Kiting in PVP
Original Text by DaDutchDude
I've seen many Agony people and ships fall prey to kiting and repeating the same mistake. At the same time I see too few of us using it ourselves. That is why I'm a little article about kiting, trying to define what it is, how it's used, how to do it and how to deal with kiters.
Kiting is a tactic whereby a target is powering away from pursuing tacklers, taking maximum advantage of minimizing tackler transversal to kill tacklers off efficiently and maximizing the ability to escape after the killable targets are destroyed.
Kiting is also used for the tactic of minimizing transversal by keeping at range instead of orbiting, but I am talking about the more specific tactic.
Tools of the trade
The most important characteristics of a kiting ship are:
- Speed: The higher you can get your speed, the smaller the speed difference is with a perusing ship. It means you have more time to kill him before he can put a scram on you while also increasing distance from any support he might have coming, and also has a significantly positive effect on lowering transversal on a target in point range orbit.
- Agility: Top speed is nice, but it is also important to be able to get up to top speed quickly, and to change directions. It's better to go 1800m/s in 8 seconds then it is to get to 2200m/s in 12 for example.
- Damage at range: You have to be able to start hurting a pursuing tackler while they are starting to chase you, so the further the better. You want to be able to at least hit out to 24km to kill off fleet interceptors. That doesn't have to be optimal, but it should be well within optimal + 2x fall off
There are a whole number of ships known to be good kiters. Best known are the Vaga, Cynabal and Machariel. Also known (or at least they should be) are Hurricane, Rupture and Tempest. Although a bit of a different kind, Curse and Huginn / Rapier and even Lachesis / Arazu can be kiters of sorts. However, there is a number of other ships that can be turned into kiters, and because they are not easily recognized as such, be even more effective.
Because of the requirements, pretty much all kiters are shield tanked.
There are a number of fitting that are quite common to almost all kiters:
- ECM drones: some kiters are able to take multiple drone loads and will bring damage drones as well, but pretty much all kiters bring ECM drones.
- Neutralizers: pretty much all kiters fit neuts in the high slots to break people's tackle, especially for those that get in scram range.
- Nanofibers: They help speed and agility. Prefer nanofibers over overdrives unless the base agility of your ship is very good
- Warp Disruptor II: To effectively kite, you need to be at as much range as possible while killing ships. To be able to tackle, you'll want a WD II (or faction is you have Isk to spare). A scram is just not good enough.
- Shield tank modules: Pretty much all kiters will be shield tanked because of the speed and agility.
- Cap stability modules: Some kiting ships will need cap stability to be able to operate effectively and run MWD and neuts long enough. I don't have a rule of thumb what would be a good amount of time for cap stability myself, perhaps somebody else has.
The Zen of Kiting
One very important concept that esp. Agony people need to understand is that kiting is about getting people to chase you. This makes it only effective against people who want to fight you, and this is why it is so deadly against Agony, since we're always so willing to fight. The mindset of a kiting pilot should be to kill those who throw themselves onto your sword.
First, you need to give them a reason to come chase you. This part of kiting is about influencing the psychology of your opponent, make you appear an attractive target. One way to do that by appearing like victim, easily overcome. Using T1 ships or ships you don't usually see out on their own are good for this. In that sense, kiting is a lot like fishing interceptors: you set a trap and wait for them to take a bite, feeling secure in their superiority. Another way to do it is almost the opposite, by offering a very juicy target like a faction ship, that is such a potentially nice kill, people are willing to risk more then they should.
Second, you need to be able to maximize the use of that sword. Try to get your opponents stretched out so you take them on one by one, maximize the length of the chase and your damage during that time. This is all about knowing your ship, knowing their ship, understanding game mechanics and piloting well.
Kiting is in a sense a risky strategy, because in part you're betting on incompetence of your opponent for your survive while often making guestimations about enemy fleet position, ship type and fittings. Depending on the type of bait you dangle in front of them (victim vs shiny), you should either really play it on the safe side, or make sure you take down some much more expensive stuff before they take you down. Whichever way, don't be the aggressor, don't be the chaser, but set the trap and fight only on your terms. If you're more the super-aggressive 'scram / web' warrior, this might not be the thing for you. Still, even then you need to know about it, because it will be very effective against you, and you need to understand why to be able to deal with it.
