Oh boy am I late with this article. I do try to stay on top of current updates, but the ESS and torp changes somewhat slipped past me while I worked on other articles instead. Nevertheless, I intend to cover all things ESS and torp in depth thanks to the changes in the Explosive Velocity and Dynamic Frontiers updates.
There aren’t any specific ships to cover at the beginning as I often do, but there are some key questions that I know people will have about the ESS, so here’s how it works:
Every system in nullsec has a mandatory Encounter Surveillance System locked behind an acceleration gate. It will steal bounty payments from players in the system before paying them back to those players every two hours. The catch is that within those three hours, any player can come in to initiate a countdown and take a chunk of the ISK as tokens from the Main Bank. There is also a Reserve Bank which will store up much more ISK over time and will eventually require keys to access.
As it stands, you can only access the ESS using a cruiser, battlecruiser, or battleship and you will land in the middle of a 75km bubble. Inside that bubble, the following rules are in place:
- Warping is disabled
- MJDs are disabled
- MWDs are disabled
- Cloaking is disabled up to 150km from the ESS itself
- No cynos may be lit
- No filaments may be activated
- You must stay within ~10km of the ESS to steal from it. This takes 6.5 minutes
*Corrections thanks to DaltsTB on Reddit
Torpedoes are deadly in an ESS environment. With every other target being cruiser and above, the only worry you have is trying to kill something like an Orthrus at range. With the proper setup, though, you can easily drop a surprising amount of DPS out to 70km. Up close it gets even better with many torpedo ships hitting 1,500 DPS and some with a 10k volley.
As for the ships that can actually use torpedoes, we only have a few to choose from. Here are the best options with their respective bonus to missile damage output. I’ve also made a simple graph to demonstrate each one’s range and total damage output. Some do have application bonuses so this is also worth considering. It’s just very difficult to quantify how good some of the application or range bonuses are. You need to fly these ships to get a feel for how well they work. Or just watch one of Stitch’s videos…
- Praxis – 25% damage bonus
- Typhoon & Typhoon Fleet Issue – 25% RoF bonus & 37.5% damage bonus respectively
- Raven & Raven Navy Issue –25% RoF and no damage bonus respectively
- Scorpion Navy Issue – 25% RoF bonus
- Barghest – 50% damage bonus
- Rattlesnake – 50% damage bonus
- Widow – 25% RoF Bonus
Torps will fit in small amounts on other ships but I’m not sure I’d call that good and the Armageddon performs better using rapid heavies and neuts to remove smaller ships from grid. And bombers? I’ll do an article about them eventually, but not today.
Onto the fits anyway and I want to start by showing off an ESS version of the best torpedo battleship I’ve used so far. Unsurprisingly, it’s the Praxis. With torps it can get about a 102k EHP tank, all the application mods in the world, and a delightful 10,000 damage volley. This is roughly equivalent to other top choices such as the Raven Navy Issue at a third of the price fully fit. If you’ve been a long time reader then you know I’m a big fan of ISK efficiency. The blob will always arrive eventually and your blingy ship will die just the same as my Praxis.
Something you might notice is that the mid slots are nearly identical to what Stitch Kaneland uses. That’s because you can really make almost any torp ship work in this same way. Simply fill up the highs, fill the mids with some application, and drop in as much tank as you can while staying over 1,100 DPS or so. The real difficulty comes when you try to make shield fit torps work. I know my corp mates can certainly do it as in this video vs LZHX at least! 😀
So how would I fit a shield torpedo boat? Well, the best choice is the Barghest due to that insane damage and range; a Rattlesnake also tops the charts with insane DPS but that just feels like cheating by using money and faction EHP to your advantage. A Scorp Navy Issue is fit in the exact same way. This leaves us with few cheap options. The Minmatar ships aren’t any good since 5 mid slots just won’t work for application and you’ll drop your shield tank below 70k EHP (though there is an armour fit in another article).
