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Tanking is the art of absorbing/resisting/repairing more damage than is inflicted upon you. Many ships specialize in this, especially Amarr ships. See Bait Ships for one specific application of tanking.
Every ship has three layers of protection: shields, armor and structure (also known as hull). Generally, it is sensible to focus your tanking on one of these layers. Which layer will largely be determined by race: Amarr and Galente are armor oriented, Caldari rely on shields and Minmatar can go either way depending on the ship. These associations aren't absolute; for instance the standard fleet Scorpion, a Caldari battleship, uses a combination of armor and structure. Armor modules use low slots, shields mostly use mid slots and structure uses both low and mid slots.
There are two main ways to tank. One is to have a huge hit point buffer that will take a long time to be chewed through, and the other is to repair more damage than you're taking. The more dps you expect to encounter, the better the buffer method is. For large ships, the single best module to fit to increase effective hit points is a damage control, preferably T2. It provides a modest increase in the effectiveness of both shields and armor and a massive increase in hull resistances. For smaller ships, an oversized armor plate or shield extender is more effective. It is not a good idea to fit an oversized repair module on a ship since it will rapidly drain your capacitor.
This form of tanking generally allows for more overall hit points and high capacitor efficiency when repairing. Modules tend to use more powergrid than CPU compared to shield tanking, though CPU can often be an issue on some ships, e.g. the Armageddon.
- Armor Plates: Increases your maximum armor. For example, 1600mm Reinforced Steel Plates I.
- Armor XX Hardeners : Increases your resistance against the given type of damage. This is an activated module. For example, Armor Explosive Hardener I.
- Resistance Plating: Increases your resistance against the given type of damage. This is a passive module. Platings generally give less resistance than hardeners. Resistance plating comes in two flavors, energized and regular (i.e. doesn't say energized). The regular ones use significantly less CPU but provide less bonus while the energized versions eat up CPU and provide good resists. Generally the energized variant is preferred, but for tight fittings the regular ones are good for getting one weak resistance up higher. For example, Energized Reactive Membrane I or Reactive Plating I.
- Repair Systems: Repairs your armor over time. Costs cap to use. For example, Small Armor Repairer I.
- Energy Vampires (Nosferatu): Steals your targets cap and adds it to your own. Good for keeping your cap up. For example, Small Nosferatu I.
- Capacitor Power Relays: Increases capacitor recharge rate at the cost of shield boosting. For example, Capacitor Power Relay I.
- Capacitor Rechargers: Increases your capacitor recharge rate. Cap Rechargers generally give less cap recharge than Power Relays. For example, Cap Recharger I.
Essential Skills And Why They're Important
- Energy Systems Operation: :Gives a 5% increase in capacitor recharge rate per level. Essential for tanking by keeping your cap up. Recommended level: IV->V
- Energy Management: Increases your capacitor amount by 5% per level. Same as above. Recommended level: IV->V.
- Hull Upgrades: 5% bonus to total armor per skill level. Obviously useful. Recommended level: V.
- Repair Systems: 5% decrease in repair systems duration per skill level. Essential. Recommended level: IV->V.
- XX Armor Compensation: To active armor hardeners: 3% bonus per skill level to Armor XX resistance when the modules are not active. To passive armor hardeners: 5% bonus per skill level to Armor XX resistance. For example, Explosive Armor Compensation. Recommended level: III->IV. see also: Armor Hardener
- Mechanic: 5% increase to hull hit points. More important as a prerequisite for T2 armor repairers.
Remote armor repairing can be used to repair damage others have suffered. Remote armor repair systems work much like standard repair systems except that they increase the armor hp of your current target. The Remote Armor Repair Systems skill grants a 5% decrease in repair systems capacitor use per skill level. It is only really needed if you are in a remote repair battleship gang (train to III->IV), or plan to fly a logistics ships or carrier (train to V).
Shield tanking is characterised by high burst repair ability but lower sustainability compared to armor tanking due to high capacitor needs. Another important feature is that shields naturally recharge over time. This effect can be exploited by certain ships to produce tanks that repair a lot of damage without a repair module. See below for more details. Shield modules tend to be CPU intensive and use less powergrid than armor modules.
Essential Modules and What They Do
- Shield Boosters: Repairs your shields over times. Uses cap. For example, Small Shield Booster I.
