Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sisters of Mercy? A review of the Stratios

soe-cruiser

All Gank and little tank doth a pirate, not an explorer make!

The Stratios is a new “exploration” ship scheduled for the Rubicon expansion.  It is a faction ship from the Sisters of Eve.  It was announced in early October with this forum post from CCP Rise and later revised with  this post.  Revisions are noted in red.

Role Bonus: 50% reduction in Energy Turret capacitor need 50% medium Energy Turret optimal range bonus

Role Bonus: 37.5% increase Scan Probe Strength

Role Bonus: +5 +10 Virus strength for Relic and Data Analyzers

Can fit Cover Ops Cloaking devices

Amarr Cruiser Bonus: 4% bonus to Armor Resists

Gallente Cruiser Bonus: 10% bonus to Drone hitpoints and damage

Slot layout: 5H, 5M, 5L; 4 turrets, 0 launchers

Fittings: 920 PWG, 400 CPU

Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 1950 / 2400 / 2450

Capacitor (amount) : 1700

Mobility (max velocity / agility / mass / align time): 182 / .47 / 9350000 / 6.09s

Drones (bandwidth / bay): 125 / 500  100/400

Targeting (max targeting range / Scan Resolution / Max Locked targets): 55km / 275 / 7

Sensor strength: 20

Signature radius: 150

Cargo Capacity: 550

This ship didn’t feel complete to me, so I have held off writing about it hoping that more details/revisions would come.  I haven’t seen any, so I am going to publish this.

This looks like it is going to be a fun ship.  With good drone damage/bandwidth, a covops cloak and armor tank, this ship is really the fulfillment of what most players wanted in the Pilgrim.  (I dearly hope that recons are going to get rebalanced soon because the Pilgrim was already pretty much worst in class.)  This ship will do exploration sites nicely with its scanning bonus, virus bonus, covops ability, and 5 mid slots.  But not many people are talking about that.  The ship’s little sister, already had that covered.

Until the drone bandwidth was lowered, most players saw this as a fantastic gank ship.  Using hybrid turrets and an ancillary armor tank, it could do 700 dps and tank nearly 600dps while the cap booster held out (using this fitting).  Note that this is with heavy drones so applying that theoretical dps is not guaranteed.  Now that the bandwidth is lowered to 100Mb/s, only 4 heavy drones (or 3 heavies, 2 mediums) can be supported and dps drops by about 20%.  That has cooled some of the enthusiasm, but this is still a powerful ship – especially considering you don’t need to train HAC’s to fly it.  Balancing that out (somewhat) is the fact that the Stratios doesn’t get a CPU bonus to fitting cloaks or expanded probe launchers.  You won’t be able to fit both on the ship without making serious compromises elsewhere.

But I am most concerned with how this ship fits into exploration – its intended purpose.  On that front, it has a lot of things going for it.  Drones are great for explorers because you don’t have to worry about running out of ammunition.  Ditto for lasers.  With Drone Damage Amplifier(s), this ship puts out very respectable damage – more than enough to run all the highsec and lowsec exploration sites.  CCP Rise stated he was able to run 6/10’s with it (although he didn’t specifically say “solo”).  The large drone bay allows for a nice variety of drones for taking out both large and small targets (as well as longer range targets).  On the downside, this ship has a couple of problems – mostly capacitor and tank.  The “unrated” lowsec sites (annex and minor annex) as well as the 5/10’s and all of the null-sec sites put out pretty substantial dps and require a very strong active tank (except for the neuting sites).  Active armor tanks just don’t scale-up with deadspace reppers as well as active shield tanks do.  And this ship only has T1 resists.  I am just not sure you can get a strong enough cap-stable tank to handle the incoming damage.  And given how expensive this ship is likely to be, you don’t want to lose to NPC’s.

Confounding that problem is the bonus to Medium Energy Turret optimal range.  I totally get the push towards lasers – they should be a fantastic explorer weapon due to how small crystals are and how long they last.  Believe me, as a HAM Tengu pilot in lowsec, I am CONSTANTLY shopping for missiles.  The problem is that lasers absolutely eat capacitor.  That is probably why this ship started with a cap bonus for lasers.  But laser use on this ship while running an active armor tank is going to be situational at best – even with the range bonus.  Much more likely is hybrid turrets for close up burst damage (final boss in 6/10) or autocannons/artillery for cap-less damage.

