Monday, 2 January 2012

Know Your Enemy - Battleships (Part 1)

Throughout some four centuries of naval combat, battleships were the vessel that defined a fleet. While the last battleships of our day may have been decommissioned some time ago, it's good to see that in the distant future they seem to have made a decisive comeback; in Eve, the battleship is once again the unit by which fleets are measured, at least at a subcapital level.

This article will cover Minmatar and Gallente battleships. Amarr and Caldari battleships will be covered in part two.




The parallels between the battleships of eve and their ancient ancestors are strong - these are slow beasts (with a few exceptions), built for firepower and fortitude over finesse. For the most part, battleships are more at home sitting across from each other (often en masse) and slinging shells until the other side explodes. With this goal in mind, battleships boast both offensive and defensive capabilities far in excess of other t1 vessels.

This strength comes with its limitations however - battleships are sluggish even compared to battlecruisers, both in terms of speed and align time. Additionally while their weapons are powerful, their low tracking speed and high signature resolution means they are often ineffective against smaller ship classes such as frigates and cruisers - it is not unusual for a battleship to be soloed by a well flown cruiser or t2 frigate, simply because it was unable to hit them effectively. On the other hand when a battleship is able to apply its damage successfully, a single vessel can potentially take on a small gang of lighter ships entirely on its own.

As solo vessels, battleships tend to be less common than more agile alternatives such as HACs and battlecruisers - mainly due to the difficulty of evading larger gangs with such a cumbersome ship. You are however quite likely to encounter them in situations where hostile gatecamps are less of a danger, such as in the pilot's home territory, during empire wars, or (to an extent) in lowsec. They are the most common choice of ship for fights which occur within the docking radius of a station*, given that movement is not necessary and their strong tanks give them a strong chance of deaggressing and docking should the fight turn against them.

* Just to be clear, I don't encourage station games since I personally think they make for quite boring PVP. The fact is though that they happen, and when they do a battleship is usually the ship of choice.

Battleships are divided into three tiers. Unlike some other classes, all tiers of battleship remain viable PVP platforms and the lower tier ships are even preferable to the higher tier ships in many circumstances. That said, there are clear differences in fitting and HP between tiers as well as general patterns which are evident across tiers. For simplicity, I will begin with the lowest tier for each race and finish with the highest.

Dominix

When it comes to drone boats, the dominix is the ship to which all others are compared. It may not quite match the impressive drone bay of the rattlesnake and gila (375m3 as opposed to 400m3), nor does it receive the extra control range bonus of the ishtar, yet the dominix remains of of the strongest drone ships in the game.

Like most drone boats, the domi receives a 10% bonus to drone damage and hitpoints, alongside a bonus to hybrid turret damage. While its 6/5/7 slot layout may seem lacking in the high slot department, when you consider that its drones alone can deal almost 500 dps this is far from a handicap - on the contrary, the domi's high mid and low slot count makes it surprisingly versatile, and with 6 turret hardpoints its can still throw dps with the best of them if necessary.

Domis are almost exclusively armour tanked; while a moderate shield tank is possible, it is of limited appeal and very rarely used. Most PVP domis field a relatively stiff buffer tank, although dual rep tanks are also fairly common. Since drones account for such a large proportion of the domi's dps output, many pilots forego damage mods and dedicate all of their numerous low slots to tank, making this a relatively tough ship for a tier 1 battleship. With its strong mid slot compliment, expect almost all domis to field cap boosters as well as one or possibly two webs in addition to the usual propulsion and point.

