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, 3 December 2014

Bounty hunt and space combat training

Wohler Terminal, Kremainn system. Gamma patch 1.05 has arrived and it has immediate effect; a class A1 powerplant is now available at this station. This is about the best piece of equipment which the short breathed Eagle requires for being a better combat ship! The only problem for me right now is: It costs 160.224 CR, and I just have about 100.000 CR. Well, I can remedy this soon. Launch for bounty hunt! (I know that trading might be faster when you have already figured out a profitable route, but I yearn for some action. With some luck, a good flow of bounty rewards will come in, too.)

Uhm... why is the station a red blip? Why am I hostile to the Federation, as my rightmenu shows? Oh man... I hate it when you have no idea about why and what. As a speculative idea, this might probably because of me two or three unsuccessful smuggler runs into this station from earlier. Oh my. I have no idea what this negative reputation is going to cause (maybe even the high cost for the power plant???), so I am a bit worried. If I cannot remedy that bad rep, I will be driven towards being an Empire or Alliance affiliated pilot...

Back at the Kremainn 2´s ring system, I soon spot a Cobra, wanted for ~5000 CR. It drops lots of cargo before obliteration. Atmosperic processors, they should be worth something. Before I can scoop one, a sidewinder loops out in front of me and snatches the cargo away. Wow, never saw this before an NPC ship doing! I scan it and it is "wanted". Two reasons now to blow him to bits, what I do in the next minute. Then back at the floating cargo units, shortly before I finally scoop the cargo, I am suddenly scanned by a security vessel. Uhm. Better not to scoop stuff then, if I want to continue my hunt!

- the ring looks like a veil at this distance; actually from an unidentified signal location shortly before entering the ring

Another "wanted" Cobra becomes my target, but I am rudely interrupted by two sidewinders who for whatever reasons choose to attack me. I focus on one, but get under heavy fire from the other one: railguns! Before I can break, my hull has mostly melted away to 18%! Then I get support from some security vessels. Before engaging, I had remembered a tip from the ED forum; on the rightmenu, there is an option "report crimes on me". I had taken it to "off", because I wanted to avoid security vessels to "steal my bounty"; but this might also be the reason why clean ships attacking me did not become "wanted" in the process, thereby causing me to be "wanted" once I returned fire. Very convoluted system. I had remembered to switch it back to "on" before I started my exploits here.

However, after I engage and destroy the second sidewinder, I am "wanted" anyway. First, an Eagle security vessel is a red blip, and as it opens fire on me, the whole rest of all ships around me turn red, too! I barely make it away. Actually I was very lucky, with my low hull. So, I still don´t get it and have to assume a bug.

There is a second extraction site, and I drop in despite my low hull. Call it risk affinity. CMDR Wheejakk in a Viper hunts in there, too. I attack a "wanted" Cobra and am "wanted" myself again; hrrrrrrrm.... Once I fled into supercruise, the "wanted" status is suddenly gone again. Back. One kill. Then next target, a stray shot of mine lands on a security vessel, which loops in right in front of my guns, and I am "wanted" again, this time for real. I break and finally take this occasion to supercruise back to Wohler Terminal. Costs: -2500 CR ammo -649 CR rep -300 CR "wanted" removal +17.000 CR bounties. Still a profit, but the loss of time flying here because of the "wanted" issue is annoying. As a side note: The cost relations for ammo and repairs seem to be a bit weird.

After quite a while of further bounty hunting, and running away again, I reencounter CMDR Wheejakk. We both quickly spot a "wanted" Anaconda, already in fierce battle with about 6 security ships, and smell the occasion. That Anaconda has a bounty of 51.000 CR on it! It takes quite a while to whittle down the opponent, and I let the other ships to all the work. My Eagle is far too squishy to survive a full salvo from an Anaconda´s turrets, and on top I have to note how this Anaconda turns and rolls very quickly. But my plan is thwarted; as the Anaconda is at 17% hull, it suddenly explodes. No idea what happened. CMDR Wheejakk said he got the bounty, so I assume he launched either a missile or torpedo or his hits were delayed by lag and registered finally all at once on my client. I also remember having seen this kind of early demise already earlier, always with Anacondas; maybe another bug?

- this "wanted" Anaconda is swarmed by security ships like by angy wasps...

- ... and here is the reason why I am part of that swarm: a 50.574 Credit bounty

The rest of the game session inperceptibly passes away while I slowly make my cash rise up to the required 160.000 CR for the A1 power plant.

It is interesting to note the flight patters of different skilled AI ships, and sometimes it seems rather irrational. For example, there are some Cobras who just seem to be eternally trying to outcircle me. This of course does not work on the more nimble Eagle. But if they just had rolled about or used flight assist off-turning techniques, I would have been in much more trouble. Some Cobras did so, infrequently and seeming independend from their skill rating. They would suddenly launch an advanved maneuver and thus surprise me and achieve a firing solution, inevitable bringing my shields and parts of my hull down on just one or two salvos, and then resume fruitless circling until destruction. (I will be so happy once I find - and can afford - a class A3 shield generator!)

The preceived advanced maneuvers mainly are:
- Fly on a vector and turn around with flight assist off. This almost always gives you at least a brief firing solution because it is very difficult for the opponent to timely realize this pattern. Only usefull if you do have superiour fire power, because there is almost no evasive vector possible during the turning. But Cobras indeed do have superiour fire power towards my Eagle.
- Roll about to make the opponent face the hand of your ship where your turretted guns are. So easy, but it seems the AI does not have this in its repertoire. Thank god.
- Use boost and immediately slow down to blue speed and turn around. If you are on edge, you can out-maneuver this with the more nimble Eagle. However, if the Cobra has sufficient distance, I got under heavy fire before I was able to close the gap again.
- Slow down to a stop to make the opponent overshoot (this was the most frequent additional maneuver I observed, but it is very easy to counter with an Eagle, as it has much better acceleration/deceleration capacity).
- Reverse flight and fire. The opponent can overtake you and get out of your firing solution, but it is harder and takes longer than normal. Downside: Your own evasion capacity is a bit weak like his.

On a related note, there are now and again questions in the forum on dogfighting tactics. I can only recommend this very nice webpage, as well as some general research into real life air combat school teachings (which are much more complex, but some basics apply also here, testament to a very well done space combat flight mechanics in this game).

Sometimes, there were "wanted" Anacondas, but those ships take an eternity to let them taken down by the NPC ships and soloing them in an Eagle, at least in my measly un-upgraded version, is simply not possible for me at this stage.

- these cracks in the canopy appear when you take on more than you can chew

CMDR Wheejakk and I did not hunt together. The fights were easy enough to manage solo and bounties are not shared, anyways. We both regretted this, and in hindsight, this would have been a good occasion to practice wing maneuvers. So, I have to chide myself, the only reason I did not do this was because I wanted to grind money for the A1 power plant. So you might see this case as a good example for those situations where emerging gameplay is smothered by a game´s grind mechanic, the main "sickness" of most modern MMO games.

All in all, I spent a bit too long in Kremainn´s ring systems, I indeed felt relieved of "the grind" at the end of my session. On the plus side I am now a happy owner of a A1 power plant. For the next sessions, I commit to look more for fun and will try to ignore the game´s "grind incentives"; money will come anyways in time, no need to rush it and loose fun moments because of rushing!

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