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

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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. 

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