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By Admiral Phobos, Braedan & Miss Granger © 2009
Edited by Aether, Miss Granger
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Interdictor vs. Heavy Interdictor
- 3 Basics of Warp Disruption Probes
- 4 Bubble Mechanics
- 5 Concepts and Strategy
- 6 Situation Assessment
- 7 FCs Expectations
- 8 Bookmarks
- 9 Communication
- 10 Summary
The dictionary gives the following definition:
Interdict - (verb) - "to forbid or prohibit"
This sums up the role of the Interdictor pretty well. The ship class fundamentally exists to prevent ships from warping. However, while this task is certainly the mainstay of their role, it is only one aspect of the ship class, which if used properly can ensure you engage an enemy on your terms.
Interdictor vs. Heavy Interdictor
While the basic concept behind different types of Interdictors may be similar (the prevention of allowing ships to warp or pulling ships out of warp), the way the two classes achieve this is quite different.
Starting with the Interdictor, the ship class is based on a Destroyer hull and because of that it suffers from the same flaws as a destroyer: lack of tank. Light interdictors tend to be much faster than their T1 counterparts; but they are just as thin skinned. Their slot layout is also similar, with the high number of highslots and weapon hardpoints that is typical of the destroyer class. At least one of those highslots on light interdictor should be occupied with an Interdiction Sphere Launcher. This launcher is what gives the Interdictor its ability to launch warp disruption probes. The probes that are launched from this ship are static and provide a sphere of 20km radius from the launch point that lasts 2 minutes. Depending on the skill of the pilot, it could take up to 3 minutes (Apocrypha patch) before being able to launch another if only a single launcher is fitted.
Heavy Interdictors (HICs), on the other hand, are based on a cruiser hull and can be fitted to have a formidable tank. They receive a specific role bonus that allows them to fit the Warp Disruption Field Generator module in a highslot. This module provides a warp disruption sphere of up to a 20km radius (or up to 24km for T2 modules) depending on pilot’s skills that lasts as long as the module is active (cycle time of 20 seconds). The sphere is mobile around the center point of the Heavy Interdictor itself. This gives the pilot more flexibility in being able to move the bubble as the engagement progresses, to either catch or further entrap a ship in its area of effect. However, it can be activated to form a bubble only in 0.0 space.
In addition, the Warp Disruption Field Generator can be equipped with an 'infinite scramble strength' script. When loaded, this script causes the module to act in the same manner of a Warp Disruptor in that the HIC needs to have a ship targeted before the disruptor can be focused on that target. Unlike a warp disruptor, however, it delivers infinite amount of disruption points as opposed to just one, and cannot be negated by any number of Warp Core Stabilizers. It is also the only module that can prevent super-capital ships, such as Motherships or Titans, from warping away. While super-capitals are immune to EWAR, they are not immune to the Warp Disruption Field Generator of a Heavy Interdictor. This script can be used in empire space (bubbles of any type, HIC, probe or anchorable can only be deployed in nullsec). When scripted, the module has a range of up to 30km for the T1 variant, or 36 km for T2, again depending on the Heavy Interdictor skill level.
The activation of Warp Disruption Field Generator also causes some unusual side-effects:
- Your ship’s mass is greatly reduced, making it highly maneuverable, but also very susceptible to being bumped out of position.
- The effects of any propulsion module (AB, MWD) are reduced to approximately 10% of the normally applied speed boost.
- The HIC is unable to receive any projected effects, e.g. remote shield, armour, or energy transfer.
Heavy Interdictors also have a range of highslots for fitting cruiser class weapons and thus can add a reasonable amount of DPS to a fleet. However they will typically be fitted with cap stability and tank being a priority.
