Ninja Ratting

As you may already know, ratting in nullsec is one of the fastest ways to gain security status. However, for those not in a nullsec alliance, nullsec ratting can be quite challenging, as not only must they have enough DPS and tank to kill NPCs, but they must also be able to stay (relatively) safe while doing so.

Several ship classes can meet these criteria to greater or lesser degrees, but one greatly neglected type is the stealth bomber. Stealth bombers are cloaky T2 frigates that have battleship class firepower but less EHP (effective hit points) than rookie ships. The cloakiness and impressive firepower clearly are desirable traits, yet the paper thin hull poses quite a problem.

The most obvious way to attempt to solve this is to speed tank: simply orbit the NPC battleships at around 50 km, fire torpedoes at them, and use a microwarpdrive to stay away from the battleships’ smaller escorts. However, this method is very ineffective, as NPC cruisers hit MWDing bombers quite easily, and one mistake will put a stealth bomber in armor or hull (and repairing can be difficult while deep in nullsec).

So at first glance, this lack of tank appears to make stealth bombers unsuitable for ratting. But the stealth bomber has a special method of tanking that few others have: stealth tanking (yes, I coined the term). Stealth tanking is strategically using your cloak to prevent enemies from getting a chance to even target you (obviously this does not work against Sleepers, who can see through cloaks). This takes advantage of the fact that stealth bombers have no module/targeting reactivation delay after uncloaking, and can recloak after fifteen seconds. The concept is quite simple, but some quirks in NPC targeting behavior make this more complicated than it appears. Here is how to ninja rat.

Choosing an appropriate ship. Select a stealth bomber with damage bonuses against the NPCs that you plan on killing. For example, use a Purifier on Sansha rats and a Hound on Angel rats. Fit a target painter to increase DPS and a MWD to help you escape bubbles and increase your mobility.

Warping. Once you have reached a suitable nullsec system for ratting, set a custom warp distance of 10 km (do this by right clicking on your “warp to” button and changing the default from 0 to 10,000). Why 10 km? Warping to 0 can be dangerous, as everyone lands at that range. Warping to 100 km is another favorite warp range, and it places you too far away from the rats. And warping to anywhere between 20 and 70 km will usually land you amidst the asteroids, causing you to decloak and start bouncing off of asteroids. Warping to 10 km, on the other hand, places you just inside the asteroid belt’s circle while staying clear of the very center.

Landing in a belt. If you get decloaked upon warping in at 10 km, move away and recloak as soon as possible. If the belt has scrambling frigates (“loyal” frigates for Sansha), then move on to another belt. If you get scrambled, you will die nearly instantly. If you arrive at a belt and find that you are too far away, you can decloak, MWD closer, and recloak after 15 seconds before getting targeted (I will explain why in an upcoming blog post).

Attacking. Once you cloaked are in a belt with battleship rats, you can begin attacking. Uncloak, fire two volleys, and recloak right after the second volley is fired. Wait 15 seconds before repeating the process. You can cloak while your second volley is still en route to the target because your launcher and painter still finish their cycles after recloaking. However, you will need to get to within around 30 km of the rats, because if the launcher and painter finish their cycle before your torpedos hit, the torpedoes will simply vanish without inflicting any damage.

Ninja ratting is a fairly exacting art, as you cannot simply warp in, activate all your modules, and wait for the NPCs to die. But what benefits do stealth bombers have in comparison to other ships? Here are a few:

Safety. Stealth bombers, like their covert ops cousins, are among the best ships for getting through gatecamps. In addition, if you are jumped while ratting, it is quite easy to get to safety by cloaking and warping off. You can also scout out areas while cloaked, which other ships cannot do.
Stealth bombers can kill most NPC battleships in 6 volleys. In addition, NPCs do not repair damage taken while you are cloaked.
Being frigates, stealth bombers can outrun larger ships both in and out of warp.
Low cost. First, cheaply fit stealth bombers cost a mere 30 mil ISK, a price comparable to T1 cruisers. Second, they only use three torpedoes per volley; at 6 volleys per battleship and 100 ISK per torpedo, you only spend 1800 ISK per battleship on ammo. And third, repair costs for stealth bombers are extremely small, around 40,000-80,000 ISK to fully repair hull and armor damage.

In conclusion, if you are planning on ratting in hostile nullsec, consider using stealth bombers, as they are safe, powerful, fast, and cheap.

I hope this guide has been helpful; please leave any thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comments below.

    • Squizz Caphinator
    • December 17th, 2009

    Finally, someone else besides me and my corpmate who rats in stealth bombers.

