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)

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Wrestling with an elite-ranked Anaconda

Near a gas giant, Basile. An unidentified signal (US) contains Wraak, a pilot of an elite Anaconda who sometimes is the subject of an assassination mission. No, thanks, I am currently not payed for that, I am rather looking for Imran Jung, the target of the assissination mission which I accepted during my last game session. The fact that Wraak here sits an Anaconda makes me hope that Imran will probably fly a different ship type.

But first, a little warmup. Some Sidewinders in the nearby extraction zone make for a meager breakfast of bounties.

- too easy, more challenge is in order...

After four or five such quick terminations, let´s get down to the business of finding Mr. Jung. I know from earlier experience that you need to look in USs in order to find him. And I also know that the old concept of the US from the beta phase has not changed (lamentably so); they appear randomly in your vicinity, so you do not really need to search for them. So I resort to the same old trick; let the US come to you. Throttling down my supercrusie to 30km/s, I do not have to wait long for the first US to appear. Thanks to me already having minimum speed, it appears very close to me and I can immediately drop into it.

Four US pass by, some with one or two "wanted" targets, but not Mr. Jung. This indicates that he is probably not in this system and I have to look into the two other systems which are mentioned in the mission statement. Engage jump to Gabrani.

The second US already nails it. It contains a "clean" Adder who starts to chat to me the moment I target and scan it. You looking for Imran Jung? Oh yeah, they scanned his energy wake which pointed towards Ari Hesa. Neat! First level of the mission ladder is done. Jumping onwards. Unfortunately, I then also discover that shooting the two "wanted" target from the first US somehow caused a negative hit on my reputation with the Federals. Dear Federation, you and me, we are simply not made for each other, it seems!

In Ari Hesa, I just have to wait a bit, and the second US is my jackpot. Or his. Imran Jung unfortunately also sits in the pilot seat of an Anaconda and is also rated Elite. He could be Wraaks twin-brother, I guess. This will be a very challenging fight. I know that some people boast to routinely kill elite Anacondas, but I have no idea how, since I already got some bloody noses from encounters like this during beta2 and gamma. Although, I am hopeful, since I do pilot now a perfectly combat equipped, all-class-A Cobra (instead of the Eagle I used back then). The challenge is on!

Imran Jung is marked as neutral, so I try to kill-scan him first and while also vertically strafing to get out of his firing arc. With no success; his guns constantly point in my direction no matter how much vertical/forward thrust I apply. This is my standard maneuver of circling an enemy while still being able to face and shoot at an opponent. Well, here it does not work at all. Instead, Imran Jung opens fire and hits me well enough, even if I manage to dodge his plasma launcher (its whitish ball of energy is easy to recognize).

After a few moments I am already without shields, wasted all my shield cells, and no matter what I steer, I always seem to be hit. Damn turrets. Boosting out of firing range, he sends some missiles my way, but I can evade them. Going back into the fray, I first have to deal with his firing arc and again take enough hits to take out my shield again. Since I try to get him into firing position, most of his hits land on my front. For the first time I realize that the cockpit seems to be a seperate hit zone. My canopy is cracking and I hear warnings about the condition being damaged and then going critical. I must break off, at this stage my hull is already at 60% and I did not even scratch the shields of the Anaconda.

Docking in Atwater Port, I pay 8600 CR reparature costs, and 2400 ammo costs (the shield cells). Despite me being aware of the very challenging situation of a single Cobra versus an Anaconda, I am a bit baffled. This is an Anaconda? Its thrusters make it turn rather like a perfectly outfitted nimble little Eagle!

Next try. I am skipping though some US until Imran Jung appears in one. This time, I skip a kill-scan and fully concentrate to circle-strafe out of his gun sight. This again goes horribly wrong, even when I try to roll and vertically move on his horizontal axis. This Anaconda follows effortlessly. What the hell? And to top it off, I even manage to catch the white ball of plasma from his first bowside barrage, instantly killing my shields. Ai.

I guess I am very lucky that I installed a mirrored armor alloy, which is especially good versus lasers. Besides the plasma launcher, Imran Jung´s Anaconda sports only beam lasers. Like this, I can continue without shield, as my hull withstands an enormous amount of the Anacondas firing lasers. However, my canopy does not seem to be as reflective as my ship armor and my ship computer calmly informs me soon again that it has critical status.

Suddenly, two security ships jump in. Neat, they can help distract his fire and whittle him down. I am not worried anymore of them kill stealing, Frontier has tweaked the settings so that it is no problem anymore to score the decisive final hit for yourself. However, Mr. Jung seems to be not that stupid. Energy surge detected and a few seconds later he frameshifts out. Grrrrreat.... otoh, with my critical canopy, 70% hull, I had already lost this second encounter, anyways.

This time, I pay ~3,000 CR for reparature and ~1,300 for ammo. I am irritated. My quad-gimballed-pulse-laser setup still did not help getting the Anaconda´s shields down, even though they are supposed to be strongest versus shields. A visit to the ship outfitter is in order. Out go the class 1 pulse lasers, in come two class 1 cannons. Unfortunately I have not enough power grid to accomodate class 2 beam lasers and I do not want to kick out some of my class A outfits to free enough power grid to do so.

The feedback from the ED forum is that cannons have been made weaker since beta, but on the other hand, they are meant to be and supposedly indeed are more effective against big targets.
While in the outfitting screen, I also flip to the decal menu and find a new decal which was not there before; a skull design. This probably came into my inventory because of the pirate mission from my last session, which I abandoned and instead joined the pirates. Good to know that the supercruise to that pirate station across 460,000 ls actually brought a meaningful reward! I briefly consider putting it on, as a symbol for the seeming suicide mission I am currently on...

