The Machariel’s Guide to Taking Over the Meta

2017-12-25

No battleship in EVE rides as high as the Machariel as we head into 2018. From disastrous solo attempts to the go-to backbone of most Alliance doctrine lists, it certainly is a ship to be reckoned with.  With the recent change to the Alpha clone state, new possibilities for specialised pilots to fly this ship exist. While standing on the edge of this new world, its important to take a look back and realize how we got where we are today with the Machariel being the last word in battleship doctrines.

We start with what the Machariel brings to the table. The Battleship from the Angel Cartel pirate faction has a very powerful collection of bonuses. For each level Gallente Battleship skill, the Machariel gets 10% to the falloff range for Large Projectile Turrets. The Minmatar Battleship skill provides a 5% bonus to those turrets’ damage. The Machariel also gets a native hull bonus of 25% to Large Projectile Turret rate of fire and a 50% bonus to warp speed and acceleration.  Already the Machariel has set itself apart from every other battleship in the game as it warps a 3AU/s instead of 2AU/s. This is a massive increase in mobility that no other battleship can match. Couple this with the Machariel’s top-tier base speed (161m/s) and slot layout (8/5/7) and you have quite the beast that can outclass most anything brought against it.

Topography of the Battlespace

With the introduction of Citadels in April of 2016, the realities of fighting on grid with a structure changed forever. While the guns on the POSs they supplanted were commonly dismissed as little more than a nuisance to a large fleet, Citadels were much more dangerous. Capable of fitting weapons for destroying anything from small frigates to large capital ships, no longer where the guns of structures something to be written off. These were supplemented by the addition of guided bomb launchers, capable of wrecking Area of Effect havoc on a fleet. The most controversial and prevalent of these munitions is the Guided Void Bomb. Capable of obliterating the capacitor reserves of a ship, the mere threat of this is enough to shape how Citadel attacks unfold.

Machariel: Angel of Domination

Lets begin with a list of all the T1 and Faction battleships in the game. In the event a Navy variant shares bonuses, I’ve included it next to its T1 counterpart.

  • Abaddon
  • Apocalypse (+Navy Issue)
  • Armageddon
  • Armageddon Navy Issue
  • Raven
  • Raven Navy Issue
  • Rokh
  • Scorpion
  • Scorpion Navy Issue
  • Dominix
  • Dominix Navy Issue
  • Hyperion
  • Megathron
  • Maelstorm
  • Tempest (+Fleet Issue)
  • Typhoon
  • Typhoon Fleet Issue
  • Nestor
  • Vindicator
  • Machariel
  • Bhaalgorn
  • Nightmare
  • Rattlesnake
  • Barghest

Narrowing the Field

Right away we can make two elimination passes. First, we can eliminate ships that have “strange” things like mixed weapons bonuses or are otherwise generally unsuited to be line ships. Second, we can eliminate anything that is bonused a weapons system that requires capacitor to function. With Guided Void bombs being a thing, the likelihood that a fleet would find itself unable to shoot back is to great a risk to take. The one exception to make here is the Abaddon, as it has a somewhat popular fit using an off-bonused weapon.

  • Abaddon
  • Armageddon
  • Raven
  • Raven Navy Issue
  • Scorpion
  • Scorpion Navy Issue
  • Dominix
  • Maelstorm
  • Tempest (+Fleet Issue)
  • Typhoon
  • Machariel
  • Rattlesnake
  • Barghest

The next cut is ships that rely on shield tanking. This is because the Adaptive Invulnerability Field, which provides resists across the board, requires capacitor to function. Like weapons, having a large portion of your tank shut off is not a good position to be in during a fight. I am making an exception here for any ship with a role or hull bonus to shield resistances, as it becomes possible to have some sort of passive fit (whether these are any good or not is another matter). I’ve defined ships that rely on shield tanking to be any ship with significantly more mid slots than low slots. While armor tanking some of these ships is possible, for example The Initiative’s Raven fleet, there are typically great sacrifices being made to achieve that goal which limits the overall combat power of the ship across a large spectrum of circumstances.

  • Abaddon
  • Armageddon
  • Scorpion Navy Issue (Shield Resist Bonus)
  • Dominix
  • Tempest (+Fleet Issue)
  • Typhoon
  • Machariel
  • Rattlesnake (Shield Resist Bonus)
  • Barghest

Now our last cut is for weapons systems. At this point, there are three remaining types, Projectile Turrets, Missiles and Drones. First on the chopping block is Drones. Any Large or Extra Large Citadels can be equipped with a Point Defense System (PDS). The PDS is in effect a smartbomb, dealing AoE damage within a radius of the structure. Because of this, all drones except for Sentries are not viable as the PDS will simply destroy them. Sentry Drones themselves have some issues with destructibility due to there immobility and as such are also not an idea platform (I note this is less applicable in Low Sec than in Null Sec). As such, we eliminate ships with drones as the primary damage source.

