EVE PvP: Black Ops Hot Drops (EVE Online Guide)

Does using a black ops battleship to teleport an entire fleet to directly on top of an unsuspecting target sound fun? If so, you will probably like this EVE PvP guide.

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This guide is the spiritual successor to a subsection of one of our guides to finding PvP in EVE Online, but the topic bore more discussion. This is not the be all, end all guide on the subject, but should suffice to familiarize newer players as to the challenges and rewards of this EVE PvP play style.

Covert Hot Drop Battle Plan

The battle plan with this method of EVE PvP is as follows: a black ops battleship uses a Covert Jump Portal Generator I module to allow an entire fleet of cloak-using ships to teleport to a destination selected by a second ship equipped with a Covert Cynosural Field Generator I. In essence, a temporary one-way bridge is created between the locations.

With the exception of other black ops battleships, the ships teleporting to the destination must all be capable of using the Covert Ops Cloaking Device II, meaning only stealthy ships can make the trip. Additionally, they must be in a fleet with the two pilots creating the bridge, and within 2000 meters of the battleship with the portal generator. Meanwhile, the ship with the covert cynosural field generator (let us call it the scout) must also be a ship capable of using covert ops cloaks, making this entire project only suitable for a subset of ships.

When the scout ship has found a likely target, it opens the covert cyno, the black ops pilot right clicks on the scout's name in fleet chat to select the bridge option and, finally, the fleet members right click on the black ops battleship and jump through. The ship that opens the cyno is frozen in space for a goodly while, unable to move or eject, until the field is closed. It is extremely vulnerable during this period.

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Each ship that jumps through will consume isotopes from fuel bay of the assisting black ops ship, with biggest ships consuming more fuel. If desired, the black ops battleship may itself jump to the covert cyno, as well (reducing its capacitor to 30% in the process). Following any combat that occurs, the fleet must fly through space or use a black ops battleship to return whence they came.

EVE Ships: Black Ops Battleships

Only black ops battleships can fit the portal generator, and they are almost unique in this role. The sole comparison lies with titans, which can bridge entire fleets of sub-capital ships without regard to whether they are stealth-capable or not. Still, those of us unable to afford such pricy ships find ourselves well comforted by black ops kill mails. While any of the four black ops battleships currently extant in EVE Online are able to fit a jump portal generator, there are many differences amongst them.

The four black ops battleships are as follows:

Panther (Minmatar): Arguably the best of the lot, the panther combines the strength of projectile turrets (with all the alpha strike and damage flexibility that implies) with the best mobility, making it one of the most survivable in actual fighting. I think the panther is probably the best option for solo or small-scale hot drops, since it can move so well while cloaked, and uses projectile turrets, which I regard as being currently the best weapons system in EVE Online.

Redeemer (Amarr): I love the Amarr style, and the redeemer pretty much exemplifies it. You can fit a think armor tank, pack powerful lasers with scorch tech II ammunition, and switch to a jump portal as needed. If you are really gung-ho about being a portal guy, you can potentially hold a ton of extra fuel through the use of cargo expanders, especially with rigs. The only problem is that jumping to a cyno under its own power reduces capacitor to 30%. This happens to all the black ops, but hurts the redeemer more than most. That said, there are plenty of capacitor workarounds available for those interested in getting up close and personal.

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Sin (Gallente): Considered by many to be the worst black ops battleship for PvP due to the generally excremental state of hybrid turrets and the somewhat contradictory natures of cloaking and drone use. Still, it sees a lot of PvE use for things like running exploration escalation sites in dangerous regions of space, especially since escape is just a cyno away. Note that though it does not have the ECM of the Widow or maneuverability of the Panther, it can potentially use ECM drones as a last-ditch defense.

Widow (Caldari): Though it needs to be overly close in order to make effective use of its torpedoes, the Widow can disable enemy vessels with its ECM from much father away, making this an excellent support ship to back up any small fleet. Should the battle turn against one, one need only cloak and/or warp away. Note, however, that the ECM signal strength (i.e. chance of jamming) leaves a bit to be desired unless one trains the Black Ops Battleships skill all the way to level five. This is less crazy than it sounds, however: what kind of silly fool flies a 600mil ISK ship with sub-par skills?

