Sunday, 18 September 2011

Know Your Enemy - Recon Ships

Recon ships serve as both the t2 variant of the t1 electronic warfare cruisers, but also as the natural progression from both Covert Ops frigates and Electronic Attack frigates. In addition to the electronic warfare bonuses of their t1 counterparts, recon ships also receive bonuses to their secondary racial EWAR type in the same way as the EAFs. Recon ships are quite clearly divided into two sub-classes; Force Recon ships (rapier, arazu, falcon and pilgrim) and Combat Recon ships (huginn, lachesis, rook and curse).





To avoid repeating myself on each entry, I'm going to say this here: Almost without exception, every ship on this list is an excellent primary target in almost any engagement (provided they're in range). These are high-threat ships with strong force-multiplication capabilities, and generally have fairly fragile tanks compared to the ships they usually fly with.

Force Recon Ships

The force recons are masters of covert warfare. Like Covert Ops frigs and Stealth Bombers, they are able to fit Covert Ops Cloaking Devices and light Covert Cynosaural Fields (a variant of the regular cyno used for blackops drops). In addition to covert cynos, force recons also receive a 50% reduction in time (and 80% reduction in fuel) for all cyno fields, making them equally popular for dropping capital ships and for bridging conventional gangs via a titan. While the offensive power of Force Recon ships is typically weak, their ability to cloak provides them with a lot of flexibility - they can double as scouts for a fleet, cloak to conceal their presence (leading to the ubiquitous use of falcon alts) and allows them to much more easily evade a hostile gang or camp.

In general, the force recons are more popular than their combat counterparts (with one exception, which I'll discuss later). Their cloaky nature makes them excellent force multipliers, since you're often able to keep them concealed until your opponent has already committed to the fight (a smart opponent will realise you have the numbers, but won't know your composition or potentially even whether the pilots are active). These ships are regularly found providing electronic warfare support to gangs, flying solo (especially as ratter-hunters) or working as part of a blackops gang. Because of that latter point, you should be wary of any force recon ship (in particular arazus and to a lesser extent rapiers) which willingly engages you in a situation that appears foolish. Many force recon ships will entirely omit their high slot weapons in exchange for probe launchers, cynosaural fields, and other gang-assisting or defensive modules.

Falcon

Few ships have been the target of so much rage as the falcon. ECM is a hot topic in some quarters, mainly due to the absoluteness with which it ships down a target ship and the feeling of impotence and general 'not fun' experienced by its victim. Combine this with a cloaky ship that's notoriously hard to catch, and tears will swiftly follow!

The caldari recon ships are unusual in a couple of respects. Firstly, like their EAF counterpart the kitsue they don't receive a secondary EWAR bonus - they just receive stronger bonuses to their primary EWAR type, in this case ECM. Secondly, they are the only recons whose EWAR capability is (at least in one respect) inferior to their t1 counterpart - neither the falcon nor the rook receives the blackbird's bonus to ECM range (they did originally, however this was removed to keep the ships balanced).

Aside from in range, the falcon's ECM capability handily trumps that of the blackbird - it not only receives a massive 30% per level bonus to ECM strength (as well as the blackbird's 10% per level to cap use), it also features an additional mid slot (for a 4/7/3 layout all told) and a significantly improved targeting range, removing the need to spend a mid slot on a sensor booster as the blackbird does. In addition to this, the falcon receives a 5% per level bonus to hybrid turret damage with 3 turrets (or 3 launchers), and a token 10m3 of drone bay/bandwidth - neither of these is regularly used other than as a last resort (or perhaps for carrying some armour rep drones), however it's more than the blackbird gets!

