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Join Date: Jun 2012
08-01-2013, 10:02 PM
I was a huge fan of HSE when it first appeared - my initial run was an all-optionals success with an awesome PUG full of heavy hitters. I was still flying escorts at the time (Fleet Patrol with all Purple Mark 12 Borg AP Weapons and the Adapted MACO set), and I went on to complete the ESTF version over a hundred times.
Then came the borking. And the insta-deaths at 20K range. I finally got fed-up and went back to speed running through KASE, ISE and CSE. For a time, I didn't even bother with the game anymore. But then on a lark I decided to switch-up from escorts to cruisers (had 3500 Zen sitting around from all that ESTF Dil I converted), grabbed a Fleet Excelsior Retrofit and learned about "aux2bat" configurations.
Now, I've decided to give HO another shot. I went in on Normal level and found the cubes and spheres to be a breeze - BFAW3 everywhere and things just started going "pop." But when I hit the lance ships, the one-shots started again. So in a final, seemingly futile attempt at conquering the unconquerable, I tried the "stay within 5k of queen" rule that you always heard about before the borking but simply ignored because it was way more fun to strafe the lance ship hulls in an APO3-buffed escort.
But now I'm in a cruiser, running aux2bat, and I have more raw power than my subsystems know what to do with. So I gave the 5K rule a shot. I parked right next the queen, started my keybind cycle and basically BFAW3 continuosly for several minutes while hitting every offensive and defensive buff I had at my disposal.
And low and behold, the lance ships slowly went down. Not without a fight, mind you. I had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at me, and more than one team member inquired as to how the hell I was not dying while taking on *both* lance ships simultaneously.
But the truth is, without the lance one-shots (which get blocked by the close proximity to the queen), they aren't that hard to take down. Continuous pressure damage, even when they're regenerating, has always been the trick for me. And now that my 21.3 second (47% uptime) BFAW3 cycle can take out the majority of the supporting flak (probes, regen probes and even plasma bolts) in one or two shots, it comes down to tanking ability and persistence.
And when I finally got to the queen I found her to be remarkably easy to tank. I spent most of the enounter circling her at 3-6K range, and only rarely did I have to EM away or even switch sides to let a shield facing regen. Basically, it was one, long, slow grind to nothing and then the win.
Of course, I still die from time to time - mostly from getting one-shot on the way into queen "airspace" after getting caught outside. And given that I run PUGs almost exclusively, I often find myself as the only ship still alive and thus get overwhelmed sometimes while tanking the two lance ships (it's "fun" when you're doing 10-11K DPS with 7-10M damage while the next best player is doing 1.2K and hasn't cracked six figures).
Now that is a tight spot since, if you EM out of range to heal, you'll likely get lanced either on the way out or when you try to return. But overall, I'm finding HO to be fun again, at least on Normal difficulty. Cutting a swath of destruction through a sea of spheres and cubes is now more satisfying than ever, and the queen - once the most difficult part of the mission for me - has become a clinic on the benefits of flying a well-designed aux2bat beam boat.
As for HOE? Well, that's a beast of a different color. The cubes and spheres aren't the problem. It's finding a PUG that can hang with me in queen air space so I don't take ALL of the heat from everything. Between the inbound one-shots and the higher DPS output of the uprated NPCs, I'm still trying to get past the lance ships on that one. Perhaps with the right pre-made team...