PEOPLE TELL ME NOT TO FIT ARMOUR AND SHIELD – BUT I WANT TO KNOW WHY!?

2015-08-19

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about the golden rules of fleet operations, covering not only a few of the ‘Thou shalt nots’, but also the reasoning behind them and the consequences of not following them. Doing this got me thinking about some of the other seemingly essential pieces of advice that are doled out to almost every shiny-winged noob as soon as they turn up in Duripant (or whichever starting system they appear in. I just find Duripant the funniest for some reason – I can’t think why), and it it seems helpful to expand on the reasoning behind some of these as well.

So, fitting. I’ll be honest, I am terrible at fitting ships – I always have been, but because I identified this shortfall I did my best to improve by looking, listening and learning, and I have improved. And if by improving I have reached the skill level of terrible, you can only imagine some of the horror shows I used to pilot. As a little example, I once put together a Punisher fit that used rail guns simply because I thought “that’ll surprise people, they won’t be expecting rails on an Amarr frigate”. In fairness I was correct in this assumption. What I wasn’t correct in was assuming that this surprise would be a good thing and could tip a fight in my favour. It didn’t (entirely unsurprising, in hindsight), and I feel certain that you can guess what the battle report might have looked like in this case.

Dual tanking does not make you twice as hard to kill

On the face of it it would seem sensible that if you wanted to make yourself harder to kill then you should apply as many tanking modules as possible to your ship. What may make this seem even more appealing is that the two principal types of physical tanking occupy different slot types; armour modules fit in low slots, and shield tanking modules sit in your mids, meaning that you don’t diminish your ability to add one type of tank by fitting for the other. So, you’ve got a beefy shield tank that will take a while to get through, and it is backed up by a solid armour tank that will hold your ship together even further. What can be so bad about that – twice the tank, right?

Well, EVE doesn’t quite work like that. Whilst you have indeed increased the raw amount of damage that your ship can take what you have also done is add an additional level of vulnerability by applying the negative effects of both shield and armour tanks to your ship – because while Eve gives with one hand, it is usually busy using the other hand to stick a ‘Kick Me’ sign to your back. In the case of dual tanking you make your ship significantly bigger due to the signature radius bloom effect that having a shield tank has, whilst also making it significantly slower and less agile due to being weighed down with huge great armour plates. What this means in real terms is that while you now have a lot more hit points to get through before pod meets vacuum, you are also an awful lot easier to lock, hit and track, meaning that you will attract an awful lot more damage than you would have done if you had just followed the advice to stick to one tank type and one tank type only.

There are of course exceptions to the above, but they are specialised cases – for example if you want a bait ship, and don’t care about efficiency, then slap on as much tank as possible as your role is to get eebil piwates to engage you while the cavalry sit on the other side of the gate ready to sweep in to the rescue.

Do not mix long and short range weapons on a single hull

EVE Online is at its heart a game revolving around numbers – and when it comes to aggression in combat the most important numbers are volley damage and damage per second. The higher these figures are the more damage will be applied to your target, and the quicker that mission will be completed or the PvP engagement concluded. However, what happens when there are several targets at different ranges? Your long range weapons won’t be able to track those ships that get in close, or alternatively your close range weapons won’t even be able to reach the distant targets – your volley damage and DPS figures will drop through the floor. Perhaps the solution is to fit a mix of short and long range, thereby giving you the best of both worlds!

Well, you will be getting the best of both worlds – but those worlds will be an awful lot smaller than they could be if you had only fit EITHER long range OR short range weapons. By splitting range on weapon types you are effectively halving the damage output of your ship by making some of your weapons ineffective at certain ranges. If you fit only one range type of weapon you can focus the whole of your damage output onto a single target. So how do you deal with the ships that are not within your engagement bracket? Well, the best way is to manage your ammunition load-out – select a range of ammo types to cover extended range as well as close in and switch them out as needed. This allows you to focus all of your weapons in one place whilst also having the flexibility of hitting out at range or at close quarters.

Capacitor stability is over-rated

A lot of your systems rely on your capacitor to operate – so surely if your fit will never run out of cap then that must be better than a fit that might run out if put under pressure.

The logic here seems sound, but what must be remembered is that Eve demands a lot of sacrifice. If your hull relies on capacitor batteries or re-chargers or capacitor power relays to be cap stable, then your cap stability has come at the price of a lost module slot. That module slot could be used for additional tank, an extra web or second propulsion mod, or a weapon damage modifier – modules that could help bring an end to a mission or a combat encounter quicker, taking pressure off your capacitor and thereby indirectly reducing the need for cap stability.

Whether cap stability is a good or bad thing is less clear cut than some of the other cases – if you don’t have to sacrifice module or rigging slots to be cap stable then that is fine, but if you are having to make your fit less efficient just to be cap stable then that could be an issue. Consider the type of engagement you will be having – level 4 missions will last significantly longer than a 1-on-1 frigate brawl, and will need more total capacitor. However, balanced against this is the consideration of how often you will be running all of your modules – your cap stability is based on all modules running permanently. Very often you will not be running all modules all the time (prop mods being a prime example of this), and so you will need to consider at what point you will have enough capacitor stability, as it is this understanding of what is enough that will determine if you are fitting your ship as ‘capacitor efficiently’ as you could.

These three basics have stood me in good stead in not making terrible fitting errors in the majority of my ships – at least recently. I have been guilty of some shockers in my time, and I still sometimes surprise myself when I find myself in some back water of New Eden that I haven’t visited in years but have somehow left a ship in station. It’s always exciting to jump in that ship and look at the wonders of a blaster fit Coercer or an armour tanked Drake. It’s times like those that really put into perspective for me how far I have come in my understanding of fitting, as well as how outstandingly inept I was at one point. Alexander Pope wrote ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, and in the case of me, ship fitting, and EVE Online he was most assuredly right.

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