ISK Efficiency and the Dominance of the Jag

Saphira Hawk 2019-10-10

Header art by Redline XIII

As the title suggests, this piece will be about the current ISK efficiency balance between attackers and defenders in the space of larger alliances, mostly Pandemic Horde and Goonswarm Federation. The focus on those areas comes as these are primary zones for content, both for defenders and attackers. This is especially true with regard to kiting. Brawling, by comparison, is much more simplistic in how engagements develop, as the opportunity to disengage is quite limited unless you’re in a few select ships.

Perspective of a Solo PvPer

Many says that people who kite and roam only want easy kills, and are just as risk averse as the ratters and miners they’re hunting. True to some extent, this mostly stems from the loss factor, as it does with all activities in EVE.

Compare losing a Procurer or Myrmidon if you’re doing mostly afk PvE to, a cloaky artillery Loki—one of the most common “ganking” ships. After insurance, the Procurer costs roughly 20 million. The Myrmidon comes in about 30. A Loki, on the other hand, can cost 650 million after insurance for a cheap fit. Losing one of these Lokis is a much more significant loss, not only because of the significantly higher investment cost, but also because it doesn’t generate as much ISK as a ratting or mining ship, which goes for most forms of PvP. Seen this way, it should come as no surprise that these types of ships mostly go for targets doing PvE instead of fighting people that are ready with ships to counter theirs.

This leads me onto my next point which comes from me specifically, as a solo PvPer, and one of the current problems in the game when it comes to PvP in general. While Blackout and the cynosural field changes were great changes to generate this sort of “ganking” content for PvPers, CCP has actively diminished the amount and quality of actual PvP content. Killing ratters and miners barely qualifies as PvP. This was done with one specific change a year and a half ago. That change made it almost mandatory to have another account in an interceptor, be in a gang with a Hyena or a similar ship, or use specific ships that are able to run away or cloak. It effectively removed huge amounts of diversity to the kiting meta which used to include everything up to battle cruisers and even some battleships. One change did that: the assault frigate changes.

Assault Frigates and Solo PvP

The entire assault frigate class used to be completely irrelevant, maybe even more irrelevant than the current combat interceptors (Taranis, Claw, Raptor and Crusader). However, after the February 2018 rework, all of them began to see use. Kiting solo PvPers and gangs used the Retribution, as it gave them the ability to outplay larger gangs and fleets. Its amazing speed and capacitor let Retributions tank a lot of the meta with speed tanking and high resists. CCP soon cut the ship’s speed harshly in response to its outsized dominance.

Soon, the other assault frigates also began to see use. Many of them dominated their field, though none to the extent that the Retribution did at kiting. Close range, the Wolf saw heavy use in Blood Raider and Sansha regions for its 90% electromagnetic resists. The Hawk, with it’s amazing damage and tank, carved out a niche in low sec where barely anything could beat it in a close range 1v1. Harpies and their amazing fleet utility replaced Cormorants with superior range and tank, while the Enyo found use as a high dps close range brawler akin to other Gallente ships.

And then there was the Jaguar. It took a few months to realize what kind of monster CCP had created as people were adjusting to these ships being relevant again. But once the meta had been established, it became clear that the meta had changed significantly.

The Assault Damage Control module only exacerbated this problem. Implemented exclusively for assault frigates and heavy assault cruisers, the ADC provides a brief period of almost perfect invulnerability. For up to 16 seconds, a frigate tanks as much as a battleship.

The Jaguar Menace

The Jaguar is a great solo ship with extreme amounts of utility, great tank and speed. The only thing it lacked was dps and fitting space when fit with launchers. That was the trade-off you made for all the other stats it gave you over other assault frigates. I have specifically abused this ship in solo PvP as it can take many fights no other assault frigate could take. But the problem with this dps trade-off was that tackle ships for a fleet do not require dps in the first place.

Here’s the stats of a solo PvP Jaguar, a fit that I have used a lot as it is incredibly fun to fly and has a lot of utility for disengaging and controlling range. As you can see, even with almost all mid slots and low slots running the low CPU versions to make up for fitting rocket launchers in the high slots, it needs a 2% CPU implant to fit with all skills trained. This fit also has clear disadvantages. The capacitor is quite weak for an assault frigate so an energy neutralizer will give it trouble. The kinetic resist is also low, so you’d be able to kill it quickly by shooting kinetic ammunition into it.

