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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