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This article deals with advanced sniping. For more basic concepts such as how to fit ships and what skills to have, see Sniping.
Please add your sniping pro-tips, lord knows this article needs them!
Battleship Sniping Situations
There are basically three different situations where you are going to be using t2 Battleship sniping. Each one of these situations has different setups and strategies.
This is probably the most common situation. Goonswarm's reimbursement program has encouraged most people (jews) in the fleet to use the standardized fits for their snipers. There are many advantages to this, but one of the most important to remember as a sniper pilot is that all the reimbursement fits are similar in range performance and tank. FCs and SCs will be planning for this known range (in the area of 160km with t2 ammo), and there won't be much advantage to bringing super long range 'glass cannon' sniper fits. If you are very self-reliant, and have all your own warpins to the fight, or just have to make the top of every kill mail (hi Zataaki), then knock yourself out. Just remember to align out as soon as you land on the field. Some strategies for survival and maximum damage potential are listed below.
- Reimbursement Fit Ships: Basically, follow the FC's orders. Shoot the primary, warp to the suggested point at the suggested distance. This is important if you want to live, as you align pretty slowly and don't have the best range, so if you are singled out you will die horribly. In most fleet fight situations it is highly advisable to align-out immediately after landing on grid, however, there are exceptions to this so pay attention to the situation. For instance, if the FC warps you near a bunch of friendly carriers, it's pretty likely that you are meant to be supported by them, so sit still in a big blob and broadcast for repair when you start taking damage. You've got a big tank, you'll be OK.
- Longrange Sniper Fits: Very long range fits can offer some degree of safety in a fleet situation as you will be beyond the reach of 90% of enemy ships. The Rokh, Apocalypse, and Megathron are the best choices for this tactic as they are capable of locking and hitting targets well in excess of 230km. If you show up to a Goonswarm fleet fight in a ship like this you must remember that the FC will not be planning for you. You must have or find your own sniping perches on the battlefield. Often, a fleet member in a long-range Scorpion is a good person to warp to, if you can. Again, paying attention to the situation will pay dividends. Frequently one can simply warp to the designated warp-in spot at a slightly greater distance than the mass of the fleet, but take extreme care as this will isolate you. Long range ships can also be used to out-damage Reimbursement Battleships as they can use harder hitting ammo at a much greater distance. Remember your complete lack of a tank, however. If you die you will not be reimbursed, and will likely be laughed at.
- High Damage / Tracking Fits: If your idea of being a special snowflake is to do maximum damage, then you will be forgoing tanking ability for Damage and Tracking mods. You are probably a killmail whore, but actually there are a variety of mini-roles to fill in ships like this. One of the most useful is as a dedicated Interdictor-killer. Tracking is very important in this case, so Apocalypses (especially Pulse-fit) and Megathrons excel at this. These ships are also very useful for destroying other support such as Falcons and HACs. For falcon killing, an ECCM should be fitted and long range / High-alpha ships like beam Apocalypses and Abaddons are king. If you die you will not be reimbursed, and will likely be laughed at.
Small Gang Hit and Run
In this case, you'll warp in at range, blow shit up, and GTFO. Over and over. You'll be warping to a covops most likely, and probably attacking a gatecamp or station camp to thin them out. You want locktime, high DPS / alpha, and fast alignment time. You might want a Damage Contol and a Nanofiber or an Inertia Stab, letting you take some damage from the gatecamp's faster locking snipers. Some people put a plate which is good if you want to die a lot because you were the last one into warp. This is a ton of fun and our Russian and Pandemic Legion friends do it all the time.
This is basically the Lux Aeterna thing. You'll be doing cock-fagging type activities, probably again working with a covops picking out a target and getting you the warpin. Range probably isn't quite as important, a tank isn't real important either since nobody will be shooting you, so crank up the damage mods. Make sure you have some capability to repair although you'll probably never need it. A cloak is most useful here, although it will hurt your locktime. Your targets are going to be miners, miners and more miners. Ratters will probably be able to warp before you break their tank although you might be able to surprise an AF if you can get lucky on the transversal. I haven't really done this because I don't like multiboxing on a covops alt and all that crap, and it really doesn't seem that fun.
