Am I being lead Astro? Or is it just Cheetah-ing?

For a little while now my Faction Warfare alt, Xa, has been dabbling in 0.0 exploration, as an enjoyable income source. Since the market crash on exploration items, people seem to poo poo the profitability of exploration due to its risk and ish/hour income. However for me, most people fail to take into account a very important factor in their isk/hour calculations: enjoyment. If you don’t enjoy the money making process, you are less likely to log in and spend your time doing it.

 

Some people enjoy mission running, and likely do get very a high isk/hour rate because they enjoy it. But for me I find mission running (and indeed even 0.0 anom running) incredibly boring, and thus rarely log in to do them past a weeks’ worth of effort. Faction Warfare was another example of this. Here the theoretical isk/hour ratio is pretty stunning, but thanks to the main mechanic being watching a timer tick downwards and pressing a scan button, I bored quickly and stopped logging in for it.

 

0.0 Exploration so far has been a different kettle of fish:

 

Constant danger of death: check.

A good feeling of pissing someone off by invading their space and stealing ‘their’ money: check.

Gameplay which keeps me active from start to finish: check.

A good balance of Risk/Reward: check.

Sign me up.

 

So far Xa has been running around in one of my old haunts (where I happen to have a lot of bookmarks) doing regular sweeps of a large ring of Nullsec regions, running sites and earning money. It’s pretty good fun.

 

But now I am starting to wonder if I should start looking at upgrading my ship to the new Astro Frigate. So far I have been using a Cheetah fit like this:

 

[Cheetah, Exploration]

Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Damage Control II

Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

 

Data Analyzer II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I

Cargo Scanner II

Relic Analyzer II

 

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

Core Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I

[empty high slot]

 

Small Memetic Algorithm Bank I

Small Emission Scope Sharpener I

 

And it’s not bad. With Xa’s skills we have a 5 second warp time, a 3k sub warp speed with a virus at 40/120 for both Analysers. At 2.7k ehp It doesn’t tank (if you are caught your dead anyway). It also has the virtue of costing only around 30-40m fully fitted, should it get killed.

 

Now let’s look at the possible replacement, you guessed it, the Astero:

 

[Astero, Exploration]

Damage Control II

Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Nanofiber Internal Structure II

Overdrive Injector System II

 

Relic Analyzer II

Data Analyzer II

Cargo Scanner II

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I

 

Core Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II

 

Small Emission Scope Sharpener I

Small Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I

Small Hyperspatial Velocity Optimizer I

 

Warrior II x5

Hornet EC-300 x5

Hornet EC-300 x5

 

With this equivalent fitting, we have a 2 second align time(!). That’s crazy, simply crazy. To put that into perspective, let’s look at some locking times (all at level 5):

 

Instalock Cane (all sebo, T2 rigs + remote Sebo):

  • Astero: 2 seconds (2 second align)
  • Cheetah 1.8 seconds (5 second align)

 

Interceptor (1 sebo):

  • Astero: 2.6s (2 second align)
  • Cheetah:  1.5s (5 second align)

 

Interceptor (1 sebo +5 remote sebo)

  • Astero: 0.7s (2 second align)
  • Cheetah: 0.6s (5 second align)

 

This means that in a worst case scenario when you jump into a gate camp, the Astero only needs  the remote Sensor Boosted Interceptor to hesitate for a fraction of a second, whereas the Cheetah needs to sleep for a full 4 before it can escape, and against anything but a max boosted Interceptor, your chances of survival are almost 100%.

 

The Astero also sports a faster top speed at 3.5k under mwd, and you can pick one of your analyser modules to gain and additional 10 coherence over the equivalent Cheetah fit, or improve your scanning (you can only fit one of these rigs with calibration). The warp speed does suffer a little by comparison to the Cheetah at 5 au base, but in this fitting I have used the warp speed rigs to even this out at 7.5 (.5 au slower) incidentally these are some of the few rigs which will fit in the 150 calibration left. Not that it really matters, but the Astero does also have nearly 1k extra ehp at level V.

 

Drones are also an important factor, with the Astero sporting a fantastic 75m3 Drone bay allowing for either DPS drones, or GTFO EC drones.

 

All in all the Astero is pretty much better in every single way than the Cheetah (except hold space), except for one: The cost. Currently clocking in at 100m (at time of writing). Now no doubt this will continue to plummet as supply and demand begin to draw closer to each other, but just how far will it drop? I’m really no market analyst (nor an industrialist); so any prediction I might make is nothing more than guess work. But by comparison other popular Faction Frigates (the Dramiel &Daredevil) are around 50-60m each. So we are looking at a dramatic improvement, for roughly double (or even triple) the cost of the Cheetah.

 

Is it worth it? I’m drawn on this one to be honest. Yes the Astero would protect against Gate Camps, and has a better chance of survival if you are caught, but there is no bonus or module to improve capsular luck/skill. All it takes is a few seconds (with the new interceptor changes) of inattention to find a Tarnaris on top of you. Yes in this situation the warriors might help you kill a single frigate, or the EC drones might jam him long enough to escape, but if there is more than one ship on you, it’s “goodnight sweetheart”. Furthermore, if you are in Nullsec, there is nothing on board to escape a bubble camp, although the faster speed & align time will get you back to the gate quicker.

 

The question comes down to this: are you likely to lose three Cheetahs to fast locking gate camps for every one Stratios/Cheetah lost to inattentiveness? If so, the Astero might be a better choice. If not… well perhaps the Cheetah is good enough. That’s your call.

 

For me? Well. I don’t know yet. But the Astero is a very, very pretty ship…

 

Fly white,

 

Hark

 

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