The high slots are where the domi becomes interesting, and where we really begin to see some variation in fits and tactics. Most straightforward is the blaster domi, fielding a rack of 6 blasters to complement its existing drone dps. A blaster domi can easily put out over 1000 dps making it a very heavy hitting vessel, however a combination of its low speed and the effectiveness of the megathron and hyperion for this role makes the blaster domi relatively rare. Far more common is the neut domi; as the name suggests, this fit substitutes some or all of its turrets for a mix of heavy and medium neuts. While the dps of a neut domi is significantly lower than its blaster counterpart (albeit still reasonable), its drones still provide a fairly hefty damage output. Additionally, the cap drain from its rack of neutralisers will play havoc with any target which relies on cap to function (which is most of them). Be especially wary of engaging a domi in anything active tanked, small, or particularly vulnerable to cap warfare (e.g. a laser boat without a cap booster). Finally, we have the remote rep domi - this is a gang fit, featuring large remote armour reps (and potentially also energy transfers) in its high slots with which to support its gang mates. A group of well flown remote repping domis can potentially take on gangs of much greater numbers than themselves, due to the combined repping power of their high slots.

The dominix is also one of the few ships which can be genuinely hull tanked without losing much of its effectiveness; with a full rack of reinforced bulkheads plus a damage control, it can sport a fairly significant buffer tank of over 100k EHP. This isn't as strong as its potential armour tank, but does make it an incredibly effective bait ship; rarely will an FC switch targets when the primary is in structure, but with 80% of its EHP in structure such a domi fit can hold out for quite some time while more valuable targets go unmolested. Watch out for this trick, especially if the domi (or other BS) that you're shooting goes through shields and armour far more quickly than you'd expect - it isn't exactly a standard tactic, but it's not all that uncommon either.

Given the size of its drone bay, you can expect a dominix to carry drones of all sizes, with spare flights of each - this makes destroying the drones fairly futile under most circumstances (if you suspect the domi only has a single variant of a particular drone type which is the greatest threat to you, for example long-ranged sentries or ecm drones, it may be worth doing). Note that ecm drones on a domi are fairly unusual, since they receive no benefit from its drone damage bonus, and using them effectively sacrifices much of (or in many cases all of) its dps output. Most domis will use either sentry or heavy drones as their primary weapon system (the latter is much more common for solo, whereas for gangs of more than a few ships sentries tend to be the preferred choice). Without upgrades a sentry domi with bouncers or wardens can potentially damage out to its base locking range of about 90km, or further if the ship is upgraded for the purpose.

After the drones, the most obvious thing to watch out for is neuts - even blaster or remote rep fits will often include one or two of them, and they can be deadly depending on your ship class. Obviously running neuts is a cap-intensive exercise, and you'll probably find that active tanked domis in particular chew through their cap boosters very quickly. A protracted fight against a neuting domi can potentially turn your way simply because your opponent caps themselves out (although you're likely to be out of cap too by this point).

Your best bet against a dominix is to evade as much of its drone damage as possible (and blaster damage if applicable) while applying your own. Against heavy drones, you may be able to reduce their dps output significantly simply by kiting them in a relatively fast orbit (if your ship is able to exceed 1km/s you may be able to outrun them entirely so long as you have cap to run your MWD). Sentry drones on the other hand can be evaded by orbiting close to the drones themselves, effectively getting under their tracking. The domi pilot can always switch drones in order to apply damage more effectively, but if you're forcing them to use a less powerful drone type then that's a big factor in your favour.

Expect most of the dominix's damage output to be thermal or explosive (the most common drone damage variants), although it can potentially deal any flavour. With so many tanking low slots it's difficult to suggest a best damage type to use. Against a fit without active hardeners, explosive is obviously the best choice. A single explosive hardener is fairly common but not guaranteed, which would leave kinetic and thermal joint lowest. Against a triple-hardener fit, EM would be the best choice followed by explosive.

Typhoon

The typhoon is one of the few ships whose in-game description accurately reflects the its actual performance. This is the ship that makes every other jack-of-all-trades look like a one trick pony - it quite literally does everything. It fields an 8/4/7 slot layout with 5 turret hardpoints and 5 launcher hardpoints along with 125m3 of drone bandwidth (plus an extra 50m3 of drone bay for spares). To support this, it receives rate of fire bonuses to both projectiles and missiles.

