ATXIV Retrospective: Logistics FrigatesApothne
Massive thanks to my fanfest-flight-buddy Elinari for helping me organise the stats for this article. An image of the data put together for this article from her incredible ATXIV mastersheet can be found here. It should be noted we did not include the number of times T3Cs were used in logistics configurations on that sheet, but I will be discussing them when we get there). Furthermore, if you have any footage of the first weekend PLEASE PUT IT UP ON YOUTUBE. There is so much footage that I was unable to get my hands on and #EVE_NTs youtube organisation for ATXIV is a mess (love you guys). I will also be adding comments from Leeloo Killik in cursive text.
ATXIV was the first year where I had true involvement with my alliance’s team from start to finish. I spent a lot of time coming up with various setups, none of which were used in the PL run of course as they were well below the standard of 7 years of HYDRA/PL accumulated theorycrafting and experimentation. That said, I was very fortunate in that the old hands humoured my efforts and sat down with me over the course of practice season and let me garner some small knowledge of the arcane art of designing fits for the Alliance Tournament.
We’re going to look at each logistics frigate and their use by the some of the teams this past year. The goal is to compare and contrast some of the differences and choices used in the weeks and months of planning that go into every module. Naturally, we can only discuss those that died, but there should be enough data for us to draw some conclusions. Bear in mind that even though this is a closer look at Logistics in the Alliance Tournament (and a somewhat verbose one at that), I have omitted and simplified much of the potential discussion for the sake of relative brevity and accessibility for those less accustomed to tournament play.
I am lucky enough to be joined in this endeavour by none other than Leeloo Killik, widely regarded in the tournament community as one of the best Logistics pilots still active in the scene. To quote Casper24: “imo one of the best AT logis still playing, and they flew the most logi frigs out of any team – top 5 ever to fly logi in AT imo”
“Hi, I’m Leeloo Killik. In other MMO’s I played previously I mostly did healers. But eve is different in this aspect. I think I started with a pvp shield dps loki with 1 remote repper on it for extra survivability in small gang roams. And I slowly trained into a Scimitar. That ship was (is) so ugly it makes it actually beautiful : ). As I had no logi bro at that time, I flew solo logi. Probably the most difficult EVE job you could pick from all the careers. Plus people have this mindset that solo logi is useless in any gang. But it worked and I loved it. Having Guados as FC and Draciste (his EVE BFF! Cool guy btw) definitely helped and I learned so much from those guys. My first involvement in AT was in 2014 and in 2015. I really jumped into it (The R0NIN). Even received a shout out from Chessur in our match versus Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork. I think we surprised a lot of people with our Bhaal/Oracle setup in that match.”
Logistics Frigates are still new to the EVE Tournament scene, comps fielding them either T1 or T2 are considered experimental and we have yet to see them as part of a mainstay comp archetype.
“Logistic frigates will never be in such comps, because they simply are not that reliable. The “top tier” teams might toy with them more seriously, but from conversations I’ve had with other team members, they do not see them as viable enough to consider them in high metagame. The rest will field them, or field them more often, as the point gain, even though it’s “only” a 5 point difference in t2 variant, is huge and can transform the rest of the comp quite drastically. We even considered t1+t2 logi frigate hull to gain points in one of our doctrines and had plenty of practice with it. The points saved allowed us to upgrade hulls and made the comp look quite scary.”
So let’s discuss the ideas of the teams this past year for how logistics frigates can be used, and how they fit them for each purpose. We are somewhat fortunate in the limited fitting choices given by the rules of the tournament, each module is a specific decision which we can analyse and compare to alternatives with tools such as EFT.
In this format, the opinion formed by most teams who did a cursory test of the feasibility of logi frigs for last year was, that both T1 and T2 frigate logi should not be expected to survive the match or to have that ability to hold your team’s core solidly like T2 cruisers can (in most cases, less so with shield).
“Even though this statement might seem logical, I’d argue that logistic frigates have better survivability than cruiser logistics. The beauty is in fitting. And as mentioned at the bottom, it’s all about piloting skill. In case of cruiser logistic hull, if tackled, the whole team has a decision to make. Do everything they can to save the logistic pilot or let it take the heat. In case of frigate logistic (mostly speaking of t2 here), not only this is your dream scenario (considering minimal focus on your main hulls), frigates can take more heat than cruisers (signature + speed + mostly better overall resist profile) and if fitted with oversized AB (which they should have, or at least dual prop), the team requires less coordination to get your logistic ships out of trouble. Mostly 1 or 2 support ships to scram them for a couple seconds and their logi bro to keep them up.”
