Blockade Runners

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Blockade Runners are Tech 2 industrial ships, specialized for travel through dangerous areas of space. Though they can carry only relatively small amounts of cargo (compared to other industrial ships), they are some of the fastest and most agile ships in EVE, and can fit covert ops cloaking devices, making them very hard to catch by enemy pilots.

Cargo
Most blockade runners can carry around 4000-6500 m3 of cargo (depending on fit), which is slightly less than the fast Tech 1 industrial ships. Additionally, every blockade runner can be fit for maximum cargo space, allowing them to carry just over 10,000 m3 (so that they can carry a packaged cruiser), but at the cost of reduced agility and/or speed.
Blockade runners are immune to cargo scanners (so others players cannot tell what you are transporting), but can still be scanned for contraband by NPC customs ships.
Speed and agility
Blockade runners are the fastest industrial ships by quite a margin, both at sub-light speeds and in warp. In sub-light, they can do at least 200 m/s, and can top 300 m/s when fit for speed (which is comparable to a fast cruiser). In warp, blockade runners are some of the fastest ships in EVE: when fit for speed, they can reach over 9 AU/s, meaning they can easily outrun any ship save for speed-fit interceptors and the Leopard.
In addition to their speed, blockade runners are also very agile. Even when fit to maximise cargo space, they can align and warp in 5 seconds (assuming the propulsion module is not active); speed-fit blockade runners can align in 4 seconds (or even 3 seconds for some extreme fits, which is as agile as a frigate). Reducing align time is, however, heavily dependent on having good navigation skills or fitting implants.
Tank
Given that blockade runners are designed to fly quickly and stealthily, it's not surprising that their tanks are relatively weak. They have around 8-15k effective hit points (EHP), which is roughly comparable to the Tech 1 bulk transports. On the upside, their signature radius is around 110m, half of the Tech 1 industrials', which makes them harder to lock on to or hit with weapons. Nonetheless, blockade runners are fragile for their size; most cruisers with a similar signature radius have 4-10x as much EHP.
Cloak
Blockade runners can fit covert ops (CovOps) cloaking devices, which means they can warp while cloaked. They can also use covert jump bridges (created by Black Ops battleships).

Contents

Ship comparison

There are four different blockade runner ships, one from each race. All have two high slots, a total of six medium (M) and low (L) slots (the Crane has 4M/2L, the Viator and Prowler have 3M/3L, and the Prorator has 2M/4L), and two medium rig slots. They are rather expensive ships, costing around 100M ISK (not including fittings).

Race Ship Description
Amarr Empire Prorator.jpg The Prorator is the most flexible of the blockade runners. While it has the lowest base cargo capacity, its four low slots means it can be easily customised between speed and cargo capacity, but its overall stats are somewhat average.
Caldari State Crane.jpg The Crane is the toughest of the blockade runners, with over 15k EHP (about 50% more than the other ships). While it has the highest base cargo capacity, there is not much room for customisation as it only has two low slots, and its align time tends to be higher than the other ships'.
Gallente Federation Viator.jpg The Viator is a middle-of-the-road ship, with average tank and speed, and an above-average cargo capacity. However, its signature radius is the highest of the blockade runners, about 15% larger than the Prowler's.
Minmatar Republic Prowler.jpg The Prowler is the fastest blockade runner at sub-light speeds, reaching 350 m/s with good skills (about 40% faster than the other ships). It also has the smallest signature radius, but its cargo capacity tends to be a bit below average.

Skills

Prerequisite skills

In order to fly a blockade runner you need:

Performance skills

These skills increase the performance of your blockade runner, and are listed roughly in order of their importance (although every pilot should decide what they value most!).

  • Evasive Maneuvering (2x) increases your ship's agility by 5% per level. This is vital for decreasing your align time, and should be trained to at least level IV.
  • Transport Ships (6x), increases the warp speed for blockade runners by 5% per level. At high levels, your blockade runner will be able to outrun nearly every other ship in EVE.
  • Spaceship Command (1x) increases your ship's agility by 2% per level. Train this to level V to eke out that last bit of align time.
  • Acceleration Control (4x) increases the speed boost you get from afterburners and microwarpdrives by +5% per level. Very useful for escaping from a bubble in nullsec.
  • Navigation (1x) increases your ship's sub-light speed by 5% per level.
  • Warp Drive Operation (1x) decreases the amount of capacitor needed to enter warp by 10% per level. This can ensure that your capacitor is not completely drained when you warp a long way and may need to run your shield hardeners or microwarpdrive at the other end!

