Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Solo Stealth Bombing

I have or plan to try every form of PVP in EVE Online, but after four years it occurred to me that I have somehow never done bombing runs in a stealth bomber. I have frequently flown torpedo bombers solo, and have gotten some nice kills in the process, but I thought it was time to try bombing. And, now that I've tried it, I am hooked! It is a ton of fun to do even when solo, and it is one way a solo player can be meaningfully involved in large fleet fights.

In this post I am going to talk about tactics for solo bombing. I don't mean flying a stealth bomber solo using torpedos for your primary (or only) damage. I'm going to talk about how to use bombs only, solo, to get kills, or to meaningfully contribute to fleet fights as a third party. There are many active NPSI communities in EVE who regularly do bombing runs, but doing it solo means you are solely responsible for your own warp-ins, bookmarks, and execution.

I think the main reason why I find solo bombing so enjoyable is that it depends heavily on tactical knowledge of battles and grids in EVE, effective bookmarks, and a psychological understanding of fleets. It is very much like playing EVE in "RTS" mode.

The idea of using bombs, solo, is attractive at first, given how much potential damage they do on impact. Up to 8k damage with max skills. But this is unrealistic when most players research the way bombs work. Bomb damage ignores ship velocity and only pays attention to signature, and as a result bombs only do full damage to targets with high signatures (400+).

The formula for bomb damage, ignoring resists, is roughly the signature of the target ship / 400m (the explosion radius of the bomb itself) * 8000 from the bomb base damage (at Covert Ops V) from the bomb.

This means that against a ship—such as a frigate or destroyer without MWD on—with a signature radius of 50, the bomb before resists will only do around 1k damage. That's not enough to destroy most any frigate or destroyer on impact (well, sometimes it is!), though it will noticeably hurt them (hence why logistics pilots in fleet often say “Do Not broadcast for bomb damage!” The damage is enough to want to broadcast for, but overwhelming for logi to take care of in a fight).

However, if a frigate or destroyer has their MWD on, and has less buffer than about 4k EHP, you can one shot them with a bomb. Here are some examples of headshots I've gotten where this was the case: Thrasher kill 1, Thrasher kill 2, Garmur kill (notice the bomb alpha went through a MSE as well).

Here is a fantastic video of a Garmur headshot in a bomber that is very much like my kill and shows the tactics involved in one-shotting targets with a bomb.
Notice that the bomber pilot stays on grid a few seconds (server ticks) before warping. You can, AFAIK, decloak, launch a bomb, and warp, within 2 server ticks (you can "feel" the ticks in the delay it takes for your modules to respond and ship to warp), and where you are only vulnerable for 1.

However, if you stay on grid for a few more seconds, you have a chance of baiting ships to MWD into you--and, hence, into your bomb. This is essentially the tactic I use: When at range and aligned to a warp-out, decloak and launch bomb, count to 2, then warp. This is dangerous, insofar as it gives ships time to lock you, but it can be effective in baiting a headshot. Here is an example from A2-, the main area I've been working on bombing skills given that there are large fleet fights at least once per day in system. I've since added around 30 bookmarks around the station at different angles and ranges, but in this screenshot you can at least see a basic path: warp 50km in front of station, align to bookmark behind station, crossing the undock area:

You can even headshot entire fleets with a single bomb. Here is one of the best examples I know of where a single bomb took out a large number of ships in a fleet (Jan 02). Cormorant fleets typically lack any buffer whatsoever, making them perfect targets for bombing runs. The difficulty, of course, is having a good bookmark or warp-in and being able to time and aim the bombing run right, given that the fleet will need to be MWDing in order to one-shot targets. That difficulty is part of the fun of solo bombing.

What about solo bombing as a third party during fleet fights? I've found this to be just as fun and as challenging as trying to headshot targets, particularly when the fleets are fast and kiting. It is a rush when ships are flying within 10km as you try to sneak in close to a fleet for the perfect bombing run. What I was particularly surprised about, however, is just how much damage solo bomb runs can do. Here are some log analyses showing my total damage during bomb runs on fleets:

This first fight was a large Ferox vs. Ferox brawl featuring NARM vs. Horde. I had good bomb placement in this one, and BC-sized targets and both easier to hit than cruisers and have a larger sig. I ended up hitting 110 targets (drones, corpses, and wrecks included) and doing over 30k damage, but just as I sent the bomb off a dictor bubble popped up in my path, and I had to warp to a different target, just barely escaping a confessor:

In this most recent fight, a LAWN Caracal fleet fought a kitchen sink fleet on Horde's A2- undock. It was a challenging engagement to bomb because the Caracel fleet kited the entire time, but after 4 runs managed this one, which ends up being about 39k to targets with fairly small sigs and lower EHP:

Finally, in this bomb run, removing damage to the drones and wrecks, one bomb does 41k to a small fleet of Hurricanes:

There's nothing to brag about here as anyone could have the same success, but what surprised me was just how much damage a single bomb can do. And, obviously, if a single bomb can do upwards of 40k to a fairly small fleet, just imagine what a group of 6-7 bombers could do in a single run. Bombing is a fun playstyle and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't given it a try, particularly if they are solo players who want to get involved in large fleet fights.


  1. Would you just stick with the bomb type that your ship has a bonus for or would you go for a specific bomb type?

    1. If trying to do maximum damage (such as one-shot targets), stick with the bomb type that the bomber has the bonus for. There are some cases where an unbonused bomb type could do more damage though, such as in cases where you know the targets will have 0 EM shield resist making EM bomb types better than, say, explosive (which will do much less to typical shield tanked ships) regardless of what bomber you are in.

      If you are in a group of bombers, in that case you typically use a uniform bomb type.