My photo

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.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Search for an Anti-Frig Ship

No matter where you go, you’re bound to run into the blob.  You have to get used to this; Eve is an MMO, after all.  There are three kinds of blobs.  The first is the O/U blob – the overwhelming, unpredictable blob, in which you’re swarmed by an impossible-to-overcome blob of ships that either cynos in or jumps in from an adjacent system as you’re engaging an enemy 1v1.  This can happen any time, and by their natures are overwhelming.

The second category is the roaming swarm.  A single ship jumps into system and tackles your ratting carrier, only to be joined by fifty of his friends.  The solution?  Watch local, stay aligned, and get safe immediately.  Otherwise, enjoy the fireworks and pray they don’t have a bubbler.

The third category is the most interesting: the predictable blob.  In these situations, you’re roaming to an area of space where you know the residents will a) definitely come at you with superior numbers, and b) tend to fly the same ship(s) all the time.  Their behavior is predictable.  And in that predictability, you can overcome the blob and score some nice kills, possibly surviving, but definitely making it worth your visit.

Now, keep in mind that I’m talking about blobs in relation to solo PvP – genuine, true solo PvP without boosters or insane implants.  And a blob that a solo PvPer can overcome without that sort of “cheating” assistance is a gang of 2-4 players.  Your survivability is dependent upon recognizing the kinds of blobs that you can successful overcome.  If you allow yourself to be blobbed by hordes of Sleipnirs, you did something stupid or are facing an O/U blob (see point 1).  But you can reasonably expect to take down a couple assault frigates by yourself, and multiple T1 frigates on your own if you’re crafty.  Case in point (note the time on the other Razor guy in this BR… a whole 40 minutes earlier).

For instance, in this post, I talk about going to fight a small group that I know will bring frigates, and likely be in the 2-3 pilot range.  My selection of a Sabre was, as it turned out, poor (after all, it died to an AF and an interceptor).  But what sort of ship WOULD work?

A Mental Exercise


I really got to thinking about what sort of ship could both kill a group of 2-3 frigates, yet seem innocuous enough to induce those frigates to attack it in the first place.  It would need the tank to survive a bit of punishment and the ability to apply its DPS to frigates efficiently, regardless of the range. 

It’s not enough to prepare for close-range damage without thinking about how you could take out a target fighting in point range.  Some frigs – the T1 missile frigs come to mind – fight beyond web/scram range, so you need to be able damage them out there.  You either need to stick to fighting on gates, so you can burn back and jump through if you’re facing a bunch of kiting frigs – or be able to apply that damage from a distance.

Yet, you also need to deal with a dual ASB Harpy, which tends to get in close and punish you with blasters.  Whatever option you go with needs to be able to apply damage close-up as well, or you’ll find yourself scrammed and webbed too far from the gate as you slowly die.  Of the two, being able to kill close brawlers is probably a larger concern… long-range kiting means reduced dps, and as such they don’t pose as much of a threat.
But your ship can’t be too intimidating, either.  You want something a pair or trio of assault frigates feels it can successfully fight.  Your ship needs to be deceptively strong, not overtly strong.  As a result, anything T2 in a Cruiser or above is out entirely, as are T1 BCs or above that go looking for frigates – anyone with a brain will realize these are likely fit specifically to kill frigates.

A T2 frigate or destroyer could work, but would you really want to use an interdictor to take on even one, let alone two or three, assault frigates?  T2 destroyers are generally weaker than T1 destroyers, “paying” for the ability to bubble.  That leaves a frigate of some sort, a T1 destroyer, or possibly a T1 cruiser.  Faction is a possibility, as well.  And a lot of the cruisers you would normally pick (Thorax, Vexor) are so well-known as frigate-killers that your opponents will simply fly away.

Rejected Options


If the goal is to take on up to 2 or 3 assault frigates, there are two specific considerations you must keep in mind.  The first is the tank-to-dps ratio.  Is your strategy going to be to try to outlast your enemy, or hit your enemy with overwhelming force.  When fighting outnumbered, you need to tank their full dps long enough to drop one of their ships.  If you go a tank route, you’ll have a harder time killing anything at all; if you do, though, you’ll find that it’s easier to take down two or three, since the incoming dps will be much, much reduced.  On the other hand, if you go full-gank, you’ll find it easier to kill that first ship, but may find yourself bleeding armor as you set to work on the second.  Going tank will likely put you in an all-or-nothing situation; going full gank will help you get a kill or two as you die gloriously.

