While I math hard and sometimes seem to know my stuff, in some sense, I am still somewhat of a new player. I got my first ever kill about three years ago! Being new is cool, because you can always try new stuff – except when it is discontinued of course. With the reintroduction of the AT last year one of those things came back, sadly in the first year I was super busy IRL at the same time, so I didn’t really have time to do it, but I said to myself, next year I will go.
We started to practice twice a week after the rules got announced. At the start, we were mostly concerned about getting everyone to fly and communicate decently well and less focused on figuring out the precise meta, as we had about half of our players that were – just like me – new to tournaments. This worked decently well, and soon I came to the realization that I am a pretty bad pilot, which meant lots of improvements to implement. We eventually got the hang of it, and from there started testing different setups.
We quickly tested our previously established setups from the AG, and realized that quite a few would not work anymore. The Vargur Comps had the issue that the were making up a big percentage of the total DPS of the comp and where quite susceptible to the new EWAR, at the same time the 10v10 format usually came with more low-end support, which was throwing rocks into their path to the Logi. The Machariel / Vedmak / Draugur comp on the other hand just wouldn’t work with the increased point costs and duplicate rule. Our not-so-rlml Gila comp still worked decently well.
On the kitey side, the no-plate BC with long range DPS (Quadmommy) Archetype did not seem to work anymore, as one would loose to much DPS against TDs spread on enemy DPS ships (if they had one EWAR you could just zap that first). Similar difficulties would also happen with Arty Kite (Boom Headshot) but somehow we won some matches with it anyway. RLML-based comps worked decently well at the start of the match, quickly killing enemy Logi, but we had some issues in getting enough DPS trough in the later stages of a match to reliably win (This was probably due to or underuse of the Barghest).
Still functional where the HAM Rush, and Turret based armor rushes also worked decently well at the start. With those, we often ended up winning with a 2 BS high-end and a variety of mid sized DPS boats like Augoror Navys and Mallers over a 1BS or 3 BS variant. Pretty quickly, our scrim partner adopted a much more Ewar-Heavy playstyle, where we would often fit ReSeBos and other defensive Ewar, while they would go full on the offense. The often did this with a Drone Control Comp featuring Eos / Ishtar / Stratios, which could provide good EHP, good resists, utility mids and neuts, which all helped stalemating our matches. This could result in a loss against a Rush quite quickly if the momentum stopped at any point. The Turret based rushes seemed to be more prone to this than the HAM rush, and we came to the general notion that more shooting ships was better against Ewar, as it is harder to ewar all of them than just a few.
We did some extended internal testing with an Armageddon as FS, and realized that while it could hamper enemy Logi to some extent, shutting it down to just getting one cycle of reps of per cap inject was pretty impossible without a full rack of heavy neuts. The issue here was the cycletime, and one could fit smaller neuts to make it work, but then the range was not good enough. There was also a variety of methods to circumvent or counter this FS, for example a Cap Transmitter Vexor in the Drone Control Archetype. Thus we went with the Vindicator which we felt had more value against frig logi, and our Corpmates finding a Cormackyy or two on TQ allowed us to have some good modules for it without anyone realizing it. Late in the Scrims, we finally realized just how good a Barghest + Orthrus comp could be, but with the Cerberus changes, we felt confident in being able to ban this archetype, but it was sadly to late for a Flagship change.
Match 1: Deepwater Hoolingans
Looking at the matches this Team previously played we felt like they were flying decent comps, although we often spotted one or two slightly questionable ships or modules. Nothing that would fail terribly, but just things that are slightly worse than the optimum we could come up with. They did not seem to have a distinct flying style either that would result into one of the archetypes we had being significantly stronger than the others.
We decided to just meet them straight up with a simple yet effective comp, the good old HAM Rush. If it was a mirror match, then we would have a decent chance at out-trading them, and with most other stuff they could bring it would work ok as well.