The consensus is, that they are usually relegated to be used as a stalling tactic saving points but expending an extra pilot to make your team die more slowly than your opponents. I strongly disagree here Their main constraint is that their rep range is tiny (compared to cruisers) and they cannot local tank for these matches, meaning they always need to be close to each other as well as their rep target. If one of them goes down, the other has no incoming reps so they will die in pairs as well.
“This is true, to a degree. The thing is, people generally see (especially in case of frigate logistic) its only potential in optimal rep range, but the beauty is in the falloff too. In some cases I was confident staying 37 km away from my logi bro while I was being primed and ordering him to keep his distance and rep me in deep falloff, as the most damage I was taking was easy to mitigate and he was needed in the core in case of target switch.
If your logi bro dies, there are 2 following scenarios.
- 1st you are the next logical primary, but the clock didn’t stop. It takes significant amount of focus to pin down and kill the first logistic frigate (considering the enemy comp isn’t based on rapid light missiles) and your team should at this point benefit from the lack of focus on their main core.
- 2nd your reps are no longer considered relevant and the enemy team gets back to your main hulls (with some of their support trying to finish you off. At this point you either lost the match or the enemy team simply underestimated the rest of your composition. In some cases the second part applies and you have been given time to switch to solo logi mode where you simply keep the distance and do the solo logi job (Your team first priority from the beginning is to focus support). One match that comes to mind is Triumvirate vs Galaxy Spiritus. They didn’t prime the second Thalia and it was able to help keep their Navy Domi alive. Only shame they didn’t give the remaining logi pilot enough support to help keep it up longer.”
As before, in previous practices I was able to survive as a solo logistic frigate and still be relevant. And we won in the end even in this scenario.
Arguably then, the skill ceiling for getting the most out of them is also significantly higher, as you are flying a much more nimble vessel and having to engage in teamwork with your counterpart frigate. It is yet to be conclusively shown however that hitting that ceiling garners you greater or even equal effectiveness as a straight up T2 Cruiser logi choice.
“Couldn’t agree more. Flying MWD cruiser logistic is a fast paced environment where you have so many things to focus on it makes your head spin (manageable with practice). But it gets twice as crazy while flying frigate hulls. Your positioning matters even more and every slight mistake can be heavily punished.”
T1 Logi Frigates
T1 logi frigates did not make much of an appearance in ATXIV. They were thoroughly experimented with for ATXIII where we saw a fair few attempts at making them work, but with the introduction of T2 Logistics frigates they somewhat fell out of popularity. The only time they were fielded in the whole tournament was in a single match on the first weekend, where we saw two Bantams from Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork against Exodus. I’d describe KICK’s team as a semi-all-in, analogous to the team brought by VOLTA against Pandemic Legion to snipe their Flagship/State Raven. You have an overwhelming amount of long range missile DPS in the Battleships, augmented by three bombers, then links from the Stork and the Bantams for sustain. In a perfect world, their monstrous amount of DPS would be able to overwhelm the opposing logistics and take enough DPS off the field quickly enough to allow the frigates to tank what remained. This is why we see KICK primary one of the Barghests at the start, but unfortunately their Bantams were shredded by the HML Barghests.
“I think they warped in too close and got caught instantly. It was wrong team decision. Terrible fitting too. Plus his bantam bro didn’t even pre-lock him.”
The choice of using RHMLs over cruise missiles means that the Battleships need to be more mobile to keep in range of their targets, possibly making KICK feel the need to MWD fit their logi frigs. I’d be super interested to see a version of that comp using ABs on the logis as they can still keep up with the Battleships, but it would give them more fitting room for tank and help reduce incoming damage through sig rather than raw speed, which they cannot really utilise as they have to stay very close to the lumbering battleships.
“When you field t1 logistic frigates, there’s only one reason for it. You expect them to die and you want the points elsewhere. You don’t want to bring a t1 cruiser because the comp you brought isn’t as much about reps as it’s all about the damage. But you want your t1 logistic frigates to be focused at and they serve as distraction. The beauty in this is that the enemy team needs to focus them. Simply because you brought overtanked heavy DPS hulls and every extra rep they get is significant. So they serve as distraction. And as such it is better to have 2 hulls for that instead of one cruiser. Either way you fit your bantams with oversized AB.”
