Monday, 25 November 2013

My Thorax skirmish doctrine: Thorax best Rax?

Recently, as a result of my nagging(!), my alliance has begun trialing a skirmish thorax doctrine to replace our pre-odyessey tech 1 cruiser doctrine.

What follows is NOT a fit for soloing and it does have a high skill point requirement due to the Reactor Control Unit II ("RCUII"). The doctrine is meant to be flown with logistics ships and is meant to be lead by a fleet commander ("FC").

More ~after the break~!

The fit is as follows: 

Readers familiar with fitting Thoraxes might notice some unusual choices. Why have I chosen to use meta 4 guns instead of tech II equivalents? Why does the fit not use a full flight of medium drones? Why do the guns have uranium loaded by default? All will be revealed ~after the break~!

Gun choices

When I was brainstorming the fitting there were three choices of medium railgun:
  1.  250mm tech II
  2.  250mm Prototype Gauss Gun (meta 4)
  3.  200mm tech II 
While I eventually chose the 250mm prototype gauss gun, I tried really hard to make 250mm tech IIs work. Sadly the fitting requirements make it basically impossible to combine 250mm IIs, a large shield extender and a  micro-warpdrive. The closest I came was the following:

Evidently the amount of fitting modules on this fit is an immediate negative. You lose a number of things from the meta fit as a result of using tech II 250s. Firstly, you trade your second adaptive invulnerability field for a second shield extender. This allows you to use up the extra power grid you gain by adding the second RCUII needed to fit the tech II 250s. However as a result you also lose the tracking enhancer to fit that RCUII. Further, you lose a core defense field extender to gain additional CPU.

Overall this fit gains ~2000 extra shield hitpoints, tech II railgun ammo and ~30 additional dps. It loses 3km of optimal and the tracking bonus of the tracking enhancer. It also loses the better resist profile of the meta fit.

One other possible option to fit tech II 250s is the following:

Now evidently this requires some implants but it does allow you to get away with tech II 250s with only one fitting mod. The bad news is that the 3% power grid implant is about 20-30mil ISK and you also need a CPU implant! When you start spending that much on implants, on a nul-sec roam cruiser (where your pod may die) you may as well just fly a battlecruiser or a faction cruiser.

So 250mm tech IIs were out. The next viable weapon system was 200mm tech IIs. This was my potential fit:

With 2 tracking enhancers plus 200mm railguns (which track better than 250s), the tracking on this fit is the best of those discussed thus far. There is also no noticeable DPS reduction on the meta 250s and you unlock tech II ammo. The disadvantage of this fit is range. Yes that is a 23km optimal with uranium. Compare this to the 250mm meta fit above which gets a 30km optimal with the same ammo type. That discrepancy is only going to increase as you switch into longer range ammo. As such, when this fit needs to use uranium, the 250mm meta fit can use antimatter. Therefore the DPS on this fit is actually significantly lower if you are comparing DPS plus damage projection rather than just raw DPS.

Now, this fit is probably great for soloing. Drop one invulnerability field for a warp disruptor II and you should be able to happily take on other cruisers and frigates. However for a skirmish fleet doctrine that range reduction is a deal breaker. I do not want to fight at 25km in a Thorax, I want to be around 35km. Nor do I want to trade a DPS reduction with 200mm tech II fit to make up the lost optimal.

My fixation on staying at around 35km is because I want to stay out of range of short-range medium weapon systems. A heavy pulse laser with scorch, rage heavy assault missiles, medium autocannons, blasters are all well out of range if you are fighting at 35km. The situation becomes far more precarious at 25km when a small anchoring error or failure to pulse micro-warpdrives will take you into their killbox. Fighting in range of medium short-range weapons, with the below-average tank on a shield thorax, is a recipe for disaster.

In short, in a skirmish situation I prefer the additional range of the 250mm meta guns over the superior tracking and lower range of the 200mm tech IIs.

Why no medium drones?

The Thorax has a 50m3 drone bay so can support a flight of medium drones. However I chose two flights of light drones instead. This is because I would rather have the added flexibility a flight of warriors and jamming drones provide than the additional DPS of a medium flight.

5 Hammerhead IIs with maximum skills add 160dps to this fit. 5 Warrior IIs provide 100dps. I would gladly trade the additional 60dps for a second flight of e-war drones and the ability for my drones to apply effective damage to frigates. Further, if the fleet has deployed drones and then has to leave the field before the drones can be withdrawn, you still have a spare flight for the next engagement. Finally, don't underestimate the power of EC-300s in a small-scale engagement. They can be used to great effect jamming logistics or tackle frigates that have scrammed your Thoraxes.


I think the Thorax is one of the best skirmish tech 1 cruisers in the game currently. It is fast, has excellent tracking, a sizeable drone bay and solid damage projection. Give it a try!

My recommended fit is in text format below:  

[Thorax, Skirmish]
Damage Control II
Reactor Control Unit II
Tracking Enhancer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I

250mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge M
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge M
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge M
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge M
250mm Prototype Gauss Gun, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge M

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Warrior II x5
Hornet EC-300 x5

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