Lesson 2: Guns
There are 3 factors to consider with guns: Tracking, Range, and Size.
They used to show how many radians per second guns can track, now it’s some arbitrary factor. You can look up online how to convert this, but it’s really unnecessary. The major point is that if you can orbit a ship faster than its guns can track you, your inbound damage will go down the faster you orbit.
So if you orbit exactly as fast as the guns track, you take 100% damage. If you orbit a little faster than the guns track, you take a small damage reduction. If you orbit much faster than the guns can track, you will absorb very little damage.
The closer you orbit, the harder you will be to track. The farther you orbit, the higher your actual speed will be but the lower your angular velocity will be (which means you are easier to track with guns).
When you hear someone say “get under their guns”, that refers to this process of orbiting closer than a ship’s guns can track.
Recommended demonstration: Get a cruiser with afterburner with short range guns and orbit it with a T1 frigate with afterburner. At a stop, the cruiser will have difficulty hitting the frigate. As the cruiser increases its speed, the orbit of the frigate will be challenged to maintain its angular velocity and the frigate will take dramatically more damage.
It is important to realize when someone gets “under your guns” that flying in a straight line will reduce the target’s angular velocity so you can hit it.
Also, take a punisher fit with short range lasors. They don’t track very well, but do decent dps. First, try orbiting a target at 500, observe your damage output. Then try running in a straight line at about optimum from target, your damage output will go up substantially. This is a critical thing to understand when flying a punisher.
I plotted the probable average DPS graph a long time ago based on range. I approximated that the effective range of a gun is “optimal range” + “1.5x falloff”. Most people say “2x falloff”. I’m not going to argue it.
Regarding range, you take 100% damage at optimal. You take reduced damage the farther you get away. I think “optimal + falloff” is about 40%. I think “optimal + 2x falloff” is about 4%.
So when you fight someone with guns, it’s important to be able to control maneuver so you can select the range where his guns are not effective. If you are fighting a frigate blaster boat, it is very unlikely you will be able to orbit close enough to reduce inbound damage… so you will need to get outside optimal to reduce inbound damage.
Example: If someone were stationary at your optimal range, you would expect to hit them for full damage 100% of the time. If they were at optimal + falloff, you would expect to have reduced probability to hit and reduced shot quality, which would result in about 40% dps delivery.
Demonstration: Get an autocannon fit ship of some kind (autocannons have long falloff) and examine dps falloff as your target exits optimal range towards optimal +2x falloff.
Size factor works conceptually similar to how it does for missiles. Large guns have a harder time hitting smaller ships. This mostly comes into consideration in managing MWDs. Do not give a large ship the chance to hit you while you’re sitting still with an active MWD.
2.4: Close Range guns:
Think of them like this.
Blasters (short range, great tracking, poor falloff, good DPS). This is a great choice for brawlers but they just can’t reach very far. Damage output is the blaster’s claim to fame. The high dps options on this gun shoot the middle damage types (Therm/Kin) which is fine for PvP, but doesn’t take advantage of the natural weaknesses of shield/armor tanks. In equal sized ships, don’t even try to “get under” these. Beat these by getting out of range.
Autocannons (short range, great tracking, good falloff, good DPS). Good choice for brawlers… the elevated falloff allows this gun to be used in mid-range ships as well. I would tend to think of this being a more versatile gun that will tend to deliver lower DPS. You can use dedicated EM or Explosive damage with this gun type in order to exploit the natural weaknesses of shield/armor tanks. In equal sized ships, don’t try to “get under” these. Beat these by getting out of range.
Pulse Lasers (short range, great optimal, bad tracking, good DPS). This is a good weapon with good DPS, but you absolutely must maneuver in a manner that manages your gun tracking. Orbit at 500 is not a good idea with these. If you are fighting these, you absolutely can get under them.
2.5: Long Range guns:
Railguns: Long range, poor tracking, DPS is pretty poor. Alpha (the ability to shoot a lot of damage in one shot) is unremarkable with this gun. These make sense when your ship has a bonus for this or if you’re sniping. They’re ok, Railgun Deimos does pretty good work. Most times you will want to get under these unless you’re fit with long guns too.
Artillery: Long range, poor tracking, excellent “alpha” strike. Alpha is a concept which really only applies to artillery, but is important. Imagine 2 ships each do 1000 dps. However, one fires each second and one fires once every 10 seconds. If both ships have 9k EHP, the alpha ship will win a fight because that high initial delivery gives him an apparent higher DPS across a smaller number of shots. In this example, the alpha shooter does 10k damage in a single shot, instantly popping his adversary and preventing the adversary from getting off a second shot. Effectively, the alpha shooter doubles it’s dps if you assume it will win in 2 shots (first shot instant, one reload period, second shot… 20k damage in 10 seconds).
Beam Lasers: poor tracking, good dps for long range weapon.
2.6: Ammo Selection
Each gun ammo modifies both your tracking and range. Close range ammos track better, long range ammos track worse.
Different ammunitions do different types and amounts of damage. After you read about tanks you will have an idea of what damage types are effective against what types of tanks.
Ammo selection should compliment your build.
If your guns allow you to do targeted EM or Explosive damage, it’s a good idea to carry high DPS ammo for each ammo type.
You should also carry a “fallback” ammo in case you are forced to “fallback” to a longer range than planned. Sometimes this can be necessary if your preferred range gives an advantage to your adversary.
Also, on T2 ammo: there is always a drawback. For example, the blaster short range T2 ammo does fantastic damage, but tracks really poorly (exceptionally poorly). If you attempt to orbit close with this ammo, you will do less damage than if you used regular T1 ammo.
If you use this ammo, it’s critical to account for this poor tracking with maneuver.