Then a short time ago, I was pointed to this blog post, indicating that alliances that live in Providence are trying to cut down the number of carrier ratters living out there. Carrier-assisted ratting is mentioned in that post explicitly. But the arguments against it are so relatively weak that it brought this guide back to mind.
So I've decided to go ahead and post it. If it's quaint and old-fashioned, so be it. If the people who could benefit from it read it and say "duh", so be it. But maybe it'll be useful to someone... ;-)
Introduction and Definition
This is a guide to carrier-supported ratting, not carrier ratting. "Carrier ratting" is defined as using a carrier with its direct on-field DPS, tanking ability, and remote repairs to rat, usually in a sanctum or haven site. "Carrier-supported ratting" is defined as ratting in such sites normally with one or more sub-capitals, but using carrier-assigned fighters to greatly increase the on-field DPS available to those sub-capitals.
The advantages of having a carrier on-field while ratting are numerous, of course. Most of all, a carrier is a massively tanky platform and provides on-site remote rep capability. But ratting carriers are also beloved targets for roaming gangs, Black Ops drops, and such attacks. Carriers have a high value, are easy to bump, and when tackled friendly pilots are inclined to try to defend them. This can easily turn a single tackled ratting carrier into the nucleus of a massive series of losses since most corps and alliances don't have a standardized response to such a thing.
However, carriers can support other viable ratting ships through the process of "assigning" their carrier-launched fighters to other pilots in the same system. This is an ability unique to carrier-launched fighters. Unlike standard assisted drones, assigned fighters will stay with the ship they are assisting at any range from the carrier. They will even warp with the ship that they are assisting from place to place. "Assigned" fighters will essentially act as drones under the control of the pilot to whom they are assigned until they are ordered by the carrier pilot to return.
This guide assumes that the player is familiar with the basic concepts of unsupported ratting, including scanning down sites and the types of ships needed for those sites. It also assumes the player is familiar with the difference between sites that do and do not use acceleration gates for entry.
This guide assumes that the player is familiar with basic EVE piloting and is aware that these piloting skills apply within a single system to capital ships in the same way that they apply to sub-capital ships. To wit, carriers can warp around a system, approach an object, use modules of various types, et cetera.
Assigning fighters cannot be performed in a 0.4 system. Therefore, carrier-supported ratting can only be done in systems with a security status of 0.3 or lower.
What You'll Need
Used correctly, carrier-supported ratting will make running sites quicker, but the ideal carrier-supported ratting ship will be one that can do the sites without assistance. It's also important that the ratting ship not be dependent on drones for damage. Tengus are excellent platforms for carrier-supported ratting, as are other missile ships like the Cerberus, Nighthawk, Drake, and Onyx. Carrier-supported ratting also works well for ratting battleships, notably quicker ones like the Machariel, Maelstrom, and Tempest. However, obviously the type of ship can be tuned to the type of rat you'll be facing. If you're facing Blood Raider rats, for example, an Apocalypse can benefit just as well from carrier support as other ships. It will just be somewhat slower getting out if threatened.
In short, any ratting ship not using drone DPS is a good fit. Use whatever you're comfortable ratting with. If you have yet to start ratting at all, the Tengu is a terrific initial choice. It's combination of strong tank, decent DPS, kiting ability, and standard fit using no drones are a perfect match for carrier-supported ratting.
To perform carrier-supported ratting, you'll need the following:
- a carrier, preferably a Thanatos;
- a friendly POS in the system you intend to rat in that is not a Jump Bridge POS; and,
- at least one, and potentially as many as three ratting ships.
A typical carrier does 100 DPS with each of its fighters, assuming Fighters V skill has been trained. The Thanatos, however, receives a 5% per level bonus to fighter damage. This bonus is received by the pilot to whom the Thanatos pilot assigns his fighters. Fighter damage is based on the carrier pilot's skill when fighters are assigned, not the receiving pilot's skill. As a result, if the Thanatos pilot has both Fighters V and Gallente Carrier V, it will do 125 DPS with each of its fighters.
