A truth of EVE that I have finally embraced, after much struggle: each race has one armor Recon and one shield Recon.It's a statement that will probably get me yelled at some (particularly for a couple of ships), but the more I fly my beloved Recons, the more I've come to accept it as a truth. I'll even take it one step farther: Force Recons (cloakies) should be armor tanked. Combat Recons (non-cloakies) should be shield tanked.
For some ships, this will be obvious. Most of the Combat Recons have only three low slots (the Curse has four). Armor tanking these ships is pointless. You could try to armor tank a Curse, sure, but once you start fitting its neuts and NOSs (and perhaps even weapons), you're going to burn anywhere from 800 to 1000 grid... and the Curse doesn't start out with all that much. Trying to wedge a plate and a prop mod on after that will be very difficult.
I've seen a few attempts to armor-tank the Rook (the version I usually see is 1600mm plate, faction EANM, DC2, and two Trimarks). As Heinlein correctly put it: "Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig." Granted, doing this frees up six mid-slots for jammers. But those jammers will be non-bonused in any way, and to be effective, you'll have to operate at 50-70km range. On the modern EVE battlefield, such a Rook can be alpha'ed right off the field by only three or four arty Pests. You're not going to be able to jam everyone.
The Combat Recons, lacking cloaks, need stronger defenses... something that will at least give them time to get aligned and warp off (if they haven't aligned already). Collectively lacking more low slots, shields are where it's at for them. Devote two mid-slots to the Combat Recon's mid-slot bonus, then put the others into a prop mod and shield tank. The exception is the Rook; the most common fit, the so-called "Tournament Rook", goes with four jammers, an Invul, a LSE, and a MWD in the mids and does pretty well. It'll be a FOTW eventually.
That brings us to the Force Recons. As I've said already, I've come to believe all of them should be armor-tanked.
At the end of the day, Recons are happiest when they're applying their bonuses. Those bonuses are generally to mid-slot modules. As a result, the more mid-slot modules you can devote to their bonuses, the happier they're going to be. But lacking a cloak, the Combat Recons have to enter the field too close to their opponents and often find themselves victims, particularly of other Recons. The Force Recons, though, having cloaks, don't have this problem. They can usually pick and choose where and when they expose themselves to their enemies.
As a result, it's best to devote every mid-slot module you can to their role... and armor tank them. Yes, even the Falcon. Yes, even the Rapier!
The Rapier lovers will probably yell at me the most, and yes, yes, I would be lying if I said I didn't have a dual-web, Invul/LSE/point/MWD Rapier in my hangar somewhere. I do. But you know what else I have? I have a four-web, point/MWD Rapier. Want to hear the true heresy? It tanks better than the shield Rapier. A lot better. Yes, before you say it: it aligns almost three seconds slower than my shield Rapier. Know what else? So what! I don't have to decloak in a fight until I'm already aligned!
I know there are a lot of shield Arazus out there, too. And they're probably the closest thing to a real exception to my rule. But Arazus tanked either way are so fragile that I'd make the same argument about those that I make about the Rapier. May as well get in position, align, decloak, and if you go down, go down pointing or scramming four or five things at once. ;-) Yes, my Falcons are armor-tanked, too. They've been armor-tanked before I ever joined Rote. I was pleased as hell to find that my Falcon only needed the tiniest tweaks to be a Rote-approved Falcon. And the Pilgrim is a natural armor tanker, of course.
One last word on this topic. "Recon tanking" is itself almost an oxymoron. The true way to "tank" a Recon is to:
- be at the edge of the battlefield, not the center; and,
- be ready to warp off at a moment's notice if you're primaried.
And if you do find yourself within range of the enemy, better to warp out of the fight and warp back in at a suitable range to one of your fleet-mates then to stay, try to tank, and probably get killed.
Feel free to tell me where I'm wrong, but for now, my position is each race has one shield Recon and one armor Recon. Discuss.