Interdictors (sometimes called "dictors") are advanced destroyer hulls which can launch warp disruption and stasis webification probes. Their probes are one of the few ways to create bubbles, which prevent anyone trapped in them from warping away, and which can suck victims away from their intended warp destination. This ability makes them a valued class of ship in wormhole space and nullsec warfare.
Interdictors are the smaller siblings of Heavy Interdiction Cruisers ("HICs"), which have a different bubbling capability.
- See also: Tackling#Tackle Modules
The core tactical advantage of an interdictor is the ability to launch three types of probes out of a fitted Interdiction Sphere Launcher. Only one launcher may be fitted to a ship at a time, and its use is prohibited in Empire Space, limiting its use to any system with a security status 0.0 or below. Due to this restriction, Interdictors have little utility within low- and high-security space.
The three types of launchable probe are:
- Warp Disrupt Probe - Creates a warp disruption field with a 20 km radius from the launch point of the probe, resulting in a 40 km diameter spherical field of effect. Any ship that is inside the field cannot warp out. Ships that have selected "Warp to" in their user interface but are bubbled before they have entered warp will cancel their warp and come to a complete stop once affected by the bubble, with the exception of ships warping due to a logoff. These probes also prevent capital ships from cynoing and jumping out. Ships with activated Interdiction Nullifiers and all shuttles are the only hulls immune to disruption bubbles. These warp distruption probes remain on-grid for 2 minutes before disappearing. Only 3 probes may be loaded in the launcher at a time.
- Surgical Warp Disrupt Probe - These probes are similar to Warp Disrupt Probes, but have a smaller radius of 10 km, and so a 20 km diameter. In return, they last an extra minute for 3 minutes on on-grid. Only 3 probes may be loaded in the launcher at a time.
- Stasis Webification Probe - Nicknamed the "Wubble", this probe detonates 3 seconds after launching and instantly applies a 40% speed reduction to all ships within 10 km for 30 seconds. Wubbles don't persist after detonating, and don't disrupt the warp drives of ships they affect, but they can be used in combination with conventional bubbles to further immobilize and hinder an enemy fleet. Only 5 probes may be loaded in the launcher at a time. Launching a subsequent wubble that affects the same ship only resets the timer and does not stack with the pre-existing webification effect.
For each probe type, the launcher has the ability to launch a probe every 5 seconds, and takes 60 seconds to reload. Given that warp disrupt probes last at minimum 2 minutes depending on which one you use, this allows you to maintain a persistent set of bubbles on the field until you run out of charges in your cargo. Placing warp disrupt probes does not cause you to become aggressed.
There are currently four different Interdictors, one for each of the main races. Each Interdictor has a 10% reduction in Microwarpdrive signature radius bonus bonus per level of the Interdictor skill trained. Other bonuses vary per ship.
- Heretic - Extremely thick armor for its size, but also rather slow. Each level of the Amarr Destroyer skill provides a 15% bonus armor hitpoints and 5% bonus to Light Missile launcher and Rocket rate of fire. The Interdictor skill bonus provides 4% bonus to all armor resistances for level.
- Flycatcher - Extremely thick shields for its size, but with only 1 low slot it must choose between speed and resilience. Each level of the Caldari Destroyer skill provides 10% bonus to Light Missile and Rocket kinetic damage and 10% bonus to Light Missile and Rocket max velocity bonuses. The Interdictor skill bonus provides 15% bonus to shield hitpoints.
- Eris - A hybrid turret ship that has the highest potential DPS of the set. Each level of the Gallente Destroyer skill provides 7.5% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret rate of fire and 10% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret tracking speed bonuses. The Interdictor skill bonus provides 20% reduction in Armor Plate mass penalty; this makes the Eris more agile when fitted with a buffer armor tank.
- Sabre - Often preferred for its mixture of high speed, durable shields, and reliable ability to fit a rack of autocannons. Each level of the Minmatar Destroyer skills provides 5% bonus to Small Projectile Turret damage and 10% bonus to Small Projectile Turret tracking speed bonuses. The Interdictor skill bonus provides 10% bonus to Small Projectile Turret falloff per level.
