As part of a gang, however, remote armour repair and shield transfer modules allow pilots to specialise into a traditional healer role. Rather than having each player repair their own damage, it can be much more effective to have a dedicated medic ship to repair anyone that gets shot at. There are even specialised ships for would-be healers in EVE, from entry-level cruisers to advanced Tech 2 Logistics ships and massive capital ships. Medic ships can be an effective part of any gang, whether you're tackling a tough level 4 or 5 mission or engaging in large-scale gang PvP.
In this first part of a two-part look into dedicated healers in EVE Online, I look at the more affordable ships and modules available and the best strategy for healing in PvE.
Entry level ships and modules:
Standard armour repairers are low slot modules that can only repair your own ship. Similarly, shield boosters fit in mid slots and can only boost your own shields. Remote versions of both modules exist which fit into high slots and repair the shield or armour of your active target. Remote armour repairers are popular in PvP and are heavily used in Gallente or Amarr group PvE setups. Shield transfers are great for helping shield tanked ships stay alive and as such are popular with Caldari mission and exploration groups. There are small, medium and large versions of each and they can be used on any ship, leading to some unconventional fits.
The entry level ships for pilots specialising in a healer-type role are the Gallente Exequror and Caldari Osprey cruisers. The Exequror gets a 10% reduction in remote repairer capacitor usage per level of Gallente Cruiser and the Osprey gets a similar 10% reduction in shield transfer capacitor usage per level of Caldari Cruiser. Both ships come with a built-in a role bonus giving them an additional 500% to the range of their respective modules, making medium remote armour repairers reach a respectable 30km and medium shield transfers up to 36km. Another popular choice for a cheap dedicated healer ship which doesn't require months of skills is the Dominix. Although it gets no range bonus, it's still a popular choice as most of its damage comes from drones. This frees up its six high slots to fit large remote armour repairers or shield transfers.
While the standard Tech 1 remote repair cruisers are of limited usefulness, their Tech 2 big brothers are incredible healers. The Gallente Oneiros and Amarr Guardian both get a massive 750% bonus to the range of remote armour repairers and a 100% bonus to the amount repaired by its armour repair drones. In addition, they get a 15% reduction in remote repairer capacitor use per level of the Logistics skill. The Caldari Basilisk and Minmatar Scimitar have similar bonuses oriented toward shield transfers, with a 750% bonus per level to their range and a 15% capacitor usage reduction per level.
Perhaps most important to the success of logistics ships is their built-in role bonus. The Oneiros and Guardian both get a reduction in powergrid usage for remote armour repairers while the Basilisk and Scimitar get a CPU usage reduction for shield transfers. This allows Logistics ships to fit a full rack of large remote repairers or shield transfers instead of just mediums. With their built-in range bonus, a logistics ship can repair their target from just over 71km away, well out of range of most potential threats. Both the Basilisk and Guardian are extremely popular choices due to their additional bonuses to remote energy transfer modules.
Possibly the best and most easily executed strategy for taking on missions or exploration content as a group is one that will seem very familiar to most MMO players. One player's ship is designated as the main tank. His ship will forgo armour repairers or shield boosters, instead concentrating on maximising his armour or shield resistances and hitpoints. High resistances will reduce all incoming damage, meaning the healers have less damage to repair. The main tank's job is to go into the mission or site ahead of the group and draw aggression from every NPC in the area.
NPCs tend to hang around in groups and shooting just one enemy out of each group once will be enough to get their attention. Unlike in other MMOs, most NPCs in EVE won't re-target another ship once they've picked someone to attack. By getting all the enemies to attack the main tank, the rest of the group can be assured that they won't be shot at. At this point, the healer ships can warp in and start repairing any damage the main tank is taking. Anyone else joining the group is safe to come in a pure damage fit ship to make short work of the NPCs.
If you're going for a specialised setup like this, be careful the first time you do any mission or exploration site. Some contain additional spawns or waves of enemies that may target the remote repair ship or damage dealers when triggered. Typically, NPCs go for the closest enemy within range or wait for one of their group to be shot at before attacking, so it's advisable for the remote repair ship to stay well behind the main tank. If any ship other than the main tank comes under fire, their best course of action will be to warp out and then return.
Even in EVE Online, you can't escape the holy trinity of tank, healer and damage-dealer. Whether you're doing it all yourself or using a more specialised strategy, all three roles have to be filled. Running specialised gangs with a dedicated medic ship is great way for a group to work together and complete some of EVE's tougher exploration sites and missions. In next week's final part of this two-part guide to healing in EVE, I look at capital ships, the role of healers in PvP and the complexities of healing in wormhole encounters.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at massively.com. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at brendan.drain AT weblogsinc DOT com.