Some good responses thus far. I’ll throw in my piece too.
- Is “insta-lock and one-shot” possible?
Short answer: Yes.
- How do they do it?
It is a combination of two things: One or two Sensor Booster module(s) with (a) targeting “script(s)” and Projectile Artillery.
Sensor boosters enhance targeting range and speed and can be loaded with “scripts” to further enhance range or targeting speed (at the cost of the other).
Projectile Artillery is the “long range” class of projectile weaponry. Its defining characteristics are medium range and VERY high volley damage (make it the perfect “shoot and run” weapon).
- Is this tactic common?
Somewhat. A ship that wants to be “optimal” at this tactic often has to sacrifice in other areas… making it pretty specialized and vulnerable outside of that specialty.
This means that the player is taking a risk when they do this sort of thing. Doubly so if they are solo.
You won’t usually find this kind of thing outside of Stargates and Stations (usually heavily trafficked ones).
- How can this be countered?
Well… a few things come to mind… but let us first discuss game mechanics so you have an understanding on what you are about to do.
– NPC Stations grant about 30 seconds of “invulnerability.” People can still see you, but they cannot target or shoot you until you activate a module or the 30 seconds are up (whichever comes first).
It should be noted that you CAN stop the ship (ctrl-SPACE) and you can be bumped by other ships before the invulnerability is up.
– Stargates grant about 60 seconds of “cloak immunity” after you have jumped to a new system. While cloaked, no one can interact with your ship as long as you do not move, activate a module, or the 60 seconds are up (whichever comes first).
– The server operates at a “tick” rate of 1 second. This means that every second the server accepts commands given from the game client, processes the information, and updates the client (roughly speaking).
– Now… regarding counter-tactics (please note that NONE of these are “silver bullets,” they merely stack the odds more in your favor)…
---- Around NPC Stations, it is easy. But it requires advance preparation.
If you frequent certain stations, take the time to create “insta-undock” bookmarks. In a nutshell; grab a frigate with a Microwarpdrive, undock, and then try to align yourself “straight out” with the undock point of the station. Once you are 150+ km (the minimum distance your ship needs to warp) you can create a bookmark.
Now, whenever you undock and see baddies, you can quickly pull up the bookmark and be away in mere seconds.
— Around Stargates you have few options. Especially if you are not prepared.
----- Ideally, you will want to be able to use a Covert-Ops cloak (can only be used on certain ships). Simply hit “cloak” as soon as you see the “warping” notification.
----- Another thing you can do is to try to get your alignment speed under 2-3 seconds. This makes it VERY hard to target you as human reaction speed, combined with server update speed, and ship targeting speed may take just as long or longer.
----- If done right, the cloak-MWD trick works wonders on larger, slower ships. You merely need access to the Improved Cloaking Device (which any ship can use) and a MWD. Since it will take too long to explain the mechanical nuts and bolts of this tactic, I’ll simply direct you to Youtube.
----- Tank your ship. By this I mean, “fit buffer.” You want to be able to absorb at least 1 hit from a ship. To do this, fit Armor Plates / Shield Extenders and resistance modules. Armor Repairers and Shield Boosters won’t work here as they take time to “absorb” damage… which is kind of pointless when you may potentially die in an instant.