My suggestion: drop the turret bonus for a small bonus to Remote Armor Repair.  It would help keep drones alive, it fits better with SOE lore, and I think it would do one other thing:  It would also be a slight push towards using this ships for exploration sites in pairs (or more).  A pair of these ships that were remote repping each other would more easily handle the dps of the more difficult sites and CCP does seem to want to encourage more group play in exploration (and yes, I know that more people would dual-box than actually group play).  In nullsec, these ships would still have to worry about bubbles, but that is a fair trade-off.

For the newer player, the Stratios fills a perfect niche – 4/10’s and the highsec Watches and Vigils that escalate to lowsec.  Since strategic cruisers are locked out of the 4/10’s I see them pretty often in lowsec.  In highsec they are commonly run by Drakes or HAC’s or the Gnosis, but this ship would be even better.  And since it can warp cloaked, it is the ideal ship for finishing off escalations that end in lowsec.  This will also be a fantastic ship for doing the new Ghost sites.  It will also prey on covops ships doing the lowsec relic and data sites.  If you are doing those sites now in a covops ship, you should be looking over your shoulder even more when Rubicon launches.

Note: There is a nice video of the look of the ship here.

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Blood 6/10 Crimson Hand Supply Depot

The Crimson Hand Supply Depot is a DED rated 6/10 complex found in the low-sec regions of Aridia, Genesis, Kador, Khanid, Kor-Azor, and The Bleak Lands.

It is a 5 room complex with the “Crimson Lord” as the final boss and the “Crimson Sentinel” as an optional boss.  The official wiki does a nice job of listing the ships you will encounter.

Room 1:

5 Sentry Guns

17 Destroyers

3 Battleships

Room 2:

3 Sentry Guns

2 Cruise Missile Batteries

2 Stasis towers (Stasis Web; doesn’t hit on warp in)

8 Destroyers

5 Battleships (Harbringer and Achbishop neut to 25km)

Loot: Crimson Hand Container (contains unneccesary gate pass; may contain loot)

Room 3

Crimson Sentinel (stasis web at warp in)

12 Battleships

Room 4a (optional) Supply Sector

14 Sentry Guns

9 Cruise Missile Batteries

21 Destroyers

5 Battleships (Harbringer and Archbishop neut to 25km)

Room 4b

14 Sentry Guns

4 Cruise Missile Batteries

6 Battleships (Harbringer and Archbishop neut to 25km)

Crimson Lord

Tactics:

First of all, I use this Tengu Fitting. It has the range to kill the neuting battleships and stasis webs and the tank to blitz the last room once the neuting battleships are taken down.  It can kill the Crimson Lord without reloading (important since he repairs significantly in 10 seconds) if you start with a full load of ammo.

Room 1: I use Mjolnir Rage Heavy Assault Missiles on battleships and battlecruisers. Then switch to Mjolnir Javelin Heavy Assault Missiles and take out everything else. Ignore the Sentry Guns.

Room 2: There are potentially neuting battleships here (I have seen as many as 2) so keep them at least 25km away and take them out first.  The Harbringers are more likely to neut than the Archbishops.  After that I switch to Javelins and take out the web towers and the destroyers.  Again, I ignore the Sentry Guns.  Check out the loot container.  I rarely find anything there, but it can have at least Dark Blood loot so it is worth checking.

Room 3:  This rooms sucks.  The Crimson Sentinel webs you upon warp in.  It has 100,000 structure HP and reps almost its entire shield and armor every few seconds if you are within 60km.  You land about 45km from it (and the gates) and it webs to 50km.  You don’t have to kill it and I usually don’t.  It supposedly contains Dark Blood loot, but I haven’t ever gotten anything from it.  I burn towards the Command Center gate (skipping the optional 4a room) and kill as many battleships as possible using Mjolnir Rage missiles.  There are usually 3-5 battleships that will stay 38-41km away and are outside of Mjolnir Rage range.  For those last ships, it is helpful to have some Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assualt Missiles.  If you don’t have them, just use Mjolnir Javelins.  They will kill them eventually, it is just slow.  Due to high Kinetic resists, it is better to use Mjolnir missiles.  The only exception is the Crimson Sentinel.  If you decide to move out to 60+km to kill it, you should use your highest damage type (Kinetic for Tengu’s).

Room 4b (Command Center).  FIRST check for any neuting battleships (Harbringers and sometimes Archbishops).  If they are present, you need to kill them first.  If there aren’t any, you can just burn toward the Crimson Lord.  He has a very tough tank and reps both shield and armor very rapidly.  Due to high kinetic resists, you should use Mjolnir missiles.  I like to start firing at 30km and orbit at 1km.  With 580 EM dps, he will die without reloadding (if you start out full).  Loot and leave!