Basics of Warp Disruption Probes
Similarly to Mobile Warp Disruptors (anchorable bubbles), Warp Disruption Probes can be lined up with a warpable object to pull a ship in when it exits warp on grid or launched over a target/gate to prevent target from warping away. Just like anchorable bubbles, Warp Disrupt Probes are stationary. Mobile Warp Disruptors, however, need to be anchored, which takes 2-10 minutes of time depending on the size of the bubble. They also occupy significant amount of volume such that a gang usually cannot bring along more than a few of these. Major advantage of Warp Disruption Probes over anchorable bubbles is that once launched they come into effect immediately. This allows either stealthy deployment of a Warp Disruption bubble or a timely tactical deployment to either prevent warp in an offensive situation or even as a defensive maneuver in order to slow down enemy when your gang is retreating. The probes are also quite small in size such that one interdictor can carry 50+ units.
Unlike the Warp Disruption Field generated by a Heavy Interdictor, the bubble from a Warp Disruption Probe is stationary at the position of the Interdictor when the probe was launched. The bubble has a set size of 20km radius and lasts for set amount of time - 120 seconds. These two variables cannot be changed by training any skills.
An attribute that can be changed is the rate of fire with which warp disrupt probes can be deployed. The base rate of fire and reactivation delay are 2 seconds and 118 seconds respectively, and following the Apocrypha patch, the "Interdictors" skill affects both of these, reducing each by 10%. Therefore at Interdictors I you have to wait (2+118)*90% = 108 seconds in total before launching a second bubble. At Interdictors IV, you will have to wait 72 seconds.
A common practice to increase the interdicting capability of the ship is to fit two Interdiction Sphere Launchers (AKA “double bubble” or “bubble bobble”). This immediately negates the delay effect mentioned previously and doubles the rate of fire of Warp Disrupt Probes. The drawback of this fitting is the high CPU requirement for fitting a launcher, which with the 99% reduction bonus the ship class receives, still uses 100Tf of CPU. Therefore, to fit two launchers requires the use of CPU upgrades, or leaving highslots empty and reducing DPS output. Double bubble thus tends only to be used when flying with a reasonable sized gang.
An excellent article explaining bubble mechanics already exists; please follow this link:
Concepts and Strategy
There are a number of strategies that Interdictor class vessels can use to improve a gang's effectiveness. Please note, unless otherwise stated, the strategies are written and worded primarily to reflect the use of Interdictors rather than HICs, but they can be easily modified to use the HIC in most cases.
One futher comment applies to all the strategies, and indeed combat in general. It is ESSENTIAL to have good recon in surrounding systems, as a bubble trap or camp can just as easily result in the loss of your entire gang as it can become trapped in the bubble you have deployed.
The Classic Gate Camp
This strategy utilizes Interdictors at their most basic level. Essentially, the ship sits on a gate, as close to its center as possible. When a target comes through, or enters system from another gate, he puts the bubble up, thus hopefully preventing the target from reaching the next gate by direct warp.
There is another variant on this, which relies on having a double bubble fitted interdictor take advantage of lag. If you find yourself on gate with a heavy ship, and without tackle on the far side, press jump and then immediately press your shortcut to launch a bubble. You will find your ship jump command is processed, but just before you go through the bubble will go up, trapping the enemy inside it with ~20km to power out to warp away from your gang. Meantime, you are loading grid on the far side, ready to deploy another bubble to catch him, ready for your gang to go through.
Please note: following the Quantum Rise patch in late 2008, the stargate structures (especially Inter-Constellation or Inter-Region) are much larger in diameter. Even perfectly placed Warp Disrupt Probes or level V skilled HICs will not encapsulate all ships jumping through the gate into the camp. Thus it is often required to have more than one Interdictor vessel or to use an anchorable bubble to cover an entire gate. It also appears that the rendering of the HIC bubble is inaccurate, and even when your ship appears to be outside the bubble graphically, it is often actually inside. Ensure you are more than 20km from the HIC before decloaking and trying to cold warp away - otherwise you might find you get caught!
The Drag Bubbler Camp
This technique is highly effective on pipe systems, or systems where a number of incoming gates align with a single outgoing gate, allowing bubble placement such that a ship warping from any incoming gate will be caught in the outgoing gate. One example of such systems is Hemin, where both Jorund and Utopia gates align with RMOC, so a bubble placed in front of the RMOC gate will catch ships warping from either Utopia or Jorund gates. Another example is KLY-CO, where a bubble placed at 7RM gate would be in line with 3 other gates.
