Monthly Archives: September 2011
ECM104 is going to be presented in multiple parts and will take a detailed look at the ECM specific ships available to the aspiring specialist including fitting options and tactics.
The second ECM dedicated ship is the Caldari cruiser “The Blackbird”.
Requiring the skill Caldari Cruiser at level 2, a novice capsuleer of any race can get into this ship fairly quickly. Much like the Griffin and all it’s ECM brethren, it is a fragile ship not designed to withstand direct assaults. It is a pure electronics warfare platform and extends upon the Griffin’s capabilities.
The Blackbird had always appeared to be a little disappointing to me. It has the same jamming bonuses as the Griffin (+15%/level to Jam Strength) and replaces the capacitor usage bonus with an ECM range bonus (to both optimal and falloff range). This allows it to apply it’s ECM at a substantially higher range than the Griffin and indeed any other ECM ship aside from the Scorpion. If it had a slightly higher jam strength bonus than the Griffin perhaps I may have been more excited by it. But on paper I never truly embraced the Blackbird. Until recently
Unlike the Griffin, it seems the Blackbird is rarely underestimated. It is within this ship that many pilots will have their first experience of being “called primary”…that is when the opposition Fleet Commander directs the entire fleets fire against a single ship to quickly remove it from the field.
As noted in 104-001 ECM tactics typically call for engagement at range. Whilst it is often difficult to obtain this range the Blackbird excels at it. With a well trained pilot and fit balanced between ECM strength and range, it can jam out to 86km at 100% strength and 166.5km at 50% strength. It’s off the factory floor targeting range of 75km can be boosted to 93.75 km by a pilot with good electronics skills, and then supplemented past this with fittings if required.
With these bonuses and ability to target at range, an ECM sniping fit is possible which can often greatly increase the life expectancy of the ship. Another major bonus of the Blackbird over the Griffin is the increase in mid slots from 4 to 6. This is perhaps the area I had initially overlooked when I formed my initial opinions on this ship. These additional 2 mid-slots allow a great deal more flexibility in the Blackbirds fitting. Unfortunately it loses the Griffin’s single drone bay.
Up until recently I had never flown a Blackbird solo, nor had I heard of it being done a great deal. However in performing my research for this article I have fallen in love with the Blackbird as a solo ship! Its effectiveness when equipped correctly and appropriate to the enemy being faced is astonishingly good and I have had a great deal of fun piloting it. When fit out well it can defend itself against much larger ships. It will sometimes struggle to deal enough damage to overcome the tank of tougher opponents however it can be a fun ship to fly. Given those things it is still relatively cheap to fly and learn in!
Blackbirds are typically fit for fleet work and to maximise their potential for Electronic Counter Measures. However I have also experimented (as mentioned above) with some solo fits with a great deal of success. Firstly the typical feet jammer setup. As with the Griffin I will present a T1 fitting which can be upgraded over time to T2/named modules as appropriate:
If the enemy is known before engagement, ECM types can (and should) be switched out. However one of the major benefits of the additional mid slots of the Blackbird is the ability to retain a propulsion module whilst also being able to fit a ‘rainbow’ of jammers (i.e. one of each racial specific type). This provides versatility of jamming at a high strength. Low slots will typically contain Signal Distortion Amplifiers to improve jamming strength and range further and as with all ECM boats, the high slots are debatable. Some will fit tractors and salvage, others fit anti-frigate weapons to allow defense against fast ships sent out to destroy them on the fringe of the battle.
Now as with the Griffin I fiddled with a solo fit. To say I was surprised is an understatement…in fact I had an absolute blast! I utilised the Blackbird within Faction Warfare (FW) as a solo roamer/plexer. Unfortunately it cannot fit into small complexes, so Medium are it’s sweet spot however it can defend itself admirably in a major if not overwhelmed.
As with the Griffin the concept is to catch them, hold them, jam and kill! I had success with the following fit:
DPS is not exactly stunning at 98.75 which is why it will be unable to break the tank of tougher opponents. I’m not sure why the Blackbird lost all drone capacity whilst the Griffin has 5m3, as that single drone makes a substantial difference to DPS. Again the advantage of the 6 mid slots comes to the fore with additional jammers providing a much higher level of defence than the single jammer of the solo Griffin.
