Revisiting the Rattlesnake LMJD PvE

The Kronos expansion included re-balancing changes to pirate faction battleships, including my beloved Gurista Rattlesnake. Previously, this was my favorite ship for running Level 4 missions quickly and efficiently, and after the latest changes, it still remains so. In this post, I revisit my previous recommendations for fitting the 'Snake for player vs. environment (PvE) tasks.

The beautiful and impressive Gurista Rattlesnake battleship

The beautiful and impressive Gurista Rattlesnake battleship

In order to determine how best to fit the Rattlesnake, we need to understand the impacts of the changes that Kronos brought to this ship, and what also remained the same.

  • Missile Changes

The 'Snake received two important changes to missile use. The most interesting and somewhat controversial change is the bonus for Gallente Battleship skill from a 10% increase per level in drone damage and hitpoints to a 10% increase in damage for kinetic and thermal missiles. Lore purists are scratching their heads on this one, as missile bonuses belong to the Caldari as a general rule, but the 'Snake gets this interesting exception. This means that pilots are going to be carrying Scourge (kinetic damage) and Inferno (thermal damage) missiles or torpedoes almost exclusively, as there are no damage bonuses for EM and explosive types (Mjolnir and Nova, respectively).

The Rattlesnake also received the ability to fit five missile launchers, one more than previously. Coupled with the new damage bonus, this represents a significant buff to missile damage potential, albeit at shorter ranges than the pre-Kronos version. Practically speaking, I've discovered that the trade-off of increased damage potential against shorter range doesn't matter too much, however - though pilots may have to navigate a bit more to get within range of more distant targets.

  • Drone Changes

The 'Snake has always been a great drone boat. I often called it "a Dominix on steroids". After Kronos, that is not exactly true anymore, but that does not mean that drones are no longer important on this ship. The role bonus changed from a missile bonus (50% increase in cruise missile and torpedo maximum velocity) to a 275% increase in damage and hitpoints for sentry and heavy drones.

This massive bonus is balanced by big decreases in drone bay size (from 400 to 175 m3) and in bandwidth (from 125 to 50 Mb/sec). This means that the 'Snake can now field only two sentry or heavy drones but these are functionally equivalent to 7.5 large drones. Therefore, drones need to remain a priority in any 'Snake fitting, but pilots will have to be more judicious about what drones they carry.

  • Still a Great Shield Tank

Everything else on the 'Snake remained the same as before, except for a slight reduction in armor hitpoints (from 9298 to 8940), which is not terribly important. This is due to the fact that the Cadari Battleship skill bonus remains at 4% improved shield resists per level, giving the 'Snake the potential for a very tough passive shield tank.

The Rattlesnake provides a unique mix of bonuses which emphasize drones, missiles and shield tank, making it ideal for Level 4 mission running and other PvE activities.

The Rattlesnake provides a unique mix of bonuses which emphasize drones, missiles and shield tank, making it ideal for Level 4 mission running and other PvE activities.

Fitting Philosophy: Distance-Tanking Sniper

Starting with the Retribution patch, non-player character (NPC) enemy ships began to attack drones more aggressively. Players had to adjust how they used their drones in missions in order to avoid losing them. In short, they had to pay more attention and withdraw their drones if they began to take on damage.

However, with the introduction of the Large Micro-Jump Drive (LMJD) module, a new strategy for completing Level 4 missions emerged. Pilots could jump away from NPCs and get at least 100 km of distance, and then deploy sentry drones, complemented by long-range missiles or guns, to snipe at targets at long range. This strategy also provided the benefit of staying out of range of most NPC weapon optimals and many, though not all, electronic warfare effects, thus reducing incoming damage significantly while maintaining fairly high damage per second (DPS) on targets.

The Rattlesnake was especially suited to this strategy, and it remains so despite the changes that Kronos has wrought. My previous recommended fitting provided for very lazy execution of Level 4 missions, with the ability to tap targets from over 200 km away with cruise missiles, drawing their attention, and then destroying them as they entered within drone control range of 120 km. A strong passive shield tank of over 112K EHP and high resistances helped make this a dream machine for earning decent ISK at fairly low risk.

