Marb Pelico has slipped into the well worn care-bear groove of running combat missions and this weekend he finally graduated to level 4. This is generally regarded as the highest level that is realistically solo-able and many players farm level 4 missions for loot and bounties. I am sure that mission farmers have the ships and skills to make these missions an exercise in boring repetition but for a new player (just 5 million skill points to date) they represents a new and fairly daunting challenge.
A brief sortie in the hurricane that saw me though level 3's quickly convinced me that I needed bigger guns so I bought and outfitted my first battleship, a maelstrom. If I get a chance later I'll try to post the fitting but as usual in EVE it was a case of drooling over uber powerful setups that are well outside my level of skills and isk and then bastardising them down into something that I can actually fly. After several major compromises to my skill set and my wallet I ended up with a shield tanked artillery boat sporting about 300dps omni tank (before using mission specific hardeners) and 400dps gank. Not particularly impressive but about twice as good as the hurricane on both counts and good enough I hope for the job.
My overwhelming first impression on flying the battleship was how much more slowly everything happenens even when compared to a battlecruiser. I guess I was expecting it to fly and manouevre very slowly but I hadn't expected other tasks to take as long as they do. It takes many seconds for example to lock onto a target before I can shoot it. When I finally do lock on is most gratifying to be able to knock out cruiser sized rats with a single broadside from my artillery but then it takes a full 20 Seconds to reload before I can fire another shot.
My second key observation is that I seriously need to improve my drone skills. Those big guns can annihilate frigates and cruisers that politely hover in place 50 km in front of me but once they come in and orbit I cannot touch them. These small fry cannot do much damage by themselves but but they carry stuff like webbers and warp scramblers that hold you in place while their bigger bretheren rip you apart. My bargain basement tech 1 drones are barely adequate to the task of handling these annoyances so Marb's skill queue has been quickly re-jigged to
add a bunch of drone stuff.
A somewhat unexpected observation is how severely the slow speed of the battleship limits combat options. In lower level missions you can reduce a lot of incoming damage by either standing off and sniping or by orbiting close and outpacing the tracking of opponents guns. It is harder to get to sniping distance in a slow battleship (particularly when webbed) and even if you manage to pull it off you are left with a long string of kills spread out over more than 100km with a very slow journey back to pick up the mission objective. As for trying to get into a close fast orbit - forget it. The net result of this is that much of the time you need to sit there and soak up the damage. My tank was overwhelmed on a number of occasions so I had to resort to warping out and in again. Warping in and out takes time and killing the mobs with my less than stellar dps takes time so my progress to date has been very slow. It took me almost three hours (with a break for dinner in the middle) to complete a mission called "The Dread Pirate Scarlet". A more experienced player explained to me that he can do it in about 20 minutes in his dedicated mission ship.
A final observation is that these missions are indeed profitable. That mission I bumbled through over several hours netted about 35 million ISK in bounties and cash rewards before loyalty points, looting and salvage is considered. If a complete noob can make 15 million per hour in hist first days of running lvl missions then I am sure a dedicated mission farmer is making a large multiple of that.
Oh yes - as per the title I did forget to insure my battleship and only remembered round about the time I also discovered that battleship guns are completely incapable of killing the interceptors which had me webbed and scrambled. Happily fortune smiled on me and I survived but once again a reminder to always think before you fly.
Shout of gratitude by the way to Stabs who made a generous in game contribution towards my battleship fund.