More than a year ago, I wrote about my mixed impressions of the Golem. I actually trained my alt for 151 days to fly one, which even now sounds pretty mind-boggling to me. However, eventually I shelved my torpedo Golem and spent most of my time using a Tengu. Of course that meant more skill training, during which I bitterly cursed my folly in even training for Marauders in the first place, but at least the training for a strategic cruiser isn’t as bad.
So obviously, when I was looking at training my main in something new I chose to train him in Marauders too!
Ok, wrong game. However, to my credit the thought process that went into this wasn’t just “lets spin the skill wheel and see where it lands”. You see, my corp had a capital construction project in which members would sell their minerals to the corp, which then used corp BPOs to build capital ships which would be sold to corp members at a slight discount to market prices. So it was a win-win-win for both the miners to readily dispose of minerals (and for a good cause), prospective capital ship owners and the corp (which took a slight cut of the profits). I had been very impressed with Rooks and Kings triage carrier videos, so like a raving Iphone fanboy I went and signed myself up to get an Amarr Archon carrier for 1 billion ISK. So now I finally get to say “Carrier has arrived!” in my best Protoss voice while looking at my assets tab.
Flying a carrier was one of those far-off things that I wanted to do when I first started playing EVE. I always loved drone boats and a carrier is like a mega-Dominix and jump-capable Orca rolled into one. Too bad they can’t be used in high-sec… le sigh. Anyway, the reason why I could only look at it in my assets tab is because I didn’t have Amarr Battleship V, which WAS required for the Amarr Carrier skill before the skill changes in Odyssey.
So then I reasoned that hey since I’m going to be training for Amarr Battleship V anyway, why not look at the Amarr Marauder and see if it’s any good. I had large T2 lasers from training up for my Nightmare already, so that wasn’t a problem. I was mightily impressed by the firepower of the Nightmare from the few missions that I used it in, but the tank was slightly lacking by my admittedly lofty standards. At that time lasers used a bit more cap, and it takes a bit more effort to shield tank against EM/Thermal which is what I faced in Amarr space. Of course I didn’t want to re-rig the ship either since it was supposed to be my Incursion ship… yeah yeah it’s my own fault.
So enter the Paladin. Same Blood Raider melting power, but… aha! Armor tanked, which has naturally high EM/Thermal resists. And yes, I did end up splurging a bit on the fittings, especially the deadspace armor repairer and T2 cap rig but at least the performance boost was significant. I fit a MWD instead of an afterburner because I wanted to spend as little time as possible flying to far-off wrecks to salvage, it IS a Marauder after all and if I’m not going to salvage as I go then I might as well fly something else.
Part of it was also an experiment to see if it was just the Golem that I found annoying, or was it Marauders in general. The fact that I was previously running the Golem in Gurista space was also particularly annoying, since one of the weaknesses of Marauders is low sensor strength and those Guristas really love their bread and jamjamjamjam. At least in Amarr space you seldom encounter missions with jamming ships, so the Marauder might actually get to shoot once in a while instead of going through an endless cycle of “long locking time cos of low sensor strength…. oh hey jammed again”.
The result of the experiment was that yes, it was the Golem that was particularly annoying. I loved the Paladin, lovingly named Bubble Hearth in a tribute to my WoW days. I can imagine those Blood Raiders feeling particularly impotent wailing on a 750 dps tank that holds for 18 minutes. Even though the listed dps is only 709 without drones, much lower than the Machariel’s 865, in practice the Paladin definitely wins the damage trophy (obviously only in Amarr space) due to much better optimal vs falloff (58/16 vs 4/51 respectively).
However one thing that remained unsatisfactory, however, was the salvaging time. With only 2 tractor beams and 1 salvager, it still took way longer to salvage than to kill and it was still much more efficient to come back later with a Noctis, which kinda obviates the major selling point of Marauders. And so things remained through the dark days of Subscription Lapse… until…
With the Odyssey patch came Salvage drones, light drones that will automatically salvage any wrecks within drone control range and deposit the materials in your cargo hold. Of course, they don’t do any damage, although you’d think that being cut open with a welding torch would be detrimental to an enemy ship’s health. But in practice the loss in actual dps is not a big deal, since most of the time drones just spend their time flying willy-nilly through space anyway. Also if I’m not mistaken there was an update some time ago that gave Sleeper-like A.I to most enemies causing them to switch targets more = instant death to any drone except sentries. For some reason though the salvage drones tend to get left alone, maybe because they don’t attract any aggro? So I could just fit 3 tractor beams (that go out to 48km) and deploy drones at the start of a mission, and by the time I finish a room normally 90% of the wrecks have already been salvaged and I just have to spend time during the mission tractoring in the occasional loot can.
Of course, what’s better than 3 tractor beams and 5 salvage drones? The answer is : 6 tractor beams and 10 salvage drones!
The nerf to heavy missiles and the buff to cruise missiles now makes the cruise Golem, once the subject of cruel jokes in Caldari shipyards, a pretty deadly mission ship. The dps is inferior to a torpedo Golem of course, but at least it’s not Drake-level dps anymore. Compared to my old Tengu, the cruise Golem can lock 6 more targets at a further range, shoot further and does about 200 more dps (with fully selectable damage type compared to the Tengu’s kinetic-only missiles). PLUS, it comes with it’s own drone bay and 3 more tractor beams. Each launcher carries 30 shots instead of 20 like a torpedo launcher, and obviously range is of zero consequence with cruise missiles.
Overall I’m really happy with my double Marauder setup now. My Noctis has yet to be used (except for a particularly unfortunate voyage which shall be chronicled later). I almost never have to wait for drones to salvage anything and missions are really fun now, without a lot of the logistical hassle that I had to go through previously with bookmarking rooms and worrying about ninja-salvagers or dipshits ganking my Noctis. I did Angel Extravanganza plus bonus room a few nights ago with my Golem and Machariel (because lasers don’t do explosive damage…) and took exactly 1 hour 15 minutes from undocking to mission completion, with a side stop to pick up more explosive cruise missiles and salvaging every single thing in every room. Not bad for 44 million ISK in bounties, 50 million ISK in salvage and 4 million from the agent. Not including LPs (since I never spend them :|) that’s 78.4 million ISK per hour which is almost Incursion level income.
In fact, guess what I’m training for right now? Mmmm… Minmatar Battleship V is on the way…