Note: Oh, and on MWDs: they are mandatory in serious fleet setups. In short an MWD gives a massive boost to survivability and T2 sniping is all about not getting killed, SO FIT A MWD OKAY.
Sub-Battleship Fleet Snipers
Tech 2 sniping isn't just for battleships and people with a billion skill points. There are sniping cruisers and sniping frigates that are immensely useful to a gang of battleship snipers, purely for their ability to hit the small, fast-moving craft that the battleships simply cannot track. Non-battleship snipers are ruthlessly targeted by everyone so bringing a tech 2 hull to a fleet fight is pretty dangerous. It can, however, be a blast in the right situation.
The Eagle is one of the Caldari Heavy Assault Cruisers. The bonuses it gets to range means that with decent skills and the proper sniping mods it can hit out to around 220kms. It does decent damage and tracks well, making it ideal for destroying frigates, interdictors, interceptors and even cruisers at extreme ranges. The Eagle is regarded as the the most desirable ship for the support of t2 battleship snipers.
The Muninn is one of the Minmatar Heavy Assault Cruisers. It has an incredible alpha-strike, meaning that it can usually pop frigate and interceptors in one volley, and quickly dissuade interdictors and cruisers from attempting a tackle. While it doesn't have the range of the Eagle (max range about 120km with a full sniping setup), it tracks well and it easily out-damages its Caldari counterpart.
- Honorable Mention
There are a host of other turret snipers who's shorter range (<120km) places them solidly in the 'support' category rather than pure sniper. The skills needed to reach t2 battleship sniping are directly utilized by these hulls, however, and they can be very useful in their own right. They are also a good place to learn the ropes while training for T2 battleship sniping. They include (in no particular order) the Zealot, Deimos, Harbinger, Hurricane, Brutix, Ferox, Harpy, and T2 fit Coercer.
- The most useful booster to snipers is the Frentix Booster. This booster gives a boost to Optimal Range, with a host of mostly irrelevant drawbacks that are possible.
- The Drop booster gives a significant boost to tracking speed, which can be fantastic for killing support. Of course it, too, has drawbacks. The most significant being a potential for reduction of falloff. This is less of an Issue for Amarr pilots who use lasers.
There are a variety of implants that can make a huge difference to your ability to snipe, especially if you kit yourself out with a whole set of them. The implant with the best cost:effect ratio for sniping is probably "Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZGA100" which boosts optimal turret range by 3% while costing around 2m. None of the sniping implants preclude using the stat-boosting sets that everybody uses. See Combat Implants for other ideas about sniping.
Strategies for Lag
Lag can really be a bitch, and it can completely ruin all the fun in being a sniper. That, said, it is much, much better than it used to be. Still, large fleet fights are taxing to the servers so here are some ways to minimize lag, and maximize your usefulness in it.
- Turn off Brackets and tags. Have an overview tab that has absolutely nothing on it. This will be your warp-in or grid-load overview. Load grid, then switch to a combat overview.
- Align even if you are frozen. Frequently the server responds to navigation commands even though your screen may be frozen. This is especially common when loading grid at a big fleet fight. So make sure to align anyway, the grid will suddenly load and you will be at top speed.
- The Auto-repeat trick. During large, laggy fleet fights the auto-repeat function of your guns will often fail and only fire once (or intermittently) at the target you have assigned them to. They do this even though they are still using cap and ammo, and will still show that they are firing on the HUD. To get around this right-click on the module and turn off the auto-repeat. Now you will have to fire the guns after every cycle, but at least you will force the server to actually fire your guns. You can tell when this is happening if you have damage notices turned on, but those can also cause quite a bit of extra lag in these situations. You may need to click on the little gun Icon next to the targeted ship in order to actually clear the guns off the target.