They decided to run a simple DPS Check Tinker Setup into us, which we had tinkered (lol) with as well. We had determined this kind of setup to be good as a counter in specific situations, for example against a Drone kite setup where there is no real way to save your logi (with Jams / TDs / GDs) all not helping, having a thing where you where not at all relying on the Logi would be useful. Also in a more general setting where the enemy is low DPS and kites it could also be an option. But for a straight up blind pick, the 4178 EHP/s you would get out of a conventional Tinker Nighthawk was just not enough to ensure that you live.
Our execution on this match was pretty good at the start. We quickly burned down the T1 Logi before turning to the Nighthawk – it should be the least tanky ship. It died in a decent time, and we now went to clear the frigates while waiting for the enemy links to run out. We cleared enough of the frigates that there were no longer a threat to our Logi, and then turned our attention to the remaining DPS core. The battle was decently close, which our side slowly loosing ships while their side was slowly breaking as well, over time the effect of us still having functional logi kicked in as their DPS reduced and we stabilized.
After Match Insight
During the match, we tried bumping the the Scorpion Navy away, which got out to about 7.5 km – not quite enough to break the cap chain. This was due to a variety of reasons. At the start, we were lacking a shotcall on which direction to bump, which caused the enemy ships to go everywhere and nowhere, not everyone was familiar just how exactly tinker setups were, and as such some people only started bumping after a while, some people ran to long runups to their bumps (something we mathed out after the match was less effective), and finally we also bumped with the small ships which caused some of our own ships to collide and thus bumps to fail.
On our enemies side, the core ships where all well fitted (straight from Hydra’s killboard from last year). But their low end was not quite up to spec in my books. One of the key difficulties in my opinion with a Tinker setup apart from keeping tank up is to apply to the enemy Logi, this is what the low end is for. Logi ships are all un-bonused to signature, meaning that the application to them doesn’t change significantly if you scram them. So in that sense the scrams on the frigates where just wasted. Also going for a 2nd SNI over Golem would have allowed for 2+ Assault frigates in the low end, which would stay alive significantly longer when holding down our Logi.
Match 2: Truth. Honor. Light.
Going up against the team that won the whole tournament in the second match is obviously not Ideal. We assumed that whatever they would fly would work against all well established archetypes. They would also in the first few rounds of AT in the past bring a significant amount of damage so they could straight up win the match in no time, leaving no room for stalemates or other wired stuff. With that in mind, we went with a tanky armor tarpeting comp, with the Idea of being able to to split up a rushing enemy, and resulting in a lot of our ships getting low at the same time, while crucially still being able to project to our primary.
I had kinda established this setup with a very resist-heavy comp (Basically every ship had a resist bonus or T2 resists, and DPS of the High end was all in drones) before the ANI came out:
Logi, DPS Battleship, Eos, 2x Ishtar, 4x Tackle, Skybreaker
What we went for in the end was a more buffer heavy comp with the new ANI (about 200k EHP more in total), but still with the same underlying concept.
THL chose to bring a dual Barghest kite comp including their Flagship, and working of off a single (transformer) link boat and T1 logi.
- Armageddon Navy
- Augoror Navy
- Augoror Navy
- Stabber Fleet
After match Insight
THL however would not play into our idea and bring a high DPS kite comp. Now with the older style of these comp this was a coinflip. Essentially you had to rush in with your low end and tackle the Logi and at least one more (preferably two) big DPS ship, so you can trade those with your drones, getting you to a point where the a kite setup lacks. This was decently difficult with the four light ships. It was more difficult against Barghests, as they would just scram some of your light tackle.
But with this new higher EHP comp, we had more cruisers and less low end, so the task went from “difficult”, to “impossible”. And on top of that someone decided to fit a Hecate without adequate tank in the lows. The match after the setup wasn’t really that interesting. We just straight up couldn’t catch enough things with the ships we had, so the drones wouldn’t keep up and apply without webs, and then our beams just simply where not enough.
One commentator remarked that you would much rather have frig logi in our Drone comp, which was pretty funny. For me the main strength of a drone tarpeting comp (or also a drone kite comp) for that matter is that you can spread out and still apply damage any target. For this having a Cruiser Logi is super useful as you can rep guys without burning over the whole arena.