It is very important to have scouts in all surrounding systems, who will alert the interdictor camp that a target is incoming. The interdictor will be setup in front of the target gate, around 70km off, cloaked and waiting. When the Covops scouts indicate a target is coming into the system, he will decloak, and as soon as local goes up, he will launch a probe, get out of its own bubble, and recloak (unless he is also going to act as tackler). It is recommended to have at least one heavy tackler sitting on the bubble catch point, e.g. Harpy with AB, Scram, Web, Sensor Booster, or Taranis with AB, Scram, Web and some tank.
Note: if you see a Battleship coming into system, move all ships away from the catch point of the bubble in case this Battleship is fitted with Smartbombs and has come to pop your light ships.
Planets & Belt Camps
An Interdictor sits at a planet, while a bait ship sits on a gate, aligned, and waits for targets to enter the system. Once again having covops scouts in surrounding systems is useful so that the fleet does not engage more than it can handle. When target enters system, the bait ship will wait until it has been seen, then warp to an aligned tactical or safe toward the planet where the Interdictor awaits. At this time Interdictor will pop a bubble. Hopefully, target ship will warp right after the target and on arrival find himself either on the edge of a bubble with a tackler engaging him, or inside a bubble if he initiated warp before the bubble was up with 20km to travel before he can warp out. A nice addition to such gang is a few stealth bombers or recon ships that the target ship cannot pick up on scanner due to them being cloaked.
Asteroid belt camps follow the same tactic. Here instead of having the bait ship sit at a gate, it can be sitting in a belt pretending that it is ratting. Once a new character pops into local the interdictor can pop up a bubble in the center of the belt and cloak. Alternatively, if the belt is near a station, one character can open a cynosural field in it. An interdictor can then put a bubble over the field to trap the curious.
Smartbombing Battleship Trap
Small fleet sits on a gate to give the appearance of a small gate camp. After some time, it is normal for resident hostile Alliances to muster a fleet to destroy a gate camp through sheer numbers. This is a perfect opportunity for the smartbomb trap. When the large fleet comes in to engage, the small camp warps off to another gate giving the appearance that they are retreating to make the fleet follow them. An interdictor sits cloaked some distance off the next gate, waiting. The Interdictor pops a bubble when hostile fleet has entered the system and scout reports that they are about to start the chase. Smartbombing ships can warp to the bubble, and when the enemies arrive, activate their Smartbombs thus instantly destroying anything smaller than a Battlecruiser.
This tactic can be used to defend your retreat when being chased by a large fleet of relatively heavy ships. Essentially, the retreating fleet gets in front of the Interdictor, who warps to each gate along the route at around 10km and drops a bubble. This will slow the advance of the chasing fleet, as they will be caught in the bubbles and thus have to slowboat to the gate. The main drawback with this tactic is that following the Crucible patch in December 2011, launching a bubble causes agression in much the same way as firing a gun, or activating EWAR. The tactic is hence of limited use unless the Interdictor can cloak and get safe, or there is plenty of time to de-agress (in which case you don't really need the bubble). This tactic is only viable for light Interdictors, as HICs cannot deploy a bubble and then leave system.
An alternative to dropping a bubble in the system you are about to leave, is to deploy one in the system you have just come into. This has the drawback that the bubble will not be centred on the gate, and thus will not catch all of the enemy fleet as the jump in. However, if it traps e.g. a third of their fleet, it will be demoralising for them as their pursuing numbers are cut down each gate they go through. In fact, you might get lucky and bubble all except a few - meaning you might get a sneaky kill! This method also carries the advantage that you can de-agress while in warp to the out gate, however if enemies spawn within your bubble and try to warp, they will re-agress you!
The final iteration on this technique is using a bubble to turn the hunter into the hunted. If you find a large fleet, you can initially run from them, and give them confidence that they can kill you easily. Then, continue jumping your fleet back toward a system where you have reinforcements in wait. Warp to the next gate at 100km and pop a bubble, then have your backup get in position around the bubble. Hopefully, the pursuing FC will be reckless and not notice the additional numbers in local, and warp his fleet right into your bubble trap.
