Smurfprime's guide to basic tanking

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Capsuleer Sumurfprime has put together this guide to basic tanking. It proves a basic description of tanking and the skills required to fit a Tech 2 tank. Discussion of specific modules and fittings has been avoided, the article is intended to teach the basic theory of tanking.

Contents

Tanking Methods

This article will discuss the three main methods used to mitigate damage during a fight such as:

Shield Tanking
Utilizes a ship's shield and shield recharging modules to counter or diminish the effects of received damage.
Armor Tanking
Utilizes a ship's armor and armor repairing modules to counter or diminish the effects of received damage.
Hull Tanking
Utilizes a ship's hull and hull repairing modules to counter or diminish the effects of received damage.

Additionally, there are further forms of taking that will not be covered by this guide. Strictly speaking these are tactical maneuvers designed to avoid damage not absorb damage; so while effective, they are technically not "Tanking".

Speed Tanking
Utilizes a ships speed and maneuverability to make it difficult for enemy weapons to successfully hit you;
Range Tanking
Utilizes distance to make it difficult for enemy weapons to successfully hit you.
Cloak tanking
Utilizes a cloak to avoid being detected, targeted or shot;
EW tanking
Utilizes Electronic Warfare modules to disrupt, jam or otherwise limit the enemy’s ability to target and track your ship, often used in combination with speed and/or range tanking.

What is tanking?

Tanking is the act of fitting a ship with modules intended to improve its defensive capabilities to resist or absorb incoming damage, thus preventing or delaying a ship's destruction.

There are three principle components to tanking:

  • Maximizing hit points;
  • Resisting incoming damage;
  • Repairing or recharging damage taken.

Armor tanking

Armor tanking is the practice of relying on your armor HP to keep your ship alive

Armor tanking modules

This section will provide a basic understanding of the various types of modules used for Armor Tanking and the skills required to fit and use them. There are four categories of Armor tanking modules: Passive Resistance, Active Resistance, Armor Plates, Armor Repairers

Passive Resistance: Resistance and Energized Plating

As the name implies, Resistance Plating modules increase your armor's resistance to damage. Though not terribly effective in terms of the resistance bonus provided, these modules have a two distinct advantages: They are passive, which means they do not require capacitor to function and extremely easy to fit; requiring no CPU and a single unit of powergrid, which makes them useful for frigates and ships no fitting room left for anything else.

Energized Plating modules (membranes) are essentially the more effective big brother of Resistance Plating; Energized Plating features a larger resistance bonus and requires more CPU to fit. Unless you have no choice due to fitting restrictions, Energized Plating is almost always the superior choice over non-energized Resistance Plating (there's one odd M4 T1 module called 'refuge' adaptive nano plating, which gives marginally better bonuses than any T1 EANM - this is essentially a bug-like exception).

The names used for these modules take a little bit of getting used to:

  • Reflective Plate - Increases the EM resistance of a ship's armor.
  • Thermic Pate - Increases the Thermal resistance of ship's armor.
  • Magnetic Plate - Increases the Kinetic resistance of a ship's armor.
  • Reactive Plate - Increases the Explosive resistance of a ship's armor.
  • Adaptive Nano Plating - Increases all resistance of a ship's armor by a small amount.

The Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane (EANM) should be considered the cornerstone of a good Armor Tank. Using three Tech 2 EANMs can yield more resistance than using one of each type of damage specific Armor Hardeners (discussed below). Note: additional modules will not further amplify this effect because of the Stacking Penalty.

Regenerative plating, unlike other members of the resistance plating family neither improves resistance nor regenerates (despite its name). Instead it offers a tiny percentage bonus to armor Hit points.

  • Training Hull Upgrades to IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Resistance Plating.
  • Training Hull Upgrades to V will allow the use of Tech 2 Energized Plating.

Active Resistance: Damage Control Units and Armor Hardeners

Damage Control Units (DCU) are handy modules that add a small amount of resistance to all damage types for Shields, Armor, and a significant amount of resistance to Structure. They require the same amount of CPU as an Energized Plate and an insignificant amount of capacitor to function. These are active modules that must be turned on in order to function. Unlike Armor Hardeners however, the protection offered by the Damage control unit is all or nothing, so remember to turn it on. Only one DCU can be active at a time, so it is pointless to fit more than one.