Match 3: Hidden Leaf
Looking at the previous matches of this team we identified one major weakness in all their comps: They would consistently mix Guns and Missiles. If someone decides to bring TDs/GDs then they usually can’t “gamble” all that hard, e.g. go full TD or GD, as this results to a dice roll in performance. So anyone not wanting to gamble would always bring a mix of both. Now if you bring a setup that uses both turrets and missiles, suddenly you take all of these, while if you only have one weapon system you only take half the disruption. Now in a rush setup it might work anyway, as you can just burn trough that TD range, but when you are kiting the difference is big.
In that regard we wanted something that could definitely TD/GD. An archetype we had done decently well with in the past and felt comfortable flying into a variety of things is the Gila Kite setup, so we went with that. We banned a more burst-heavy RLML / RHML setup as that was the thing we would have the most trouble with.
They as expected brought a mixed Gun / Missile comp. The main threat of the comp are the decently long Bhaalgorn webs, which supplement the well projected DPS.
As a brawl vs kite match it was mostly about not getting caught from our side to win. Initially the match picked up very slow as we were burning around their Bhaalgorn in a wide arch to get towards their Logi. Eventually they caught one Jackdaw which was not terrible. For some reason they decided to run their Microwarpdrives while shooting it and thus it lived for a surprisingly long time, as greatly received by the commentators and the audience. Meanwhile, we cleared the frig logi, and then slowly traded out
After Match Insight
We didn’t learn much from this match, and rather had fun with Rozmar’s Jackdaw survival. Here is what had hapended out of first perspective:
After the Bhaalgorn webbed and neuted me, I started the chest presses on the keyboard. This was surprisingly effective and confused the opponents. Howling’s continuous shield boosts felt paternalistic after a while, do not doubt my solo survival abilities, but I went with it to avoid drama mid match. My job was done after we devastated their lower end, so I checked out early and let the Scimi nag Hansy instead.The Rozmar’s Prophet
Someone made a nice graph of the encounter to:
Match 4: Exodus.
From going through the Feeders, we had quite a few matches to look at from Exodus. They seemed to excel at the Tripple Battleship meta, and won many runs against setups similar to theirs. In our practices, we had also tried similar things, but often realized that loosing a BS in a setup was very punishing. Usually one of the three battleships would be more support-focused (like an Armageddon (their FS) or Bhaalgorn), so the DPS focused ones could make up up to 40% of the entire comp. And they didn’t really have the greatest EHP or resist in most cases (for some reasons Abaddons where not that popular, I don’t understand why exactly).
We decided to run a HAM Rush into this while banning the strongest kitey archetype with a Barghest / Orthrus ban. This would make it very likely that they would go for a 3BS setup. Then we would run a HAM rush with as much DPS and Tank as possible into them, and hopefully kill that first BS fast enough.
As seen against Deepwater Hooligans, we had the unique strat of bringing Rocket fitted Command Destroyers. From a DPS and EHP perspective, this was actually a pretty bad move on our part. But they would have a varitey of other small strengths: Extra links, good speed and mitigation and in the end game, range control to stay alive from a lot of brawly enemies, conserving 6 points.
This was however not the time for them. Exodus. would probably capitalize on our mistake in tank and DPS choice, and there wasn’t a huge chance we had to chase stuff down. So we went for the more usual choices. On top of that, we opted for non-standart fits on our Sleipnir and Svipul, making both of them a worse first primary than usual.
Exodus brought a triple Battleship setup as expected. They opted for an TD / GD Ewar supplement in the low end and a Bhaalgorn for control.
