Plugged In

Crucible Chronicles — Iron Banner Snipe Hype

Being a true account of the author’s trials and travails in Destiny 2 PvP

Vol. 6

This past week was the second post-Forsaken Iron Banner, as well as something called Festival of the Lost. Full disclosure: I haven’t even touched FotL. Busy couple of weeks, which is partly why this edition of Crucible Chronicles is a little late (I know! I’m sorry!).

However, I did dive into Iron Banner. I wasn’t planning to, mind you. But then a clanmate alerted me to the fact that the venerable Lord Saladin was offering up a god-rolled Bite of the Fox, an aggressive-frame sniper rifle. His roll came with snapshot sights and moving target, which is a top-tier combo to have on a sniper.

But of course, you couldn’t just walk up and take it. Rather, you had to complete the “To be Precise” bounty, which required 50 precision (headshot) kills in Iron Banner matches. And of course, due to general busyness, I didn’t begin my quest for this godly sniper until about 1:30 a.m. eastern time on Monday night — less than 12 hours before the weekly reset, after which it disappeared forever. Hoo boy.

Recall, if you will, that power level now matters in Iron Banner (as opposed to the rest of PvP, in which any advantage a player may gain from having a higher power level than his opponents, is nullified). Now consider that I’m clocking around 545 power, while most players are now around 570 or higher. Yeah … it was rough. 

Because power matters, I started out by running my absolute highest power loadout, which turned out to be Ace of Spades, the Translation Theory energy sidearm, and Play of the Game. However, I quickly realized that Ace was not going to be my best choice to nab precision kills. My personal feeling is that hit registration for Ace is a tad bit wonky, and truthfully, where hand cannons are concerned, I prefer either Trust or my newly acquired Nation of Beasts (which has opening shot, kill clip, steady rounds, a stability stat of 75, and generally feels like the stickiest 140 rpm hand cannon I’ve yet used).

So I switched to my trusty Jade Rabbit in the kinetic slot, for which I have acquired and unlocked the catalyst, and my Death By Scorn energy sidearm. At this juncture, I would be remiss to not mention that Death By Scorn is ridiculous. Though it’s a fixed roll, the masterwork is random; mine is in handling. I’ve gotten two of these, and kept one, and it’s probably the most forgiving sidearm I’ve used. With the farpoint sight, ricochet rounds, zen moment, and full-auto, its ease of use is supreme. I swear, with this thing, you just point, pull and hold the trigger, and nine times out of 10, the enemy player winds up dead before you do. And what’s more, it seems to kill from ranges at which one would think a sidearm to be ineffective.

Ahem. Where was I? Oh, right. So, after switching my loadout, I was able to acquit myself adequately. When facing off against much higher power opponents, however, the disadvantage was quite apparent. Pretty sure I got one-hit meleed by a warlock at some point, and very high-power players just felt like they took an awfully long time to die. Undeterred, I soldiered on.

At around 3:00 am eastern, I was close to 25 precision kills. 50 felt decisively far away. “One more match,” I said to myself.

An undisclosed amount of time and number of matches later, I was sitting at 43 precision kills. At this point I called it a night. I woke up early the next day, hastily made some hella strong French press coffee, and landed my final precision kill roughly fifteen minutes before the weekly reset. I proceeded forthwith to the Tower and collected my Bite of the Fox. GG, me.

Last night, I decided to put this beast to use. For this special occasion I busted out my Stormcaller warlock, for which I have a unique tool: a Crown of Tempests exotic helmet, which has the perk “Enhanced sniper rifle targeting.” The “enhanced” targeting perks are quite rare, and so when Xur sold this a few weeks back, I made sure to pick it up, even though I already had a Crown of Tempests. I also used a nice pair gauntlets with sniper rifle scavenger, to get more ammo from each pickup, and sniper rifle loader, for faster reloads. I ran this loadout with the top Stormcaller skill tree, Attunement of Ions.

The first few matches were difficult, as much because of my class and subclass choice as because of my loadout. It’d been a while since I’d played warlock, and several times I found myself tapping the circle button twice in a vain attempt to do a hunter dodge. My sniping was a bit rusty, to say the least. I’m not a great sniper to start with, and taking time off doesn’t help. However, I was able to find a groove after a bit.

I had a nice moment sniping an opposing warlock out of the air on Altar of Flame, right as he popped Chaos Reach. It required two bodyshots, but hey, ain’t no shame in that! I also found that, much to my surprise, Retribution is a fine map for sniping. The interior hallway areas are so cramped that players often cluster together when making a push, which is a sniper’s dream. There were a few instances in which several enemy players were so tightly grouped together that I just aimed at the center of the lot of them and pulled the trigger.

And with the Bite of the Fox being a high impact sniper that does 158 damage to the body, aiming for the head is not always the best strategy. The high damage makes “bodyshot, switch weapons, cleanup” a very viable strategy. I paired my BotF with a Valakadyn 720 rpm auto rifle (a forgotten gun I just happened to have on me at the time), which ended up performing far better than I thought it would, especially for the sometimes dirty and difficult business of cleaning up bodyshots.

Long story short (well, I mean, shortER, anyway), I really enjoyed this build, and how it forced me to focus on sniping. And I plan to do more of it!  I’ve identified two guns to try out with BotF in order to maximize bodyshot cleanup potential. They are the Jack Queen King hand cannon, from the forge on Mercury, which has ricochet rounds, very high aim assist, and the fastdraw sight for super-fast handling; and the Restoration VIII. This is the New Monarchy 600 rpm auto from early in Year 1, which was little used in the Crucible. It has quickdraw, accurized rounds, and the SPO-57 front sight, which greatly increases range.

Of course, running either of these (or an energy scout rifle with quickdraw, which I have yet to find) with a sniper will mean giving up a sidearm, smg, shotgun, or any other reliable means of dealing with shotgun apes, an incalculable number of which are freely roaming the Crucible, foaming at the mouth and looking for easy kills. Oh well. For every Guardian, there comes a time when the only moral, decent, and proper response to heretofore unseen shotgun decadence is to stay in the back and pop some heads!

Postscript: Don’t worry, I haven’t given up my journey to obtain Luna’s Howl in the competitive playlist. My quest steps are proceeding apace, and I’ll be back with an update soon.