Forward Operating Base

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It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Pirate forward operating base. (Discuss)

Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) are pirate NPC structures spawned in space by Gurista and Blood Raider forces in high security space as a staging point for their NPC asteroid belt mining forces and as a host structure for updated NPCs that can cause some amount of disruption in any one system. Although these are somewhat related to the lowsec and nullsec ♦ Sotiyos, they use different mechanics and principles. Both use updated ♦ (diamond) non-player character ships which are part of CCP's Artificial Intelligence (AI) revamp for selected environments.

Contents


History

Forward Operating Bases were first deployed with the [Lifeblood 1.0 expansion] on the 24th of October, 2017. They were further revised in the updates of [Arms Race 1.0] release which changed some of the response and structure mechanics, and updated once again in the [Arms Race 1.6] release which capped the response fleet in some ways.

In review, when the FOBs was first released in the Lifeblood expansion (24 October 2017), the FOBs put Gurista structures out in Gallente and Caldari high security space, and Blood Raider structures in Amarr high security regions. In those days players had to hunt down the FOBs in an intensive process by searching around asteroid belts from system to system looking for a clue such as ♦ Guristas Production Venture or ♦ Blood Raider Retriever: there was no other easy clue that there was an FOB in the system. Next, the hunter would launch combat probes and search for structures in deep safes, usually 40-70 AU from the main nexus of planets and star. Finally the Fleet Commander would bring in a fleet with high resists to their damage type (usually armor tanked) and attack the structure. The FOB would spawn a reinforcement fleet to counter the player fleet, roughly matching its power, and then when roughly 30% of the structure's hit points remained, a second reinforcement fleet would spawn. Finally when the structure was dead, NPC pirate miners would evacuate the system.

With the Arms Race 1.0 release (5 December 2017) an escalating reinforcement model was installed (and Forward Operating Bases can be now found via the Agency window). Then, when a player or fleet warped to the structure, four to five ships (usually cruiser hulls) would spawn. Then, roughly every sixty (60) seconds, new wave of forces would spawn. Kills for the structures plummeted to rock bottom: the solo Vexor Navy Issue with a battleship sized Microwarpdrive concept and the 500MN Cerberus doctrine was also shut down because the structure could now web a player to 300km range. More recently in the February 2018 release (13 February 2018) a limit on the reinforcement fleet response meant that solo runs are doable and more options are available again: the Remote Repair Dominix doctrine (or concept) has emerged as the prevalent choice.


Specifics

The Structure

In the Agency window, systems with FOBs currently show icons with the pirate logo when a player has chosen the Pirate Strongholds filter: it is further sub-filtered by the player's current region, although ones in neighboring regions can be shown as well. Guristas FOBs are found in Gurista and Serpentis space: Blood Raider structures are found in Minmatar and Amarr space. Search radius is capped to a 5 jump radius of current system.

The structure itself has close to 3.000.000 hit points of structure. It does not offer any services to players, is in low-power mode, has no resistances in structure, and has no tethering abilities. There are two kinds of models: Gurista Pirates, which is fit with two heavy energy neutralizers, a stasis webifier (modified to reach to 300km), a multispectral ECM jammer, and two signal amplifiers. The Blood Raiders have a similar fit except they use a sensor dampener in place of the ECM jammer. If a player is able to survive on grid, the structure will eventually cap itself out after roughly 10-12 minutes. Advanced users can use [zKillboard] to grab the typeIDs to look up the profile in-game.

New Diamond NPCS (♦ prefixes) respond with player presence on grid.


The NPCs

At the present writing, there are five specific types of diamond (♦) NPCs which are part of a new revamp of PvE content within EVE Online:

1) NPC Mining Corporation miners and their response fleets
2) Resource Wars NPC pirate hostiles
3) Roaming pirate frigate forces which loiter and shoot at player structures
4) Pirate NPC mining forces with their response fleets
5) Forward Operating Bases and their NPC reinforcement fleets (somewhat similar to the ♦ Sotiyo forces)

Specifically, the Pirate NPC mining forces do have a hauler that warps to the Forward Operating Base to unload cargo. If the hauler warps on grid to the FOB while a player force is just showing up, the hauler can call its own reinforcement fleet, separate from the FOB reinforcement fleet (and the fits that both forces use are different in most cases), which can overwhelm the capsuleer fleet. Normally however, when a player group comes on grid with the FOB, the pirate NPC miners will warp off the belt(s) and sit in a safe spot. When the FOB is destroyed, the pirate siege of the system (which includes the roaming pirate frigate group and the pirate mining fleet) is terminated immediately and they vacate the system.

