After last week's all-destroying "Bird of Prey", I thought it might be nice to examine a ship with more modest expectations. While yes, you sometimes do want to patrol the galaxy in something that can bring death to all who oppose it, sometimes all you really need is a bit of pest control.
Is your territory infested with bots, miners and small flying interceptors? Want something that will eradicate swarms of frigates? Fleet need a heavy tackler than can lock down a Stabber? Then might I suggest a cruise in the Talwar Sniper.
THE TARGET: SMALL ANNOYING THINGS
As always, we start our build by considering our quarry. In this case, we want a decent roaming ship that can take out miners, frigates and other hard-to-nab targets. As anyone who has roamed through belts trying to grab Venture IIIs can attest, these ships pose some unique challenges. Miners have inherent warp stabilization that, in combination with fitted warp stabs make them nearly impossible to disrupt. Frigates (especially interceptors) can move so fast that turreted ships cannot hit them and even small missiles are unable to deal effective damage. Even if you do land some hits, they can simply align and be out of disruptor range in seconds.
To be effective, we need to be able to either lock our speedy targets down, or, in the case of miners, kill them so quickly that their warp stabilizers are irrelevant.
THE SHIP: TALWAR SNIPER
The Talwar sniper is uniquely suited for this role. I have already discussed the benefits of its cheaper, less sophisticated predecessor here. This build is similar, but contains a few surprises that make it well-worth the higher price tag.
HIGHS: 4x "Gallows" Small Missile Launchers
MIDS: 1x 'Interruptive' Warp Disruptor, 2x "Interruptive' Stasis Webifier
LOWS: 1x Mk7 Small Micro Warp Drive, 1x Small Shield Extender, 1x Full Deplex Ballistic Control System
Rigs: 2x Warhead Calefaction I
1. SNIPER MODE - First let's discuss the ship's signature gimmick. Like other "sniper" ships, the Talwar Sniper has a button that activates a special "Sniper Mode" that changes the normal operation of the ship.
Once activated, sniper mode cuts the ship's speed by 99% (essentially making it a stationary turret). Damage is increased by 50%, but activation time doubles. This reduces dps by 25% but dramatically increases alpha-strike. The ship's range is doubled while its ability to hit fast targets is reduced. Finally, it should be noted that once sniper mode is engaged it cannot be disengaged for 15 seconds. Interestingly, you are still able to warp while in it (in fact it can be used to shorten your alignment time).
This mode makes the Talwar Sniper nearly perfect for taking out miners. When activated in combination with the ballistic control system, it increase your "first strike" damage by nearly 70% - enough to kill a Venture III (if poorly tanked) in a single, devastating volley from as far as 50km. No need to warp disrupt if you can kill your target before they can even align.
Pictured: Easy money
2. STASIS WEBIFIERS - In addition to its miner-swatting special ability, the Talwar also gets a substantial bonus to its stasis webifier range. At max skills, with 'Interruptive' webifiers (which I HIGHLY recommend on this ship), the Talwar Sniper can web targets out to a devastating 17.8km. With two webs, you can cut that bothersome interceptor's speed down by 84%, dropping a 4300m/s speed demon to a pathetic 688m/s. Any ship that relies upon speed to survive has no hope if it gets within the Talwar's clutches. (Devoted readers might remember this article on the range where I talked about how dangerous ships that change the basic ranges of modules can be. Consider this ship exhibit A).
3. SPEED AND DAMAGE - With perfect skills, the Talwar Sniper is capable of more than 200dps while moving a respectable 1600m/s with MWD. While that won't set any speed records (it is slower than the larger Stabber Fleet or Caracal Navy), when combined with its impressive webifiers it has little trouble holding on to targets or getting away from predators. Additionally, its reduced sig radius bonus goes a long way to helping it effectively speed tank. This combination of speed and DPS makes it perfectly capable to taking on most T5 cruisers and even larger prey (provided they are poorly fit), while retaining the ability to run if things go wrong.
As usual, this ship - like any PvP ship - has its drawbacks. While flying it, keep in mind that it is...
1. FRAGILE - While considerably tougher than its T4 relative, the Talwar Sniper is not particularly durable - ESPECIALLY for its price. Once its shield is gone, the Talwar has only one or two volleys worth of armor and structure before you are sitting in a pod weeping over the cost of webifiers and disruptors. Fly carefully and pick your targets with care. Do NOT get within 12km of larger ships; you have long range webs - use them!
3. HIGH SKILL - This combination of "pricey" and "fragile" means that this really isn't a good ship for beginners. Often duels in this ship depend upon split-second decisions about whether to stay or scram, and this is an expensive platform to develop those instincts in. This is a great second or third ship - once you've mastered cheaper and sturdier craft and are ready for something more it is well-worth your time.
While not the "70+ kill" monster that my Caracal Navy is, the Talwar Sniper's 38-kill streak has certainly proved its worth. I originally envisioned it as a specialized anti-miner ship, but it has proven surprisingly effective at hunting ratters as well. I frequently hop in it to scout a region for the first time or when I suspect that the targets will run scurrying from my Caracal Navy doomship. Despite its significant firepower, it is frequently underestimated by pilots who simply see a destroyer and think it is an easy kill.
As one of the two combat ships that have entered the "Net Profit Star" - that most prestigious award given to PvP ships that have earned more loot than they cost to build - it will be sitting in my hanger for a long time to come.
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