Armor hardeners offer the largest damage resistance, but require more CPU and a small amount of capacitor to function. These are active modules that must be turned on in order to offer full protection, which means if you forget to turn them on, or run out of capacitor your Hardeners will provide only a limited amount of passive protection.

A brief note on Hull tanking: This practice is sometimes called "Hero Tanking" or "Structure Tanking". You might have heard people joke about doing this and say things like, "Real men hull tank". While modules exist that allow you to improve the hit points, resistances and repair the hull of your ship, making it theoretically possible to Hull Tank your ship; it is a Very Bad Idea™ and you should under no circumstances attempt to do so because when you inevitably die and your hull tanked ship shows up on the Killboard, people will make fun of you for all eternity.

Training Hull Upgrades to IV will allow the use a Tech 2 DCU. Training Hull Upgrades to V will allow the use of Tech 2 Armor Hardeners.

Shield's raw HP: Armor Plates and Layered Plating

Armor Plates: Unlike the modules listed above that improve damage resistance, Armor Plates add raw Hit Points to your ship. These passive modules are the cornerstone of a good buffer tank because they can greatly increase your Armor Hit Points. These additional Hit Points come at the expense of greatly increased mass and the inexplicable use of large amounts of CPU and Powergrid proportional to the size of the plate. Why heavy plates of thick metal armor require CPU and Powergrid has never been explained to my satisfaction.

The added mass, especially if more than one Armor Plate module is used, will reduce the effective thrust of your Afterburner or MWD and make your ship very sluggish and slow to align.

Training Hull Upgrades to V will allow the use of the largest of Tech 2 Armor Plates.

Layered Plating: Cheaper (cpu, pg) and giving weaker effect alternative to Armor Plates - percent bonus to total armor instead of a specific value. Split into energized and non-energized versions. From advantages - no mass penalty and T2 energized version gives 15% - which for large buffer tanks might be an interesting choice.


Armor Repairers

Armor Repairers are pretty self explanatory; they actively repair damage done to the armor of your ship. These modules require a large amount of CPU and Powergrid as well as a substantial amount of capacitor to function. They come in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large for use on Frigate, Cruiser, and Battleship sized ships respectively.

Training Mechanic III and Repair systems III will allow the use of Tech 2 Small Armor Repairers, and Training Mechanic V and Repair systems IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Medium and Large Armor Repairers.

Armor Tanking Strategies

Armor tanking emphasizes the use of the low slot modules described in the previous section to increase armor hit points, resistance to damage and repair damage done to it. Regardless of the approach taken to armor tanking, it is wise to understand that Armor has an inherent weakness to explosive damage and plan your resistance modules accordingly.

Amarr, most Gallente and some Minmatar ships tend to be armor tankers. Although Caldari ships primarily use a Shield tank it is not unheard of for certain ships like the Raven or Scorpion to fit an armor tank to free up mid slots for ECM or utility modules. Generally, any ship with 4 or more low slots can field a passable armor tank.

There are three primary approaches to Armor tanking: a) Buffer tanking b) Active tanking c) Spider tanking (advanced gang technique not covered by this guide)

Buffer tanking

Typically used for PvP, the buffer tank is based around the principle of having high damage resistance and as many hit points as possible, thus increasing the Effective Hit Points (EHP) of the ship. The concept is behind this is simple, add enough EHP to your ship to outlast your opponent through the use of active and/or passive resistance modules, which complement the Armor Plate modules that add raw hit points.

Ideally this should free up enough fitting slots, CPU and power grid to fit bigger weapons and more combat utility modules to such as tackling equipment to maximize your damage output. This type of fitting uses a minimal amount of capacitor to run Armor Hardeners making it easily sustainable, but can be made fully passive by using only passive resistance modules instead. The primary drawback to Buffer Tanking is that you have no way to repair yourself, so when you run out of hit points you are toast.

Active Tanking

Active tanking is most commonly used for solo activities such as mission/complex running, ratting, and solo PvP. Active tanking differs from Buffer tanking in that it uses Armor Repair modules to actively repair damage done to the ship. You should be careful to include enough resistance and buffer to keep your Repair modules from being overwhelmed by incoming damage; frequently this means packing resistance modules (either passive or active) that compensate for the specific types of damage you expect to be receiving.

