Tackling is slang for keeping enemy ships from escaping. There are three key aspects to this, namely: keeping enemy ships from warping off, keeping enemy ships from escaping by moving away from the source of their damage or out-distancing your tackling range, and keeping yourself from dying. Depending on your priorities, some of these goals may be more important than others.
Tackling is great because the skill requirements aren't that bad, and even the newest players can do it well enough to be worth bringing on PvP outings, assuming that the newbies in question have done the tutorial.
This article outlines the general principles of tackling in a way that new players will be able to understand. It is the first in a series of articles dealing with tackling, which is appealing because it is the main PvP role available to characters less than a week old.
More important than damage output is the ability to make sure that a target sticks around for long enough to take damage. Every fleet needs at least one tackler, no matter what it's doing. Gank fleets and gate camps need them to keep targets from escaping. Roaming PvP fleets need them to keep their enemies from constantly warping out to repair themselves, in pitched engagements.
With decent tacklers, enemy ships being shot are stuck on the battlefield, unable to escape. Without them, a ship that takes too much damage can happily warp off. In short, tackling is essential for PvP.
It is also a lot of fun. It's the ideal role for the fastest ships in EVE Online, who are able to get within range of potential targets and tackle them, before they can escape or even properly assess their situation.
The Basic Modules of Tackling
These modules are the bread and butter of tackling. Each of these is a mid-slot.
Warp Disruptor I: This module and the variations thereof are the most basic tackling tool. Barring any special considerations, any ship that has a disruptor being used on it, will not be able to warp away, because it projects a "point" of warp disruption. The basic version of this module has a range of 20km, the tech two version has a range of 24km. This can be modified by overloading the module (for more advanced character), ship bonuses, or faction version of the module. What it will not do is keep a ship from re-docking or jumping through a gate, though a ship that has taken offensive action within the past sixty seconds or so will not be able to do either of these things.
Warp Scrambler I: Similar to the disruptor, above, except that it has shorter range (7.5km and 9km, for tech one and two, respectively), puts out two warp disruption "points" (meaning that it takes two Warp Core Stabilizers to counter it, see below), and last and most importantly, any ship that has this active on them will be unable to use a MicrowarpDrive (though Afterburners still function). Given the massive favor shown to "MWDs" this module is a godsend, assuming you can get within range and stay there. With this module, most ships will be dead in the water, unable to out-distance you or get back to a gate to jump through it.
Stasis Webifier I: This module reduces a target's speed by a factor of about -60%. While not as effective against MWDing ships as the Scrambler, above, it does have a range of out to 10km, and is effective against ships using afterburners. This makes it excellent for tackling smaller ships, especially if you are in a larger ship than your target. The math also works out so that a ship using an MWD that is hit with a webifier will take more damage from turrets and missiles than a ship that has had its MWD turned off with a warp scrambler.
Ideally, one would have both a warp scrambler and a stasis webifier active on any given target. But given the need to fit a propulsion module (usually MWD) so that you can keep up with your targets, the paucity of mid-slots, and the two modules' limited range, that can be a problem. The few kilometers difference between the modules is critical because so many ships engage outside of them. For that reason, the most basic tacklers usually fit a disruptor.
The skills required to use all three of these modules are as follows: Propulsion Jamming I, Electronics III, and Navigation II. This shouldn't take more than an hour or two. Piece of cake. There are a few more modules and required skills for advanced tackling, but these will be covered in another guide rather than overburden new players with information that they can't use.
Resistance To Tackling
The Warp Core Stabilizer I is the most common way to resist being tacked. A ship with this module fit will be able to warp, even with a warp disruptor on it. A ship with two "WCS" as they are often abbreviated, will be able to warp despite being affected by two warp disruptors or a single warp scrambler. Unfortunately, this module was over-used on combat ships in times past, and now suffers from crippling drawbacks: any ship fitting one will have blach blach. This means that it is unsuitable for use on any ship that needs to lock its opponent. The module retains use for ships that are intended to avoid combat (like industrials) or that do not need to lock (like ships using smart bomb and some drone-using ships).
Some ships have an inherent resistance to tackling: titans and supercarriers can't be tackled by normal means, at all, while Skiff's automatically have two points of warp resistance, as though they had two WCS modules fit. Still others (like the vagabond) rely on being able to kill or outdistance any ships capable of tackling them. Lastly, some ships will attempt to use electronic warfare to limit your ability to effectively use your tackling modules.
Tackling With A Frigate
The most basic sort of tackling is orbiting a slow ship with a small, fast frigate (or tech two version of a frigate) and using a warp disruptor or scrambler to keep it from warping off, possibly with the addition of a web. Your small size and fast speed make it difficult for larger ships to hit you, especially if you're up close. The down side of being too close (read: within scrambler range) is that your target may return fire with energy neutralizers, smart bombs, or use a stasis webifier to slow you down for long enough to blow you out of the sky.
As with all things PvP, practice makes perfect. Even old players dipping their feet into the PvP pool can expect to lose a few proverbial toes, and new players all the more. Luckily, tackling frigates are dirt cheap. The tech one frigates from each race that I recommend to use for tackling are:
- Amarr: Executioner.
- Caldari: Merlin.
- Gallente: Incursus.
- Minmatar: Rifter.
Not all of these are equal, mind. The Rifter is probably the best at this, while the Merlin is a tad geriatric. None of these is going to be able to fight in low-sec within range of sentry guns, unless you have a war active. All of them will die if they hold still long enough for a larger ship to breath on them. Remember: all that matters is that your target can't leave. If you get blown up but he also dies, you will probably come out ahead in the ISK department.
Pulling It Together
The best way to learn how to tackle is to tag along with people that know what they're doing, and try to tackle for them. You hold the bad guys down, and they will blow them up. It's an essential role, and gives you a good basis for understanding how PvP works in EVE Online. Future articles will deal more with the fine art of tackling, which is one of the deeper fields of study in EVE Online.
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