T2 Logistics Frigates (Shield)
T2 shield logistics were a little more popular, the Kirin and Scalpel together being chosen 10 times over the course of the tournament, all in the first weekend.
Day 1 JB-007 Ronin vs RvB – Win – David died to a piloting error and neut pressure
Day 2 PE1-R1 Out Of Sight vs SOLAR FLEET – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 CAStabouts vs Mercenary Coalition – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 Galaxy Spiritus vs Brave Collective – Loss
Day 2 JB-007 CAStabouts vs Dream Fleet – Loss
“Scalpel vs Kirin is interesting. Even though Kirin is the tankier one here, I prefer Scalpel for it’s speed. It is a personal preference. I feel like Scalpels are more “slippery”, which gives them advantage over Kirins. Either way for all 4 different logistic frigates, I highly recommend to dual prop them or simply use oversized AB. Only having 1MN AB or 5MN MWD takes a lot of their mobility off and in case you get scrammed with MWD only, you are a sitting duck. Where as when you have both propulsion modules, your team simply counter scram them and you use your AB to get away.”
In each of these games we see that to some extent the points saved were committed to having a much heavier top end, with no similar investment into beefing up the support wing. CAStabouts are the only team to have fielded the shield logi frigates twice, so let’s look at their comp first:
Vs. Mercenary Coalition – Rattlesnake, 2 Scorpion Navy Issue, 2 Gila, 2 Kirin, Hound, 2 Nemesis
Vs. DREAM FLEET – Typhoon Fleet Issue, 2 Scorpion Navy Issue, 2 Gila, Caracal, 2 Kirin, 2 Nemesis
In the match against Mercenary Coalition, the TFI was banned, whereas against Dream Fleet both the TFI and Rattlesnake were open to being picked, implying that the TFI is in fact their preferred third battleship. All 3 Battleships against MC were RHML fit with ASB and regular shield Boosters, meaning their local tank was actually quite strong even without the assistance of the Kirins. Against Dream Fleet the SNIs were fit the same but the TFI did not die so I’m very interested to see how it was tanked, shooting SNIs over a TFI seems crazy to me. Regardless, their team has a huge amount of DPS that can be applied from 50-60k away with anti-support in the Gilas and Caracals which can also do their job at that range, meaning that every ship can potentially be close enough to each other for the Kirins to be able to rep everyone at short notice as primaries switch. This team design is not far off what we saw from KICK with their Bantams.
I believe CAS could have won their game against MC if the Gila pilots had played a little better, or alternatively they could have used the Orthrus, worth testing as a superior hull for the job they are performing. CAS faced a huge missile all-in from MC and started trading battleship for battleship.The MC Battleships were all cruise missile fit, meaning that the team as a whole had zero chance of applying any damage to Kirins unless they are painted by the Golems and webbed by the Cruors. CAS went after the Golems and Bombers first to remove the paints from the Golems and the damage from the Bombers. This is almost the correct decision making. The AB-fit Kirins can actually tank okay even with Golem paints against cruises (just look at the turret models to make sure you’re not facing RHMLs), so it is actually the Barghests that should have been taken down first as they have a much weaker tank. Then when it comes to the bombers and Cruors, yes the bombers had to go first but if a Cruor started coming in you would have to switch to them instantly, as they are the only real threat to your Kirins, and thus winning the DPS race war that was going on between the battleships.
Broadly speaking, I believe the consensus (outside R0NIN) is that T2 Logi frigs are inferior to T2 Logi cruisers 99% of the time, but the game versus Mercenary Coalition actually shows a scenario where I would prefer to have the frigates over a T2 cruiser. The Kirins here subtly showcase their main strength over a T2 logi cruiser: their tank is not front-loaded on an ASB (shield T2 Logi cruisers tend to be as we will see later) but are instead a consistent rep output from their buddy. Against high-DPS teams a primaried T2 logi cruisers tanks until their ASB runs out, at which point they die instantly. Here, as the trading of DPS continues, the Kirins become stronger and stronger. Usually when you are down to half your team, you can still kill a T2 logistics if you burn through its charges, whereas the Kirins become almost unkillable unless you have the nightmare of all logistics ships, a Cruor, sat on your face sucking you dry (not in the fun way). This is why it was so important to control the Cruors which the Gilas – too focused on clearing each bomber – did not do, allowing the Kirins to get webbed and neuted later in the match.
