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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, November 3, 2011

Recon "Tanking"

Here's something that I'd been dancing with for a couple of years, but it took joining Rote Kapelle to really crystalize it in my head.  As I put it on Twitter when that finally happened:
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.
Recons dying has become so common that Recons themselves are being displaced in their roles by super-tanked Strategic Cruisers that receive the same bonuses, if not better ones.  Any heavy tackle Arazu, no matter the tank, isn't going to have more than 35k EHP or so.  A Proteus in the same role can fit itself as a "Super Arazu" with 250k or more EHP, or "downgrade" to being a "Super Deimos" and "only" have 160k.  As a result, anything that you can do in a Recon to extend your combat range will directly increase the survivability of your boat.  For Minmatar and Gallente models, this means faction webs and points/scrams, respectively.  For Caldari (Falcons, especially), this means rigs to extend the range of your jammers.  Amarr Recons should avoid undocking without Recon Ships V, and their pilots should look really closely at faction neuts and NOSs, too.

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.


  1. Interesting. I thought this was common knowledge (although I have never been a fan of the T2 Minmatar armour resist profile)

  2. Now, as far as the Rapier goes, I did a lot of testing with both Armor and Shield configurations. Personally, I found that Shield Rapier to be better overall. If you want my critique, it is located here: http://2ndanomalyfromtheleft.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/rapier-the-tackle-test/

  3. I dont think you will ever convince me of armortanking my Falcon :) Reason is simple, I need those lowslots for signal distortion amps both for range and strenght of the jammers. With a mindlinked proteus, i can permajam even most battlecruisers and commandships (caldari with 19 points only 96% :)) with an optimal over 100 km. Should be even sweeter with T2 gangmods.

  4. Fast eft...both have ~30k ehp and similar dps. Armor is ~300m/s slower with mwd, align time is ~2s slower with mwd off. Obviously different guns, but offensive capabilities weren't really in question.

    [Rapier, Shield Rapier]
    Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
    3x 650mm Artillery Cannon II (Republic Fleet Fusion M)

    Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive
    Warp Disruptor II
    2x Stasis Webifier II
    2x Large Shield Extender II

    Gyrostabilizer II
    2x Power Diagnostic System II
    Damage Control II

    2x Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

    [Rapier, Armor Rapier]
    Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
    3x 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II (Republic Fleet Fusion M)

    Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive
    Warp Disruptor II
    4x Stasis Webifier II

    Damage Control II
    2x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
    1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

    Medium Ancillary Current Router I
    Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

    I've always shield tanked my rapiers cuz I love not feeling like a sloth, but may reconsider.

    @ Lt I do love the lows for SDA's, but a lot of times I just throw on a 1600 for my tank with 2 SDA's.

    Ugh this turned into a long comment...

  5. See, I tend to agree with the premise. What you are saying makes good sense.

    However in a black ops hot drop, where Rapiers and Falcons follow through the portal to an Arazu.... (Sorry Pilgrims get no dice :()

    Then the Arazu is armour tanking for sure. But the fuel usage increase the falcon and the rapier see through armour tanking is obscene considering the increased benefit in tank, also it is fair to say if a fleet targets you in a covert drop your dead anyway therefore, may as well go cost efficiency and save the mass when jumping through...

    I actually tend to not fit a tank to them at all, maybe an invuln for a bit of a resist boost, the rest is dedicated to webs and jams respective. Chances are if you are fast when you enter the field you will be able to get aligned out and mwd on anyway so often living or dying is irrespective of tank.

    If they are going out solo, or as part of a roaming non-portalling fleet all ships are armour tanked... However, this doesn't happen often, except with the Falcon, as if you are in a combat fleet and need recons you use the other type in reality.

    So bottom line, although I agree with the principle, reality is it isn't necessarily always the best idea.

  6. Not sure I agree at all, at least with the implication that rapiers and arazus *should* be armor-tanked or that if you're bringing a minmatar/gallente recon to a shield-tanking gang, it should be a combat recon.

    Comparing a shield rapier to a huginn, the former gives you a cloaky scout/warpin provider/prober (plus the ability to idle in complete safety in the event of wife aggro or similar emergencies), while the latter gives you a bit of DPS at kiting ranges and a little more EHP. Both have upsides and downsides; I'd say that on balance, the rapier is more useful in smaller shield-tanking gangs and the Huginn is better as things scale up. With the arazu/lachesis, you have the same sort of deal, although the extra mid on the lach tips things further in its favor.

  7. guys, why no plugging the explosive and kinetic holes?

  8. The Armor Arazu/Rapier run into serious capacitor issues for sustained kiting due to two (independent) reasons:

    1) More midslot Ewar modules -> more capacitor usage from modules
    2) They are slower and thus need to pulse their MWD more than their Shield Counterparts

    Saying that, I have flown both Armor/Shield Arazus for Black Ops/general kiting gangs. Why do I use an Arazu rather than a Lachesis?

    1) Cloaking >>>> extra 300 DPS on paper from the Recon, whose high slots should really be used for defensive modules (Neuts for frigs, smartbombs for drones etc.) or utility highs such as Salvagers

    2) The Lachesis has 3 lows. Whilst this may not seem like a big deal, it does mean that you can't fit Dual Nanos/DC II/Capacitor Power Relay like my Shield Arazu. That CPR is amazing for Recons and is fitted to all Tusker fleet Shield Arazus/Rapiers. Yes, you can fit a small cap booster on a Lachesis to alleviate capacitor issues, but in >30 minute long fights, you will run out of cap boosters.

    As for the Amarr/Caldari Recons, I agree (although we very, very rarely use ECM boats - relying on luck IMO is just a sign that you are grasping at straws), with the exception of the Armor Curse. It can be fit to have an passable armor tank, with a fair few neuts and TDs.

    Oh yeah and an Armor Arazu (for light Covert Cynos) can get up to 40k EHP if you fiddle around with the fit a bit.

  9. You're totally ignoring something rather important: role. Sure, if I've got an arazu who's job it is to sit on grid in a fight and hold points like you describe then armour tanking it is probably desirable. If the role of my Arazu is as a mission/plex tackler then I really don't give a shit whether I have 2 points or 5 - but the speed and agility from lack of plates and freed lows is essential.

    And sure, the Rapier with 4 webs is probably a great asset to your armour BS gang. But if I'm flying it with a nano(ish) gang I want the classic shield configuration that can keep up, stay on grid and do it's job.

  10. IMO the tank on a cloaky recon is, and has always been, a combination of it's cloaky abilities, the fact you arrive en-mass though a BLOPs portal and the ridiculous DPS a cov ops fleet dish out. Cov ops are not and never were designed to stay and fight but instead should be used as an hammer blow to break a fleet fast.


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