The Arazu: Queen of all recon shipsI have written previously in the Tribune that if you fly an Arazu your gang mates will love you. This is no lie. There are quite a few reasons why the Arazu is an absolute beast of a gang-support ship. It ain’t too shabby in others roles as well.
Months ago when my alt had trained Exhumers III, I felt that something lacking, somewhere, somehow. That something, it turned out, was a ship that wasn’t a floating target and a boring piece of scenery to fly. So began my quest to determine where my now non-miner would devote her skills.
Being that she wasn’t, at the time, PvP spec’d, I wasn’t quite sure what ship to train for and what role I wanted her to play. I wanted a fun, versatile combat ship. I settled on the Arazu largely because of its massive ability to support a gang as well as it’s adaptability to various situations. The roles an Arazu can be used in can be roughly broken down into several categories: gang support, solo ganking, probing, scouting, and cap ship support.
Let’s talk about something that’s not technically a stat, but still matters a lot in selection a ship… is its price. As the cost of a covert ops cloak has dropped, the price of the Arazu has risen. I bought mine for about 80 million several months ago. They’re selling for upwards of 125 million now. With the cost of the skillbooks you’ll need to fly it, this is not a cheap ship. With just skillbooks, cloak, and the ship itself you’re likely to pay at least 170 million if not more. But it’s worth every single ISK of the investment.
First, let’s look at the Arazu’s basic stats. It’s got four low slots, six medium, and four high slots, with three turret and one launcher hardpoints. You’ll have an automatic 25% bonus to remote sensor damper effectiveness and an automatic 25% bonus to medium hybrid turret damage. For each level you have invested in Recon Ships, you also get a 20% bonus on warp disruptor range and a substantial reduction in the CPU costs for your cloak. You’ll want to train Recon Ships up to at least IV, if not V. You also get an innate role bonus of 200-unit reduction in liquid ozone consumption for cynosural field generation and 50% reduction in cynosural field duration.
With a base CPU capacity of 420 (heh) and base 750 MW of powergrid, you will definitely benefit from carefully shepherding your resources. If you plan on fitting guns, having Weapons Upgrades trained up pretty high is a very good idea.
Since it is a Gallente ship after all, let’s also take a look at its drone capacity. With 40 m3 worth of drone bay space, this won’t be winning any prizes or carrying any real drone swarms. The best bet is to fill your bay with Warrior II’s as they will provide fairly reliable protection against small fast ships (which can really ruin an Arazu’s day). We’ll cover a gankage fitting, in terms of drones, later on.
This brings us to a second factor of major importance. The Arazu has 1294 base armor points, 1125 base shield points, and some fairly decent T2 resists... but nothing to write home about. It also only has four low slots and a rather pitiful speed of 180 m/s. It can mount a moderately effective tank but fitting it with heavy armor plating is generally a very bad idea. Most of the time your Arazu will live or die depending on how able you are at determining the range of an engagement. The slower you are, the more likely that you’re going to get popped. And all the armor in the world won’t save you if you get primaried within optimal weapon range. In general, if any big bad damage dealer can hit you, you’re half way to being ead. In most circumstances, you’ll want the best MWD you can afford, and possibly polycarbon engine housing rigs. T2 if you really want to blow ISK on the ship. We’ll get down to the nitty gritty when we look at specific roles your Arazu might fill.
As should be rather obvious to you if you’ve actually been reading this article so far, the role that the Arazu excels in is, far and away, gang support. This ship was born and bred to help roaming gangs find and kill prey. And at that role, there is no superior ship. Not quite as ideal for gatecamping, the Arazu comes into her own when hunting, stalking, and bringing down prey.
The Arazu’s covert ops cloak allows you to warp cloaked. This is essential when sneaking up on a target, and especially when exploiting your massive range bonus on warp scrambling. If you find a target at a belt, you can have your gang mates wait the next system over while you warp in at 40km, hit the scrams and your MWD to keep your target at the proper range, and wait for the cavalry to arrive. What’s more, you can easily mount two or three sensor damps (preferably muon damps if you can’t afford faction) and cut your opponent’s targeting range down to almost nothing.