There is much less to say about how CAS did against Dream Fleet, the RHMLs smashed through the CAS tank, and CAS were not able to put up much of a fight. The rep output of two T2 logi frigs with 3 small reps each is the same as a T2 Logi cruiser with two larges and two mediums, but in most cases you will see T2 Cruisers fit with at least 3 larges, meaning by fielding logistics frigates you are not only limiting the range of your reps, but your total potential rep output even in optimal conditions.
Our remaining 3 matches are Ronin v RvB, OOS vs SOLAR and Galaxy Spiritus vs Brave Collective. These matches showcase just how much your point economy is affected by using logistics frigates. Most people think that you got simply gain 5 extra points, since a T2 logistics cruiser was valued at 15 points and the T2 frigates were at 5 each. This is however misleading as you are using two pilots for these 10 points. So you are spending 85 points on 9 pilots in the case of using a T2 Cruiser and 90 points on 8 pilots in the case of the frigates, giving an average point/ship ratio of 9.4 and 11.25 respectively. That’s a team of 8 pirate faction cruisers against a team of 9 navy faction cruisers, it really is a huge difference.
OOS and Galaxy Spiritus both choose to use these extra points in their top end, going for two 19 point ships and two 18 point ships, something functionally impossible for a T2 logi cruiser team. Unsurprisingly however, their support is left with few points to spare among the four remaining ships, leaving them even weaker than more “standard” teams given the limited rep range of their logistics. OOS went for T1 hulls and Galaxy Spiritus even opted for a 9-man setup to compensate. In both cases their support wings were destroyed easily and the matches were subsequently lost.
THE R0NIN on the other hand used these extra points across their mid and low end, using exclusively T2 hulls and managing to fit a Broadsword in to their comp. It should be noted that the eventual winners of the entire tournament, The Tuskers, banned Deacons in their match against THE R0NIN during the second weekend. I think this shows just how much the top teams respected the skill and understanding THE R0NIN had garnered with the use of T2 logi frigates, even if people believed that cruiser logistics were overall the better choice. Their team here was functionally a version of Minmatar rush, with the added fact that all the ships which are meant to survive through reps (unlike the bomber and Kitsune which survive more through speed and range) are staying relatively close together as they burn from target to target, mitigating the limited rep range of the logistics frigates. As we will also see later in their armour teams, THE R0NIN are the team to look at if you want to learn how to use T2 logistics frigates in a tournament scenario.
In their next match, they happened to come up against an armour logi frigate team from RvB. RvB banned Oneiros/Guardian, which is basically a broadcast saying “we want to fight a shield team and will be bringing one ourselves”. This has a couple of effects, first, R0NIN ban SNI, an important part of many of the strongest shield setups. RvB are also bringing a missile-mega-blast team with limited control, which would have a super difficult time applying to an ABing armour logi with it’s tiny sig and sustained reps, whereas against a shield logi the sig is significantly higher and they just have to churn through or – more likely – overpower an XLASB.
“When we landed on grid and I saw what we are up against, I was a bit worried. But as the match started and those Phoons got caught easily, what seemed to be a difficult match ended surprisingly quickly. RVB didn’t kite us as they were supposed to. It would give them time to actually chew through reps or use their Cruors to disable our logistic frigates. Which they did at the very end of the match. Unfortunately that was a bit too late. Shivaja survived the first RHML mag and was told to reload ASAP in full shield. In the meantime both of their Typhoons exploded and they were down to ⅔ of their potential damage. Both our logi frigs were caught at this point, but no call was made to save them. We focused on cleaning the grid instead as the match was won. I believe David could survive in his Scalpel if he managed his cap a little better, but it’s difficult to tell. Cruors having their small neuts with fast cycle time are deadly to logistic frigates.”
T2 Logistics Frigates (Armour)
T2 armour logi frigs were far more popular than their shield counterparts, with 38 to 16 picks respectively over the entire tournament as well as the only bans that were expended on logistics frigates in the entirety of the proceedings. The Deacon emerged as more popular than the Thalia, likely due to its solid low-slot layout allowing for a more meaty armour tank.
