Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guide: Implants and Jump Clones, Part 5

As I covered in part four of this guide, as you train up the Infomorph Psychology skill and as you pick out skill hard-wirings and other implants that you want to start using, sooner or later you're going to have to come up with a...

Jump Clone Strategy

The first question you're likely to ask once you start down this path is "What level should I train Infomorph Psychology to?"  And there's a basic guide that will answer at least part of that question for you.  It's a decision that you're going to have to make for every one of your mains and every one of your alts.  For each of them, count up three things:
  1. the number of roles that this character is going to have;
  2. the number of specialties that this character is going to have; and,
  3. the number of constellations that this character is going to be living in, not counting the first constellation.

What is a role?  In this context, a role is a duty that that character performs or a set of skills or ships that the character will be flying while in that clone.  Some common roles are:
industrialist or miner, reprocessing modules or ores;
  • PvP interceptor, frigate, or interdictor pilot;
  • command ship pilot (each racial type counts as a separate role); and,
  • capital ship pilot (each of dread, carrier, and super-capital counts as a separate role).
Regardless of your final jump clone strategy, each of these roles is going to demand a separate jump clone because of the nature of the needs of each role.  Command ship pilots, for instance, require mindlinks to be effective and each mindlink is going to require its own jump clone.  PvP interceptors, frigates, and interdictors are highly risky roles and are almost certainly going to require a blank or near-blank clone in order to mitigate the risk of this PvP style.  Mining becomes much more effective with the appropriate skill hard-wirings in place, and so on.  Each of these roles will almost certainly demand a separate clone.

What is a specialty?  Specialties are even deeper subdivisions than roles, often associated with pirate implant sets or pilots dedicated to a specific type of ship.  Some common specialties are:
  • scanner alt;
  • freighter alt;
  • super-capital pilot;
  • high-end Crystal PvP or PvE pilot; and,
  • dedicated skirmish pilot.
Each of these specialties is also going to demand a dedicated jump clone to perform these duties to their fullest, again regardless of your eventual jump clone strategy.  A dedicated scanner alt living in a wormhole will need to have at least one set of skill hard-wirings related to scanning plus perhaps a Virtue set.  A dedicated freighter alt will benefit greatly from a Nomad set and skill hard-wirings to increase ship agility.  Super-cap pilots simply must have a Slave clone, and so on.

Each constellation that the character operates in after the first will probably be worthy of a jump clone just to save travel time.  This sort of thing is going to apply to:
  • market alts that operate in multiple high-sec markets;
  • PvE players that alternate between missioning in one constellation and mining in another;
  • PvP players whose corp or alliance is spread across a wide area of space;
  • PvP players who wish to spy on an enemy corp or alliance or have a cyno alt in a different constellation; and so on.
This count is mostly going to be of use to players that follow a more generalist model when it comes to their jump clones (see below).

Count the number of constellations that the character has to operate in after the first.  For each role and specialty, add one to that number.  That is the total number of jump clones that you'll need.  To that, add one if you wish to have a dedicated training clone.  This clone carries a set of +5 attribute implants and rarely undocks, or only undocks in the safest of scenarios.  Subtract one from the sum of these factors and that's the level to which you need to train Infomorph Psychology.  And yes, if you get greedy, you might come up with a number that is greater than five.  In this case, you're going to have to scale back your ambitions somewhat or combine roles or constellations into a single jump clone.

Let's use one of my own mains, Ripard Teg, as an example.  He only needs to operate in a single constellation in Syndicate, but the first constellation doesn't count so his initial count is zero.  However, he has four roles: he flies Vultures, Claymores, and Damnations; and he often flies interdictors.  In addition, he has one specialty: he often operates as a dedicated skirmish pilot.  Finally, he has one dedicated training clone.  Four roles plus one specialty plus zero additional regions plus one training clone is six.  Subtract one from that is five, so Ripard is required to have Infomorph Psychology V, associated with six jump clones:
  • a Vulture clone with a Siege Warfare Mindlink;
  • a Claymroe clone with a Skirmish Warfare Mindlink;
  • a Damnation clone with a Armored Warfare Mindlink;
  • a skirmish clone with a set of Low-Grade Snake attribute enhancers;
  • a training clone with a set of +5 attribute enhancers; and,
  • a more or less blank clone for flying interdictors.
With the current limitation on the Infomorph Psychology skill, Ripard can't have any more roles or specialties without giving up one of his current ones.  If I wish to get him a Crystal clone or a scanner clone, he'll have to give up one of the clone roles he already has.

This is what I will refer to as a "specialist" jump clone strategy: each and every jump clone has a stated purpose.  Before I talk about specialists and how they differ from generalists, though, it will be instructive to talk once more about the jump clone timer.