It will also be quite helpful if the ratting ship or ships has a Target Painter assigned to a mid slot. Fighter damage is calibrated based on the signature radius of a small capital ship. Therefore, without a Target Painter on the target, damage from the fighters will be substantially reduced.
There are two phases to the process for carrier-supported ratting, the set-up phase and the implementation phase. There are also some preliminary steps that should be taken before using this type of ratting for the first time.
The preliminary steps involve finding an "anchor point" for your carrier. Fighters and drones can only be launched while a ship is in space and outside the force field of a POS. Therefore, your carrier will need to be in space and stationary, very near your friendly POS. Ideally, your carrier should be close enough to the POS shields that the carrier can enter the shields fairly quickly if threatened. It's also smart if your anchor point is surrounded by POS modules or the like that will de-cloak ships attempting to sneak up on you.
As a result, before using this technique for the first time, un-dock in an interceptor or other fast ship and get a close look at your POS. You're looking for an anchor point close to the POS shields and close to anchored modules where these modules will act as a hindrance to ships attempting to bump you. As a result, an anchor point that is on the same horizontal plane as the POS is likely going to be ideal. Find your anchor point, create a bookmark there and pass this bookmark on to the carrier pilot.
The set-up phase is as follows:
- Launch the carrier from its starting point, usually a station. Warp to the anchor point.
- Once the carrier's landed on the anchor point, move around as needed to get into an ideal position. You need to be far enough away from the POS shield to launch fighters, but not so far away that you can't get back into the shields quickly.
- Orient the carrier so that it is pointing toward the POS.
- Activate any Drone Control Units needed to assign five fighters per ratting pilot.
- Have the involved pilot with the best Leadership skills create a fleet. Have the carrier pilot and all ratting pilots join that fleet.
- All pilots that will be ratting should create a watch list with the carrier pilot on top.
- Launch all ratting ships from their starting point and have them warp to the carrier at a range of 5000 meters or so.
- Have the carrier launch fighters.
- Select five fighters from the Drone dialogue, right click the group, select "Assign" and assign them to the first ratting pilot.
- If using a second ratting pilot, select five more fighters from the Drone dialogue, right click that group and assign them to the second pilot. Repeat if needed for a third ratting pilot (assuming Carrier V skill and the use of five Drone Control Units).
- Confirm with each ratting pilot that the drones are assigned.
If the fighters are assigned properly, they will supplant any drones carried by the ratting ship. The ratting ship will not be able to launch its own drones while using assigned fighters. In all other ways, though, the assigned fighters will act as if they had been launched from the ship using them. The ratting ship can instruct them to engage any targets desired.
Once the preliminaries and set-up are completed, the actual process for carrier-supported ratting is quite straight-forward:
- The tankiest ratting ship in the group warps to the site or anomaly to be run. His or her fighters will follow, arriving after they have warped to the same location.
- Once the tankiest ship has drawn aggression, the remaining ratting ships warp in as well.
- The carrier remains stationary at its anchorage.
- The ratting ships engage the site.
Ratting of the site proceeds normally. The site cannot be one that uses acceleration gates since fighters cannot traverse them. However, sites such as Sanctums, Havens, Hubs, and the like can be done in this fashion. Many scanned down sites also do not use acceleration gates and carrier fighters can assist with these as well. Each ratting ship will gain between 500 and 625 DPS assuming five fighters are assigned, depending on the exact skill of the carrier pilot. A typical ratting Tengu has about 650 DPS usually, so a ratting Tengu assisted by five Thanatos fighters will have 1275 DPS.
In practice, I find that two ratting ships with ten assigned fighters is the optimal in terms of quickly destroying sites while also not overlapping ratting ship DPS -- particularly non-instant missile DPS -- onto targets. It's also extremely easy to control two ratting ships at once in a typical site. Also in practice, I find the optimal means of clearing the sites is to use the ratting ships to clear battle cruisers and below while using the fighters to concentrate on battleships. Remember that at least one ratting ship should provide a Target Painter for the fighters's target! If two Tengus with five fighters each are used, the ten fighters coordinated onto a single rat battleship will destroy it about as quickly as the Tengus can destroy one cruiser or battle cruiser each. In a Sanctum or Haven, usually the Tengus will finish with the smaller targets first at which point they can assist with the remaining battleships.
