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EVE Evolved: Fitting Heavy Assault Cruisers in Odyssey 1.1

EVE Evolved: Fitting Heavy Assault Cruisers in Odyssey 1.1
Brendan Drain
Brendan Drain|@nyphur|September 8, 2013 6:00 PM
EVE Evolved Fitting Heavy Assault Cruisers in Odyssey 11
The Odyssey 1.1 patch landed this week in EVE Online, introducing several highly requested PvP tweaks and overhauling all of the Command Ships and Heavy Assault Ships. Active shield boosters, armour repairers and medium-sized long range turrets all received sizable buffs, but it's the newly updated Heavy Assault Cruisers that really took my interest. They've historically been used as highly mobile damage-dealers for fleet warfare, but now each has been targeted at a specific combat niche. The Deimos is a brawler for small-scale gang warfare, the Ishtar is a heavy drone platform, the Cerberus turns frigates into molten poop, and the Eagle is... well, nobody can really figure out what to do with the Eagle yet.

All of the HACs have been augmented with a new role bonus that reduces the signature radius penalty of activating a microwarpdrive by 50%. This may seem pretty weak, but in practice it makes the ships a lot more viable in PvP. Activating your microwarpdrive will normally increase your signature radius size by 500%, making you a hell of a lot easier to hit and increasing the damage you take from missiles. The speed boost will counteract this to some degree, but it takes a while to reach that speed, and you're very vulnerable in the interim. Reducing this to only 250% means you get all the defensive benefit of the speed increase without much of the vulnerability. In most cases, you'll actually take less damage with the microwarpdrive on than off.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I put together PvP setups for the at the newly revamped Deimos, Ishtar, Cerberus, and Eagle Heavy Assault Cruisers.

Deimos PvP ship fitting
Odyssey 1.1 has reimagined the Deimos as a deadly hunter for solo or small gang warfare. The old 800mm plated neutron blaster setup still kind of works, but a new 37.5% boost to armour repairers makes it much more effective as an active tanked brawler. The setup above uses a Medium Capacitor Booster II to feed one Medium Armor Repairer II and one Medium Ancillary Armor Repairer. Boosted by the ship bonus and rigs, these will repair 874 DPS or up to 1087 DPS when overloaded. The ancillary repairer will last for only eight cycles before needing to be reloaded, so it'll need to be used sparingly. Swapping it for a more sustainable second Medium Armor Repairer II will drop the tank to 650 DPS or 809 with the repairers overloaded.

This setup deals a respectable 684 DPS with Void M ammo or 762 when the guns are overloaded, and its new top speed of 1,925 m/s will definitely help it get in range to apply that damage. If you have trouble fitting the weapons, swapping the neutron blasters for ion blasters is a viable option and will only cost 15-20 DPS. Using Navy Cap Booster 800 charges will technically inject more capacitor over time, but it might actually be better to use 400s. If your capacitor is emptied by energy neutralisers, you can pulse the capacitor booster and immediately spend 314 of the 400 supplied by activating both repairers. Then you can hopefully get a few cycles of weapons fire off before you're neutralised back to zero capacitor again.

Ishtar PvP ship fitting
The Ishtar has been refocused as a pure drone platform, with bonuses to both heavy combat drones and sentry drones. The increased sentry drone tracking speed and optimal range lets the above setup snipe with Bouncer IIs to deal 581 DPS at over 125km or Garde IIs for 664 DPS at over 60km. This ship's job is to provide support DPS for its gang that can be consistently applied at medium to long range. Due to the tracking links and target painter, the Garde IIs will actually track a microwarpdriving cruiser extremely well between 20km and 70km. Stay safe in combat by burning out about 50km from the nearest enemy ship and keeping your transverse velocity to enemy turret ships high.