Possible kiting scenario
You find a gang with Malediction, a Sabre and 4 battlecruisers. You are in a nano Rupture with 2 medium neuts. You warp on an on-grid tac with them. You look like a soft target to them. The system has 3 out gates (A, B and C). You and the gang are both on grid with gate A, with them on the gate and you at 200km plus.
First, you need to create a gap between the tacklers and the rest of the gang. You warp to your on-grid tac of gate B and wait. If the two tacklers land on the gate before the rest of the gang, but the rest of the gang is coming on scan, you're in a good position, and they are taking the bait.
Warp to gate C at 0. Because they have to wait to see you warp to get a direction, even the 2 tacklers will land on the gate behind you. Align to a celestial that keeps you within jump range of gate C. This gives you the option of warping off or going through the gate, forcing one of the tacklers to aggress to keep you from escaping. Evaluate fast: can you take both tacklers? If not, only go through the gate if you can get one of them aggressed. if they don't, and the rest of the gang gets on scan, leave the gate.
Let's say the Malediction points you. Go through the gate, find a celestial that immediately takes you away from the gate from where you come out and start powering off. Ignore the bubble the Sabre puts up, overheat your MWD and start shooting the Sabre. If he's trying powering to you to scram you, overheat your guns and set your medium neuts on him as soon as he gets within 12km, and put your ECM drones on him. If he just points you, see if you can kill him at point range without overheating. Esp. when you overheat MWD, he'll have to almost power right at you, giving you good quality hits. Every km you get away from the gate helps you get to about 100km.
If the gang starts coming into system, quickly evaluate: should I stay or should I go? Maximize your chance to escape. If you're far enough from gate and the Sabre is almost done, power too him to max your damage and neut to try to paralyze him. If you're still close, put your ECM drones on him and keep spamming warp to the celestial.
There are all sorts of variables involved, but the most important part is separating the tacklers from the main DPS, giving you a window of opportunity to kill them or disengage.
Risks to a kiter
There is a good number of risks to a kiter. Understanding them is important, both to kite yourself or to defeat them. These are a number of them:
Against nano-gangs, you don't really have an advantage. Chances of successful kiting are pretty much non-existent.
ECM on the field often means your death. If a scrambler gets and holds a scram and stay alive long enough for the first jam to land, you're in trouble. Make sure you have your ECM drones already on the tackler before the jammer gets a chance to jam you.
Recons are very dangerous to you, and will minimize your window of opportunity to almost nothing. Only when you manage to string you their gang a lot should you attempt to kite a tackler in a recon gang.
Fleet interceptors should be killable, but they take a lot of time to kill. Often, you don't have that time. Be careful around them.
Opposing fleet in warpable distance
Only try to kill targets when their fleet can't warp to them and be right on you. This is why it is good to go through a gate before kiting, because then you'll know they will all start at a non-warpable distance. You can also kite in the same system, but you really need to observe their movements well and expect them to all warp after you every time you move instead of waiting for a tackler to scram you and only then warp in. It's especially bad when fleet members are on grid in warpable distance, since they can make better decisions as to what to do.
Not having tacs
I personally think you really need tacs to do this. You will be outnumbered and outgunned and need every tactical advantage you can get. Warping to a gate and landing in a bubble should never happen unless you plan on it.
This is by far not a complete guide. I never intended it to be, and this took me long enough. It is intended to get your creative juices flowing, and deal better with kiters who kill us so often.
Appendix: Scram vs Point
Hammereds prefers to use a scram for kiting - the following is his reasoning:
"i kite a lot in my hurricane. i use a scram and ecm drones 2 medium neuts as my 'kite specific' choices. chose the scram because i find it useful for in your face ownage which gives me some variety for larger ships once i've strung them out i can just drop on something larger and own it while his gang catches up.
The reason i get away without using a point is because anything thats tackling you will get killed extreemly quickly due to the tracking of your guns unless they're orbiting 500 or are orbiting quickly in a fleet inty. if they're orbiting 500 you drone/neut off their scram and turn your MWD on, then instapop them. if they're at range they can't scram you so you can maintain distance from their gang. and work them down, your tracking is still plenty that as soon as they try to warp out you can normaly 1shot their remaining health. i've never lost an inty to a warp out in my cane from a kiting situation. most die on aproach anyway."