Once the first site is complete, each ship need only warp to the next site. The fighters will follow automatically after a short interval. It is not necessary to warp back to the carrier between sites.
The carrier pilot will not receive any ISK or positive security status from ratting in this fashion. Only the ships on grid at the time of a rat's destruction will receive credit. Therefore, if ISK is to be shared amongst all participants, this will have to be handled manually. Of course if the same player is controlling all of the pilots involved, this requirement is rather academic.
If a dangerous situation occurs (for instance, the pilots are ratting in an entirely blue system and a hostile gang appears in Local), the optimal way to pull the ratting ships out is to have them warp directly to the carrier using the convenient watch list dialogue. Ideally, the squad leader for the created fleet can just warp the entire ratting fleet to the carrier. The fighters will follow after a short interval. The entire group can then await the hostile gang's departure just outside the POS shields. If the gang departs, ratting continues. If the gang warps into the POS, the ratting group has the option of simply ducking inside the shields. This is why you pointed the carrier in the direction the POS earlier: so that it will not have to turn first. Remember to have the carrier pilot recall all fighters to its drone bay before the carrier enters the shields!
When ratting is completed, the carrier pilot need only order all fighters to return to the drone bay. They will warp away from the ratting ship from wherever they are. However, this process will be quickened somewhat if the ratting ships warp to the carrier first, dragging their fighters with them using the procedure above.
It is extremely important that the POS selected for the anchorage not have a public password! If the POS is a Jump Bridge POS or another POS to which the password is known by hostiles, they will have an extremely easy time bumping the stationary carrier off its anchorage. You may safely assume that the passwords for any Jump Bridge POSes in use by your alliance are public.
Since your role here is essentially defensive -- you're not wanting to get into a fight -- "dick star" POSes are generally better for anchorages than "death star" POSes. A dick star (a POS with a strong emphasis on e-war modules) will generally have a lot more modules around it scattered more widely, making it friendlier for anchorages. The jammers around a dick star will also make it easier for the carrier and ratting ships to slip inside the shields if they are caught by surprised and webbed. The webbing ships might find themselves jammed in short order.
If one or more ratting ships are tackled, it is of course possible to use the assigned fighters as additional DPS against the tacklers. Remember to use your Target Painter! Fighters supported by a TP do a surprising amount of damage to cruiser-sized tacklers, though they will not be of much use against frigate tacklers. Any kill-mails received through this will credit the carrier pilot with the fighter DPS.
If a tackled ratting ship requires the use of any drones it carriers natively, the assigned fighters can be assigned back to the carrier pilot at any time by right clicking the group and selecting the appropriate option. The ship's native drones will then be available for use. However, once this is done the ratting ship loses access to the fighter DPS and cannot recall the fighters. The carrier pilot will have to reassign the fighters to the ratting ship.
It is of course quite possible for the carrier to warp to the rescue of a tackled ratting ship if desired. Of course, this might be counter-productive since the primary reason to use this technique is to keep one's carrier out of harm's way...
Carrier-supported ratting can greatly enhance the DPS of a ratting ship or ships without putting the carrier at risk. In fact, done correctly the risk to the carrier when using this process is near zero. This applies particularly to friendly systems with no hostile pilots well behind friendly lines. If a ratting pilot keeps an eye on Local (or applicable intel channels), he can warp the ratting ships out of danger the moment hostiles appear in system.
In the meantime, if the carrier is supporting two ratting Tengus, effective damage of those two Tengus is doubled while using this procedure. In practice, this more than triples the ratting income possible since the ability of the rats to self-repair under such overwhelming player DPS will be reduced substantially. In practice, I found it is possible to complete a Sanctum in five to six minutes using this process with two Tengus, allowing eight or more sites to be completed per hour. This process can also be used in the newly-buffed Hubs, though of course the Hubs have reduced rat battleship presence. Still, every little DPS helps!
That concludes the carrier-supported ratting guide. I hope this guide has been helpful and will be profitable to you!