I was never a fan of faction frigates in EVE Online. They always made me think of antique hot rods - pricey, pretty, but ultimately outdated. By the time I was pirating in EO, ships like the Daredevil or Dramiel were largely relics. Sure, they were powerful, but so were T2 Recon ships, T3 Strategic Cruisers and a dozen over classes of ship that could do as much or more for a fraction of the cost.
A few weeks ago, I began experimenting with faction frigates in Echoes, and to be honest, I really expected the same to be true in this new, mobile version of EVE as well. Sure these ships were cool looking and had some impressive bonuses... but at the end of the day, they are frigates! Small, low damage, fragile - and carrying a 400mil isk price tag just to take home the hull.
Sure enough, the first couple I tried seemed to confirm my suspicions. The Worm was nice, but ultimately failed to "wow" me (not fast enough to speed tank, and there are better kiting ships). The Cruor was fascinating (as an old EO Curse pilot, I love a cap warfare ship), but its to devote midslots for Nosferatu and Neutralizers made it less than ideal for a pirate platform in an era dominated by Warp Stabilizers.
But then, I hopped in a Succubus. After I got over its "Hot Topic fell into a Pile of Used Needles" aesthetic, I suddenly realized why people fell in love with these little speed demons. It wasn't long before I began to succumb to its charms as well.
THE SHIP: SUCCUBUS
First, let's talk about how frigates work. Virtually all frigates can achieve impressive speeds when fitted with a Microwarpdrive, the corresponding increase to their sig radius (and their vanishingly small pools of hit points) takes away much of the luster, since it nearly negates any damage reduction the speed would otherwise provide. A frigate captain can choose to fit an afterburner instead - giving his ship impressive damage reduction against turrets and (to a lesser degree missiles), but this too comes at a cost. By trading the MWD for an afterburner, the frigate pilot cuts his speed by nearly a third - slow enough that cruisers with microwarpdrives can often outrun their smaller, AB-fit opponents.
But the Succubus gets to have both. Due to its its ludicrous 20%-per-skill-level bonus to afterburner velocity, a Succubus fit with a high-meta afterburner and good skill can exceed 3000m/s without increasing its miniscule 25m sig radius (about the same as a capsule) by a single meter. At these speeds, a close-orbiting Succubus is practically immune to hostile turret and drone fire, while missiles have their damage sharply reduced. This effect has to experience to be fully appreciated - the ability to fly right through concentrated PvE and PvP weapons fire is remarkable.
On top of this, the Succubus has considerable damage and tank to supplement its impressive speed. With nearly max skills, T2 rigs and 3x top-named pulse lasers, this little-beetle-that-could can pump out 300+ DPS, while still having room for a full set of tackle in the mids and a Medium (?!) Shield Extender in the lows.
Put it all together, and you have a ship with enough DPS to kill nearly anything that crosses its path - frigate, cruiser or even battlecruiser - with enough speed to tank or escape from anything that might give it trouble.
HOW TO FIT THE SUCCUBUS
HIGHS: 3x 'Rebel' Small Pulse Lasers
MIDS: 2x Mk7 Warp Scramblers, Guidance Disruptor
LOWS: Centii C-Type Small Afterburner, 'Canyon' Medium Shield Extender, 'Posse' Invulnerability Field
RIGS: 1x Laser Collision II, 2x Laser Burst Aerator II, 1x Polycarbon Engine I, 2x Auxiliary Thruster II
One of the many advantages of the Succubus is its impressive powergrid and capacitor. The ship can be fit with a variety of upgrades - including several cruiser-sized modules - and unlike many ships, it actually has the capacitor to run just about any combination while remaining stable.
The fitting above requires Frigate Engineering 5/4 - which should probably be considered they minimum skill requirement for this ship. I prefer the extra damage and tracking of pulse lasers, but for powergrid reasons I opt for the top-named "Rebel" pulses over their deadspace equivalents. With Small Laser Op 4/5/3 and Upgrade 4/3 that gives me a bit under 300 DPS - plenty to the tank of anything short of a dual-repped Prophecy. Bear in mind that the optimal range of these is just over 5km - you are going to be up close for this build.