Also this is setup with a LADAR based jammer and can of course be switched as appropriate to the enemy. If you encounter an enemy with a different racial sensor, it is best advised to avoid the encounter until you can switch ECM appropriately, unless you are feeling particularly lucky. Again the primary issue becomes the ability to put out enough DPS to break their tank.
As with the Griffin, enemies with drones that obtain a lock prior to your jamming them can cause issues. This is the principle reason for sporting an active armor tank, to allow an extended engagement against these ships. From my experience the best way to have an opponent engage is to allow them to close without jamming…if you lock and jam them at an extended range the chances of closing to point range (especially scram) is low (they will typically flee).
I found that the Blackbird fitted with racial jammers appropriate to the ship were surprisingly effective. It can hold off multiple frigates, or have the potential to lock down a much larger target. For example I have successfully caught and destroyed Rifters and the like (which you would expect from any cruiser), and taken out opposition cruisers (a Scythe and a Rupture). I also had a situation where a Rupture engaged and I had it to half armour, when a Wolf landed to help him. I totally panicked and ran, only realising after that I had been using 2 jammers to occupy the Rupture and could have used the third to jam the Wolf…dammit! I originally had a dual web and only 2 jammers, however I feel there is greater benefit from the additional jammer in most situations. To date I have faced three Hurricanes resulting in 2 draws and a loss, never having gotten close enough to hold them in place. I have a suspicion it is likely I wouldn’t be able to break the battlecruisers tank, but that’s a pretty good effort for a T1 cruiser!
The Blackbird is a versatile ECM platform, with the ability to disrupt the enemy from the fringes of the fight. Unfortunately its jamming strength is identical to that of the Griffin however the additional mid and low fitting slots allow an additional SDA and more ECM’s, thereby improving the overall chances. When fitted with the appropriate racial jammers it can nullify multiple opponents of comparable or lesser size and strength, or a single larger opponent. And with the ‘rainbow’ fitting it has a good chance of taking multiple targets of varying racial types.
Take it from someone who up until now had never liked the Blackbird, you can have a great deal of fun in them!
— Open File: Psyche-Recordings-001 —
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Well. What to say. I’m not big on this stuff but I’m just doing what I’m told. The psyche said I need to vent and a diary would be a good place to start. So here goes.
Dear diary…oh f#@k that. Seriously how banal is that. She cannot be serious about this.
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OK. Apparently she is. My name is Kody Roger Gloval. I am 35 in real years and 43 in clone years. Second generation capsuleer.
Ummm. Where the hell do I start. I am attending these psyche sessions because my mother thinks I have anger management issues. Somehow she managed to convince one of the clinicians within the 24th Imperial Crusade of that and before you know it, I have a nice little piece of paper saying if I don’t report in 24 hours I will be discharged. Just great.
So yeah. Early days but Dr Anniston reckons I need to do at least a few more sessions before she can sign off on my returning to full duties. Given I’m still allowed to go on patrol I’m not sure exactly what “full duties” would be, so yeah good one Doc. She’s pretty cute to be honest but I don’t need that sort of trouble in my life.
Hopefully I can breeze through these sessions, look at some colored dots, and everything will be sweet. And if the guys back at KOTMC ever find out about this…like I freakin’ need that right now.
OK surely this has to be enough for my first session.
— Recording Pause —
— Recording Complete —
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OOC: I thought I should take a moment to explain this little outburst I have been thinking about dabbling in a bit of fiction for a while now. I have even drafted a couple of stories, both from a first a third person perspective, and never published them. After listening to a couple of Eve podcasts I was reminder by one Roc Weiler that you should just do things…stop making excuses. That little push was what I needed! So I thought I would start simple and brief (being somewhat time constrained right now) and work my way from there. I will of course continue the EW/ECM articles, and I hope this doesn’t put anyone off from reading