Stealth Bomber Tactics
The purpose of this article is to help those pilots who are new to flying stealth bombers become familiar with abilities, strengths, and limitations of the ship before trying it out in practice. There are a few basic things that if always followed will greatly increase your chance of surviving and getting kills in the process.
One of the most basic prerequisites to flying ships able to use T2 covops cloak is having on grid and off grid tactical bookmarks (tacs) to get yourself in position for fights and surviving the aforementioned fights in general. Regardless of what ship you fly, you should always have tactical bookmarks to the area. They will allow you to single out a gate/station for scanning, to warp to safety on grid, and to physically see the enemy gang. Having two tacticals with miniwarp range of all commonly traveled gates and stations is common. It is recommended that you have more for especially dangerous areas or commonly bubbled areas. You will find these to be priceless.
Your cloaking device once deactivated has a reactivation delay of 15 seconds. Once deactivated you will not be able to turn it back on for 15 seconds. If you are targeted by anything in game, NPC or other, you will not be able to reactivate your cloak.
As the engagement commences, it is up to you to decide whether to decloak or not. To do this you have to estimate your chances of staying alive if you drop cloak. Stealth bombers are paper thin and easy to 1 volley by a number of ships in game. Being dead doesn't help anybody. Warping out when you are in danger and coming back to the fight is key to being effective in an sb. But ultimately if you cannot safely get into any position or align properly then it is ok to not decloak. This comes with experience as with most ships including ECM boats. You will get a feel for when the cause of you being on a kill mail is simply a death wish. As an example of this, earlier tonight as well in 6W the original fight I warped to Bamar at my optimal of 50km. Unfortunately I landed 8km from the fight. The fight was escalating fast and we were not doing so well. But I did not dare decloak at that moment. So I warped to another celestial and back before throwing my 2 cents worth of missiles in.
To safely fight in a sb simply follow a few rules:
- Get yourself in position and within the range of the fight needed
- Align to a celestial or other object (preferable one not far away and something you have a tactical for)
- Set speed to 75% to be able to instawarp but not drag you to fast out of range of the fight
- Cycle weapons
- Decloak and lock target
- Reselect item that you are aligned to, or right click in space and prepare to warp to your tactical that you are aligned to
Once you fire on target you'll have to pay careful attention to what is on the field of battle, what is coming towards you, and what is locking you. Know who is the most dangerous to you, this comes with experience and knowing all the ships in game. Just because you have been locked does not mean that you must warp right away. In a recent engagement in 6W a Cerberus had me locked the whole time, but he never fired missiles on me. If he had I would of waited till they were right on top of me before warping out. You may also make a tactical before decloaking if it is right where you need to be so that you can come back without having to readjust, but you risk someone waiting for you when you warp back. But you can came back at a small distance, check for danger, and get back in position pretty quick if the coast is clear.
Typical ranges with torps is 50-60km for t1, t2 rage, and faction ammo with decent skills and approximately 95 with t2 javelins. Targeting range is roughly 70-85km depending on skills and gang bonuses.
With T2 javelins and one Hydraulic Bay Thruster 1 you can easily hit out to 95km with decent skills.
Interceptors & You
By far the most common way to lose a sb is by interceptors being on the field of battle. You align slow and die easily, so it is natural for them to primary you to remove the heavy dps in a split second. If you are 45km from a fight with inty's and it is a stilleto, raptor, ares, or malediction (which all get bonuses to warp disruption range to 30km) you will be pointed in seconds and then subsequently killed. A couple of different ways to counter this is by: 1. Training T2 javelins to stay at a much greater distance (~95km) 2. Put stabs on your sb and sensor booster to counter the negative effects of them, though this also limits damage modules 3. Follow the survival rules above and instawarp as soon as a volley gets off, basically fire and warp while already aligned
To a greater degree Lachesis's and Arazu's get a bonus to warp disruption range. To a extreme degree with the proper faction fit and bonuses one of these ships can point you out to ~80km. So when they are on the battlefield you must pay attention to their location to you as well as the inty's and any snipers. A good skilled pilot can point out to 40-48km in both of these ships.
Bombs travel 30km and must be aimed at the target by physically pointing the ship in that direction. This makes it hard to drop bombs, be aligned to a tactical, and instawarp once the bomb is released. You can though make tacticals to assist in this alignment. Tacticals can be made by going to a common fight area, say a gate, and align yourself with a celestial object on the other side of the gate. Make a tactical for bomb positioning, then warp to the celestial and make another tactical almost instantly while in warp. In this way you can follow the survival rules above and instead of missiles drop a bomb and instawarp to your tactical on the other side.
Bombs can also be tactically used to soften targets up before an engagement and killing after an engagement. Softening targets can be done by knowing the timing of your gang as they are warping to the engagement and dropping a bomb on targets just before your gang comes out of warp. This gives your gang a good advantage going into a fight with pre-damaged enemies. Dropping a bomb when an engagement is over, particularly when the engagement was lost, you may pop some of the soft ships that your gang did not manage to kill.
It may be important to note here that multiple bombs fired at the same time will only survive the explosions of other bombs if they are the same type of damage bombs. A kinetic bomb will blow up a EM bomb etc....
Ballistic Control Systems do not affect the damage of bombs.
This technique involves putting target painters and remote sensor dampeners on the target just after dropping the bomb. Bombs deal different ammount of damage based on signature radius of a target within blast radius. The bigger signature radius the more damage dealt with the blast.
Remote sensor dampeners with proper script can save stealth bomber pilot from beeing locked and pinned by the bombed hostiles.
The damp-paint technique by TeaDaze goes as follows:
- Line up target as normal with some celestial / exit point
- Bomb the target and check your exit point alignment
- Lock target then damp and paint it
- Warp out -- you do not need to wait for the bomb to go off (unless you want to put a couple rounds of torps into the pod), as it will do damage unless you have a session change (e.g., docking, changing systems, or getting your ship destroyed)
Only to be used if you have no fast lockers nearby. Keep the mouse over the warp to exit point at all times.
For anyone who is seriously considering using a steath bomber on a regular basis should consider training your missiles skills up to at minimum T2 siege and cov ops to level 5. You can get more range with missile skills and more dps for the cov ops skill. A fully fitted T2 rage manticore with level 5 skills gets 617 dps and volleys at 4971 and can reach 55km. With T2 javelins 433 dps and 3495 volley with a 91km reach. Stealth Bombers are nasty little ships and when used properly can make or break engagements, especially with heavies present.