If they don’t have a sensor booster fit, and if you say, have three damps, you should cut their range to something short enough that you can actually get close enough to slap a web on ‘em, too. Your gang will have wounded prey to take down, and it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Configuration for this type of hunting generally relies on range and speed, so your fittings should reflect this. Railguns are often preferable to blasters in order to compensate for your opponent possibly fitting sensor boosters. Remember, your Arazu is not a wtfpwnmobile, and if your target can lock you, you may be in big trouble. You want to stay out of their range and blast away with your rail guns. Depending on whether or not you’ll be hunting targets in safespots too, a probe launcher, cloak, and two T2 railguns should fill your high slots. And no, it’s not like you’ll be doing massive damage with your rails, but every little bit helps. If you’re not planning on busting safespots, add another railgun, of course.
Your midslots offer you a lot of room to play with. You should have, at least, a T2 MWD. That leaves five slots. After that, you need to consider what your average number of targets will be. If your gang is hunting lone ratters, then a single warp disruptor should most likely be all you need. Fit three (or four) sensor damps and a webber if you want, and you’ve got the potential to seriously hobble your opponent. If you’re hunting high-value prey, you might even want to spring for faction fittings on a few key slots. A Domination Warp Disruptor will boost your scramming range to ridiculous levels and allow you to stay well out of range of virtually any possible counter attack, especially once you factor in your sensor damps. With multiple targets you’ll need to decide if it’s worth it to sacrifice a sensor damp in order to fit a sensor booster, but you shouldn’t need it.
Lowslots are mostly a matter of personal preference, but I would strongly advise you to avoid any armor plates. Based on the theory that any significant amount of firepower will wither your Arazu in any case, kitting her out as a speed tank might be the route you go with. In that case, I-stabs and/or nanofibers can help you be a bit more nimble and help ensure that you’re the one who determines the range of the engagement. If you’re confident that your prey won’t be closing the distance (say you’re killing a battleship), and your engineering/electronics skills aren’t perfect, then filling your lowslots with cap relays becomes a good idea.
Rigs for this role can vary, but due to their nature you’re locked in to your choice once it’s made. A pair of Targeting System Stabilizers will allow you to lock a target much faster after you decloak, especially if you’re also willing to spring for a smokescreen cloak. Although, for most targets, a three of four second targeting delay won’t be a deal breaker. If you’re hunting something fast and strong, though, you may want to go with speed tanking rigs that’ll enable you to more effectively dictate the range of engagement. This becomes much more important if you’re going to be taking on multiple targets who might be coming at you from multiple vectors.
If you’ve worked this role out correctly, you should be able to get to a belt, catch a ratter before they have any chance to get away unless they’re already perfectly aligned, and get at least one or two damps and a point on them. Then your gang arrives and tears the prey to pieces with virtually no fear of reprisals. Heck, with a setup like this it’s fully possible for a cruiser gang of sufficient size, and a sensor damp or two among them as well, to take down your average ratting Raven.
Gatecamping with this fit can be problematic as you will have to fit a tank to deal with sentry guns in lowsec. And in any highly traveled location, you’re quite likely to have enemy support ships jump in right on top of you. Not good. 0.0 gatecamping becomes another matter, of course.
To be frank, this is not a role that the Arazu is really designed for. If you want a recon ship that’ll enable you to effectively operate and kill fairly large targets on your own, you’re going to want a Pilgrim, most likely. But if you’ve got your heart set on the Arazu, well, she can do the job depending on you target.
First off, here, the midslots are key. If you’ve got no backup coming, you will need to ensure that your target is properly neutralized. This means that you may very well fit a full four sensor damps. Yes, you will see decreasing returns with each damp you fit, but if you’re going after anything with any heft, then every little bit helps. If for some reason you’re going after a fast target and one that can hit hard (why God, why?) then you’ll want to switch out one of those damps for a webber.
Lowslots are, again, up to personal preference. You shouldn’t really need a tank assuming that you haven’t screwed up, so speed tanking is again preferable. If you insist on lowsec gate piracy (which, I must admit, is a good way to catch juicy haulers), fit the best tank that you can.
