EVE: Mission Runner Armor Tanking 101

In EVE the Amarr and Gallente both almost exclusively run armor tanks in their larger ships, and some Minmatar ships do as well. As you get into higher end missions in Battlecruisers and Battleships your ability to tank be one of the primary factors in your ability to make money, and not loose ships worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions of isk. Bad tanks cause a lot of grief to newer mission runners, so here is some basics that could get your tank ready to roll.

The Do Nots and Myths of Tanking:
Hey, we like our shields and our armor, so let's repair them both! Even better, we want to last a long a long time so lets load up on insane armor and shield hit points! Both of these sound nice, but both of them miss the two most important aspects of tanking, defense and capacitor stability.

Defense is a statistic provided by your shield and armor repair units, as well as your shield's recharge time, which is quite literally points of repair over time. For instance an armor repper could be repairing 240 damage every 2.5 seconds. Now a common misconception is that this should be considered "healing" of some sort, but it isn't when you're under fire. That is instead the amount of damage that can be completely negated every 2.5 seconds. So if you took a missile doing 100 damage every second, your armor would only really be taking 10 damage every three seconds. Only two reppers can be active on a ship at any given time, so for our example 480/2.5 would be the new defense.

Let's say that 480/2.5 isn't good enough anymore, your taking 300 damage a second and that defense of yours just can't keep up. You can try and buffer that out, but that only extends the amount of armor you'll eat through before you warp out which isn't a true stable tank. You need more defense, but you can't fit any more reppers, what to do. This is where your ship's resists come in, you can't increase defense, but you can decrease the damage you have to defend against. If you're taking thermal damage, your ship may have a base resist of about 20%, and your taking 300 damage meaning they're actually throwing 360 damage at you every round. Throw on a thermal hardener and add 50% resist to that, 70% resist now and that 300 damage is now 108 damage. Even if you had only one repper on only 20 damage would make it through your tank.

So why not put a shield repper and an armor repper? Because one is going to have high resists and the other low resists. In that same example, but with a 240/2.5sec shield repper, and same on armor, your shield repper is going to be fighting against 300 damage a second and being completely overwhelmed, while about 20 points every three seconds is still going to get through your armor repper when it's done with your shields. Compare to two armor reppers which could sink all of the damage and you would never have to leave system at any point.

On top of that, you want to have a stable capacitor. Being cap stable requires a lot of work, lots of cap rechargers, and CCC rigs, or sacrificing massive amounts of cargo space to cap charges which become increasingly ineffectual. Missions are even more cap critical than PvP, since a PvP rig can get by lasting a few minutes since most engagements small enough to prevent your getting a chance to take a breather are only going to be a few minutes anyways. Missions however can take an hour or longer, and having to return to station to recharge cap is only going to make them longer. Using our above examples, the armor tanker with two reppers has the option of sticking to their one repper while the situation is controlled and decreasing dps by taking out ships, but they also know their tank won't break if they suddenly have to deal with a spawn doling out an addition 200 base-dps or 60 actual-dps. The split repper has a problem though, if they turn on their shield repper they will actually take more damage, and if both of them are on it'll eat through their cap at an accelerated rate. If they leave the shield repper off, then it's just wasting a space, one that would probably would have gone to something that could make them cap stable.

The Does and Facts of Tanking
So how does one tank a large ship for mission running? Ship Bonuses, Hardeners, Reppers, Cap Rechargers and Capacitor Control Circuits. But first our ships, I'm going to focus on Gallente and Amarr, since I know they regularly armor tank. BC wise this means the Brutix, Myrmidon, Harbinger, and Prophecy. The Brutix and Harbinger have roughly the same basic concept behind them, you'll want to get in fast and do lots of damage since you're probably going to get hit a lot. Even with ranged weapons you're going to need to move fairly quickly on occasion to get within range of ultra long range enemies. The Harbinger especially, since it doesn't give you any sort of boost to your tank except reducing the amount of cap drained by your weapons. The Myrm is a drone boat, so simply adding a drone link augmenter should, with good drone skills, set you up quite nicely to fight at any range. With the Prophecy, you have resists bonuses based on skill level, so you should be able to very easily set up a very strong tank, just add a bit of speed to close range when needed.