Fitting skills

These skills are either needed to fit modules on your ship, or to improve your ship's fitting attributes. Again, they are listed in rough order of importance.

Fitting

Fitting a blockade runner usually involves trading off align time against cargo space or warp speed. Tank is not usually a primary concern, as blockade runners are designed to fly through space without ever being locked by an enemy ship. Sublight speed is a nice bonus (particularly as it helps to escape from bubbles with the help of a microwarp drive), but is again not vital.

A low align time is vital for safely flying a blockade runner, as it reduces the time that you are vulnerable at a gate or wormhole before entering warp. Keep in mind that, because the EVE universe operates in "server ticks" of one second, align times are rounded up to the nearest second. Therefore, if your align time (which you can determine through an external fitting tool such as PYFA) is 3.1 seconds, you will actually align in 4 seconds.

High slots

Every blockade runner should fit a Covert Ops Cloaking Device II (as there is little point in flying a blockade runner without one). In the second high slot, many pilots will fit a Core Probe Launcher to find wormholes to use as shortcuts (if you are planning on taking your blockade runner into wormhole space, then the probe launcher is mandatory!).

Mid slots

Most blockade runners will fit a microwarp drive, as the extra speed is very useful in order to escape from bubbles in nullsec as quickly as possible.

The remaining mid slots are then used to strengthen your ship's tank. Blockade runners are shield tanked, and should be fitted to create a buffer tank using Shield Resistance Amplifiers or Shield Hardener modules, both of which increase your shield's resistance to damage. The former are passive modules (i.e. they don't need to be activated), which can be an advantage in stressful situations (one less thing to remember after you jumped into the middle of a gate camp), but they are less powerful (+32.5% resistance vs +50% resistance for the Tech 1 modules).

You shouldn't use Shield Extender modules, as even though they increase your shield's strength, they also increase your signature radius, making it easier to lock on to you. Also, you shouldn't fit Shield Boosters or Shield Rechargers, as these are used only for passive and active tanks.

Fitting an ECM Burst module (which, when activated, has a chance to jam every ship within a few km of your blockade runner) in a mid slot may help you escape from a hostile gate camp. However, this module should never be used in high-sec (if there is a neutral ship or structure within the radius of your ECM Burst, your ship will be destroyed by CONCORD), and even in low- and null-sec it can be difficult to use effectively, so this is an option more geared towards advanced pilots.

Low and rig slots

What you fit in your low and rig slots will depend on how you want to use your blockade runner, as explained below.

Carrying cruisers

Every blockade runner is capable of carrying a packaged cruiser (10,000 m3), which can be useful for moving expensive ships through dangerous space (e.g to bring a Tech 2 cruiser into nullsec to use it for ratting). In order to do this, you must fit:

  • Expanded Cargohold II modules in every low slot (Local Hull Conversion Expanded Cargo I (the Tech 1 meta 4 module) would also work, but tends to be more expensive than the Tech 2 module), and
  • One Medium Cargohold Optimization I rig.

This leaves one rig slot free.

  • If you can get your align time to the next lowest integer (e.g. if you are currently at 5.3 seconds, and you can get it to 5.0 seconds or below) using a Low Friction Nozzle Joints or Polycarbon Engine Housing rig, then install that.
  • Otherwise, your best choice is probably a Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer rig (for increased warp speed) or an Auxiliary Thrusters rig (for increased sub-light speed).

Using an external fitting tool such as PYFA can be very helpful here. Even with maximum skills, you cannot get any of the blockade runners to carry a cruiser and align faster than 5 seconds, unless you use implants.

Low- and nullsec hauling

For maximum safety, you should aim to get your align time as low as possible, and then increase your warp and sub-light speeds as much as possible. However, this will come at the expense of cargo space, and depending on the areas of space you will be flying in (and your willingness to take risks), you may want to trade a slightly longer align time for additional cargo space.