We first primaried their small frigates to see if we could snap kill the other one. Their Punisher got decently low, but was eventually saved by the Logi. Their Confessor played it smart and stayed in defensive mode the entire time (we later figured out that it didn’t even have guns). After this unsuccessful attempt at getting free from their small stuff, we decided to shoot a BS and effectively reduce their DPS and Control (If we had killed the small stuff, we would probably have been free enough to kill Logi). But interestingly their Logi had pulled range to the full extent that he could have with us shooting the Bhaalgorn, but was still in range for repping the Confessor or Punisher, who were 20km behind the Battleships, this was enough for the Loki to get a web on. This was close enough for us to get to him and kill him. Shortly after, our Scimitar got caught as well, and eventually died. Because of that time difference we already had some momentum on our side again, and from there on out the trade was progressively in our favor, as each of their subsequent losses was also resulting in a big loss of DPS, while our losses didn’t. Our non-standard Sleipnir fit even pulled of an Ancil Reload for good measure.
After Match Insight
Their commitment to screening us in this matchup was commendable. And we figured out why their Confessor was staying in defensive mode all along – he had no guns! This was honestly quite a bit closer than it should have been, and I think that mostly comes down to how much time we had wasted on their tackle frigates, and how well they had tanked them. I still think tapping them at the start is fine, but we could probably do it quite a bit faster while already moving for another target – after all we are only scared of them holding us down and reducing our DPS, and stopping the whole team for that is playing into their cards.
Match 5: Platinum Sensitivity.
In preparation this almost felt like a rematch against the previous team. Platinum Sensitivity was also fond of the 3 BS style, but they had a significant friendship with EWAR mids, sometimes even bringing a Skybreaker and Stormbringer together. They had just lost their Vindicator flagship, so we assumed they were going to fly something else, as the Vindi looses a good chunk of it’s power when not fit with officer webs (as we had also figured out on our own FS Vindi in testing).
We decided to go with the same high-dps HAM rush variant again, hoping to break whatever they would come up with in short notice.
They showed up with another Non-FS Vindicator, together with a Widow and a Blackbird. This was outside of the META we had charted out. For the classical Armor Control with Jamms, we had figured out that one would need at least two Jam boats to reduce the enemy DPS on the frontline enough, with at least one Damp boat so that one could counterdamp. On top of that, having a Skybreaker or Stormbringer was needed so that eventually some enemy would break, and there wasn’t and endless stalemate. This would leave 5 slots for DPS / Links / Frontline, which in our setups was always not enough.
Platinum Sensitivity. Comp
We pulled back towards an MJD beacon so that we could get on top of the Widow immediately. The MJD went decently well and the Widow was quickly tackled and taking damage. At this point, the frig logi came in and we switched target to it. But between a few ships being Vindi webbed off of it, some more being jammed, furthers being TDd or GDd, simply did not have enough damage to break through the rep drones, and with lack of a Skybreaker, also no good way to clear them. We sat around on grid achieving nothing, while slowly loosing our ships.
After Match Insight
In the end, I feel like we had gotten too predictable with our flying style, and got punished for it. But I am not certain if any of our other comps would have dealt with this much better. After all, they all had less ships shooting, and less DPS (but maybe more projection or tank).
Interestingly we had not come up with a similar archetype at all, which was probably mostly due to the fact that by the time we were trying Armor Control comps, our scrim partners were trying their Flagship Armageddon (with enough Remote Sensor Boosters to not be damped down hard) – resulting in a lot of cap dry jam boats and little success on our end. What had also eluded us was the additional DPS HML or CML on those Jam boats themselves could provide (over RLML / RHML), so we were always seeing those comps under their actual value. Good pointers for next year for sure!
On our enemies side, we had realized that they would range disrupt our missile boats which was only partially effective, with most ships still being in range. I think this could have gotten even worse if they had used precision disruption. And on the flipside of that, we were specing a little bit to hard into the Webs and to little into TPs to fully apply to Frigate Logi.
Over all, this run was a lot of fun, and I think almost everyone in our team will be back at it again next year. We were pretty happy with how we performed, although we do want to find some more viable comps going forward. The commentators where fun as always too, we managed to have another entire match where they couldn’t figure out which weapon system we were running, but were confident in knowing what we do. Overall, a lot of fun was had, and we are looking forward to the next one.