While the split weapon system gives the typhoon pilot many options, it is more of a curse than a blessing. By having a rate of fire bonus to each weapon system the typhoon effectively only gets a single 5% bonus to all of its weapons, whereas other ships would receive a second bonus in addition to that. Also, any damage mods fitted to the typhoon will only affect one of its two main weapon systems, meaning it needs to fit double the usual number of mods in order to get the same increase as a normal ship. Despite these problems, the typhoon's damage output is very strong - it's the only tier 1 battleship with the ability to field the maximum 8 high slot weapons, not to mention that this is still backed up by a full flight of heavy or sentry drones. Most typhoon pilots will choose to focus on a single weapon type (usually torps, given that the tempest and maelstrom offer more appealing alternatives for projectiles) and will field them either in a 5/3 combination with the other weapon system in a secondary role, or will ignore the second weapon system entirely and use the ship's remaining high slots for other purposes. As with the dominix, these other purposes typically include neuting or remote repair.

In its most common form, the typhoon is effectively a dominix with less drone damage (it can field the same number of drones but without the damage and HP bonuses, and with fewer in reserve), but more high slot damage in its place. Like the dominix its most common variant features a passive armour buffer, albeit a weaker one than the domi's since most phoon pilots will also be fitting damage mods. With its smaller drone bay, the typhoon will generally carry a single flight of heavy or sentry drones as its first choice, with either a flight of mediums or two flights of light drones (possibly one damage and one ECM) in reserve. Given that it will rarely have multiple flights of the same drones and that its drones don't have the domi's buffed HP, killing the typhoon's drones first is a far more reasonable action than it is against the dominix.

The typhoon has one more advantage that I haven't mentioned yet; its speed. The typhoon is the fastest tech 1 battleship by some margin, and with a shield tank and a speed mod or two it can keep pace with most battlecruisers fairly easily. While much less common than the nano tempest (due to that ship's effectiveness as a kiter) the nano phoon is an interesting alternative that you may to encounter from time to time. Like most nano fits, this is essentially a shield tanked variant (usually with torps) using its low slots for speed and damage mods. Nano phoons have fragile tanks compared to most other battleships and due to their low mid slot count they're generally encountered in gangs rather than solo. As you'd expect, their damage output tends to be better than a regular typhoon fit, and their high speed also makes them very effective for bumping other ships (it's worth noting than even a non-nano fit typhoon can still be very useful for this purpose - be wary of typhoons if you're using heavy ships such as capitals and attempting to stay within activation range of a gate or station).

Despite their versatility, typhoons tend to be pretty rare. A major factor in this is the sheer number of skills required to fly one effectively; missiles, drones, projectiles, navigation and spaceship command are all relied on heavily to get the most out of this ship, and by the time a pilot has all of these skills to the desired levels they've often trained to a point where more appealing alternatives are available. The ship's lack of design focus also contributes; pilots looking for a drone ship will generally choose a specialised drone ship like the domi, while those seeking a nano ship will usually prefer something like the tempest or the tier 3 battlecruisers which excel in this role. The typhoon can do many things well, but for any given purpose there is usually another ship which will perform the role better.

One significant disadvantage of the torp phoon which I haven't yet mentioned is its range - even with perfect missile skills, its torps can only reach out to around 20km (or 30km with t2 javelin torps), and factors like a moving target or sub-perfect missile range skills will reduce that further. Obviously this isn't all that different to a blaster boat, but it does restrict the typhoon to quite an extent - most typhoon pilots will really try to get in your face (and of course, get you webbed) to ensure you don't slip out of their range.

