Fleet Interceptor Tactics

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Contents

Introduction

What is a fleet interceptor?

There are two types of interceptors, fleet and combat, and each race has one of each. A fleet interceptor, as opposed to a combat interceptor, is the one that gets its bonuses to point range instead of firepower. Common for all interceptors, both combat and fleet, is that they get an 80% reduction in cap activation cost of points and scrams. They both warp fast, but fleet interceptors warp faster (13.5AU/s as opposed to 9AU/s). Both get a reduced MWD sig radius bloom and both are fast and agile, fleet interceptors in general a little faster, and the same goes for scan resolution.

The fleet interceptors are the Ares, Stiletto, Malediction and Raptor.

So, why should you fly an interceptor?

Well, first of all because they are fun fun fun. Fleet interceptors are also capable of filling a vital fleet role as a skirmisher and scout, while at the same time providing fast maneuverable tackle and on grid TAM anchors. FCs love good interceptor pilots, and finding and holding a target while the fleet takes 5 minutes to get there is a great feeling.


Skill recommendations

Interceptors are, compared to a lot of other ships, relatively newbie-friendly. Training enough skills to hop into one only takes a few weeks. However, as with all other things in eve, getting great skills takes a long time. Some skills are more important than others, and we will cover which here. Bear in mind that some skill requirements are slightly subjective, and lack of skill points can often be covered up by changing the fitting.

Must haves:

These skills are required to be able to fly and fit the interceptor, and can not be skipped.

Recommended:

These skills are recommended to be able to fit your interceptor properly and to be able to survive some incoming damage. Note, you don’t need level V to start flying one, but it will help you fly them better.

Flying your interceptor in a fleet

Flying a fleet interceptor is an independent role. It’s not for the timid, quiet or slow-witted. You need to think at least one step ahead of the fleet, and the best interceptor pilots anticipate the FCs moves before being told what to do. Caldak, one of our more experienced FCs considers CovOps his eyes and skirmishers his fingers, reaching out ahead of the fleet to grab and hold stuff for him. Be that finger!

To excel as a skirmisher, you must have a broad knowledge of fleet maneuvers and tactics. You must know when the fleet will need a TAM anchor, you must know when to go back through that gate and catch targets that will run, and you must know when to have a deep safe ready for the fleet. You must be able to go through a gate into an enemy camp, give a recon report and then get safe, either back through the gate, or by burning off, and you must know when to use either method.

As a skirmisher, you must feel at home in nullsec, and gate camps must not bother you. You need tactical bookmarks for all the gates, and you need to know when to warp to them and when you can go gate to gate. You must be able to find and assess targets for the fleet, and then hold them until help gets there. Often you will go into large fleets, singling out one target and holding it while under fire and then escaping to safety before they can kill you.

To be a good skirmisher, you must be able to relay information quickly and efficiently over voice comms, and you must not be afraid of speaking up. You must also know when not to speak and what information not to pass on to the FC in order reduce the information overload that faces all FCs.

To be truly great as a skirmisher, you must master both solo PvP and have experience as a fleet commander. Solo PvP teaches you how to move and find targets, while FC’ing teaches you what other FCs want from you and helps you anticipate the fleets movements.

On a channeled comms system like Teamspeak, the skirmishers need to be in command channel to be able to do their jobs properly.

There are two main roles for a fleet interceptor; Skirmish and fleet tackle.


Vital Game Mechanics

Gate mechanics

When you go through a gate, you end up 12-14km from the edge of the gate. This is not the same as the center of the gate or the gate icon. A gate is, regardless of its graphic, a sphere, and you will spawn 12-14km from the edge of that sphere.

There are gates of various sizes, depending on whether they are between two systems, constellations or regions, respectively increasing in size. A regional gate can have a diameter of about 30km while a system gate as little as 5. This is important to remember when attempting to tackle a target that comes through the gate. It’s impossible for an interceptor to be in point range of the entirety of spawn points of a regional or constellation gate, while a system gate can be covered quite easily.

Whenever you go through a gate you are, unless you move your ship, invulnerable for thirty seconds. You will also be cloaked for 60 seconds, but after the first thirty are up, you can get decloaked if something gets too close. This goes for targets too.

Please note that when approaching a gate at high speed, you can bounce off the gate and actually get outside jumprange again. This has killed many an unfortunate interceptor, and is increasingly common with increasing speed and lag. To combat this, spam the jump button when approaching, and I mean SPAM!

Session change timer

The session change timer is a 20 second delay to any new action that will trigger a session change. Typical such actions are:

This means you can not do more than one such action per twenty seconds, and after coming through a gate, you have to wait out your session change before reapproaching and going back through.

Fortunately, the game has a graphical representation of the session change timer in the top right corner, but this has to be enabled in general options.