This type of fitting takes a lot of capacitor to sustain your capacitor hungry Armor Repair modules so it should ideally include modules such as Cap Rechargers and/or Capacitor Batteries to balance out and maintain capacitor stability.

Capacitor stability is important because it allows you to leave your Tank modules turned on without ever worrying about running out of capacitor. So long as incoming damage is less than what your repair modules can handle your ship should be able to sustain that level of damage indefinitely. This is commonly referred to as Perma-tanking. If incoming damage exceeds your repair capacity you will gradually run out of Hit Points and die. This is commonly referred to as having a broken tank.

For PvP purposes a Capacitor Booster can be used to temporarily supplement capacitor output to allow for short bursts of heavy tanking. The primary drawback to this approach is that unlike the capacitor stable fitting described above, when you run out of charges to run your Capacitor Booster, you quickly run out of capacitor, your tank will fail and you will die horribly.

Similarly, weapon systems that drain your ship's capacitor will effectively disable your active tanking modules. As above, your tank will fail and you will die horribly. In this case, the Capacitor Booster can be used on an otherwise capacitor stable fitting to provide emergency power to prevent being drained and destroyed.

Spider Tanking (Armor)

In simple terms, Spider tanking involves the use of a Buffer and/or highly resistant tank that is repaired remotely by other ships in your squad who are in turn repaired by remote repair modules on your ship. However, this is an advanced technique that requires a good deal of coordination to function effectively, and is better left for discussion in another guide.

Armor Tanking Basis Skill Summary

The following skills are recommended to help with fitting your ship: Electronics I-V:to maximize CPU Engineering I-V: to maximize Power Grid Energy Management I-V: to increase max Capacitor Energy Systems Operation I-V: to maximize Capacitor recharge rate Energy Grid Upgrades I-V: to fit Capacitor related Modules

Assuming you have enough of the skills listed above fit your ship, the following skills are required to field a full Tech 2 Armor tank: Hull Upgrades V: To fit Tech 2 Resistance and Plate modules and maximize Armor hit points Mechanic III-V: to fit Tech 2 Armor Repairers and maximize your structure hit points Repair Systems III-IV: to fit Tech 2 Armor Repairers

Armor compensation Skills: These skills will improve the effectiveness of passive modules such as Resistance and Energized plates. Most importantly, these skills enhance the use of EANM modules so it is recommended these skills be trained to at least IV, with the exception of Explosive Armor compensation which should be trained to V to help compensate for Armor’s inherent weakness to that type of damage.


Shield Tanking

Shield tanking is the practice of relying on your Shield HP to keep your ship alive

Shield tanking modules

This section will provide a basic understanding of the various types of modules used for Shield Tanking and the skills required to fit and use them. There are five categories of Shield tanking modules: Passive Resistance, Active Resistance, Shield Extenders, Shield Rechargers, and Shield Boosters.

Passive Resistance: Resistance Amplifiers

As the name implies, these modules increase your shield's resistance to damage. These modules have two distinct advantages: They are the passive, which means they do not require capacitor to function and they are easy to fit; requiring a moderate amount of CPU and a single unit of Powergrid. The names used for these modules take a little bit of getting used to: Magnetic Scattering, Heat Dissipation, Kinetic Deflection and Explosion Dampening amplifiers offer resistances for a single damage type; EM, Thermal, Kinetic and Explosive damage respectively. Training Shield Upgrades to IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Resistance Amplifiers.

Active Resistance: Damage Control Units and Shield Hardeners

While typically associated with Armor tanking; damage Control Units (DCU) are handy modules that add a small amount of resistance to all damage types for Shields, Armor, and a significant amount of resistance to Structure. They require the same amount of CPU as an Energized Plate and an insignificant amount of capacitor to function. These are active modules that must be turned on in order to function. Unlike Shield Hardeners however, the protection offered by the Damage control unit is all or nothing, so remember to turn it on. Only one DCU can be active at a time, so it is pointless to fit more than one.

Photon Scattering, Heat Dissipation, Ballistic Deflection and Explosion Dampening amplifiers offer resistances for a single damage type; EM, Thermal, Kinetic and Explosive damage respectively. The Invulnerability Field offers a smaller amount of resistance to all damage types.