While the other types of diamond NPCs are interesting topics in themselves, the focus of this article is on the FOBs themselves. When the FOBs first came out, the response fleet numbers and composition was roughly equal to what the capsuleers brought: the number of frigates (tackle), cruisers (damage, logistics and electronic warfare) and battleships (damage) varied from spawn to spawn. The first solo attempts used Vexor Navy Issues with a specific fit to tank their exact damage (EM and Thermal for Blood Raiders, Thermal for Guristas) with a second refit to a 500MN battleship sized Microwarpdrive to kite around the structure. In those days there would usually be 4-5 vessels, usually cruisers that would spawn, and once those were destroyed the structure itself was wide open to attack, aside from its EWAR and energy neutralizing capabilities. It was possible in those days to kite around the NPCs, forcing them to continously "bounce" to attempt to get in operational range, yet because of the 500MN Microwarpdrive's speed made it impossible for the NPCs to catch up. This is no longer possible because the structure can stasis webify a target out to 300km, the edge of the lock range for subcapital vessels.

Nowadays, a single player warping to the structure can expect 2-3 battleships with a few frigates, or a few frigates with the rest in randomly called cruisers, roughly adding up to about 10 vessels in total (such as 7 Omens and 2 Cruors). Responses to fleets warped to the structure are still in the dark as the response composition. (Capitals, at the time of writing, do not trigger NPC capital responses.) NPCs killed do not respawn; curiously however, they can be sent remote assistance (such as shield repairs) from capsuleers. They do have capacitors like conventional player ships however certain elements like afterburners and shield hardeners cannot be turned off: tackle modules, however, can be.

As the diamond NPCs are concerned, they can warp around to arbitrary points around the structure, anywhere on grid, to "bounce" to within a few kilometers of their intended engagement range (which contrasts the miner NPC response fleets, which do not have the warp ability as of this writing). They use capsuleer fits of varying quality. The frigates have Microwarpdrives backed with Warp Disruptors and Stasis Webifiers; the cruisers and battleships use Afterburners.

The new diamond NPC vessels can be combat probed and hunted with the directional scanner. This can be invaluable for operational purposes to position ships in a strategic fashion.


Strategy

Previous headings explained strategies that worked in former iterations of the FOB structure system. This one will aim to be updated, hopefully, for current viable strategies.

Solo operations survive off extremely high resists against the hostile damage type: against Guristas, the aim is 94% Thermal resistances, and against Blood Raider NPCs, the goal is over 90%, ideally at least 92% against both EM and Thermal damage. Fleets of players attempting these structures should also aim for the same levels.

Drone ships are preferred because of ECM on Gurista sites, and energy neutralizing on Blood Raider sites. Armor is also preferred because the Reactive Armor Hardener's resistances are calculated differently (just like the Damage Control module) than other modules on the vessel, though it does stack against the Damage Control and thusly it's easier to get the resistance levels required for this job.

The structure itself has a 500 HP/sec damage requirement to prevent it from repairing itself. Aim for 600 DPS solo to account for damage variations.

The current trend is Remote Rep Dominixes with Micro Jump Drives for escape for a fleet setup of 3 people or more. Remote Rep (often called simply RR) doctrines don't scale very well with numbers and required high levels of pilot skill and skill points to work effectively. They also suffer from range projection problems so a player that drifts out of repair range could easily die. Players must understand cap chains and how to work with people who have been jammed or neuted out entirely. A single Nestor can be fit identically to the Dominixes and allows for combat refitting after the structure has capped itself out and hostile forces have been eradicated.

Solo operations are rather pilot intensive and require compentence in combat refitting (and knowing which fits to use at any one time) with experience in higher end PvE content.


Reward

The first solo kill of a Forward Operating Base since the February changes had zero payout from the DED. A more recent solo kill netted a 15.000.000 ISK payout for the operation. The maximum payout is 30.000.000 ISK per player, which is possible with 26 participants. However, adding one additional capsuleer can provide 29.629.629.63 ISK per participant - not much of a loss all together.

Standard Meta 0 Tech I modules can drop from the structure; in addition, a rare chance at a strongbox which has a blueprint for either a Dark Blood Standup Heavy Energy Neutralizer (Blood Raiders) or a Dread Guristas Standup Variable Spectrum ECM module (Guristas).


Image Gallery

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The first FOB to be destroyed, probing it down
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On-Grid with the first FOB: note distance to Star
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Very first Guristas FOB. 1.5b lost (AAR)
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Singularity, the early RR Battleships. Different response(1)
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The Escalating Fleet Comp model (Arms Race update)
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Attempting the first solo attempt in Feb 2018 release
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First solo kill since December 5th release
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The first E-UNI successful FOB kill with RR Dominixes
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(Singularity) Response to a Dreadnought on field
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(Singularity) Response to a Carrier and Force Auxiliary Carrier

(1) In those days the NPC reinforcement fleet used the same ships and setup as the NPC miner response fleets. Nowadays they use different setups.

Ending comments

The Forward Operating Bases have become more prevalent in recent days compared to the first deployment and high security space dwellers must be famailiar with the methods of taking them out easily, effectively and on a budget. It is hoped this article can help in some areas.

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