The interceptor is a near necessity for any fleet. These small advanced frigates are the best ship to fill the role of tackler, given their bonuses, speed, price, and skill point requirements. By taking on the tackling role, interceptors allow other ships to focus on other fleet needs, whether that be DPS, logi, and so on. Although interceptors are light in the SP requirements needed to fly them, they do require a high degree of piloting skill in order to unleash their full potential.
Fitting Your Interceptor
When it comes to fitting your interceptor, the first point worth mentioning is that each race has two different hulls to choose from. For the purposes of fleet combat, the aptly named fleet interceptor is the better choice in almost all situations. The main reason for this is its bonus to warp scrambler and disruptor ranges. The interceptors to look for are the Ares, Malediction, Stiletto, and Raptor. The Taranis, Crusader, Crow, and Claw are more geared for applying damage and are more useful in small frigate gangs than in bigger fleets.
With the proper interceptor hull chosen, you can now begin fitting your ship. Below is a fit that I use for the Ares interceptor.
[Ares, Interceptor Setup]
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Overdrive Injector System II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Damage Control II
Warp Scrambler II
Warp Disruptor II
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Light Ion Blaster I, Antimatter Charge S
Light Ion Blaster I, Antimatter Charge S
Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Small Ionic Field Projector I
The main goal in fitting your interceptor is to allow it to fill the tackling role whilst enhancing its speed and survivability. The stats of the interceptor mean your speed and small signature radius is your tank, and your fitting should take this into account.
For the high slots you need to have the tech two weapon system for your race. The purpose of your weapons isn’t to damage your prey; it is for your own survival. One of the most effective ways to deal with an interceptor is to set light drones on it, therefore your weapons will help you to take those drones out before they take you out.
The utility high slot doesn’t have much use for an interceptor. It could be argued to use a Nosferatu in that slot, but that requires you to be too close to your target – I’ll explain the perils of being that close later.
The mid slots are the most important part of any interceptor because they will hold your key modules, namely your scram, long point, and MWD. The scram and long point enable you to fulfill your role as tackle, while the MWD is your lifeline. The MWD will allow you to move faster than guns can track you, and to outrun missiles. It will, however, make you less maneuverable since it increases your effective mass, making turning and accelerating slower. On another note, it could be argued that it would be better to have two long points rather than a scram and a long point. This is still a valid fit but you will lose the ability to shut off enemy MWDs and MJDs by giving up the scrambler.
The low slots of an interceptor are focused on providing speed and survivability. The overdrive injectors and nanofiber internal structures provide the speed factor. The mix of overdrive to nanofiber is largely down to taste, but I prefer my interceptors to be more agile rather than simply faster. As a side note, don’t worry about any lost HP from using the nanofiber modules. Interceptors have a paltry amount of hit points to begin with, and a lot of the EHP lost is regained by having your damage control active.
Lastly are the rigs. As with all the fittings on an interceptor, the rigs should enhance your ability to tackle, or increase your speed and agility. The Polycarbon Engine Housing does the later. The Ionic Field Projector is useful due to the bonuses to the point and scram ranges of interceptors. With maxed out bonuses it is possible for an interceptor to have a longer point range than targeting range – the Ionic Field Projector remedies this fact.
Now that we have covered the modules you should fit, it bears mentioning the modules you shouldn’t fit. There two big ones, but any module that would decrease your speed or increase your signature radius (MWD aside) should be avoided.
The first module to avoid would be any sort of shield extender. While having more EHP is usually a good thing, the cost of increased signature radius is too high for an interceptor. Increasing your sig radius will make enemy weapons more effective against you, as well as allowing enemies to lock you faster. The second module that you should never fit is an inertial stabilizer. Whilst these modules will increase your agility, they also increase your signature radius.
