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EVE New Citizens Q&A

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Drone optimal range?

#1 - 2016-09-01 20:07:02 UTC
I'm looking to train my character to fly drones better and wanting to get a grip on the purpose of optimal range. So i understand optimal for ships, but when is my drone going to struggle to stay within optimal, is this only when trying to follow a fast or agile ship? Or will this have a more general benefit on my drone's abilities in combat? I'm mainly doing pve and lv4 stuff in my dominix. Should drone sharpshooter be something to worry about?
#2 - 2016-09-01 20:47:01 UTC
Drone optimal range is primarily an issue with Sentry drones the sharpshooting skill and Omnidirectional Tracking Link with range script are very useful. Normal drones will automatically orbit at their optimal range. Sentry drones are the weapon of choice for the Dominix running level 4 missions.
#3 - 2016-09-01 21:17:10 UTC
Do Little wrote:
Drone optimal range is primarily an issue with Sentry drones the sharpshooting skill and Omnidirectional Tracking Link with range script are very useful. Normal drones will automatically orbit at their optimal range. Sentry drones are the weapon of choice for the Dominix running level 4 missions.

Ah yes this makes a lot of sense, I had tunnel vision and forgot all about the sentries. My skills aren't quite there yet, but are sentries head and shoulders above regular drones for missions. I quite enjoy watching the little buggers go off to wreak havoc
#4 - 2016-09-02 08:55:53 UTC  |  Edited by: Do Little
Sentries have pluses and minuses - they are immobile and can be a pain to recover. Dominix has a sentry specific hull bonus for optimal range and tracking.

Fit a micro jump drive, sensor booster and a couple of drone link augmenters - you should be able to engage from well beyond 100km with Wardens.
#5 - 2016-09-02 09:06:20 UTC
There are several details to keep in mind for sentry drones that don't apply to other drones.

1. Sentry drones don't fly to their target. When you launch sentries from a ship, they just sit there in space. If you move your ship away from your sentries, to pick them up again you have to fly your ship back to the sentries, they can't come to you. This does have a benefit. Light, medium and heavy drones must fly to their target before they can shoot it, so they spend time not shooting while they are flying to the target. With sentry drones, they just turn from one target to another. As long as the target is inside their weapon range, the time spent not shooting is very small.

2. Not all sentry drones have the same weapon range.

Gallente Garde sentries have the shortest weapon range, approx. 40 km (some skills and modules can improve this but not by a lot). They also have the best tracking and can stay locked onto fast moving target better than any other sentry drones, but they still have limits. A fast moving frigate or destroyer that is close to them can outrun their target tracking. Garde sentries do thermal damage.

Amarr Curator sentries have a longer weapon range, approx. 55 km, but their tracking isn't as good as Gardes. Curator sentries do EM damage.

Minmatar Bouncers are a big step up in range, approx. 90 km, but have worse tracking than Curators. Bouncer sentries do explosive damage.

Caldari Wardens have the longest range, over 100km, and the worst tracking against close targets. Warden sentries do kinetic damage.

Be aware of your ship's targeting range. It's not much use using sentry drones that can shoot over 100 km if you can't target ships more than 75 km away. If you are going to use long range sentries (Minmatar and Caldari), plan to fit a sensor booster to your ship to better match your targeting range with the drone weapon range.

There is a setting you can change that makes your drones "passive" (they only shoot something when you tell them to) or "aggressive" (they will lock onto any target that is aggressive to you and start shooting it without you giving them any commands). The aggressive setting sounds useful, just launch your drones and let them shoot up everything in sight, but there is a hidden danger. In a mission where destroying one particular ship spawns a new wave of hostile NPC ships, aggressive drones may kill that trigger ship before you're ready to deal with the next wave. Aggressive drones can cause you to trigger too many hostile ships at the same time. When you are running a mission that has waves of ships which spawn in this way, it's better to keep your drones on a leash by setting them to passive, and leaving the trigger ship which spawns the next wave to be the last one you shoot at.

You can give orders to aggressive drones as if they were in passive mode, and your orders will override their own targets, but if you don't give orders to aggressive drones, they'll make their own orders up for themselves. You can switch between passive and aggressive mode in the middle of a fight, as many times as you want. You are not committed to either mode when the shooting starts.

Aggro mechanics for drones. Small NPC ships (frigates and destroyers) can target and shoot at all drones. Medium NPC ships (cruisers and battlecruisers) can target medium, heavy and sentry drones but generally ignore light drones. Large NPC ships (battleships) will ignore light and medium drones but can target heavy and sentry drones. You will find yourself needing to pull your drones back into your ship from time to time to prevent them from being destroyed by hostile NPC ships. Since sentry drones stay in one place after you launch them, you potentially tie yourself down to staying close to your sentries so you can recall them quickly if they get too much NPC aggro.
#6 - 2016-09-02 09:55:36 UTC
Dominix for missions/ratting:

Micro-Jump Drive + a normal MWD

Drone Link Augmentors in the high slots

Omnidirectional Tracking Links in the mids plus a sensor booster with range script

Drone Damage Amplifiers in the lows

Large Sentry Drone Damage Augmentor in a rig slot

Use the MJD/MWD to set range of @ 140km then stop and drop the Wardens and go to town.

