One of the great things about Echoes is that it has brought a wealth of new players to New Eden. That means new possibilities (more newbies to gank!), but it also means that, if we are going to have allies worth fighting with, we will need to do some training so those who have never played EVE can understand the strategies that will lead them to success.
This series is an attempt to provide some of that basic training, both for players new to EVE and new to PVP.
One of the key considerations for any PVP battle is range. Knowing how range affects your abilities - and those of your opponent - may be the single most important skill that determines the difference between victory and going home in an escape pod. While EVE battles occur in empty space with no defined “terrain,” the capabilities of our ships and their modules creates defined “zones” the affect the flow of combat. Below I will discuss the key PvP modules and how they dictate the “shape” of the battlefield in PvP.
WARP DISRUPTORS (20-25km max range)
There is no module that exerts more influence on PvP than warp disruptors. Without a disruptor on the target, there simply isn’t a battle - the opponent can simply leave as soon as they begin to lose. As a result, the edge of warp disruptor range (typically 25km, though some very expensive faction mods can go to 30km) essentially represent the “max range” for PvP encounters.
STASIS WEBIFIER (11-13km max range)
Second in importance only to Warp Disruptors, Stasis Webifiers (webs or Webber’s) ability to restrict the movement of an opponent make them formidable tools - particularly against small ships that depend upon speed to evade damage. Once a ship is disrupted and hit with one or more webs, there is typically no escape other than to kill the opponent. If anything outside disruptor range is “long range,” then anything within web range is “short range.”
MEDIUM NEUTRALIZERS / NOSFERATU (12km max range)
While of lesser importance compared with disruptors or webs, nosferatu and neutralizers do have their own influence over battles. PvP builds are frequently strapped for energy - depending on cap-hungry modules like microwarp drives to survive. Neutralizers serve as an alternate means to disable fast and nimble opponents by bleeding them dry of the cap needed to maintain their offense. They can also be used to cripple larger, repper/booster protected ships by depriving them of the energy needed to run their defensive modules. Note that their range is effectively the same as webs - thus intensifying the importance of that “short range” band.
You’ll notice that I have omitted both large and small neutralizers/nosferatu. The reason is that small energy drainers simply do not steal enough energy to pose much risk to most opponents (small nosferatu typically serve to keep close-range frigates and destroyers cap stable, when they are used at all). It is hard to predict what role large nosferatu will play until battleships are available, but if EVE is any indication, they will be limited to specialized battleships built around using them. For now, they don’t make the list.
So how does this affect how we fit and pilot our ships? Here are some ways that understanding module range should affect how you fly and fit for PvP:
1. Speed is Life
You’ll hear me say this phrase a lot on this blog. Being faster than your opponent lets you dictate the range of the encounter, which goes a long way toward making sure you are victorious - or at least survive. With a faster ship, you can choose to dart out of disruptor range if your HP gets too low, or dive in close to that pesky frigate and lock it down with a pair of webs.
You can load that Thorax down with blasters, double web and a neut, but if I go 10 km/s faster than you and can hit beyond your range I’m going to win. You won’t believe how many battles I’ve survived because I had a microwarp drive and the other guy had an afterburner.
If range is important - and boy, it is important - then speed is critical.
2. Frigates and Destroyers prefer Long Range Weapons
Short range (under 12km) is an exceptionally dangerous place for small ships. Webifiers can cut their speed to a crawl, exposing them to lethal amounts of damage from larger ships while neutralizers can drain them dry in a matter of seconds.
As a result, any pilot of a small ship that wants to fly it more than once quickly learns to avoid that short ranged “zone of death.” As a result, destroyer and frigate pilots tend to prefer the “long range” versions of their chosen weapons (beam lasers and missiles instead of pulse lasers and torpedos), since the “short range” versions often fail to do damage until they are within web/neut range.
3. Cruisers and Larger prefer Short Range Weapons
Since warp disruptors’ range dictates the maximum range at which you can prevent opponents from getting away, there is little reason to bring weapons with ranges past 30km or so. Longer ranged weapons almost always come with downsides - lower damage, worse tracking, etc. - in exchange for their added range, which are great for PvE but wasted in PvP. Pilots are thus wise to stick to weapons meant for closer ranges.
Once your get to medium and large weapons, even the shorter-ranged version tend to reach out to 15-20km, and the long ranged weapons like beam lasers can hit out to 50km or more. Because of this, you should generally equip your cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships with pulse lasers, rapid missiles, autocannons and blasters.
4. Short-ranged Ships have High Casualty Rates
The 0-12km range band is reserved for the boldest (or most suicidal) pilots. Flying a quick destroyer orbiting at 20km, it only takes a moment to dodge out to 25km and warp away if something goes wrong. But once webs and neuts get involved, it becomes nearly impossible for either side to get away. The battle ends when someone is sitting in their pod getting looted by the victor.
As a result, ships designed for short-ranged combat tend to have high casualty rates, since the moment you make a mistake and take on a target tougher than you (or that target’s friends show up to help him), you have no way to escape. Short ranged ships also HAVE to be fast, to prevent themselves from being kited and pecked to death by their competition.
5. Ships that Alter the Default Ranges are Powerful
Good pilots learn how far different modules can reach and develop fits, strategies and reflexes based on the standard, textbook distances over which modules can function.
Because of this, ships that break the rules - extending the range of important modules like warp disruptors and webifiers - can prove a deadly challenge that far exceeds their size. A Talwar - and its more deadly, high-tier cousins - can web an interceptor about beyond 15km (potentially to 20km with faction webs). An Algos can warp disruptor as far 40km. Fitted well, such ships can punch far above their weight, since they can operate beyond the range that PvP ships are built for.
I hope this guide helps you as you design and fly ships in PvP. Let me know below if you have questions or comments.
Next time, we’ll talk about the difference between fitting for PvE and PvP, and why taking your ratting setup into a fight with a pirate is a bad idea for you, and an early Christmas present for him.