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The Maelstrom – “a ship the Minmatar can design and build when their not trying to escape from slavery..”

The line from Clear Skies 2 emulates the feeling that most Minmatar pilots felt when CCP unveiled the Tier 3 battleship, the Maelstrom.  The Maelstrom is unlike any of the other battleships that had been given to Minmatar pilots.  It is well thought out.  It has plenty of powergrid and CPU.  It is easy and simple to fit.  And most importantly, it doesn’t look like someone had pulled it from the side of a station using a crowbar.  To be honest, it’s not just a good ship, it’s a BEAUTIFUL ship.

When CCP brought out the Tier 3 Battleships, it was clear that the focus of these new ships was heavy combat.  Each battleship that was released had greatly improved base “racial” stats and bonuses and the ability to field T2 weaponry without needing fitting modules.  The most unusual thing regarding the Maelstrom is that it is a partial departure from the usual CCP viewpoint of the Minmatar.  In this regard, the Minmatar race finally got a real battleship.. though it still has a few flaws.

To be honest, the Maelstrom was probably first attempt to “deal” with the fact that the Minmatar race did not have any good fleet battleships.  As such, the Maelstrom does not have many of the signature Minmatar features, such as a high speed, small signature radius, or even high and mid-level utility slots.  These reductions were countered with having a rate of fire bonus on all eight available turrets and better than normal inherit standings.

This, however, is where CCP’s understanding of the current state of game sort of drops off.  The need for the Minmatar was for them to have a true “fleet” ship and it does looks like the Maelstrom is that ship.  But, upon closer inspection, the infamous “Nameless Dev” got to it and screwed everything up.  While it is a sniper battleship, the active tanking bonus is certainly not very helpful in major fleet operations.  Add to that the current flaws of Shield Transporter Modules and its usefulness in modern fleet warfare is reduced somewhat.

Still, to say that the Maelstrom is a bad ship is flat-out wrong.  It just isn’t a good “typical” fleet ship.  The ship is fine in every other way.  In fact, if you are a starting Minmatar pilot, the Maelstrom is really the first battleship you should be getting yourself into.  It is a easy to fly ship for PVE with plenty of drone space, excellent range, and effective with both Tech 1 and Tech 2 fits.  Every time you gain an additional skill, the Maelstrom can be improved that much more.  In regards to learning how to fly a Minmatar ship, the Maelstrom is the best starting place.

Let’s look at this bonuses of this ship:

  • 5% Rate of Fire bonus per level
  • 7.5% Shield Boost Amount per level

While they doesn’t look like much, when you compare the rest of the features to other battleships, the Maelstrom measures up to typical battleship standards and doesn’t have any huge glaring holes like the Typhoon or Tempest.  The Shield Boost allows for some pretty impressive shield reps.  At Battleships V, that translates to a base of 540 shield damage repaired per second.  With a T2 Shield boost amp, that can go up to 720 without any rigs.  Here’s my PVE fit that I use frequently:

[Maelstrom, PVE Mission Runner]
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Damage Control II
Overdrive Injector System II

Shield Boost Amplifier II
X-Large Shield Booster II
Heat Dissipation Amplifier II
Kinetic Deflection Amplifier II
Invulnerability Field II
Heavy Capacitor Booster II, Cap Booster 800

1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L
1200mm Artillery Cannon II, EMP L

Large Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Large Core Defence Capacitor Safeguard I
Large Core Defence Operational Solidifier I

Probably the first question people ask regarding this fit is, “Why not the 1400s?”  The simple answer is that in a mission running ship you often don’t control your entry point.  1400mms have very bad tracking and even with my skills are optimal against most targets (cruisers to battleships) from 40km and farther.  When running missions, very often you are dropped less than 10km from battleships/battlecruisers/HACs/Cruisers.  It takes seemingly forever to get that necessary distance.. and you end up relying on medium drones to finish off those ships.  Switching to the 1200mm gives you more control over those combat situations.  However, if you are doing something where you do control the distance, such as belt ratting, then I would suggest that you switch to the 1400s.  This will require dropping the Heavy Cap Booster for a Medium cap booster, and replacing the Overdrive with a Power Diagnostic Unit.. and probably taking out the Tracking Enhancer for a CPU Module.

