In his F*ck Ishtars series, Pandemic Legion FC and ATXII commentator Apothne explores alternatives to run-of-the mill standard doctrines. More creativity, less Ishtars Online.
My favourite thing to do in EVE is FC’ing. My entire career in the game has been focused on being where I can learn the most about the craft, from the best people possible, and having the most opportunities. Unfortunately, this is exceptionally time consuming; between gathering intel, strategising and actually running the fleets it leaves little time for anything else, which is a pity as I also love soloing. Typically, my favourite vessels are combat battlecruisers, battleships (I lost a bunch of cyclones in PL’s recent Curse deployment) and assault frigates. I think this is because being in a tankier ship for your weight class tends to prolong the fight, giving you more time to make decisions to outmaneuver your opponent. More time to think, more time for my frayed post three-hour-fleet brain to react. An older, but still very relevant resource for the aspiring solo’er is Azual Skoll’s blog, The EVE Altruist, one of my favourite EVE-blog series. Anyway, here are a few lesser used solo hulls that I would love to have a go in when I get the chance.
For the uninitiated, this style of solo PvP is typically done with frigates; the goals here being: staying on the edge of scram range and taking advantage of the shorter range of blasters or other small weapons using low DPS ammo. The kings of this class are ships like the Tristan, Federation Navy Comet, Daredevil and Executioner. Generally (fr)agile hulls, these naturally project well out to the desired range. The mid-setup for such ships is afterburner (AB) and scram/web, which can make shield tanking difficult. Using a fourth mid slot for a tracking disruptor (TD) with optimal range script increases your ability to mitigate incoming damage hugely. The following are lesser used, but still valid and interesting approaches to this idea that sacrifice some of the agility for other advantages.
Note: I have not used any implants to give a baseline for what these fits can do with or without links, but if you’re going with scram/web kiting, you will benefit nicely from implants such as Zor’s Custom Navigation Hyperlink. The given fits also use J5B scrams, so if you are willing to use a little CPU implant to get the full 9km range, scram is definitely worth your while.
“There is no problem that cannot be solved by more DPS” is a quote from an old friend from my EVE University days, and the following Ishkur fit is definitely designed around the idea that your opponent can’t kill you if he’s already dead.
A common mistake on scram/web kiters is to use trimarks in an armour tank. These will massively nuke your speed and thus ability to control range. We manage to fit two damage mods for each of our weapons systems, giving us a blistering damage output to the desired range while still managing to fit a 200mm plate which combines well without T2 resists for a little survivability.
In contrast, the resist and cap bonus on the Vengeance allow us to have a super-tanky concoction that will happily wait until its opponent runs out of cap charges/paste/ASB cycles.
This ship has a great tank without links, but it’s absurd with them. Thanks to the hull bonus and nosferatu, it’s cap stable running everything but one repper. It has plenty of stability to allow you to pulse the second repper, giving you a great opportunity to play mind games with your adversary to make him/her believe that they have you on the ropes or overheat their guns at the wrong time. (Typically you overheat when you think their tank is just on the edge of breaking, either from low cap or are going through a reload cycle). The DPS is nothing special, but as mentioned that’s not the point of this ship. It is selectable to hit those ever-present resist holes on other frigates who just don’t have the spare slots to fill them, though.
Stepping up from frigates
Frigate solo PvP is amazing fun, but in my interaction with EVE University a popular question is how to get out of frigate PvP and into something a little heavier without immediately busting the bank by flying Hyperions, Sleipnirs or some such other iconic solo vessel. The truth is that you aren’t constrained to hulls with a bonus to local tank. Using a less common solo hull can actually play to your advantage as after flying it a bunch, you will know the capabilities of your ship, but when fighting some flavour of the month ship the information to both sides become asymmetric. To be honest, you can solo in any of the T1 cruisers if you put a little thought into it, I have a friend in SniggWaffe who has some amazing kills in an Exequror, a logistics ship! Here are some cheap, simple and most importantly fun ships to get started moving into heavier hull classes.
The Thorax may well be my favourite hull in the game. Cheap, very versatile, very cool advanced options in the Vigilant, Deimos and Phobos, open to shield, armour, buffer, active tank, you can do anything with a Thorax.
What’s not to like? Super fast, a crapton of DPS, and a nice active tank. There are a bunch of fitting choices you can make here: an AB for bigger guns, drop the collision accelerator and web for an ancillary current router (ACR) to dual prop, and you can go down to one rep for extra damage or resists to make your cap life easier. Drone choice is also interesting; on the above I just put in Hammerheads for max damage, but you can also use Valkyries/Infiltrators for different damage types, Vespa EC-600s to be an asshole, or a flight of light damage and ECM drones for more flexibility if less specific effectiveness is your game. As you can probably tell, I love hulls like this one where even within one role, you still have a bunch of cool decisions to make for how you like to fly.
Basic Kiting Stabber
The Stabber is a wonderful introduction into kiting with turret ships, putting you on the route to the Omen Navy Issue or Cynabal. The keys here are: managing your cap by not just permanently running your MWD, maintaining good range, making intelligent ammo decisions and knowing when to leave.
You’re very fast, but your cap is really poor so your first priority is managing that. One of the tricks of kiting well is not to dive in and then attempt to pull range, but to start a little further out, let your enemies burn into you and slowly gain the necessary speed, starting the fight much more safely and with a greater cap reserve. The spare fitting to add small neuts is a handy emergency prayer to neut a scram off of you, but if you need them, odds are you’ve already made a mistake.
I was going to post a version of this fit with 220s for better tracking against frigates, which is an entirely reasonable thing to do (and lets you drop the ACR for another shield extension rig), but the extra bit of projection and DPS from the 425s is also nice. If you’re really on top of cap management you can swap the second large shield extender for a web to help keep those pesky frigates off, or anything from closing to scram range, but don’t screw it up because it’ll take a massive chunk out of your tank.
Remember when solo’ing you’re going to die most if not all the time as you start out, and the best solo’ers in game still lose a ton of ships. Don’t be disheartened; each fight will be unique and something you can learn from. Break your anchored F1-pushing bonds my friends, and embrace the satisfaction of manual piloting and making PvP decisions for yourself.
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.