Wardens really shine in this long-range setup.

Use Garde sentry drones at <50km with this set up - but really once the rats are closing in and you start taking damage, scoop the Wardens, pull back to 140km or so, stop, drop them and repeat.

Your max and optimum engagement ranges will differ with skills, tech level/faction modules and any boosts you might be getting from fleet.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional."

- Hunter S. Thompson

Gallente Federation
#7 - 2016-09-02 10:27:55 UTC  |  Edited by: Tsukino Stareine
There will be instances (mainly in pvp) where your optimal will matter. Drones are dumb and only have 2 speeds: fast and slow.

When the target is operating somewhere in between those 2 speeds, the drone will pulse it's mwd to get within orbit range and then shut it off when it reaches it.

So the better the optimal you have, the better damage you will apply when your drones are stopping and starting rapidly like this.
#8 - 2016-09-02 11:48:38 UTC
Great, thanks all for that.

The only thing I remain unsure about is what skills and modules affect what.

So the drone damage amplifier ii's I have jammed in my dominix, do those affect sentries?
Drone interfacing skill?
#9 - 2016-09-02 12:39:47 UTC
Dirt Nooch wrote:
When is my drone going to struggle to stay within optimal?

CCP balances everything this way: "make the ship or drone function as advertised, when all skills are trained to 5."

So your drones are supposed to orbit at their optimal range with their rated speed, but in practice it's like trying to orbit at 500 with an afterburner on: you'll orbit at about 2k and about 70% speed.

So the answer to that particular question is "all the time".
#10 - 2016-09-02 14:34:13 UTC
Dirt Nooch wrote:
Great, thanks all for that.

The only thing I remain unsure about is what skills and modules affect what.

So the drone damage amplifier ii's I have jammed in my dominix, do those affect sentries?
Drone interfacing skill?

Instead of writing an essay on drone skills, read this link.

Drone Damage Amplifiers affect ALL combat drones, including sentries.

Drone Link Augmenters increase the control range you have over your drones. +20 km for the T1 version, +24 km for the T2 version. For drones that move, it increases how far away from your ship they can fly. For sentries, it affects how far you can move your ship from your sentries and still give orders to them.

Drone Speed Augmentors increase the speed your drones fly at and they affect all light, medium and heavy drones but not sentries (since sentries don't move around).

There are also some drone rigs you can install in your ship. I can't remember all of them, just google "Eve drone rigs" and you'll find info on them. Drone rigs reduce the CPU capacity of your ship, so if your ship fitting doesn't have much CPU capacity to spare, it can be difficult to add a drone rig or two.

From my personal experience with sentry drones, the Drone Link Augmentor appears to also effect the range that sentry drones will start to shoot at, but I haven't made a point of testing this much.

If you look at the stats of a sentry drone, it has a stat called "Activation Proximity". All sentry drones have a range of 250 km for this stat. I *think* this stat means that if your sentries are set to aggressive, they can lock onto an aggressive target at that range, and will start shooting it as soon as that target is within the sentry's weapon range. I've seen long range sentries shoot at targets outside my ship's targeting range when the sentries are set to aggressive, so sentry drones have a longer targeting range than most ships.

When I've had sentries set to passive, and my ship's targeting range was noticeably longer than my drone control range, the sentries would not shoot at targets I had locked but were still outside my drone control range. The sentries in passive mode would only shoot at targets that were inside my drone control range. If you are using Gallente or Amarr sentries, their weapon range is less than your drone control range when you have the Drone Avionics and Advanced Drone Avionics skills trained up. On the other hand, the Minmatar and Caldari sentry drones have a longer weapon range than your drone control range can cover with skills, so a Drone Link Augmentor or two is very useful for attacking targets that are more than 60 km from you with sentry drones in passive mode.

Gallente Federation
#11 - 2016-09-02 23:33:01 UTC  |  Edited by: Tsukino Stareine
Little error on how drone control control range works. It's not how far you are from your sentries per se but rather how far the target is from you. Your sentries could be 250km away but if the target you choose is within your drone control range, they will attempt to fire because of that activation proximity attribute you mentioned
#12 - 2016-09-03 19:22:12 UTC
I prefer the regular drones over sentries myself.

Drone navigation computer + omnidirectional tracking link with tracking speed script + 2 drone link augmentors + target painter

They are my buzzing little friends.

My only friends.


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