Warp Strength and Warp Jamming
It is worth mentioning the mechanics of warp disrupting, given that most of an interceptor’s time is focused on it. To begin with, there is the subject of warp strength. Every ship in the game has an inherent warp strength, with most ships have a warp strength of 1, with a few exceptions. In order to initiate warp, a ship has to have a warp strength of 1 or higher. Warp disruptors and scramblers work by decreasing the targeted ship’s warp strength while it is active. Disruptors will decrease a targeted ship’s warp strength by 1, and scramblers will decrease it by 2. This increased warp jamming strength comes at a cost, as warp scramblers have half the activation range as a warp disruptor. An additional feature of the warp scrambler is that is will deactivate and prevent the activation of micro warp drives while it is active.
Now that we have a basic understanding of warp jamming, we now have to move our interceptor in range to put them to use. As I touched on before, interceptors are lacking in the HP department, so most ships will make quick work of them in a single volley. Luckily there is another game mechanic that we can use to mitigate and even prevent damage from other ships. I speak of course of the tracking speed of turrets; put simply, turrets are designed to fight certain sizes of ship and as such can only turn so fast to keep up with their target. If a target is moving faster than the turrets can track, the target will take reduced or no damage. In order to achieve this effect, an interceptor will have to approach a target in a method known as spiraling.
Spiraling is a technique where a fast ship will approach another ship whilst maintaining a high transversal velocity, i.e. at higher velocity than the tracking speed of the other ship’s turrets. The end result is that the spiraling ship will approach the other ship in a spiral shape, hence the name. In case you need further explanation, Agony Unleashed has made a great video explaining the concept.
To summarize the actual technique, spiraling can be broken down into a few steps:
1. Place your camera so that your ship is lined up in front of the target ship on your screen
2. Double click in space halfway to the edge of your screen. Any direction will work.
3. When the target ship is visible again readjust your camera so that your ships are lined up again.
4. Repeat the process
Spiraling is a technique that requires practice. You can do this on your own with a stationary object (such as a POCO), or with a friend.
The next tackling technique is for when you need to shut down the MWD of a target. If you have fit your interceptor like mine, you will have a scrambler. However, in order to activate the scrambler you will need to get dangerously close to the ship you’re intending to scramble. Were you to become scrambled yourself, or webbed by your target, you will most likely die in a fiery ball of fail.
This is where drive-by scramming comes in. This technique calls for you to move you interceptor parallel to your target, with your ship passing through scram range for a brief moment. This will allow you to activate your scrambler and shut down their MWD. Were you to get a bit too close and are scrambled by your target, your remaining speed should be sufficient enough to allow you to coast out of their scrambler range.
Things that Will Get You Killed
With the above sections explaining the dos of interceptor piloting, it bears mentioning the things that will render you a heap of scrap.
First amongst these is allowing your transversal velocity to drop too low. Stopping and slowing down are obvious causes of a lowered transversal, but there is a lesser known one as well, which revolves around the orbit button. When you press the orbit button in order to start an automatic orbit, the game will often decide to create one in the opposite direction to the one which you are going in. The result is you will stop, turn and then return to full speed. It’s this kind of action that will often get you killed. Moral of the story is, if your are under fire don’t press the orbit button.
The next thing that will get you killed is wandering into scram, web, neut, or smart bomb ranges. All of these modules will lead to your instant or near instant demise. Scrams and webs will greatly decrease your speed, allowing enemy ships to actually land hits on you. Neuts will effectively do the same thing, draining your capacitor and thereby turning off your MWD. Smart bombs will often kill you outright. I personally like to be around 15 km away from my target. This will keep you out of the range of all of the above mentioned modules, as well as keeping you close enough to give you time to adjust your course if the target changes direction.
Lastly, there a few ships out there that are born interceptor killers. First off are the Rapier and the Huginn. With their greatly extended webbing range they can quickly spell your doom – approach them with extreme caution. Similarly, the Lachesis and Arazu can end you with their extended warp scrambler range. Finally, there are ships that are simply really good at killing frigates, with the Muninn being a prime example. All of these ships should send up red flags if you see them.
What makes a good interceptor pilot largely comes down to practice. The situational awareness and quick thinking needed to fly well can only come through experience. The choice is simple: if you like going fast and twitch gameplay, fly an interceptor.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Lioso.