The falcon's ECM capability is quite fearsome, and enough to single-handedly turn the tide of many fights - its jam strength is high enough to perma-jam most frigates and many combat cruisers with a single jammer, and have a good chance of jamming larger ships too. The falcon is particularly dangerous in a small fight, where it's able to overwhelmingly apply its 5 or 6 jammers to completely ship down most or all of the opposing force - this has lead to many solo pilots using 'falcon alts' to decloak and jam their target should they appear to be losing - a tactic that understandably draws a lot of condemnation. However, since their range bonus was removed it's not noticeably harder to dual box a falcon - their ECM optimal range is just shy of 80km on a normal fit (albeit with around 50km of falloff), and decloaking at this range in a gang environment can be quite risky if the falcon pilot is busy managing two characters at once.

Since falcons are primarily gang ships, that's where I'll focus here. Solo, you have little chance of killing a falcon since the likelihood is they will simply jam you and warp off (it's possible with a specially set up ship or a mistake on behalf of the falcon pilot, but unlikely). In gang, fitting ECCM or sensor backup arrays to key ships such as logistics can mitigate the risk of ships like the falcon. Fitting ECCM to all ships in the gang can be difficult to do (especially for shield tanked gangs), however larger damage dealers such as battleships occasionally feature ECCM too. Aside from mitigating modules such as these, the simplest counter to ECM is counterjamming from your own ECM ships. Ironically, arguably the most effective ship for this job is the falcon's t1 counterpart - the blackbird; thanks to its superior range, the blackbird can counter-jam from outside the falcon's optimal range, forcing the falcon pilot to run its jammers in falloff if it wishes to jam the blackbird in response. Another falcon is also an effective measure, able to decloak after the hostile falcon pilot has already allocated its jammers and jam unopposed (at least for the first round). Other effective counters to the falcon are simply using fast ships to burn out to it (with an engagement range of 80km this will not take long) - this method is particularly effective against dual-boxed falcons, since the pilot's will have limited attention to expend on keeping their falcon out of harm's way (and any time spent doing so is not spent managing their primary combat pilot). While a lone tackler will usually be jammed once a jammer becomes free, most falcons will die quickly once their jammers are overwhelmed. If you're unable to catch the falcon, damping or long ranged dps can be used to force the pilot off the field (which can be particularly useful if they're fighting in hostile territory where they don't have bookmarks).

Falcons can be either armour or shield tanked (or not tanked at all), however armour tanks are generally the most popular in order to free up mid slots for additional jammers. Because of this, explosive or kinetic damage is generally preferred (although given that most falcons only fit a one-slot tank, spending time switching ammo is probably not worth doing). I know I mentioned target calling already, but it deserves an extra mention here - the falcon is arguably *the best* primary target in the game if you can tackle it - they have very little in the way of tank, and present a massive threat if left to their own devices - catch it, and kill it.

Rapier

The rapier is a versatile ship, commonly found supporting smaller gangs. In addition to the bellicose's bonuses to turret damage and target painter effectiveness, the rapier receives a 60% per level bonus to stasis webifier range, giving it a web range of 40km with recon 5, or 52km overheated. With skirmish bonuses and faction webs, this can be pushed as high as 93km with overheat. Aside from niche roles, it is this bonus rather than its target painting one for which the rapier is used.

With a slot layout of 4/6/4, Rapiers can be either shield or armour tanked (with shield generally being more popular). A standard shield tanked rapier fits a 2 slot shield tank, in addition to a MWD, point, and two webs. Some fits will drop the point, one web, or both depending on the role. The lows in this configuration are used to enhance speed and agility, lending the rapier additional survivability particularly when operating solo and making the shield tanked rapier relatively deft at dodging gatecamps. An armour tanked rapier loses this speed and agility, although it does offer both a stronger tank and two additional ewar slots (typically a third web and a target painter, although combinations here vary more widely). In my experience, armour tanked rapiers are most commonly found in larger gangs with armour logistics (although they are overshadowed to an extent in this role by the loki), while shield rapiers are the most common choice for solo, small gang, or supporting higher speed gangs (which are usually shield tankers). Rapiers are particularly popular with kiting gangs, due to their ability to web down opposing tacklers before they can close range.

