The rail guns! They do nothing!
Moa for the Money
After losing my shiny new Caracal, I decided that maybe I should try the Moa instead when it came to my first level II missions.
The Moa has hard points for rail guns. I like rail guns. Aside from just the name, which is cool in and of itself… not quite up there with “saturation bombing” or “Hemi ‘Cuda,” but in the neighborhood… I am used to them. I have had good results with them. I have a lot of my skill points tied up in gunnery related skills.
My Cormorant mounted a standard missile launcher and six 75mm rail guns. On level I missions I found that most of the ships I targeted did not stay alive long enough for me to activate all six guns, much less the missile launcher.
I rather hoped that things would carry on as before with the Moa. I couldn’t mount six rail guns, but I could get three 250mm rail guns and two assault missile launchers hooked up.
I went to find Pukka Shotsu in the Vuorrassi system to pick up my first level II mission.
Illegal Activity (1 of 3): Blow up some ships, loot the wrecks, bring back one specific thing.
Just my sort of thing. Off I went.
After warping in, I faced about 8 Gallente ships in the frigate/destroyer size range, including what I took to be a pair of electronics warfare ships that immediately laid a dampening field down on me that reduced speed.
So, sitting there, those ships seemed to be the obvious target.
Lock on! Open fire!
And… uh… kill something… some day….
My bloodclaw missiles were hitting home, though not doing all that much damage. And the rail guns. The bulk or my offensive armament.
Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss.
Meanwhile this mass of ships was not missing very often at all. When my shields got low, despite a booster, an extender, and an invulnerability field, I warped for a station.
I docked then came back out, reloaded, and headed back for a second round with the same plan. Same result.
I swapped out the 250mm rail guns for a set of Dual 150 mm rail guns I had sitting in storage in the hopes that they might track faster. I warped in. The failed to cause any damage either.
I docked and then warped back in again, going for different targets. My missiles managed to knock off an Atron and damage a soldier, but I still had to run for it.
I asked Potshot to get out his brand new Cormorant destroyer for support. We ganged up and he headed my way while I popped in and out to try to thin down the odds.
Unfortunately, I was warping out of the hornet’s nest at the moment he called “incoming” and warped in.
His Cormorant… his uninsured Cormorant… went poof in about as long as it took that furball of ships to lock on and fire.
I finally said screw it. If missiles seem to be doing all the damage, then missiles it shall be.
I headed back to our HQ and bought a Caracal.
I stripped off the fittings from the Moa, attached what I could to the Caracal, picked up three more assault missile launchers and a mix of missiles (bloodclaws and flamebursts), and headed back.
The Caracal swept all before it.
There is actually something quite inspiring seeing that oddly symmetrical (for the Caldari) cruiser ripple off a full salvo of missiles, the bright spark of their motors flying in trail to their target.
All opposing ships went down. I even killed some Gallente miners just to put the boot in.
I looted the Gallente Navy Officer’s ship that spawns after you kill enough of the first force. It held the item that I had to turn in to complete the mission.
I warped back to Pukka and turned in the mission (as a gang, so Potshot got some of the reward).
Superficial Lesson Learned
Sleek ships named after African predators: Good
Caracal on the hunt – Photo Credit: Nick and Melissa Baker
Awkward looking ships named after extinct flightless birds: Bad
Moas being picked on by a Gallente hawk – Artwork: John Megahan
Perhaps I should have put some more linseed oil on the Cormorant.
(I never get tired of that joke).
Rail guns require a bit more in the patience department to master and become proficient at. Need a lot more skill points and you need to watch transversal velocity of the enemy ships and optimal range of your guns dependent on the ammo loaded, as well as the regular shields and stuff.
In addition, most experienced players agree that the Moa and Ferox are short one turret hardpoint to be effective. :/ The good news is that rails make up for it on the awesome and fearsome Rokh battleship, my weapon of choice in Level 4 missions. *drool*
Stick to the caracal for missions. The missiles are great against NPCs and the Caracal is a decent ship. When you upgrade to battlecruisers, stick to the missile platform and you will love the Drake (7 heavy missile launchers…. *faints*).
Stick a web on it. Or fly a rupture. They’re better anyways. >.>
In the overview list, there should be an option to turn on a ‘rads/s’ angular velocity type of column. That might be useful when using the bigger turrets – doing a Show Info on the weapon icon, in flight, ought to give you a list with a tracking speed in rads/s too. If the target is orbiting you faster than the guns can follow, you’ll have the whole miss problem you describe, quite a lot.
It *is* actually doing that trigonometry though, and I once managed to clear a mission full of drone sized enemies, using 250 Rails (AM M), mostly by doubleclick-flying manually. As they orbit you, you’ll constantly miss, but if you double-click space in the direction they seem to be going, for a very brief duration, their Transversal Velocity (also in the Overview columns) suddenly drops to near-zero (You’re, breifly, travelling alongside them, in the same direction).
Only lasts for one broadside before they skew off into a new orbit, but one full salvo of M Railguns can often instakill them, once the difficulty of actually being able to hit them at all is overcome. Took ages though, and a bit tedious compared to a good missile-boat!
In general though, it’s a lot easier to fit Small Railguns on the Moa, if facing small targets. These are the same items you’d put on the Merlin, or Destroyers, and have the same ‘swivel’ speeds, damage, range, etc. With the much bigger Grid, CPU and Cap of a Cruiser, that leaves you room for a much larger shield tank, etc, and the ability to fit the Cruiser with a full high-slot set of 125 or 150 rails. Makes it more of a close range point-defence type of ship, which is ideal if you’re going after frigate/destroyer targets.
(Being at the Optimal Range for the guns helps, but you probably knew that bit! Too close and the tracking has trouble, too far and the damage gets reduced, and past Optimal + (2xFalloff), you won’t hit at all.)
But yes, given all the above maths, this is why most people go with missiles or drones, certainly for PvE anyway. Missiles are, as you’re finding, a lot less complicated to use well. Been a while since I flew a Moa last, so no idea if there aren’t better Gunboat Cruisers out there – Thorax maybe?
Useful animated guide that explains it all here:
And the next page explains how it works out how missiles hit too, also useful!
Don’t know why, but your “Summer is Over” post had me worried that WoW was taking your game time away from Eve. Good to see that’s not the case.
Rails on a thorax is blasphemy. Blasters only.
The easiest way to use rails(/arty/beams) is to just afterburn away from everything and kite them.
Optimal range is (another) misleading term. The range listed (say, 10km) is the point at which your hit chance will begin to decrease because of range. If you can track something at 500m, you’ll hit it just as fine as if it was at 10km.
It’s a non-linear equation for hitchance as you enter your falloff distance, the formula is published on the forums somewhere. At optimal+falloff, you will have 50% chance (tracking notwithstanding), and optimal+(falloff*2) it will be (very nearly) 0.
That mission wasn’t the easiest one you could have gotten at Lvl2, those gallente ships can be annoying :). But if you can manage that one, the rest should not give you any trouble.