The Tristan: When Diversity is Deadly

This article is less of a fitting guide for the Tristan and more of a love letter to a hull that represents the absolute beauty and complexity of EVE. If you check my killboard, you’ll notice I don’t fly a lot of Tristans in small gang or solo PVP, but this does not mean I am a stranger to them. In fact, Tristans are a very popular ship in lowsec and I have found myself fighting them very frequently. In a previous article I wrote about catching kiters I noted that one of the most important parts about being successful in PVP is knowing which fights to take. If you’re heading into a battle against a ship that shoots rockets and you have a couple of tracking disruptors in your mids, you’re probably not going to be pleased by the outcome.

Ships with a limited number of fitting options (or different concepts you can apply to the hull) are my favorite sort of target to engage. No surprises, no tricks. You know (or at least you should know) if you’re going to engage an Imperial Navy Slicer that it is going to be quick and kitey, the same could be said for a Condor. There are not many ways people choose to fit these ships because, frankly, their hulls are tailored too specifically to a certain strategy to be useful doing anything else.

The Tristan represents the other end of the extreme for frigate combat. With this ship, its diversity is what makes it so deadly. If I roll up to a Novice Plex and there’s a Tristan on short scan I almost am required to research the potential pilots who could be red boxing me. Even if I do, if the pilot likes flying a variety of ships, I may not be able to determine what exactly I’m up against. The hull coming at me could be a brawler, a neuter, a kiter, a scram/web null-shooting-scourge, or anything in between. You can fit Tristans for shield and speed or be just as effective with an AB and an armor plate. You can use neuts in place of guns and still pack a punch or load Void and smash ships with 200 DPS. There are so many options it’s hard to even keep track – and there are not many ships in the game that boast such a wide array of options.

I like flying slow, lumbering ships that hit hard and tank even harder – but if I see neuts I have no choice but to run away. I can’t make that call against a Tristan pilot until it’s too late. Similarly if I’m flying in a kitey Federation Navy Comet and the Tristan coming in is quicker than me and fit with a scram, I could get tackled and in for a real close fight in short order. Granted, fighting a Comet in a Tristan is no laughing matter for the Tristan pilot. But if you compare the cost of the two ships, a Tristan will threaten a Comet far more than you’d think when you look at the comparative size of each hull’s lossmail.

Imagine yourself, for a moment, in the scenario I just laid out. You’re in your Novice-friendly combat frigate of choice (leave your wet dream pirate frigs out of the equation, please, you nerds). You land at 10km off of the Acceleration Gate to a Novice plex. There’s a Tristan inside and, apart from you and him, Local is clear. Everyone with a hard-on for 1v1s is likely closing their eyes and licking their lips over the awesome heads-up mano-a-mano dogfighting about to take place. Now consider for a moment your mental preparation right before you punch the gate. What are you doing when you land on grid, exactly? Are the correct mods pre-heated for action? Most importantly, what do you think he will be doing? To be honest, you cannot ever 100% definitively predict the correct answers to these questions in this situation. But with the Tristan and its versatility, the potential correct answers to this question are so numerous that you basically need to hope there isn’t a hard counter on the other side of that gate.

What’s going through my mind if I’m in my trusty dual rep Incursus? That I might be up against some permutation of the following Tristan architypes:

Pure Speed Kiter

The Concept: Shield tank, a couple Drone Damage Amps in the Lows, and then your choice between a bit of tank in the form of a Damage Control or some more speed with a NanoFiber. Rigs to taste, many ways to go with that. Speed is life. You’re tackled? You’re dead. Stay away from any DPS and let your drones do the dirty work. For the most part, leave your high slot modules back in station, they won’t be necessary here.

An Example Fit:
[Tristan, Standard Kiting Tristan]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II

5MN Microwarpdrive II
Warp Disruptor II
Medium F-S9 Regolith Compact Shield Extender

(empty high slot)
(empty high slot)
(empty high slot)

Small Capacitor Control Circuit I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I

Hobgoblin II x8

(Note that for this concept and all the others I discuss, there are MANY MANY ways that this “architype” of Tristan can be fit. What I suggest in this section is merely one of the commons ways someone could fit this particular flavor of Tristan.)

How I’d Fight It In My “Incursus Scenario”: Catching this guy is the name of the game. I’d better come correct with my slingshot game and hope that this guy is lazy and decides to use the automatic orbit button rather than skillful manual piloting. In the meantime, keep a repper running to counteract the drone damage and pop a few drones if I can. It helps if the guy is not paying attention to drone damage and isn’t constantly recalling damaged drones for a quick repair. If he is, you’re in for a long fight…

Pure Armor Brawler

The Concept: This hull is not terribly difficult to fly as you don’t have very many options here. Tackle whatever you’re trying to kill and then apply them DPSes. Frankly, the fact that you can go from a kitey frig that goes 3km per second with great damage projection (as above) to something that has 7k EHP and 200DPS in the same hull is absolutely amazing.

