I decided to take a break from my Tengu so I am trying out the Astero and focusing on the low-end exploration combat sites in Guristas space. I reviewed this ship when it first came out, but this is my first time actually flying it.
First thought? – I have no idea how to fit this ship! I started with 2 Drone Damage Amps, a deadspace small repper and a faction kinetic armor hardener. EFT was locking up on me so I started guessing from there. I added 2 meta-4 small pulse lasers and rigs and mids to make it fit and be cap stable. I think I had 1 slot open so I added a mag flavored ECCM to fight off jamming.
It didn’t really matter. After running a couple of anomalies to test it out I discovered my drones were killing things so fast the guns were unnecessary. Since the ship has only 2 turrets and no bonuses (and I can’t fit Tech 2 small guns of any variety) the only significant damage comes from very short-range weapons. Usually by the time I was in range, I only managed to kill about 1 frigate with my guns for every 4 my drones killed by themselves. It ended up not being worth the hassle of refitting to get the small boost in damage.
Once I started scanning down sites, I just left the probe (and covops cloak) equipped and made sure the drones were focusing firing. I ran a Guristas Lookout that escalated 3 times. The ship breezed through it. I also ran a Gurista’s 3/10 but didn’t get to finish it as I was overtaken by a Cerberus. (Side note: it was weird being back in high sec). Anyway, the ship handled that just fine as well. I am not sure about a 4/10. I think maybe the ship could do the Guristas and Angels 4/10, but it would be slow. So slow that you would likely get passed in highsec and scanned down and chased out in lowsec.
So back to fitting: Without the lasers, my ship now has basically 2-3 open mid slots.** The jamming was so infrequent that the ECCM mod seems wasteful. My drones were usually active before I was jammed so they went on merrily killing whether I could lock or not. I could throw on some pvp mods for when I take it into lowsec. I could change out the rigs for more tank, but it seems to be tanking fine without them. None of the mids or rigs really do much for drone damage.
I suppose I could ignore the armor bonuses and shield tank it. That would free up 2 lows for a third DDA and something else?
In any case, the ship is perfect for the frigate size exploration complexes. With the 37.5% scanning bonus I was able to scan down every site very quickly. It was nice to be able to just warp in and fight without any refitting. At no time did I drop below 75% armor and that was only when I blitzed and let my speed drop to loot.
Even though the Astero costs about 100M isk, it effectively replaces (from the exploration side) a 20M covops ship and a 30M assault frigate. The flexibility gained by not having to manage 2 ships is easily worth 50M isk. Not to mention the training time saved!
All in all, this is a fun ship to fly. If I finally figure out a fitting I like, I will be sure to post it.
**Actually, if you are doing the relic/data sites those mid-slots are taken by the data analyzer, relic analyzer, and cargo scanner.