This timer lasts 10 seconds and is a good indication of how much time you have to give recon when going through a gate into a hostile camp. In 10 seconds, the adept skirmisher should be able to assess the targets, formulate in his head what to say, and report it clearly over voice comms. You then have another 50 seconds of cloak in which to figure out how to gtfo.

Weapons timer (also known as Aggression timer)

Any aggressive act you perform will trigger a 60 second weapons timer (still commonly referred to as an aggression timer.) An aggressive act is defined as any action that has the potential of inflicting a negative effect on another entity in space. Any damage, ewar, weapon activation, cap warfare, drone aggression, AOE effect (ECM burst for instance) or similar will give you an aggression timer. Targeting, repairing and ship scanning does not cause weapons timers.

A target that aggresses you will go from having yellow brackets to having red brackets around it. If the target has launched drones and they “red-box” you, they are aggressed, and thus the owner as well.

Targeting, repairing or ship scanning only gives a yellow box.

When you get an weapons timer, you can not go through a stargate or dock in a station for 60 seconds. This is very important to understand, as it also applies to your target if it aggresses you. As a tackler holding a target on a gate, with the main fleet on the other side, it is vital to inform the fleet when the target aggresses, as that means the fleet has 60 seconds to come through and kill it before it can get back through.

A target that realizes it is in a bad spot, will often attempt to “de-aggress”. This means it will stop shooting and recall drones. You will see that previously red brackets change to yellow, and this is vital information to relay. It’s also the interceptors cue to do the same and re-approach the gate to be ready to follow through the gate, should the target survive long enough.

General tips on piloting your Interceptor

Oops I’m in a bad spot:

Very often when skirmishing, you will end up in a gatecamp after coming through a gate. You now have two choices: Burn off or reapproach. We’ll look both how to do it and when to choose what strategy.

Positioning of interceptor on gate

Using an interceptor in a gatecamp to catch targets coming through is often done incorrectly. When roaming around solo in my frigates, i repeatedly see inty pilots making basic mistakes that let me get away when i shouldn’t.

First of all, interceptors should not be orbiting the gate, they should be sitting still at 0. This is because when orbiting, you will increase your align time when you need to decloak. A lot of inty pilots think it’s a good idea to orbit at 20km with their MWD on. This is wrong. An interceptor doing this at a gate will never be able to catch a frigate pilot that knows to hold cloak until the interceptor is at the opposite side of the gate, 40km away.

When sitting still, you should be ready to start cycling your MWD as soon as there is a gate fire, or as soon as a target appears on grid. If a sniping ship, say a Muninn, warps in at 100km or so, start moving at an angle to it immediately to not get oneshotted.

When there’s a gatefire and you’re expecting a target to come through, start cycling your MWD and pre-overheat your point.

Then hold down ctrl to lock your overview, and start spam-clicking below the lowest entry. This will ensure that as soon as the target decloaks, you start locking it, and once you start locking, release ctrl. If you now keep clicking, you’ll also power straight for it. When you start locking, activate your point, and unless it’s a cloaky, immediately hit orbit.

For those that were unaware, holding ctrl locks your overview and forces all new entries to appear at the bottom.

Decloaking CovOps in bubbles:

When a CovOps or recon comes through a gate, your only chance to decloak them is by working with a bubbler. Most of them align fast enough to get away unless they have to power out of a bubble. If the bubbler holds the bubble until they decloak, it will often stop them dead in their tracks as a lot of covops and recons will simply select “warp to” instead of aligning. When the bubble comes up, that will stop their ship, making the decloak a lot easier. Good covops pilots will never “warp to” like that when not alone in system, and will be much harder to catch.

Approaching a target

Whenever you find a target and need to get closer to tackle it, be wary.

A couple of other important things to know is your targeting range and overheated point range.

Tackling and holding a target

What orbit range to choose:

To set your orbit range, right click the orbit button, and then select “set default orbit range” and enter your desired range in meters.

You then need to check what your actual orbit distance will be, for instance with a dropped can.


Whenever you start tackling something, chances are it won’t like it and will try to kill you with varying degrees of skill. To compensate for this and enable you to hold the target for as long as possible, the adept interceptor pilot is able to negate the incoming damage, and is also able to disengage and escape with just a sliver of structure left. If your hull isn’t on fire before you’re forced to disengage, you’re doing it wrong :)

“Oh shit”-moments:

“Oh shit”-moments are pretty common when flying in nullsec, and especially in an interceptor, ahead of the fleet, so you need to be prepared. Two situations in particular are very important.

What targets to avoid

Some targets are very dangerous to take on in a fleet interceptor, and the presence of some should keep you from engaging altogether.

Interceptor fishing, how to not be a victim

T1 frigate with tank+scram+web = Fishing frig

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