Noob Notes 2: Drones and Long-Range Combat

For general discussion about EVE Online.
Forum rules
Discussions about EVE University should go in the E-Uni General Discussion subforum. If you have questions about joining EVE University, please contact our Personnel Department.
Post Reply
User avatar
Stretch Anderssen
Member
Member
Posts: 9
Joined: 2020.11.24 00:35

Noob Notes 2: Drones and Long-Range Combat

Post by Stretch Anderssen »

Welcome back to Noob Notes (tm)! This week's topic is Drones and some tactics to use in the beginning (and further) of your career. I am assuming almost no knowledge including forgetting things learned in tutorials because I have found if I do not use something constantly, I will sometimes forget it. ;-)

From Gallente, I would suggest the Tristan. It has several good features that make it an exceptional at low-level combat. It has fairly high hit points (shield+armor+structure) for a Frigate plus bonuses to its faction weaponry, hybrid turrets (blasters or rail guns). In addition (and the thing that most got my attention) is that it can hold a lot of drones.

Back Story: I was (and still am) working my way through The Blood-Stained Stars story arc and I got to the point where my usual tactics of shooting at close range only ended in death, mine specifically. After reading through lots of E-Uni Wiki pages and several other "guides" that will not be mentioned here, I came to the conclusion that I would have to become proficient in long-range battles to proceed further in the story arc. A Tristan is a bit small for completing this story arc, but I decided that it would make a good training platform since it is cheap and I could afford to lose several (Rule #1: Never fly anything that you are not prepared to lose).

To use Drones, one must learn the "Drones" skill. In fact to use any Frigates, one must learn the corresponding faction frigate skill (for example, "Minmatar Frigate" to use a Minmatar Probe). Each level in "Drones" allows one drone to be used at a time. Level three takes less than a day to learn and I would advise getting that much before you test out Drones to see if it is for you.

A small Drone (in general sized to go in a Frigate or Destroyer) takes up 5 m3 worth of space each and takes 5 Mbits/sec of Drone bandwidth to control. The Tristan can hold 40 m3 in its Drone bay and so can hold 8 small Drones at once. Note that the Drone bay does not take space from the cargo hold and is completely separate. It can only hold Drones. Although it can hold 8 Drones, the Tristan can only control 5 Drones at once due to having 25 Mbits/sec Drone Bandwidth. If you anticipate having Drones destroyed a lot, you can carry "extra" Drones in the bay to replace the ones lost. Although the Tristan can control 5 Drones at once, you personally can only handle as many Drones as you have levels in the "Drone" skill. So if you have level 3, then you can launch 3 Drones at once and control them.

The strategy for doing long-range combat is to stay as far away from your opponents as possible, ideally beyond their weapons' range but within yours. The rail-gun turret is one of the longer ranged weapons, although Frigates do not hold large enough weapons to get too far away. My goal was to stay at 20 km, which was also out of range of webifiers (which the enemy uses to slow down your ship). I selected ammo that gave me increased distance so that 20km was within the range from "optimal" to "falloff", The best way to confirm this (i.e., no calculations) is to take your ship into space and hover your mouse over a turret that is loaded with your ammo. A popup will appear showing you optimal range and falloff range.

Drones also have distances over which they can be controlled. When docked at a station, you can examine your ship (by clicking on the "Fitting" icon on the left of your screen), open the selection "Drones" on the right side of your ship diagram, and hover your mouse over the icon to show "Drone Control Range", If your Drones get farther than this from your ship, you will need to fly closer to them to control them (attacking, recalling, mining, etc.). If your opponent is farther away than this, you will also not be able to send your Drones after it. You can increase this range (for all Drones and for all ships) by learning and/or increasing the "Drone Avionics" skill". You must have at least level 1 in Drones before you can learn Drone Avionics.

Now that I have explained setting up Railguns and Drones, I will attempt to describe the general tactics of long-distance battles. I like to visit asteroid belts to find Pirates to battle. If you stick to high-sec space, you should be able to defeat the pirates while flying a Tristan. It is possible to do so in low-sec space, but it takes more skill and time as the Pirates are tougher and faster. When your enemy is within your sensor range (you can "Track" it), wait for it to get in range for you to "Lock Target". Once your target is locked you can start using Railguns and Drones (or just one of them if you want to compare the differences). To stay at your optimal distance (for me, I have chosen 20km, but it could be different for you depending on Skills learned and turrets and ammo chosen), select "Keep at Range" and select your chosen distance. When your ship reaches this range, it will turn away from the enemy and attempt to keep the distance constant. You may or may not require Afterburners and/or Microwave Drives and/or Overdrive Injector Systems to stay away from faster enemies. Note that you must be tracking a target for the "Keep at Range" to work. If you change targets, it will attempt to keep away from the new target.

Now that you are safely at your preferred distance and most likely far enough away that most of the enemies shots will miss you and you are tracking your target, it is time to engage. The easiest is to start with your turrets. Since you are already tracking, clicking on your gun icons (to the right of your ship's status display) will cause the guns to fire. There will be a green line going around the icon as long as you have the guns firing. If you turn off the guns( if you click a second time, or you accidentally double-click, or you run out f ammo), the line will turn red until the end of the last firing cycyle and then will only be green on top (no circling). You can reload your guns as long as they are not firing. If they are out of ammo or if you have stopped them intentionally, you can open your cargo bay (where you have prepared by buying or making extra ammo of your preferred type and stored in there in anticipation) and drag the ammo from your cargo bay on top of each turret icon. It will take a few seconds to fill each one and then you can resume firing by clicking on the turret icon as before (remember to still have a target locked).

