Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Elite Dangerous Outfitters - Red Venom Viper

Hey Space Cadets! What is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang of the Alliance, and welcome to the Outfitters!

In this article I'll be putting some venom in my viper some hardpoint choices. In previous articles I've outfitted a thematic Solid Gold Viper that relied on prestiges and looking good and recently a Wingman Viper that was based on Quad-Beam lasers to keep a ships shields down while a bounty hunter sweeps in for the coup-de-gras

This viper has got a lot of venom in its bite.  I've based if off of the wingman viper build, which was a combat ship balanced for its power consumption. The entire thing can be had for a couple of million credits, so this ship won't break the bank and you can afford to lose a couple while you get used to the heat.

Off the bat, I found the wingman viper was fine for tag team combat but I was concerned that the ship was loosing manuverability with its Class-B Thrusters, so I've chosen to upgrade those to Class-A and get the most out of this ship.  I also added military composite alloys, because the price isn't too steep and I wanted that extra snug feeling of safety.

Otherwise its a reasonable Viper build, and well within budget on all fronts.  I took this ship for a spin at a RES and started racking up the kills to get a handle on its performance.

Safety Features
Like the Wingman Viper, the Red Venom has Class-B shields and a Class-C Shield Bank fitted. These weren't really up to standard in a fight, and while I've been spoiled by the Double-A shield standard in an Asp I did expect the Viper to be a bit more hardy.
I found that while I was outside the fire arc, I was fine but each time I squared off head to head with an Anaconda it cost me a shield bank, or more. With the extra 0.6MW of power going to waste, I think better shields are really wanted here.

The small hardpoints have my default option of E1 Beam lasers on Gibmal mounts. I've done so much damage with these in the past they are a good starting point - but more on this later.

For medium hardpoints I carefully considered the Big Four options.
The C2 Plasma Accelerator and B2 Rail gun have the same listed damage and damage penetration, but at 1.43 and 1.63 Megawatts respectively they are out of my power budget.
The B2 Missiles do tremendous damage, but I'm not sold on using missiles as my primary weapons - this isn't a missile gunboat build its a space superiority starfighter.

That leaves the wildcard option, the A2 Frag Cannon. Huge damage per second on the frag cannon for very low power consumption makes it an ideal choice for a power-limited Viper build.  You just have to stay cool in the battle and take those shots when they come.

Flight Feel
I'm not sure I really felt the difference between the Class-B and Class-A thrusters straight away, and circling an Anaconda at point blank is a difficult time to reflect upon the efficiency of your ship however we managed to corkscrew around each other for some time with me emptying my little gimbal lasers into the shields a couple of times before being able to line up the big guns.

While the E1 Beams do empty quickly and suffer from overheating, The A2 Frag Cannons are the star of the show for the damage/power ratio and once those shields were down I was able to tear up the hull pretty quickly. Aiming fixed projectile weapons takes more patience than I'm used to and I only landed half my shots, which really exaggerates both the low ammo supply and the thickness of an Anacondas hull.  I let loose some stray shots, and landed some direct hits on shields that hindsight tells me I should have waited on.

The Second Anaconda ran me out of ammo, and I had to continue the fight with small Beams only - its possible but I wouldn't recommend it. Local security services took some of the heat out of that which meant I felt safer even without such a bite. After that every ship was small enough for beams, including a rather aggressive cobra.

Final Verdict
Those big old A2 Fraggers really put some venom in a viper. With low power consumption and huge damage when you get a good attack vector I'm suddenly more scared about squaring against a viper than I was before.
I can see why Viper Jocks always swear by fixed weapons - those big guns hit very hard and a little pilot skill and patience really pays off.

I can see myself re-outfitting with Size-2 Beams and smaller fraggers, and see how that feels. When your primary damage dealer runs out of ammo, you shouldn't stay for too long in a fight. The larger beams will take down shields faster, be better at targeting modules, and maybe buy me enough time to land those frag cannon shots without wasting half my ammo to the void.

As always, Fly Casual.