recently revamped all of the Heavy Assault Cruisers in its Odyssey
1.1 update, in addition to buffing active shield boosters and armour repairers and rebalancing medium beam lasers and railguns. Last week I put together
a new brawler setup for the recently revamped Deimos, a sentry drone sniper fitting for the Ishtar, an extremely effective anti-frigate Cerberus setup, and a sadly underwhelming railgun Eagle. This week I've turned my attention toward the Amarr and Minmatar HACs, with some surprising results. The Zealot and Sacrilege are still as powerful as ever, and the Muninn may see some use as a tactical frigate sniper, but this patch could see many players retiring their Vagabonds.
The nano-fit Vagabond was once the unrivaled number one ship for lone pirates
, able to speed-tank anything larger than a frigate and still deal over 500 DPS. It engaged safely from outside web range, moved too fast for turrets to track, and absorbed any attacks that did hit with its sizable buffer tank. When CCP
made warp scramblers knock out microwarpdrives, Vagabond pilots adapted with dual propulsion module fits that use a microwarpdrive to approach the target and an afterburner to orbit. Unfortunately, the Vagabond didn't fare well in the Odyssey
1.1 patch and players aren't sure if they can adapt this time.
In this week's EVE Evolved
, I put together PvP setups for the at the Zealot, Sacrilege, Muninn, and Vagabond Heavy Assault Cruisers.
The setup above is a standard kiting fit designed to operate from outside web range, but it's been modified to take advantage of the ship's new 37.5% shield booster bonus. It deals 585 DPS on paper but will realistically deal about 430 to 485 at its operating range of around 17.5km to 22.5km. The problem with active setups like this on the Vagabond is that it doesn't have enough base buffer to survive a few errant hits. The booster repairs over 25% of the shield on each activation, but with only 17.7k effective hitpoints and no shield extenders, you can find yourself in armour when hit by the alpha strike from just a few ships. Blue Pill combat boosters are essential
, as they increase the amount of shield boosted and stack with the ship bonus.
The ship reaches a total of only 32.5k effective hitpoints after accounting for nine boosts from the shield booster, and after that you're dead in the water. Active tanking also requires the resistances from the invulnerability field, so you can't fit an afterburner and will lose your speed advantage if your microwarpdrive is shut off by a tackler with a short range warp scrambler. It's possible to just about squeeze an X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster
onto this fit with fitting implants and rigs. This will increase its effective hitpoints over the duration of a fight to over 60k or 77k with Strong Blue Pill, but it won't really help when you can be instantly popped by focused alpha from a couple of ships.
It's possible to fit the Muninn as a close-range brawler
with 425mm Autocannon IIs and a 1600mm plate, but the result is barely better than a Rupture and is about 10 times the price. With only one spare high slot for a utility module or missile launcher, Odyssey
1.1 has solidified the Muninn's role as a mid-range sniper. The setup above can snipe at 90-120km with Tremor M but deals only 257 DPS with a 1.9k alpha strike. That's about half the DPS of the Tornado and a quarter of its alpha strike. What makes the Muninn stand out is that it can track small ships like assault frigates. It's about as good at tracking frigates as the Eagle, but with over double the alpha strike it's actually useful in an anti-frigate capacity.
Using Depleted Uranium or Titanium Sabot ammo will drop the ship's effective range to 50-80km but increase its alpha strike to 2.2k and make it much easier to hit speeding frigates. If you need to snipe frigates at ranges beyond 70km, using Tremor M will significantly reduce your hit chance, and Carbonized Lead will kill your alpha strike. The best choice might be to load Tremor M but use your microwarpdrive to align yourself with the direction the enemy ship is moving, reducing its transverse velocity and increasing your chance to hit. Launching the drones and setting them to aggressive will make them automatically attack any tacklers or enemy drones that engage you and provide a measure of protection. The cloaking device is obviously optional but can be handy for setting up a trap for unsuspecting frigate gangs.
The Zealot was the least changed of all the Heavy Assault Cruisers, but it benefits from some pretty major changes to medium beam lasers. It's always been a solid damage platform for mobile armour fleets, and the standard Heavy Pulse Laser II fit delivered excellent tracking and damage projection up to 35-40km. That setup still works, but Odyssey
1.1 has made the equivalent beam fitting above a real contender for fleet warfare. While the pulse variant is capped at a range limit of around 40km with Scorch M, the beam setup can switch crystals to cover ranges all the way up to its 93.75km base lock range.
There are a few variations on this setup going around, including some using Focused Medium Pulse Laser IIs
to save on power grid. I prefer Heavy Beam Laser IIs as the smaller variant reaches only about 80km with Aurora M, and its additional tracking speed isn't significant, but they are definitely harder to fit. The tracking computer can be switched for a Sensor Booster II to provide some measure of protection against sensor dampening or for a Small Capacitor Booster II if you find yourself having capacitor trouble.
Like the Zealot, the Sacrilege wasn't significantly changed by the patch. Its bonuses now apply to long-range heavy missiles in addition to heavy assault missiles, but the Sacrilege will always be a close-range brawler. The setup above is a pretty standard dual repairer fit
that deals 571 DPS with Hammerhead IIs and rage missiles in overloaded launchers, but its big trick is that it can tank over 830 DPS or 1,000 with the repairers overloaded. The ancillary repairer runs out of Nanite Repair Paste after one minute of flat-out activity; when this happens, your tank will drop to just 384 DPS for 60 seconds while the module reloads, leaving you extremely vulnerable.
Try to tank on your normal repairer for as long as you can and activate the ancillary repairer only when it's absolutely necessary. Swapping the ancillary repairer for a second standard tech II repairer gives a sustainable 618 DPS tank or 768 with the repairers overloaded. A Nosferatu II in the spare high slot would help conserve cap booster charges, but the Sacrilege can actually carry enough capacitor injectors to keep the tank and an energy neutraliser going for about 10 minutes. The energy neutraliser will help to break active tanks and provides a measure of defense against tacklers.
It seems that the goal of this patch has been to bring all of the heavy assault cruisers up to the same level of power as the Zealot and Sacrilege. It's a worthwhile goal but one that may ultimately have failed for several ships. The Ishtar has become a formidable sniper
that can place its turrets around the battlefield, and the Cerberus is now an absolute frigate-killing god, but both the Eagle and Vagabond are outclassed by other ships in the same role.
At this point, the Eagle is obsolete, and it's hard for Vagabond pilots to justify not just shelling out a few extra million to upgrade to a Cynabal. The Sacrilege and Deimos have both also become powerful active tanked brawlers for small-scale gang warfare, but neither appears to have been designed with fleet roles in mind. While I'm sure the ships all now look balanced on paper, I get the feeling that CCP hasn't fully investigated the roles it wants each ship to be in and that another round of balance changes may be needed.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.