Dictor in Small vs Large Gangs
The key difference to the use of Interdictor ships in small and large gangs applies mainly to the Interdictor as opposed to the HIC.
In a small group, the 100 - 200 DPS Interdictor fitted for close range combat and tank can deliver a significant percentage of the total DPS. Therefore it is likely that the interdictor pilot will get directly involved in combat. In a large gang, this level of DPS is not significant. Therefore the Interdictor should concentrate on staying alive, so that it may drop further bubbles as the battle develops. Thus, the large gang Interdictor will likely be fitted for speed and have some tank, perhaps even carry two Interdiction Sphere Launchers. Carrying two launchers goes heavy on CPU and will effectively limit the number of speed modules you can fit due to the requirement for CPU upgrade modules.
Skirmishing in an Interdictor
An Interdictor can be used to skirmish in a typical small gang arrangement, especially when hunting for ratters. The fact the ship can land on a target, drop a bubble and then get out can be very effective, however the technique has both benefits and drawbacks:
- PLUS - Prevents a ship that has Warp Core Stabs from warping.
- MINUS – Not as fast as an Interceptor with greater signature radius, therefore more likely to receive damage
- MINUS – Target ship with MWD can just power out of the bubble.
- MINUS – Friendly fleet might land on the edge of the bubble and have to power to the target, or might even end up inside the bubble and vulnerable to enemy counter attack.
An interdictor can play the role of a backup tackler. In this setup, an Interceptor will skirmish, with the Interdictor following close behind. The Inty can put the initial point on the target, and once backup is in system and in warp to the Inty, the Dictor can put the bubble up and allow the Inty to come off the target and look for secondary targets.
Heavy Interdictors are not as suitable for solo skirmishing due to the fact they are not particularly fast and have high inertia. However, they can tank considerable amount of damage. They can put up their bubble over a gang of targets and immediately prevent multiple ships from warping, while soaking up DPS awaiting for their backup fleet to arrive. Again, if teamed with a good Inty pilot, the HIC can be an excellent backup tackler, warping into a highly hostile situation to interdict multiple targets (or a few very heavy targets) simultaneously.
Soloing in an Interdictor
Target selection and assessment is very important for the solo Dictor. Keep in mind that if you lose an engagement, it is very likely that you will end up in your pod inside your own bubble. Remember to update that clone and don't solo camp with a dictor carrying expensive implants.
The favored solo Interdictor tends to be the Sabre. The Flycatcher is too slow and the Heretic deals too little DPS in comparison. The Eris is also a good choice for solo PVP, and is often underestimated. It can easily deal 220 DPS with 5,500 EHP, or 195 DPS with 6,400 EHP.
Interdictors are not useful for solo PVP against larger ships. Their signature radius and inertia compared to a Frigate or Interceptor makes them too susceptible to taking damage from Cruiser class weapons, their biggest nemesis being HACs.
For suggested fittings, please have a look at the Interdictor fitting Wiki:
With regard to soloing in a HIC, it is possible but not common. The problem is that while you can stop targets from warping, you cannot use propulsion modules while you have your bubble up, so keeping ship you're attacking in desired range becomes very difficult. Thus, you may end up using a focussed script to solo PVP. At this point, however, you may as well be flying the T1 variant of the ship fitted with a typical PVP setup, as focused script will only provide you with an advantage when going against targets that have warp core stabilisers fitted. With a warp disruptor you will not be able to hold targets that have Warp Core Stabs, but typically targets that have these fitted are not looking for an engagement and will run away or cloak in any case.
An essential skill that all interdictor pilots should possess is recognizing when a bubble should be deployed. Obviously, when you are flying in as part of a structured fleet with a designated FC, you will be TOLD when to do so and should not put up bubbles unless given an order. A typical command for this will be "bubble up, bubble up" or something similar.
