EVE Evolved title image
While EVE Online's recent Crucible expansion brought us over a hundred small features, balance tweaks, and graphical updates, its headline feature was undoubtedly the four new tier 3 battlecruisers. It's been several years since a new combat ship was added to EVE, and combat had begun to get a little stale. Most of EVE's ships follow a logical design progression, with larger ships having more tank and higher damage output. CCP turned that concept on its head with the new tier 3 battlecruisers, which deal battleship-class damage but have both the agility and paper-thin tank of a tech 1 cruiser.

The Caldari Naga is the very definition of a glass cannon, able to output more damage than a Megathron or Rokh but at the cost of having practically no tank. It can be sniper-fit to deal around 650 DPS at ranges of 100-130km, blaster-fit to output a raw 1,500 DPS at ranges below 10km, or even set up to fight effectively with blasters outside web range. Its high top speed and cruiser-like agility add new gameplay options to existing sniper and heavy damage-dealer fleet roles, providing battleship-class damage for roaming cruiser gangs. It's a potential game-changer for nullsec alliances engaging in hit-and-run style warfare, but as with all new ships it can be difficult to figure out an effective ship fitting.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I explore three solid fittings for the Naga designed to fill common PvP roles.

Naga fitting: Sniper squad
With its optimal range bonus, the Naga is a natural sniper. It can be fit to hit targets 220km-249km away with Spike L ammo, but in practice sniping rarely takes place at these ranges. In nullsec territorial warfare, sniper squads are parked around 100-150km from the main enemy force to make it difficult for the enemy to warp on top of the squad. Enemy covert ops ships will always be probing for your sniper squad and trying to set up a warp-in ambush, but it's impossible to warp to a target under 150km away. If you're less than 150km from the main enemy force, the covert ops pilot will have to manually set up the warp-in by slowly flying tens of kilometers behind your squad, slowing him down considerably.

If even a handful of enemy ships reach your sniper squad, it could be game over for the fleet. This is especially true of fleets with the Naga, which has the buffer tank of a cruiser and so can only absorb a few pot shots before turning into molten space poop. The solution to this problem might actually lie in the Tier 3 battlecruisers' excellent mobility, as the Naga also has the microwarpdrive speed and warp alignment time of a cruiser. A good fleet commander may be able to use this improved mobility to keep the fleet safe from enemy probers, but how this plays out in practice remains to be seen.

side-imageThe setup above has literally under 17k effective hitpoints, meaning it could be killed by the alpha strike from just a few enemy snipers before its pilot could react. Naga pilots will have to be fast on their feet and warp out at the first sign of threat, using their high agility to quickly warp back to the squad in a manner that battleships just can't do as quickly or safely. This setup uses two tracking computers with optimal range scripts to essentially increase its damage, as it lets you use ammo with higher damage but lower range. When using navy uranium charges, this setup hits its peak of 600-650 DPS against moving targets between 100km and 130km away.

Rig choices are all optional, as they provide only small bonuses to optimal range and damage. Three Core Defense Field Extender I rigs will only raise its effective hitpoints by a measly 6.1k, and for a ship that shouldn't be taking any damage if it's used correctly, they don't make a lot of sense. The choice essentially comes down to astronautic rigs to increase mobility, lock speed/range rigs to decrease the DPS downtime caused by warping around the field of battle, and hybrid rigs to slightly increase damage.

Naga fitting: Blaster
Whenever CCP makes a Caldari sniping ship, it's tradition for players to throw their railguns out the window and slap a set of short-range blasters on it. The Moa, Eagle and Rokh are all routinely flown with blaster setups, and the Naga has not escaped this trend. The Naga's incredible damage-dealing potential and insane mobility makes it a terrifying ship to fight, but its paper-thin tank makes it just as terrifying to fly. With an overloaded microwarpdrive and one cheap 3% speed implant, the setup above can comfortably reach over 2,000m/s, and with a full rack of Neutron Blaster Cannon IIs it can pack an incredible 1,000-1,500 DPS depending on the ammo used. I chose a tech 2 hybrid rig because it's currently only around 20 million ISK, but a tech 1 version works almost as well for a tiny fraction of the cost.

Most blaster Naga setups I've seen have the classic tackle module trio above with a short range warp scrambler, a stasis web, and a microwarpdrive. The microwarpdrive is used to close into almost point-blank range, the warp scrambler shuts down the enemy's microwarpdrive, and the web slows him down enough to let your blasters track him. If all you're going after in this setup is lone battleships, then this setup makes some sense, but it treats the Naga as just another blaster boat and overlooks many of its strengths. The combination of the Naga's speed, optimal range bonus, and ability to fit large tech 2 blasters with long-range Null ammo produces a blaster ship uniquely qualified to dictate the range of engagement and fight outside web and warp scrambler range. Given its paper-thin tank, you'll find that choosing to close in to web range may prove to be an expensive mistake.

Naga fitting: Blaster 20km+
The setup above is an experimental long-range blaster Naga able to comfortably deal most of its damage to moving targets as far as 30km away. Although it's rated for 1,073 DPS with perfect skills and a few cheap implants, in a real fight it's unlikely to break 900 due to turret tracking. Against an unwebbed target, this setup will do most of its damage between 12km and 25km from the target, placing it firmly between web and warp disruptor range. Instead of closing to point-blank range with a short range warp scrambler and web, this setup kites large targets just under 24km and uses a long-range warp disruptor for tackle. The mid slot saved by dropping the web can be used for either more tank or a tracking computer.

Because of the Naga's low hitpoint pool, it'd be advisable to fit an extra Large Shield Extender II, but to make it fit you'll need to either drop the hybrid rig for an Ancillary Current Router I or downgrade a few neutrons to ion blasters. I strongly advise keeping the neutron blasters, as the lower optimal range and falloff of ion blasters will wreck this setup. I'm a big fan of the tracking computer option, as its script can be switched on-the-fly from optimal range to tracking speed. An optimal range script will let this setup deal over 500 DPS at 35km, which could be very handy when approaching a target or getting to a safer distance when someone else has the enemy tackled. Switching to the tracking speed script will significantly improve the damage this setup deals to moving targets below 25km, so you should switch scripts once you get within warp disruptor range.

Final thoughts image
With its paper-thin tank, the Naga is only truly effective when incoming damage isn't an issue. For sniping, this means Naga pilots have to be highly mobile, warping between sniping spots when they come under threat. The new corporate bookmark system could help with this a lot by giving a fleet's covert ops pilots a quick and safe way to deliver sniping spot bookmarks to a sniper squad. Covert ops pilots could spend an entire battle making new spots for snipers to warp to, eliminating the risk of re-using an old spot.

For close ranged blaster setups, the Naga's poor tank necessitates the use of logistics ships. Tier 3 battlecruisers are going to be called primary target by every gang to quickly eliminate their incredible damage output, but teams of skilled logistics pilots dedicated to keeping tier 3 battlecruisers alive could easily turn that to their advantage. Without logistics ships to back it up, a blaster Naga will need to constantly keep an escape option open and warp out if actually threatened.

I'm quite impressed with the Naga on paper, though its poor tank may make it difficult to master in a real combat environment. It's a niche ship that adds some new gameplay elements to existing PvP roles, and it makes some serious damage available to roaming cruiser gangs. My main gripe with the new battlecruisers is that they are far from cost-effective; a full rack of large tech 2 neutron blasters will cost you more than the Naga itself, and modules can't be covered by insurance. The Naga makes a fantastic sniper or blaster boat, but the cost of losing one means this is one flavour of the month ship that will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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