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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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fit of the Week: Blockade runners

If I measured my EVE time based on the metric "What single type of ship have I spent the largest number of hours in?", the answer would almost certainly be the humble blockade runner.  It's an indispensable tool for the industrialist EVE player, allowing us to get our high-value goods to market in the quickest way possible and return to our manufacturing systems with the raw materials necessary for the next batch of goods.  Because I serve a number of markets other than Jita, my personal manufacturing system is pretty central in New Eden so I spend a ton of time warping alts in blockade runners back and forth, back and forth.  Scoff at "Ripard the carebear" all you like but without these quick little haulers, I would probably soon be bankrupt and would probably have to join Goonswarm to play EVE.  Can't have that.  ;-)

And there's so many hideously bad BR fits out there that I thought I'd lay down the very simple rules for fitting one.  They're very easy to understand.
  1. Your rigs are two Cargohold Optimizations.  If you put anything else there, you will eventually be sorry that you did.  Yes, I know, putting Polycarbs or Low Frictions here is awesome.  Resist.  Sooner or later, you'll need the extra cargo room.
  2. Your first high slot is a Covert Ops Cloak.  Seriously, there's no reason to have anything else there.
  3. There are only three acceptable mods for your low slots: Nanofiber Internal Structures, Expanded Cargoholds, and Warp Core Stabilizers.  If you are putting anything else in your low slots, you are making a terrible mistake.
  4. If you do not fit a Microwarpdrive, you will come to regret it.
  5. Do not fit an aggressive mod on a blockade runner.  That means all you special people with ECM Bursts on yours, take them off!
  6. The rest of your mid slots should be shield resist mods.
Here's basic fits for all four BRs, then a discussion of the specifics:

[Crane, Basic]
'Halcyon' Core Equalizer I
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
EM Ward Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I


[Prorator, Basic]
'Halcyon' Core Equalizer I
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Expanded Cargohold II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I


[Prowler, Basic]
'Halcyon' Core Equalizer I
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Salvager I

Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I


[Viator, Basic]
'Halcyon' Core Equalizer I
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Medium Cargohold Optimization I
Medium Cargohold Optimization I


Each of these ships holds about 5000m3, which is fine for a basic blockade runner.  In the general case, your basic low slots for a BR regardless of where you fly it should be (in order) one Warp Core Stabilizers, two Nanofiber Internal Structures, then fill in with Expanded Cargoholds.  Then throw enough Expanded Cargoholds to fill your lows into your cargo hold.  That will allow you to maximize your cargo room when needed.  Each time you prepare to undock in your BR, only fit as many ECs as you need to carry the load you intend to carry (if more than 5k m3).  If you're in high-sec, unfit a Nanofiber last.  If you're in low- or null-, unfit the Warp Core Stab last.

Many high-sec BR ganks are done with lower alpha ships such as Catalysts or Thrashers, or a single Thorax or Talos.  In this situation, a single WCS probably won't save your ship, but if you survive the initial volley, it increases your odds of getting your ship out of harm's way.  And in low- and null-, that single WCS is absolutely invaluable.  Lots and lots of gate-camps rely on a single fast tackle and if you can shrug that off, the remaining ships will be of no danger to you.

It is also for this reason that you should never fit an Inertial Stabilizer to a blockade runner no matter where you fly it.  This mod increases your ship's signature, which does two things to you and it's very hard to decide which one is worse:
  1. it means that gankers can lock you faster; and,
  2. it means that gankers can hit you for more damage with larger weapons.
The very tiny benefit that an Inertia Stablizers gives you over a Nanofiber Internal Structure is not worth the downside.

So one more time: fit Expanded Cargoholds until you can carry your intended load.  Then fit one WCS.  Then fill in with Nanofibers to decrease your align time.  And keep in mind that align time rounds up.  In some cases, a second or third Nano provides little to no benefit and should be replaced with a second WCS so you can shrug off even more tackle, particularly if you intend to fly in low or null.  But be aware that a good fleet agility bonus might be the difference between a four- and five-second align, so keep that in mind too as you fit out your lows.