BS wise, you have the, Dominix, Megathron, Hyperion, Armageddon, Apocalypse, Abaddon. The Hyperion and the Abaddon are probably the only ships with significant tanking advantages, the others are all based off the idea of kill it faster than it kills you. However, the Hyperion will give you much better defense at high skill levels, and the Abaddon will provide much better resistances at high skill levels.

So what is a basic fit for mission tanking? 2x tech 2 reppers, medium for a battle cruise, large for a battleship, 4x tech 2 hardeners, I'll get into which in a bit, and a full mid row full of tech 2 cap rechargers, with two or three capacitor control rigs. Battleships are best with tech 2 rigs, for BCs it doesn't really matter that much. The most important thing about rechargers and CCCs is that they have a cumulative effect, one won't do much for you, two does slightly better, three is nice, four and above each one starts really having an impact.

This mission tanking guide will give you exact damage types for all of the enemy types as well as a hardener breakdown for each one. For the missions I run in Gal space, I usually need to know Serpentis, 2kin/2therm, Amarr, 2em/2therm, Angel, 3exp/1kin, and EoM/Gursita, 3kin/1therm. If you have additional low slots, I highly recommend Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II, or a Damage Control II. The EANM will increase all of your armor resists that extra little bit to really solidify your tank, the Damage Control will assist your tank a little, slightly increase your shield buffer, but most importantly it'll add about 60% resistance to all of your hull resists, giving you time to get out if you start entering hull damage.


A Recent Promotion

Well, the paperwork isn't through yet, but it seems I'm about to be promoted to an acting officer within my corp. This means I'll be a regular fleet commander, as well as taking a much more direct approach to my role of corporate trainer. The position is with the military wing of the corp, but chances are I'll still wind up active in every part of the corp as I usually am.

Our recent war has been going fairly well. After loosing at least one entire fleet to the guys hired to scout us out, we've managed to turn the tables on the corporation that started it all. We had been drawn into station camps and near station engagements by that first force, and the second force initially tried to stick to station camping our HQ.

First engagement was four of them, Brutix, Broadswoard, Vexor, and I forget the last but it was either tech 2 or a battle cruiser. About six of us with friendly support undocked and blew the Vexor to kingdom come, left the area, then came back and reversed the camp as the Broadsword would stop firing and then dock up every time his shields got low. From there we got used to the routine of hunting down most of their members, while the broadsword pilot stuck to 0 on station. The Vexor pilot has been hunted down religiously, loosing at least two assault frigs as well as a variety of other ships, but he's also been known to bait in a small ship then undock in a Megathron. Last time he did so we pinned him down and took him into hull before he could redock. We haven't seen his Megathron since.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the end of the war and getting back to mission running. I've had to dip into my EVEBank funds to keep myself within acceptable liquidity. On the other hand, my brand new Hyperion, built by a friend for a significant discount, is sitting at dock waiting for guns and insurance before it's worth flying.


Initial Flight Physics

Well, we're flying... still more to fix before flight is completed though.



small steps

Being There

So I haven't really been writing here regularly over the last week or two. I've had a fairly major change in the pace of life around here. That's left me a little on the depleted side lately, so I've just been playing EVE to keep myself feeling slightly busy.

A quick EVE progress report, where as I used to have a huge struggle to buy a myrm, I now own a fleet of 3 flyable battle cruisers and have one more on the market. My alt is now in a corp I've owned for about a year now, and working on getting to Hulk. 50mil is sitting in EBANK accruing a small amount of interest for me, as well.

