A Comprehensive New Player Guide to Tanking
One of the simplest tasks in Eve, yet also the most critical, is staying alive. If this comes as a surprise to the reader, please stop reading now. There are three ways to ensure that you stay alive:
1. Be able to sustain more damage than the other fellow can.
2. Be able to do more damage than the other fellow can.
3. Be able to evade hostile contact or break that contact.
The first of these criteria will be the focus of this article. Sustaining damage effectively can mean the difference between collecting a bounty or a trip back in your pod… or worse. The ability to sustain major amounts of damage without being destroyed/killed is referred to in nearly all MMORPG’s as being a “tank” or “tanking.”
The Nature of Tanking in EvE
In most games, tanking is the ability to greatly reduce the amount of damage you take and/or absorb a large amount of punishment to begin with. In EvE, the strength of a tank tends to be more resistance-based than high-health based, because of the immense damage potential of the game’s combat system. Technically, there are four methods of tanking in EVE, but only three are actually used. The four methods are: Active Shield Tanking, Passive Shield Tanking, Armor Tanking, and Structure Tanking. Of these four, structure tanking is not used, because a failure of the structure tank even for a moment would lead to the player’s demise (amongst other reasons.) Each of the three tanking systems has some benefits and some disadvantages. None of the systems is “better” – simply different, and utilizing different skills. Shield tankers enjoy the fact that, should their tank fail, they can still flee while armor protects them. Armor tankers enjoy the fact that they can rush in and engage in combat, and their shields protect them from even having to engage their tank right away. Below, each of the three major tanking systems is discussed. After the three tanking systems, a vital component of all three – resistance to damage – is covered.
Active Shield Tanking
Active shield tanking (AST) relies heavily on two items – shield boosters, and shield boost amplifiers. The AST name comes from the nature of the defensive style – you use your shields as your main source of damage absorption, and you actively reinforce them as they take damage. Both a shield booster and a shield boost amplifier use mid-slots; active shield tanking does not utilize low slots.
Shield boosters grant a very quick boost in shields for (usually) a similar amount of capacitor energy. Boost amplifiers increase that amount gained by a percentage, thereby allowing you to “heal” more per boost – considerably more energy efficient than using two boosters. While the overall healing rate may not be as fast as two boosters, the energy usage makes it superior in efficiency. For players who may not be able to afford the burn of two boosters, this is a viable option.
Medium Shield Booster (x2) uses 120 energy to give 120 shields every 3 seconds. (40 energy per 40 shields per second)
Medium Shield Booster and Shield Boost Amplifier uses 60 energy to give 78 shields every 3 seconds. (20 energy per 26 shields per second)
Thus at the 30 second mark, the pair of boosters will have repaired 1200 shields, but also burned 1200 capacitor in the process. The booster and amplifier will have repaired 780 shields, but done so at a cost of 600 capacitor. If your tank is sufficient so that a little more than 600 shields per 30 seconds will suffice, you can save yourself a lot of capacitor this way. (Alternatively, you can simply leave 1 booster on automatic and manually trigger the other, but that requires more attention than many players would prefer to devote.)
AST users should seriously consider investing in a Capacitor Booster. Cap Boosters are a sort of “gun” for your capacitor – requiring cap booster ammunition, this injects raw capacitor energy into your cap, giving you more juice to funnel into your shields. Cap Boosters take a mid slot, and have a pretty significant cost in CPU and Grid as they increase in size, however. The larger your Cap Booster, the larger (or more) ammunition you can put in it, and the longer/faster you can inject energy into your capacitor before it needs to reload., temporarily stopping the “refueling” process.
Active Shield Tankers should train in…
- Shield Compensation: this cuts the amount of capacitor energy used per boost. Essential!
- Shield Upgrades: this cuts the amount of grid needed to install your extender, but not the booster, sadly. Still somewhat handy for keeping fitting manageable.
- Energy Management: this grants you more capacitor. Not vital for small ships, but it can make a real difference in bigger ones.
- Energy Systems Operation: This may not grant you lots of extra boosts, but in longer fights, faster capacitor regeneration might come in quite useful.
Advantages of Active Shield Tanking – Defensive regeneration “on demand.” Boosters are very quick reacting. Their regeneration speed as a result is very customizable; on precisely when you need it, off precisely when you don’t. Unlike armor tanking, it is very difficult to overestimate or underestimate your needs, and it responds much more quickly than armor tanking to a “panic” situation (most armor repairers take 9-12 seconds, vs. a shield booster’s 3 seconds.) Of the three major types of tanking, AST is the most micro-manageable. AST grants much faster regeneration, on average, than the same number of modules allocated to Passive Shield Tanking. As a rule, a good AST can use as few as three modules, all of them middle slots; making it far superior than a PST in this regard, which can use several mids and lows when really optimized.
