This is an EVE ship guide to flying the Manticore. The Manticore is a Caldari stealth bomber capable of moving while cloaked and inflicting massive damage against unsuspecting targets.
Stealth bombers are a popular ship class, and are poised to become even more important in the days to come, when players will wage miniature wars for control over access to planets and the revenue generated by their use. Stealth bombers will be a critical tool for reinforcing and destroying the the soon-to-be-released player-owned customs offices. Manticores are the Caldari version of the stealth bomber class, making them the natural ship choice for players looking to fly them. This is a guide for those players.
The idea of a stealth bomber seems simple enough: a ship that can fit oversized weapons, warp while cloaked, and launch bombs that detonate over a large area. Yet they are a tricky nut to crack: cloaking mechanics are finicky, bombs are difficult to use, and fittings are ever a bother. And these are what we will explore in this ship guide.
The Manticore: A Ship's Anatomy
The down side of the ship is that the manticore's kinetic flavor of damage will hit a weak spot in a ship's resistances only rarely, and certainly not against enemies that are well prepared for fighting against kinetic-using drake battlecruisers.
What Skills To Train
Manticores are relatively easy to train into, requiring the skills for the ship hull, the cloaking module, and as good missile skills as you can manage.
- The Ship: Caldari Frigate 5, Covert Ops 4, Electronic Upgrades 5.
- The Cloak: Electronics 4, Cloaking 4.
- The Missiles: Missile Launcher Operation 4, Torpedoes 4, Heavy Missiles 3, Standard Missiles 3, Missile Bombardment 3, Missile Projection 3, Rapid Launch 3, Warhead Upgrades 3, Target Navigation Prediction 3. All of those skills should trained up to at least level 4 if you enjoy flying stealth bombers. If you are planning on using or at least trying out bombs, you should also train Bomb Deployment to at least 1.
Also helpful are fitting skills like Electronics and Weapon Upgrade, maneuverability skills like Evasive Maneuvering, and fast-locking skills like Signature Analysis.
Guidelines For Fitting Your Ship
- x1 Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
- x3 'Malkuth' Siege Missile Launcher I
The first step in fitting out your ship is picking what missile launchers to use. The best, most top of the line options for your ship are 'Arbalest' Siege Missile Launcher. These can cost a pretty penny, though, so many people go for the 'Malkuth' variety, which are both cheaper and easier to fit with low skills. If you expect your targets to return fire, you should probably be going with them. Conversely, if you are just shooting defenseless targets and structures like the new customs offices, Arbalests may be the way to go.
Ammunition: Caldari Navy Juggernaut Torpedoes are the way to go. You don't need a huge amount unless you are shooting a structure. If paying for faction ammo to shoot a structure seems like waste of ISK, consider that a 15% damage increase translates to 15% less time shooting the structure. That time can then be spent to earn ISK that hopefully exceeds the price of your faction ammunition.
- x1 Target Painter I
- x1 1mn Microwarpdrive I
- x1 Warp Disruptor I
- x1 Stasis Webifier I
The manticore is one of only two stealth bombers that has four middle slots, and it can use these to good effect by bringing a target painter to increase the damage targets take from torpedos. The neat thing about the target painter is that it scales up with more stealth bombers shooting the target. This is handy if you bring friends.
The warp disruptor and stasis webifier are both standard tackling gear.
These middle modules are much improved through the use of "named" or tech two gear. Fair warning: named target painters cost a fortune.
Alternatives: Though this ship guide recommends what I consider to be the best general fitting, other possibilities include a sensor booster, small shield extender, or warp scrambler, depending mostly on your intended targets.
- x2 Ballistic Control Systems I
More than any other module on this ship, these should be upgraded to tech two if possible. They are not too expensive, and require Weapon Upgrades to be trained to 4, which is something any pilot that undocks is likely to want at some point.
- 1x Small Bay Loading Accelerator I
- 1x Small Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I
Small rigs are cheap as heck. Buff your missile damage with these beauties.
Guide To Cloaking
Cloaking seems simple enough on its surface: when you are cloaked as a stealth bomber, other players cannot see or lock you, you cannot lock onto other ships or objects, and you remain visible in local chat. If you get within 2000 meters of another ship or object, you will de-cloak and not be able to re-cloak for several seconds.
There are some issues surrounding cloaks and tricks to deal with them. There are two chief ways that people will try to de-cloak you:
First, they will drop a mobile warp disruptor. This device pulls any ship that warps toward it into the edge of its field. Because the angle that ships warp from is often predictable based on the layout of a solar system, it is possible for gankers to park their ships in the precise spot that will de-cloak a stealth bomber pulled into it. This is avoidable by changing the angle that you warp to gates at. When you jump into a solar system that you suspect is trapped, get safe and cloak up, then look at the map of the solar system. Note a planet that is not located in the same direction as the gate that you emerged from, and warp to that before proceeding to the next gate. Even if you still get sucked into the mobile bubble, it is unlikely that there will be anything there to de-cloak you.
Second, many players will release their drones and assign the control of them to another player in their fleet. In this way it is entirely possible to build up a huge swarm of them following around a single fast ship, which can speed in the direction of your cloaked stealth bomber moments after you jump through a gate. Because proximity to the drones will decloak you, and because this swarm of drones covers a much wider area than a single ship could, it is very likely that you will be de-cloaked and podded. The way to beat this is to wait out your session change timer (thirty seconds) and speed back through the gate you just jumped through. The enemy may give chase, but it is unlikely that they will be able to catch you on the other side.
For more about cloaking, see our cloaking FAQ.
Guide To Tactics
Wolf Packs: Named after the small submarine fleets used by Germany during the second world war, a fleet of roaming stealth bombers can attack targets of opportunity while avoiding things that could actually threaten it. Manticores excel at this kind of warfare because they have so many middle slots and can customize themselves to the needs of the fleet. The downside of this is that a fleet of all stealth bombers probably cannot kill a drake, at least not without taking some casualties.
Hot Drops: Stealth bombers and combat recons can equip a Covert Cynosural Field module that allows them to be the destination point for a fleet of ships teleported via a black ops battleship. These fleets often infiltrate an alliance's space and send out scouting recons to find targets. Once they trap a target or trick it into attacking, the entire fleet of stealth bombers and friends materializes right on top of it. Beware of solitary Lachesis recons for this reason! This is a very laid back way to find PvP, mostly consisting of sitting by a black ops battleship and chatting on ventrilo until a target appears.
Bomb Squad: Dropping bombs is the epitome of the stealth bomber ship class, and the acme of fleet commanding. The idea is simple: fit Bomb Launcher modules, aim your cloaked ships at your targets, de-cloak and fire the bombs, and warp off before they detonate or your targets can return fire. In practice, the bombs blow each other up, ships get shot before they can warp off, the bombs miss, and the stealth bombers get caught in the radius of friendly bombs. That is why practice is required. If you want to get good at this it requires organizational training: get yourself and your friends onto the test server and spend an evening or two getting it right. Once mastered, this technique is incredible, similar to the area of effect doomsdays of old. Entire fleets of battleships and drakes evaporate before your onslaught. But again, it takes practice.
Bubble Camp: This is an easy way for new players to get into PvP. Anchor a mobile warp disruptor bubble near a gate, cloak up and wait for targets you can kill, de-cloak and kill them. Ten Ton Hammer has an in-depth to this located here.
For more about stealth bomber tactics, see our general stealth bomber ship guide.