EDIT (13/Jun/2013): One more time: align time rounds up.  If you are trying to cut your align time from 3.4 seconds to 3.2 seconds, you are wasting your time unless you are going to have a fleet agility booster in system to cut that align time from 3.2 seconds to 3.0 seconds.  It is for this reason that "max agility" BR fits are nearly always a myth.

While it's amusing and semi-effective to try to buffer tank a blockade runner, don't do it because having that Microwarpdrive is generally so much more useful.  Because you can accelerate under MWD while cloaked, if you run into a situation where you're tempted to tank, it will be a better choice to MWD, then cloak the ship.  In this way you can either burn back to a nearby gate in relative safety, or you can burn off in a random direction to prevent someone decloaking you.  An afterburner just isn't going to cut it for either of these situations.  The buffer tank will also increase your sig slightly and honestly, if someone can cut through your HP without the buffer tank, they can probably cut through it with.

In much the same way, don't try to active tank a BR.  Even the toughest BR has no more combat HP than a assault frigate, and it has double the sig.  Your small amount of buffer probably isn't going to stand up even with a fast-cycling ASB.  Instead, I like to use active resists on my BRs, but it's honestly mostly for the peace of mind factor.  As you come out of warp on a busy station or an unscouted gate, decloak and turn them on.  They may or may not buy you the few fractions of a second you need to jump or dock.

Finally, one little high-sec BR trick that isn't used enough: give a BR to your alt in your manufacturing system, and a second identically fit BR to your alt in your biggest market system.  Decide on a meeting point half-way in between, create a safespot there, and give the bookmark to both alts.  When you need to transfer goods to market, load the first BR in your manufacturing system to capacity.  Load the BR in the market system with raw materials, also to capacity.  Then undock both and fly both to the meeting point, and trade cargoes.  This has a couple of advantages:
  • it roughly halves the amount of time that the transport run takes; and,
  • it confuses gankers, who expect BRs to travel on one-way paths, reducing the likelihood that you'll be randomly ganked.
Remember that as of December 2012, BRs are now immune to cargo scanning.  But there's still every reason to go ahead and cloak as you warp them around.  That also improves your odds of not being a victim of a random gank.

Which BR is the best?  They all have their fans.  But for my money, it's the Prorator for high-sec, and the Viator for low and null.  Believe it or not, the Prorator is the quickest aligning one.  It also holds the most.  The Viator has quickness and a tiny ship model on its side, which is the best for evading gate-camps.  The Prorator loses here because its model is huge.  I've decloaked lots of Prorators but decloaking a Viator is very tough.  But the Prowler has lots of fans for that second high slot and of course lots of Prowler pilots can also fly Fenrirs and Nomads so I can understand the loyalty its fans have for it.  And Prowlers are popular in w-space where that second high slot can carry a probe launcher and for scanning moons.  The Crane is indisputably the worst one.  Huge model, slow, poor agility, poor carrying capacity.

EDIT (13/Jun/2013): With the advent of Odyssey, you no longer need Racial Industrial V to unlock freighters.  I've also explicitly mentioned the advantages of the Prowler's second high slot.  Thanks for the comments on these points!

That's it: keep BRs simple, clean, consistent, and effective.  Don't try a lot of razzle dazzle because the ship simply isn't tough enough to do anything fancy.  Instead, use its advantages of agility, small sig, and speed to get the goods to market.  Happy hauling!


All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

41 comments:

  1. Umm... doesn't the Crane, rather than the Viator, unlock the largest freighter?

    Also, at what volume of cargo (assuming hisec travel) do you decide that it's not worth the multiple BR trips compared to sticking it all in a freighter and moving that fractionally-full?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just a note that with Odyssey skill changes training for a racial T2 industrial no longer 'leads' to the unlocking of the corresponding racial freighter.

    While you still need to train the correct racial Industrial skill for a Blockade Runner (i.e. Caldari Industrial V for the Crane), now you just need to train Advanced Spaceship Command V and take your pick of any freighter by training the appropriate racial freighter skill.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Minor quibble:

    " And the Viator leads to the freighters with the biggest cargo room."

    The largest Freighter/JF are Caldari. The Obelisk and Anshar have the largest buffer of the class.