Since the Ishtar has no bonuses to weapon systems other than drones and this setup is designed to operate at over 50km, energy neutralisers are used to help to disable any tacklers that manage to get close. The combat drone tracking and speed bonus has also opened up some interesting potential fittings that can slaughter anything cruiser sized with heavy drones. Just swap the sensor booster and target painter in the above setup for two Drone Navigation Computer IIs and you'll find that a set of Berserker II's will hit a blistering 3.5km/s with an insane tracking speed of around 1.19 radians/sec. That should effectively allow it to chase down and kill anything cruiser-sized and even some frigates.

Cerberus PvP ship fitting
While the new Cerberus makes a half-decent support damage-dealer for mobile cruiser fleets, it can also now become an absolute monster when fit for anti-frigate duty. The setup above is designed solely to maximise damage application on unwebbed frigates. It deals a maximum of only 334 DPS, or 384 with the launchers overloaded, but it'll still apply over 90% of that to frigates and assault frigates while they're at full speed and over 50% to a speeding interceptor. Most anti-frigate cruisers rely on getting close enough to slow the target with a stasis web to get those results, but the Cerberus can do it from up to 47km away. Use Scourge Precision missiles for maximum damage projection against frigates or Scourge Fury for a small damage increase against cruisers.

There are several variations of this setup already flying around using passive tanks that hit 35k to 46k effective hitpoints, but the X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster works out better on paper for small fights. If the booster gets all nine overloaded cycles out before you're destroyed, it will have added an extra 42,369 effective hitpoints on top of the base of 18,732 for a total of up to 61,101. In order to kill you before the total reaches the 46k that an equivalent passive tank can manage, your enemy would need to do it in just 25.5 seconds (or 21.25 seconds if you overload the invulnerability fields). You'd need to be taking about 2,165 DPS to the face to die that quickly, which isn't beyond the realm of possibility but isn't very likely in small-scale PvP.

Eagle PvP ship fitting
The Eagle was a bit pathetic before the patch, made all the worse by the fact that railguns were horribly underpowered. Most people opted to fit it with blasters instead, and it filled a niche as a very tanky close-range brawler. Odyssey 1.1 killed off the blaster Eagle by removing the utility high slot that was often used for an energy neutraliser, making it clear that CCP wants this to be a railgun ship. Both the Eagle and the railgun weapon type received significant buffs in the patch, but they're honestly still very underwhelming. The Eagle may some day find a niche as an accurate sniper designed to pick off small ships, but right now a Naga, Rohk, sentry Ishtar, or Dominix will outperform it at any range.

One of the Eagle's key features is that it has enough mid slots to field an impressive buffer tank for its size class, but you need to drop to Thorium M ammo in order to track well in the 40-70km range where that tank is most useful. The setup above deals only 482 DPS on paper with Federation Navy Antimatter M charges or 568 DPS with the guns overloaded, and it even has trouble tracking a moving cruiser properly at optimal range. It can also snipe at 100-150km with Spike M ammo, but it deals only 329 DPS at this range. In comparison, the Naga deals almost twice as much and is a lot cheaper to lose.

Game title image
The changes to Heavy Assault Cruisers appear fine on the surface, but having dug into them and tested out some new setups, I don't think CCP really knows what to do with this ship class. The Deimos looks as if it'll be great damage-dealer and heavy tackler for small-scale gang warfare, but the Ishtar is just plain overpowered. Sentry drones with high tracking speed can track far more effectively at long range than standard turrets, so the new Ishtar is essentially a faster, harder-to-hit Dominix.

Before the update, CCP Rise wrote that he felt the Eagle and Cerberus were in really good shape and he worried about their ending up a little on the powerful side. While the patch did inadvertently turn the Cerberus into an absolute frigate-demolishing machine, it's not that hot with the heavy and heavy assault missiles it's intended to use. The Eagle is an even bigger mess, unable to apply its damage effectively at any kind of reasonable range and being completely outclassed by several cheaper ships. Next week I'll take a look at PvP setups for the Amarr Zealot and Sacrilege and the Minmatar Vagabond and Muninn.

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.
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EVE Evolved: Fitting Heavy Assault Cruisers in Odyssey 1.1