Of all the force recons, the rapier is the one which most often makes use of its high slots for offensive weaponry (not counting the pilgrim's neuts). While some rapier pilots still opt for probe launchers and/or cynos, the majority of them field either three 425mm autocannons or three 650mm artillery. They also receive the bellicose's 40m3 of drone bay/bandwidth, supplementing their weapon damage with either a mix of medium and light drones (the most common choice), or a full flight of lights with a few spares in reserve. The overall damage output of a rapier can potentially be quite respectable (assuming autocannons and low slots used for damage mods), however for the majority of rapiers this is not the case - expect a damage output on par with some of the weaker t1 cruisers (about 200 dps). Rapiers are particularly dangerous to frigates, since their webbing effectively nullifies the frigate's ability to evade incoming fire. That said, it is still possible to solo a rapier in a frigate if you can close distance quickly, especially if the rapier is fitting artillery and medium drones as many of them do. If the rapier is scrammed and webbed, an afterburning frigate will usually still have enough of a speed advantage to remain under the rapier's guns and wear them down.

In addition to frigate gangs, rapiers present a significant threat to any gang type which relies on speed or range to evade damage, such as kiting gangs and AHACs. In these gangs, webbing ships like the rapier should be an early primary. Rapiers are sometimes also used as tackle for blackops gangs, however not as regularly as the arazu. Rapiers receive a moderate version of the minmatar racial resists, leaving kinetic and thermal margially lower than explosive and EM for a shield tanked fit. Against armour tanked rapiers, your preference should be explosive > kinetic >> thermal > EM.

Arazu

The arazu is the definitive tackle recon, with a 20% per level bonus to warp disruptor range (applying to both long points and scrams). This gives the arazu a point range of 58km (68km overheated, or up to 100km with skirmish bonuses and a faction point) and a scram range of 18km (22km overheated, 38km with bonuses and a faction scram). The majority of arazus fit one or two long points, or occasionally a long point and a scram. In addition to its point range bonus, the arazu receives the celestis' bonuses to turret damage and sensor damp strength - the latter is occasionally used, but tends to be much less common and almost always as a secondary consideration to its tackle (especially since it is no stronger than that of its t1 counterpart).

As with the rapier, the arazu gets a 4/6/4 slot layout allowing it to be either shield or armour tanked effectively. The advantages of each are the same as I mentioned above - the shield tanked variant is faster and more agile, giving it greater survivability when operating solo (such as when tackling for a blackops gang), while the armour tanked variant is able to fit additional EWAR and mount a stronger tank. Both of these options seem to be fairly popular - arguably a result of the increased usefulness of damps compared to the rapier's target painters, and the gallente racial preference for armour tanking. In terms of tank, a shield arazu is usually tougher than the equivalent rapier on account of using fewer mid slots for tackle (the rapier needs to fit a point in addition to its webs in order to work as solo tackle, while the arazu only needs a point). Armour tanked, the ships are roughly equivalent - an armour tanked arazu will usually fit additional tackle and occasionally damps, depending on its role.

Offensively, the arazu can actually be surprisingly dangerous at close range. With 3 bonused blasters and 40m3 of drone bay/bandwidth (again usually a mix of mediums and lights), a shield arazu with damage mods can be quite an effective solo vessel, putting out as much as 400 dps. This is probably the most dangerous arazu fit to face as a solo opponent, both because of its damage and because they will typically be fielding both a bonused scram and at least one web. Alternatively, some solo arazus focus on rails and a long point, with damps to keep their target from responding. This kind of fit is excellent for hunting ratters or single, slow targets, but generally less effective in general PVP due to its vulnerability up close; unlike the rapier, the arazu doesn't really have any way of keeping targets at range. Because of their ability to tackle multiple targets from range, arazus are the most popular ships for dropping blackops gangs on unsuspecting targets, as well as being popular for lighting conventional cynos to bridge gangs via a titan. Arazus are generally not effective ships for engaging PVP-fit opponents solo, so if a solo arazu does engage you willingly it's almost definitely a trap - you have been warned!