For years, the Sabre has been the most popular choice for an Interdictor because of its specific combination of useful traits. The Eris is useful when the 'dictor needs to supply DPS too, and the Heretic and Flycatcher come in handy when high survivability is needed.
Roles and Fits
Due to the limits of the Sphere Launcher, the Interdictor generally has two roles, requiring different types of fit. When choosing which fit to use, players should understand the objectives of their fleet commander, and the characteristics of the other ships involved in the friendly fleet. Large organised groups typically have one or more pre-designed interdictor fits to help pilots fit into their doctrines; since Interdictors are often high-priority targets, good alliances and corporations typically refund the costs of losses.
The Interdictor is an excellent tool in nullsec small-gang PvP. This role generally involves active engagement by the Interdictor in the fight, so DPS can be a consideration. Small gang fits are generally fit for damage, a moderate tank, and secondary tackle modules in addition to the Interdiction Sphere Launcher.
In a large fleet, Interdictors are entirely given over to the larger fleet's tactics, and do not need to apply DPS. Fleet-fit interdictors rarely, if ever, directly engage enemy ships, as combat timers might prevent it from jumping ahead of enemy fleets to trap them.
Due to its danger to enemy fleets, Interdictors are often primary targets in a battle's opening stages. Fleet interdictors therefore also sometimes employ a cloak to increase the chance of remaining on the field and allowing the pilot to assess the situation.
Fleet fits are generally known to have no guns nor tackle modules. In addition to the Interdiction Sphere Launcher, their choice of modules focus on a cloak, speed, and increasing the probability and ability to survive through enhancing resistances and/or increasing tank buffer.
Both fleet and small-gang Interdictors can benefit from hyperspatial rigs which let them warp faster. They might also employ a prototype cloak to conceal their presence from the directional scanner; since Interdictors do not need to target anything to launch their probes, the penalty to targeting speed from fitting a cloak and the post-cloak targeting delay can be ignored.
Wormhole space lacks Local chat, forcing pilots to rely on D-Scan for scouting. Moreover, wormholes can be jumped despite active combat timers. Furthermore, fleets in wormhole space must often be smaller than fleets out in nullsec, meaning each ship must bring more tools to the table. These factors tend to tilt wormhold Interdictor fits towards small-gang style arrangements. The lack of Local in wormholes places an extra value on rigging for warp speed, as an Interdictor's appearance on d-scan might often be a target's first hint that a cloaked scout is calling in threats on them.
The single most important fact to remember when at the controls of a 'dictor is that the Interdictor's most powerful ability equally affects all ships, friend or foe. If you trap enemy ships and pods, any friendlies in the same space will be trapped too.
The presence of your bubbles should not be a surprise to your fleet, in particular your fleet commander ("FC"). Operating an Interdictor will often either make you the fleet's favorite member, or their most hated. You don't want to be bubbling your DPS fleet without clear instructions from your FC. Ensure you have established clear operating instructions, including if and when you have discretion to place bubbles at will. Remember that bubbling a gate will slow down any friendlies who enter the system through that gate.
If a fleet/gang is clearly willing to engage your fleet/gang, then there is usually nothing you need to do: they aren't fleeing, so there is no need to risk your ship. The most optimal time to drop a bubble is often the point when you or the FC believe the opposing ship(s) are intending to flee, whether that is at the beginning of the engagement or mid-engagement.
As mentioned earlier, Interdictors are usually the first ship class to be primaried by opposing fleet commanders. This means that without proper situational awareness, your ship may meet an immediate untimely death. Speed and awareness of other ships and their range are going to be the way you stay alive in the short term. However, in order to place bubbles, you have to eventually get up close and personal to the fleet during an engagement.