With very good skills (Spaceship Command V and Evasive Maneuvering V), the Prorator, Viator, and Prowler can be fit to align in 3 seconds (with the Crane this is not possible, it can align in 4 seconds at best). To achieve this:

  • Fit three Inertia Stabilizer II modules (the Tech 1 Meta 4 module, Local Hull Conversion Inertial Stabilizers I, has the same benefits as the Tech 2 module, but with a decreased penalty to signature radius).
  • If necessary, fit a Low Friction Nozzle Joints or Polycarbon Engine Housing rig, until your align time is at 3.0 seconds or below.

You can then use the remaining rig and low slot(s) to fit, depending on your needs:

  • An Auxiliary Thrusters rig, for increased sub-light speed
  • A Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer rig, for increased warp speed
  • A Cargohold Optimization rig or an Expanded Cargohold II module, for increased cargo space
  • A Warp Core Stabilizer module, for a modicum of protection against being tackled

The Inertia Stabilizer module gives a considerable boost to your agility (lowering your align time), but it also increases your signature radius, making it easier for hostile ships to lock on to you. However, even if you fit three Inertia Stabilizer modules, your enemies' locking time will only decrease by 0.1-0.3 seconds, which in most cases will not make a big difference. Nonetheless, if you can replace an Inertia Stabilizer with a Nanofiber Internal Structure without affecting your align time, then do so (as the Nanofiber Internal Structure doesn't increase your signature radius, and gives a boost to your sub-light speed to boot).

Hyperspatial Accelerator modules are rarely worth it for blockade runners, as they only increase your warp speed by 0.2-0.3 AU/s (depending on the module), which will not shave much travel time off if your ship is already capable of flying at 9 AU/s.

If you're looking to trade some align time for increased cargo space, follow the above procedure, but aim for an align time of 4.0 seconds. You will generally be able to accomplish this with two Nanofiber Internal Structure modules (particularly with good skills), leaving the remaining low and rig slots free to customise as you wish.

Module reference

See also: Fitting Modules and Rigs Guide

Mid slots

  • Shield Hardeners: Active module, +50% shield resistance (+55% for the Tech 2 module) to one damage type
  • Adaptive Invulnerability Field: Active module, +25% shield resistance (+30% for the Tech 2 module) to all damage types
  • Shield Resistance Amplifiers: Passive module, +32.5% resistance (+37.5% for the Tech 2 module) to one damage type, can be improved with skills
  • ECM Burst: Chance to jam any targets within 5km with jamming strength 6 (6km strength 7.2 for the Tech 2 module)

Low slots

  • Nanofiber Internal Structure: +7.85% velocity, -13.1% inertia, -15% structure (+9.4%, -15.8%, -20% for the Tech 2 module)
  • Inertia Stabilizers: -16.7% inertia, +10% signature radius (-20%, +11% for the Tech 2 module)
  • Hyperspatial Accelerator: +0.2-+0.3 AU/s warp speed
  • Expanded Cargohold: +17.5% cargo, -25% structure, -15% max velocity (+27.5%, -20%, -10% for the Tech 2 module)

Rigs

  • Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer: +20% warp speed, -10% CPU capacity
  • Auxiliary Thrusters: +7.25% speed, -10% armor
  • Low Friction Nozzle Joints: -11.7% agility, -10% armor
  • Polycarbon Engine Housing: -9.1% inertia, +5.5% speed, -10% armor
  • Cargohold Optimization: +15% cargo, -10% armor

Implants

To get even more performance out of your blockade runner you can install implants. The most useful are:

  • The Nomad implant set (6 implants), which improves your agility (and therefore reduce your align time) by up to 27%.
  • The Ascendancy implant set (6 implants), which improves your warp speed by up to 62%.
  • The Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' Evasive Maneuvering implants, which improve your agility by up to 6%.
  • The Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' Warp Drive Speed implants, which improve your warp speed by up to 18%.

These implants come in several variants; the lower-grade variants have a lower benefit (but are correspondingly cheaper). Keep in mind that the higher-grade implants can cost anywhere from 500M to several billion ISK, and should your pod ever be destroyed, your implants will be lost as well. So it's possible, if you use the highest-grade agility implants, to have a blockade runner which aligns and warps in two seconds; however, you would be flying with several billion ISK worth of implants in your head.

There are no combat boosters which help blockade runners.

