November 4, 2010

What Tank for What Ship?

Remember how in the past I said hull tanking is good for nothing? Well, it still is not when done on purpose. However, since I have been dabbling in Gallente frigates lately I should mention that there are some ships that are flown "untanked", or what some call "hull tanked" where this is not too bad an idea.

To understand why, let's look at how certain ships are made for certain tanking methods:

Amarr Punisher frigate firing its lasers
Take the Punisher. What sort of tank should it have? It has a 4/2/4 (4 high, 2 medium, 4 low) slot layout, so it would have the low slots for a hull tank if it wanted to. Why not, though? Its default distribution of defensive strengths is 391 in shields, 469 in armor, and 391 in its structure. On top of that armor leg-up, it also receives 5% bonus to armor resistances per Amarr Frigate skill level. All these reasons are why the Punisher strongly favors an armor tank.

Caldari Merlin frigate firing its railguns
What about something that is classically shield tanked, like the Merlin? Unlike the Punisher, the Merlin is more fit for a shield tank because of the large number of mid-power slots in its layout (4/4/2). Its basic defense also favors shields, with 469 shields, 351 armor, and 313 structure. Additionally, like the Punisher, the Merlin gets a 5% bonus to shield resistances per Caldari Frigate skill level.

But these are textbook examples of different forms of tanking. What if we look at our good friend, the Rifter?

Minmatar Rifter frigate firing its autocannons
The Rifter's slot distribution is a bit harder to read: 4/3/3. What about its default defense? 391 shields, 351 armor, 336 structure. Somewhat reminiscent of the Merlin, but it is nowhere near as tough overall as either the Merlin or the Punisher. Plus, the 40-point gap between shields and armor is not too significant. The Rifter also does not get bonuses to any resistances with its skills, getting projectile turret damage and tracking bonuses instead. So then, as far as tank goes, the Rifter has a choice.

A shield tanked Rifter is fast and can do a lot of damage, because it has its low slots free for speed modules, or a gyrostabilizer. An armor tanked Rifter is slightly slower, but a lot more versatile because of the 3rd mid slot in addition to the usual propulsion module and warp scrambler, which can fit something like a stasis web.

The ships within each respective race usually follow suit with what I've shown here: Amarr prefer ships with heavy armor tanks with few mid slots, Caldari prefer shield tanks with few low slots, and the Minmatar are all over the place.

But what about the Gallente?

Gallente Incursus frigate firing its blasters
The Incursus is somewhat the ugly duckling of the combat frigates. It has a 3/3/2 slot layout, which means it's somewhat less flexible than the others. But it has an even weirder base tank: 313 shields, 368 armor, 368 structure. Its highest amount (368) is the lowest of the strong areas of all combat frigates. On top of that, you'd think it favors armor, but it only has 2 low slots to accommodate for it! On top of that, compared to the Rifter, it has less CPU and less power grid available, in addition to blasters being much more resource-hungry than autocannons.

All this, why? Well, if fit for damage, the Incursus far outpaces the other frigates, even doubling the damage that a railgun Merlin can put out. It is also fairly nimble and fast. But... what to do about its tank?

Most Incursus pilots opt for a "just enough to stay alive" tank, comprised of a Damage Control unit, and possibly an Adaptive Nano Plate. Of course, this is nowhere near any semblance of the other ships' tanks (the Punisher can more than double the effective hit points of an Incursus), but it is meant to be just enough to overwhelm its target with superior firepower. Many of the smaller blaster-heavy Gallente ships, such as the Ishkur, Taranis, and to some degree, the Thorax, share this philosophy.

Often, it is dubbed a "hull tank" because the opponent of such a ship will have the most trouble eating through the ship's thick structure hit points, with the enhanced resists (60% against all damage types) from the Damage Control unit helping a ton.

The reason I was reminded of this was because of the Guardian Angel Daredevil frigate, which exemplifies the same philosophy of tanking, but takes the "high damage" aspect to an extreme.

A Daredevil is an extremely dangerous ship not only because of its stupidly high damage, but also because it gets a stasis webifier bonus similar to the Cruor's. It will likely be the primary target in engagements, which is why some Daredevil pilots even go as far as to armor tank it and sacrifice some of its agility and speed for the bonus of living to fight another day.

