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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Fly a Cynabal

There is perhaps no greater symbol of solo PvP than the Cynabal, a giant space slug put out by the Angel Cartel that excels at taking down prey far larger than itself.  It’s a very expensive ship to put on the line – properly fit it can cost nearly as much as a Black Ops Battleship.

This guide will attempt to provide you with a starting point for flying these legends.  As you shouldn’t think about flying this ship unless you have excellent speed, fitting, and shield tanking skills, the numbers I indicate assume such.

Step One: Look at the Ship

This space slug has some significant bonuses that tell you how you should fly it.

Special Ability: 25% bonus to Medium Projectile Turret rate of fire.
Minmatar Cruiser Skill Bonus: 10% bonus to medium projectile damage per level.
Gallente Cruiser Skill Bonus: 10% bonus to medium projectile falloff per level.

From this information alone, you can tell that the Cynabal is a damage dealer at range.  With 4 turrets, but the damage capability of 7.5, it also sips ammunition.  With Minmatar Cruiser V and Gallente Cruiser V, your optimal + falloff is 34 km with 425mm guns.

The slot layout is 5 / 5 / 5 with three rig slots and 50m3 of drone space.  Coupled with good speed is a low mass, meaning that microwarpdrives and afterburners will have more of an effect on speed than an average cruiser.  The capacitor is smaller than needed.

Fitting Your Cynabal

This combination of good damage at range and good speed means the Cynabal is meant as a kiter.

[Cynabal, 425mm Guns]
Damage Control II
Tracking Enhancer I
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II

10MN Afterburner II
Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor
Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II

Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M
425mm AutoCannon II, Barrage M

Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

First, the low slots.  A single tracking enhancer will let you fight within the 26-33 km range with 425s, which puts you outside of heavy neutralizer range.  If you’re neutralized, your prop mods will turn off and you’ll be a sitting duck.  The three gyros maximize the gank-factor, and a DCII rounds out your fit.  You should only fly without a DCII on a sub-cap in very specialized situations (ie. bombers).

Some people prefer a Nanofiber Internal Structure II instead of one of the gyros to gain a little speed.  This is perfectly acceptable, but keep in mind it’ll take longer to take down a target, which will make it harder to hit hostile staging systems, where enemy reinforcements are very close.

Moving to the mids, we have 2 LSEIIs.  This fit is passive-tanked.  If range-control is your defense, it means you’ll likely be running a prop module constantly.  This makes the possibility of an active tank much less favorable.  Your defense lies in speed, staying out of your enemy’s engagement range, and a buffer tank.

To that end, you’ll note both a meta-4 MWD and a T2 afterburner. Feel free to upgrade the AB to a faction or officer fit as your budget allows, but ALWAYS DUAL-PROP.  In a Cynabal, you’re unlikely to be fighting only a single enemy.  Many times, you’ll have probes dropped on you, and find yourself tackled.  Using an overheated afterburner can get you speed similar to a battlecruiser under MWD, and it can mean the difference between survival and a wreck.  Don’t bother upgrading the MWD… meta 4 overheats better than a T2 version does, and faction MWDs only affect capacitor.  You shouldn’t be engaged for long enough to cap out anyways.  This is a hit-and-run ship.

This leaves one space for a point.  Never fly with a warp scrambler.  Let me repeat that.  Never fly with a warp scrambler.  To understand why, let me ask you this question: why are you flying a fast ship with bonuses to projectile range within 9 km of any enemy?  This is a kiting ship.  In a kiting ship, being in close equals death.  You should never be close enough to use that scram.  I recommend a faction point for its standard 30 km range.  With loki boosts or overheated, you’re even farther out.  Your guns get about 35 km before the end of falloff – use every bit of it.  If you can stay out of enemy point range and heavy neut range, you can take on many ships far larger than you, and that’s just fun.

Moving to the high slots, I see no reason to fly with anything but 425s (I may update this after the patch, when artillery is getting some love).  The range fits perfectly into your beyond-point engagement goal, and they do serious damage.  Fly with Barrage M in your guns, and switch to Hail M in case you want to move in close to finish off an opponent or implement a riskier, but faster gank.  Optimal + falloff for Hail M is about 20 km… still very effective, particularly against armor-fit ships that tend to fit scrams.

For the fifth high slot, I fit a neut (meta-4 instead of T2, because of overheating and fitting reasons).  If you stay outside of engagement range of larger ships, all you need to worry about is an interceptor, Dramiel, or Daredevil.  In those cases when something small gets in close, neut him out as you pull range with your AB.  When his AB goes off, you’ll pull range quickly, and your drones and 425s can destroy him.  If he moves away fast enough to avoid your guns, at least he’ll pull out of scram range and you can escape.  None of that is possible without a neut.