Disadvantages of Active Shield Tanking – You pay a price for your regen-on-demand. Active Shield Tanking is inherently less damage-efficient than Armor Tanking, as the total base resistance on Shields is 120% - 0% Electro Magnetic, 60% Explosive, 40% Kinetic, 20% Thermal. Armor Tanking, in contrast, has a base value of 140% - 60% EM, 10% Exp, 35% Kinetic, 35% Thermal. Active Shield Tanking uses a great deal more capacitor energy than Armor Tanking, as well – Armor is repaired at least a 2 armor to 1 capacitor ratio or better, often as high as 3-to-1. Since Passive Shield Tanking uses no capacitor at all, it is vastly superior in this regard.
An Example of an Active Shield Tank System:
Cyclone (Minmatar Battlecruiser) – bonus to shield boosting per BC level
3x Assault Missile Launcher (anti-frigate)
5x 650mm Artillery Cannon I (anti-larger)
1x Large Shield Extender I (Damage Padding)
1x Large Shield Booster I (The tank regen tool)
1x Medium Capacitor Booster I (For refreshing the capacitor)
2x Damage-Specific Hardeners (See last section for notes on resistance)
2x Power Diagnostic System (Increase regen rates, total shield, and provide more grid for above grid-hungry modules)
1x Co-Processor (More CPU for all above)
1x Gyrostabilizer (Increased damage mod to compensate for no heavy launchers)
Passive Shield Tanking
Passive Shield Tanking is a rather unorthodox strategy probably best suited for PvE combat, but is very noteworthy in that situation. PST works on a rather bizarre principle of EVE: no matter how much shields (or capacitor) you have, it always regenerates in exactly the same amount of time, unless you have modified your regen rate. A Vexor’s shields will always regenerate in 900 seconds, no matter if it has 900 shields, or 9,000,000 shields. In the first situation the regeneration of the ship is unimpressive – 900 shields in 900 seconds is merely 1 shield per second regenerated. In the second situation, though, the rate of regeneration is staggering – 10,000 shields per second!
Obviously, no one is going to get 9,000,000 shield points on a cruiser – there simply aren’t modules impressive enough, enough slots, or enough CPU and power grid available. The concept, though, of decreasing regen time and increasing maximum shielding to take advantage of this “golden rule” is a relatively sound one.
Typically, a PST’r may use:
- Shield Extenders; these use a lot of CPU (at any size) and grid (the amount of grid used depends on the extender size), but grant you a great deal more shield points, thereby raising your total shields, and increasing your regen rate. These are mid-slot items.
- Shield Rechargers; these use a lot of CPU, but very little power grid. Their purpose is very simple: they increase shield recharge rates. These are also mid-slot items, and good for increasing regen when you can’t afford the grid drain of an extender.
- Shield Flux Coils; these use a moderate amount of CPU, and no grid, but actually take AWAY from your maximum shield total. In exchange, they provide a larger recharge rate. These are low-slot items.
- Shield Power Relays; Relays use a very small amount of CPU and no grid, but have very serious impacts on your capacitor recharge rates. These, too, are low slot items.
Mid slots, then, give you more regen for CPU and Grid, and the low slots give you more regen in exchange for max shields or capacitor regen. How does one decide which to use when?
The Mids: Extenders vs. Rechargers: Generally, it’s never a bad idea to have at least one significant extender anyhow, because a passive shield tanker will not be able to control his regeneration rate, and so will want some extra “padding.” After that first extender, though, some math comes into play. For a ship that has 1000 shields regenerating in 500 seconds, an extender that adds 500 more effectively increases the shield regen rate by 50%. (1000 in 500 seconds = average of 2 per second; 1500 in 500 seconds = average of 3 per second.) There aren’t any Shield Recharge Units that can add anywhere near that amount of recharge; the best commonly available only adds 15%. Adding a shield extender to a ship that only increases that 1000 shields by 100, though, is not as good as simply adding a recharger. Unfortunately, very few ships (realistically, probably none) can afford to slot as many Shield Extenders as they might like, so Shield Rechargers become a very good option for those lacking grid but having CPU, and wanting a faster regeneration rate, rather than using a smaller-size extender.
The Lows: Fl