In addition to their solo and hotdropping roles, arazus are regularly used as long range tackle for slower kiting gangs (such as drakes) or mid-ranged gangs such as battleships or HACs which might operate outside of conventional tackle range. In these situations, the arazu(s) are likely to be providing the bulk of the opposing tackle - if you can kill, jam, damp, or drive them off, you can gain a significant advantage. Aside from this, arazus are probably the least threatening of the force recon ships in a gang fight, with the exception of damping arazus if your gang is operating at range or using ranged logistic ships such as scimitars.

With a moderate racial bonus to kinetic and thermal, your damage preference should be EM >> therm > exp > kin for shield tanked arazus, and exp >> EM/therm > kin for armour tanked variants.

Pilgrim

The pilgrim is the least common of the force recons, and the only one where its combat equivalent (the curse) is generally the preferred ship for gang support. The secondary electronic warfare type for the amarr (and we're stretching the definition of EWAR a bit here) is energy neuts and/or nos. On the pilgrim, this is manifested in a 20% per level bonus to neut and nos transfer amount - doubling the effectiveness of any neuts and nos the pilgrim mounts. Like the arbitrator, the pilgrim's primary damage comes from drones - it gets the same 10% per level bonus to drone damage and HP (minus the mining part) and the same 150m3 of drone bay with 50m3 of bandwidth, allowing it to field a full flight of medium drones with plenty of spares. This gives the pilgrim a moderate but consistent damage output, and also frees up its high slots for valuable cap warfare mods.

Unlike the other race's recons, the pilgrim doesn't have to choose between its two EWAR types - neuts use high slots while tracking disruptors (to which it also receives a bonus, courtesy of its arbitrator heritage) use mid slots. This makes it one of the few recon ships which regularly uses both types on the same fit. With a 4/5/5 slot layout the pilgrim's neuting capability is slightly limited compared to the curse (obviously one high slot gets used for its covops cloak). A typical pilgrim fit features 2 medium neuts and 1 medium nos, although variations are common - remember that all of these are effectively doubled, so even with only three mods you're already looking at the equivalent of six! Given its slot layout, pilgrims are more commonly armour tanked to free up mid slots for tackle, cap-injection and tracking disruptors (this also favours the amarr racial resist bonuses). That said, shield pilgrims (usually foregoing the tracking disruptors) are not that unusual, as they offer additional manoeuvrability and survivability for a solo roamer.

While the other recons are primarily gang support ships and are occasionally used for hotdropping, the pilgrim is rarely used for either. Instead, the most common use of pilgrims is as a solo PVP craft. While not as dangerous as its counterpart the curse, the pilgrim's neuts allow it to quickly shut down any active tank, tackle, or cap-intensive weapons its target may be fielding, providing it's in range to do so (the pilgrim receives no bonuses to neut range, so is only effective out to 12km). Given its neuting capability and choice of weapon type, the pilgrim is excellent for hunting ratters (who generally active tank) and for killing close-range frigates, where its neuts are able to the target's cap in a single volley. While most of the recon ships are dangerous targets for a solo frigate, the pilgrim is one of the worst - unless the pilgrim pilot is AFK or jammed, a frigate engaging it inside neut range is likely to become a dead frigate in short order.

Interestingly, the pilgrim does actually receive three turret hardpoints (although it gets no bonus to any turret type). This means that the pilgrim can tehnically field the strongest damage output of any combat recon if it foregoes its neuts in favour of turrets. Of course, the utility offered by those neuts is hard to pass up, and its vary rare to see a pilgrim with such a fit.

