Capital Ship Tactics

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Prior to coming to my senses and joining Agony, I was in an alliance that was known to actively use capital ships in fleet engagements. During that time I had the privilege of flying in several major capital engagements, in both a Dreadnought and Carrier. For a time I was even in my own Mothership (though I never had the chance to fly it in combat). The longest capital ship engagement I was in lasted 4 hours and involved 8 carriers and 2 Motherships, of which we lost 7 carriers (including my own). It was also a fight I will always remember. During the ongoing war I was also involved in many Dread on Dread engagements, and to date I have been involved in 17 Dreadnought and 11 Carrier Kills. I say this not to brag but to justify some of the hard truths I am going to share in the sections that follow. [1][2]

Theory - Carriers

The primary purpose of a carrier is to act in a support role for the rest of the fleet.
Read that again and commit it to memory. Can a carrier go offensive? Yes, but doing so puts the rest of the carrier fleet at risk. If you are flying a solo carrier into combat, then you are a fool. You may escape a few times, but everyone, and I mean everyone, will come running from many systems away if someone locks you down, and you will get locked down. Alliances who maintain solid red standings will work together to bring down a mutually hostile carrier. If you have allies nearby, they may come and save your ass once or twice, but after that they will collectively decide that you need to learn a lesson. This also applies if your allies are flying in carriers as well. In my previous alliance we had a guy who insisted on equipping a sensor booster on his carrier so he could get faster lock times on ships. Then he would brag about all the killmails he was on. Meanwhile, when a large fleet would engage us, he was unable to spider tank when he would be jammed. In essence, he relied on us to keep him alive so he could killboard whore, and he was finally told point blank that there would be no more help sent his way. When flying capitals, you are more reliant on teamwork then at any other time in combat operations. The rest of the fleet will be expected to sacrifice their ships to keep you alive, and you will destroy their trust in you need if you don't respect their willingness to lose ships when you act recklessly.

Single carriers are a death trap waiting to happen. Just ask your fellow Agony pilots how much fun it is to lock down a single carrier and blow it up, and a single interceptor can lock down a carrier and hold on long enough for reinforcements to arrive. A roaming fast gang once locked down a ratting carrier, and it took us over 30 minutes to get enough fire power into the system to kill it. There was a long stream of us trickling along the 20+ jumps to get there. In Agony we once locked down a battleship that opened a cyno field for carriers to jump in. We destroyed the battleship after the first carrier jumped in, but apparently the rest were a tad too slow (when a cyno ship is destroyed the cyno becomes unusable). We alternated locking him down and jamming him while the rest of the fleet switched to bigger ships so we could destroy him. It was great fun. :-)

In a fleet of spider tanking carriers, you can hold against greatly superior numbers, as long as the enemy doesn't bring in dreads. If they do, you are most likely dead, because they wont' just bring in dreads. They will bring in carriers using smart bombs to quickly eliminate your drones/fighters and remote repair the dreads when they come out of siege mode. The will also use smaller ships to dampen/jam you.You can also forget using triage as part of your spider tanking strategy. Triage is for repairing POSs, not other ships in combat because you cannot be remotely repaired while in triage mode, and while your ability to repair damage is greatly increased, your cap regeneration is not. You will quickly become primary as you just became the biggest threat on the battle field (because of your ability to repair others), and the easiest capital ship to destroy (unless you have somehow found a way to be cap stable). The only time I would ever order a carrier to go into triage is if there was a titan on the field and it was going down.

In a support role, Carriers have multiple uses. Most importantly, they are support with teeth! Great big sharp teeth! Great big sharp teeth that follow hostiles around the solar system, or worse, are directed by fast speed skirmishers! A carrier pilot, with a carrier skill of 5, can control 10 drones or fighters. A Mothership pilot can control 20 (unless they are dumb enough to not have carrier 5). In the previously mentioned 4 hour fight, the 8 carriers and 2 Motherships had between 112 - 120 drones/fighters on the field. The reason for the fight lasting as long as it did was because the folks we were fighting would lose a ship, self-destruct, jump into a new ship, then use a jump bridge network to get back into the fight. The system itself was sov 3 and hostile cyno were blocked from being created. Using their own jump gate system to quickly close the distance, they came in wave after wave after wave. Our support fleet would sometimes cut them off at entry points until the enemy learned to only come in with large groups. We had fought numerous engagements with these guys as well, so they knew how to deal with all those drones and fighters. Remember when I said that a spider tanking carrier fleet could hold off superior numbers? In that engagement we were fighting 140 hostiles. Think about that, 10 ships against 140, and WE WERE WINNING. What turned the tide against us was when one of our carrier pilots came in at range to the fleet. I had just docked up to get more drones and fighters, and when I undocked I heard that a carrier pilot had warped into the wrong spot and was going down, so I warped to him. When I arrived he had warped out, but the hostile fleet had moved to the spot. I was quickly locked down and was slowly losing my tank while the rest of the carrier fleet moved in to support me. But at that point we started experiencing really bad lag, and friendlies who were right on top of me could not lock me or were getting messages that I was out of range of their remote repairers. I went down and subsequently they were also unable to spider tank each other.