So my choice then is the classic Raven. It really is befitting that the best cheap torp ship is a Caldari one and the Raven really does shine. By limiting your tank to just two mid slots it turns out to be something truly terrifying, albeit with only 90k EHP. Double painter is also one of the better combinations as per my experiments in Pyfa. This thing, using Caldari Navy ammo will apply 1,080 DPS to a Loki orbiting at 45km… You can fit a grapple instead of the Guidance Computer for close-range Rage dunking but hot DAMN that DPS is good. Who the hell expects torps to hit full damage at 50km?
Armour Torp Praxis
[Praxis, Torpedobeats 100MN] Damage Control II Ballistic Control System II Ballistic Control System II Multispectrum Coating II Multispectrum Coating II 1600mm Steel Plates II 1600mm Steel Plates II Missile Guidance Computer II Missile Guidance Computer II 100MN Afterburner II Target Painter II Warp Scrambler II Heavy Stasis Grappler II Sensor Booster II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Heavy Energy Neutralizer II Large Trimark Armor Pump I Large Trimark Armor Pump I Large Processor Overclocking Unit II Hammerhead II x5 Hobgoblin II x5 Hornet EC-300 x5 Praetor II x4 Warrior II x5 Inferno Rage Torpedo x1000 Mjolnir Javelin Torpedo x1000 Nova Javelin Torpedo x1000 Nova Rage Torpedo x1000 Missile Precision Script x2 Missile Range Script x2 ECCM Script x1 Scan Resolution Script x1 Targeting Range Script x1 Caldari Navy Inferno Torpedo x1200 Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo x1440 Caldari Navy Nova Torpedo x1200 Caldari Navy Scourge Torpedo x1200 Agency 'Pyrolancea' DB3 Dose I x2 Improved Crash Booster x1 Standard Crash Booster x2
Shield Torp Raven
[Raven, 2021 Torpedo Shields] Ballistic Control System II Ballistic Control System II Ballistic Control System II Missile Guidance Enhancer II Damage Control II X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster Multispectrum Shield Hardener II Target Painter II Target Painter II Missile Guidance Computer II Warp Scrambler II 500MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Torpedo Launcher II Heavy Energy Neutralizer II Large EM Shield Reinforcer II Large Thermal Shield Reinforcer II Large Processor Overclocking Unit I Hammerhead II x5 Hornet EC-300 x5 100MN Afterburner II x1 Heavy Stasis Grappler II x1 Inferno Rage Torpedo x1000 Mjolnir Javelin Torpedo x1000 Nova Javelin Torpedo x1000 Nova Rage Torpedo x1000 Missile Precision Script x1 Missile Range Script x1 Caldari Navy Inferno Torpedo x1200 Caldari Navy Mjolnir Torpedo x1440 Caldari Navy Nova Torpedo x1200 Caldari Navy Scourge Torpedo x1200 Agency 'Pyrolancea' DB3 Dose I x2 Improved Crash Booster x1 Standard Crash Booster x2
Dynamic Frontiers – ESS Fits
So is the Phantasm the best ESS ship? The Nightmare? Well, kind of. They’re obviously extremely potent choices and excel in an afterburner only environment due to their AB bonus. This is, however, like me telling you that interceptors and fast cruisers are good in a nanogang. Of course they are. If you need more than this then I do already have a specific Phantasm article.
I want to get some basic fits out of the way regardless and I can probably do so by sharing some of the fits that we’ve recently adopted over at Foxholers as fleet doctrine. We’re using 10MN Phantasms with 100MN Scimitars, supported by 10MN Bifrosts and Storks. This whole doctrine is pretty slippery and hard to hold down while being surprisingly tanky. Under links the Phantasms even reach about 60k EHP and 2.6km/s.
As for the Nightmare, it isn’t part of the doctrine but I can design one as if it were. Strangely, I’d still go for an active tank though. A buffer Nightmare doesn’t gain a huge amount of EHP, it only has about 130k and you still need a cap booster anyway! In a small gang scenario I’d probably use the fit below. Feel free to upgrade the Multispectrum and shield booster as much as your money allows but this seems fine for now. The key is to not get into a situation where you need that tank.