The best way to fight a typhoon will depend quite heavily on the fit. Assuming the typhoon is torp fit (which most are), they're likely to be operating quite close. Even nano phoons aren't really able to kite. Keeping your own speed high and signature radius low (along with not getting webbed) should substantially reduce the incoming damage, as will pulling range if you can fight outside 20km or so. Shield tanked nano phoons due to their small mid slot count are unlikely to fit a web, so it's generally safe to go in for the scram (which should also prevent the phoon from making use of its impressive speed). The shield phoon is relatively fragile, so your best bet is simply to maximise your own dps while minimising the damage you take. An armour phoon will probably be slightly more challenging; with its extra mids it will probably be fitting both a web and a cap booster, increasing the danger of fighting up close as well as allowing it to run its neuts far more often. While there are a lot of similarities between fighting a typhoon and fighting a neut domi, there are two major differences; firstly, you should remember that they phoon's high slots do contribute a substantially larger chunk of its damage output and you should make an effort to avoid taking the full force of them where possible. Secondly, the phoon's smaller drone bay and lack of drone HP bonus means that targeting drones first can be a successful tactic, especially if you're able to avoid the damage output from its other weapons.

Since most phoons use at least some low slots for damage mods (and also because the ship is quite tight on CPU) they are generally less likely to fit specific hardeners than the dominix. Against an armour phoon, explosive is usually preferable against a fit with no active hardeners, or kinetic with a single hardener. Against a nano phoon, the standard thermal/EM preference holds true. The damage type that the phoon itself will put out is difficult to predict - its bonuses are not specific, so any ammo variant is a possibility.

Megathron

The megathron has long been considered the king of close range dps battleships, and with good reason; with an 8/4/7 slot layout and 7 damage-bonused turrets, the mega can put out exceptional dps with blasters while having plenty of low slots for tank and damage mods. This is supplemented by 125m3 of drone bay and bandwidth, enough for a flight of heavy drones (the usual choice for a mega) or sentries. Finally, and perhaps most signficantly, the megathron receives a tracking bonus - the only t1 battleship to do so. This places its blasters (which already boast the strongest tracking of any close range weapon system) leagues above its rivals when it comes to application of damage at close range.

Given its slot distribution, it's very uncommon to see a megathron anything but armour tanked (it's possible to hull tank one like the dominix, but at greater cost due to the loss of damage mods). A buffer tank is the most frequent choice - partly due to the excellence of the hyperion as an active tanker - however active tanked megathrons are fairly common too for solo work. The tank on a mega is fairly average for a battleship in either configuration - it's solid but not exceptional. In terms of combined gank and tank however, the mega is up there with the best.

Thanks to its tracking bonus, the mega is probably the hardest turret battleship to get under the guns of - it's not impossible to do providing your ship is small enough, but it's more difficult than it would be otherwise. On the other hand, the mega has one of the shortest effective ranges of any battleship and this forms its biggest weakness; its ideal range is around 5-10km, although it is still able to hit reasonably out to around 25km with null. This is long enough that you're never likely to avoid all of its damage without using tracking disruption assuming you remain within point range, however the more range you're able to pull the less damage you're likely to take. It isn't a fast ship, usually topping out at around 900m/s, which means it can often be kited indefinitely. To counter this, almost all megas will fit a web and often a scram too. It's also fairly common for a mega to wield a heavy neut, which may make kiting significantly more challenging in a smaller ship.

The mega's heavy drones (assuming it's using them) can be kited if your ship is reasonably fast, and killed if not - it only has enough drone bay for a single flight, with nothing spare. Note that some megas may choose to carry multiple flights of lighter drones rather than taking any heavies or sentries, in which case killing drones would probably not be worth doing.

As a primarily turret-based ship, the megathron is quite vulnerable to tracking disruption. In particular, range scripted tracking disruptors can be used to drop its already short range to unworkable levels, allowing you to engage the mega inside point range without fear of its return fire. The mega can also be quite vulnerable to cap warfare, however all active fits and many buffer fits will include a cap booster in order to combat this.