Fleet Composition: The Black Ops Battleship

The ingredients of your fleet are as follows: one black ops battleship of any variety, one heavy tackler capable of fitting a Covert Cynosural Field Generator I module, and as many ships as can be transported by the fuel in the fuel bay and cargo hold of your black ops. That amount can be exceeded through hasty refilling of your cargo bay within the twenty second period that the jump portal is open.

Something not necessarily apparent to new players is that each black ops battleship uses a different kind of fuel, as follows:

  • Panther: Hydrogen isotopes.
  • Redeemer: Helium isotopes.
  • Sin: Oxygen isotopes.
  • Widow: Nitrogen isotopes.

The fuel consumed by each ship that jumps through depends on how big the ships are, your skills (specifically Jump Fuel Conservation), and how far away your destination system is. This last is not necessarily apparent within the EVE game, since most sub-capital players tend to think of distance between solar systems in terms of jumps rather than light years. Use the Dotlan site to calculate that, or another tool of your choosing. It is best to have a rough idea of how much fuel your fleet will consume when jumping through, otherwise parts of your fleet may accidentally get left behind.

Blockade Runner Option: Even relatively small fleets can go through piles of fuel in relatively little time. Most fleets of the type discussed in this article seem to bring with them a blockade runner to carry surplus isotopes for refueling. Though not a combat-capable ship, blockade runners are incredibly hard to kill when used by capable pilots, and can move through jump portals due to their ability to fit a covert ops cloak. They also are quite capable of moving to and from high-sec, when fuel runs low.

EVE Ships: The Scout

The scout needs to be capable of three things: fitting a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II, achieving a tackle on a likely target, and surviving long enough for backup to arrive.

Finding a ship that can fit a covert ops cloak is simple. Any covert ops frigate, stealth bomber, force recon, black ops battleship, or blockade runner may do so. Strategic cruisers may do so as well, but only if they are fit with the Covert Reconfiguration subsystem.

Achieving a tackle can be done many ways: probing out targets with a combat probe launcher, finding them by warping around while cloaked, or by acting as bait. The method will vary with the nature of one's targets.

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The tank is in truth the trickiest part. The ships suited for each of the above methods vary, but most players find using force recons to be the right combination of tank and tackle. And in this role, the Arazu shines beyond the rest due mostly to its tank and ability to tackle out past 40km even without perfect skills. Other ships are quite possible, depending on your creativity and tolerance for risk. Each of the other force recons has alluring charms, as well.

EVE Ships: The Muscle

Stealth Bombers: Due to their wonderful firepower to mass ratio, stealth bombers are in many ways the ideal ship to drop on your enemies. They inflict grievous damage, do not cost as much as a force recon, and are much, much more fuel-efficient than black ops battleships.

A Note About Stealth Bombers

Contrary to their name, the stealth bombers should not be using bombs. The bomb module is largely used as an anti-fleet measure, and only rarely as a way to destroy single targets. No, the strength of stealth bombers lies in their devastating torpedoes and their ability to fit covert ops cloak modules.

Some Practical EVE PvP Tips

Base At A Safe Place: If you are not ranging far and wide, it is perhaps best to base your jump portal generating ship at a safe place so that you can specialize it in holding fuel, rather than worry about combat readiness and so forth. An starbase will certainly suffice as a base, though a station can as well if you keep in mind the session change timer.

Happy Hunting Grounds: Finding a good place that is full of targets is an infinitely tricky business. If you are taking part in alliance warfare, you will want to terrorize your enemy's space lanes. If your goal is predation, one could do worse than a region like Curse, Stain, or Providence. Regrettably, covert cynosural fields cannot be used in high-security space and are essentially non-functional in wormhole space, making this is an exclusively low-sec and null-sec activity.

Counter-Hot Drop: Wherever you end up, be chary of your enemies turning the tables on you. Organized alliances will note your forces, assemble a larger force, and then bait you into dropping your fleet on their scout, and drop a much larger fleet atop yours. Nothing ruins a good hot drop like enemy titans, believe me.

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