Monday, November 7, 2011

The Capacitor Is Empty

It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with.
--Douglas Adams

I've joked before about the notification that you've run out of Capacitor being my least favorite phrase in the English Language.  While I was joking, just as with any good joke, there is some truth to the statement.  Having said that, a mistake I often see new PvPers making, especially after coming from EVE's PvE content, is placing undue importance on the notion of Cap Stability on their ship.  Now, as a case in point, I present the following fights which I lost horribly.

Before I get into the fights themselves, there are some key pieces of background information needed.  Mostly so that I don't end up looking like I have no idea what I'm doing in the game.  After the explanations, I'm confident you'll agree I just mostly don't know what I'm doing.  The first thing is that I've recently moved my base of operations in EVE.  Or rather, I've recently moved back to an old base from Blood Money's time in Molden Heath last year.  I did it mostly on a whim, truth be told, as when I logged in I found my home system had been locked down by gatecamps on all the gates and I didn't like my chances against Sensor Boosted Rapiers.  After surveying the scene, a clone jump to a different region seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do.

This is important because the new (old) station had numerous ships still docked from my last visit.  Some of the fits from my younger days are, shall we say, less than ideal.  I had been playing the game for maybe two months when I put some of these together, so there are some definite oddities lurking around my hangars in Molden Heath.  No, this won't be a post about AC fit Vengeances, today we're here to discuss the Arbitrator.

Like many young pilots, I looked to Battleclinic to provide me with what was surely the bestest fit ever for any ship in EVE.  Firing up the search, I came across this little gem as the top rated Arbitrator fit of all time for PvP.  I just knew I'd be slaughtering people in no time flat with this ship.  Of course, you may remember that I undocked in it once, lasted about 2 minutes before exploding and realized that I just wasn't ready to upgrade to a Cruiser that early in EVE, but I was left with a few copies of the ship laying around in my hangar.  I've since flown the Arbitrator (with a different fit) on numerous occasions and I'm quite confident in a fight with one.

I had made some slight modifications to the fitting as presented on Battleclinic.  None of them for the better really.  I didn't have the skills at the time for fancy things like T2 Medium Neuts, or Cap Boosters or Energized Adaptive Nano Membranes.  Making due instead with their T1 variants.  I was delighted, at the time anyway, to discover the lower fitting requirements of T1 modules allowed me to lose the puny Afterburner and replace it with a far more manly MicroWarp Drive.

Wanting to get my pew pew on, I threw caution to the wind and undocked towards inevitable doom.  The first fight I managed to get myself into looked to be a solo Jaguar.  Not knowing who any of the locals were in MH anymore, this seemed relatively on the up-and-up going into it.  I engage T1 Cruisers in an Assault Frigate, so surely he was just doing the same.  Yeah, not so much.

No sooner than we had scrammed each other did I see the spike in local.  It went up by at least five, and I braced myself for the right ass-kicking that was surely coming my way.  Only it didn't.  While my new Jaguar friend did indeed have backup, it turned out that at least part of the increase in local was pure coincidence.  By the time both of our ships were at half shields, we had been joined only by a second Jaguar.

Now part of me no longer wanted anything to do with this fight, still unsure if another four ships were only moments away from landing, but the other part of me is always looking for the next great story of me emerging victorious from a 1vmany.  I was also not yet in any great danger, seeing that my opponents had opted to focus on shooting my drones instead of my ship.  As the moments passed without additional ships landing, I was further lulled into a false sense of security noting that my Neuts were doing a fine job of preventing both ships from keeping a Scram on me.  I could leave anytime I wanted.  Until the Recon decloaked.

No, not another case of Death by Falcon, although arguably this was worse; an Arazu at 40km.  At least ECM is chance based, but Damps work all the time and the 'zu was able to land a point on me from well beyond my now reduced locking range.  Their Ace now played, the gang turned its attention from my drones to my ship.  I struggled in vain to escape, firing up my MWD and aligning to an object away from the enemy Recon hoping against hope to pull enough range to warp out, but to no avail.