Most mega fits do not include active hardeners, instead opting for EANMs and adaptive plating with damage mods in its remaining lows. This means that explosive is usually the better choice, although if you suspect an active hardener then kinetic or thermal are tied as the next best choice. You can expect most of the mega's damage output to be kinetic and thermal (more kinetic with antimatter, more thermal with null) - while its drones could potentially put out any damage type, thermal (and specifically ogres) appear to be the most common choice.

Tempest

The tempest is to battleships as the hurricane is to battlecruisers - it isn't the tankiest or gankiest of the bunch, but it's fast and flexible making it a popular choice for solo and small gang combat. The tempest offers an 8/5/6 slot layout with 6 double-bonused turrets and 75m3 of drone bay/bandwidth, giving it the ability to either shield or armour tank, as well as providing a relatively robust damage output along with the trademark minmatar utility high slots.

Like the hurricane, the most popular tempest fit tends to be a shield buffer tank with autocannons, allowing it to dedicate its low slots to dps, range, and speed. The shield tempest can reach out to some fairly impressive ranges for a close range battleship, with 50-60km of falloff with barrage being fairly standard. In terms of speed, the shield tempest is capable of keeping up with most battlecruisers, making it a relatively common sight flying as part of a battlecruiser gang. This, combined with the pest's good range and tracking with autocannons, makes it a strong kiting ship even against lighter vessels.

Armour tanked tempests are also quite popular. While not quite as tough as some of the other armour battleships, the armour pest is able to mount a reasonably strong tank (significantly stronger than that of the relatively fragile shield pest). This also leaves the tempest with plenty of spare mid slots for tackle, cap boosting, ECCM, or EWAR. However, since the armour pest relies on its low slots for tank, it tends to offer significantly lower range and dps than the shield variant (about 25km with close range ammo, or 35km with barrage), as well as losing out in terms of speed.

So far, I haven't really mentioned long ranged weaponry. This is mainly because on all of the battleships covered so far, long ranged weapons are fairly uncommon in small scale PVP. For the tempest, this is no longer the case - it isn't necessarily the range of artillery that appeals, but the massive alpha strike. With a rack of 1400mm arty, a single tempest can do upwards of 10k damage in a single volley with close ranged ammunition (close range in this case still being effective at anything from 50-100km). With tremor, you're still looking at an alpha of around 5 or 6k damage out at 150-200km, which is nothing to shake a stick at. Alpha strike isn't necessarily all that useful solo (unless you're alpha-striking a frigate or hauler), however get a small group of arty tempests together and you can potentially alpha some fairly juicy targets.

The tempest's two utility high slots add to it's versatility. By far the most common choice for these slots is a pair of heavy neuts, allowing the tempest to suck lighter ships dry in seconds and over time, cause significant problems for anything cap-intensive. Alternatively, armour pests working as part of a remote repping gang may switch these for a pair of remote armour repairers. Arty pests are unlikely to fit either of these options due to powergrid constraints, with either medium neutsECM drones), although you may encounter a 2 heavy/2 medium/1 light max damage setup.

When fighting a shield pest, the main challenge is the same one we face with every kiting ship - to tackle it. The speed of this ship can be quite surprising, and so long as you're chasing it then its large guns will still hit for excellent damage. Up close, the shield pest's relatively fragile tank and lack of a web makes it a weaker brawler than many of its counterparts, although it remains capable. Its neuts are still going to present a problem, particularly if you're attempting to engage a tempest using lighter ships. Attempt to close distance quickly, and watch your incoming damage carefully - if you're flying a relatively light ship, be prepared to bail if it looks like you're not going to make it. If tackling a tempest using an interceptor, overheat your point and attempt to orbit outside 25km (i.e. heavy neut range) if at all possible.

Against the armour variant, kiting should be less of a problem however you should be prepared for at least a web. The range of an armour pest is still good enough that you can't really kite it yourself without leaving tackle range, although damage will drop off slightly near maximum point range. Again heavy neuts will present a problem, in particular for lighter ships - with the cap boosting allowed by its additional mid slots, the armour pest is likely to be a lot more liberal with its neuting. The gank and tank of this setup is nothing extraordinary, but it's fairly solid and you should expect a challenging fight.

