So far on this blog, I have disproportionately talked about high-velocity, missile-launching ships. There's a reason for of course - they are highly favored in the current meta - but not everyone likes that particular style of play. Rather than swiftly soaring around their opposition, some prefer a more... direct approach. As in “mail-clad first straight to the face" kind of direct. If you are the sort who likes to charge right in (and aren't afraid to replace your PvP ship with some frequency), you'll be hard-pressed to do better than a snub-nosed railgun Thorax (hereby dubbed the "Snorax").
THE SHIP: THORAX (or THORAX PROTOTYPE)
Typically, I think to start by discussing what sort of targets that we will be hunting before I design a ship. However, the Snorax isn't some precision tool carefully designed to exacting tolerances. Its a sledgehammer - the sort of blunt instrument that any caveman could develop, but takes a master to effectively wield.
HIGHS: Medium Snub-nosed blasters (the best ones you can get)
MIDS: MK7 (or better) web, Interruptive Warp Disruptor, Mk 5 Light Drone
LOWS: 2x 800mm plate, 2x armor hardeners (or sub a DPS booster), medium MWD (best you can afford)
RIGS: CHEAP speed and DPS boosting rigs
This build takes advantage of the impressive DPS and tracking of snub-nosed blasters to deal as much damage as possible to a target at point-blank range. Everything else is designed to get you into optimal range quickly, keep the target from getting away and helping you survive long enough to kill your prey. This works because the effective HP and DPS of the Thorax is high enough that if will win a race to structure against nearly any ship currently in the game... IF it can get close enough.
That short word is the reason most Thoraxes have similarly short (but glorious!) tenures. The fatal flaw of the design is that, if it encounters a ship that is faster than it, the Snorax doesn't have a Plan B - unless you count flying back to Jita in your pod. To be a successful Thorax pilot, you have to very good at choosing your targets (or at running missions...)
THE TARGET: SLOW THINGS
Target selection in the Snorax is counter-intuitive. In most PvP ships the smaller the target the more likely I am to kill it. My Caracal Navy has little to fear from frigates and destroyers - fire up the MWD and head straight in! Cruisers pose a bit more danger (keep the MWD hot). If I see a Cyclone, I need to approach with caution, making sure to stay out of web range and ready to run if things turn south.
The Snorax flips this formula. Other cruisers? As long as they are slower, they pose no danger - even a Moa or Maller is little challenge. Battlecruisers? Properly fit, the Thorax ought to be able to break the tank of the most expensive Myrmidon or Ferox.
But once caught by a puny, 25mil-isk Condor II flown by a halfway competent pilot and the mighty Snorax is laid low. Those tiny missiles may only do 45 DPS, but as long as it stays out of web range that interceptor can pick you apart volley by volley until only your shattered hull and obliterated ego remain. This poses a problem for my solo-pirate playstyle - quick little frigates are very plentiful in lowsec - and is the sole reason that I don't have a stack of these idling in my hanger ready for hunting season.
Wise Snorax pilots fly like elephants - charge lions, run from mice, and...
A TEAM PLAYER
...travel in a herd.
While the Snorax can be a frustrating ship for the solo PvP pilot, it shines in small gangs. Assisted by a solid tackler who can pin the target down, the Thorax can take advantage of an enemy's debilitated state to rush in for the killing blow. Combined with ships that cover for its weakness to diminutive opponents (did someone call for a Talwar Sniper?) the Snorax is a force of nature that can smash through one enemy after another with frightening speed. I can think of few things I'd rather have on my side than a Snorax waiting on my signal to Warp to 0, and if you care to fly one you'll find plenty of wingmen glad to bring you along.
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