An Example Fit:
[Tristan, Armor Brawling Tristan]

200mm Steel Plates II
Damage Control II
Adaptive Nano Plating II

1MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner
Warp Scrambler II
Stasis Webifier II

Light Neutron Blaster II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Neutron Blaster II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S
[empty high slot]

Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I

Hobgoblin II x8

How I’d Fight It In My “Incursus Scenario”: Stay nimble enough to avoid this guy if he loads Void. I may be able to tank his DPS but I have been caught before by this fit if they close distance and you’re not paying attention. This thing will churn out almost 200 DPS but it’s very difficult to apply it fully. If I was in a super-perceptive mood I might even notice that his armor is tanking like a boss. If that’s the case, I would buckle in for a long fight and if he’s kiting I will take the extra time to pick off his drones to try to thin out the DPS on the field. Unless you’re in something gank fit shooting explosive DPS, chewing through 2k worth of armor hitpoints that coupled with everything else amount to almost 7k of EHP is not normally something you do in an instant. I’d be looking to mitigate the damage first, then go to work on wearing down his ship.

Scram/Web Kiter with Rails

The Concept: Very nice DPS with a defensive neut in the high just in case. Cap might be a problem but if you’re doing it right you should be able to use the ancillary repper to keep yourself afloat until your drones and rails annihilate whatever is on the other end of your scram/web. If somehow you can’t dictate range in this thing, brawling will still do fine. You get a tracking bonus from your hull so your rails are completely useless and, once again, you have 5 angry Hobgoblins buzzing around your target even if you’re AFK making a sandwich. I really love sandwiches.

An Example Fit:
[Tristan, Rail ScramKite Tristan]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Damage Control II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

Warp Scrambler II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
1MN Y-S8 Compact Afterburner

75mm Gatling Rail II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S
75mm Gatling Rail II, Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S
Small Infectious Scoped Energy Neutralizer

Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Transverse Bulkhead I

Hobgoblin II x8

How I’d Fight It In My “Incursus Scenario”: Ugh, this is going to be a long fight if this guy is a competent kiter. I can likely hold off his DPS if I can keep harassing/picking off his drones because his rails won’t even be close to enough DPS to hurt my tank. That said, I don’t exactly have fantastic damage projection on him either even with Null. If he has a trick up his sleeve like an active repper then my money’s on this being a stalemate or a third party getting involved because we’ll be duking it out for 30 minutes and someone is bound to stumble upon us.

Neuts Brawler

The Concept: All-in-all a very nasty fit. Generally hull tanked, maybe an Ancillary Armor Repper for extra staying power. Two neuts in the highs. Gotta be Afterburner/Scram to fit all that, and you’ll need a cap injector to keep those neuts humming along. This ship can tank very well will and can suck any cap-intensive fit dry all while its five DDA-buffed drones are making your life increasingly difficult.

An Example Fit:
[Tristan, Neuting Brawler Tristan]

Drone Damage Amplifier II
Damage Control II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste

Warp Scrambler II
1MN Afterburner II
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400

Small Infectious Scoped Energy Neutralizer
(empty high slot)
Small Infectious Scoped Energy Neutralizer

Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Transverse Bulkhead I

Hobgoblin II x8

How I’d Fight It In My “Incursus Scenario”: I wouldn’t. Unless the guy got this fit from a friend and has no clue how to fly it, I’m in trouble against this thing. If he hits hard I need to load up Null and get the hell out of neut range before my tank collapses under the cap pressure. If he can dictate range and keeps me close enough to neut while still applying significant damage – I’m headed home in a pod. I have beaten these things before in a dual-rep Incursus, but there is no room for mistakes on my end and he has to at least screw up a couple of times.

***

As you can see, the issue is that there is no one ship that will be able to adequately handle every potential threat that this one tiny Tristan fit may bring. You may get lucky and easily best your opponent because you have the right counter to whatever that pilot is packing (and they don’t have good enough target selection to realize it). On the other hand, your enemy may have researched you beforehand and found the perfect counter to what you’re flying. The best part about these fits is that there are still many options and tweaks that can be made to taste each pilot’s liking or to tailor to a particular situation. For instance, I didn’t even bother to go into the different sorts of drones you could potentially use to match against your target. Hobgoblins are a good general choice, but you could always mix and match what is in your Drone Bay if you know what you’re up against.

For all its versatility and capability, I’m not at all advocating that this ship be nerfed. Somehow I still think this thing fits in well enough with the other ships in the same class such that they’re fun to fight or fly without being oppressive. Kudos to CCP on this, as it should stand as a testament to their balancing prowess given enough time and focus.

About Raktak Takrak

Editor-in-Chief, PVP Failure, and GalMil Butt Droid. Raktak does his fighting in faction fit Rifters with a PLEX in the hold - just to keep sh*t real.

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4 comments

  1. Tristan is the future, CCP.

  2. Never met a tristan I couldn’t beat with a scramweb beam torm and a quick shift of tactics to respond to his initial position.

    • Basically this. I pretty much never die to a Tristan 1v1. Torm pumps out neutron DPS at scramkite range, goes 940m/s t2 webbed… Tristan is slow/fat with zero range control OR just a mere annoyance that I swat with Aurora and push off grid.

  3. I always have trouble with those. Very well put together article, you covered most of the things that make the ship deadly.. For fighting against them usually best to use a form of dual prop with a web. Then use your microwarp to mitigate some of the drone dps.. Drones have to catch up to you then stop to shoot… Also drone max range with skills is 60km.. If you can burn out of that range and pop some of his drones before really commiting and poking him from range to get him to drop drones then you can eliminate some of his dps before the actual fight.. If you are buffer fit put drones on your dscan and keep hardners in your hull with a mobile depot and swap your resists for his drone type when applicable.

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