Thanks to the range of damage types that projectiles can put out, you're best off with a relatively even tank here. The only constant is that kiting tempests (using barrage) are going to be dealing primarily explosive and kinetic damage, although that could change once you get up close. As with most t1 shield tankers, thermal or EM damage are by the most effective choices against this ship, while explosive followed by kinetic are most effective against the armoured version (thanks to its relatively few low slots, an active explosive hardener is relatively unlikely on the armour pest).

Hyperion

The hyperion has a lot in common with the megathron, with the two ships competing for the role of the armour tanked blaster brawler. With an 8/5/6 slot layout, the hyperion gains a mid slot over the mega in exchange for a low. In addition to this, the hyp gets an 8th turret, placing it slightly ahead of the mega in terms of blaster damage output. This is compensated by a smaller drone complement, of 100m3 rather than 125m3. On balance, the damage output of the two ships is surprisingly similar.

The main difference comes with the second bonus - both ships get one to hybrid damage, but while the mega's tracking bonus gives it the edge in real-terms dps output, the hyperion gets the same active tanking bonus that we saw on the brutix and myrm - 7.5% per level to armour repair amount. The result is that the hyperion makes one excellent active tanker, handily trouncing the megathron with such a fit despite having one fewer lowslot with which to do so.

The standard active tanked hyperion features dual or triple reps along with a pair of heavy cap boosters to feed them (made possible by the hyp's 5th mid slot and additional powergrid over its tier 2 cousin). This leaves room for the standard scram and web, as well as a full rack of blasters. With two cap boosters on the go the hyperion is liable to blow all its charges fairly quickly, however while they last it can tank an ungodly amount of dps - with ganklink bonuses and a standard exile booster (both fairly common accessories for the solo hyperion pilot), a t2 fitted triple rep hyp can tank almost 3000 dps without even overheating - that's enough to tank the damage output of three gank battleships!

Lacking the mega's tracking bonus as well as the neut which usually fills the mega's spare high slot, the hyp is slightly less effective in terms of offensive capability despite its slightly higher theoretical dps output. That said, it's still a very powerful ship and in a dual rep configuration has a damage output exceeding that of most other battleships, albeit at a shorter range (like the mega its reach with null doesn't go much further than 20-25km). The triple rep hyp tends to sacrifice dps and range to fit its impressive tank, although it remains a powerful ship. Given that the hyp likely to field both a scram and a web along with enough tank to weather a single opponent's damage output almost indefinitely, engaging a hyp at close range is not a decision you should take lightly. The hyp is actually slightly faster than the mega (unusually for a tier 3 battleship), however it's still slow enough that it shouldn't be too difficult to maintain range in most ships.

You don't see many buffer tanked hyperions. They do exist, but with one less low slot it simply doesn't do the job as well as the mega does. What you do occasionally see is a shield buffer tanked hyperion (similar to the shield tanked brutix and thorax fits) using its mid slots to mount a moderate shield tank and its low slots to maximise its damage output and range. This kind of fit isn't very common and is slightly less versatile than the armour hyp - it's purely a maximum dps fit - however it's worth taking into consideration. Such a fit less likely to fit a web (and as with the armour hyp, will have no neuts) meaning it should be comparatively easy to maintain range or to get under its guns - this makes it less dangerous as a solo ship, however when supported by gang with tackle it could potentially be very dangerous.

As with the mega, the vast majority of the hyp's damage output is likely to be kinetic and thermal, so tanking those is going to help you out considerably. Since most hyperions are fit with tanking in mind, an active hardener or two is fairly likely despite its relatively small low slot count. If it isn't fitting one then explosive damage should be your preference, while kinetic and thermal tie for second (and thus first if it fits an explosive hardener). Against shield hyperions, the best damage types would be thermal and EM as usual.