The current incarnation of the 'Snake is also well suited to execute the same PvE strategy, but now pilots have to be more contemplative about their choices. Essentially, the current bonuses require choosing between maximizing drone control range versus maximized missile damage. Either choice works well, and depends mostly on your weapon preferences, but since you will continue to use both drones and missiles, it is mostly a decision based on degree of emphasis rather than on exclusivity to one type over another.

Tech II Modules, Drone-Emphasis LMJD Fit

If you prefer drones over missiles, as I do, then I recommend the following:

[Rattlesnake, L4 PvE, Tech II, LMJD, Drone Emphasis]
Damage Control II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range Script
Large Micro Jump Drive
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Optimal Range Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Optimal Range Script

'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
Drone Link Augmentor II
Drone Link Augmentor II

Large Sentry Damage Augmentor I
Large Drone Scope Chip I
Large Drone Control Range Augmentor I

Ogre II x2
Hobgoblin II x5
Warden II x2
Vespa EC-600 x5

Astute observers will note that this is very similar to my pre-Kronos recommended fitting, with only a couple of differences. First, I dropped the Signal Amplifier, since the ship's targeting range of 150 km should be adequate. This frees up a slot for another drone damage module. I picked Warden IIs in this example for their long range - over 105 km optimal and 68 km falloff. In this fit, I sacrificed a fifth missile launcher for another Drone Link Augmentor, which stretches drone control range to 123 km. The range for the cruise missiles is about 130 km with average missile skills (up to 148 if you have all missile skills trained to level V), so you'll need to plan your micro-jump to a location that keeps you within that distance from your targets.

The faction BCS modules are required to fit in the 'Snake's CPU limit, unless you have trained every relevant skill up to Level V, or if you install CPU-enhancing implants - in that case, you may also be able to fit Tech II cruise missile launchers, to give you a bit more flexibility. I've experimented with more blingy faction fits, and will suggest one below, but frankly, this lower-cost fitting works very well, and doesn't attract as much attention from enterprising gankers.

The DPS is 925 with my average missile skills (nearly 1,000 DPS is possible with all missile skills trained to V), with about 60% of damage coming from sentry drones. As you'll see shortly, that is less than a missile-emphasizing fit, but the drone control range is 24 km longer, giving you more time to select and pick off targets.

There is no longer any bonus for medium or light drones on the 'Snake. I carry a flight of Hobs only in case some speedy frigate gets too close. I recommend ECM drones for the remaining limited drone bay space, which are always handy if some troublemaker shows up to ruin your day. I find I very rarely need to use the Ogre heavy drones. However, I've also tried a Gecko heavy specialty drone to hilarious effect - a single Gecko puts out 770 DPS all on its own with this fit. Be sure to swap the Omni Tracking Link scripts from Optimal Range to Tracking Speed if you switch from sentries to mobile drones.

My recommended PvE Rattlesnake fitting emphasizing drones over missiles, using my average missile skills.

Tech II Modules, Missile-Emphasis LMJD Fit

If you prefer missiles over drones, then I recommend the following:

[Rattlesnake, L4 PvE, Tech II, LMJD, Missile Emphasis]
Damage Control II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range Script
Large Micro Jump Drive
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Optimal Range Script
Omnidirectional Tracking Link II, Optimal Range Script

'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
Drone Link Augmentor II

Large Warhead Calefaction Catalyst I
Large Drone Scope Chip I
Large Drone Control Range Augmentor I

Ogre II x2
Hobgoblin II x5
Warden II x2
Vespa EC-600 x5

The differences from the previous fit are:

  • Swapping a drone damage module for a missile-damage module
  • Dropping a Drone Link Augmentor for a fifth missile launcher
  • Changing the sentry drone damage rig for a missile damage rig
  • Swapping the faction BCS for lower-cost Tech II versions , since they can fit within the CPU limits

This fit adds a bit more DPS over the drone-emphasis configuration, but the drone control range is only 99 km, so your sentries will contribute less to the carnage. Stepping up to faction missiles raises DPS over 1,000. If you train all your skills to level V, then you can fit Tech II missile launchers and use Tech II Fury missiles, adding nearly 250 DPS over Tech I versions.