As far as my lows, I found the Overdrive to be a surprisingly effective addition.  Since I do not have Shield Upgrades V yet, I still have minor CPU issues on shielded ships.  However, the Overdrive gives this Maelstrom fit a speed of about 130 to 140 m/s, which outpaces all but some Angel battleships, while allowing me to get away with not using any fitting mods.

For PVP fits, the changes are pretty typical as well and there’s some room for some reasonable fits.  As mentioned before, the PVP options are twofold, either as a Sniper or as a small gang Battleship.  I personally recommend using the Maelstrom for Sniper PVP work, but not so much as a close range battleship.  The reason for this is not that the Maelstrom can’t do a good job at close range, its a very superior ship at close range combat.  It’s just not a very good ship to support.  In a typical combat situation, not only is the Maelstrom using shield, but its also losing alot of cap when operating its defenses.  This typically means that your shield support elements are going to have to watch you closer, and get reps on your sooner than your passive tanking counterparts.  One way around this is to just ignore the Shield Rep bonus in favor of a passive shield tank, but at best you will only retain a drake level tank… without tackle.  Trying to armor tank this ship is out of the question with only five low slots and poor inherit armor.

A good sniper fit absolutely must fit 1400mms as 1200mms neither have the range, nor do they have the “effect” of the 1400s.  What “effect” you might ask?  1400mms, above any other gun in the game, puts a smile on your face.  You’ll see what I mean when you see the enemy’s shields disappear in one blow.  The sound, the “woahs” from everyone else in the fleet, yeah.. people like 1400s.  And yes, as John Roarke says, “Stationary ships do not react well to 1400s.”  Below is a fit that I have used in the past:

[Maelstrom, Sniper]
Power Diagnostic System II
Damage Control II
Tracking Enhancer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II

Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range
100MN MicroWarpdrive II
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range
Invulnerability Field II

1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L
1400mm Howitzer Artillery II, Tremor L

Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Vespa EC-600 x5
Warrior II x5

One fair note of warning:  Sniper fits are only really possible with T2 fittings.  So much so that if you can’t fit a fully T2 Sniper ship, don’t even bother.  This is especially true of Minmatar battleships.  The big reason behind this is that the necessary optimal range – 150km to 200+km – can only be had by Tremor, a tech 2 ammo.  While it is true that you can get close using Tech 1 ammo, doing so would gimp your sniper to near uselessness.  You will not gain any respect or e-honor by bringing a badly gimped sniper to a firefight.  Just wait the extra twenty or so days for Large Projectile V, and then dance with the dragons.

Now the final fit I am going to post is one I’ve seen in action and I tell you it was a challenge taking this guy down.  This particular setup has tackle, but the one we’ve seen had a T2 Invulnerability field instead.  Without the invulnerability field, the ship can handle over 720 DPS.. with the T2 invulnerability field.. it almost reaches 1000 dps.  All this while maintaining 720 DPS on the targets (Level V – EFT Numbers).  I will say that it was able to hold us (Two battlecruisers, a HAC, and a frigate tackle) for quite a while.. probably a good ten minutes.

[Maelstrom, Close Range PVP]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Co-Processor II
Gyrostabilizer II

Faint Warp Disruptor I
X-Large Shield Booster II
Invulnerability Field II
Shield Boost Amplifier II
Heavy Capacitor Booster II, Cap Booster 800
100MN MicroWarpdrive II

800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Barrage L

Large Projectile Burst Aerator I
Large Core Defence Operational Solidifier I
Large Core Defence Operational Solidifier I

In conclusion, the Maelstrom is definately a good addition to Minmatar battleship arsenal.  For PVE, it will work great for you until you can afford the very expensive Vargur and, if you have a willing corp or alliance, it will serve you well on the battlefield.  It can’t do everything but it does alot of things well, and certainly is the most beginner player friendly of all the Minmatar battleships.  But never forget that a battleship, while powerful, is not without its weaknesses.  Like the rest of your ships, it is a tool for a particular purpose.. trying to shoehorn it into something else will never come out well.

I will be doing one more installment, a simple review installment of all the battleships.. kind of a quick cheat sheet, with the base pros and cons, then I will probably start back at the basics with a review of Minmatar T1 frigates and their uses.  Until then, keep your guns loaded and your enemies running.

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