Day 1 JB-007 Brotherhood of Spacers vs The-Culture – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 Galaxy Spiritus vs Triumvirate – Win
Day 1 JB-007 Paisti Syndicate vs Brothers in Arms Alliance – Win
Day 2 JB-007 Brotherhood of Spacers vs LowSechnaya Sholupen – Loss
Day 2 JB-007 Galaxy Spiritus vs Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork – Loss
Day 2 JB-007 Paisti Syndicate vs Templis Calsf – Win
Day 1 PE1-R1 Rabble Alliance vs NANOBLACK – Win
Day 1 PE1-R1 SOLAR FLEET vs Villore Accords – Loss
Day 1 PE1-R1 Test Alliance Please Ignore vs Northern Coalition – Loss
Day 1 PE1-R1 Feign Disorder vs WE FORM V0LTA – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 Psychotic Tendencies vs The Afterlife. – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 Dream Fleet vs Rote Kapelle – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 Red vs Blue vs The R0NIN – Loss
Day 1 JB-007 Mercenary Coalition vs Paisti Syndicate – Win
Day 2 PE1-R1 Mercenary Coalition vs The Tuskers Co. – Loss
Day 2 PE1-R1 The R0NIN vs Agony Empire – Win
Day 2 JB-007 Polarbears vs Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork – Loss
Day 2 JB-007 CAStaboouts vs Brothers in Arms Alliance – Win
Day 2 JB-007 Templis CALSF vs End of Life – Win
Day 2 JB-007 CAStabouts vs IT’S ONLY PIXELS – Win
Day 2 JB-007 Templis CALSF vs Paisti Syndicate – Loss
Day 3 Fraternity vs Hard Knocks Citizens – Win
“I think Thalias were less used because the Deacon is simply more tanky. The extra low slot for mid slot sacrificed on the Thalia doesn’t give you any real benefit. You could either fit ECCM here or some form of ECM, but that’s 1 extra thing your logi pilot has to worry about. T2 armor logistic frigates have one extra hidden advantage over their shield counterparts. They can use 200 cap boosters instead of 400’s, which gives them a slight advantage against neuting pressure.”
There’s a fair few games to cover here, so we’re going to do some grouping. On the whole, the most common point distribution was to use your saved points on having 3 faction battleships and a fairly normal support wing, but for the loss of two pilots, one for the extra logistics vessel and one of the extra battleship. On the whole, this lack of support gives you a disadvantage in the ability to control your opponent, which in turn is the natural enemy of battleships and logistics frigates. Having your core damage screened off and forced to all stay at the wrong range, or leaving people behind and having your team split up is a nightmare for those short-range, high-DPS teams.
“I think it’s worth pointing out that logistic frigates are not the best type of logistic if you put it in kiting type of fleet composition. For example in match CAS vs MC. Although they are quite mobile and can reposition themselves quickly, the lack of rep range in case of target switch is crucial. That’s why we should see them more in brawler fleets where their reaction to what the enemy team is doing is far more responsive. Plus you get the support in form of screening.”
So let’s consider a few archetypes from this collection of matches.
Heavy Gallente Rush
This is the term I’m going to use for Logistics Frigates in teams dominated by Gallente Blaster hulls such as Megathron and Brutix bases, typically involving Vindicators and the like. These teams follow good logi frig style by having a team which is designed to stay close together for the majority of the match, but as with all rush teams – and especially blaster-based ones – being controlled by webs and screening tackle is a huge risk. These are a fairly significant portion of the matches in some variant or another. Thalias were used in matches 1-5 and Deacons in matches 1, 2, 10, 12, 14 and 16. Due to the point discount on Blood Raider hulls, we saw many teams supplement their primarily Gallente core with the whole spectrum of Blood Raider ships, long range webs and heavy neuts being a natural complement to assist in control as well as crushing tanks.
Rush teams are those which tend to either win big or lose hard, so I’d like to use this opportunity to look at an example of each, starting with a “losing hard” match. In BoS vs The-Culture we saw Gallente Heavy Rush go up against an artillery kite team, as made famous by HYDRA in their “BOOM, HEADSHOT” years. Culture perfectly countered the rush by spreading out, making use of their projection to force travel time between each target. Because the whole rush team had to stay close together, Culture could control application and essentially dictate the decisions BoS had to make to their own advantage. The Culture are not a team often spoken of highly in the Alliance Tournament, but the decision-making and execution was absolutely top notch in this match.