Engaging a pilgrim should be done outside 12km if possible and not in a light ship; if you can engage outside of this range, the pilgrim isn't much different to a very expensive arbitrator. If you're not able to hold range then your priority should be on managing your capacitor - you'll want cap-less weapons (projectiles, drones or missiles), a buffer tank, and ideally a nos or cap booster to keep your tackle running. Expect a challenging fight, particularly if you're flying a turret ship and the pilgrim is fielding tracking disruptors. Killing the pilgrim's drones is rarely worth doing (unless it launches ECM drones, which it will usually only have one flight of, and given that drones are its only source of damage are usually a sign that it's trying to run away).

Against an armour tanked pilgrim, expect high resists across the board, with a slight preference to thermal > kinetic > EM > explosive (some fits may include a thermal hardener, I'm not really sure how often this is done). If the pilgrim is shield tanked, EM and thermal are by far your better choices (the latter is lower if an EM rig is used), followed by kinetic and then explosive.

Combat Recon Ships

The combat recons trade the cloaking ability of their force recon counterparts for stronger tanks and significantly improved damage output in the form of additional damage. The only exception to this pattern is the curse, which we will discuss in more detail below. Combat recon ships are most commonly found providing electronic warfare support to larger gangs with logistics, where their improved resists offer a real benefit over their cloaky cousins. Some of them (in particular the curse) are also popular as solo ships.

Curse

As I alluded to earlier, the curse is unusual in the way it compares to its force recon counterpart (and as a result, is more popular than the pilgrim for gang support). While other combat recons gain additional weapons and weapon bonuses over the equivalent force recon, the curse receives exactly the same drone bay as the pilgrim, and the same drone bonus (like the pilgrim, drones typically constitute all or almost all of the curse's damage output). What the curse gains over the pilgrim is an additional neut bonus - 40% per level to neut and nos range, in addition to the pilgrim's strength bonus and the usual extra high slots associated with a combat recon (all told, the curse has a 5/6/4 slot layout compared to the pilgrim's 4/5/5). This means that not only can the curse field almost twice as many neuts as the pilgrim, but that they hit at three times the range - 38km for a medium neut.

The other thing you may have noticed (especially since I just mentioned it) is that the curse has more mid slots than the pilgrim - this allows it to either fit more EWAR, or a stronger shield tank (with the compromise of being weaker at armour tanking due to one fewer low slot). This means that curses are quite commonly shield tanked, in the same way as the rapier and arazu (mentioned above) which share the same layout.

If there's one ship which is more dangerous to frigates than any other, the curse is probably it. A single medium neut from the curse can volley the entire cap of even the most resilient frigates, and unlike the pilgrim which can be out-ranged, the curse can do this far outside of maximum point range. Add to that the curse's weapon system (drones, in particular light ones) is one which chews up frigates with ease, and you have a very dangerous adversary. Equally, the curse presents a huge threat to anything that relies on cap to function, whether 'function' means run an active tank, kite with an MWD, or even just fire its guns! On the other hand, the curse isn't particularly tough (its tank is fairly average for a recon, and thus weaker than that of most front-line combat ships), and its damage output is relatively low - a fairly standard combat ship running a buffer tank and cap-less weapons (for example, a hurricane) would easily beat it in a close range slug-fest, cap or no. Of course, unless the curse pilot makes a huge mistake that close range slugfest isn't likely to happen (its target will probably have no cap, and no way of controlling range), and if it does the target is likely to be heavily tracking disrupted - the curse still receives the arbitrator's bonus to TD effectiveness, and it definitely has the mid slots to make use of it.