Loot:

Bounties are about 15-20 million. 19th Tier Overseer’s Personal Affects (guaranteed drop) is about 52 million. You may also get Dark Blood modules, Corpum A-type modules, and/or an Ashimmu BPC. The best drops I have received are a Corpum A-Type Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane worth about 910 million and a Corpum A-Type Medium Armor Repairer worth about 330 million. You can get more than one drop or you may get nothing. Best payout ~1.1 billion. Worst payout ~52 million.

Say Hello to My Little Friend (A review of the Astero)

soe-frigate-big

click to embiggen

The details of the new Sisters of Eve faction ships were released a couple of weeks ago.  The thread on them is some 100+ pages long and focuses mostly on the cruiser – The Stratios.  Today, I want to talk about the less controversial one – the Astero.

Here are the stats:

Role Bonus: 100% reduction in CPU requiement for cloaks

Role Bonus: 37.5% increase Scan Prob Strength

Role Bonus: +10** Virus strength for Relic and Data Analyzers

Can fit Cover Ops Cloaking devices

Amarr Frigate Bonus: 4% bonus to Armor Resists

Gallente Frigate Bonus: 20% bonus to drone hitpoints

Slot layout: 2H, 4M, 4L; 2 turrets, 0 launchers

Fittings: 32 PWG, 170 CPU

Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 540 / 600 / 600

Capacitor (amount) : 430

Mobility (max velocity / agility / mass / align time): 312 / 2.87 / 975000 / 3.88s

Drones (bandwidth / bay): 25 / 75

Targeting (max targeting range / Scan Resolution / Max Locked targets): 37km / 620 / 6

Sensor strength: 13

Signature radius: 35

Cargo Capacity: 210

First off, I love the look of this ship.  The design and color scheme make it unique to the Sisters of Eve.  It has the largest drone bay of any frigate in the game at 75m3.  It only has the bandwidth to support a flight of light drones however.  With two unbonused turrets you can use whatever guns you want.  With a single drone damage amplifier and 2 Light Neutron Blaster II’s is does about 200dps.  Consider that a Worm (Guristas faction frigate) only does about 165dps under a similar rocket setup.  Actually, this ship outclasses the Worm in almost every way.  It has more damage with turrets, larger drone bay, more capacitor, faster base speed, and better align time.  And that is before you add in the bonus to scan strength, virus strength, and the ability to fit a Covops cloak!  With the addition of the Astero, the Worm actually gets downgraded from worst in class to completely redundant.

So where does this ship fit in to the hierarchy of Eve?  On the non-exploration side, with 4 lows and 4 mids, this ship will make an excellent covops tackler.  It might even see some use as a solo pirate ship, especially in faction warfare.  On the exploration side, it outclasses the Tech 1 exploration frigates with the same scan bonus and an extra +5 to virus strength.  It matches the covops frigates on virus strength, but doesn’t quite have their scan strength.  It also lacks the CPU required to fit an expanded probe launcher.

Where this ship really shines is in scanning down and running the highsec 2/10 and 3/10 complexes and their unrated counterparts (Hideout and Lookout).  Previously (with rigs/very good skills) you could scan these down in an assault frigate, but it was slow.  Now you can do it much quicker and also be in a ship that can do the data/relic profession sites.  As an added bonus, doing the final site from an escalation to lowsec is now significantly safer since you are in a ship that can warp cloaked!  This was something that was seriously lacking before and I think this ship will completely push the assault frigates out of that space.  This once-upon-a-time lovely guide to HiSec exploration in frigates will be shortened to the word “Astero”.  Finally, with the bonus to hacking and the ability to fit a decent armor tank, this ship will do well at the new highsec Ghost sites.

In theory, this is a ship that should do well at the lowsec profession sites also.  It might need grav rigs to scan down the hardest sites, but with the drone bay and 4 lows it could be a serious threat to any covops ships it finds on the sites and have reasonable defense should itself be attacked.  I say “in theory” because in this area, it is completely outclassed by its big sister, the Stratios.  More on that controversial gem coming soon.

The main downside is that this is likely to be a very expensive ship for a frigate.  In fact, it will probably be highly overpriced for several months.  The problem is that the SOE Cruiser “Stratios” is looking so good right now that it is going to push up the prices on all other SOE LP items.  Expect to see sister probes and scanners increase in price fairly dramatically as these ships are released.