Practical tactics for carriers needs to be in its own article, but before I finish this section, imagine a fleet composed of a few carriers, 10 battleships/HACs, and support ships, with 4 interceptors assigned 5 fighters each. 5 fighters, that have more shields/armor and fire power then the interceptor that controls them. Toss in an interdictor that can drop bubbles up to 50 Km away and still be in remote repair range. A remote repairer that can completely repair all shield or armor damage with one cycle. It can also launch new ships for those pilots who happen to lose theirs while out roaming around the system, and allow other friendly ships to refit if the situation demands it. All of this at the same time that it does everything else previously listed.

The carrier is the ultimate multitasking ship at the center of any combat situation when it is on the battlefield.

Theory - Dreadnoughts

Dreadnought theory is much easier to discuss. Dreadnoughts are offensive weapons against other capital ships, outposts, and POSs. Against anything smaller then a carrier, they are a waste. I have gotten on a few smaller ship kills with a dreadnought, but they were prior/after siege mode. While in siege mode a dread can hit a carrier if it is moving, but nothing smaller. It was one of the reasons why Titans were setup for speed (prior to the nano-nerf). A sieged Dreadnought could not hit them, and since they are immune to webs, the only way to slow them down was to block them (which lead to removal of wrecks and cans from being obstacles, as well as the bracket system in the game today).

Not putting a dread into siege mode greatly reduces the fire-power of the Dread to less then then of a battleship. In addition, it cannot repair as much damage as it can in siege mode.

A tongue in check summary of a dreadnought's role in battle is "Get In, Get Off, Get Out". A more politically correct summary is "jump in to your target, destroy it, and jump out to a safe location".


Here is where I burst your bubble with some hard truth. Previously I stated that carriers have a support role in the fleet, and that they needed to be used in groups. In order to fill both of these roles you need a certain set of skills at a certain level. If not, you are worse then useless to your fellow capital pilots. You are a great danger. No one is going to let you get destroyed without a fight, but you cannot support the rest of your team. As such you owe to the rest of your friendly pilots to keep them alive is at all possible. Therefor you have no business getting into a combat capital ship unless you have the following skills.

Jump Drive Calibration 4
Jump Fuel Conservation 4
Capital Repair or Shield Operations 4
Thermodynamics (strongly recommended to 4)

Carrier 4
Capital Remote Armor Repair or Shield Operations 4
Fighters 4
Ability to use T2 Small and/or T2 Medium Drones
Sentry Drones

Tactical Weapon Reconfiguration 3
Minmatar: Capital Projectile Turrets 3; Citadel Torpedoes 3
Caldari: Citadel Torpedoes 3
Gallante: Capital Hybrid Turrets 3; Sentry Drone Interface 3
Amarr: Capital Energy Turrets 3

Yes Virginia, that is a lot of training time. If you want to fly capitals, you may want to consider buying a capital capable character through the character bazaar. Last time I checked a carrier/dread pilot was selling for around 8 billion. Otherwise, these skills will probably take you at least 6 months to train. In my opinion though, being able to fly a carrier or dread is worth it.

Setup - Carrier

This is the setup I use in my Nidhoggur
Capital Armor Repairer I
Capital Armor Repairer I
Armor Thermic Hardener II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Capacitor Power Relay II

Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
ECCM - Ladar II

Capital Remote Armor Repair System I
Capital Remote Armor Repair System I
Capital Shield Transporter I
Large YF-12a Smartbomb
Heavy Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Capacitor Control Circuit I
Capacitor Control Circuit I
Capacitor Control Circuit I

Purpose: The Nidhoggur specializes as a healer in engagements. Its racial bonuses are 50% bonus to range and 5% bonus to repair (both per level) with capital remote armor AND capital remote shield repairers. At level 5 this equates to a range of 52.5 km and 1875 armor/shield bonus. The bonuses for the Arcon are to capital energy transfer and capital remote armor bonus, and the Chimera are to capital energy xfer and capital remote shield bonus.