On fitting in general, most curses (as I mentioned before) fit a fairly moderate shield tank, using low slots to boost speed/agility or occasionally cap regen to support its neuts. Many curses will fill their high slots entirely with cap warfare (with 3 neuts and 2 nos being a popular combination), however such a fit is unlikely to maintain its full neuting power for long unless cap boosted. Another increasingly popular fit features a smaller number of neuts and nos, using additional highs to supplement the curse's damage output by fitting heavy launchers (as a khanid ship, the curse has plenty of missile hardpoints despite not having a bonus to them). While launchers don't really add a large amount of dps, they can offer a welcome contribution given that damage output on the curse is fairly low by default. One or two tracking disruptors is fairly common on a shield tanked curse, although not guaranteed. Some curse pilots will opt for an armour tank and use their mids for additional tracking disruptors (particularly when providing EWAR support to an armour fleet), or potentially cap boosting in order to run more neuts. One slightly more unusual option is to build the whole ship around fitting a single heavy neut (doing so requires all of the ship's low and rig slots to be used for fitting mods) - while this severely gimps the curse in most respects, if offers one incredibly effective ability - a double-strength heavy neutraliser, able to hit out to an incredible 76km! Such a fit is capable of draining the cap of most cruisers in a single hit, from a range they're very unlikely to expect!

Fighting a curse is generally very challenging without simply having overwhelming numbers - obviously if you have significantly more ships than it has neuts, it is unlikely that the curse pilot will be able to neut off all tackle and dps as it might otherwise. The main difficulty in fighting a curse is keeping both your tackle and your damage output on target - tackle can be neuted off easily unless you have some method of regenerating cap (such as a nos or ideally a cap booster), and even then will take some careful management. The difficulty in applying dps comes from both maintaining your desired range (if you're unable to run your MWD and the curse is) and also from the likelihood of tracking disruption making both engaging from range and engaging up close potentially very challenging. The ideal ships for taking on a curse are drone boats and missile boats, thanks to both capless weapons and no reliance on tracking. Typically larger ships will have a better chance than smaller ones, thanks to larger cap reserves and stronger base cap regeneration.

In fleet, the curse is a significant threat in most scenarios, especially if your gang is light, cap-dependant, or turret based. They're typically not too tough (even with a maxed out shield tank, you're looking at EHP equivalent to a shield cane), and given their sub-40km range they are one of the closer-operating recons. As a combat recon, the curse receives a strong version of the amarr racial resists to explosive and kinetic. When shield tanked, EM and thermal should be your preferences, followed quite distantly by kinetic and then explosive (a useful trait given that three common capless weapon systems - projectiles with barrage, caldari kinetic-bonused missiles, and minmatar drones - all use these damage types)! Against an armour tanked curse, thermal is noticeably the lowest, followed by EM and then kinetic with a strong explosive resist.

Rook

While not as popular as the falcon for a pure ECM role, the rook is an incredibly powerful ship. Essentially, the rook combines the features of the falcon with those of the cerberus - it has the same ECM bonuses as the falcon (giving it excellent jam strength), along with bonuses to missile damage and missile velocity (i.e. range), complemented by 5 bonused launcher hardpoints (incidentally, this makes the rook the only recon ship to receive two bonuses to a single weapon type - all other combat recons either get split weapon bonuses, or in the case of the curse no second weapon bonus). In addition to this, the rook receives 25m3 of drone bay and bandwidth - something which neither of the constituent ships provides!

The rook's slot layout is identical to the falcon's with the exception of its extra high slots, giving 5/7/3 in total. With the same ECM bonuses, this means that an ECM focused rook is practically identical to the falcon except with a moderate dps output (similar to that of a caracal) in exchange for the loss of its cloaking ability (it also has improved targeting range, scan resolution and sensor strength, for what it's worth). At the other end of the spectrum, a damage focused rook can put out almost as much dps as the cerberus at slightly shorter range (but at 126km it's still more than enough), with a similar tank and a few token jammers (even with ballistic controls insteaf of signal distortion amps, the rook still has a stronger jamming strength than a standard blackbird). Most rooks will fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, depending on their role.

Unlike the falcon which usually armour tanks to allow maximum jammers, most rooks tend to be shield tanked. I attribute this to people wanting to tank their rooks a little more since they can't rely on cloaking to evade hostiles, as well as freeing up low slots to augment damage output or compensate for the reduced number of jammers. Most rooks are still quite lightly tanked - although it is possible for them to fit something far more substantial if desired. Most of the time, rooks are used in a small gang role where having another ship contributing dps is potentially more useful than just having a dedicated ECM ship. Occasionally rooks are used for solo PVP, using their jamming capability to disable their target(s), effectively augmenting their tank.