Shield hardeners offer more damage resistance than amplifiers, but require more CPU and a small amount of capacitor to function. These are active modules that must be turned on in order to offer full protection, which means if you forget to turn them on, or run out of capacitor your Hardeners will provide only a limited amount of passive protection.

Training Hull Upgrades to IV will allow the use a Tech 2 DCU. Training Tactical Shield Manipulation IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Shield Hardeners.

Shield Extenders

Similar in concept to the armor plates, these increase your shield HP (and Signature Radius) by a fixed amount. They come in multiple sizes for the different classes of ships, but you can often fit an oversized Shield Extender obtaining a larger gain per power slot. These passive modules the cornerstone of a Passive Shield tank because they greatly increase your Shield Hit Points and as a consequence they also increase your Shield passive recharge rate.

Training Shield Upgrades III will allow the use of Tech 2 Small Shield Extenders, and Training Shield Upgrades IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Medium and Large Shield Extenders.

Shield Rechargers and Similar modules

This broad category of Shield Rechargers, Shield Power Relays and Power Diagnostic Systems share the ability to passively increase your shield recharge rate. This is especially important for Passive Shield Tanks, but useful to supplement an active tank as well. Technically, Shield Flux Coils also belong in this category because they increase recharge rate, but they suck because they also lower your shield hit points, which is self defeating for the same reason adding Shield Extenders improves your recharge rate.

Training Shield Upgrades IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Shield Rechargers Training Energy Grid Upgrades IV will allow the use of Tech 2 Shield Power Relays and Power Diagnostic Systems.

Shield Boosters and Boost Amplifiers

Shield Boosters are pretty self explanatory; they actively repair damage done to the shield of your ship. These modules are relatively easy on the fitting requirements and require capacitor to function. This is not quite as efficient as Armor Repair Systems, but the short cycle time provides a good boost to the natural shield recharge rate. They come in four sizes: Small, Medium, Large and X-Large for use on Frigate, Cruiser, and Battleship sized ships.

Shield Boost Amplifiers are passive modules that provide a substantial increase in the effectiveness of the Shield Booster modules, thus increasing the capacitor efficiency for the amount of Shield Hit Points recharged. It is especially useful to use a Boost Amplifier with larger Shield Boosters, since it costs a low amount of CPU compared to a Large or Extra Large Shield Booster, yet still boosts by the same percent.

Training Shield Operation III will allow the use of Tech 2 Small and Medium Shield Boosters. Training Shield Operation IV and V will allow the use of Tech 2 Large and X-Large Shield Boosters. Training Shield Management V will allow the use of Tech 2 Boost Amplifiers.

Shield tanking Strategies

Shield tanking emphasizes the use of medium slot and some Low slot modules described in the previous section to increase shield hit points, shield resistance to damage and recharge damage done to it. Regardless of the approach taken to shield tanking, it is wise to understand that Shields have an inherent weakness to EM damage and plan your resistance modules accordingly.

Caldari, most Minmatar ships and some Gallente ships tend to be shield tankers. Generally, any ship with 4 or more medium slots can field a passable shield tank.

There are three primary approaches to shield tanking: a) Passive Shield tank b) Active tanking c) Spider tanking (advanced gang technique not covered by this guide)

Passive Shield tanking

Unlike Armor hit points, shields will recharge themselves after taking damage. The Passive Shield tank is designed to maximize this natural recharge rate without the use of active Shield Booster modules. The concept behind the Passive Shield Tank deceptively simple; find a ship with a relatively high natural recharge rate (Shield HP / Recharge time = Recharge rate), then add as many additional shield hit points to your ship as possible using shield extenders. Because the recharge time for a given ship is a fixed amount no matter how many points of shields you have, adding multiple shield extenders not only adds a lot of buffer, it indirectly increases the recharge rate because more Hit Points are being recharged in the same amount of time. Now add passive modules that increase the recharge rate even further, such as Shield Rechargers, Shield Power Relays and Power Diagnostic Systems; and you have a monster sized Buffer tank that regenerates very quickly without using any capacitor making your defense invulnerable to weapons that drain the capacitor. Shield Flux Coils also increase recharge rate, but should be avoided because they also lower your shield hit points, which is self defeating for the same reason adding Shield Extenders improves your recharge rate.

As the name implies, a fully passive tank does not require any modules that need to be “turned on” to function, and therefore does not require capacitor. The drawback to Passive Shield tanking is the number of modules required to pull it off, which leaves very little room to fit other useful modules such as damage improvement and tackling equipment, which makes this fitting of limited use outside of mission running and bait ships.