** Virus strength was originally listed at +5, but CCP Rise later said it would be raised to +10 in this post. 

Blood 5/10 Blood Raiders Pyschotropic Depot

The Blood Raiders Psychotropic Depot is a DED rated 5/10 complex found in the low-sec regions of Aridia, Genesis, Kador, Khanid, Kor-Azor, and The Bleak Lands.

It is a 3 room complex with the “Exsanguinator” as the final boss.   The official wiki does a nice job of listing the ships you will encounter.

Room 1:

1 Sentry Gun

21 Frigates

7 Cruisers

2 Battlecruisers

3 Battleships (Harbringer and Achbishop neut to 25km)

Room 2:

8 Sentry Guns

6 Frigates

3 Destroyers

5 Cruisers

11 Battlecruisers

8 Battleships (Harbringer and Achbishop neut to 25km)

Room 3

9 Sentry Guns

9 Cruise Missile Batteries

3 Light/Heavy Missile Batteries

3 Stasis Web Towers (Stasis web; 40-45km away)

11 Frigates

1 Destroyer

10 Cruisers

6 Battleships (Harbringer and Achbishop neut to 25km, but they start 50km away)

1 Overseer Cruiser (Exsanguinator)

Tactics:

First of all, I use this Tengu Fitting.  It has the range to kill the neuting battleships and stasis webs and the tank to blitz the last room once the webs are down.

Room 1:  I use Mjolnir Rage Heavy Assault Missiles on battleships and battlecruisers.  With this fit and my skills I have about 34km range.  Use this range to stay at least 25km away from any of the neuting battleships and kill them first.  Then switch to Mjolnir Javelin Heavy Assault Missiles and take out everything else.  Ignore the Sentry Gun.

Room 2:  Same as room 1, it just takes a bit longer.  There are potentially more neuting battleships here (I have seen as many as 4) so keeping them all at least 25km away may take some manual piloting.  The Harbringers are more likely to neut than the Archbishops so kill them first.  Again, I ignore the Sentry Guns.

Room 3: Load up on Mjolnir Javelin Heavy Assualt Missiles while warping to the room.  Immediately target the web towers and take them out.  They are usually about 40-45km from your warp in point so you will need the range of the javelins.  The damage in this room is significant.  The 20 sentry guns/ missile towers will all hit you at once, but after that the damage evens out a bit.  The fit posted above tanks 800 Blood Raider dps and does just fine here.  If you have less than that, you should align as soon as you land just in case you need to warp out quickly.  As soon as the 3 stasis towers are down, I switch targets to the Exsanguinator and burn toward him on afterburner.  (Note this also takes you in the opposite direction of the neuting battleships).  The Mjolnir Javelin missiles will usually kill him without reloading.  At this point you can bookmark the wreck and warp out.  After a couple of minutes you can come back and the site will have despawned leaving the wreck.  If you trust your tank, you can also continue burning toward the wreck and loot it as long as you aren’t taking too much damage and the neuting battleships are still comfortably far away.

Loot:

Bounties are about 10-15 million.  18th Tier Overseer’s Personal Affects (guaranteed drop) is about 42 million.  You may also get Dark Blood modules, Corpum B-type modules, and/or an Ashimmu BPC.    The best drops I have received are a Corpum B-Type Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane worth about 375 million and a Corpum B-Type Medium Armor Repairer worth about 190 million.  You can get more than one drop or you may get nothing.  Best payout ~500 million.  Worst payout ~42 million.

Rubicon: The Real Exploration Expansion?

RUBICON

ODYSSEY

Which one looks like the explorer to you?  :)

In Odyssey we got a faster/smoother scanning update and a mini-game that replaced the rats at data/relic sites and some other forgettable changes.  I am not complaining, but there was nothing that was really exciting here.  Kind of like – well, a minivan.

In Rubicon, we get new Ghost Sites that will add quite a bit of flavor to exploration.  We get 2 new Sisters of Eve exploration ships that have the potential to completely transform exploration.  I am holding off writing about them until the details get finalized.  Siphons are not directly tied to exploration, but they might add some interesting options as they mature.  The space depot deployable could be HUGE for exploration – if (and it is a big IF) it allows T3’s to swap subsystems.  If it doesn’t, it will still be very big for the aforementioned SOE ships.  We get auto-loot tractor beams that could have a major effect on ninja salvaging/looting and a minor effect on combat site running.

Time to fire up the Jeep!