, I manage to approach and land in Azeban City safely. Hull repairs cost me 28.000 Credits on top. I decide to travel to Asellus Prime; I still have a bounty voucher to turn in there, and the high-tech system might also offer a nice selection of weapons to experiment with. In order to compensate my hull repair costs, I load fruits, which should give me a profit of 27.000 Credits (not a very viable trade route but better than going empty).

On my way to Beagles Landing 2, I drop into two US, but I encounter only ships with "clear" status. I remember now to re-set turrets to "fire at target only" before I deploy weapons. Very annoying, because approaching an US with an Anaconda takes almost double the time as opposed to the nimble and faster combat ships. In Asellus Prime, I find no weapons of interest to me. I load autofabricators for a trip to I Bootis (155k Cr). From I Bootis, I take fish to Aulin. Profit is 44.000 Credits, and I note that for the first time, prices have adapted to the diminuished supply (fish is now 410 Cr instead of 300 Cr).

In Aulin I am finally lucky as the plasma launcher is for sale. I drop all 20th-century weaponry i.e. multi-cannons and cannons, and have now: 2x C6 burst-laser, 2x C2 missiles, 3x C2 beam turrets, C8 plasma launcher. I load now all utility mounts with point defenses to make sure I get an effective anti-missile defense and for completion´s sake I install a docking computer. And go for patrol in order to finally see the plasma launcher at work. However, this prooves to be more difficult than I thought.

- plasma launcher; supposed mother of all guns?

The first US I want to drop in, I never see because the client crashes. I notice that Frontier has installed an automatic crash report sending programm; very cool, so I am releived of having to write tickets here. In the second US, a pirate spouts dire threats at me, but instead of turning red and attacking me, he jumps away. This pattern repeats now for the rest of the game session; every second drop into normspace causes a crash. All potential enemy vessels run away as soon as I deploy weapons. You know, the AI has become probably too smart. I wouldn´t necessarily want to challence an Anaconda with missiles and plasma launcher, either!

I am a bit frustrated. On top of the "being too scary for the enemy" problem, I somehow do not manage to scoop in cargo, which some US consist of. I constantly ram and destroy the containers, even through they are right in the center of the cargo scooping reticule. A brief research in the ED forum clears it up: The main problem of the Anaconda is its size and sluggishness. Pitch or yaw include considerable drift, even at lowest paces. In order to properly correct your vector towards a container, you have to use only vertical and lateral thrust. With this lesson learned, my scooping success rate improves again.

My cargo with swooped-in, stolen, goods make me go to Freeport in order to sell it. In the anarchy system, I approach every US I can find. The pattern is repetive and annoying, especially the approach takes so much longer with this slow and sluggish bucket of a ship. And no fricking combat to be found, only cargo; coltan, crash, explosives, crash, gold, crash...
A last US finally gives me what I craved for. At first, it "only" contains gold containers. But as I start to scoop, two pirate Cobras jump in and spout their threads. I calmy finish my current scoop and then deploy weapons, entering reverse flight. Weird enough, even these Cobra are scared and to not open fire. No matter, this time I do and I can, because this is an anarchy system! The Cobra starts an evasive dance and I have to go out of reverse and actually follow it as good as possible, which means even having to set 4pips in engine power to remotely come close. I hit the Cobra two or three times with my C6 burst lasers, but do not get a fire solution to bring my plasma launcher to bear. On top of it, I am irritated because the lasers seem to jam, despite full capacitors. [In hindsight I assume that it must be the C2 beam turrets overheating my ship]. Then I do not need to do anything anymore, because my beam turrets really do their job and vapourize the Cobra while I still struggle to get into a new firing position. Nice, I like! Feels much more like Battlestar Galactica now, in the right way! The second Cobra did not even bother to follow our weaving and dancing and chose to jump out. Amazing. Anaconda plus plasma launcher scare-off effect at work here. It now feels really good to calmy scoop the rest of the gold containers; like a lion gobbling its prey and the hyenas not daring to come close.

 - beam laser turret; hot°!

Around 1 a.m. and tired of the regular crashing, I decide to call quits to this game session and I head for Freeport. My plasma launcher still has virgin status, but what can I do. Having to deal with all kinds of bugs was tiring and despite of not having had to deal with any challenging situation, I feel exhausted.

As I approach the station and request docking, I suddenly notice a player ship and wonder if I now, this late and right when I am not in the mood anymore, I finally get to some PvP? It gets a bit hectic again as things happen almost simultaneaously; I targeted the CMDR to see who and what ship he is, in consequence my "request docking" macro fails because of wrong starting postion in the leftmenu, the playership suddenly appears as triangle so he has weapons mounted, I respond in kind, my FAoff vector steers me right into the station wall and I have to counter boost, the long dead communication controls suddenly come alive as CMDR Hobbes chats me "Hey CMDR, are you going to PvP me?". Bingo. First P2P communication established!

We chat a bit while I fiddle with the docking controls before I realize that after I finally received my docking permission, the docking computer had alredy taken over because flying with FAoff is interpreted as "zero throttle". Good, so I can concentrate on the chat, which is difficult to do because each chat line has to be preceeded by "select CMDR Hobbes in the menu", "press spacebar", "select text communication", "press spacebar".  I also remember to stop the docking computer from actually landing (just set the throttle briefly away from zero to do so), because I remember that I will loose all targets once I am landed and thus loose communication with my colleague here. Frontier should really do something about this horrible idea of an communication UI.

CMDR Hobbes tells me that he used to be frequently griefed by three players in Vipers while he was still flying a Sidewinder and now he has come back as a grown up Anaconda to exact revenge, but as it is, the instancing does not bring him together anymore with his enemy. He asks me about the plasma launcher, and I regret that we cannot chat more. The docking timer ticks down and it is late, I am tired and dazed from all the experimental stuff and crashes throughout this game session. Just in case he follows my invitation to this blog: Hello again, CMDR Hobbes, and good hunting!

The landing is again a symptom of my broken concentration; I cannot seem to make the magnetic clamps engage, even when I touch down on the screeching landing pad. After some repeated approaches and the precious last seconds ticking down, I finally find the culprit. Me; I simply forgot to set the landing gear, and I somewhow missed the computer complaining about the landing gear, amidst the chat and a Danube waltz doodling loudly in the background, totally irritating during all the hectics. I extract landing gear and set down, around 30 seconds before the timer runs out. Yep, it is really time to go to bed. I sell the cargo, 37.000 Credits all in all; a pittance compared to the time and work I have had, but I also forget why I went through landing at Freeport, namely to do a screenshot of the plasma launcher for my blog here. Logging out.

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