Between these two suggested alternatives, I prefer the one with drone emphasis, as it provides more overlap between the two weapon platform ranges, thereby giving you more opportunity to apply damage from both on the same target. It's a lazier fit to manage.

Recommended PvE Rattlesnake fit emphasizing missiles over drones, with my average missile skills.

Bring Out the Bling!

Just for fun, I experimented with some faction-focused fits, to see the relative differences in performance. Assuming all skills at Level V, here's one that is dripping with faction bling, guaranteeing that you will be an irresistible gank magnet:

[Rattlesnake, L4 PvE, Faction, LMJD, Drone Emphasis]
Damage Control II
Federation Navy Drone Damage Amplifier
Federation Navy Drone Damage Amplifier
Federation Navy Drone Damage Amplifier
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System

Dread Guristas Adaptive Invulnerability Field
Dread Guristas Adaptive Invulnerability Field
Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Targeting Range Script
Large Micro Jump Drive
Domination Target Painter
Federation Navy Omnidirectional Tracking Link, Optimal Range Script
Federation Navy Omnidirectional Tracking Link, Optimal Range Script

Caldari Navy Cruise Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Scourge Cruise Missile
Caldari Navy Cruise Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Scourge Cruise Missile
Caldari Navy Cruise Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Scourge Cruise Missile
Caldari Navy Cruise Missile Launcher, Caldari Navy Scourge Cruise Missile
Black Eagle Drone Link Augmentor
Black Eagle Drone Link Augmentor

Large Sentry Damage Augmentor I
Large Drone Scope Chip I
Large Drone Control Range Augmentor I

Vespa EC-600 x5
Warden II x2
'Augmented' Ogre x2
'Augmented' Hobgoblin x5

Rattlesnake, L4 PvE, Tech II, LMJD, Faction bling fitting in EVE Fitting Tool

Does this much, much more expensive fitting perform better than the previous suggestions? Yes, it does. DPS is over 1,100, about a 10% improvement. The shield tank resists are all about 5% or more higher, raising total EHP to more than 125K. Drone control range is 4K longer at 127 km. All nice incremental improvements, for multiple times the price of the Tech II fittings recommended above.

I used to think that a key to Level 4 mission running success was to stuff as much performance into each slot as possible - costs be damned! But practical experience has made me wiser. The relatively small incremental improvements that most faction modules provide are simply not worth the cost, and they only serve to make you a more attractive target. Like any fitting choice, the use of faction modules should be based on a specific and necessary reason - not just because they offer some slightly improved statistics. The use of the Caldari BCS modules in the first recommendation above, for example, are necessary to fit within the ship's tight CPU limitations. The fact that they provide better performance is a very nice benefit, but not the main reason for their selection.

Still, if you have more ISK than sense, feel free to bring out the bling. Just keep a very watchful eye on Local and your directional scanner at all times, and make sure you are aligned with a celestial. And be ready to feel very unhappy when the gankers inevitably come for you.

Your Mileage May Vary

I offer these suggested fits only as a starting place. Feel free to experiment and adjust these to align with your own preferences. Like everything in EVE Online, there is no one "right" or "perfect" fitting, and the revised Rattlesnake requires some interesting module choices to be made, in order to field it to optimal result, relative to cost and return on time.

For me, I enjoy flying the 'Snake because it chews through Level 4 missions with relative ease, and it requires only moderate attention and engagement. In short, it's a very relaxed boat to use when missioning, very effective at its job, and a lot of fun to fly. It does require some fairly high skills, but once you have them, this should be the ship to strive for if you intend to earn ISK from mission-running. You won't regret it.

Fly safe! o7

UPDATE: I made some minor adjustments to the recommended fits, thanks to some useful input from reader Chuck Maverick and others - thanks, people!