The other consideration is cost.  Winning the isk war is another way to “win at Eve”.  Sometimes, it’s not worth it to kill both those T1 frigs if you lose your pirate frig in the process.  On the other hand, killing an AF with an Incursus is a great victory, even if you die to his friend in the process.

There are some ships that simply don’t work for either of these two reasons; either being unable to withstand enough punishment to inflict your dps, or being too expensive for the task at hand.  Some, like the exploration and remote-rep frigates and cruisers, are obvious choices to exclude.  In a fleet, they may serve a purpose, but for solo roaming they simply fail, fail, fail.  Others require a little explanation.

Likewise, I rejected the Griffin.  Successfully maintaining jams on two ships throughout an entire fight is extremely difficult under the best of circumstances.  Plus, both a Griffin’s damage and tank are laughable.  Likewise, the Crucifier, Vigil, and Maulus aren’t useful when you’re facing multiple opponents by yourself.  Reducing their tracking speed or targeting range isn’t enough… they’ll each likely have a web on you, at which point they can simply approach you and punish you.  Don’t get me started on target painting as a primary “trick”.

The Tristan is a great choice for faction warfare, where you know you should a) fit an AB, and b) are ahead of the game because of your drones.  You can fit a good tank for a T1 frigate, but you really don’t do enough DPS to outlast a larger group.  For FW, it’s a win.  For fighting outnumbered, you’d need to meet a special brand if fools.

Etc. etc. etc… The list of poor ships is endless, but let’s focus on the suitable options, shall we?

1) EM Hole Dragoon


Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Small Armor Repairer II
Damage Control II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I

Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Scorch S
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Scorch S
Small Focused Pulse Laser II, Scorch S

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hobgoblin II x5

Being a T1 destroyer, this ship shouldn’t be too intimidating.  Sure, a destroyer kills a frigate in most cases, but a lot of people believe T2 is an automatic win button, and outnumbering a T1 destroyer is enough to win, right?  After all, a T2 ship’s tank is much better than anything a T1 can fit, right?

The deceptive part about this ship is the three neuts it carries.  Most people gauge the effectiveness of their tank based on having their hardeners functioning.  Take that away and native holes become glaring holes.  The neuts will quickly shut down the hardeners of the enemy, his prop mods, his web, his scram… and will also make it hard for him to use his guns.  A dual-rep ship suddenly becomes a single rep ship with no cap.  Once that first AAR cycle ends, it’s dead.

Being a laser boat, you need to pick your targets carefully.  Fighting another Amarr, Gallente, or Caldari AF shouldn’t be a problem.  Watch out for Minmatar ships because of their naturally strong EM resistance and projectile guns, which require no capacitor to fire.  Between a pair of Jaguars, they should be able to manage their cap enough to keep one point on you at all times, meaning they’ll eventually wear you down.

2) Frig Killer Algos


Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Small Armor Repairer II
Damage Control II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I

Light Neutron Blaster II, Null S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Null S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Null S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Null S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Null S
[empty high slot]

Small Anti-Explosive Pump I
Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hammerhead II x2
Hobgoblin II x3

The strategy when using this ship is to control the range.  The enemies you want to face are those who are either forced to get in close, or who you can convince to do so.  Newer PvP pilots, even if they’re highly “skilled”, are good targets for this type of ship, since pilots new to PvP tend to control range poorly.  This ship does 323 dps with Blaster Specialization IV and Destroyer V.  it combines both drones and blasters to do that damage, too, meaning that you only lose a fraction of that DPS if you have to switch to Null ammo.  It has a web and a scram to keep an enemy right where you want him, too.

On the defensive side, the armor resistances are all over 45%, and as high as 60% for EM, meaning this ship does very well against the Amarr AFs or a Slicer.  Pin them down and kill each in succession.  A lot of missile ships tend to fly with Mjolnir loaded by default, so don’t panic if you face one Algos and one Hawk, for instance.  A rocket-fit Hawk, in particular, would die very quickly.  The high DPS means this ship is hard on an active tank.  I’m even going to try to seek out fights against a pair of missile ships… the lowered DPS of light missiles shouldn’t be too much for this ship.  We’ll see how that goes.  I can tell you I’ll be fighting exclusively on gates with it.