    -A Black/Red Frog

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Your rigs are two Cargohold Optimizations. If you put anything else there, you will eventually be sorry that you did."

    I fit Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer rigs, since the BR is one of the few ships which actually benefits from its use. The rigs make it virtually impossible for anyone to chase you, once you get into warp, except for a similarly rigged inty (which are very rare).

    It also cuts down on travel time, which is always a benefit when hauling long distances.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like the Prorator for its many low slots, it remains functional even without any rigs installed. I keep one folded up in my Rhea on all her travels. Prorator is a great dinghy!

    ReplyDelete
  6. chuck a core probe launcher on the Prorator and you have the wormhole BR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jester doesn't play in WHs, so he should be forgiven for forgetting about this one.

      Delete
  7. Nice post! The Prowler is popular in wormholes because it can fit a probe launcher, as you undoubtedly know and thought unnecessary to mention. :)

    Just one minor quibble and suggestion: I think people would be more convinced by your fitting posts if you made sure to justify every assertion. In this one, you pointed out why IStabs suck, but after poo-pooing ECM Bursts, failed to elaborate on why. (E.g., my reason for not fitting an ECM Burst is that in situations where I'm decloaked and have to escape, hardeners help 100% of the time but ECM Burst will only remove scrambles and only if luck is on my side.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Crane actually leads to the biggest cargoholds (Charon and Rhea). The Anshar and Obelisk are second highest.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As you note, alpha is a bigger problem than being pointed. So why not use a DC2 instead of a stab?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unless you're going to sacrifice your prop mod for an LSE (which I don't recommend), the extra resists aren't going to help. BRs don't have the structure or armor to really benefit from a DC.

      Delete
  10. My Prowler has a Probe Launcher in the second high slot.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Despite you mentioned to trade cargo with your highsec alt, you insist on "identically fit BR to your alt in your biggest market system."

    This is a serious mistake. The dangers in highsec are different than low/null. In low/null it's being decloaked and scrammed before warpout. In high it's being alphaed down when decloaked by the high traffic or siting on Jita gate when Jita is full.

    The highsec BR should NOT have MWD or warpstab, but should have shield extenders and damage control to gain 2-3x higher EHP.

    Actually, there shouldn't be a highsec BR at all. There is no reason to use anything else in highsec than a 300K EHP Orca.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Actually, there shouldn't be a highsec BR at all. There is no reason to use anything else in highsec than a 300K EHP Orca."

      Another fail statement from the usual fail source.

      A 300K EHP Orca can be easily caught and ganked, since, even with a web assist from an alt, it is slow to align and get into warp. A properly fit and flown BR can't be caught in high sec, using the cloak/MWD trick, since bubbles cannot be deployed there.

      And, since the Orca no longer has the unscannable corp hangers, there is no reason to be using an Orca to haul loads which can be handled by the smaller/faster ship.

      Delete
    2. Orcas have their place. If you're moving particularly large, lower-value items or materials, you can put a half-billion ISK or so into an Orca with little/no fear of being ganked. Large stock-piles of high-end minerals are a good example. And if you fit it with a 100MN MWD, you can align and warp in 10 seconds.

      As an industrialist, you'll generally be using both types of ships, plus the occasional freighter run full of trit, to be successful.

      Delete
  12. "And the Viator leads to the freighters with the biggest cargo room."

    Last time I checked the Charon was bigger than the obelisk... but hey, Viator is simply a very nice ship and those few m³ you get extra in a charon over an obelisk isn't worth the time and trouble with a crane. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Racial industrial V skill is no longer a requirement for freighter / jump freighter. Instead a freighter requires advanced spaceship command V. This came out with Odyssey. So a T2 industrial should not "unlock" anything right now.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Moin moin,

    "And the Viator leads to the freighters with the biggest cargo room."
    WRONG!
    The biggest Freighter ist still the charon.

    Crane -> Charon (most cargo but slooooooooow)
    Viator -> Obelisk
    Prorator -> Providence (shiny and beatiful :D )
    Prowler -> Fenrir (very fast and agil, least cargo)

    About the fittings of the BR you are entirely right, nothing to add :)

    I still wonder where all these BR-Gankers are.
    I travel almost daily through Uedama and Niarja per autopilot and afk and never got ganked...