In an example of Heavy Rush going well, we return to our friends from THE R0NIN. In Agony vs R0NIN, we saw the Heavy Rush gain a Bhaalgorn for the aforementioned bonuses as well as two bombers for some longer range damage onto larger targets. Another nice thing about armour-tanked bombers is that you can usually squeeze a spare mid from each for Re-SeBos for your logi, meaning that the Deacons can use dual prop or prop/injector without having to sacrifice tank for ECM resistance, which is considerably lower on EWAR frigs compared to T2 cruisers. In this match they were facing one of the most common archetypes we have seen in the last two ATs, Fleet ‘Phoons with an Eos/Oneiros, T3Ds and flavour frigates, usually at least one bomber.
Note that at the beginning of the match, the heavy core of the R0NIN team was in fact out of the Deacon’s rep range, since all of their smaller ships were way out back. Agony went for the Bhaalgorn at the beginning, the lower rep output of the frigs likely giving them hope that their fairly heavy LR DPS could be able to break the back of the team at the start, and with two bombers rather than one it may have been a possibility. This tactic – however – did put the ball in The R0NINs court to act, forcing them to push into the Agony team, and when it comes to positioning there is something of a defender’s advantage. The largest threat to the R0NINs team were in fact the two Confessors from Agony. They can do a huge amount of DPS to small targets at surprisingly long range when fitted correctly, making them a huge threat to the Deacons and Bombers in a situation where neither Deacon could really afford to pull reps from the Bhaal. Intelligently, R0NIN had TDs ready for this situation.
With the current AT ruleset, there are really only two relevant classes of weapon system: turrets and missiles. Drones aren’t really a thing as they are restricted to T1. The threats to logi frigs and bombers are therefore RLM teams (somewhat rare but for The Tuskers this year) and Arty Sleipnir teams (nicknamed flykiller), larger missiles will apply effectively zero damage to them but larger turrets can if they get in close range as larger turret comps are wont to do. This makes TDs rather than GDs the safer choice here, especially in a logi-frig based team. It’s worth mentioning that 10mn bombers and logi frigs can actually speed/sig tank even light missiles reasonably well as long as they are not webbed or painted too hard.
Given the raw power that tends to come with logi frig teams, we tend to get a scenario of barely holding everything together while you leverage that power to the point in the match where ships have been traded to the point that T2 logi frigs can outperform their cruiser counterparts and tank both themselves and their team from whatever is left on field indefinitely. By having the Vindi, the Deacons were kept safe from Svipuls both through 90% webs allowing the Deacons to maneuver, and Svipuls being anywhere near a Vindi giving them a fairly short lifespan. I’m going to assume that the Magus and Cruor in this match were primarily there to screen and keep the frigs safe unless a really juicy opportunity arose for the Cruor to get its neuts onto the Oneiros. Unsurprisingly, the R0NIN Purifiers did die in the end but the extra power afforded by having a logi frig team allowed the R0NIN to chew through and overwhelm even the defenses of a TFI team which comes with both a T2 logi cruiser and up to three flights of heavy logistics bots.
“We warped in at different ranges to keep the frigate core safe, using Vindi and Bhaal as a wall. The start was slow, we didn’t rush into anything and were waiting for Agony’s reaction. Surprisingly they chose Bhaal as a primary target, my bet was on Vindi. We had our flagship dual rep tanked for this match and they pretty much lost because of that decision.
For this exact match I’d like to throw out there I was able to keep our bombers alive, but a call was made to keep our flagship extra safe, thus no extra reps for our bombers. While David had his reps cycling on the Bhaal the whole time, I managed to throw our bombers a bit of logi love here and there.”
I think the best analogy for this type of logi frig team is to imagine a fighter who at the gym skips out on leg day to focus on his or her top. They have to compensate for this imbalance by focusing on protecting their relatively weaker legs or risk falling over entirely, but it means when they land a punch it damn well hurts.
Typhoon teams with Logistics Frigates
As anyone who watched the last two ATs will tell you, Typhoon teams are a thing. They have great DPS at long range and a ton of utility, especially in their capacious drone bay for rep drones. We have four examples of matches where teams experiment with using logistics frigates in teams based around this powerful hull (in both vanilla and Navy versions). In ATXIV we had 4 matches of 3 teams doing their logi frig interpretations on this classic archetype.