Note: This fitting is more about raw hit points than it is damage resistance, but if you have enough fitting room, Shield resistance amplifiers can be added to provide a little damage reduction. Some people use Invulnerability Fields and Shield Hardeners to improve damage resistance, but these are active modules that require capacitor, thus making your Passive Shield tank not quite passive any more. This can be problematic because the Shield Power Relays you depend on to increase your shield recharge rate also totally gimp your capacitor recharge rate. For this reason careful balancing is necessary to make the Passive Shield Tank effective. When done correctly, however, Passive Shield tanking can be used to handle tough missions with a single ship.

Active Tanking

Active tanking is most commonly used for solo activities such as mission/complex running, ratting, and solo PvP. Active Shield tanking differs from Passive Shield tanking in that it uses active Resistance and Shield Booster modules to actively repair damage done to the ship. You should be careful to include enough resistance and buffer to keep your Booster modules from being overwhelmed by incoming damage; frequently this means packing resistance modules (either passive or active) that compensate for the specific types of damage you expect to be receiving.

This type of fitting takes a lot of capacitor to sustain your capacitor hungry Shield Hardener and Booster modules so it should ideally include modules such as Cap Rechargers to balance out and maintain capacitor stability. Unlike the Passive Shield tank Shield Power Relays are not recommended because they cripple your capacitor recharge rate making capacitor stability difficult to achieve. Shield Flux Coils still suck for the same reasons mentioned previously.

Capacitor stability is important because it allows you to leave your Tank modules turned on without ever worrying about running out of capacitor. So long as incoming damage is less than what your shield booster modules and passive recharge rate can handle your ship should be able to sustain that level of damage indefinitely. This is commonly referred to as Perma-tanking. If incoming damage exceeds your recharge capacity you will gradually run out of Hit Points and die. This is commonly referred to as having a broken tank.

For PvP purposes a Capacitor Booster can be used to temporarily supplement capacitor output to allow for short bursts of heavy tanking. The primary drawback to this approach is that unlike the capacitor stable fitting described above, when you run out of charges to run your Capacitor Booster, you quickly run out of capacitor, your tank will fail and you will die horribly.

Similarly, weapon systems that drain your ship's capacitor will effectively disable your active tanking modules. As above, your tank will fail and you will die horribly. In this case, the Capacitor Booster can be used on an otherwise capacitor stable fitting to provide emergency power to prevent being drained and destroyed.

Spider Tanking (Shield)

In simple terms, Spider tanking involves the use of a Buffer and/or highly resistant tank that is repaired remotely by other ships in your squad who are in turn repaired by shield transporter modules on your ship. However, this is an advanced technique that requires a good deal of coordination to function effectively, and is better left for discussion in another guide.

Shield Tanking Basis Skill Summary

The following skills are recommended to help with fitting your ship: Electronics I-V:to maximize CPU Engineering I-V: to maximize Power Grid Energy Management I-V: to increase max Capacitor Energy Systems Operation I-V: to maximize Capacitor recharge rate Energy Grid Upgrades I-V: to fit Capacitor related Modules

Assuming you have enough of the skills listed above fit your ship, the following skills are required to field a full Tech 2 Shield tank: Hull Upgrades IV: to use a Tech 2 DCU. (Optional) Energy Grid Upgrades IV: to fit Tech 2 Shield Power Relays and Power Diagnostic Systems. Shield Upgrades IV: to fit Tech 2 Resistance Amplifier, Shield Recharger modules and fitting requirements. Shield Operation V: to fit Tech 2 Shield Boosters and maximize shield recharge. Shield Management V: to fit Tech 2 Shield Boost Amplifiers and maximize shield capacity. Tactical Shield Manipulation IV: to fit Tech 2 Shield Hardeners and prevent damage bleed through when your shields get low.

Shield compensation Skills: These skills will improve the effectiveness of passive modules i.e. Resistance Amplifiers. While not quite as important to shield tanking as comparable the Armor compensation skills, pilots interested in fitting Resistance Amplifiers are should train these skills to at least IV, with the exception of EM Shield compensation which should be trained to V to help compensate for the Shield’s inherent weakness to that type of damage.