Flying

High-sec

When flying through high-sec, it's very difficult to destroy your ship, as your quick align time gives potential suicide gankers very little time to lock on to you and do enough damage to destroy your ship. This presumes, of course, that you don't use the autopilot to fly your ship (as it lands you 10km away from stargates). Nonetheless, it's a good idea to cloak while warping to make your ship even more stealthy. Keep in mind that blockade runners are immune to cargo scans (so there is no way for others to tell what you are hauling) - this can be both a blessing and a curse, as even though suicide gankers don't know for sure that you're carrying something valuable, they may assume that since you're flying an unscannable ship you've obviously got something to hide, and will attack you anyway.

Low-sec

See also: Safety Tips for Operating in Low Sec

Similar rules apply to low-sec, except that you can expect more frequent gatecamps, especially at choke points or the entrances to low-sec space from high-sec. You are most vulnerable just after jumping through a stargate, but keep in mind that unless you start moving your ship or activate any modules, you are invulnerable for 60 seconds. Take this time to assess the situation after jumping through a gate, paying particular attention to any ships or structures within 2000m of you (which will prevent you from cloaking) or close to the flight path towards your destination. Also check for any for Interceptors, as they can target you very quickly. If the path is clear, you can give the "Warp To" (or "Jump") command, and immediately activate your cloak. This gives hostile ships next to no time to lock on to you and activate their warp disruptor modules ("point"), so you should be reasonably safe. You will accelerate under cloak and warp off to your destination.

If, on the other hand, your path is blocked, if you try to cloak and warp, you will be decloaked when you pass near to another ship or structure. Once you are decloaked, any hostile ships will have a few seconds to lock on to you and point you, preventing you from warping off. You can choose to take the risk (depending on how quickly your ship aligns, the time window may be very short), or you can first warp to another celestial/bookmark to which the path is clear. Again, follow the same procedure as above (give the warp command, then immediately cloak); then, once you have arrived, warp to your destination. Since your blockade runner is very fast, it's very unlikely that the hostile ships will be able to catch up to you.

In general, it's very difficult to catch a properly flown blockade runner in low-sec, so if you pay attention you should be reasonably safe.

Null-sec and wormholes

See also: Surviving Nullsec

The biggest danger to blockade runners are warp disruption bubbles, which are a reasonably common sight in null-sec. These are often set up around stargates or along common flight routes (eg between two stargates), and will prevent you from warping as long as you are inside one of them. Therefore, it's generally advised to never warp directly from stargate to stargate, but instead warp to a random celestial (planet/moon/bookmark) first.

As with low-sec, take advantage of the 60 seconds of invulnerability after jumping through a stargate to check your surroundings. Keep a particular eye out for Interdictors and Heavy Interdiction Cruisers, as these ships can generate bubbles the moment they see you uncloak.

If you see a clear path from your current location to a celestial, you can try to make a run for it (see above). If there is no clear path, or you are already in a bubble, you have two options:

  • Fly back and jump through the stargate you just came through as quickly as possible (often called "burn back to the gate"). Give the "Jump" command, activate your cloak, and immediately activate your microwarp drive (MWD). If you activate your MWD within 1-2 seconds of cloaking, you will cloak up, but still receive the MWD's speed boost for one module cycle (approx. 10 seconds). The extra speed from the MWD should allow you to get back to the gate within 6-8 seconds and jump to safety. Don't activate the MWD before the cloak, as it greatly increases your signature radius, making it possible for enemy ships to lock on to you before you can activate your cloak.
  • Try to fly out of the bubble while cloaked ("burn out of the bubble"). This technique only works if no ships get within 2000m of you (as this deactivates your cloak), so you have to pick your flight path carefully: choose (if possible) a path far away from enemy ships (or other object, including jetcans), yet with a relatively short distance to the bubble's edge. Double-click in space (which orders your ship to fly in that direction), immediately activate the cloak, then the MWD (keyboard shortcuts are very helpful here!). Once you are out of the bubble, find a celestial to warp to (making sure that your warp path doesn't take you back into the bubble), and give the "Warp To" command.

Bubbles can also catch you while you are warping to a stargate. The best way to avoid them is to never warp directly from gate to gate (most bubbles are set up along that flight path). For an extra layer of security, set up gate observation bookmarks in systems you frequently fly through, and fly to them first to observe any activity around the stargate (locations of bubbles, ships, etc). If the path to the gate is clear, you can then jump through the gate and into the next system.

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