[Phantasm, v8 Shield Phantasm] Nanofiber Internal Structure II Nanofiber Internal Structure II Heat Sink II Heat Sink II Heat Sink II Multispectrum Shield Hardener II Warp Disruptor II Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Federation Navy 10MN Afterburner Heavy Pulse Laser II Heavy Pulse Laser II Heavy Pulse Laser II Small Tractor Beam II Medium EM Shield Reinforcer II Medium Semiconductor Memory Cell II Medium Core Defense Field Extender II Warrior II x3 Aurora M x3 Gleam M x3 Conflagration M x3 Scorch M x3 Imperial Navy Multifrequency M x3 Imperial Navy Radio M x3 Imperial Navy Standard M x3 Imperial Navy Xray M x3 Nanite Repair Paste x100 Optimal Range Script x1 Tracking Speed Script x1 Agency 'Overclocker' SB3 Dose I x10 Standard Mindflood Booster x1 Damage Control II x1 Heavy Beam Laser II x3 Enduring Multispectrum Shield Hardener x1 Stasis Webifier II x1 Tracking Computer II x1 Tracking Enhancer II x2 Warp Scrambler II x1
[Scimitar, v8 Shield Scimitar] Nanofiber Internal Structure II Nanofiber Internal Structure II Reactor Control Unit II Damage Control II Federation Navy 100MN Afterburner Thukker Large Cap Battery Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Multispectrum Shield Hardener II Pithum B-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster Pithum B-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster Pithum B-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster Pithum B-Type Medium Remote Shield Booster Medium Ancillary Current Router II Medium Ancillary Current Router II Light Shield Maintenance Bot I x1 Medium Shield Maintenance Bot I x4 Nanite Repair Paste x100 Agency 'Overclocker' SB3 Dose I x10 Standard Mindflood Booster x1
[Nightmare, Solo PvP Nightmare] Damage Control II Nanofiber Internal Structure II Tracking Enhancer II Heat Sink II Heat Sink II Heat Sink II Gist X-Type 100MN Afterburner Stasis Webifier II Warp Disruptor II Shield Boost Amplifier II Multispectrum Shield Hardener II X-Large Shield Booster II Heavy Capacitor Booster II Heavy Infectious Scoped Energy Neutralizer Heavy Energy Neutralizer II Mega Pulse Laser II Mega Pulse Laser II Mega Pulse Laser II Mega Pulse Laser II Large EM Shield Reinforcer II Large Thermal Shield Reinforcer II Large Energy Metastasis Adjuster II Hornet EC-300 x5 Vespa II x5
So this is where people tend to ask me what actually works well in an ESS outside of Sansha ships. The answer is really anything that can make some good use of an afterburner. This includes most attack cruisers such as the Stabber, any T3C, and combat recons. The latter isn’t always the best idea in the world, but if you make good use of hiding from dscan then you’re in a winning position. A good gauge for what is fast in an ESS is if you can go faster than 1km/s then you’re doing pretty well.
I don’t want to consider kiting fits that sit outside of the arena and shoot in. That’s just cowardly and anyone can do that in complete safety.
Speaking of Combat Recons, did you know that the Huginn can do almost 800 DPS with about a 50k EHP tank? It really is as simple as putting a bit of buffer and as much damage as possible onto it. Nobody normally does this because Huginns do better as ranged web ships. The fit I’m recommending here is one that I like to use to bait people into approaching it, but you could easily swap the scram to a second Multispectrum, second web, or a paint depending on what you want to achieve. The second Multispectrum, in particular, takes your tank up to 65k EHP which is pretty damn good.
You could use a twist on the Huginn to try and catch hostile Phantasms if you like. It’s also quite possible to use an Ashimmu but I struggle to recommend such fits here. Reason being that it’s obvious. Any long web in an ESS is super valuable and doesn’t need a fit to be built around it. Simply warping in changes the game entirely into catching the Phantasm before he reaches the edge of the bubble. Likewise, anything designed to do extreme damage to such a Phantasm and tank it such as the Gila or a falloff-boosted Deimos… well the Phantasm will just burn away and leave.
