F*ck Ishtars Vol. IIIApothne
Apothne returns with more ~out there~ fits to tempt you away from playing Ishtars Online. If you haven’t already done so, check out Vol. I & Vol II can be found here and here.
Ever since Odyssey way back in 2012, the Maller has been the king of cheap T1 armour brawls. And ever since Odyssey, I’ve always preferred to take out these “DickCats” (named by my old friend Darko Fett) instead. This comparison may epitomise my philosophy of the first piece. Sure, overall as we’ll see, they’re much more niche and not as strong as the Maller, but they offer you a lot more decisions and control of the fight. I would argue they are far more fun to fly. Don’t get me wrong, in most situations, the Maller absolutely is the superior choice, just look at this:
With Scorch you’re looking at 22+6.3 projection, i.e. enough to kill anything that can point you that isn’t a Recon/Mordus/EAF. The damage is not amazing but the tank is just beautiful. However, in smaller numbers (say 10-20) you’re actually not getting all that much out of the extra tank. All that EHP is there for is to catch reps, and if you’re going Maller on Maller with those numbers it’s going to be damn difficult to break anything. You’re also completely immobile, almost any other ABing comp will be able to dictate range, and you can forget about guys fit with MWDs. If we are willing to sacrifice some tank, we can get a whole lot out of TWin EnginEd Thoraxes.
Now, dual prop on a Thorax hull is almost as old as EVE itself, but it’s still surprisingly good when used in the correct manner:
Boasting an incredible 615 DPS per ship, with void tracking amazingly thanks to the hull bonus of the Thorax, and every ship being fit with scram/web also allowing the hammerheads to apply well, this is a powerhouse. Dual prop plus tackle gives you back control of the brawl; you can burn over to their logis, go onto their DPS, pull range when primaried. You and your pilots get to make these decisions, not have positioning dictated as much by the opposing FC. The 50m3 drone bay also allows for a full flight of medium ECM drones, and you can even swap the web for unbonused EWAR which gives you a huge amount of utility and tailoring, again to customise for the occasion.
If you aren’t running armour links I would very much recommend switching from double mag stab to double EANM:
You’re losing 70 DPS but 28.6k EHP is a little scary thin even in numbers of 10-20. Speaking of logi, you can still absolutely take AB-only support ships like the Smallgorors as the MWD is only used for a couple cycles at a time to reposition your fleet. Most of the time you’re running your AB and sig tanking, which on an agile and small hull like the Thorax is incredibly effective. I’ve been outnumbered by HAM Drakes 2 to 1 in these boys and still won the fight thanks to the fact that a) I had the DPS to break their tanks and b) their damage was applying so poorly that reps could land and hold more often than not. Were I in the Mallers in that engagement I would have probably tanked even easier, but it would have been a stalemate of not being able to break reps, and the opponents would have had a much easier time avoiding being tackled down and eventually killed.
Neutralising the Ishtar (and a recon love affair)
The three people who actually read this article series have complained that I’m yet to post a ship/comp that will actually beat the Ishtar. I never set out for such a goal, even stating that the fits here may be inherently weaker than whatever the current meta is, with the core idea of variance and fun being the primary focus. In an obviously final move to stop anyone ever saying mean things about me on Reddit, I’m going to look at a potential fleet that will perform well against Ishtars. There are however some restrictions I’m going to follow.
- This ship must cost at most the same as an Ishtar. Arty Machs or Rail Megas will obliterate Ishtar fleets, but they’re far more ISK and SP intensive, and if you’re trading ship for ship you’re going to be behind anyway. Hell, EM smartbomb pipe-bombing Rokhs á la RnK is a great solution, but requires the use of a Titan, so I’m going to throw that out of the window too.
- Ishtars are still a thing. A big thing. Just because there’s a comp or two that will drive them off, I’m not suddenly saying they’re no longer viable. Maximum DPS application from massive range, no-reloading, selectable damage types, Ishtars are damn good.
- The comp must be viable in and of itself. Sure, 100 Gallente jammer Griffins *may* allow you to stop an Ishtar fleet, but it’s not exactly versatile.
First, let’s look at our target:
These are supplemented with Scimitars, and occasionally Lachesis/Huginns for extra tackle.
Evepraisal puts this Ishtar out at 250m in Jita. Not pocket change, but definitely cost effective vs. T3/battleship/capital fleets. The resist profile is your standard T2 Gallente affair, huge kinetic resist backed up by a strong thermal secondary, designed to bring traditional Caldari weapon systems (hybrids & kinetic missiles) to their knees.
Honestly? 5-10 dudes in stealth bombers. I agree it would be far more satisfying to actually kill the Ishtars and their support, but two waves of bombs and the Ishtars no longer have a weapon system. When given this solution the most common reply I’m given is is “What if they spread out?” Well, let’s consider that. Bombs have a 15km radius, so you’re going to have to spread out pretty damn far. If you spread out your DPS ships on any other fleet, some will be optimal, some will be in deep falloff, the same is true for drones. Even then, a bombing run killing half an Ishtar fleet’s drones is halving their DPS output. 2-3 5 man waves of bombers with a half decent prober (you can probe drones) and Ishtars become pretty paperweights for all the use they are.
