Open University of Celestial Hardship (OUCH)
Silver Medal - Printable Version

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Silver Medal - Bren Genzan - 01-07-2012

Open University of Celestial Hardship holds a Frigate Free For All Tournament every month. Any OUCH member can enter. The rules are simple: T1 Frigate with Meta 0 Modules. No rigs. No ECM modules. The arena is a 40K that shrinks as contestants are eliminated. Leave it for more time than it takes to get back in, and you're disqualified. If you warp out for any reason, you're disqualified.

I've been a participant in 10 or 11 of the 12 FFAs in the past year. I've been first out a couple of times, 'Bren is Primary!'

I've flown a Merlin almost every time. She's an underdog ship, second best to the popular Rifter, but I've always been one to root for the underdog.

In the Merlin, I've come in Third, once.

I've come in Second, 5 times.

I've been Disqualified once.

I've Never won.

In 6 times that I've been in the Final Four contestants, I've been flying a ship that I could consider a viable PvP fit, MWD/Scram/Web. Once I was Dual Web, my version of a Daredevil fit Merlin. I'm pretty certain that a couple of times where I got taken out early I was AB/Scram/Web fit, and went left when I should have gone right.

The 7th time I reached the Final Four, I was a lock for second place when I realized that I was not going to win. From my point of view, my ship was just not powerful enough, my skills just not high enough, my piloting just not good enough. Very frustrating.

70 percent into structure, I warped out and got disqualified. I just didn't want to be the First Loser for a sixth time, and at the time, last place looked just as good as second. It was depressing: I'd come to think that my failure to win an FFA was a reflection on my skill as a pilot, and I considered giving up FFA's all together.

Since then, I've reviewed each of the fights where I've come in second place. Most of the time, I avoided combat with the other veterans to keep from being eliminated early. In each case, I got to second by choosing my fights and escaping where I needed to. In each case, I could control range with my speed and my medium modules, but I could not break my opponents tank before they could break mine. In each case, I just didn't have the DPS to burn through my opponents superior tank.

Then I realized that this last Merlin first one that I flew that was not strictly PvP fit. She was tournament fit. No scram. No Dual Web. I sacrificed those fits to put a Magnetic Scattering Amplifier on, to fill that EM hole. That made her more tanky, and put me on a path to play the tournament. Damn me, I didn't even realize I was doing it.

12 FFA's down and I discovered that I've been playing them all wrong. I've been trying to use a combat fit ship because it seemed appropriate to fly like I would in a combat fleet.

But the FFA isn't flying in a fleet, or soloing in low. It's a controlled environment with rules and regulations: No ECM. No warp outs. Stay in the sphere as it shrinks. Like Boxing: No hitting below the belt. No head butting. No kicking or eye gouging. Even in Ultimate Fighting, where you'll see some of the most brutal fights you'll ever see, they could be more brutal if it were not for the rules of the fight.

We preach quite a bit in OUCH about fitting for the role that you going to be filling. The best ship or fit depends on what you're going to do with it. Every time I've flown in a FFA, I've fit to control range and other players have just tanked up.

So while I've used scrams to kill MWD's, my opponents left off propulsion mods and scrams because they know that the other guy isn't going anywhere. They've all figured out we're all going to stay and try and kill them. Keeping someone from escaping has not been on the program. They adapted and fit for the mission.

For my part, it's been very frustrating for me because I failed to adapt. Stupid really. But I have learned a lot about manually flying, controlling range, breaking orbits and maintaining high traversal. Dogfighting is a skill that I probably have made some small improvements on this year.

So now that I know this, the decision to retire from OUCH FFA's might be premature. The Merlin is a good ship and since other guys have won the tourney flying one, there is probably a Gold Medal out there somewhere with my name on it.

And if I play the game right, I might finally get my hands on it. Smile