As of this writing, there exists in EVE one of the worst mechanics in the game: the jump clone timer.  Once a player begins acquiring jump clones, the process for moving between them was covered in part two of this guide.  However, managing the timer is a very important part of a player's jump clone strategy.  If a player has an announced CTA using shield ships on Tuesday night, it will be very important for that same player not to jump into his armor capital ship clone on Tuesday morning.  If he does so, he might not wish to risk this sub-optimal clone on the CTA op and as such will be forcibly required to miss the op.

Likewise for a generalist, if a CTA is called in a distant region for Saturday afternoon, it won't do for the player involved to jump into a clone in a distant region on Friday night.  I have been on Teamspeak many, MANY times where ops have been delayed because a key participant only has "10 more jumps" before their distant clone can cross New Eden to reach the location that the op is actually departing from!

As a result, specialists and generalists alike need to keep their jump clone timer in their thoughts at all times.


Specific strategies

"Specialization is for insects", according to one of Robert Heinlein's beloved characters.  Players that follow the generalist strategy live by this mantra.  Particularly for PvP players, the generalist model specifies that all the player's jump clones be kept as similar as possible, providing a broad base of benefits that will be applicable to as many ship types as possible.  For instance, if a player is a PvPer and nearly always flies turret-based ships, then a good generalist clone is:
  • Slots 1-5: whatever attribute enhancers are desired;
  • Slot 6: 'Rogue' Navigation NN-603;
  • Slot 7: 'Gunslinger' Motion Prediction MR-703;
  • Slot 8: empty, or Zor's Custom Navigation Hyper-Link;
  • Slot 9: 'Gunslinger' Surgical Strike SS-903;
  • Slot 10: empty.
This is a relatively inexpensive implant set that will nevertheless provide significant benefit to virtually any turret-based ship that it is used in.  It's a clone that you don't have to think about.  If your corp or alliance has stations scattered across a wide region and you or they base ships in all of them, then you can store one clone per constellation using this model and be quite happy with its performance every single time.  The only type of ships that this clone will not be as useful for will be recons and drone- and missile-based ships.

In these situations, an even more generalist clone can be designed, perhaps one only using speed, agility, and ship capacitor implants or the like that are truly universal to all ships.

Many PvPers following a generalist strategy eschew skill hard-wirings altogether and go with basic attribute enhancers and that's all.  This is also a perfectly valid strategy and will limit that player's potential losses, particularly in null-sec.  However, in high-sec or low-sec PvP, it makes perfect sense to go with at least a basic skill hard-wiring set that provides a few benefits to as wide a range of ships as is possible.

The generalist strategy is also quite useful for alts designated for specific purposes.  For instance, a mining alt that ice mines in widely scattered constellations depending on what type of ice is needed can fit a basic ice-mining skill hard-wiring set:
  • Slots 1-5: whatever attribute enhancers are desired;
  • Slot 6: empty, or 'Gypsy' Electronics EE-6## if needed;
  • Slot 7: 'Gnome' Shield Management SM-703;
  • Slot 8: empty, or 'Squire' Energy Management EM-803;
  • Slot 9: Shield Operation SP-903;
  • Slot 10: 'Yeti' Ice Harvesting IH-1003.
And again, this is a clone that will serve well for a dedicated ice-harvesting alt no matter where in New Eden it flies.

The advantage of the generalist strategy is that the player that follows it has less book-keeping, lower potential losses, and a much easier logistical needs (particularly if they go with blank or near-blank clones).  Generalists will also be much less beholden to the jump clone timer unless they have a need to be in a different constellation.  However, even if that is the case, the generalist model works well here also given that the generalist jump clone will be suited to whatever ship type is needed once the distant clone arrives.  Generalist clones are generally also cheaper.

The disadvantage to the generalist model is that the generalist player gives up specific advantages to the specialist.  If two players of equal character skill and player skill meet, both are in equivalent ships, but one player is in a generalist clone and the other is in a specialist clone, chances are excellent that the specialist will take the match.  Specialist clones have a significant advantage in PvE as well, able to tank longer, do more damage, track faster targets, or use tighter fittings thanks to specialty implants fitted for that purpose.

The specialist, by contrast, as noted above will have a jump clone tied to each role or specialty that they play.  Usually, the strategies for fitting such clones will be self-evident.  For instance, a Siege Warfare clone associated with a Vulture or command ship-fitted Tengu will look like this:
  • Slots 1-5: whatever attribute enhancers are desired;
  • Slot 6: 'Rogue' Navigation NN-603
  • Slot 7: 'Snapshot' Heavy Missiles HM-703 or 'Gnome' Shield Management SM-703;
  • Slot 8: 'Squire' Energy Management EM-803
  • Slot 9: 'Deadeye' Target Navigation Prediction TN-903;
  • Slot 10: Siege Warfare Mindlink.
Such a clone is going to be expensive, and it's only going to be useful in four or five classes of ships.  It's certainly not going to be useful in any sort of armor fleet unless you're flying a Sacrilege or Legion and not even then if you elect for the 3% additional shields in slot 7.