But the strengths should also be clear. It has amazing speed, rivaling a slow interceptor in both speed and agility. This factor, along with the tank it has from the Medium Ancillary Shield Booster and Assault Damage Control is only abused further on fits that don’t care about dps or utility. Lets take a look at one version of the so called “ram jag” fit with the Assault Damage Control active. The ram jag is a max tank/speed tackle Jaguar used as tackle against small gangs or solo PvPers.

Lets compare this with the previously-mentioned Loki fit. Before the assault frigate rework, the primary tackle for fleets was always interceptors. They were fast, slippery and could take one or two large hits before going down. This let them hold tackle on slower cruisers and ships without control, but their tank was only in the thousands, barely hitting 6,500 effective hit points for a standard Stiletto. This is turn meant that the 650 million Loki we discussed earlier in the article, with a volley topping out at 5400 with close range ammo, would kill the ceptor in two shots, realistically in three or four without perfect application. Compare that to the Jaguar above, which goes almost as fast as an interceptor. The Stiletto fit I mentioned goes 4329m/s with better agility, 4.17 align time. Yet the Jaguar has twice the effective hit points, clocking in at 11.6k without the Assault Damage Control.

Now comes the huge problem: The Jaguar would still die to a couple of well placed volleys from the Loki, but when the Jaguar activates the Assault Damage Control, its effective hit points skyrocket to 41,000. So in those 16 seconds, any damage the Loki manages to do is negligible at best. That means the Loki pilot effectively wastes 16 seconds, and in those 16 seconds the Jaguar is putting huge pressure on the Loki. The Loki is unable to shoot anything else, as the Jag will catch up and tackle the Loki if it isn’t forced off. In many situations, that means certain death. The potential threat to the Jaguar’s capacitor is also alleviated by the Nosferatu, as a single small Nosferatu will easily keep a scram running a scram against one neutralizer. So, by the time the Jaguar is within the range of a neutralizer it’ll be within range to scram. At that point you’re not leaving until the Jaguar dies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the problem with the Jaguar as a fleet tackle ship, and in turn, why it has changed the meta amongst solo and small gang PvPers so much, is the combination of strengths it brings together. It has incredible tank—without capacitor requirements—from the Medium Shield Extender and Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, great fitting space when you don’t have to waste fitting on guns, and superior speed and agility. Taken together, it outshines all other options.

The only assault frigate that rivals it in agility and speed is the Wolf. However, because of the lack of mid slots the Wolf only reaches this speed and agility if you barely fit any tank as the low slots are occupied by speed modules. Minmatar T2 armor resists also need many more slots compared to shield resists which brings me back to my original point of people only taking fights they know they can win. When the enemy you’re up against can throw a 60 million Jaguar up against you as tackle and your only options as a solo PvPer in 90% of ships are to either leave grid and run away or cloak up, or get tackled and die horribly to the fleet that is right behind it, most people would be inclined to avoid the problem entirely. They wind up only engaging things that can’t fight back, that you can kill quickly, or aren’t able to hold you. The other options just aren’t fun for the player and in the end that is what most PvP is about, not gaining ISK or killing someone out of spite, but for fun.

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Comments

  • kala minosha

    Nice article, I think it really brings up some nice points about the jag.

    October 10, 2019 at 9:48 pm
  • Gizznitt Malikite

    There’s a good amount of decent information in this article. Props for that. Unfortunately, your logic needs help.

    Remember kiting AC Vagabonds that used to be the dominant kiting PvP meta? Back then, Jags and Vengeances were their hard counters, long before assault damage controls existed. Even back then, AFs sacrifice dps for tank and speed, had great staying power, and could hold their own (I used to solo Vagas in Jags, taranis, etc). My point, heavy tackle AFs have been a staple of small gang pvp for a very long time. Yes, their prevalence comes in and out of dominance, inline with shifting metas, shifting ship balances, and blatant power creep. So what?

    Kiting PvP is about maintaining the ability to engage and disengage based on the situation. In other words, the WHOLE point of flying a kiting PvP ship is to run away whenever something comes on grid that threatens you; be it long range dps, or long range tackle, or heavy tackle, or…. Highlighting that the Jaguar is an effective component of the Rochambeau game doesn’t necessarily make it a problem or a hindrance to PvP. The point you needed to drive home: is the Jag is OP? Can you fit up a ship that will effectively counter the jag tackle that’s pickling your cucumber?

