Updated Mon, Feb 08, 2010 by Space Junkie
What Is ECM?
ECM is an abbreviation for electronic countermeasures, one of the four major kinds of electronic warfare in EVE, and is sometimes abbreviated as ewar. It is the most popular form of electronic warfare for PVP in EVE. It enjoys this popularity because when used correctly, it always makes a significant difference in battles. Other kinds of electronic warfare often have too narrow a target group or are not effective enough to enjoy such widespread use.
How it works: Each mid-slot ECM module has a percentile chance of succeeding at jamming a target, based on what kind of ECM module you are using, what kind of ship you are flying, and the sensor strength of the target. Sensor strength is a special value that each ship in has, that determines how resistant that ship is to being jammed. Sensor strength can be augmented by defensive modules. There are different kinds of ECM modules, including a group that specializes in jamming each of the four races in EVE, and two kinds with more general applicability.
Newer players often choose ECM modules because they can level the playing field with more skilled players by keeping those player's ships jammed and unable to function during battles. Nothing is more frustrating than being jammed for an entire fight. It's like being a spectator, except there's a good chance of getting blown up.
There's a certain delicious schadenfreude to using a month-old character to electronically castrate a four-year veteran of EVE, and I recommend ECM to any newer player seeking to get his feet wet with PVP.
What Ships Use ECM?
Because ECM is so powerful, it is balanced to only be effective when used by ship that is specialized for that purpose. All ECM ships are Caldari. This is because each race specializes in a kind of electronic warfare, and Caldari luck out with the best kind.
There are several ECM-using ships that are relatively easy to train into: the Griffin frigate, the Blackbird cruiser, and the Scorpion battleship. Tech two ECM ships require more advanced skills to use. They are: the Kitsune electronic attack frigate, the Falcon recon cruiser, and the Rook recon cruiser.
The blackbird is recommended as the most balanced, accessible ECM-using ship. Flying a blackbird will give you a good idea of what ECM is like, without breaking the bank or putzing around in an all-too-fragile frigate.
Help, I'm Jammed!
When a ship is jammed, it unlocks any targets that it has previously acquired, and cannot lock new targets until the jam wears off. Jams normally elapse after twenty seconds, but ECM modules can continue to be used against a jammed ship, potentially reseting the jam timer so that the targeted ship will need to wait another twenty seconds before it is able to lock again.
Even if they are able to function somewhat while jammed, the vast majority of ships lose the greater part of their effectiveness when jammed. This is why ECM is so amazing.
There are six basic kinds of ECM. All are mid-slot modules. The first two kinds are Multispectral ECM and ECM Burst.
Multispectral ECM: Multispectrals are not specialized in jamming any particular race. They have a mediocre chance of jamming any particular ship, but are better than using the wrong kind of ECM against a ship. Multispectral ECM is usually eschewed in favor of the more specialized varieties. This is because it is better to have a good chance of keeping two ships of the right race jammed, than to futz around with only possibly jamming a given ship. ECM ships will sometimes fit a single multispectral as a contingency, though this is a very real performance trade-off over a racial ECM variety.
ECM Burst: ECM burst modules have a very high chance of jamming ships, but only do so in a 6500 meter radius. They also jam without distinguishing friend from foe, potentially jamming nearby allies. On the plus side, they are able to function even while the ship using them is jammed. These are the one ECM module that is powerful enough to be used with ships that are not specialized in ECM. Unfortunately, ECM bursts are notoriously capacitor-intensive, making them unsuitable for use on frigates and many cruisers. Because of their limiting range and the high amounts of capacitor required to use them, these are the least common variety of ECM.
The other four kinds of ECM are each specialized in jamming a particular race. Against that race they have a very high chance of effectiveness, but are almost useless against the other races. The naming scheme for these jammers is somewhat confusing. For example, the jammers used against Amarr ships are found in the market browser under "radar jammers" because Amarr use radar for their sensors. But the actual modules in that category are named with variations of "White Noise". The races, their ECM category, and the associated modules are shown below.
Amarr: Radar ECM, White Noise modules.
Caldari: Gravimetric ECM, Spatial Destabilizer modules.
Gallente: Magnetometric ECM, Ion Field modules.
Minmatar: Ladar ECM, Phase Inversion modules.
These jammers have a much higher chance of jamming their particular race, but are almost useless against other races. The module images are color coded by race to make them easier to keep track of in-game. When a ship is locked, a small icon appears along the upper edge of the screen. That icon is color-coded according to the race of the locked ship. With a little bit of practice, players shouldn't have too much trouble matching the correct ECM variety to targets.