So, imagine my surprise when I noticed an abnormally fast (not armor tanked) Daredevil that was using a Sensor Booster to lock and kill war targets of his coming out of the Brutor Tribe Treasury station in Rens. Going on a hunch that the pilot didn't even bother to equip a Damage Control unit, I tested his hull with a barrage of 720mm phased plasma artillery shells from a Hurricane battlecruiser fit for that special purpose. He indeed did not have a damage control.

He went on to complain in the local channel about what a "waste" it was for me to one-shot his Daredevil in a Hurricane. While I'm sure this is not what he meant, it is indeed a waste to fly a frigate worth 100 million ISK if you can't survive a single volley from a ship worth less than a quarter of the price. CONCORD may disagree with me (and consequently blow up my Hurricane), but it is what it is.


  1. Well mate your not telling the whole truth are you?, and it was a waste, I know the guy - I am a Corp mate and was present when you targeted him,it wasn't war targets but outlaws he was after for starters,you forget to tell the readers you were using a passive targeting system or he would have been mobile before the shot was taken (moving frigate at 2500 mps = 6 x 720's Arty miss), so the first he knew the game was up, was when the 1st shot was fired and a reminder to readers that 6 x 720's will crack any frigate when you apply them with stealth targeting on a stationary frigate even with a damage control especially when you are at optimal range.
    By the way I'm going anonymus for a reason readers, this bloke likes to target noobs, which is what I am, and in fact what the guy he sucker punched is as well(< 6 months old), brave man targeting noobs eh?
    like I said if you wish to tell the story tell the whole truth, Telling the readers BS to make yourself look better than you are in reality makes me pitty you and the Bloke you sucker punched more noble, every time you mention it.
    strange how you didn't come out of station after it, he was there waiting for you after the Aggretion timer finnished but I guess you forgot to tell the readers that as well??

  2. First off, you're not helping your case very much with your grammar. However that's really not the point, so let me address your issues one by one, as I won't shy away from the true story:

    Passive targeter: I was not using one. Check my loss mail for my Hurricane. The reason he did not see me target him is because I activated my modules *before* targeting, which means they automatically activate instantly as soon as the targeting goes up.

    6x 720s will kill any frigates: False. Especially with my skill level (Battlecruisers II for Matar's sake). According to EFT, my artillery only volleys 2500 damage, and that Daredevil had around 3000 effective HP. While true that a Rifter would have trouble absorbing that damage, the Daredevil's high base hit points coupled with a Damage Control would have brought it up to 4600, something I definitely would *not* have been able to volley. See the EFT screenshots for yourself:

    Heck, if you bother to put a 200mm plate on it, you can get it close to 6000 hit points.

    Next, please spare me your tears about my targeting newbies. I would not host this blog to help newbies if I targeted newbies. This was also my first suicide gank, and the last in a long time.

    Want to know why I targeted your buddy? Because I was passing by and saw a Daredevil with a sensor booster. That is, a pirate faction ship, one of the most expensive ones at that, being used for cheap tackle for a job that a Stiletto interceptor can do twice as well (literally twice, its scan resolution is off the wall). So, I was curious to see if it was *really* being used as cheap, untanked tackle... and it was. Whaddya know. I would not have shot it if it was a Stiletto: that's what you're supposed to use a Stiletto for.

    My not undocking: Firstly, I don't think you noticed, but I never even *docked*. With how many insta-target ships there are in Rens, I do not want to risk my pod for docking. Plus, why would you wait for me? It makes no sense for me to undock while I am aggressed, since I have a criminal flag. All of Rens would be able to shoot me, not just you.

    I hope my answer is adequate to your accusations. There really was no need for you to go anonymous, though. If I really wanted to go after you, I would have just wardecced your whole corp (which, by the way, has one of the most horrible sets of fits I have ever seen according to BattleClinic). In fact, by just posting here you probably drew the attention of unsavories.

    So anyway, enjoy your wall of text there. Also, nice Cruor and Daredevil, bro.

    Since it appears you can afford to throw away faction ships left and right, maybe a 1v1 once, hm?

  3. 'Anonymous', you managed to make yourself look rather foolish with your whining and poor spelling. I'm with Petrus as what he did was hilarious and his posts actually make sense :)