Number two on my all-time kill list is a new entrant that has been climbing the charts since it was first introduced to Eve Online - the Astero. We had many early adopters in Stay Frosty for this feisty little Frigate including my good friend Joffy who made it his signature ship for years. As for me, it has always been a regular choice that does a tremendously great job at a couple of things. With over 400 kills in the Astero it has now become second on my all time list.
Many pilots in Low Sec spend a lot of time thinking about counter-fits and counter-ships that will be unexpected, get fights, or solve certain problems. The great thing about the Astero is that it successfully does all of these things in one hull. The Astero is an exploration frigate designed to be a great platform for probes and data analyzing (whatever that is) and it gets a hefty role bonus for those roles. Which means it is most often seen cloaked up somewhere by people looking for non-PvP content. Which is great. Because it is the racial bonuses that make the ship sing for those of us with a more nefarious bent. 20% per skill level to drone hitpoints and a drone bay that can carry three rounds of light drones. And a 4% per skill level bonus to armor resists. Both of those are hefty bonuses for a frigate that can also cloak.
To give you a sense of the tank you can get with this ship I'll tell you that I've faced off against Hawks in it on many occasions and left the field still in my ship. While those fights come down to neither of us breaking the other's tanks, it just goes to prove how resilient this ship can be when fitted properly.
Seeing an Astero on d-scan doesn't immediately give your intended enemy the idea that you are out to get them. Most often, people are surprised by the ship and the insane tank it can bring with it. While being cloaked up 90% of the time means you remain relatively unseen and sneaky in your presence. Which makes the ship perfect for sneaking up on people. There are pilots, like my friend and fellow Alliance member JoeBane, who have made the ship the cornerstone of their entire PvP play style. Personally I don't like flying the same ship all the time, but to each their own. Right now, in the current meta, if I was going to pick a ship to commit to - it probably would be the Astero.
While the Astero can go toe-to-toe with some of the best AF tanks in the game, it does have certain weaknesses. Here is an example of a loss I had awhile back against a Daredevil. The Astero has a good long-term tank, but it isn't built to withstand a lot of dps being applied quickly. (Few ships are) And sliding into webbed blaster ships like the Daredevil, Comet, or others is going to end poorly. That fight is a great example of poor decision making on my part. I knew better. But I took the fight anyway.
It is also slow. And while I have seen people try to fit them with MWD and make them speedy, in my opinion that approach just doesn't work. You have to sacrifice so much of what makes the ship good in order to get there, that it just isn't worth it.
As always the success or failure of your ship choices comes down to Target Acquisition. It isn't a skill you train in-game, it is a vital skill that only comes from your own experiences. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the ship you are flying and what encounters you should be engaging in is the key to successful PvP in Eve Online.
There is no magic answer. No ship will guarantee success. It is only the careful application of all aspects of this game that can give you the edge you need. And while the Astero is a great, fun, and potentially powerful ship - it isn't perfect.
As we'll see in the next installment, often the meta changes under your feet and a once powerful ship can lose its edge rather quickly.
Join me next time when we discuss the Imperial Navy Slicer.