September 8, 2013

Artillery 101: Having a Blast

Do you like turning ships into expanding clouds of dust with a single shot? Do you enjoy your firepower accompanied by satisfying boom noises? Do you use projectile turrets but are tired of spending your whole fortune on autocannon ammo? You should look into artillery!

Artillery is a long-range turret type designed to best work on Minmatar ships. It can be found in almost any activity that involves shooting things. Despite this, there is a lot of misinformation around how it works, and when it should be used. Let's start by taking a look at artillery pros and cons:


Very high alpha damage. This is by far the main selling point of artillery. In each ship class size, they hold the highest per-shot damage, at medium ranges. This is very important since alpha is one of the ways to break through an active tank (one using repairers). It is also essential in larger fleets, when taking targets off of the field from range is critical.

Inexpensive and low-skill friendly. T1 and meta artillery is very common, and the T2 ammo types forgone by not fitting T2 artillery are not critical in most situations.

"Magical" awesome ammo. Artillery cannons get to take advantage of the full range of projectile ammo types. Since they have a significant optimal range, they can expand from autocannon ammo selection (Phased Plasma, EMP, and Fusion) to the longer range ammo types as well.

High skill ceiling. Combining the long range aspect of artillery with the nimbleness of its host Minmatar ships leads to a lot of possibilities for advanced piloting tricks to achieve ridiculous results.


Hard to fit. Artillery is one of the hardest weapon types to fit. When using it, be prepared to make serious fitting sacrifices.

Fragility. As a consequence of the fitting requirements, artillery ships usually are not very durable, and need to make great efforts to not get caught or damaged. 

Very low damage over time. While artillery has amazing per-shot damage, its fire rate is abysmal, leading to little damage done over time.

Poor tracking. Missing is very common, and very painful because of the slow rate of fire. It will have serious problems tracking any target of similar or smaller size to yourself when it gets too close.

If that Hurricane has artillery... it's screwed.

How do I get started?

To jump into using artillery, I recommend getting a Thrasher. The bonuses the hull provides fit artillery perfectly: a damage bonus, a tracking bonus, and an optimal range bonus. On top of that, the Thrasher uses 7 guns, which means a lot of satisfying "blam".

When fitting an artillery-based ship, always fit the guns first. Once those are fit, build the rest of your fit around them.

As a starter, try this fit. It is thus named ("Sisters Thrasher") because it is very similar to the fit I used to run the Sisters of Eve mission arc back in the day. Let's look at some aspects of that fit:

  • 280mm artillery (rather than 250mm) gives extra range and damage, but is hard to fit
  • The micro auxiliary power core (MAPC) ameliorates some fitting difficulties. 
  • Both the stasis webifier ('Langour' is a meta 2 web) and the PWNT target painter serve to make things easier to hit. If using it to fight other capsuleers, you might want to replace one of them with a warp scrambler or disruptor.
  • The damage control gives some survivability, but if you are confident about not being shot, it can be replaced with a gyrostabilizer to get extra damage.

Where do I go from here?

The weaknesses of artillery are especially prominent when using a ship solo. Thankfully, they are greatly diminished by being in a fleet with others. Additionally, in many fleets, rapid takedown of a target is especially important, and the high alpha of artillery makes it especially useful. In short? To be as useful as possible using artillery, find friends and fly with them.

If you really enjoy the concept and would like to get into it more, you should look into these ships:
  • Rifter, Jaguar, Republic Fleet Firetail: The Firetail is very fast, fairly hardy, and has a great tracking bonus, which enables it to perform a risky scram-range kiting strategy using artillery. The Rifter and Jaguar can emulate it, but they lack in mid slots and in speed respectively. For more about scram range kiting, see my kiting post.
  • Thrasher, Wolf: These two ships enjoy very large range bonuses and very good artillery alpha strike. They can usually stay out of danger while shooting down things from afar.
  • Rupture, Stabber Fleet Issue: The Rupture is a very versatile cruiser that can serve as a decent artillery platform. It can have problems with speed and tracking, though. The SFI improves in both those areas, if you can afford it.
  • Hurricane: The staple artillery battlecrusier. Cheap enough to be ballsy with, but still packs the highest alpha strike of any medium artillery.
  • Muninn: Heavy assault cruiser specializing in artillery. It's faster than the Rupture, gets a tracking bonus akin to the SFI's, has alpha strike similar to the Hurricane's, and gets a big range bonus which the others do not. An excellent artillery platform.
Muninn exchanging fire.

  • Tornado: An attack battlecruiser with battleship-sized guns, it is the final say in mobile, high damage artillery. It has a lot more trouble tracking than the Muninn and other medium artillery platforms, and it also loses out on some mobility and a lot of tank, but it more than makes up for that with enormous range and volleys from 8 artillery cannons. Be aware that it  requires strong manual piloting skills, though.
  • Tempest, Maelstrom: These battleships also function very well when equipped with artillery. However, due to their slow nature, those setups are only commonly seen in large organized fleets.

That's it!

You've got a primer in how artillery works. Go out and try it! Feel free to let me know in the comments if you want me to add something else, or if you need extra advice.


  1. You forgot the arty blap Panther :3

    1. I am not familiar with the Panther in any capacity, and it's probably going to get changed relatively soon with the rebalance anyway, so I thought it would be best to not mention it.

  2. Insta-locking arty Thrashers... So many frigate kills.