The definition of engine kill
Engine kill is the act of turning off a ship's engine without slowing it down, thus preserving its inertia. It allows the ship to fly in a different direction than it is currently facing, and enables the pilot to execute manuevers that allow him to deliver the maximum amount of damage over time to his enemy. Engine kill has its own hotkey in the controls and has be activated in-game to work.
What it is not
- It is not strafing on steroids. Your ship cannot change direction while in EK mode (that means it travels in a straight line) unless by the use of thrusters. This means a good thruster is an absolute must in order to control the drift.
- Your ship also slowly loses its speed while drifting, so EKing is not advised for traversing longer distances.
- It is not without a counter. A single hit from a cruise disruptor will break the engine kill and return the ship to impulse speed (80 m/s).
What can be done with it
Engine kill allows ships with a high mass (capital ships) to face their enemy with their front (which more often than not sports more firepower than their broadsides) without standing still. It allows fighters and bombers to maintain thruster speeds while the thruster recharges its energy. But most importantly it provides a good pilot with the opportunity to maintain fire on a target for a longer period of time than he would have with a normal turn. This is accomplished mainly by a different turning strategy.
What is the difference
The picture on the right shows a turn you would normally do without utilising engine kill. This turn while if combined with strafe does not leave you too open to enemy fire is nonetheless slow, and you lose your target from your sights for a few valuable seconds. This may even allow him to get behind you, and try to force you to EK in order to get him back in view. This turn is a very defensive manuever, and is a good choice if you are evading torpedoes or mini-razors, however in an aggressive fight you will find your opponent outmanuevers you if he begins to use EK.
In a group fight this manuever will expose you to the enemy during the turn. Despite this, normal turn is the preferred turn while dodging from enemies. It is NOT an offensive manuever, but it helps the pilot retain full manueverability.
A lot of newbie pilots utilise this manuever to get an edge in the fighting. This is the aggressive turning manuever, and while effective at keeping the enemy in sight, it also extremely exposes the ship to gunfire.
Note that the dashed arrow on the diagram represents the ship movement in EK drift.
The ship heads in one direction at a nigh constant speed, thus stabilising its enemy's crosshair and allowing him to place shots on the hull with good accuracy. This can make or break a fight.
The solution to that is to control the engine kill turn using the thruster. This is called the anchor turn. As the enemy fires at the EKing ship's crosshair, the crosshair is usually fairly far off the centre of the ship to compensate for the ship's high speed. If the ship suddenly changes direction, all the bolts fired at it will miss. The ship doing this can then continue with another joust.
You can practice controlling the EK drift with a thruster by simply attempting to turn a circle around a stationary target. Try to stay within the distance margin (i.e. no less than 300m from the target, no more than 600m) and maintain your cursor on the target for as long as possible.