    Finally, your isk efficiency dilemma is really inane. There is a large variety of effective combat ships you can take into PvP that are way cheaper than your example of a cloaky, arty loki. Out of all the choices, you chose an expensive, isk inefficient ship to PvP in, and then claim you won’t engage in “risky” PvP because you are flying an expensive, isk inefficient ship to PvP in.

    We get why people fight in your exampled Loki: it is an all-in-one specialty ship that provides solid dps, evasion, and range control. When soloing, these are great qualities, but its clearly a ship designed to gank, not to PvP.

    October 11, 2019 at 9:51 pm
    • Saphira Hawk Gizznitt Malikite

      Hey, Thanks for your comment ^^ i’d like to quickly address some of the points you made. but before i start i’d like to mention that i did not play the game back when the vagabond was actually relevant let alone dominant so for that part i might make some assumptions that are wrong.

      In your scenario with the jaguar, vengeance and vagabond you see the opposite side of what i am discussing in my article. These days the jag is a huge limiter to what you can viably bring solo against a larger fleet, with many small gangs specifically building their roaming small gang fleets to handle a jaguar, for example the Goryn Clade Jackdaw and hyena fleets (with other ships like retributions and kikimoras added occasionally), and i assume that back in those days, the feeling was the same towards the vagabond. it forced people into specific ships to hard counter it and whether it’s the attacker or the defender who has access to the ship is completely irrelevant to my point. One ship dominating the meta to the point where it takes choice away from the opponent trying to counter it is unhealthy and unfun for both sides, variety in fittings and ship usage should be encouraged, not discouraged like these dominating ships do

      You’re certainly right in your point about running away, but there’s a huge difference between leaving the fight and running away, and taking the fight elsewhere to split the enemy fleet with your speed, which is what kiting is really about, you keep fighting, but at your terms, not the opponents, you don’t let them dictate the rules of engagement. And this is where the jaguar is a problem in regards to kiting.

      The jaguar again, as i wrote in my article, force people into one of the 3 scenarios where there used to be different agressive playstyles, defensive playstyles and the ganking playstyles with varying ships, you’re now forced to either A: fly a ship like the loki that can cloak up or warp when the enemy brings a jaguar on grid as barely anything can deal with it solo or B: avoid taking fights where you’re at risk of being dropped, for example near the enemy staging where you know the jaguar menca is only one or two jumps out, this is what you’d refer to as ganking and lastly option C: dying horribly as you try to deal with a ship that is far faster than you and virtually invulnerable for 16 seconds.

      And when it comes to isk you’re definitely right, there are many cheaper options when it comes to kiting, Retribution, Kikimora, Osprey navy issue, Rail brutix and many many more just to name a few of different sizes, the problem is that all of these got made useless by jaguars if used without an interceptor alt or a hyena in your fleet. Bringing any of these solo against a fleet with jaguar tackle is suicide as the jaguar is far faster and can tank them for long enough for the fleet to catch up and kill them, which leads them to at most lose a 60 million jaguar, and you’ll lose a 80 mil brutix at best and a 300 mil retribution at worst, expensive ships like the loki are some of the few who can operate solo in an area filled with jaguars with the cloak and slow yet decent speed combined with the long range web.

      The second point of using the loki is exactly as you mentioned, the loki is definitely a ship designed for ganking with it’s all in one nature combined with a cloak, but this was part of my point. One of the most used kiting ships in the game, is one that is designed for ganking people who struggle to fight back, surely this will tell you something about the state of the game, because shooting something that doesn’t shoot back is no fun for anyone involved.

      In closing i’d like to make my final point clear, this game and it’s PvP is about fun and only fun as ccp has decided to be against rewarding pvp, but that is all good. The problem is that ships like the jaguar, ships so dominating in their class that they force the meta to revolve around them, are unfun for both the defender and attacker, the attacker has to leave or die and the defender has to deal with enemies warping out constantly instead of fighting. Lastly these dominating ships remove choices from the player, both defender and attacker, it’s always been like this in the game and it helps change things around in an otherwise stagnating meta, but it is not a healthy state for the game as i see it.

      Hope that made my reasoning clearer, if it didn’t, i take the privilege of allowing different opinions ^^
      Respectfully
      Saphira Hawk

      October 12, 2019 at 10:43 am
      • Gizznitt Malikite Saphira Hawk

        Thank you for the reply.