Grab-bag of Tricks
- Know your tank. Sometimes you need to run as soon as you see yourself taking damage and sometimes you can give it a few seconds.
- Specialized sniping overviews are essential. One with just Battleships and Elite Destroyers, one with just Elite Destroyers and Elite Frigates (if you have great tracking or are in an Eagle), one with just Recons (falcons), one with a Cyno Jammer etc. Really, just do it.
- Zoom out occasionally. Getting a good overview of the situation can really be helpful and will allow you to make smart tactical decisions before the FC has to say it.
- Consider Transversal. Often that smaller ship farther away is a better target than the big one right in your face. Your guns only track at a certain speed, so keep it in mind. Far and slow = good sniping target, far and fast = might still be an OK target depending on sig radius, close and fast = shoot something else, close and slow = Duh, shoot it.
- The Ammo Dance. Amarr ships have a huge advantage in sniping in that they can change ammo types in about a second. This is extraordinarily useful in putting maximum damage on the target. Use this advantage.
- Stacking Guns. It is often useful to stack your guns in multiple groups rather than one big one. This will allow you to have a stack that contains the maximum number of guns you can run while maintaining cap-stability, and another stack with the rest of the guns in it to be used during all-out slug-fests.
- ECM drones can save your ass. Oops, didn't see that Malediction zoom up and now he has you tackled you from 25km? You are fucked because even Warrior IIs aren't going to make him go away before you melt. But a full flight of EC-300s will often get a jam on their first cycle allowing your warp-spamming butt to get out.
- Blinky Yellow Boxes. You are Secondary and are targeted, don't panic. Keep aligned and watch for tacklers, stick around as long as you can. Wait for those yellow boxes to turn red:
- Spook the enemy. Often you can make jittery people warp out just by targeting them and firing a salvo. When they warp out, they aren't of any use anymore, and if they warp back in they can be a juicy target:
- Pick on the new kid. If given the opportunity shoot at ships that are just arriving on grid. They are grid-loading and will just sit there letting you blast away at them. This is especially effective on softer, cruiser sized targets.
- Train Targeting to V. Target as many ships as possible, and keep targeting new ones as ships die or warp-out. Leave one slot open for targets of opportunity.
- Kill Falcons. No other single ship is as big of a force multiplier as a falcon. Target them and fire on them if they are in range, even at the expense of dropping the primary.
- Spread out a little. Sitting in a tight group on the warp-in is like asking to be bubbled and bombed. Give yourself a little distance from the mass of the fleet so that you get out of the bubble quickly. Just don't stray too far.
- Bookmark Everything. Open your 'People and Places' tab and don't close it. When sitting at a gate bookmark things. Warp to Fleet-members with cool spots and bookmark their places too; be careful warping to a fleet-member blind, and NEVER warp at Zero!. When bookmarking things remember to label them with some nomenclature that makes sense to you, and is easy and fast to type. "NOL 160 ^" for a snipe spot, or "-> J-L" for a Jumpbrigde, for instance. Some important and convenient Bookmarks to have are as follows:
- A Safe POS or two.
- Whatever that warpin to the fight is that an FC just gave you.
- Multiple sniper perches near Stargates and Stations. Spots that are out of line with celestial bodies are best.
- An inline bookmark near the action (less than 1 au.) so that you can warp in and out of the fight quickly without having to traverse the whole system.
- Things of current tactical importance like: Cynojammers, POS guns to kill / repair, enemy Jumpbridges, Pit Crews, etc.
- WWW up! Since people are constantly warping to and from the fight it is absolutely vital that people on-grid give warpins in fleet chat.
- Latch on. If you notice someone in fleet is particularly good at having warpins, add them to your watchlist. This way you can get back to the action much more quickly and don't have to beg for a 'www'.
- Scroll Lock. If so many enemies are warping on and off grid that you can't click on that damned target, freeze the overview by holding the 'Ctrl' button.