You need to plug that EM gap with one rig.  Since tank isn’t this ship’s strong point, you can fit shield tank, or you can swap one of them for a speed rig.  I wouldn’t recommend changing both; if an engagement turns south and something gets in close, you want to be able to survive some punishment until you can pull range again.

For drones, you can fly with a flight of Hobgoblins and a flight of EC-300s, or you can just go all-gank with Hammerheads.   I tend to fly with Hammerheads for added DPS.  They make short work of a neuted tackler.

Fit this way, your Cynabal can gain and maintain range, allowing you to melt anything short- or medium-range fit.  Its native align time is 3.5 seconds.  Even under MWD, it aligns in 5.4 seconds.  If the fight turns south, you can GTFO quickly.

Target Selection

Flying a Cynabal is about target selection.  Like the Dramiel, a Cynabal excels at taking out targets larger than itself.  Be careful when fighting missile ships drone boats, or against ewar ships.  Curses and Pilgrims (which can neut you out from a significant distance), Arazus and Lacheses (which can scram you from 20-26 km), and Rapiers and Huginns (which are usually dual-web fitted and can reach 40 km or more).  If you land right on top of them, get in close – don’t run, as you won’t make it far enough to escape.

When engaging gangs, be sure to kill the tacklers first.  Typically, gangs include specialized ships.  If you kill all the tacklers, you can warp off freely if you get into trouble.  But don’t let this assumption guide your flying… continue keeping range on them just as if they all had points.

Get in the habit of hitting your dscan often.  You can do some serious damage, but you can’t kill tanked targets faster than help can arrive from the next system over.  Particularly after the Retribution and Odyssey expansions, T1 ships can do significant damage as well.  A lot of them can do even more.

Don’t fly a Cynabal in a small gang vs. small gang situation until you’re very comfortable with it (read: having 100+ successful engagements solo vs gangs).  The more ships on the field, the more likely that you’ll end up in scram range of something, and chances are that your Cynabal is more valuable than most of your fleet-mates’ ships. 

Flying the Ship

When beginning an engagement, always warp at range.  Landing a 0 on an enemy doesn’t fit into your engagement style.  There’s a possibility you may not be in point range when you land, but that’s better than losing your ship.

A word about orbiting.  It’s very dangerous to simply orbit at a range in a kiting ship.  You don’t have a web – and you’re not in web range anyways, right?), so your opponent could be traveling at 1,400 m/s.  At this speed, he can slingshot at you – waiting until you’re at a point in your orbit traveling away from his intended direction, then overload his MWD and burn in the opposite direction to pull enough range to escape.

It’s much better to fly manually, but doing so without getting to close is tricky.  I wish there was a way to orbit perpendicular to the elliptic (essentially traveling above and below) to keep range, but that doesn’t work.  Practice manual flying on a jetcan in high-sec – or on the Singularity server – first.  Keep a close eye on your opponent’s transversal velocity and base velocity.  You’re looking for sudden changes that might indicate he’s trying to pull away or draw you close.

Most battleships will have smartbombs, so use your own drones to kill his drones first.  Pay attention to what he drops, and the size of his drone bay.  If someone pops drones on you, kill them first.  For anything with blasters, this may be their only damage at 26-30 km.

Your MWD is for closing range on an enemy.  Once you get a feel for how he’s fit, turn off your MWD and switch to your afterburner.  Don’t leave it on, especially against battleships.  The sig radius bloom an MWD causes can make it much easier for his guns to hit you.  Not to mention, it eats your cap significantly.


The Cynabal is a unique ship, as it’s intended to fight larger prey.  It doesn’t have a cheaper gateway ship you can use to practice an identical type of flying, though a Vagabond and Stabber Fleet Issue can emulate various aspects of it.  Since the Retribution expansion, many more ships have drones, which makes flying a Cynabal more complicated.  You have to be very comfortable with the strengths – and limitations – of flying this ship.

The Cynabal is a ship that can benefit from dual-boxing either a scout or a Loki booster.  Boosts to point range can allow you to fight right out to the edge of your falloff, making the fight as risk-free as PvP is in Eve.  You need strong nerves and a good dscan, but this ship is the height of solo PvP.  Treat it like it… you need to prove your ability to fly this ship, or you’ll end up with an expensive loss.  But if you fly it well, you’ll be a terror that even a small gang can’t take down.


  1. no armoured profile? works superbly for me :-)

    1. Adding an armor tank would diminish its speed and agility, making it harder to dictate range against the larger ships I hunt with it. I feel like you'd have to adjust the whole strategy to make your targets (likely frigates and tackle?) come to you, instead of using it as a bird of prey.

      What type of targets do you fight with your armor Cynabal?

  2. why not auz armor rep with nanites

    1. I admit, I've not been able to make an active armor rep ship work, since you can only fit appropriately sized armor reps. The only shield rep fits that work for PvP are oversized (mediums on a frigate, xl on a cruiser or above). My active local armor reps just can't keep up.