One way to remain on the battlefield, and to help introduce or maintain an element of surprise is to cloak up as early as possible, which you should generally be able to do before you are locked. Cloaking also has the side benefit that the opposing FC might not see you when they are evaluating the field composition, or might eventually forget about your presence. If you have warped in with the rest of the fleet, burn in a direction away from the fleet and activate your cloak. If you warped in later or at range, cloak up once you hit grid and begin moving. You ideally want to be positioned >150 km from all possible objects of interest in the enemy fleet. You want to be able to warp to a friendly ship that is engaged within the enemy fleet, or a wreck, can or other debris when the time is right. As such, make sure your overview has all warpable objects visible and available. As the fleet engagement develops, keep an active observation of the different ways you can approach the field, which could involve uncloaking and warping to a nearby friendly and re-cloaking. If you're not undertaking a specific action, being further away is better than being close.
When the situation warrants dropping a bubble, understand where you need to bubble, execute that manoeuvre, and immediately leave the field. Failure to know where your warp-out point will be ahead of time will significantly increase the risk that you will be targeted and killed. Even more-so, it prevents you from conducting follow-up runs on the field, and inhibits you from being tasked with chasing the fleet. Where you ultimately warp to onto the field may not be the point that is the most effective to drop your bubbles; Be aware of the need to maintain high transversal and speed while within range of enemy ships. A Microwarpdrive is a critical component for manoeuvrability once landing on grid, although it will bloom your signature radius. In any circumstance, heat and activate your hardeners, and warp away as soon as you can.
If you want to try more advanced tactics, if the enemy fleet is a kiting fleet, which is generally always aligned to another object, you can try to drop a bubble in front of the fleet's line of travel. This will prevent the fleet from warping from their aligned tactical and will need to reposition themselves. This can be done as a single launch, or can be part of when you launch your initial bubble inside the fleet (i.e., after you launch your first bubble, align in the same direction as the fleet and then drop a second bubble in front of them.)
Likewise, there are some fits on Interdictors, such as the Heretic, which allow you to fit an Expanded Probe Launcher in addition to your Cloaking Device, Interdiction Sphere Launcher, and MWD with a light tank. This will allow you to get successful scans on battleships within 8 seconds with only 4 probes. You're more likely to die in such a configuration, but it will give you more freedom to decide when to land within the enemy fleet, whether immediately or at a later point in the engagement.
While uncommon, bubbles can also be used for defensive purposes during engagements. The purpose of defensive bubbles is to eliminate the ability for the opposing fleet to warp to tacticals or other points that are within brawling range of your fleet. This is most practical when your fleet is fit for kiting while the opposition may be fit for brawling. This requires coordination with your FC and clear communication on when and where you will be dropping the bubble, which may intersect with a segment of the friendly fleet. This tactic most typically involves following the friendly in their alignment and dropping bubbles multiple times to build a wall.
The other useful case for defensive bubbles is to limit the ability of stealth bombers during large engagements. The use of bombs requires a very specific distance and vector to their target, and placing defensive bubbles cause the bombers to spend much more time getting into the correct position and increases their risk on the field.
Other than being on field during fleet engagement, another important fleet-based role is to slow down and catch opposing fleets that are either in flight, or those that have been identified by a scout. This process involves needing to understand:
- Where the opposing fleet is intending to go, and
- Where your position is to the rest of the opposing fleet
Use tools like DOTLAN to understand the topography of the region, as well as the Killboard of the corporate or specific members of the fleet to chart their most plausible path of escape. Ideally you should begin to collect and organization this information as soon as potential targets are identified, not at the end of an engagement as the ships are fleeing.
A common mistake that is made by Interdictor pilots is to drop a bubble on an out-gate with the intention of slowing down the enemy fleet, but instead significantly slowing down the friendly fleet. This is often caused by pilots who drop bubbles on out-gates while the target ships are already in warp; bubbles are ineffective against ships already in warp. A way to ensure this mistake is not made is to drop the bubble on the in-gate in the next system, and proceeding onto the next out-gate at 100km to drop a bubble and burning to the out-gate. This tactic of chasing ahead of the enemy fleet and slow them down such that your fleet can catch up is also known as "waterboarding".