After you have started blazing away with your turrets, you can unlease the terrors known as Drones upon your enemy by right-clicking on the "Drones in Bay" text in the "Drones" window (usually below your scanner window) and selecting "Launch Drones". It will launch the maximum number of Drones that you can control based on your ships's Drone Bandwidth and your level in the "Drones" skill. This places the Drones in space near your ship in space. Note that you can fly away from them too far for them to be controlled, so don't just leave them hanging around if all of your enemies are gone. If you have Target Lock on an enemy and they are within your Drone Control Range, right click on "Drones in Local Space" (in the "Drones" window mentioned previously) and select "Engage Target". The Drones will move to your enemy and start shooting. When all of your nearby enemies are dead, remember to recall your Drones by right-clicking "Drones in Local Space" and selecting "Return to Drone Bay". I cannot tell you how many Drones that i have stranded in space by moving or warping off without recalling them. At least they are not too expensive. ;-)

Good luck, and see you on the D-Scan!
Last edited by Stretch Anderssen on 2020.12.16 03:13, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Anidien Dallacort
Member
Member
Posts: 436
Joined: 2016.10.18 04:41
Location: Seattle, United States

Re: Noob Notes 2: Drones and Long-Range Combat

Post by Anidien Dallacort »

A good writeup! Very detailed in terms of how skills control drone range, number of drones in space, etc.

Do be careful with this:

To stay at your optimal distance (for me, I have chosen 20km, but it could be different for you depending on Skills learned and turrets and ammo chosen), select "Keep at Range" and select your chosen distance
If your enemy has turret weapons, and you use keep at range - if your enemy flies straight, so will you - straight away from them, and therefore at zero transversal speed: perfect for their turrets to track you and hit you.

If your enemy has missiles, and you use keep at range - if they stop, so do you once at range. At zero velocity, their missiles will apply more damage to you.

Using the simple commands for piloting - orbit at your intended engagement range, is better than keep at range. Orbiting will keep you moving, making you harder to hit - and moving at pure transversal speed, if your enemy is standing still. Even if they are moving (which they should be) - you’ll keep transversal speeds up more than keep at range, making you much harder to hit.

Orbit has its drawbacks too - a good pilot can manually pilot to “flatten” your orbit and make it more like “keep at range”. Manual piloting of your own can counter that.

But in terms of basic piloting commands - orbit > keep at range, to avoid incoming damage.
Anidien Dallacort - Teaching Officer, Mentor, Sophomore

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
User avatar
Stretch Anderssen
Member
Member
Posts: 9
Joined: 2020.11.24 00:35

Re: Noob Notes 2: Drones and Long-Range Combat

Post by Stretch Anderssen »

Anidien,
My rail guns like zero transversal for ease of tracking also. I guess the caveat is "what is good for me might also be good for my enemy". I was optimizing for my weapon's shooting patterns without consideration of noticing my enemy's weapons. On the same subject, if your enemy's guns can also shoot from a long range, it does not necessarily help to keep them away. I also have not dealt much with missiles nor have I used them myself. In general, I have fought against pirates in high-sec asteroid belts and they usually use shorter range weapons with faster tracking.

If you are capable of the fighting skills, keep out of your enemy's optimum range. When they have short weapons, fight from a distance. If they have long weapons, close to knife-fighting distance (assuming that your own weapons are effective at that range).

I always orbit when mining in case an enemy sneaks up on me unnoticed. That transversal speed definitely helps. I also use orbit when flying Minmater ships with ballistc weapons (close ranges), but that is a post for another time.

Thanks for the useful comments!
User avatar
Anidien Dallacort
Member
Member
Posts: 436
Joined: 2016.10.18 04:41
Location: Seattle, United States

Re: Noob Notes 2: Drones and Long-Range Combat

Post by Anidien Dallacort »

You are correct that for turret versus turret situations - anything that lowers your opponent’s ability to hit, also lowers your own. Control of range and trying to fight in your optimal rather than your enemy’s, is always an ideal situation. I still don’t personally like “keep at range” from an opponent - because it gives a lot of control of your own velocity, to your opponent (going back to the - if he stops you stop, for example. Skills and modules that increase tracking, help you apply your own turrets, even while maximizing transversal to help minimize your opponent’s application to you.

And increasing transversal is even more crucial when facing a different size class of ships - a frigate going up against a battleship can be one shot for example, if you sit at zero transversal when fighting that BS.


As far as mining - moving while mining, is a common tactic in a venture. If you are mining in something bigger, it’s less advisable. Constantly moving has two escape downsides: 1) if you do try to get out of there of something shows up, it’s difficult to control what asteroids may be in your way when you initiate warp, and 2) trying to align to warp to something, takes longer if you are moving and not moving toward your warp point, than it does from a complete stop (you need extra time to align your velocity vector to the intended path of warp). At frigate size - a venture aligns quickly even if already moving, and takes a bigger beating than the cruiser size barges or Exhumers, so the benefits of the trade off of movement can align time, flip.
Anidien Dallacort - Teaching Officer, Mentor, Sophomore

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
Post Reply