Next we have Missiles. Perhaps the largest drawback here is the lack of instant damage application. The delay between the launch and damage of missiles allows hostile logi to get ahead of the damage easier. For missiles, I’m only going to use them as an elimination on ships with another downside. While they are not ideal for fleet combat, there limitations are not fatal ones for contesting citadels.

  • Abaddon
  • Tempest (+Fleet Issue)
  • Typhoon
  • Machariel
  • Barghest

At this point strikes can be made talking about individual ships, rather than broad strokes. First up is the Typhoon. On the Imperium’s last full deployment to Hakonen, they used an armor tanked Typhoon as the primary line battleship. Designed specifically for the task of attacking Citadels, the fleets did not fair too well when defending against hostile battleship forces. While the results improved as FCs gained experience with the doctrine, the doctrine was retired at the end of the deployment, indicating general dissatisfaction with its performance. As such, its not worthy for consideration beyond this point, tho I personally feel it has a future outside of large-scale operations in this role.

Next we go to the Barghest. The last remaining missile ship, it has less useful bonuses than the Typhoon. While the Barghest inherits the problems of missile ships, it also does so on a very costly platform. Where the Typhoon losses sustained by the Imperium were more easily paid off due to T1 insurance and ease of construction, losing a similar quantity of Barghests would put a major dent in SRP wallets and the market alike. As such, we eliminate the Barghest due to cost and weapon system.

Lastly we have the Artillery Abaddon. I’ve made the choice to strike it here because it’s inclusion up until this point has relied on it using an unbonused weapon system. When compared to bonused ships, the Abaddon fires very slowly and requires more numbers to make up for the reduced damage output because of this. While its armor tank is formidable, this alone is not enough to make up for the shortcomings of its armament without a larger critical mass of ships.

Finalists

This leaves us with three ships to examine in more detail, the Tempest, Tempest Fleet Issue, and the Machariel itself. All three ships use Projectile turrets, and have bonuses geared to ether applying or dealing large amounts of damage. All three can armor tank, so need not worry about void bombs as much as shield ships would. So why is it that the Machariel almost totally outshines the two Minmatar Battleships? The devil is in the details. The slot layouts are very similar on the Machariel (8/5/7), Tempest (8/5/6), and its Fleet Issue sister (8/5/7). So fleet designers can copy a fit that works from one of these hulls to another. Well, almost.

A basic, standard Machariel fit we’ll use to port across for the other two ships.

Immediately, the effect of the Tempest’s 6 low slots to the Fleet Issue and Machariel 7 low slots is apparent. Where the ships with seven low slots can carry enough active hardeners to shore up all of the lower resists native to armor (Explosive, Kinetic, and Thermal respectively), the Tempest cannot without dropping some other important aspect of tank. My choice is to remove the Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane for a dedicated Thermal hardener. This trades some overall resists and plugs that resist hole. Choosing the Tempest means your line ship will have either less overall tank or a resistance hole. Once they find it, a hostile force will exploit that hole. The Tempest provides a little bit of silver lining to this by being a T1 ship and therefore both insuring well and being easy to mass produce. While both those things help win wars, they do not help win fights. For most large organizations, the benefits the T1 hull brings are probably not worth its drawbacks.

The Tempest, with the same fit (as slots allow). Notice the reduced tank.

This brings us to the Tempest Fleet Issue. The TFI matches the slot layout of the Machariel. So it does not suffer the same deficiency in tank as its T1 counterpart. However, the TFI has several aspects where it is clearly inferior to the Machariel. First is speed, with the 100mn Afterburner II, the TFI tops out at 372m/s while the Machariel hits 477m/s. Second is in the range of its weapons, ether Autocannon or Artillery. The TFI lacks any bonuses to range while the Machariel gets up to a 50% bonus to falloff. The nature of projectile weapons is that most of the range comes from falloff, so a Machariel can project damage much farther. The Tempest Fleet Issue can somewhat make up for this by changing the ammunition it shoots, but it is then dealing far less damage. Additionally, the Machariel is going to warp 1AU/s faster than the Tempest Fleet Issue. So to move to a Tempest Fleet Issue equips a fleet with a slower sublight, slower warping, shorter ranged, not to mention uglier ship. To top it all off, doing this only saves less than 100 million ISK per ship and the method of procurement for Tempest Fleet Issue blueprints is severely bottlenecked in comparison to that of Machariels. After enough Tempest Fleet Issue losses, that 100mil gap is going to close up very fast.