    It’s the best way to do it :)

  1. Never tried this, but wont the rats lock ye up pretty quickly and you will be unable to cloak?

    Did not think sensor damps worked on npc´s :)

    • Yes, sensor damps do not work on NPCs. But if you follow the instructions given here, they will never lock you in time. In a future blog post, I will explain why this is the case in greater detail.

    • Jason
    • December 18th, 2009

    An Enyo can kill BC rats, I like the ishtar as well, you can fit both to GTFO if trouble arrives fairly easily.

    • But an SB can kill BS rats. :) The Ishtar also has a lot more trouble getting through gatecamps and escaping from interceptors that may jump it.

  2. Very interesting write-up. I’ve got a covops associate who could fly SBs but really hasn’t found a reason to do so. I look forward to your future post on the topic.

    • Ginta Suiseiseki
    • December 31st, 2009

    I rat pretty much in a stealth bomber now; my drake is used only for plexing.

    I am mostly shooting Guristas, so my nemesis works pretty well against them. :) It has a combination of speed tank and passive recharge + shield booster if frigs shoot a bit too much. Frig + destroyer size rats 1-2 volleys..cruisers a bit more. BC the same. Battleships from 5-15 volleys with thermal torps.

    At the moment when I kill the frigates and cruisers, I go and orbit the bs at 1km. With an afterburner pretty much permarunning, it is LOL damage. as..
    21:04:35 Combat Juggernaut Torpedo belonging to Guristas hits you, doing 1.4 damage.
    And me doing:
    21:05:48 Combat Your group of Caldari Navy Inferno Torpedo hits Guristas Extinguisher, doing 1497.9 damage.
    On the shield; armor gets more.

  3. Your tactic is great if a little slow. You don’t have to worry about local as much because you are more likely to be cloaked when you get new adds to the system then you are to be uncloaked. It’s gotten to the point with SB’s I don’t even try to scan them down beyond counting how many seconds they stay on my scanner.

    If you remain uncloaked like mentioned in a comment above, you stand a much better chance of getting killed, although still small, from a passing player. Besides cloaking while warped is pro.

  4. Thanks for this post. I can fly SB but haven’t bothered since I let the Gallente Sentry Guns in Hevrice blow my last one up while taking out AFK haulers.

    Now I have another good use for a Nemesis when I’m not lost in w-space. I need to figure out where that post describing the locking mechanics is now.

    BTW, sorry for the late response, I’ve been away for most of the holidays.

    • Oh, I haven’t finished writing the post on locking mechanics. It’s nearly complete, but I am doing a little more testing before I post it to make sure that everything I say is accurate. :)

      EDIT: Post is here.

  5. You’ve convinced me. Wensley ratted in a cloaky Vaga, but this seems so much safer.

    • InterDict
    • January 11th, 2010

    I successfully ratted myself from -9.9 to -2.4 using a manticore out in Solitude, sadly it wasn’t 0.0 space so it took a bit longer.

    I agree with all your points but would like to add that in most cases rats have a specific spawn point within the belt. If I knew I was going to be frequenting the same systems for a while I would warp to the belt at ten, do a single mwd-cloak cycle directly upwards, you need between 30 and 50km above the belt, then I’d sneak to a spot directly above the spawn point and bookmark it using the belt-name.

    The advantage of this is that you have a warpable bookmark directly above the spawn point but also high enough above the belt to not get decloaked by those god-awfully huge mounds of rock. Of course this works best in lowsec or if you’re lucky enough to have found a very quiet string of 0.0 systems!

    Also don’t forget to pop a BS, and move into the next system or wait out the 15 minute timer before popping another rat to maximise your security gain, if you’re ratting for isk it’s worth getting some chains going.

    Fly reckless (but you already are)…

    • Eric
    • January 28th, 2010

    Did something change?

    Everything was going like the guide says, then at some point i uncloak and 2secs later im being targeted and 3 secs later pop goes my 30mil ship XD

    • As far as I know, nothing has changed. Did you wait long enough (15ish seconds) before decloaking? If they still target you very quickly after you wait longer (15+ seconds), then let me know. Also, you should always keep moving while uncloaked, just in case you do get targeted.

        • Eric
        • January 28th, 2010

        Wow that was my mistake…. i did uncloak not long enough after cloaking.

        Thanks for your reply, i will give it a shot again.

    • Chivalry
    • September 8th, 2012

    Well… today I was all alone in 0.0 and bored I almost considered mining in high sec with an alt…

    Wondering what to do i searched around a bit after eve stuff :) after a bit I found this post, and was lucky enough to find a manticore and suitable fittings in the station I was in.

    I spendt the next hours ratting in my Manticore :)

    Thank you for this lovely guide!

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