Spider tanking

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Spider tanking is a fleet tactic in which ships mount remote armour repair modules so they can repair each other. Properly managed, this can be extremely powerful. However, there are viable counter-tactics.

All or most of the ships in a spider-tanked gang fit one or two high slot remote repair modules. When one of their ships is attacked, the group targets that ship with the remote repair units. In this way, the repair power of the whole group can be focused on the one vulnerable ship. When the opposing force switches targets, the repair target also switches. This is more powerful than having a self-repper (local active tank) on each ship, because, first, for (n) ships, you can get the repair power of (n-1) repping units focused on one ship and, second, remote repair is more effective than local repair.

Tools

  • Remote armour repairers are typically used for spider tanking. These require high slots.
  • Each ship must have some local armour buffer tank, to survive until reps land.
  • Each ship with remote reppers fitted usually needs a capacitor booster and cap booster charges to sustain the extra capacitor load.
  • Armour command bursts can boost the tactic's effectiveness.

Strengths

  • Spider tanking is not obvious from a fleet's ship composition, unlike the presence of a logi wing. A spider-tanked gang or fleet might initially appear to opponents to be locally-tanked, and therefore weaker than it is.
  • Spider tanking offers a stronger sustained tank than local active tanks would.
  • There are no logistics ships to be volleyed / jammed / booshed off: by distributing the logistics function, spider tanking makes that function less vulnerable and forces opponents to distribute their countermeasures too.

Limitations

  • Fitting trade-offs -- Obviously, some high slots on the ships are occupied by repair units. Less obviously, the capacitor requirements of the remote reppers require either a cap booster unit, with limited bulky charges, or other cap-enhancing modules. All this takes away from the offensive capability of the ship. Also, if cap boosters are employed, repair is only available until you run out of incredibly bulky booster charges.
  • Limited mobility -- A remote repair unit on a ship without bonuses for it has a very limited range (under 10km). All ships in the group will have to stay together for mutual support. In practice, this means that the ships don't usually move at all. This makes remote repairing gangs briefly vulnerable when they jump through a gate since they are unlikely to all arrive on the other side within remote repair range of each other.
  • Locking limits -- every friendly ship you've targeted is one fewer enemy ship you can target.
  • Coordination -- all gang members must keep track of broadcasted requests for repairs and/or orders over voice comms, and respond to them by targeting the right allies and activating their repairers, all the while still shooting at the enemy.

Counter-tactics

There are several tactics you can try against a spider-tanked battleship gang.

  • ECM, plus lock-time-increasing sensor dampening.
    • Widely spread ECM is the best way to mess up a remote repair operation -- you want to spread the ECM out over the whole RR fleet for best effect.
    • Increasing lock time with sensor dampeners increases the effect. In a perfect world, every ECM ship would be paired with a dampener buddy to damp ships that had just been jammed -- but that kind of coordination is tough.
    • Note that RR gangs often fit ECCM to try to counter this counter -- though this further gimps their fit, using up a valuable midslot.
    • RR gangs often also carry flights of ECM drones themselves, to try to jam enemy RR gangs.
  • Neuts -- Heavy energy neutralizers on the non-primary target can shut down their remote repair. If they use cap boosters, you'll force them to use up their booster charges faster.
  • Massive firepower -- If your fleet can switch targets and do enough damage to a ship to destroy it before its friends can target it (probably with high alpha), you can pick them off one by one.
  • Persistence -- since many fits of this nature rely on cap boosters, force them to use up those boosters.
  • Movement: try to control the range of the battle, capitalizing on the spider-tanked gang's lack of mobility. If they're fit with blasters, fight them at 30km. If they're fit with long-range guns, get close. They have to coordinate their movements, and if you're lucky, you might pull one spider-tanked ship out of remote rep range of the rest of its gang. You can also try to take advantage of a spider-tanked gang's need to stick together by attacking them just after they've jumped through a gate.

See also