Situation Awareness – Covert Operation Frigates

The second installment of my quick series how to live in EVE’s wormhole space.  It is not really a guide, more a personal journal.  Comments and corrections are very welcome.  

So, we figured out that pilots in wormhole space need to know what is happening around them whether they want to avoid being prey or aim to be the hunter.  What follows below is a short post on Covert Operation ships that I fly and the roles they fill.  Don’t expect a full fitting guide – I am a terrible EFT-warrior.  Generally, my alliance mates suffer my dumb question with aplomb and suggest fits.  I buy everything, fly it for a few days and then change mods to tweak the ship to my liking.

Covert Operation Frigates

We advise our fresh recruits to get into a Covert Operations Frigate as soon as possible.  These nimble boats can fly unseen, are easy to replace and rather versatile.  Aside from their primary role as fleet scout, they can be codebreaker / hacker, salvagers and even tacklers,  sometimes the situation changes and in Wormhole space, its harder to come back to the home POS, reship and go back out.  A good example is when I go out solo and stalk something down the chain for a bit when my fleetmates log in.  All of a sudden, I am not the solo scout anymore but eyes for the fleet and instead of escape / evasion, my boat could well be part of an attack fleet.  I can’t run back since my WH transit would surely be noted.  So, my scout ships are generally jack-of-all-trades.  Organized roam ships have it easier since the objective is pretty clear when undocking.

So back to ship fits – firstly, what race to chose?  Well as true Gallente, of course I fly a Helios (ok, ok, I also have a couple of Buzzards).   Slot layout (low/med/high) is 3/5/2 which means it has the least flexibility in high slots but enough in the mids.  The Buzzard beats it on both counts, has 3 highs, 5 mids but only 2 lows (which are the least useful for CovOps).  So, for true Min/Maxer, the Buzzard is likely the best.

The Mighty Tripod

The Mighty Tripod

Well, the two Helios high slots are taken up by  anyway Covert Ops Cloaking Device and an Expanded Probe Launcher.  The lack of a third slot means I can’t fit a salvager – that has not really been an issue so far. I did get killed once by an Anathema that had rockets fitted into his third high slot.  I had ignored him entirely since I focused on taking down his bomber buddy who I had damped into uselessness.  Oh well.

For solo roams into the total unknown, the 5 midslots can be fitted with an Invulnerability Field and a Shield Extender in addition to the Relic and Data analyzers.  Throw in a Small Shield Extender and the wee boat becomes even a little tanky.  Low slots, well, I like my agility and stick with Nanofiber Internal Structures – I know relic and analyzer site loot can be bulky and I have seen people put a Cargo Expander onto it.   That brings us to Rigs, most people still fit Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrades since they enhance probe strength but the Odyssey expansion greatly simplified scanning and with my astrometrics skills nearly all pegged at V, I chose to forgo one of the two rigs and replace it with a Small Memetic Algorithm Bank (who comes up with these names?) that assist with hacking.

As for drones, I tend to carry a Light Armor Maintenance Bot to be able to repair fleet mates after an engagement (I don’t think I ever used that).  Some people fit Hobgoblins but basically anything but ECM drones will work.  A single ECM drone has too low of a chance to “hit” to be useful.

So, together, this little Helios is nimble, fast (514m/s without AB, 1220 m/s with AB), has some tank (2222 HP, and 30/45/65/65 resists). Its a classic Jack-of-All-Trades-Master-of-None and therefore a decent solo exploration ship.  But it has no offense and not everyone agrees that a tank is required on a Covert Operations frigate.  The explanation goes, if you get caught by a WH PvP ship, no amount of tank can help you.  This may be true – I lost very few Covert Ops boats and those I did lose I would have lost even if they had a tank. But lets think about a slightly more offensive role of this boat, as scout and (suicide?) tackler.  One can throw the tank out, stick in a Target Painter and maybe a J5b Phase Prototype Warp Scrambler into the freeing mid slots.  Or, what seems more sensible, one can take the analyzer / hacker mods off, change the second rig back to a Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade and and voila, a cloaked, semi-tanked tackler can be had for very little ISK.

I don’t think there is much point to go into the other Covert Operation Frigates too much, they all can basically fulfill the same roles but with different slot layout.  The principal holds, though, it is worth thinking through how the evening shapes up before fitting our the covops.  Since it is the scout, it rarely gets a chance to re-ship but is tasked with keeping eyes on the opposing team all the time.

The next post will be about my favorite boat – the Stealth Bomber.

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