The Thanatos is a bit different. It has a bonus to the range of capital remote armor and capital remote shield boosters, but it does not have bonuses to the amount. Instead, its bonuses are to the damage its fighters do. That bonus does not translate to its drones, it is only to fighters. I do not know if the bonuses apply when the fighters are assigned to another pilot, but I do not believe it does. This does not mean the Thanatos is not meant to act in a support role. It is not as efficient as the other three carriers, but the bonus to fighters are meant to quickly take down threats. Thanatos pilots still need to equip capital remote armor and capital shield modules.

Every carrier pilot should equip an ECCM boost. If possible, add a backup array also. This is tough for some setups, but being able to avoid jamming is very important in a support role. An alternate setup is to boost your targeting range in case you get damped.

A good smart bomb is important to take down enemy drones and fighters, but as always, you have to communicate when it is turned on. Carrier pilots get upset when they recall fighters and drones and then lose them to your smart bombs. To be fair though, it takes a lot of smart bombs to take down a fighter, and as a carrier pilot, you need to keep track of the damage being inflicted to your only offense weapon.

The energy destabilizer may seem strange, but you need to be able to take down anything that can keep you from jumping out of a hostile environment. Being able to quickly drain the cap of a hostile ship terminates its warp disruptor and mwd, allowing your drones/fighters to destroy them.

Everything else is goes to cap. You need to be able to quickly recharge your cap to be able to jump (which takes around 73% of max cap). Just as important, you need to be able to run multiple armor and shield repairers. With the above setup I can run any combination of 2 repairers and be cap stable. Add a third and I have enough cap for several minutes. In general, you will only need to run remote or self repairers, never both. Hostiles will be focusing their fire-power on one target while trying to jam the other.

I also could improve my setup by going with faction/deadspace mods. While I can certainly afford to upgrade the ship, a pilot still needs to balance the cost of the ship against the mods that are on it. As a general rule I never let the total of the mods outpace the cost to replace the ship.

Setup – Dreadnought

I’m a little uncertain as to dreadnought setup now, due to the changes in dreadnoughts that occurred after I had used them in battle. I use to run 2 capital armor repairers on my Naglfar, and could run them both easily when not in siege mode. When in siege mode, a dreadnought repairs itself twice as fast (but without the cap regen), and I could run the first armor repairer constantly, and the second half the time before running out of cap. Now however, you do not have enough grid to be able to fit two armor repairers, the guns, and the siege mode without sacrificing cap regen/armor resists for grid increase mods/modifications.

So which fit is better? I would have to go with resists. When you bring out a dreadnought, you want to be able to stay alive through one siege cycle (which lasts for 10 minutes). While in siege mode, others cannot target you for remote repairs, so the goal is to get through siege mode and to have friendly ships targeting you for repairs. Hostiles shooting you will not easily know when you are out of siege mode, so will not know if you are being remotely repaired or have just kicked in a second repair module. Once they do know and switch to another target, the other dreads are already into their next siege cycle, and should live long enough to exit and be remotely repaired.

So here is my setup for the Naglfar:

Capital Armor Repairer I
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II
Cap Recharger II

Quad 3500mm Siege Artillery I
Quad 3500mm Siege Artillery I
Citadel Torpedo Launcher I
Citadel Torpedo Launcher I
Siege Module I

Anti-EM Pump II
Anti-Kinetic Pump II
Anti-Explosive Pump II

This gives me around 80% resists, and complete cap stability.
One other thing to note about setup. Use cargo containers to store your ammo, fuel, and strontium in. Strontium takes up a lot of room, and you want to be able to go into 5 siege cycles. Refueling stront with dreadnoughts is a trying exercise in patience and coordination, and every level of Tactical Weapon Reconfiguration reduces the amount of stront needed by 50. This equates to 450 stront per siege cycle at level 1 to 250 per siege cycle at level 5.


There is a lot I left out of this article, simply because there isn't room. I plan on working on both an intermediate and advance articles going forward. Flying capitals into a combat situation is fun, and I would encourage everyone to train in this direction at some point in their future. They are one of the areas which separates those alliances with true power in the game from those who just talk (other areas are individual pilot commitment, and individual pilot skills).

Capitals are a magnification of the risk/reward equation in Eve. Those who know how to use capitals in combat, and are willing to use them, project power and respect where-ever they operate, even if those capitals never undock. This is similar to the reaction other pilots have when they see an Agony pilot appear in local. They dock up or leave the system. I know of one alliance that thought they could jump in and use their capitals against us in combat, only to find themselves at the losing end of an expensive fight because of the trap we had set for them. It doesn't take many fights like that for the opposing capital pilots to refuse to bring their ships into a fight, and that type of intimidation is what destroys alliances. Bold text