Maelstrom

If the tempest is big brother to the hurricane, the maelstrom is probably a fairly close relative of the cyclone, albeit one which has never quite fitted in with the rest of the family. Like the cyclone, the maelstrom is mid slot heavy with a 8/6/5 slot layout and 8 turret hardpoints plus 100m3 worth of drone bandwidth. Also like the cyclone, the maelstrom receives bonuses to projectile rate of fire and active shield boosting, allowing it to field a very impressive active tank.

As a natural shield tanker, the maelstrom is free to dedicate its low slots to damage. Along with its unusually large turret compliment for a minimatar ship, this makes the maelstrom's damage output exceptional - the tempest simply doesn't compare, and even the blaster ships come out behind in most standard fits. Not only that, but its range with autocannons is almost as strong as the tempest's (usually out to around 50km with barrage). The tradeoff is that with all eight high slots occupied by turrets, the maelstrom lacks the utility highslots which help make ships like the tempest so versatile - it's strictly a gank and tank platform.

The maelstrom lacks versatility on another front too - its speed. Unusually for a minmatar ship, the mael is actually fairly slow - even with a shield tank, it is outpaced by all three of the gallente battleships despite the latter carrying armour tanks. For this reason, the maelstrom is far less dangerous as a run-and-gun combatant than the tempest, and the mael generally fights as a close to mid range brawler rather than as a kiter. Of course with its strong tanking capability, the maelstrom is more suited to this type of combat than the tempest is - a buffer tanked maelstrom can field quite a reasonable tank thanks to its extra mid and higher base HP, while an active tanked mael provides one of the strongest active shield tanks of any subcapital (although it generally performs less effectively than active armour tankers like the hyperion). Since it relies on valuable mid slots for tank as well as tackle and cap boosting, the active tanked mael generally struggles from a mid slot shortage much like the other minmatar active tankers - with one cap booster and no tackle, the mael offers a tank comparable to the dual rep hyperion, although will less cap stability (with a deadspace shield booster the mael can outperform even the triple rep hyperion, but due to the cost of them these tend to be fairly unusual). It's also very unlikely to fit a web, which combined with the lack of neuts makes it relatively easy to evade the maelstrom's fire by simply orbiting as close as possible.

Even more so than the tempest, the maelstrom is a popular artillery platform thanks to its high alpha strike (about 11k, slightly higher than the tempest's). Buffer tanked arty maels are currently only of the popular large fleet doctrines, where their high alpha strike allows them to eliminate primaries before hostile logistics ships can respond. In smaller gangs this is less common, but encountering an arty mael will not be unusual. Of course without the neuts and speed of the tempest, getting in close on an arty mael should be fairly trivial, and once you're there it will be defenceless aside from its drones.

Speaking of drones, the mael gets a slightly larger complement than the tempest, although with the damage output of its turrets these are generally treated as a secondary concern - flights of mediums and lights are fairly common, while a mix of heavy and mediums for maximum dps might also be expected.

Despite being tougher than the tempest by some margin, a buffer tanked maelstrom is nothing special in the tanking department. It still has exceptional dps, but whether that is enough to tip the balance depends on what you're flying and how effectively it can hit you. Autocannon tracking is quite strong, but without a web you'll probably find it struggles to hit smaller ships up close, whereas range offers you little safety given its impressive falloff. The same is true of the active tanked variant - unlike the hyperion, this is a ship that you can generally engage up close while still being able to pull range and potentially escape should that not go as planned. The main weakness of the active tanked mael is cap - assuming it has to run its shield booster almost constantly this ship probably won't be able to keep the juice flowing for long, especially so if you neut it too. The more tackle the mail fits (which you should be able to see in your overview) the weaker its tank will be; it's possible that with a small gang you might simply be able to break through the mael's tank simply with dps, but beware of being toyed with - it's fairly common for a strong active tanker to give you the impression that their tank is breaking by allowing their shields/armour to drop low, while they are in fact perfectly in control. As with all active tanks, once you can put out significantly higher dps than the target is able to tank, the mael will go down fairly quickly.