In the mids I fit 2x Mk 7 Warp Scramblers (there is room in the powergrid for 'Interruptives' but as of time of writing they cost 65mil isk a pop). These give a total of 6 points of warp disruption - more than enough to deal with an 'Aura' Stabilizer if you are hunting PvE pilots. The limited range (11.88km) poses little issue when you can move 3km/s. By the time you lock your target, you will generally be in range of the Scramblers. You have some options with the last midslot - you can fit a Nosferatu (to help against opponents' using cap drain) if you downgrade the shield extender to a Mk 7. You can fit a Turret Disruptor to make absolutely sure no autocannon will ever taste your armor. I go with a Guidance Disruptor, since the "perfectly accurate" missiles are one of the few weaknesses of this ship.
In the lows, I recommend getting the best afterburner you can possibly afford. This is the heart of the ship - if you are going to shell out for a pricey module, this is the one you should get. Additionally, I fit a 'Canyon' Medium Shield Extender - which nearly doubles the shield HP of the ship even BEFORE you turn it on - as well as an Invulnerability Field (which increases EHP by about 25%). That last module can be replaced with a Heat Sink if you want another 25 DPS. For my money (and remember, this thing costs a LOT of money), I prefer a bit of extra tank.
The rigs are listed above and I don't have a lot to say about them, other than to point out this this isn't a cheap ship - don't cheap out on the rigs. A Succubus with T2 rigs is a different ship than one with T1. I am a big cheapskate when it comes to PvP ships, as my readers know, but this is a ship the should be fitted properly.
SHOULD YOU FLY IT?
Before I jump into how to fly this ship, lets take a moment to discuss if you should fly it. For all its wonderful advantages, the Succubus does have its faults - and for many, they will be deal breakers.
The first and most obvious problem with the Succubus is its hilariously-inflated price. Buyers can expect the hull to cost 375mil if you wait for a decent discount. Fully fitted, you'll be lucky to get out of Jita for less than 550mil. As per usual, I wouldn't recommend taking a ship out of the hanger unless you can afford to replace it. That is a serious investment, and I wouldn't blame you for deciding that you aren't willing to ante up.
In addition to the considerable price tag, the Succubus also demands a hefty skill investment. Some ships can fly well enough with 4/3 in the key skills - this isn't one of them. At bare minimum, plan to max out the skill bonuses of the ship (Adv Small Laser Op V and Adv Frigate Command V) as well as getting Afterburners to 5/4 and Frigate Engineering to at least 5/4. That a serious skill investment - especially if, like me, you don't fly that many other frigates. Before you shell out the isk, make sure you are willing to invest the SP too.
HOW TO FLY THE SUCCUBUS
The basic strategy for flying a Succubus is pretty simple. Turn on your afterburner, orbit at 5km and turn on the lasers and tackle - there's not that much to it. Then, just watch their health leak away while yours remains virtually unchanged until their ship is gone and yours isn't. 90% of the time, that's all you need to do.
Of course, the devil is in the details - or, in this case, its in that last 10%. The key to flying a Succubus well (and to not losing half a billion isk frequently) is to know what ships are easy pickings and which are deadly traps. Without making an exhaustive list of danger signs, here are a few things that make me nervous when flying the doom beetle:
- Other Faction Frigates - Winning a duel against another faction frigate requires excellent piloting, a superb fit and thorough knowledge of the capabilities of both your ship and your opponent's. Personally, I run the other way when I see another faction frigate - as a new Succubus pilot, the chance of my opponent knowing my ship better than I do is too high to risk such an expensive ship.
- Missiles - missiles are the bane of small, speed-tanked ships like the Succubus since they always do at least some damage and never really "miss." As such, I always approach missile ships with caution.
- Neutralizers/Nos - without its Afterburner, the Succubus can't protect itself and can't escape. As a result, a ship mounting nosferatu or, even worse, neutralizers is a deadly threat.
- Webs - the Succubus depends on its speed to survive, so not surprisingly Stasis Webbifiers are a cause for concern. Fortunately, the Succubus is capable of such high speeds that it can shrug off a single web without much difficulty (a single "Interruptive" web still leaves the Succubus soaring at 1,300m/s). Two webs, however, are a real cause for concern.
- Target Painters - while less of a concern than these other modules, a Succubus relies upon high speed and a small signature radius to avoid enemy fire. One target painter isn't much of a concern, but 2-3 painters (say, from a gang of ships) or 1-2 in combination with missiles or webs, is worrying.
I am a big proponent of the idea that there is no perfect ship in EVE. Ships have their advantages and disadvantages - situations where they are strong, and others they are weak. In fact, good game requires that no ship be good at everything - after all, if there was, then there would be no reason to fly anything else. There is no "answer" to the question "What is the best ship?" and it is crucial that there never BE an answer.
That said, the Succubus is as close as you are likely to get.
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