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Basic Knowledge and Techniques
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There are 4 main roles for ships in combat operations: Tacklers, Direct Damage, Recon, and Support.
The purpose of a tackler is to keep the enemy ships from warping away/moving around. This is accomplished by the use of Warp Scramblers/Disruptors and Stasis Webifiers. In some situations Warp Disruption Bubbles can be used, and even Interdictor Bubbles.
Typically this role is filled by smaller and faster ships such as Frigates. Basic tackling frigates are extremely cheap and disposable, to the point where GoonFleet will always provide a free and fitted frigate to any corp member requiring one. Advanced tackling is the specialty of Tech 2 Interceptors and Assault Frigates. They provide either extreme high-speed to catch enemy targets, or a slower but more durable tackler, respectively. The most-specialised tackling vessels are advanced Destroyers, the Interdictors and advanced Cruisers, the Heavy Interdictor. Interdictors can deploy area-effect warp disruption probes, preventing every ship in the vicinity from warping away. Heavy interdictors, which have ability to field large tanks and tackle Supercapitals in Lowsec, generate warp disruption spheres that are active as long as the module is active. These ships are essential for locking down massed enemy forces, capital ship fleets and especially super-capital vessels - which are immune to conventional tackling.
Many close range ships can tackle; although the high speed and fast locking times of frigates make them ideal for the job. Destroyers, some Cruisers (Stabber, Thorax), Heavy Assault Ships, Recon Ships, close range Battleships (usually Dominixes and Typhoons) and close range Battlecruisers can all tackle. However, the slow responsiveness of most battleships and battlecruisers make them less than an ideal choice for following the tacklers. Generally tackling equipment on heavy duty ships is used to hold the target long after the intial fragile tackling frigate has been destroyed.
The purpose of direct damage ships is to destroy the enemy ships as fast as possible. Most of the time this means Battleships, Battlecruisers or HACs. There are also a couple philosophies ships in this role can have:
- Max Gank
- Totally tooled for damage. All damage/tracking mods in the lows, tracking/sensor enhancements in the mids. This setup can do a lot of damage, but will die very fast to enemy fire. Not a problem if you're not attacked, though.
- Hellish Tank
- Hardeners and armor repairers or shield boosters fitted in mid slots or low slots. This ship can take a lot of damage, but its damage output is lower.
Please see Sniping for appropriate battleship setups. Battlecruisers and sniping HAC will generally fit for all gank while battleships will use damage controls and shield extenders/armor plates to increase effective hit points.
DPS ships will also choose between two general engagement ranges.
- Snipers can deal good damage beyond 130km with turret weapons. Firing missiles that can hit beyond 100km will not get you the title of "sniper" because enemies can see that they have been targeted by a missile ship and warp away and back, causing the missiles to miss their targets, and friendly turret fire will often obliterate the target before your missiles are halfway there. Snipers with T2 Guns can hit well above 200km, but are usually encouraged to have optimals around 150km and more tank. Battlecruisers and sniping HACs will often have optimals lower than battleships, near 100km, but are much more effective at hitting small targets such as frigates and interdictors.
- Close Range Damage
- A Battleship, Battlecruiser or Cruiser that is fitted only to do damage at close ranges, between 5km and 30km. Such ships fit autocannons, blasters, pulse lasers, or ocassionally missiles. A ship fit for close range can do much more damage than its sniping counterpart, but the damage increase comes at a cost. Close range ships primarily have to worry about closing the gap between them and their targets before they are destroyed or the enemy escapes by warping away. Close range ships (especially close range Battleships) also have to worry about tracking their enemies. Many close range ships utilize on Nosferatus to drain energy from enemies and Drones to augment their damage dealing capabilites.
Electronic Warfare & Support
Support ships concentrate mostly on suppressing enemy battleship fleet capabilities with Electronic Warfare, and sometimes enhancing friendly ships. Support are mostly composed of cruisers and some frigates, making them great counters for other support fleets and fighters.
- ECM (Electronic Counter Measures): ECM modules allow you to jam an opposing ship, breaking its lock and making it unable to lock anything else for 20 seconds.
Not so Great
- Tracking Disruptors: Reduces the tracking speed (ability to hit moving targets) and optimal range of the turrets on the enemy ships. Generally they should be used on large battleships which have trouble hitting smaller targets. Unfortunately, this will not affect missile users at all.
- Sensor Dampeners: Sensor Dampeners reduce the lock range and scan resolution (locking speed) of the targeted ship. Unlike ECM, this has a 100% chance of affecting the targeted ship.
- Target Painters: Increases the signature radius of the targeted ship, making it able to be locked faster, and easier to hit. Generally only used in conjuction with missile weaponry for PvE combat, as missiles are less effective than turrets in PvP.
In order for friendly ships to totally take advantage of your abilities, coordinate with them so they know that you will be buffing them and they can fit their ships accordingly.
- Remote Shield/Armor Repairers: Repairs the target ship's armor/shields. Logistics ships are specifically designed for this role.
- Remote sensor boosting: Boosts the target ship, giving it a higher targeting range and scan resolution.
- Tracking links: Boosts the target ship, giving it a higher tracking speed and optimal gun range. This does not affect missiles.
Because shields naturally regenerate while out of combat, the combat effectiveness of Remote Shield Rechargers in combat is minimal. However, Ospreys tooled for shield recharging have turned the tide in several battles involving POSes. For an example of this, see XZH.
While any ship can fit a Cloaking Device, there are only three shiptypes that are specifically tooled for cloaking and can therefore fit the vastly improved Covert Ops Cloak: Covert Ops, Force Recons, and Blockade Runners.
These ships may warp while cloaked, making them vastly more effective at keeping tabs on what's going on, providing warp-in points on unsuspecting enemy fleets, and catching individual targets by surprise.
Covert Op frigates are made out of wet paper held together by cobwebs and therefore can only participate in combat in hyperspecific situations; the special cloaking device they use is very valuable and the ships do not insure well.
Force Recons are more hardy and come with an assortment of Electronic Warfare capabilities and can fit passable weapons. They see combat in small groups or ambushes more often, but their high cost makes them something you don't want to lose.
Blockade Runners are small industrial ships that are often used to move smaller items through hostile situations unscouted. Can also double as a scout for gangs and can be jump bridged by a black ops battleship.
Stealth Bombers can be used as recon ships in a pinch, although they are relatively sluggish for a frigate sized ship and they are primarily intended for decloaking and launching a surprise attack, they can now (as of Apocrypha 1.1) fit a Covert Ops Cloak and use Torpedoes or Bombs as a weapon. The Rev2 patch boosted them significantly.
Common PvP Ships for a list of ships sorted by role.