- Pit Crew is the best Crew. When getting repaired by a pit crew broadcast for repair ONCE. Broadcasting multiple times will only scroll some other guy off the Broadcast list, and potentially kill him. When at an off-grid (safe) pit stop, turn on your Micro Warpdrive. This will balloon your sig radius up and make locking you much quicker for the pit crew. If you are currently getting shot, don't do this.
Personal Warp-In Alt
Some snipers get so fed up with the shitty Goonfleet warp-ins that they dual box their own cov ops alts to provide themselves with personal warp-ins. It's kind of shitty that we have to do this, but that or coordinating with a small group of people are the only ways to be sure that you will get a good warp-in. Gosh, I wish we had a Cov Ops Alt skill plan that I could link to.
Solo Drive-by Sniping:
Useful for popping dictors/tacklers/untanked members of cockfagging gangs that do the old swoop in and bubble the station trick. Very common tactic with Stain/AAA gangs.
Something with a lot of range and a big big alpha is good for this. IE a Tachyon fitted Apoc, Locus rigged tempest ( maybe ), 425MM Rokh, etc etc. For this example, Ill use an Apoc since CCP decided to let everything minmatar fucking rot. The concept here is to line your BM's up so all you have to do is get up to speed to get out instead of aligning+getting to speed. By taking the alignment out of the equation, you can get in, pop something, get the fuck out twice as quickly.
8 Tachyon Beam Laser II ( Aurora L );
3 SB II ( 2 with range scripts one unscripted );
1 TC II ( optimal range);
2 RCU II ( can go 1 RCU 1 PDU II with AWU5 );
3 Heat sink II;
2 TE II;
24 Inch Spinners Optional.
Amarr BS4 will put your optimal at about 220 + 24 adjust tracking mods if you have 5 or it will go past max lock range. For obvious reasons, this is dead if you get tackled, but you won't.. read on
NOTE: This setup is purpose-built for this kind of activity. There is no MWD because if you sit too long and get tackled, the 900 M/S you will do in an apoc won't matter when a ceptor tackles you.
How to make Drive-by Book Marks:
You need to do this beforehand. Get a ceptor, undock and burn 200K ( or a little under your optimal ) up or in a random direction NOT inline with any celestial objects and bookmark that spot as a unique snipe warp IN. You want to be careful that your spot doesn't put you through a station bubble so keep that in mind when you pick a spot.
Now warp off to a safe pos( or safespot), then turn and warp back to the bookmark you just created. Soon as you land, click your speed meter to full and hit your MWD. Burn until you are offgrid, but I like to go about thousand K offgrid, then bookmark that spot as your snipe warp OUT.
To do your drive-by, you warp to your POS and narrow your scanner down on the station/your snipe BM. When the faggot(s) appear on scan warp to your snipe BM. The instant you drop out of warp, click your speed control to full, prime your guns and lock the easiest to kill target. Once you're locked up and shooting, Right click in space and hold the mouse over your warp out bookmark.
You will have only about 10-15 seconds tops at a 200KM spot to shoot and run. When you are done, or an tackler starts burning for you, click your warp out and you should instantly warp. Even though speed isn't what is it was, I still assume that someone is burning at me at 8-10K a sec to account for latency.
The best targets have a combination of large sig radius/Low HP.
- Un-tanked cruisers
- Frigates ( if sitting still)
- Ceptors ( ONLY IF NOT MOVING )
- Anything else you can track that doesn't have a shitload of HP
A dictor is almost always a sure kill using this method since he has usually just bubbled himself on the station. Not to mention the fact that cockfagging gang's effectiveness goes down a lot when their lone bubble gets ass raped while trying to stationprank.
All of these will result in your hilarious death.
- Letting your warp path cross a station bubble
- Shooting hactors, battleships, tanked hacs, or anything else with a lot of HP/resists
- Staying too long and gettting tackled
- Sitting in that snipe spot for extended periods of time allowing it to be probed
- Using that BM too many times. If you shoot someone, make a new BM after they leave