        Assuming the goal is PvP, which you perceive as hindered by these response gangs fleets with jaguars, why don’t we simply bring anti-frigate kiting ships? For example, is it possible to fit up a RLML Caracal which is able to kill frigate tackle that attempt to pin it down? I chose the Caracal because it is half the price of an AF (i.e. isk efficient), and a classic frig killer. I agree that is is far from optimal (no neut, not terribly fast, and RLMLs can run out of charges before taking down a tanky AF, even without the 16s ADC bonus). This is obviously the bottom of the barrel choice, as an AC Loki would be far more effective when setup to gank incoming heavy tackle. Likewise, a Cynabal, Orthrus, Vagabond,….

        My main point, if the meta shifted to jaguar response fleets, then change your play style to counter the meta. If isk efficiency is important to you, then adhere to that principle in your ship/fit choice. If these jaguar response fleets are without counter, then, and only then, have you made a case that it is a problem.

        p.s. if you know that you will be engaging frigates, I don’t understand the use of Arty’s. Arty’s have better damage application beyond 30 km’s, but that rapidly goes south inside of 20. AC’s with Barrage is the traditional weapon for kiting ships, with decent damage, way better tracking, and appropriate application ranges.

        October 14, 2019 at 10:27 am
        • Saphira Hawk Gizznitt Malikite

          I’ll try to keep it shorter this time ^^

          So in response to your first point, that is exactly what people did, for a while the orthrus was the most used ship in solo pvp, the defensive scram at 20 km could keep the jaguar at bay and the projected dps from rapid lights could deal with it if he times his assault damage control wrong, the problem was that, because the orthrus was doing this job so efficiently, it was hard nerfed to the point where it is barely usable as soon as the enemy brings a ferox to project, as for other light missiles, the problem is exactly as you stated, jaguars tank an incredible amount of damage, a caracal will struggle to break, especially under adc, and it is way too slow to even try and keep the jaguar at range, meaning you’re a sitting duck for his fleet.

          What kills you isn’t the jaguar but the fleet that is seconds behind it, hence why the 16 seconds of adc while you’re tackled is enough to mess with most ships, the only ship i can think of that’ll reliably deal with a jaguar is a defensive scram succubus or phantasm as it’ll be unable to stay in scram range of you.

          When it comes to the examples you made, all of them struggle with the same point, they can’t conrol range against a jag, meaning it’ll get tackle on you before you kill it, and as soon as you’re scrammed, you won’t be able to hit it as it just hits orbit at 500 at which point you might as well self destruct. this is also why the artillery loki is preferred, if anything gets within those 20 kilometers at high speeds, you might as well consider your ship lost as the amount of people will only increase while fighting the blob and you’re mere seconds away from being scrammed as the loki is quite slow, especially compared to frigates and the jag in particular with its tank

          There is a counter to these fleets with jaguar tackle, the problem is that they all absolutely require you to have either a second account or fly in a fleet with support ships, solo there’s effectively no way to counter them, at least not before his friends arrive and get secondary tackle. this is why most people simply leave when a jaguar arrives

          October 15, 2019 at 12:01 pm
          • Gizznitt Malikite Saphira Hawk

            My whole issue with your article is how it’s centered around the inability of a specific ship to deal with its hard counter. What’s worse, is you chose a blinged-out ship that is badly designed for killing its common nemesis as justification that its nemesis is OP. And what’s even worse, is this entitlement about a solo player being able to take on a gang and maintain some isk efficiency by using a blinged out vessel. No. ISK is not a balance factor, and you need to adapt to the meta. If jags are the new meta, and you feel they are over powered, then get out there test setups.

            Explain your goals. Explain your fittings. And highlight how the jaguar counters them all. Can’t afford it in game, get a friend and test it on sisi.

            p.s. The second major advantage an AC Loki has over an Arty Loki, is the ability to fit 2x Neuts. A lack of cap will make it hard for a jaguar to scram you.

            October 16, 2019 at 9:19 pm
          • Gizznitt Malikite Gizznitt Malikite

            Even better, I’ll offer to help you test the efficacy of the Jag on sisi.

            October 17, 2019 at 8:54 pm
  • It’s not the Jag, it’s the whole ship size/power continuum that’s fundamentally screwed up and has been for years. It’s the warp-speed rebalance. It’s everything.

    October 14, 2019 at 1:53 am
  • Jdog _ Unchained

    Tldr, you cant gank miners and ratters without risking your 650mil Loki.

    What the problem is?

    October 16, 2019 at 10:29 am