With the November update, Warp Disruption Fields (aka Bubbles) have come to New Eden. Undoubtedly the most controversial addition to the game thus far, the addition of Indictors - and soon, Indictor Cruisers - have profoundly and irreparably altered the nullsec landscape.
Whether it was wise to add these to Echoes - and whether they need tweaks to be more balanced - are a subject for another article. Today, I am going to show you how to fit and fly the hated Interdictor as a solo nullsec hunter.
THE MECHANIC: BUBBLES, BUBBLES EVERYWHERE
Warp Disruption Fields:
- Stop you from going to warp if you are within the bubble.
- Pull incoming ships to the edge of the bubble, if the bubble is in line with the two objects the ship is warping between, and on grid with the destination object. See the diagram below for reference.
Indictors can launch a 20km+ field every 30 seconds (provided you have enough fuel - Ionic Solution - in your cargo bay) and can carry enough fuel for hundreds of bubbles. Importantly, Interdictors do NOT need to lock onto a ship before shutting down their warp - allowing an interdictor pilot to lock down their target immediately upon exiting warp.
To say this is a powerful mechanic would be an almost criminal understatement. These ships have the ability to catch previously-uncatchable targets, causing significant disruption to an alliance's operations and netting a tidy profit to the clever interdictor pilot.
3 WAYS TO HUNT WITH AN INTERDICTOR
Now that we've established how bubbles work, let's talk about how we can use them to hunt. While there are a variety of strategies you could employ, they essentially boil down to three main tactics:
ROAM BELTS / ANOMALIES
Perhaps the most basic strategy for an interdictor is to hunt the same places that a pirate normally would - in belts and anomalies. The interdictor pilot has certain unique advantages over other pilots when hunting. As mentioned before, interdictors can launch bubbles without having to achieve a target lock. That means that you can catch targets that would otherwise be able to align and warp out if you were using a traditional approach. Additionally, an interdictor's warp bubble has infinite disruption strength - that means that no matter how many warp stabilizers that Retriever has equipped, they can't warp out of your bubble. Finally, a bubble can snare multiple targets - great for disrupting large mining operations in nullsec.
While interdictors have other, more unique ways of hunting, don't forget that you can always roam systems like any other pirate - and often earn some juicy kills in the process.
The most common and notorious stratagem, an interdictor simply sit on a gate and activates their bubble, causing any ships that enter the system to either fly to the edge or back to the gate to escape. Additionally, any ships warping to the gate will be stopped at the edge of the bubble, and either have to burn to the gate or turn around and warp out. To get a kill, the interdictor pilot (or its allies) simply has to kill the target before it is able to escape the bubble.
The advantage of this tactic is that there isn't a good counter to it. Your opponent can't see the ambush coming (except by scouting ahead), so its only hope is to be faster than you, to cloak and hope you can't find it or to kill you first.
However, that ambush can quickly backfire if you aren't careful. Once you launch a bubble, you can't jump through a gate for 1 min. If the target coming through the gate is tougher than you... well, suddenly YOU are the one trapped with no chance for escape at the center of a bubble (always remember, your bubble affects YOU as well!) As a result, this strategy is best employed with a large fleet that can handle any ship that might come through the gate - and I don't recommend it for solo pilots.
This is the most complicated of the three techniques, but is unquestionably my favorite. Go to a pipeline system (one with only 2 gates). Starting at one gate (Gate A), warp to 100km of the other (Gate B). Once you see someone enter local, create a bubble and immediately align to Gate A, using your MWD to get to the edge of your bubble.
If they are coming from Gate A to Gate B, they will pulled out of warp prematurely and land right on top of you. This gives you a brief moment to decide to either attack or warp out before they have a chance to recover from warp and target you. If you decide to attack, throw down another bubble (sealing off their retreat), lock them and take them down.
The technique is much safer that gatecamping, allowing you to pick your targets while still giving you a chance to escape if things go wrong, and can be incredibly profitable. I have grabbed Cov-Ops frigates with hundreds of millions of isk in modules and blueprints - more than enough to pay for my ship several times over. Just make sure you keep an eye on local; if a bunch of ships suddenly jump in system once you've engaged, be ready to make a hasty retreat.
THE SHIP: COERCER INTERDICTOR
Now that I've told you how to hunt with the ship, let's fit it for battle. This build assumes that the interdictor is running solo, using a combination of the Roaming and Interdiction strategies mentioned above (though it can serve as a gatecamp ship in a pinch).
HIGHS: 4x Imperial Navy Small Pulse Lasers
MIDS: Mk5 Interdiction Sphere Launcher, 2x Mk7 Stasis Webbifiers
LOWS: Mk5 Medium Shield Extender, Mk5 Invulnerability Field, Mk7 Microwarpdrive
RIGS: Laser Burst Aerator I, Laser Collision Accelerator I, 2x Ancillary Powergrid Router I
The four Interdictors are fairly interchangeable. All of them utilize turrets as their primary weapons - the Cormorant and Catalyst use railguns, the Thrasher has cannons and the Coercer is a laser boat. I chose the Coercer Indictor over its peers because I also fly a Succubus, meaning that my Small Laser skills are fairly advanced (5/5/3 & 5/4). If you are skilled in another type of small turret, use the ship the goes along with it - they aren't really that different.
Like most destroyers, the Interdictors are glass cannons. They all have high DPS, but they lack either the hitpoints of cruisers or the speedtanking abilities of frigates. These ships don't win protracted battles of attrition - they want to kill their targets quickly or get out.
This build maximizes the destroyers' best qualities with a set of faction pulse lasers (still relatively cheap) along with 2x damage boosting rigs. If you have a lot of money, you might consider splurging for the T2 rigs - they are less than 10mil and make the ship even deadlier. 200+ DPS is enough to take virtually any non-faction frigate or T5 cruiser. With help (or luck) you might even be able to bring down the sturdier T6 cruisers. To assist in keeping targets from getting away, I've fit 2x Stasis Webbifiers - enough to keep anything but a Succubus or Condor II from outrunning you once you've locked on.
Likely the most controversial part of my build is the fact that I am fitting shield mods to an Amarr ship. While that probably makes some readers twitch in annoyance, listen to my rationale before you judge: this ship is meant to hunt in nullsec, often dozens of jumps away from a friendly station. The fact that shields regen while armor does not makes shield tanking beneficial in this setting. Due to the HP bonus of the medium extender, you lose very little EHP over an armor tanked fit while gaining a LOT of longevity in field.
The Coercer Interdictor is inexpensive (mine cost me about 60mil) and should easily bring in more isk than it costs to build. It is also a great ship for those with limited playtime - you can jump on for 10-15 minutes in the right system and pop a couple juicy targets then log off before their allies come back for revenge. Whether you love bubble or hate them, they are effective - and this little gem has certainly earned a permanent parking spot in my hanger as a result.
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