No bombers in low sec. Fleets in low sec tend to be smaller than in null, and here that actually works in our favour. The crazy DPS & alpha of the Ishtar from range makes it scale beautifully, so the smaller numbers the better. Now bear with me here, I know BCs are “bad” right now, but humour me for a minute and let’s consider the Navy Harbinger.
Coming in fully fit at 195m (Ishtar hulls are currently 50m more than Navy Harbs), the Harbinger Navy Issue certainly fulfills requirement 1. Sporting a medium weapon system rather than a large one, and being a T1 hull also makes the SP train significantly easier. For those of you unfamiliar with the hull (and let’s be honest, it’s not the most commonly flown ship in New Eden), it has 10% damage and 7.5% tracking bonuses to lasers per level, so in some ways I guess you could analogise this to a small foxcat.
Firstly, let’s talk mids. I’d say the small cap booster and 1-2 of the tracking computers are absolutely necessary for general use, and you can easily refit to MWD/MJD/utility EWAR as per your preference for a general low sec armour brawling comp, mixed with your T2 logi of choice. The high slots need little explanation, guns are good…mmkay? The small neut can be swapped for a cyno, small smartbomb for anti-missile or even DLA if you go on a CPU diet with meta DCU/TCs and cheap faction hardeners. The low slots are pretty standard, I considered double EANM, double heat sink with double trimark rigs for a touch more DPS, but the loss of tank just isn’t worth it. Tank as shown in the image requires 50+ Ishtars to volley it with perfect hits. I’ve intentionally left the drone bay empty, but a 50m^3 drone bay on a non-drone boat is amazing. You can have a full rack of medium damage drones for maximum blappage, a rack of medium ECM drones to mess with enemy logi, or split down to two flights of light drones, damage, ECM or mixed for anti frig. Given that you’re using beams and are not over-endowed with midslot tackle (unless you fit that way), I’d recommend either two flights of lights, or a flight of medium ECM drones if you’re engaging a tanky opponent within 50k.
Admittedly the Augoror Navy Issue does basically the same thing for a little over half the cost, as well as sig tanking like a champ. However that amazing tracking bonus and the choice you can make with the utility mids, as well as being faster thanks to the ability to use a MWD, definitely gives the Harb Navy the edge in a lot of scenarios.
Be warned, the following section contains a lot of speculation and unfounded belief.
Now for my actual true love. I love this ship so much I want to shove my face into it and motorboat that shit like it’s my girlfriend’s ample bosom. I would devote an entire article to this gorgeous thing, or even the modified recon line-up, but that will have to be left for another time. I had to buy a new pair of jeans after the destruction caused by my nerdboner when I heard the Lachesis would be getting a new low and maybe full T2 resists. This is the ship I hope can bring back old-school mid-weight armour brawling in low-sec, (combined with Phoebe travel changes).
Look at that sexy motherfucker. Fantastic EHP to sig for BC/BS gangs, six bonused damps which can be dropped off for extra points and scrams, a couple of these will force your opponent to come into closer range, all for 200m (aka about as much as a T2 logi). Damps have been, for a long time, amazing, but until now the only reasonable ship that could do it well was the Celestis. This has double the EHP and far better resists. A single damp on an Ishtar will bring its lock range down to 44 km – an entirely reasonable range to engage at for modern armour comps – a second all the way down to 22 km. If you’re taking a close-range fight, you can happily switch to using megadamps on enemy logistics, an exceptionally powerful tool, especially when combined with jamming drones. Let’s consider the Guardian with its two mids. Choose 2: You can have maneuverability (AB), resistance to ECM (ECCM) or resistance to damps (SeBo).
I cannot get over how much I love this ship. I strongly believe it is going to be an amazing addition to the armour fleet meta which can now field more meaningful EWAR than your standard Loki webs. I’m hoping we can make room for mid-range SP/ISK armour brawling that isn’t just faction Amarr BS and command ships with blinged out logi, or T1 Mallers & Augs/Exeqs, but BCs and T1 BS (Blaster Mega fleet anyone?). None of the other recons can armour tank nearly as well as the Lachesis (unless you don’t put neuts on your Curse/Pilgrim; max TDs as a counter to Tengu fleets perhaps? Maybe we should talk about this another time).
Okay, I think i need to lie down for a bit. Go forth and brawl my nerds, I can’t wait to see how the meta continues to shift and change with the ongoing ship rebalancing. As always, if you have any ship or fleet ideas you think would be great for this series, feel free to send them to me on Twitter @CallMeApoth.
PS: I have a new MWD Osprey fit I’m super excited about: http://i.imgur.com/zQD4M8v.png (Cheers Lee Dalton).