If you're in a circumstance where you the opposing fleet is attempting to trap you and are aggressing you, wait until you have ~75% shield before jumping through the gate as your shield will be able to recharge by the time your gate cloak. This allow for the most amount of time for the rest of your fleet to appear.
Drag and Catch Bubbles
- See also: Warp Disruption Fields
Whether you're chasing ahead of a fleet, or awaiting the arrival of any individual, there are specific places of probes that have special names depending on their placement relative to an object of interest, like a station or a gate:
- Drag bubbles: Ships warping nearby may be “dragged” out of warp.
- Catch bubbles, also known as Stop bubbles, are those placed in front of the intended destination, causing the ship to get caught in the bubble in front of their destination.
Whether you are placing a catch bubble or drag bubble, the bubble must be in line with the line of travel between the origin of the ship and destination warp point, as well within 500km of the destination. As such, this makes drag bubbles a little bit more difficult to place than catch bubbles since slight misalignment can cause the ship to reach its intended destination. The choice of which type of bubble to use is dependent on personal choice, system design, and the circumstances of why you're setting up the bubbles.
For systems that you plan on dropping catch and drop bubbles frequently, it's best to add bookmarks for those specific locations where you want to deploy the probes. Keep in mind that the probes must be deployed prior to the ship entering warp to be caught in the bubble, so catch and drag bubbles should be deployed the moment the target is in system. In addition to the primary bookmarks for bubble deployment location, you should also add bookmarks for the edge of the bubble where your targets would potentially be landing. This enables you to reliably get to the location where the target will be, and you should reposition yourself the moment you deploy the probe. When you see your target appear on D-Scan, you can deploy a second probe, and since the ship is already (presumably) in warp, they will not get caught in this bubble but be at the center of it. This tactic will limit the ability for the ship to turn around and escape the bubble quickly.
- See also: Gate camps
The Interdictor forms an important component in non-ganking gate camps, where it can specifically inhibit ships from warping away and trapping them at the gate or between the two gates. While waiting for a target or targets to enter system on a gate, the Interdictor is best positioned to wait at zero on the gate, ideally on the top side of the gate.
There are a variety of gate camp fleet configuration you can employ. One involves everyone in your fleet being on-grid at the gate while you serve to purely trap incoming ships. This is the easiest to manage logistically. On the other hand, if you want employ a sense of surprise or if you know the opposing fleet is using a scout, you can stage the fleet >14 AU outside D-Scan range ready to warp while you use a cloak to remain hidden on-grid. In this circumstance you can let the scout jump in and pass freely, but when the rest of the fleet jumps in, decloak, pop a bubble and jump through the gate to the other side. You can also wait for them to decloak to try and catch them mid-warp to another celestial. Once your first bubble is up, your fleet can warp in and evaluate whether to engage, or understand if the opposing fleet is burning back to the gate. Repeat this tactic to keep them trapped and pick them off.
Similar to gate camping, the Interdictor can be used for station camping. The key difference is that ships attempting to leave station can always dock up, unless a kick-out station is being camped, which are stations that departing ships are immediately ejected out of the docking ring when undocking. When station camping, you are largely aiming to prevent ships from using their instant undocks that would normally allow a ship to escape from the docking ring of a station due to being already aligned with the undock. In this case your bubble will prevent them from reaching that point.
Fleet Operations and Key Highlights
- Establish clear expectations between you and your FC, and communicate your intentions. Some FCs will tell you to bubble anything you can, others want only sniping battleships, or logistics &c, others want you to bubble only on order. A bubble where your FC doesn't expect one can get your allies caught and killed.
- Always know where the Fleet Commander's safe warp to spot will be. Often this a POS or a spot near the Sun. This can be tricky, but you must ensure that your bubble would not be in line with this safe spot and prevent your fleet from warping out. They will get sucked into your bubble.
- Organize intelligence as early as possible, whether that is the background of the opposing pilots or the situations awareness of the field.
- You will be immediately primaried in most engagements.
- Continuously anticipate where you'll need to be, your available options, and update yourself on the most effective route there.