The TFI with the same fit. Solid tank, but it’s still slower, and loses a fair amount of range and volley damage.

Winner: the Machariel

Each of the two main competitors suffer major deficiencies. The looming cloud of Guided Void Bombs wards away any other ships from competing. So it’s no surprise that virtually every major power bloc uses the Machariel. Possessing an excellent combination of mobility, both on and between grids, capless weapons with excellent range, and a stiff amor tank there is no other battleship that comes close to matching. Other ships might become viable line backbones soon, though. The changes to Guided Bombs in general are coming to citadels. As a result, neut pressure should lessen. But until then, and almost sertently after, the Machariel will continue to remain the last word in battleship fleet combat.

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Comments

  • Minty

    I think you cut the Arty Abaddon too early – it should have been compared to the Tempest and TFI as it is competitive to them due to having an extra 2 guns in lieu of the bonuses (most pilots would have Minmatar BS to 4 so the bonuses aren’t fully utilized in a large fleet).

    On top of that, even if the Abaddon would need more hulls to reach critical mass, the enemy would also need more hulls to reach critical mass to counter it due to the impressive tank, therefore making it a good T1 fleet for alliances that can field decent numbers.

    Obviously, it still does not compare to the Mach due to a much lower speed, warp speed and larger sig, but it easily compares to the Tempest and TFI.

    December 25, 2017 at 8:06 AM
    • Robby Kasparic Minty

      I had a limited amount of room to do the more detailed comparisons of the fits, and had to make a call. Based on bonuses, I felt the most appropriate direct comparison was between ships bonused for the weapons system in question. While only Artiliry fits are untimely presented, the Machariel is commonly flown with 800mm autocannons as well. The only application of the Abaddon with an off-bonused weapons system I’m aware of is arty, while the Tempest and TFI can have viable autocannon fits as well. The Abaddon does have a place, but as I note requires a higher minimum number to make it work while the Machariel can be used by less numerous organizations to great effect.

      December 26, 2017 at 3:24 PM
      • In nullsec fleet combat, I would say that Tempest and TFI autocannon fits are not viable, as they are so easily out-ranged by the majority of nullsec fleet comps and can be kept at range with bubbles due to their fairly slow battleship speed (when compared to T2/T3 cruisers, BCs, bombers, other BS doctrines, etc.)

        The Arty Abaddon should be considered against the Tempest and TFI for most nullsec entities as you are only trading off a relatively small amount of dps for a lot more tank and slightly more alpha. OFC the guns will cycle slower which you point out, but they are still very viable.

        In the end, the Machariel is still king, but it is still limited by rate of BPC grinding so cannot be used in a “hot” war of attrition for long by a large power, therefore other options (such as The Imperium using Typhoons and Test/The Imperium using Maelstroms) must be considered.

        December 26, 2017 at 6:11 PM
  • Deni'z Von

    U always been very accurate with your fittings and now I see a kind of tricky spin on TFI. You put all 3 t2 trimarks on it which is differ from both Macha’s and pest fits and that did cut TFI’s overall speed and add huge tanking advantage. You said it’s a weak side of phoon a lacky tank but didn’t mention TFI outperforms Macha with that. You could trade that 3rd rig for speed or fall ones and bring that very close to Macha.

    December 25, 2017 at 8:54 PM
    • Robby Kasparic Deni'z Von

      I will note here that the fits used in the comparison presented are slightly altered from the ones I originally wrote with as reference. This was changed for editorial reasons. With the same setup as the posted TFI, the Machariel goes 477m/s (which is the figure written, the posted fit goes 491m/s due to the replacement of one Trimark). So even with the disparity that you point out, the general point that the Machariel is faster than the TFI is still accurate.

      December 26, 2017 at 3:17 PM
  • Robby Kasparic

    I agree that most battleships can be made to work in any given scenario. But as you note, they can require the right situation. While I may have been looking at one such situation here, attack of Upwell structures, it is a very common situation for all groups to encounter. While it may be feasible for some organizations to deploy multiple battleship doctrines, for the sake of simplicity it is often best to deploy one that is useful across a spectrum of situations. This is where the Machriel shines, is that it is close to the top of the pile across such a wide spectrum of possible scenarios that is is the best fit for use as a unified doctrine. The number of major players in both Low and Null Sec that employ the ship support this.

    December 26, 2017 at 3:33 PM
  • 93fd3s

    Well, now it’s 22-MAR-2018 and the Machariel slots are 8/6/6…how would you update this article to reflect the change? Is the Mach still top dog in your opinion?

    March 23, 2018 at 1:53 AM
    • Johnny Crowe 93fd3s

      More than just the slots really.

      March 23, 2018 at 5:42 AM