April 13, 2010

ECM in depth: Part 3 The Blackbird

Venturing on from Part 2 we are getting into the Blackbird this time around, as a recap did you identify all the ECM modules correctly?
Being able to associate the modules to the targeted ship types should be something that you do instantly and without reference, an easy way to identify the correct module to ship is the racial background - the colours should match - with that lets get cracking!

I just moved away from the Griffin what is different?
1. You are bigger, three times as big actually - so people can now target you faster and hit you for more damage
2. Targeting will be slower, when targeting a cruiser for example it take 2 seconds longer
3. You have a fat ass and it takes double the time to turn around
4. A full tech 2 fit with rigs costs roughly 12mil compared to 5mil for the Griffin
5. Extra slots to fill, 2 medium and 1 low.
6. Your ranges will have changed by roughly 30km (depending on skills).
7. The small Griffin drone bay gets removed entirely when moving over to the Blackbird

The mightier Blackbird!
Caldari Cruiser Skill Bonus:
15% bonus to ECM Target Jammer strength per level
10% bonus to ECM Target Jammer optimal range and falloff per level.

Skills and Skill Plans

With the above stats you can see that the ship bonuses are quite large so getting Caldari Cruiser to level 4 should be higher on your priority list than any other ECM skill at this stage, you should also apply this rule to all other future ships as the Spaceship Command skill always has the best bonuses (apart from drone interfacing).

If you absolutely MUST be seen to be flying the Blackbird then the minimum requirements for getting into it are:

Caldari Cruiser 2
Spaceship Command 3
Caldari Frigate 4
Spaceship Command 1

A relatively new feature to EVE are Certificates, the only time I use them is when I get the notifications from my character sheet, but they do have their merits as it lets you easily see related skills to your profession.  EVE recommends the following certificate levels to pilot a Blackbird:

Active Shield Tanking @ Basic Level
Core Competency @ Basic Level
Cruiser Launcher Control @ Basic Level
ECM Operator @ Basic Level

EVEMon will assist you here as they have a very good section for planning for certificates, by now you should be to the 'basic' level so after you have Caldari Cruiser planned to level 4 add in the additional skills for ECM Operator Standard - basic will just not cut it for the Blackbird!

EVEMon certificate planner
I would not stick with the certificate method for training the rest of your skills however as they often expect you to get everything to level 5 which is just not practical for most of us, diminishing returns and all that guff.  Taken directly from the EVE wiki: 'Certificates are only recommendations and serve as some useful guideline to the skills you may require to do a specific task or fly a specific ship. They do not prevent you from flying or doing a profession without having all the prerequisite certificates for it.'  There are many other skills that also need to be trained up at the cruiser level so you will probably need a good 2 or more weeks to start fitting the better ECM related modules and rigs to your ships.

Moving onwards and upwards from the Griffin you will need to create a skill plan and aim to get the following trained while behind the controls of the Blackbird:

Caldari Cruiser 4
Targeting 4
Electronic Warfare 4
Long Range Targeting 4
Long Range Jamming 4
Frequency Modulation 3
Mechanic 3
Jury Rigging 3
Electronic Superiority Rigging 1
Signal Dispersion 3

Review Part 2 of the guide to check the core ECM skills and level them further as your patience allows.  At this stage, if you have not done so already, you will need to look towards getting through the learning skills, engineering and navigation skills so that you have a wider choice of fitting options.

Fitting the Blackbird

We have cookie cutter fits and we have mission specific fits, I will look at both types of fittings and how to make the most out of them. There are no high slot fittings on any of these as I do not want to steer you towards any type of missile or gunnery skills that you might regret.  To help you along though you can choose one of the following or a combination of missile launchers, nos, neuts, smart bombs, salvagers or tractor beams.  I tend to fit standard missile launchers or assault missile launchers to take out light tackle or drones although I am becoming a fan of fitting energy neutralisers more recently as two medium neuts can cap out frigates with a single cycle.

Rigs? Aha! Rigs!  These are new from the last fitting suggestions, rigs are like other modules except for one major difference, and if you unfit them they are destroyed.  Kind of like whacking a sticker on something, there is no chance of you peeling it off 100% intact.  NEVER FIT T2 RIGS TO AN ECM SHIP as they are way too costly for their benefits.  The ECM related rigs are:
  • Particle Dispersion Augmentors - strengthen jamming, but decreased shields as a drawback
  • Particle Dispersion Projectors - increase optimal range of Electronic Warfare modules, but decreased shields as a drawback
  • Signal Disruption Amplifiers - reduce capacitor cost of all ECM and Burst modules. No drawback.
The other thing you will notice is when I can I double up on Caldari jammers (Gravmetric) then Minmatar (Ladar), the reasoning is that there are more Caldari ships out there and I want to be able to jam the jammers.  The second doubling up is for Minmatar as they are the second most common ships I am seeing in hostile fleets, change this layout as required or when intel is received on specific ship types.

T1 tank! Cheap and practical.  It is a good starter ship that offers you a little extra survivability if you run into more than you bargained for.  Drop the rigs if you want to keep the price down. But they are cheap enough to warrant their use.

Purely T1 ECM, you can also go for meta 1 depending on the cost - just grab whatever is cheaper at the time.  This is a good fit to start with as it gives you the ability to jam an entire small gang.  Speed mods are not attached as you balloon in size when active and at the range you should be operating at, it should be quicker to warp out and back in than burn to the gate.

T2 is where the love is.
 With a jamming range past my targeting range it means I can lock and cycle away knowing that I am laying on the unlock-able frustration at a safe and secure distance, you can add a sensor booster with a targeting range script to increase your targeting range.

If you see tackle burning towards you align to a planet and depending on your weapons of choice you might be able to take them down, otherwise see if you can keep them jammed.  If you get a jam cycle off on someone trying to tackle you, do not warp off if your gang will be able to come to your aid in time.  As a force multiplier you need to stay on the field as long as possible.  Fitting medium neuts will help against light tackle.

Triple the range and over double the strength compared to the T1 Griffin

This is my typical Blackbird roll out, all T2 ECM modules with neuts and some damage output with the missile launchers.  I can drain the cap from an interceptor or frigate in a single cycle and can take care of any drones coming my way.  This is not the "perfect fit" but it is a fit that works for me, you will notice the microwarp drive on this fit also as the places I roam around normally have some type of warp disruption bubbles up on gates.

With all the fits listed here I have done them based off my skills and not some ideal 'all level 5' character.  I like to see real world figures so that I am not disappointed when I realise that I still need to train for 117 days to get all my ECM related ship and module skills to level 5.  You may not be able to fit everything listed here so substitute it for what you can fit at the time, when flying ECM ships never leave a low or medium slot empty as they are your life blood.  The highs can be ignored if you dont have enough CPU or powergrid to fit everything listed but make sure you are not short changing yourself or your fleet to fit a missile launcher instead of a better ECM module or rig.

Stay tuned for Part 4 of the ECM guide where I will look at the elegant Kitsune, thermodynamics and training towards Recon Ships.

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