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This was one of the first vessels the Sisters of EVE made available to capsuleers. It had been under development by the Sanctuary corporation, whose interest in exploration includes not only search & rescue operations but also a constant inquiry into the nature of the EVE Gate. Thanks to the Sisters' efforts and the Sanctuary's particular expertise, the Astero is an agile, tenacious ship that aptly adheres to the mantra of both rescuers and explorers: Stay safe, stay hidden, and use every tool at your disposal.
It is particularly adept at venturing into dangerous territories, not merely in recovering whatever may be of interest but also in being able to safely bring it back. Its engines have alternate power sources that come into play should any of its cargo - for which it has plenty of room - cause serious interference with internal systems. Its carapace is extremely well armored for a ship this agile, and covered in sensors capable of letting its crew track a myriad of different organic signatures. The crew itself is safely protected from any number of transmittable ailments from rescues and other unexpected passengers, thanks to special quarantine bays that are conveniently located near jettisonable openings.
And lastly, an ingenious but cryptic transfer in part of the warp core functionality to an outlying cylindrical structure means the Astero is able to run certain higher-level cloaking functions with very little technical cost, and minimal interference from warp. The Sisters of EVE have refused to comment on this technology, other than to recommend it not be tampered with.
Gallente Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
The Astero is the Sisters of EVE frigate, introduced in Rubicon 1.0. It has bonuses to drone durability and armor resists, the largest drone bay available in the frigate class. The Astero, along with the SoCT Metamorphosis, are the only Tech 1 frigate hulls that can fit a Covert Ops cloak and warp while cloaked.
The Astero is primarily designed as a stealthy exploration ship, with a particular emphasis on extended operation away from stations. It is also a prominent PvP frigate: its cloak lets it pick fights, and it stands a good chance against many other frigate hulls, making it especially suitable for killing other explorers outside of high security space. It is, however, radically more expensive than a Tech 1 exploration frigate, and significantly more expensive than a Tech 2 Covert Ops frigate.
It is possible to fit an Astero as a cloaking, probing scout for PvP, but it lacks the strong CPU capacity of other covert ops ships and so must make many fitting compromises to fit the expanded probe launcher necessary to use combat probes. It is also an expensive hull to put at risk as a scout.
Besides good general support skills, some skills have particular relevance for the Astero:
- Cloaking IV: do not undock an Astero until you can fit the Covert Ops Cloak.
- Amarr Frigate IV/V: more hit points helps the Astero in PvP and also makes it more viable in high security Ghost Sites.
- Astrometrics IV: if you're running exploration in null/w-space, some signatures can be a pain to scan down with low skills. It's also recommended to get at least level III in the Astrometric Support skills, Astrometric Acquisition, Astrometric Pinpointing and Astrometric Rangefinding.
- Hacking III/IV: the more Virus Coherence you have to play with in breaking open cans, the better. In Ghost Sites it can make the difference between getting away with loot or taking AOE damage in the face.
With its limited high slots normally taken up by a cloak and a probe launcher, the Astero must rely on its drones for DPS in PvP. It can launch a flight of five light drones. These have a bonus to durability but not to damage, making them strong against frigates, which will struggle to kill them, but limiting the Astero's ability to scale damage up against larger targets. The spare drone bay capacity means that pilots can bring spare damage drones, and perhaps a flight of light ECM drones to try to escape if bigger fish try to intervene.
Since the Astero relies on drones for damage, it could in theory fit a warp disruptor and kite beyond the range of small weapons. However, its relatively slow speed for a frigate makes this more difficult in practice, and PvP fits most often use a warp scrambler. It is normally armour-tanked, to use its hit point bonus. Its four mid slots then provide significant space for propulsion and range control tools such as webs.