- morituri te salutant

Onwards to the next encounter with Imran Jung, after some few US have passed. I am very well aware that I should set the setting in the right menu "report crimes against me" to off. This is what I did. Now, on to the dance! I adapt my tactic and do not try to circle-strafe anymore, and instead use a mix of blue speed and max speed to get to and stay behind my enemy. It goes way better now. The cannons are a huge help, even agains the Anaconda´s shields, which I indeed manage to break down this time. However, I again have to heavily rely on my reflective armor, as the Anaconda quickly busts my shields after I ran through all my four shield cells. The reason for that is the goddamn turrents. No matter from which angle I face the Anaconda, at least one laser beam finds me.

I get also even more irritated because the cannons do not seem to fire consistently. Sometimes they go off, sometimes they don´t; in the hectic of combat I am unable to find out why that is. A later test in undisturbed environment shows, they should fire alright about each 3-4 seconds. Well, in combat they somehow don´t; in hindsight, it is probably because I have a trailing target view, so sometimes I might think that they are on target when in reality it is only the gimbals from my pulse lasers buzzing around the targeting reticule?

Nevertheless, thanks to the cannons and my changed flight patterns, I indeed manage to whittle the Anaconda down to 50% hull, while I still have about 60% hull.

In are jumping two security ships, which I realize only the moment when they turn into red blinking blips. WTF is going on here!? What are they doing here, firsthand? And why are they shooting at me?!? There I no way that strayfire of mine could have hit them, my guns are all gimballed and on spot! I have to clear the grounds; my canopy is again the culprit and I doubt that I could sustain myself against two more enemies. Once in calmer waters, I realize that I am indeed shown as "wanted".

- victory is so close, until something makes me "wanted" and the random generator decides to throw some security ships in the fray

I pay 5,000 CR for repairs, 5,000 CR for ammo and again 1,200 CR for a new stash of shield cells. Then I launch, and realize too late that I forgot to pay off my bounty. Some more minutes pass for re-docking and rectifying this mistake.

Next try. Once I find him again in an US, I immediately open fire on the Imran Jung´s Anaconda, still neutral, but that should not matter since it is shown as "wanted". But this time I payed attention, and I immediately notice that the system flags me as "wanted"! Aha! Bug!!! I nevertheless continue the combat, since the scenery is not joined yet by security forces. I am again seeing an improvement, because this time I manage to whittle Mr. Jung´s vessel down to 37% hull strength. Then the typical flash from a disengaging frameshift drive, and two security Eagles are joining the party, again. Damnit, what is this? They are still shown as neutral, so I still hang on to the Anaconda like a terrier on a bulldog. But all of this weakened my concentration; the Anaconda turns into my direction and accelerates, I accelerated, too, because I wanted to get quickly past his bow. And we collide.

1% hull left on me. Alert, alert. On top, the security ships now did scan me and turn red, too. OMG today is really not my day, is it? Frankly, with things going wrong as they to, I am surprised that I actually get away. Maximum energy to engines allows me to quickly get out of range and not even a laser turret hits me. Amazing.

- close escape, closer not possible

Landing at Atwater Port is now a critical maneuver, too, because the numerous security ships could pick up my "wanted"-scent anytime. So, it is a good thing that I boost very close and rush through, because the moment I enter the station, my computer informs me that I was fired at. Phew!

My repair costs this time are 14,000 CR, 5,000 + 1,200 for reload. BTW, the reqard for this assassination mission is 150,000 CR. Profit is slowly waning... Impatiently I launch for the next round and have thereby AGAIN forgotten to pay off my bounty. Arrrrrgh! And just to add injury to the insult, the security ships apparently have been waiting for me and instantly open fire the moment I leave the station. Boost away, enter supercruise, drop back, re-request docking, fast approach... sigh.. the minutes pass with just nonsense. I should have never been marked as "wanted" firsthand. And, besides, my "wanted" price is how much? 300 Credits! This all seems to be so much out of proportion.

Finally, I can seek out Imran Jung once more. Thank god, he always appears quickyl in an US and I don´t have to skim though many of them. I never move away much from the station in supercruise and just throttle down and wait for an US to appear. It is almost like Imran Jung is awaiting me there for another round.

It is interesting; once I start getting annoyed or impatient, my piloting skills immediately drop noticeably and considerably. Cannon fire seems to be still erratic, still no idea what could be the reason; I even check if the reason could be some too-emtpy capacitors from my pulse lasers, but they are filled enough. Confusing, irritating. Still, I now routinely manage to get the Anaconda´s shields down and I immedeately set out to do so once more. The events so far did have this effect on me, and thus it takes just moments to again loose shields. I don´t bother, since my armor can hold out quite some time.

But this time, I have become too reckless and emotional about the whole business. All these inconsistencies in between, the fact that an Anaconda outturns a Cobra even when trying to fight with three pips for engines. Well, in short, I just screw this one up badly and collide into the Anaconda´s broad side. The game algorythms dispassionately reward me with total destruction.

- 319,917 Credits less; double of what this mission would have earned me

The time for this session is up, but I do not want to leave like this. It is only after I dropped into five more US before I realize: destruction of my ship terminates the contract. Noob, I knew that already. So, this is defeat; Imran Jung slapped me around and into the ground and stomped mightily on me. For once, Elite: "Dangerous" shines through. Although I would have wished less confusion from obscure "wanted" game mechanics and weird cannon behaviour to enjoy the challenge more.

All in all, this was a very, very challenging game session, which served to reach - and collide with - the limits of my piloting skills. Good night and log out!


  1. Wait for him to shoot first and you wont get a "wanted" tag. Silly, but it's been that way since Beta.

    1. Yep, I had forgotten about this! It has been a long time since I did a combat mission in Elite!