WoW had another patch, and my blog roll lit up. I'm obviously following the wrong people since I haven't seen more than a couple words sideways on EVE's latest patch. In Apocrypha 1.1 Falcons have been massively changed, which doesn't effect me in the slightest, and Smart Bombers have been switched from Cruise Missiles to Torpedoes. The Stealth Bomber changes have effected several members of my corp, some like it, some don't, but a whole lot of cruise missile stockpiles were rendered obsolete. The minimum length for accessing cans and picking up drones was increased by about 1000 meters, which just makes everything involving cans, wrecks, and drones run a little bit nicer. A bunch of rendering changes, Orca corp hangers are still buggy as fuck if you don't have all your settings just right, and it's still pretty binary in terms of stability, either you will be perfectly stable, or you'll be disconnected religiously.

In terms of design thoughts, my major focus is usually on that first two hours of game play. I have a major advantage coming from a sim-game background in that I always know that my core game is just going to "work" for a certain percentage of the gamer population. The big question mark is how well can I pull people into it, how easily can I grease the transition between not knowing anything and having the sort of deep knowledge that makes a sim-game rewarding in the first place. The other problem of sim-games is that they are basically always slower paced, so what you need to do in the first couple hours is acquaint the player with the slow pace without completely boring them. This usually means finding an intermediary style of play that is fun and somewhat rewarding that they can do in their starter vessel.

It's advantageous to borrow Raph Koster's MMO concept of layered mini-games. Focus on making each step in a player's progression, in each of the major progress routes almost a game unto itself. Taking my EV clone for instance, Capital ship combat and fighter combat should not feel the same. Even if the user interface doesn't change, the way the player approaches the game should. The same should be true for marketing, construction, or planet/station ownership, each it's own game with it's own rules.



Ships: Purpose

I've been stuck with a terrible case of creators block lately. I'm still kind of in the middle of it, but I've decided that rather than wasting away playing EVE, I'm going to confront it head on. Since I'm obviously not going to be in the mood to run down a thousand mile feature list, I'm just going to go for creating something I know well. In this case, that will be an Escape Velocity clone. There are going to be some differences obviously, but overall, I'm just going to go for that basic style and see what comes out.

Mostly, I just already know mostly how to create that game. It doesn't require collision detection, and movement is all vectors in 0G which is easy enough. Systems are just text/xml files. Interface is simple enough, forward, backward, left, right, fire, fire special, dump cargo, jettison escape pod. Art assets are splash screen, UI, planets, stations, ships, modular customizations. Dynamic assets can be limited to trade developments, randomized mission availability and semi-random in-system events.

Finally, I have a good finalization moment. A point at which it is working well enough to release. A ship in every ship class, fighter, shuttle, frigate, light hauler, destroyer, medium hauler, heavy destroyer, heavy hauler, cruiser, escort carrier, battleship, carrier, super carrier. At least 30 systems, a task that is not as daunting as it sounds just a bit tedious at times. Two story lines need to be completed, along with a wide selection of random mission parameters. Once all of that is ready, it's release ready, everything afterward would just be for my own fun or to keep polishing it to my liking.



Quick Eve Report

Sorry for the lack of posts, between my brother moving out, and getting back into EVE again, yes again, I've been a little busy lately.

I'm now happily flying a Myrmidon on level 3 missions, and have about 55 mil in the bank. When I was spamming the missions I got up to 72 mil, then lost 30 mil of that on a particularly stupid mistake in a just purchased Myrmidon that I somehow managed to forget to insure. Now I go more slowly, though honestly, spending 3 days in a row in corp mines, two of which I haven't even been paid for yet, doesn't exactly speed things up for ya. A few interesting market orders have crossed my desk, one I haven't seen any profit from yet, but it could get up to 4:1. The other returns at closer to 18:1, but it moves slowly enough I've only seen about 6 mil a week out of it. Gallente Navy standings are now 6.00+ so I can start running level 4s pretty much as soon as I'm in a battleship which isn't too far off skill wise.