Somewhat disappointed that I wasn't able to take anyone with me, it was still a wonderfully tense fight and many pleasantries were exchanged afterwards in Local.  My blood-lust not sated, I quickly undocked an identically fit Arbitrator and went looking for more trouble.  I didn't have to look for long.

Wandering briefly around a system trying to establish what was and wasn't behind a POS shield in a system I hadn't visited in months, I noticed a new ship on scan.  With a the power of inference on my side, local having not changed and the celestials on my D-scan being what they were, it was obvious this player had just undocked.  Warping to station, I spied a Flashy Harbinger sitting on the undock.  Quickly docking and undocking to get in close, the fight was on.

As an aside, my own behavior is largely the reason I'm so susceptible to getting blobbed.  I consistently engage other ships that I have no business winning against while alone, and don't find it nearly as suspicious as I should when another ship engages me the same way.  It leads to lots of preventable in hindsight deaths on my part, and lots of me thinking, "I would have taken that fight solo."  But I'm getting off point.

The initial ten seconds of the fight were absolutely brutal and undoubtedly had the other pilot questioning my sanity.  I had started the fight by Engaging my drones on his while he was focusing on my ship.  By the time things started to settle down with orbits being established and whatnot, I was at half armor and he had taken no damage at all.  But fear not, true believers, there was method to my madness.  A tight orbit with Tracking Speed Disruption?  Check.  His drones are off the field?  Check.  His Capacitor is emptied by my neuts preventing his Lasers from firing?  Check and mate.

I was now going about the business of watching my drones work over his shields.  It's all rather boring to watch, truth be told, and if it seems boring from my perspective I can only imagine it from the other guy's what with not being able to activate any modules.  Keep in mind though, we were maybe ten kilometers off a station, so I had no real delusions of destroying his ship.  I was purely in this one for the moral victory of forcing a Battlecruiser to run away in my Cruiser.  By all accounts, this is precisely the direction the fight was heading too, until disaster struck.

"A server process you were using has gone offline."  A what-now has gone where?  This pleasant little message popped up in a dialog box in the EVE client.  Having never seen it before and being far from a technical expert, I simply put together two words.  "You" and "Offline."  Oh crap.  As bad as that Capacitor is Empty sound is, there's really no worse feeling in EVE than trying to reconnect while you know you're in a fight.  All sorts of Hail Mary ideas start passing through your head, hoping, wishing, praying that you've somehow managed to not die.  Yeah, right.  I logged back in to see my Pod in Emergency Warp.

OK, so two Arbitrators down and you're still wondering what any of this has to do with being Cap Stable in EVE.  Well, I'm here to tell you.  Thanks to the triple Egress Port Maximizer rigs and a Medium Capacitor Booster, that ship is remarkably Cap Stable.  But you know what I never had any trouble with in either of those fights?  Here's a hint: it starts with a C and rhymes with Apacitor.

A Medium Cap Booster can easily power four Medium Neuts if it has to.  More importantly, you're giving up Rigs that could go towards a greatly increased Tank.  What's one thing I would have liked to have in the fights above?  Besides a more stable internet connection?  That's right, a bigger buffer.

I've often seen discussions in, shall we say "less enlightened circles," laud a ship for its high degree of Cap Stability or disparage a PvP fit for the short duration the Capacitor will last once a fight starts.  I just finished roaming for the day in a ship that EFT gives a whopping 27 seconds of Capacitor.  You know what?  It performed beautifully netting me three kills and, to my own amazement, letting me dock safely after it was all done.

I'm not saying that Capacitor isn't an important consideration when examining a ship's fitting.  The important consideration many seem to overlook is how many of your modules you need to activate at once and for how long you're going to keep them active.  Join me next time for a look at just what you can do in 27 seconds.




  1. I tell new pilots (when chatting with them) about how overrated cap stability is as well. Anything 2 mins or plus is cap stability for fight in all honesty, and as you said, how often are you going to run everything at the same time?

  2. Cap stability? The way we fight (unless it it with RR) usually is fast and furious; you're either victorious or dead in under a minute...