In a less formal "pick-up" gang, or a decentralized gang, it is less clear when a bubble should be deployed. Examples might be:
- You tackled a Falcon off gate and it targets you back and prepares to jam. You should deploy the bubble only if jammed, by which time your fleet will hopefully be in warp and will thus land right next to you, not at the bubble edge.
- Unknown ship enters through the gate you are sitting on, no scout on the other side. Clearly in this situation you should not deploy a bubble, as you don't know if the pilot has any backup sitting on the gate in the next system.
- Known ship enters system through gate, scout on the other side. This scenario requires some thought, mainly to do with the size of the gate. If it is a large gate, you are better awaiting until the target decloaks. If target is within 20km of you, drop the bubble. If not, but it is close to 20km and slow to align, then approach with MWD and pop a bubble. If it deloacks. 40-50km from you there is little point in wasting a warp disrupt probe.
There are of course endless scenarios that can be debated ad infinitum, these are just a few basic examples.
Also known as: “When to just bubble and when to ask”
Generally speaking, don’t. If you are not sure, err on the side of caution. A warp disrupt probe launched at the wrong time can hold your fleet in position for a full 2 minutes. Even a single cycle of the HIC bubble (at 20 seconds duration) can be enough to get most of your fleet killed.
There are of course exceptions. The only way to discover them is to get some experience flying this class of ship in a fleet. When you catch a Viator full of BPOs due to a cleverly placed bubble you will know you got it right. When you get your fleet of light ships smartbombed to oblivion due to a badly timed bubble you will know you got it wrong!
An Interdictor /HIC pilot will have many aligned bookmarks around his home and nearby systems, with many "pairs" to allow quick repositioning. An example:
|o> RMO %<Jor,Uto> @ 70,b <o|
|o> RMO %<Jor,Uto> @100,f <o|
This identifies a typical bookmark pair, with the first point being a bubble deployment spot 70km behind the gate, the second 100km in front. The 70km BM has a space after the "@" so it sorts properly in numerical order. Having the pair is useful, as it means if you are at the location at the front of the gate, you can "warp to 70km" to the location behind the gate and land directly on the gate, and vice versa but "warp to 100km". It is not normal to place an Interdictor or HIC bubble any more than 70km behind a gate, as a target ship who "warps to 100km" from the gate will not be pulled into the bubble.
It is also useful to have a third bookmark nearby (e.g. 5,000km) which you can warp to from the gate and quickly reposition at a catch point, or just warp to in order to escape an overpowering opposing force.
Obviously bookmarks will not be restricted to only gates, indeed any celestial is ripe for the picking for a keen Interdictor pilot. It is therefore easy to see how a pilot may build a library of hundreds of bookmarks given that there are (N-1)! combinations of alignments in a given system, where N is the number of celestials considered.
Please note - deploying a mobile warp disruptor often causes errors with mini-warping between bookmarks on grid. Therefore, this tactic of having a bookmark pair on grid with a gate will not always work, and a third off grid tactical must be used to quickly navigate between the front and back bubble locations, and the gate.
One of the most important skills a good Interdictor pilot must develop is good communications. There is not much worse as an FC than having your fleet of heavies warp to a gate, only to find themselves caught in a friendly bubble 100km in front of the gate that was not called, when a large HAC and Recon gang are in hot pursuit! A typical report would be:
"<Pilot Name>: Bubble up! Bubble up 100 in front of Utopia gate aligned with GLS station"
"<Pilot Name>: Bubble up! Bubble up on KLY-CO gate in X-7, Absolution on X-7 gate in KLY-CO, he is now coming through"
All in all, the Interdictor and Heavy Interdictor Cruiser are hugely useful additions to any fleet, be it a 4 man roaming gang, a gate camp, or a 40 man battleship gank squad looking for a big fight. However, while they can certainly cause a headache for your enemy, without careful application and intelligent use they can be turned against your own fleet, easily leading to heavy losses that would have been avoided had the ship not been present.
The key skills you need to fly them effectively are sharp situational awareness, good communications skills, and patience. As the saying goes, "If you put up a bubble, they will come."