This is the danger of the specialist strategy: your clones are going to tend to be over-specialized to given roles.  And if you're trapped in this Siege Warfare Mindlink clone when a T1 cruiser fleet starts, while your Caracal or Bellicose is going to be impressive, you'd best pray you don't get podded.  ;-)  In a few cases, you're going to find yourself in a clone that is so poorly constructed for a fleet that's going out you're going to be left with little choice but to wave good-bye as the fleet leaves without you.

Of course, if you're more of the PvE or mining type, then ultra-specialized clones will be no problem at all.  Consider a clone for an L4 mission runner/incursion-runner that strictly uses a Nightmare:
  • Slots 1-5: Low-Grade Halo set;
  • Slot 6: 'Squire' Energy Systems Operation EO-605;
  • Slot 7: 'Gnome' Shield Management SM-705;
  • Slot 8: 'Squire' Energy Management EM-805;
  • Slot 9: 'Lancer' Gunnery RF-905;
  • Slot 10: 'Lancer' Large Energy Turret LE-1005.
This is a fantastically expensive clone (and some incursion-runners will enhance it further with a 6% implant or two), but will create tremendous benefits for the pilot involved.  The Halo implants will greatly reduce the Nightmare's signature while the rate of fire and damage implants substantially increase DPS.  The capacitor implants will help a great deal for the cap-hungry lasers or the occasional X-Large Shield Booster, and the benefit of 5% extra shield HP will be useful in both scenarios also.  This is an expensive specialty clone, and worth it to the specialist.  The abilities of the Nightmare are greatly enhanced by it.

That's the advantage to a specialist strategy: your ship and implants work together to provide optimal performance.  The disadvantages are listed above, and there's generally one more: specialist clones are more expensive.  You're paying for all of those extra benefits.  Even if you settle for 3% implants, chances are good you're going to have four or five of them instead of the two, three, or four of the generalist.  The specialist is also much more likely to use mindlinks, pirate implants, and other specialty implants.

Which strategy you choose will make a big difference in what ships you fly and how you fly them, so choose wisely!


This concludes the five part Implant and Jump Clone Guide.  I hope it has been useful!

5 comments:

  1. One other very nice generalist implant is the Rogue EM Maneuvering; while the NN and Zor's Hyperlink improve speed, the EM shaves alignment time, which will improve your chances of escaping a gate camp, saving your pod after you've gotten slagged, or avoiding the dreaded zero transversal.

    In FW combat, I've settled on the NN-603/EM-703/Hyperlink combo. It means I can't use slot-six fitting implants, but for light-ship combat, it's a pretty good set.

    Not that my killboard stats reflect that in any way, of course. ^o^

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  2. The series has been very useful, Jester, thank you for it. Since implants and hardwires are an isk sink, I'd like to see the game allow 10 jump clones with maybe 11 hour jump timers.

    Enjoy your holidays, mate. You've earned the time off this year!

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    Replies
    1. Looks like I'm replying to myself, doesn't it? :-)

      Here we are a year later, and Odyssey has brought us Advanced Infomorph Psychology, for an additional five jump clones, and Infomorph Synchronizing, reducing the jump clone timer to 19 hours at level five. Maybe in a near future patch we'll get Advanced Infomorph Synchronizing so we can reduce the timer to 14 hours! :-)

      And yeah, Jester, this series is great!

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  3. If CCP gets rid of skill point loss on clone death, then;

    If we could press that big red button, then;

    I could imagine a system of jump clone assassination where your character would dock at a station and sneak into the station's medical cloning facility.

    Using either the hacking skill or a similar avatar-based hacking skill, you find your target jump clone and kill it - with a possible implant loot drop.

    You can hire a Dust 514 squad or use orbital bombardment to destroy the entire medical cloning facility. Your target clone would be destroyed, but with no loot drop due to the carnage.

    High-sec cloning facilities would be more difficult to break into, Low-sec less so.

    Pirate stations would vary in their difficulty depending on the fortunes of the pirate faction.

    Null sec stations would have only as much security as the station owner wishes to pay for.

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  4. Pretty awesome implant guide you wrote up here.

    I am a little surprised though that cyno alts weren't mentioned on this part (or maybe they were, not gonna lie i skimmed this one). It's quite an effective strategy (read: time saver) to leave clones at mid points, ideally with the tools it needs to put up a cyno.

    Really good guide though, was a good read.

    ReplyDelete