3) Blaster Moa


Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II

Warp Disruptor II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Large Shield Extender II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Void M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Void M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Void M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Void M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Void M

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

Hobgoblin II x3

When you plug these stats into EFT, you come up with a monster DPS at close range, but the mean ability to tear up frigates.  Looking at those stats, you may wonder why anyone would fight this Moa.  The answer lies in it’s typical application.  Moas are almost always fit with railguns, not blasters, and most pilots are going to assume a Moa pilot’s strategy will be to keep range and warp out if anyone gets too close. 

That’s the element of surprise in this fit, playing into your opponent’s expectations.  By all means, start the fight at range, and try to pull even further away without a prop mod in the early stages of the fight.  Feel free to fit your blasters with null ammo to keep the long-range illusion up, encouraging your opponent by how little damage you’ll do.  Or, keep the close-range ammo up so your enemy will see you switch to red-box, and he’ll assume your tracking is too poor for you to hit him.

If your opponent takes the bait, they’ll swoop in to slip under your guns, not realizing that your base tracking is 0.13 rads – pretty good for medium blasters.  Once he’s within 13 km, hit in with dual overheated webs and he’ll grind to a halt in your killing field.  By the time his partner realizes the mistake, it may be too late for him, too.

4) Battle Scythe


Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Medium Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Damage Control II

Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400
Warp Disruptor II

200mm AutoCannon II, Hail S
200mm AutoCannon II, Hail S
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Medium Anti-Explosive Pump I
Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Hammerhead II x4
Hobgoblin II x1

But wait, Scythes are logistic ships, right?  Not in this case.  When most people see a logi ship on dscan by itself, they naturally assume it’s returning from a fleet, and they pounce on it.  They don’t think twice, they pounce.  “A logi?  And a T1 logi at that?  Let’s crush it.”  And that’s exactly the thought you want them to have.

This ship has 10k ehp before the rep kicks in.  It has a natural 1,375 armor hp.  If an enemy pilot checks the ship’s stats, he’ll see 1100 armor hp.  With perfect skills, that’s 1375.  But shield hp is a lot more, so folks will assume it’s shield-fit – after all, it’s a shield-repping logi, right?

He’ll think he’s doing quite well as he eats through your shields.  Even if he’s taking damage, a shield-fit ship melts once the shields go down, right?  Then your armor rep hits, which you’re sipping – one cycle at a time, with auto-reload turned off.  The armor rep does over 800 repair in a single go under nanite power – that’s about 60% of the overall armor. 

When the double-webs hit, he’ll be confused.  When you drop four medium drones and a small one, and they start ripping into him, he’ll be stunned.  When the neut caps him out, he’ll be furious.  And once he’s down, his partner will go quickly too.  You’ll turn his expectations against him three times: by flying a battle logi, by surprising him by your armor-fit rep, and by smacking him with two webs.

Conclusion?


This post starts with a key word: searching.  At this point, these are all ideas, but they all address the key question when fighting a superior force: What surprise do you hold in store for your opponents?  Without being able to answer that question, your fight will end the way all 2v1 or 3v1 fights do (if your ship is predictably weak) or simply won’t happen (if it’s predictably strong).

I’m going to buy a half-dozen of each of these and bring them into the field, but keep in mind that finding a few dozen fights in which I’m fighting only 2-3 assault frigs might take some time.  If you have any experience with these fits or additional fits that can meet the criteria of the piece, feel free to leave some comments detailing those ideas.  Otherwise, I’ll share my results as I gain them.

Have a nice death.

5 comments:

  1. i thought about what u did with these fits and noticed u fit dualrep ships a lot. im pretty new, but ive had pretty gud fights in this ship so let me know what u think, because u seem to kno what ur doing

    [Dramiel, Dualrep]
    Damage Control II
    Corpii A-Type Small Armor Repairer
    Corpii A-Type Small Armor Repairer

    Coreli A-Type 1MN Afterburner
    Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400
    Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
    Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

    200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S
    Rocket Launcher II, Inferno Rage Rocket
    200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S

    Small Auxiliary Nano Pump II
    Small Auxiliary Nano Pump II
    Small Anti-Explosive Pump I

    Hobgoblin II x3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice article but I'm not sure how much an algos benefits from assault frigate V ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Try a 3 LSE, 1 Invuln, no prop RLML Caracal, it easily tanks and kills 3 AF's and is cheap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Except everyone who sees a caracal thinks RLML immediately. Heavies are so bad right now that almost nobody flies HML Caracals anymore.

      Delete