First up we have Paisti with their team that takes the standard TFI setup, but drops the Oneiros for two logi frigs and uses those points for an Armageddon. Unlike the Bhaalgorn, the Armageddon gets a range bonus to its neuts and NOS, meaning you are pretty much guaranteed to be able to cap out a cruiser logi from the very start of the match. What you sacrifice – however – is the potential strength of an Oneiros surrounded by heavy logi bots. This is definitely a big loss for a potential gain if the ‘Geddon can do its work on the opposing team.
Templis CALSF showed up with an ECM variant of the standard TFI setup plus logi frigates. They used the extra points to field Augoror Navy Issue hulls, which are actually reasonable tournament ships, as they support a sick tank and are also surprisingly fast. That said, they’re 9 points to a T3Ds 6, so you’re spending 50% more points for a ship that fills that role than you should. I really don’t understand their choice of an Astarte though. One of the core strengths of the TFI comp is having an Oneiros swarmed by 3 sets of heavy repair bots from the ‘Phoons and an Eos. The Astarte has lower drone bandwidth and no repair bonus. Personally, I think this could be a great comp to explore, but when comparing its strength to more traditional variations of this archetype it is not an improvement.
Finally, we have RvB attempting the fabled 4BS core with two TFIs and two vanilla ‘Phoons. Spending nearly 80% of your point allowance on battleships leaves you very little in the way of support and control. You may be able to spit out a lot of DPS and have a lot of EHP, but your opponent gets to be the one to control the engagement. Generally, teams of this nature are decisively rushed down or can have their damage mitigated through EWAR and will fall apart. Only a team that is overly cautious can be caught off guard and lose too much to the huge DPS before making a decisive choice.
TEST are one of my favourite solid mid-tier tournament groups, not just because of Cymek’s propaganda on reddit or their consistent runs into the bracket, but also their charming creativity in comp design. They are one of the few teams who can come up with truly original fleet design ideas, and more often than not have created a real archetype or sub-archetype, such as their insane “Distributed Tinker” of a few years ago.
In this case, TEST have attempted to put logi frigs into an ECM team, which were theoretically stronger in ATXIV since the move from 12 pilots to 10 means that there are fewer opponents to spread jams across. Two Widows and two Blackbirds certainly represent a lot of ECM power, and the usual downside of ECM teams being somewhat low on the DPS side is mitigated partially by their use of a Typhoon and the Purifiers.
TEST’s match against one of the better teams of last year – NC. with their own ECM/Phoon comp – was far more interesting and dynamic than a surface view of the VOD would reveal. Despite TEST winning the jam war against NC.s Blackbirds and taking down a Svipul, NC. managed to find an opening in the jams and bag themselves a Deacon kill, meaning it was only a matter of time before the second fell. At this point it became a race of EHP. On TEST’s side damage was reduced by jams and had to break through whatever the Guardian could rep when unjammed. Even with all the jamming ships alive, without the Deacons the Purifiers were only one missed jam each from falling, and sol they did. This effectively killed any appreciable damage output of the TEST team and they snowballed to their loss with each dead ECM ship. If TEST had in fact managed to kill that second Svipul before they lost their Deacon, I can definitely see NC. not being able to kill the logi frig in the first place and TEST instead being victorious. However, that is the problem with ECM teams: no matter how well they are built, you’re still rolling lots of dice and RNGesus is not guaranteed to stay on your side.
[Insert Bhaal(s) here]
The final group I’d like to draw attention to is teams that seem to be fairly “normal”, but use logistics frigates to squeeze a Bhaalgorn into their composition. Bhaalgorns are incredible! In any comp they will entirely change how an opposing team has to make decisions and engage, as well as offering you new options in how to approach the engagement yourself. That said, squeezing a Bhaalgorn in is not always going to be the correct choice.
With that in mind, let’s look at MC’s dual-Bhaalgorn team, going heavy on the EWAR by adding a Scorpion and two Arbitrators with a Damnation and Purifiers on top of their Deacons. For some reason, that list of hulls reminds me of a somewhat pointed review of the food served at Trump Tower. Lots of powerful, expensive, flashy ingredients that just don’t work together. To be fair, the MC team is nowhere near as bad as Trump’s restaurant is touted to be in that article, but having all that different EWAR without synergistic support feels just weird.