Another particularly offensive option you might go for would be one of my favourite battleships, the Bhaalgorn. 28-36km webs, three nos/neuts, and over 800 DPS at point range. What’s not to love about that? Well, the price for one. At the time of writing most Bhaal fits will cost about 5-600m ISK; more if you want the fancy webs that you know you’ll need in an ESS. You get a lot for that money, though, and paired with an Asklepian set and the 10MN Escape Jaguar you’ll be in for a good time.
10MN Bait-y Huginn
[Huginn, Autocannon High DPS] Gyrostabilizer II Gyrostabilizer II Gyrostabilizer II Damage Control II Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Republic Fleet Large Shield Extender Multispectrum Shield Hardener II 10MN Afterburner II Stasis Webifier II Warp Scrambler II 425mm AutoCannon II 425mm AutoCannon II 425mm AutoCannon II 425mm AutoCannon II Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II Medium Core Defense Field Extender II Medium Core Defense Field Extender II Acolyte II x3 Hornet II x5 Barrage M x5000 Hail M x5000 Mjolnir Javelin Heavy Assault Missile x1000 Mjolnir Rage Heavy Assault Missile x2000 Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Assault Missile x1000 Republic Fleet Phased Plasma M x3000 Republic Fleet Titanium Sabot M x1000 Multispectrum Shield Hardener II x1 Stasis Webifier II x1 Target Painter II x1
Dual Rep Bhaalgorn
[Bhaalgorn, 2021 ESS Bhaal] Large Ancillary Armor Repairer Large Armor Repairer II Reactive Armor Hardener Multispectrum Energized Membrane II Damage Control II Heat Sink II Heat Sink II Heavy Capacitor Booster II 100MN Afterburner II Federation Navy Stasis Webifier Federation Navy Stasis Webifier Warp Disruptor II Mega Pulse Laser II Mega Pulse Laser II Mega Pulse Laser II Mega Pulse Laser II Heavy Ghoul Compact Energy Nosferatu Heavy Gremlin Compact Energy Neutralizer Heavy Energy Neutralizer II Large Explosive Armor Reinforcer I Large Kinetic Armor Reinforcer I Large Auxiliary Nano Pump I Acolyte II x5 Ogre II x4 Warrior II x5 Conflagration L x4 Scorch L x4 Navy Cap Booster 3200 x8 Imperial Navy Gamma L x4 Imperial Navy Infrared L x4 Imperial Navy Multifrequency L x4 Imperial Navy Standard L x4 Imperial Navy Ultraviolet L x4 Nanite Repair Paste x128 Extruded Compact Heat Sink x1 500MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive x1 Stasis Webifier II x1 X5 Enduring Stasis Webifier x1
On the Defensive
Let’s look at this from the other perspective for a moment instead. Imagine you’re already inside the ESS and you want to steal the money and get out. Nullseccers tend to respond with one of two fleet comps in this situation: they will bring their own krabbing ships or they will flood you with Dominixes. Your options in dealing with either of these comps are pretty much the same. You can either continue trying to steal and brawl it out or you can pull range and deal with the hostile fleet before going back down to take the money too.
This is where you really start to get into the problem of “what really IS an ESS ship?” And what I mean by that is that it’s difficult to nail down what doctrines people should use because most of them will actually work pretty damn well. Here’s a list of examples:
Sentry Stratios Fleet – Drop the Sentries around 0km then burn away
If you’re really into this and still want to fly beneath the radar then I could recommend that you take either Phantasms or Vedmaks as a doctrine. If you’re instead simply after a good fight then take your best nano cruiser, slap an AB on it and go to town. Don’t believe that works? Watch my favourite ever EVE Online video and try again 😉
[Scythe, Armour Combat Scythe] Multispectrum Energized Membrane II Medium Armor Repairer II Medium Armor Repairer II Damage Control II Multispectrum Energized Membrane II Tracking Disruptor II Medium Capacitor Booster II Stasis Webifier II 10MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner Warp Scrambler II 200mm AutoCannon II 200mm AutoCannon II Rocket Launcher II Medium Ancillary Current Router I Medium Ancillary Current Router I Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I Hammerhead II x4 Hobgoblin II x1 Nova Rage Rocket x50 Navy Cap Booster 400 x3 Republic Fleet Phased Plasma S x240