- Shield Extenders: Increases your maximum shields. For example, Large Shield Extender I.
- Active Hardeners: Increases your shields resistances to a specific damage type. Costs cap. For example, Photon Scattering Field I.
- Invulnerability Field: Increases your shields resistance to all damage types by a moderate amount. Costs cap. For example, Invulnerability Field I.
- Passive Hardeners (Shield Resistance Amplifier): Increases your shields resistances to a specific damage type by a moderate amount. Very rarely used. For example, Heat Dissipation Amplifier I.
- Power Diagnostic Systems: Increases shield recharge and maximum strength, capacitor recharge and maximum size, and power grid. Makes fitting and running a shield tank much easier. For example, Power Diagnostic System I.
- Shield Recharger: Increases passive shield regeneration, rarely used. For example, Shield Recharger I.
- Shield Power Relay: Massively decreases shield recharge time, increasing passive HP regeneration. Reduces the amount of capacitor per second you generate. Only used on passively tanked ships. For example, Shield Power Relay I
- Shield Boost Amplifier: Focuses and amplifies the effiency of shield boosting modules. Can increase the amount you boost by 30% or more.
Essential Skills And Why They're Important
- Shield Management: 5% Bonus to shield capacity, very handy. Try to train lvl V. Recommended level: IV->V
- Shield Operation: 5% Bonus to shield recharge rate per skill level. lvl IV allows you to fit Lg Shield Booster II's. lvl V allows you to fit XL Shield Booster II's. Recommended level: IV->V
- Shield Upgrades: 5% reduction in shield upgrade power needs. lvl IV allows you to fit Lg Shield Extenders II's. Recommended level: IV
- Tactical Shield Manipulation: 5% reduced chance of damage penetrating the shield per lvl. This skill isn't a favorite of everyone, however, it is needed in order to fit Active Hardeners. At lvl IV, you'll be able to use Shield Hardener II's and Invulnerability Field II's. Recommended level: IV
Shield transporters can be used to repair damage others have suffered. They work much like shield boosters except that they increase the shield hp of your current target. Shield Emission Systems gives a 5% per level reduction in the capacitor need of shield transporters. These modules are rarely seen outside of carriers/logistics/POSpreys.
Shield Tanking Methods
- Active Tanking
The center of an active shield tank is a Shield Booster to regenerate shields quickly and active shield hardeners to increase shield resistances, both at the expense of capacitor. Some pilots will pair a shield booster with a shield boost amplifier to increase boost output and/or a Capacitor Booster to keep the capacitor up (so long as the cap booster's charges hold out). One or more passive Shield Extenders are also sometimes used as an additional buffer as part of an active tank, but those are more often used as the center of a passive tank. The low slots almost always contain at least one Power Diagnostic System.
- Indefinite Passive Tanking
On certain ships with very quick shield regen times (the Ferox or Drake, in particular) it is possible to rely solely, or at least primarily, on the natural regeneration of your ship's shields. This is possible because the shield regen time is not connected to the size of the shield - meaning that shield extenders not only increase the size of the shield, but also the number of shield points regenerated every second. The other advantage of this method is that it is very light on capacitor usage if paired with projectile guns or missiles, allowing you to get away with some Shield Power Relays in your lows, for even more regen. Note, however, that it is still usually a good idea to pack a hardener or two.
Finally, instead of damage mods, PDS' are essential. They increase the capabilities of both your cap and shields by a significant amount. To run an active tank indefinitely, your recharge must be decent, so in that case relays of any kind are out of the question.
Structure tanking is inefficient and strictly used in comedy situations. But if you want to do it, here's how: Fit a single Damage Control System (e.g., Damage Control I) to give your structure 50-60% resistances across all damage types. Damage Controls are active modules and you can only have one active at a time, so that's it for resistances. Fill your midslots with active hull repair modules (e.g., Large Hull Repairer I), and fill the rest of your low slots with Reinforced Bulkheads I hull mods. The former will eat your cap up fast, just like an armor repairer or shield booster; the latter will make your ship go slower, sort of the opposite of a Nanofiber Internal Structure. Using best named Reinforced Bulkheads would mostly negate the negative effects, but then your tank would cost more than your ship, so only do that if you really know what you're doing.
Speed tanking involves going fast enough to avoid damage combined with a small enough signature radius to be difficult to hit.