(If you are unfamiliar with the terminology used in this piece, please read the glossary here.)
Part one: What is speed tanking?
Speed tanking is a form of tanking (increasing the survivability of your ship), that relies on you moving very quickly. This allows you to outrun the explosions of missiles and dodge direct weapons (lasers, hybrids and projectiles) by ‘overloading’ thier tracking speed, I.E moving so quickly that the turret can’t move fast enough to point at you.
Part two: Which ships can speed tank?
Generally, anything bigger than a cruiser will have a hard time speed tanking. Some ships such as interceptors are specifically designed for a speed tank. The easiest way to tell if a ship will have a good speed tank is to look at it’s description. If the hull gives a bonus to speed, or to the effectiveness of speed modules (afterburners and micro warp drives), then there is a good chance that you can speed tank it. For example, the Caldari Crow:
Description & Bonuses
Interceptors utilize a combination of advanced alloys and electronics to reduce their effective signature radius. This, along with superior maneuverability and speed, makes them very hard to target and track, particularly for high caliber turrets.
As befits one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the known world, Kaalakiota’s ships are very combat focused. Favoring the traditional Caldari combat strategy, they are designed around a substantial number of weapons systems, especially missile launchers. However, they have rather weak armor and structure, relying more on shields for protection.
Interceptors Skill Bonus:
Role Bonus: 80% reduction in Propulsion Jamming systems activation cost
The crow is unusual in that it doesn’t offer a direct bonus to speed, but it does offer a bonus that offsets the penalty of using a micro warp drive (more on that later).
The Stabber is the mainstay of the Minmatar fleet. It is light and extremely fast, yet surprisingly powerful, with a wide variety of weapons. It is one of few Minmatar vessels that have reached popularity outside Minmatar space.
Minmatar Cruiser Skill Bonus: 5% bonus to Medium Projectile Turret firing speed and 5% bonus to max velocity per level.
The stabber, as you can see however, offers a direct bonus to speed. Once you’re familiar with the different modules in this list, you should have a much easier time spotting ships that can be speed tanked. It’s worth bearing in mind that most frigates and destroyers can also be speed tanked, as their base speed is already quite high.
Part 3. Which modules should I use?
Speed tanking requires the use of several modules. First of all, you will need a direct speed boost module. These come in two flavours, micro warp drives, and afterburners.
Micro warp drives (MWD’s), offer the best bonus to your speed- they are considerably faster than afterburners! However, while you have one fitted your maximum capacitor is lowered, and the module itself is very cap thirsty, meaning that if you’re not careful you can run dry. Also, if you are targeted by a warp scrambler, your MWD is disabled, instantly breaking your tank. The other problem is that MWD’s also cause a massive boost to your signature radius, making it easier to lock you, and increasing the damage that you take. So, does this mean that this speed tank defeats itself? Yes and no.
Remember the crow? With it’s bonuses it can use a micro warp drive without worrying too much about the increased signal radius. So it can speed tank happily on a MWD. The stabber ‘s tank however will suffer greatly, as it has a pretty sizeable sig rad due to being a cruiser.
Afterburners do not lower your maximum cap, and are nowhere near as cap thirsty as the MWD. Thus for a sustainable speed tank, they are the best option for most ships, especially larger ships such as destroyers and cruisers. They will continue to operate so long as you have cap, even if you are hit by a warp scrambler.
So, generally speaking afterburners win, but on many ships a micro warp drive will provide a better tank. As a rule of thumb though, if there’s nothing on the ship to offset the increased sig rad, use an afterburner. The larger the ship, the more likely you need to use an afterburner.
Next in the low slots you’ll want to look at two modules, the nanofibre internal structure, and the overdrive injector. The former lowers your ships mass, improving speed, acceleration and manoeuvrability (which we shall cover in tactics). The latter simply provides you with a straight bonus to speed. both of these modules have drawbacks, but they should not be a problem for speed tanking ship.
Finally, rigs. There are two rigs you need to think about when fitting up a speed tanking ship- polycarbon engine housing (which is like a second nanofibre) and auxiliary thrusters (straight bonus to speed). Frictionless nozzles (provide a bonus to manoeuvrability) are also useful, but not as useful to a speed tank as the other two.
Part 4. Skills.
If you’re serious about speed tanking, then you’ll need to invest some time in your skill queue! Here are some of the skills you need:
- Navigation- Increases your base speed
- Acceleration control- boosts the bonus to speed you get from burners and MWDs.
- Ship type skill- If the hull has a bonus to speed tanking, a high level of skill in that ship will help.
- Afterburners / high speed manoeuvring- lowers the cap costs of using a burner / MWD.
Part 5: Implants:
If you’re REALLY serious about speed tanking, you might decide to buy some implants to help you out. Here are some of the most useful ones:
Snake Attribute implants will give you a bonus to your speed, and if you can get a full set of them, the bonus will become considerable- especially on ships that have a high speed to begin with.
Eifyr and Co. ‘Rogue’ skill hardwiring implants are the best for a straight up speed increase, these can be found under the navigational implants section of the market.
if you’re speed tanking while using guns, you might want to look at some of the other options. Boosting you’re turret’s trakcing speed means that you can hit the enemy more accuratly while moving at speed for example.
Part 6: Tactics.
When speed tanking, there are a few things you need to consider about how you use your fit. Unlike other forms of tanking it’s not just enough to have you ship fitted out for speed tanking- you need to be careful where in space your ship is, who’s shooting at you and so forth- it’s not just enough to move at top speed!
First of all, you need to be aware of a thing called transversal speed. this is your speed relative to a ship that is shooting at you. It’s measured by the rate at which the angle you are to that ship changes each second. to put it simply, if you are moving directly towards a ship, your angle relative to that ship does not change- regardless of how fast you are moving. This means your transversal speed is zero. This means he can hit you easily, and your speed tank is broken.
However, if you are orbiting the enemy, then your transversal becomes dependant on your speed- faster being better. Also, being closer to the enemy is better for your transversal too! Remember- high transversal speed = better speed tank. So if you have a target you are trying to pop, tackle or whatever- it’s usually (But not always!) a good idea to get as close as possible, and as fast as possible.
When is it not a good idea? When you’re using a micro warp drive! Remember that a micro warp drive can be shut down by a warp scrambler. These have shorter ranges than a warp disrupter though, so you’ll end up with a better transversal staying out of the range of any scrammers so you can keep your micro warp drive, and therefore your speed tank running.
Manoeuvrability is also an issue. A ship can only turn so quickly, so if you’re orbiting too close to a target too small, then your ship may very well not be running at full speed. You’ll need to experiment with corp mates to find the ‘sweet spot’ for your speed tanked ship.
Other players sometimes talk about zigzagging towards the enemy, orbiting an ally and other tactics- there’s some wisdom in this, but in the heat of a PvP battle, you don’t want to over think things. So long as you are orbiting something, you should be okay. However, you may get really unlucky and find a ship gets a round off just as you are starting to turn towards them- that’s rotten luck, but it does happen.
If you’re flying a frigate, stay away from destroyers- their bonuses to tracking speed and range can destroy your speed tank.
Finally, don’t rely soley on speed tanking. It’s also a very good idea to have at least one ‘back up’ tank to absorb any glancing blows that you might suffer- or let you survive logn enough to warp out if your tank is broken!