Friday 13 September 2013

Prowler Fleet - Coming to a Trade Hub near you soon!

Ever since I got my first Blockade Runner (a Prowler) I've loved Blockade Runners.

Subsequently I've been building up a fleet of Prowlers to cover most of my transport requirements throughout empire space. I'll still use courier contracts for large shipments between the main hubs and for spot work in some of the more dangerous systems but I'm working towards doing all routine pickups, short runs and time sensitive deliveries with Blockade Runners.

Training Blockade Runners and the support skills necessary to fly them well is now my number 2 training priority (after Trade skills) on all my traders. Since getting my first Blockade Runner pilot I've been working on training up more, particularly for traders on the busier hubs and in the largest regions.

Blockade Runners do cost roughly 5 times as much as Covert Ops frigates (~100 mil vs ~20 mil) and 50 times as much as the expendable Vigils (~2 mil) all my traders start out with. Blockade Runners aren't quite as fast (close enough though) and they don't align quite as quickly either (again close enough) but they do have a few significant advantages more than offsetting those minor disadvantages. They have about 10 times the tank (10-15k depending on exact fit and skills), 20 times the cargo capacity (just over 4k m3) and can't be cargo scanned. You can carry a lot more cargo and not only is it more difficult to kill your ship but the killer won't even know if you were carrying anything worthwhile until after he has killed it.

You don't need to get your Transport Ships skill up very high either. The useful bonuses, cargo capacity and velocity, come from your racial industrial skill which is going to be at V anyhow because that's a prerequisite to fly the ship in the first place. Transport Ships bonuses are pretty useless considering almost nobody fits shield boosters on blockade runners (AFAIC doing so is stupid) and you only need Transports Ships III to have enough CPU for a proper fit with covert cloak and all. But you will need IV if you want to fit a covert cyno too and that might be handy for fleet operations with black ops.

My own personal favorite Blockade Runner is the Minmatar Prowler though the Caldari Crane is about as good. The Prowler is a little faster, the Crane a little tankier and alignment times are about the same (both under 4 seconds). That's all with identical fits and nearly identical skills too (the only difference being which racial industrial skill is required) so based on stats and performance the choice was pretty much a wash for me.

I've always felt one of the silliest things you can do is choose your ship based on how it looks but for the first time ever my choice came down to which ship looks better (in my defense it only came down to looks because everything else was equal). The Crane truly is an ugly duckling (as all Badger based hulls are) so Prowler it is.

Right now I have 3 Prowler pilots with 2 more coming in 6 days, a 6th in 2 or 3 weeks (2 if I activate dual training, 3 if I don't) and I could have as many as 6 more in a month or so. Next week I'll have all of the main trade hubs covered by Prowlers and it won't be very long before Prowler Fleet is covering most of the larger and/or busier regions too.

My old fleet of Vigils is becoming obsolete, it's all about Prowler Fleet now!


  1. Why exactly do you use Vigils?
    I use an Atronfit dubbed "fastshuttle" for valuable goods (no-auto) and char-relocation (autopilot)

    [Atron, FastShuttle]
    Nanofiber Internal Structure II
    Nanofiber Internal Structure II
    Overdrive Injector System II

    Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
    EM Ward Amplifier I
    Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I

    75mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Lead Charge S
    75mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Lead Charge S
    75mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Lead Charge S
    Prototype Cloaking Device I

    Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
    Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
    Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I

    I've refits for Cargo, Speed, Freighterweber and a cheap interceptor fit on them most of the time.
    This fit aligns in 2s the speedfit for autopilot does 700m/s and aligns in 3s.

    Do you prefer the Vigil only for the higher Cargospace?
    In my experience i have seldom loads above 300m³ (expanded atron) but below 400m³ (expanded Vigil). Most of my loads would fit into the speedversion of the Atron (74m³) but your needs might differ.

    1. I originally choose Vigils because at the time they had a speed bonus making them the fastest cheap T1 frigate.

      They only had 120 m3 cargo space back then which was a bit of a problem at times. After the frigate revamp the extra cargo space came in really handy while speed and alignment time weren't affected much so I stuck with Vigils.

      Another reason for sticking with Vigils was to keep things simple. It's a standard ship with a standard fit all my alts can fly. I don't have to check skills or think about ships and fits for every new alt, they can just hop right into a hand-me-down Vigil from an older alt.

      Your Atron fit looks good though, that under 2s alignment time is especially interesting. With good skills it manages to fit both a MWD and a medium shield extender without requiring an MAPC or ACR rigs too. That isn't true for low skills alts though and my Vigil fit is specifically intended for newer alts with at most a few days worth of non-trade skills.

      The 75 m3 cargo capacity (or 120 m3 without the overdrive) is a bit small for my purposes too.

      I had tried doing something similar with Condors but with just 2 low slots I couldn't quite get alignment time under 2 seconds.

      I never really considered Gallente or Amarr ships because they're mostly armor tanked and I'm focused on shield tank for now. Most of my characters only have 5-10 million SP, even my main is only a year and a half old with just 36 million SP.

    2. If you shieldtank Gallente become really fast and agile. They are worth looking into and lots of lowslots are a nice bonus.
      My main is nearly exactly as old as yours, though its a combatchar. Im into Industry mainly and less into trading so my alts have to train Int-skills (PI, Research and Production) anyway so I pick up basic fitting and tankingskills on the side. For a week of training the alts get a lot more versatile.
      A stack of these Atrons refit for Interceptor duty, a main in an Artynado and lots of Bookmarks are a nasty surprise for highsecwardeckers trying to take down a highsecPOS.

    3. I really like Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizers too. Fitting 3 of them improves warp speed by nearly 70% and that's a bigger time saver than a little more velocity for both auto-pilot and manual flight.

      Mind you, if fitting polycarbons takes alignment time down another second I'll take alignment time over warp-speed every time.

    4. I wouldn't use the MSE in this fit, but rather a MASB. The MSE increases your signature radius, which lowers the time to lock your ship. MASB give an almost equal amount of tank but without the signature radius increase.

    5. True dat about Gallente ships. Definitely something to keep in mind as my alts become more diversified.

      After I finish training trade skills I go with an Int/Mem remap and start training up navigation, shield tank and fitting skills. Once those are high enough I train Blockade Runners (used to be Cov Ops until I got my first BR and decided they were far better for my purposes).

      The second stage of training often got put on hold for several months while I trained up another alt (or 2) on the same account. But that's no longer an issue with dual training and all the accounts I have now.

    6. @Piter true enough, however the MSE works on auto-pilot too while the MASB doesn't.

  2. +1 to what you said about the Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer rigs. In my experience they're the most effective time savers available after taking into account the usual juggling act between agility/speed fittings and cargo-space fittings.