    ReplyDelete
  15. "it will be a better choice to MWD, then cloak the ship". I would recommend doing this the other way round. After cloaking you have a second or two to activate the MWD (for one cycle), and it will nullify the effect of the signature bloat.

    Also, the Prowler is very strong for W-space, as you can fit a probe launcher in the extra high slot.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like to fit cloaky ships with passive shield resistance amplifiers instead of active hardeners. A bit less tank but I don't have to remember to quickly activate hardeners when decloaked.

    Besides cargo expanders you can also increase cargo space by using GSC. Limited to certain cargo though.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I must admit, I disagree with many things in this post.

    The Prorator does not align the fastest... with max agility fit, it aligns in 3.44 seconds. The Prowler aligns in 3.37, Crane in 3.39. The Viator is slowest to align at 3.62.

    What's funny, is that at maximum agility fit, the Crane has the most cargo - 4.38k, along with second fastest align time.. so tell me, how is it the worst apart from model and slowest in a straight line?

    The Viator most definitely doesn't lead to the Freighters with the Most Cargo.... the most Cargo is the Caldari Charon/Rhea for freighters and jump freighters respectively. The Gallente Freighters are the ones with the most EHP.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Align time rounds up. Therefore, all of your examples align and warp in 4 seconds. The Prorator aligns the quickest in a cargo configuration, and either with or without an in-system booster.

      "Max agility" fits are a myth.

      Delete
    2. Pyfa says your Prorator fit aligns in 4.02 seconds. Does that mean it rounds up to 5? Or is Pyfa wrong?

      Delete
  18. Love my BRs.

    They don't unlock anything anymore, though.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It's a shame that "which BR is best" isn't even a discussion for wormhole haulers, since only one of the four has the necessary second high slot for a probe launcher. Hopefully that will be corrected in the indy balance pass, I always hate it when there's only a single ship that can possibly do a given job.

    Also, you forgot that T2 industrials no longer "unlock" freighters -- you only need racial industrial 3 now, with the rest of the training time being taken up by advanced spaceship command 5 for all freighters. Makes cross training nice and easy now, though my condolences go out to anyone who took the time cross training all freighters pre-Odyssey.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "Your rigs are two Cargohold Optimizations. If you put anything else there, you will eventually be sorry that you did. Yes, I know, putting Polycarbs or Low Frictions here is awesome. Resist. Sooner or later, you'll need the extra cargo room."

    That is why you build two. One for high risk lower volume when you need it. One for max cargo.

    "Do not fit an aggressive mod on a blockade runner. That means all you special people with ECM Bursts on yours, take them off!"

    I have had this save my butt at least once. Keep in mind in WH space you often land on the other side too close to the WH to immediately cloak. It makes both of these situations that I am commenting on usable options for these environments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've killed several BRs on gates who forget that ECM Bursts aggress you. If you can keep it straight in your head, then OK, but... ;-)

      Delete
    2. Sure that is a case of being stupid. And I wouldn't generally mess on a gate anyhow, as the short distance of an ECM burst is likely to not be of terribly good use.

      But I have used it in WH space to get away.

      Bottom line is while i understand your fitting guides are "general". if you are going to make a definitive "take them off" type of statement you should back it up with a good reason why it should never be there.

      Delete
  21. "And the Viator leads to the freighters with the biggest cargo room." - no it doesn't. The Charon has the biggest cargo room (785,000m3 vs 750,000m3 for Obelisk), and that comes along with training the Crane.

    You might be thinking of the Iteron V, which used to come along with training the Viator, before the recent skill change.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Prowler should have a covert cyno in the extra high. Viator with a +5 PG implant can fit a MWD, Medium F-S9 extender and an invul. Not sure about the I-stab comment. Sometimes they get you that extra second align over nano's so I wouldn't say never use them, just keep in mind what your trading for that align time. Besides the extra sig radius in comparison to the MWD bloom is negligible.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What's the advantage to trading cargoes in space rather than in station?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It:
      * speeds things up since you don't have to wait on the docking/undocking thing; and,
      * reduces your likelihood of being ganked or camped.