Engaging a rook which you believe to be set up for solo PVP by yourself is generally pretty foolish, unless you have an ace up your sleeve such as ECCM; even a heavily gank/tank specced rook has a good chance of keeping most solo targets jammed regularly, if not constantly. You should also not underestimate their damage output on account of it being an ECM ship - it can potentially be very strong, and even on an ECM centric fit will be enough to cause you problems if you can't respond. In gang, rooks make good primary targets for exactly the same reasons that falcons do - they present a very substantial threat, and are usually quite fragile (albeit tougher than the falcon). Catching a rook involves much the same considerations as I mentioned above with the falcon, except that the rook won't be able to cloak (so its position should be obvious from the outset) and that its missile and drone dps present a realistic threat to a tackling frigate - something which cannot be said of the falcon.

As a caldari t2 shield tanker, EM is the rook's lowest resist by far, followed distantly by explosive, kinetic and then thermal. Against an armour tanked rook (which while less common, are still used especially when flying in a pure ECM role) your preference should be exp >> EM > kin >> therm.

Huginn

The huginn is very similar to its counterpart the rapier in most respects - it exchanges the rapier's cloaking ability and one of its low slots for an additional three highs (with three launcher hardpoints, for a 6/6/3 overall layout) and a bonus to missile launcher rate of fire. In addition to this, it receives the usual increases to resists, HP and speed and targeting that all combat recons enjoy over their force equivalents.

Due to its split weapon system, the huginn's damage output leaves something to be desired - it effectively has 6 single-bonused weapons, and since only half of its weapons are of a given type, damage mods have less effect. In part thanks to its larger drone bay (40m3, the same as the rapier) the huginn is capable of putting out more damage than the rook and clearly more than the curse, but it has to be at much closer range to apply it consistently. Aside from its high-slot configuration, a standard huginn fit is fairly similar to a standard rapier - 2 webs and usually a point, MWD, and a two slot shield tank with speed mods in the lows. Since it only has three low slots, huginns do not generally armour tank.

The main situation where you'll encounter a huginn is providing webbing support to shield tanking gangs (it has stronger resists than the rapier, and webbing lokis lack both the range and the mid slots to fill this role). That said, the limited advantages that it offers over the rapier mean that it is by no means the clear choice for this role, and some pilots prefer to keep the versatility of a covops cloak rather than the additional damage (which in a large gang isn't really that significant) and slightly improved resists.

Fighting a huginn solo is fairly similar to doing so with a rapier - it's possible, but generally requires closing range quickly as the fight begins (especially if you're flying a light ship). Expect a stronger dps output, and almost definitely autocannons rather than artillery (on most standard fits, the huginn doesn't have the grid to fit the latter). If you're unable to get a scram, the chances are the huginn will be able to dictate range handily on you, which may mean they simply escape, or that they attempt to kite you (note that while the huginn has an impressive web range of 40km, it can't keep you tackled outside regular point range, and a significant portion of its damage output will almost definitely be limited to close range too). Threat in a gang situation is the same as the rapier - if your gang relies on speed or range dictation to survive, the huginn is a significant threat and should be primaried early - if not, there may be better targets.

Thanks to its strong minmatar t2 resists to EM and thermal, the huginn receives strong resists across the board. Kinetic is generally the weakest (although it may be rigged), followed by explosive/thermal with a strong EM resist which should be avoided if possible.

Lachesis

The lachesis is to the arazu almost exactly as the huginn is to the rapier - it loses the cloak and a low slot, and gains three missile hardpoints plus a missile rate of fire bonus. Where it differs is that instead of gaining three high slots to support those launchers, it gains two high slots and a (much more useful) mid slot, for a 5/7/3 slot layout in total. This means that the lachesis is often substantially tougher than the arazu - far more so than the huginn is to the rapier. This also polarises the choice between the two ships even more, with the lachesis being used almost exclusively as support for larger, long ranged shield tanking gangs (although the arazu is still used in this role too).