Against a buffer tank, the standard thermal them EM preference holds true. Active tankers are less likely to plug their EM hole (opting for active tanking rigs and invulns instead), meaning EM will usually be more effective against them followed by thermal. As with the tempest, it's difficult to predict the outgoing damage type of the mael except that at range it's likely to be mainly explosive and kinetic (regardless of whether that's barrage with autocannons or temor with artillery). A fairly balanced tank is generally the best option, particularly when fighting one up close.

12 comments:

  1. Another fantastic writeup, thanks for all effort you put into these.

    One question though, in both the Hyp and Mega sections, you make no mention of the viability of Rail fits. Is this completely uncommon/unseen, even after the Crucible rail buff?

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  2. I haven't seen them used, even since Crucible. It's not that they aren't viable, so much as that long ranged turrets have a very limited role in small scale PVP (in larger fleets they are much more common, but that's outside the scope of this series).

    The main use of long ranged turrets is sniping, and generally snipers choose agile ships (like HACs and the new tier 3 battlecruisers) so that they can evade enemy tackle and avoid getting probed down or caught. If you're engaging at sub-sniping ranges (e.g. 50km, where rails with antimatter might belong), people simply cross the distance too fast for it to be useful - unless you're in a fast ship and can kite them, they'll quickly get on top of you and then you'll wish you'd been using close ranged weapons.

    The only battleships I see fitting long ranged guns for small/med gang are either minnie BS with arty (because of the alpha strike, and because they tend to be fast anyway), the rokh (because of its incredible ranges), or occasionally the apoc (for the same reason, but to a lesser degree). That said, your experience may vary.

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  3. Great job. I really appreciate your writing.

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  4. Thanks for the explanation! I haven't done very much pvping in battleships myself, but based on the ranges that small scale fights usually take place at, that makes perfect sense.

    On a semi-related note: do you have any general thoughts on any of the Gallente and Caldari hulls from earlier in the series, perhaps frigates or cruisers, and how their viability may have changed/improved after the hybrid rebalance vs. the time of the articles writing?

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  5. Wow, what a great write up!

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  6. I've never seriously tried active tanked ships in pvp. I'm curious of how to make fit a 3k rep Hyperion. Is that with gang link and boosters?

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  7. Superb overview of the Min/Gal battleships.

    One thing I might add is that the Hyperion - fitting a reasonable shield tank and damage/tracking mods in the lows - can put out a terrifying amount of dps, similar to many other Gallente blaster boats.

    It's not standard by any means, but a corpmate of mine has used one for quite awhile with much success in our gangs.

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  8. A number of people I've talking about with relation to the phoon for pvp say it is a solo ship with usually torps, 3 heavy neuts, point, cap booster, MWD, your pick of fourth mid(web personally), DC2 + 3-4 slot tank and then damage mods.

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  9. Gyanni - The 3k number is with booster and ganglinks, but without overheat as I said. Without them it can still tank about 1.5k dps. Honestly though, you don't need to be able to completely tank your opponents' full damage output to make active tanking effective in PVP - if you watch some of the better PVP videos, you can see most solo pilots running active tanks manage the incoming dps by pulling range or splitting ships off and fighting them indivdually, so they're never overwhelmed.

    Sae - You're not the first person to comment on this since I published the article - I haven't seen them used myself, but evidently they are. I'll add something in now.

    Ed - That sounds about right to me. The problem with torp ships for solo of course is that they do pretty awful dps against anything smaller than a battleship!

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  10. My first comment, as i just found your website and this series.

    Read the series in one go - loved it.

    Its a lovely blog, thanks a lot.

    Regards from Germany.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Once again nice write up...looking forward to part two. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
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