      Delete
  24. One handy trick for high-sec BR's:
    A blockade runner's immunity to cargo scanning applies no matter where you put it. Taking advantage of that: Stick obscenely high value items into the BR (for example, a repackaged Etana), trade it to an alt, courier-contract it back to your hauling main, and stick the plastic wrap'd BR into a freighter/jump-freighter. Anyone scanning you will see the BR inside the plastic wrap, but won't know what's inside. Note: It goes without saying, don't do this during Burn Jita, and be sure to use scouts and webbers to minimize suicide gank risks and decrease freighter/jump-freighter align times on gates.

    If you have tons of small, high value items that need transporting and you insist on using freighters/jump-freighters to do it, this trick is a slight security improvement. Note: there are far superior ways to move small, high value items. This is mainly for those stuck-in-their ways pilots who use freighters as 'buffered haulers'.

    ReplyDelete
  25. If you'd like to save yourself some time from doing all of that hauling yourself, I offer free freighter service. Make courier contract to Alliria Seedspawn. Forum posts about it can be found at:

    https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=3200757#post3200757

    and

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/1g7qb2/free_freighter_service/

    I'm currently working with 2 freighters, and I have one freighter dedicated to the oldest contracts, and one freighter dedicated to the contracts with the highest reward. This means that though I will work for free, putting a reward on the contract will move it up in the queue, relative to other contracts already in. I have the one taking the oldest to try to ensure that the free ones get hauled as well.

    I recently finished a series of hauls that saved the client around 60 million isk in freight costs, assuming they would have used Red Frog for the hauls.

    Before you start yelling scam, know that the only difference between the contract you issue to Alliria Seedspawn, and the contract you issue to Red Frog / Push, is the number you put in the reward field. As always, ALWAYS ENSURE THE COLLATERAL IS WORTH MORE THAN THE VALUE OF THE CARGO.

    * 1 billion max collateral
    * 1 billion max value of cargo
    * 880,000 max m3
    * Unlimited jumps, unlimited trips
    * All high sec
    * NO ASSEMBLED CONTAINERS OR PLASTIC WRAP. This creates a hassle as I have to fly Alliria Seedspawn to both the pick up and drop off to do a station trade, as assembled containers and plastic wrap cannot be subcontracted. If your contract has an assembled container or plastic wrapped package (double wrapped), you and your corporation will be black listed, and I will not accept any future contracts from either. I can see what's in assembled containers and plastic wrap, so don't think this requirement is so that I can see what I'm hauling.

    As of the time of this posting, the stats of my free freighter service are as follows:

    * Loaded jumps made: 884

    * Total m3 moved: 21,131,754

    * Collateral Provided: 38,065,600,000

    Make all courier contracts to Alliria Seedspawn.

    ReplyDelete
  26. A little math from the Nosy Gamer on Prowlers:

    http://nosygamer.blogspot.ca/2013/06/prowler-math.html

    ReplyDelete
  27. we have so few options in the mid-range for cargo transport. Eve needs more options to transport cargo between the 30km3 - 100km3 range. It goes from T1 hauler to a freighter/JF and thats it. What a huge diff in price and cargo limits between these ships.

    It really kills the game for new players looking to move cargo around in space...because the T1 hauler is your best option minus a 1.5b freighter or a 6b JF.

    Sucks.

    ReplyDelete
  28. If align time rounds up then why have two Nanofiber on the Viator? It is 4.8 with one and 4.2 with both...Would this not mean it is 5 seconds either way?

    ReplyDelete
  29. i think the obelisk was the biggest at one point but got nerfed, the nerf explained by "nothing should ever have been able to carry repackaged capital ships"

    at lvl 5 it was over 1m cargo, and was thus able to carry dreads into high sec, and ccp saw it as only a matter of time untill someone went on a killing spree in jita with a dread,
    which WOULD have been able to tank concord

    in my experience though, i greatly prefer the fenrir, being fastest, thus slightly less painful to pilot, and i never need that little extra cargo.
    i always either have less then 800k, or well over 1m

    ReplyDelete
  30. Is there a reason for Medium Cargohold Optimization I instead of tech 2?
    It's only 3 days training for an extra 10% cargo capacity.

    ReplyDelete

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