In that event, your mids will change a bit as you will absolutely want to slap on a webber to make sure that your prey doesn’t ever get a chance to escape. Your highs may change too as, depending on how heavily damped you have a target and your skills in gunnery, blasters might actually make sense. Rails should be sufficient for most targets though, and the way I see it, fitting blasters may very well tempt you to be reckless and get too close. If you’ve picked the wrong target that day and they manage to lock, scram, and web you… chances are it’s all over and you’re out quite a bit of ISK. You’ll need to decide for yourself if that temptation is worth it.
When solo ganking, you may want to fit a few medium drones with your light drones, or go for all medium drones. You’ll definitely increase your dps, but you’ll become more vulnerable to anything fast that comes to your target’s rescue.
The one area where solo ganking Arazus shine is in popping haulers as they align from a gate to their next jumpgate. In 0.0 space, with no other hostiles in the system, this is practically a free kill for you. Even in lowsec you should be able to tank the sentry guns more than well enough to kill and loot your target before escaping.
I wouldn’t, however, advise that you go after anything bigger than a cruiser. While you may be able to neutralize or destroy some BC’s, most BS’s will be able to fit tanks that will simply shrug off your damage. The best you can hope for in that type of scenario is to keep them scrammed long enough to annoy them so they pay you a minor ransom to simply go away and leave them alone.
Rigs for solo ganking will most likely be Inverted Signal Field Projectors or Particle Dispersion Projectors.
Look out, he’s got his probe!
Probing is a job that’s really best handled by the covert ops ships which get bonuses specifically for it. Still, an Arazu is a perfectly capable safespot buster. The only downside to this role is that you’re vulnerable to being probed out yourself when you decloak. This is not a trivial concern. If, for instance, you’re in a system where a major fleet battle is going on, getting solidly pinged by an enemy probe after you decloak and then having a ‘ceptor come screaming in at you, well… chances are you’re dead. Even if you manage to cloak after they probed you out but before any forces got to you, a ‘ceptor that has warped to zero on you should either decloak you or be able to cover enough ground in a flight pattern that he’ll come close enough that, again, your cloak will be busted.
If you’re thinking of using your Arazu as a dedicated safespot buster, you might actually want to consider fitting your lowslots with warp stabs. Anything (most likely a ‘ceptor) that’s able to run you down will either have backup on the way or be able to rip you apart by itself. Escape will be your first priority.
Rigs will be probably be Gravity Capacitor Upgrades.
If you’ve decided to go safespot busting in hostile territory, without gang support, where your opponents might be able to probe you out and catch you? And your lows are fit for ganking instead of escape? Well… good luck. But if your ploy pays off you just might be able to find an AFK ratter at his safespot. Hope he’s T2 fitted and pray that he’s not still ganged up with anybody while he’s away from his keys.
There really isn’t all that much to say about scouting. Being able to fit the covert ops cloak means that you are a natural born scout. In this role, fitting for combat is secondary or outright inconsequential. You will definitely want to read the covert ops bible that the Tribune posted a while ago. Remember that, in a gatecamp of sufficient size or with a bubble/’dictor, you become very, very vulnerable.
In this configuration speed tanking is pretty much a given. If you get locked, you probably get dead. Consider warp stabs if you don’t plan on firing back.
Still, flown right, recon ships are, rather obviously, dead brilliant at recon. Big surprise, I know.
Cap ship support:
With the Arazu’s bonus, you will be a natural cyno ship. With your covert ops cloak you’ll be able to get into position easier than almost any other ship class the game. When you’re fitting it, talk with your cap ship pilot to decide what your role will be. In hostile/contested territory, your best bet is most likely to drop the cyno and then get the hell out of there. The last thing a recon pilot wants is to be sitting next to a beacon on the overview that screams “there will be something juicy here to kill!”
If your cap ship pilot wants, or demands, that you stick around to provide defense… well… you’ll want to figure out exactly what type of defense you’re going to mount. Depending on whether or not you’re planning on mounting a serious pitched battle or merely a delaying action, your fittings will be something of a hybrid between the gang support and solo gank configurations.
But a cap pilot who seriously expects a lone Arazu to make the difference between life and death when a significant force is bearing down on you? Well, he’ll probably get you both killed.
And that, as they say, is that.
Fly safe and good hunting, Space Cowboys.
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