With its additional mid slot and fewer low slots, the lachesis is almost always shield tanked. With a standard fit (one or two bonused points, plus a MWD) the lachesis is able to fit a fairly substantial four slot shield tank, making it one of the tougher recon ships in normal practice. Some lachesises may also fit damps, although as with the arazu they don't do so routinely (it's worth bearing in mind that if you see a lachesis using damps, it will probably have a lighter tank as a result). While the lachesis has a split weapon system in the same way as the huginn, many lach pilots will choose to focus on launchers - this allows them to put out their (fairly low) damage at a range that matches their bonuses points - 50km or more (standard HML range is about 85km). However, this damage output is usually treated as an afterthought, and even if the lachesis were fitting damage mods it generally doesn't make a significant dps contribution in the same way that the rook does. While the lachesis could potentially have a fairly strong close range damage output with a combination of blasters, missiles and drones, the situations in which it could actually apply this dps output in its regular role are almost nil and you're unlikely to encounter one fit for this purpose. It's possibly you might encounter a solo lachesis built to tackle and damp from range, but given its low speed and generally poor damage output, this is rare.

Engaging a lachesis solo is probably the easiest fight of the whole recon line, mainly because the lachesis is almost never fit for solo work and a fleet-fit lachesis (unlike a fleet fit huginn, curse, rook, etc) presents very little threat to a solo target. If you do fight a lachesis solo, your first point of concern should be ensuring that it doesn't have a gang nearby. It is possible to fit a lachesis for solo work, but I've never seen it done and compared to other alternatives it doesn't really offer anything that would make it worth doing, especially given that the arazu can do almost the same but with the extra utility of a cloak. In gang, the lachesis is fairly low priority for a recon given its toughness and relatively low threat. If the opposing force is relying on their lachesis for tackle of course, killing it quickly could offer you a lot more room to manoeuvre.

With strong gallente t2 resists to kinetic and thermal, your preferred damage type against the lachesis should be EM, followed distantly by explosive/thermal and with a strong kinetic resist (incidentally, the lachesis' high kinetic resist makes it an excellent ship for fighting kiting missile gangs such as drakes and tengus).

6 comments:

  1. I believe you meant Heavy Neut not a Medium, and that fit still allows the curse to fit drone augs allowing its drones out to that range.

    Though I had a look at it, you could use a Draclira's heavy(obviously a lol fit) and draclira's reactor and t2 ANC rigs and neut out at 117km or so.

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  2. Not to mention that a faction heavy neut on a curse, in adition to its awsome sensor strength make it a great falcon stopper. can generaly neut it out in one hit and is hard for the falcon to jam, forcing it to warp or burn off into fall off.

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  3. Is it worth noting that the Force Recon Ships do not receive a bonus to negate targetting delay after cloaking (such as found on Stealth Bombers)?

    While this may not be as much of an issue for Fleet fitted recons where the enemey is already commited to the fight, it might present some frustrations for the solo pilot.

    This targetting delay also provides a window to react to said uncloaking recon - however, due to their typical engagement range, only speedy/manuverable fast locking ships will be able to take advatage of this (even if is only to disengage).

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  4. spot on about the Huginn and Lachesis being useless

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  5. I wouldn't say they're useless - I fly both of them. What I would say is that there's really only one purpose where they are more useful thant he rapier/arazu, and that's as long ranged tackle for large shield gangs (they're tougher and than their cloaky counterparts, and in these situations you wouldn't use the cloak).

    For just about everything else, I'd go rapier/arazu.

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  6. I've never thought about a Heavy neuting curse, but now that you've put the idea in my head it fucking scares me. I would hate the pilot who flies that almost as much as I hate enemy falcons.

    Please continue this series, it's awesome.

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