Damnation test flight

4th November 2009 – 5.32 pm

W-space beckons my new Damnation. The new connecting w-space system to our own leads out to high-sec space, so it is an easy journey to pilot Bad Badtz Maru to the corporation tower. So far, though, all I have done is fit the Damnation and fly it through stargates, and I am a little wary of throwing my new toy directly at Sleeper battleships. Luckily, my corporation is only too happy to try shooting me, so we taxi out of the tower's shield and power all systems to battle conditions.

I am quite keen to test the range of the heavy missiles, because of the Damnation's bonus to missile velocity. Hitting to 66 km in my battlecruiser impressed another Drake pilot, but 100 km seems too far to be effective. One member of the fleet appears just outside the 100 km range, which I can target out to with the sensor booster running, so I loose a volley of missiles and wait. It takes a while, but my systems report a solid hit on his shields. My calculations were correct. Even if the flight time is a little unwieldy, and missile damage slightly lower than in the Drake, fitted with warfare links in a support rôle I can hopefully sit at a range that is out of immediate danger and still be entirely effective.

Then the bastards shoot me back! I've barely warmed the pod in the Damnation and they are already scratching my paint. It is quite distressing for this Caldari to see shields deplete quite so quickly. Armour is not meant to be sloughed off and renewed, it is science's warning sign that the ship is in danger and the hull is next to go. Shields are the obvious way to resist damage. But instead of the Damnation's armour dropping as quickly as the shields, the armour withstands the two-ship onslaught easily. 'Yes, 'scratching' is a good description', says one corp mate, as the hits from his gardes, bouncers, hobgoblins, and guns all but bounce off my hardened armour.

I may not be used to armour tanking, but it should come as no surprise that the Damnation is tough to crack. I check the fitting screen for more detailed information. I have a damage control unit, armour hardeners, and a passive defence armoured warfare link all powered and running. My fleet skill training and the command ship skill benefit are also both boosting my ship's armour. With all the bonuses applied, Bad Badtz Maru has over 132,000 effective hit points, although it is purely as a buffer tank, as no repair modules are fitted. I am relying on my fleet to provide repairs if needed, in return for which the three armoured warfare links run continuously to help them tank through Sleeper damage more effectively.

With the controlled flight test complete, we return to the tower. There is not much else happening, and I can only admire the powerful curves and glinting hull of the Damnation for so long before admitting I have a problem, so I pull out a Retriever from the ship hangar. I make my way to a gravimetric site in the system to mine some arkonor, in an effort to be productive. I keep an eye on the directional scanner again, and again it is trouble from Sleepers sending my scarred Retriever back to the tower. It is probably more convenient to take the passive shield-tanking Drake out to despatch the handful of frigates, but I jump back in the Damnation instead.

I throw the command ship at the weak Sleeper contingent and use its missiles and drones to destroy the frigates easily enough, a colleague's Dominix flying out to shoot a straggler and effect minimal armour repairs. It is far from being a dangerous encounter, but I still think it is an important one, because I want to get used to taking the Damnation out in to the field, and not keep it wrapped in plastic, scared to see it come to harm. I also need to get used to the shields being little more than an incidental indicator of initial damage, and not my main defence system. Settling back in w-space, I am sure to be in facing greater Sleeper threats soon enough.

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