Consider the team in terms of the poor Damnation: he wants to run at least two armour links (preferably 3) to tank, a tackle range link for the Bhaal webs, a sig link and preferably a speed link to help the Deacons tank but also to position the great hulking battleships and allow the Bombers to GTFO. Then, you want the Sensor Integrity link to guard against ECM, an EWAR strength link for your Arbis and Scorpion, and – as the Scorpion doesn’t have great range on its jams – you’d want the EWAR range link too. So you need 7 links to run this comp passably, preferably 9 to get the most out of it. That poor Damnation doesn’t cut it.
If you want to be sick nerd ballers and dual-wield Bhaals then focus on amplifying their effectiveness and covering their weaknesses. Make sure you can apply their damage, prevent them from being screened, have a plan for facing T2 Minmatar resists etc etc. In short, this comp is trying to do too many things at once and does nothing well as a result. The Tuskers took it apart quite easily with the year’s new hotness, the Bhaal + NBC team.
Next up is a purebred, Sani Sabik approved lazerfest from the guys of Feign Disorder in their match against V0LTA. They fielded a Bhaal, two NApocs, two NHarbs, two Deacons, a Purifier and two Cruors; AKA please don’t let them bring T2 Minmatar resists. This is an extraordinarily heavy top end, actually a little analogous to the Bhaalgorn + NBC comp with the Bhaal to lock down the opposing logistics, adding a huge slab of EHP and LR DPS to chew through everything else while taking an age to die themselves. Feign banned Guardian/Oneiros to force their opponents into a shield team (normally good for lasers) and potentially ruse them into believing that they themselves would be bringing a shield team. Alas, disaster strikes and they end up facing a team that is half T2 Minmatar, which lasers barely dent.
By the looks of things, the Bhaalgorn split its webs on the two Sleipnirs to slow their approach in case they were autocannon fit which would absolutely shred their frigates. However this meant that the V0LTA Scimitar was free to move at range and stay out of the Bhaalgorn’s neut sphere of death. Unfortunately for Feign, they could not stop the V0LTA T3D wing from ravaging their Deacons, leaving them with no logistics and a quickly lost match. The difference between this and the Bhaal + NBC comp is that the Bhaalgorn is meant to lock down and negate the opposing logistics, leaving the NBCs with their tracking bonuses and long-range web support to kill whatever they deem the greatest threat to them at any given time. Unfortunately this setup has little in the way to protect their frigates from a dedicated support wing, and – as we saw – can therefore quickly fall apart.
Polarbears used a very similar setup in their game against KICK, only KICK brought an overwhelming amount of Neuts and DPS: dual-wielding Bhaalgorns with Astartes and a handful of bombers. Energy weapons require a fair amount of cap to use, and the Polarbear Deacons were entirely overwhelmed by the incoming DPS from the KICK team.
Dream Fleet put a Bhaalgorn into a Machariel-based composition. An uncommon but not unheard-of choice for your battleships, as they are quite fast, tank reasonably well and have selective damage at good range. I actually quite like this team design. Not only are Machs versatile enough to help clear support, the comp was supported by a reasonable wing of two Svipuls, a Griffin and a Cruor to help screen scary ships away from their logi frigs and exert some control over the match at the same time, to help the Machs apply DPS. Unfortunately for Dream Fleet, their opponents Rote Kapelle were packing a painful amount of tracking disruptors, allowing Rote to gain the advantage in the DPS war with their overwhelming railgun & bomber setup.
Finally, we return to Mercenary Coalition with their Bhaalgorn-injected Barghest team, which I would actually quite like if they used Tactical Destroyers rather than Command Destroyers. Armour Command Destroyers rely on Drones as their damage output, but in a T1-restricted tournament this makes them single-link bricks or double-link tissues which can to some extent help tackle with their mids. That said, MC did manage to win their match, though I cannot find the VOD to walk you through it. Barghests were and are likely to remain super strong tournament ships.
Jesus, we were bored 5,000 words ago Apothne, wrap it the fuck up
Okay, fine, I didn’t even go into the fits! But whatever….
Logistics frigates, at least the T2 versions, allow for some really innovative and fresh comp design and genuinely open up the discourse for new ideas in how we create tournament comps. However, they are extraordinarily difficult to fly, have severe weaknesses which can be taken advantage of, and are not as reliable as the more standard T2 Logistics Cruisers. This leaves logi frig comps as oddballs which are nice to pull out of your sleeve if the bans allow room for some cunning plays, but we are yet to see a core archetype emerge that uses them as standard. It is entirely possible that with an extra year of theorycrafting and testing we may see one arise, but from what we have seen so far this seems unlikely.