The original “Lets go fly a kite song” from Mary Poppins
As I threatened here is a hopefully not to long post about kiting I will write this blog with a view toward Faction Warfare but these tactics will also work in most PVP as long as you adapt it to your particular situation. Kiting is a skirmish tactic that often allows you greater potential to run away if things have not gone your way or even to take on greater numbers through use of superior agility and positioning.
[Editors note: I suggested that all reading this post do so in the awful fake cockney accent of Dick Van Dyke: Cor Blimy marie poppinsa”]
So what is “kiting”?
“Kitting” is using range and superior positioning to mitigate your opponents damage while still deploying your damage. For the benefit of this post I will discuss 2 “kitting” tactics, these are:
“Outside web” range Kiting.
“Within web” range Kiting.
The difference in these tactics is important as failure to fly correctly for your fit and tactic will generally lead to a rapid death.
“Outside Web” kiting.
First I will concentrate on a current classic “outside web” range kiting fit that is being used to great effect in faction Warfare. This is a little ship that I have blogged about in the past, the now quite excellent condor! This I shall call the “Roman Makeev” for a pilot that fly’s this fit regularly to great results.
3x Light Missile Launcher II
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
2x Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I
Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
2x Small Auxiliary Thrusters I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I
Now there are a range of slightly different flavours on this fit due to peoples fitting skills/ flying preference but the basic premiss is the same, the aim of this ship is to make turret based ships cry, the double tracking disrupter mean you can make their range about as far as they can spit, or there tracking so poor they couldn’t hit the station they were undocking from. Combine this with a speed somewhere in the region of 4km/s and your never being closer than around 20km and you have a ship that slowly plinks away and kills all those Merlins etc I love so much.
Naturally it has counters, tracking disrupters do not help against drones or other missile users and if someone gets a web or scram on it it near insta-pops but this ship is cheap! Tech 1 variants represent a great way for newer players to get involved. As long as you choose your fights and battleground it should see you through and it generally has the speed to run if your target is not something you wish to take on, just keep using dscan. This is very much a skirmish ship and will teach you a lot about maintaining range, which is great as the next tactic needs and builds on that.
“Inside Web” kiting.
This is the more dangerous and some would say cooler big brother to “outside web” kiting mentioned above. would this read better as “With this tactic you aim to control range to a much finer degree, holding you ship in an engagement envelope either under or outside of your opponents optimal range”, often your aiming to be between 7km and 9km away from your opponent. With this being an envelope of only 2000m you can understand why this takes more control to achieve. But why do you want to be at such a particular range? well it’s because at that range you minimize the effective dps of close range brawlers using blasters, autocannons and pulse lasers, while still deploying higher damage than most “outside” web range kiters.
As an example of a ship for this style of combat I shall use another common Faction Warfare fit.
Caldari Navy Hookbill
3x Rocket Launcher II
Experimental 1MN Afterburner I
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Balmer Series Tracking Disruptor I
Ballistic Control System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
2x Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer
This ship is not as cheap as the condor though still not expensive if you are in the Caldari Faction as 10,000lp, a merlin hull with a Caldari AI nexus chip and you have a new Hookbill hull!
This ship has far higher dps and ehp than the condor while still keeping a tracking disruptor which allows you to further mitigate turret based damage. Again their are variants of this ship based on personal fitting skills and or flying preference, but the basic premise remains the same, control range, mitigate incoming damage and deploy your own damage.
As with the condor this can be countered by drones and or other missile users but unlike the condor being scram webbed yourself is not an instant death sentence as you will be doing the same back and this is a pretty quick ship meaning most things that can out-fight it can’t keep hold of it. Its nastiest counter is getting neuted but then this is the case for many tactics.
So how do I kite?
Just burning directly at your opponent on orbit will often bring you too close and get you scram webbed before your orbit can stabilize. Actually getting in range requires careful manual flying at an angle to your opponents direction of travel. Getting your approach angle correct will require practice to make perfect but your main aim is to make sure your angle of approach will not take you within 17/18km of your opponent when you are using “outside web” kiting. With “inside web” kiting this is not such a worry as you will be using your own scram and web.
Once you have got your tackle engaged you need to watch your range like a Hawk (pun intended), often just hitting orbit is not enough. you will want to set your “keep at range” button to the limit of your tackle range (scram or point) and your orbit right in the middle of the range your optimal. Your opponent is not likely to want to let you dictate range. A good opponent will try to close range or even run away by using rapid course changes and even overheating propulsion modules, be ready for this.
If your range drops rapidly you may wish to use keep at range or manually fly away and maybe even overheat your prop mod.
If your range increases rapidly you may wish to hit approach or manually fly toward the opponent and again maybe even overheat your prop mod, be careful though, you do not want to close within range of any webs or scrams you do not wish to be caught by.
As you can see, range control is the most critical part of this tactic. Getting this wrong can often spell disaster, a good example would be warping into a plex and being scrammed and webbed before you are able to pull your range; so choosing when and who to fight is of paramount importance. It is also worth mentioning that where possible you need to keep your transversal velocity (the speed you are travelling relative to the angle of travel of your target) as high as possible to further reduce the opponents opportunity to land clean hits (but not effecting your missiles). Orbit can do this but often with practice you can do this while manually flying. you can further decrease their ability to hit with your tracking disruptor….
How do I Use a tracking disruptor?
Which script you use in your tracking disruptor will depend on the situation you are in.
“Outside web” Kiting
If your in a 1v1 at 20km from an enemy frigate you probably want to be using range scripts this will mean their guns cannot reach you. Against a cruiser or above tracking scripts give those medium or above size guns a really hard time tracking you.
“Inside web” kiting.
In a 1v1 against a close range frigate brawler pull range and use a range script, against pretty much all else close in and use a tracking script to reduce their guns ability track and hit you.
There will be exceptions but only experience will be able to teach you those, get out there and get fighting!
Wait no love for Turrets?
Both these fits are missile centric, this does not mean that kiting cannot be used by turret based ships. I chose missiles as they do not suffer from tracking issues (or indeed from tracking disruptors) and as such they are much easier to deploy the dps and require less skill in mitigating your targets transversal as such they are a good platform for people new to these tactics.
This said kiting turret ships are still very viable, you just have to choose your battles well and fly better. Example kiting ships would be Atron, Executioner, Slasher etc and fits for those are commonly available (just ask in militia chat) If there is more demand I may devote a further post to them specifically.