Saturday, 10 December 2016

Elite Dangerous Pilot Academy - When Vultures Fail

Hey Space Cadets what is going on?
I'm Cmdr TwingTwang and welcome to the outfitters.

Today we'll be talking about the Vulture again. Again.  

The Vulture is a space superiority starfighter that caught my eye from the day it was released. You can pick up an empty Vully for a cool five mill, and you'll spend ten to fifteen on top of that before you are ready to fly.

My first impressions of the Vulture were really good but I had super trouble balancing the power management. That little 4A Power Plant gives you 15.6MW, which should be plenty but you have to make a lot of compromises to make it work.
I found myself flying with one laser and one cannon - Personally I've always liked the Fraggers - which has a lower power draw but its limited ammo doesn't have the staying power if you wanted to sit in a conflict zone for hours.

In my Vulture first impressions, I recommended 3E Gimbal Pulse lasers which are good overall and in my revisited article I've already talked about power management and hardpoint options. I've settled on the Class-B thrusters and dual gimbal Pulse lasers and added the Military Grade Composite as standard. Partly because I have a little more cash for this sort of build now, but also because my hull was being chewed up quickly once the shields went down.

I'll put links to the old articles at the end and won't labour over the outfitting. here. For reference, I think this is the Vully that I'm launching with these days. 99% sure all the details are right but this isn't an outfitting article.

Right - preamble out of the way - on to the heart of the matter.
The Vulture has served me well for simple one-on-ones, against those bigger ships it takes a while to bring them down but you can turn on a dime and just keep chipping away. However, it failed me in a convoy. I was in a trade wing of Lakon-9's hauling kilotons of gold and had switched to the Vulture to run fighter escort. It was a follow-the-leader convoy and I was Nav-Locked to the ship in front of me - should be a routine mission and if anybody interdicts a Lakon-9 they will find themselves facing the full fury of a Vulture as I light them up.

But the problem with Nav locked jumps is there is a quite a delay (compared to having an XO call the jumps and everybody engages at the same time) So the Niner that jumped in first was a distance from me before I arrived, and when the interdiction was called he wasn't on my radar.  At this point, all you can do is follow the shipping lane and wait for the wing beacon so you can jump in.
To cut the story there, I did manage to jump in, but the Niner had taken too much damage and even as I drained my weapon banks, the ship I was supposed to be protecting opened up like space tuna and shed its glittering cargo everywhere.
Now, I was paid to protect the convoy and I just cost them I dunno five or ten million? by not being able to act in time. On the plus side, I scored revenge and earned 120K from the bounty but my good fortune somehow didn't console the freighter captain that had lost out.

And this is where the Vulture fails. It wasn't the delicate power balance, or the shield configuration. I hadn't launched with the wrong loadout or equipped the wrong hardpoints. It was the game that surrounds the game that mattered. I've replayed the encounter a hundred times in my head. I could have jumped sooner - I could have bought a Class-A sensor, maybe that would have got me in faster.
Was this a task that just wasn't suited to the Vulture? It felt like escort duty was ideally suited to a Vulture - almost guaranteed one-on-one fights, against a distracted opponent, backed up by the five turret cannons of a fat niner. Surely this should be easy pickings? Food for thought.

So on to the lesson learned. If you are flying a combat sortie, then own that mission. If you are flying escort then you are the CAG. If there is anything that compromises the safety of your mission then you are the authority. The wing might plot the route, but you are in charge of security, keep the wing together.

Bringing this round to the title - when do Vultures fail? When they aren't being vultures. Fly like a vulture, fight like a vulture, find the right role for your playing style, and bring home the bacon.

This is Cmdr TwingTwang signing off. What have you been flying lately and how has your play style changed since you started?

My first impressions outfitting article.

And my revisited thoughts after flying it a little while.