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The Marauder.  CCP defines the class as:  “Geared toward versatility and prolonged deployment in hostile environments, Marauders represent the cutting edge in today’s warship technology. While especially effective at support suppression and wreckage salvaging, they possess comparatively weak sensor strength and may find themselves at increased risk of sensor jamming. Nevertheless, these thick-skinned, hard-hitting monsters are the perfect ships to take on long trips behind enemy lines.”

I recently and somewhat reluctantly purchased the Vargur, the Minmatar Racial Marauder.  The price tag just for the ship was an astounding 650mil isk, and it was rather hard for me.. a PVP pilot, to feel justified in spending the equivelent of four loaded HACs, just for a PVE ship.  I was especially hesitant because of all the “Vargur sucks” versus the “Vargur is fine” debates I’ve seen on the Eve Forums.  A really good ship, say like the Vagabond, only gets the “they suck” threads when the guy starting the thread has been pwned by one.  So, it was with a heavy heart, and much cajoling by those in my alliance that I purchased a brand new Vargur.

And I wished I had purchased it sooner, and I only had Marauders III.  I cannot tell you how much fun it is to go from having to panic and measure, keeping no closer than xx km from my targets, making sure I have enough cap charges in the hold to rushing in like a the god of thunder ventilating every ship that dares to get to close to ME!  All I can say is Wow.. its nice to be king..

Its true that I really can’t compare it to the other Marauders, most notably the Paladin and Golem, and maybe the Vargur still isn’t as good as them.  But its far from bad for PVE operations.  The Vargur’s design is really an extention of how the original Tempest was percieved to be.  A close range, fast, actively shield tanked beast.  It upgrades the Battleship skill damage bonus (5% per level) to a Role bonus (100% Damage bonus per turret), giving it a roughly 7% higher base damage.  The big bonus however, comes with the massive bonus to the falloff range.  This means that with 800mm Autocannons, your short range ammo (EMP, Phased Plasma, Fusion) will reach out 50+ km, with good skills.

Now, let’s go over several of the Vargur’s strengths:

  • 5% bonus to Large Projectile Turret Rate of Fire per Minmatar Battleship level (Since Marauder requires Minmatar Battleship V, its an automatic 25% bonus to Rate of Fire).
  • 10% bonus to Large Projectile Turret Falloff per Minmatar Battleship level (again, since Battleship V is required, its an automatic 50% bonus to falloff range).
  • 7.5% bonus to Shield Boost Amount per Marauder level.
  • 7.5% bonus to Large Projectile Turret tracking per Marauder level.
  • 100% Damage bonus to Large Projectile Turrets (Role bonus).
  • 100% bonus to Range and Velocity of tractor beams.
  • +25% EM Damage resistance over standard Tempest
  • +10% Thermal Damage resistance over standard Tempest
  • Additional 550 m3 of cargo space over standard Tempest.
  • 10 m/s faster than standard Tempest.

The Vargur has only one serious weakness, and its a huge one.  The sensor strength of a Vargur is 11.  That’s right.. 11.  The T1 Frigate, the Vigil, has 12.  A standard Tempest has 19.  In other words, an unbonused cruiser could lock you down.  Considering how common ECM is in modern combat fleets, bringing any Marauder to a PVP fight WILL result in a lost Marauder.

Unlike most Minmatar ships, the Vargur is actually pretty cut and dry on how to configure it.  It is meant to be a close in, knife fighter and the CPU / Powergrid combination clearly.. well.. forcibly makes that the most viable option.  The overall design gives you few serious options, though it does give you enough CPU to do what CCP wants you to do.  My current fitting is as follows (and its a pretty typical fitting):

High Slots:

  • 4x 800mm T2 Autocannons – The Powergrid/CPU can easily run T2 Autocannons so I don’t really see any reason for using anything less than the 800mms, especially with the tracking and falloff bonuses.
  • 1x Salvager – You can use a T2 Salvager if you wish, there is plenty of CPU leftover for that upgrade.
  • 1x Tractor Beam – A necessary tool for the discerning PVE’er.
  • 1x Utility – Many folks put in either an additional Tractor Beam, but personally I prefer to use a Sisters Core Probe Launcher here.  Its a bit slower than using my Cheetah, but with high enough probing skills it still has a good level of function.

Mid Slots:

  • 1x T2 X-Large Shield Booster – The shield booster coincides well with the Vargur’s bonuses, so for PVE this is a natural selection.
  • 1x T2 Invulnerability Field – Always a good idea to improve your overall protection, especially since some PVE rats tend to have off-typical damage.
  • 2x Racial Shield Amplifiers or 1x Racial Shield Amp and 1x Racial Shield Amplifier – As any PVE guru knows, these are good to have and if you have all your Shield Compensation skills up to V, it almost matches the resists of an active shield hardener.  I have tried dabbling with have these two slots be all Shield Hardners, but I found that it killed my cap regen rate having all three active at once.
  • 1x T2 Medium Cap Booster – I have not had a problem using just a medium cap booster to keep my defenses up, even with having only Marauders III.  That being said, I’m of the mind that a Large Cap Battery might also be a good choice as well, as it not only gives you an additional 700 Cap, it helps increase your cap regeneration rate.
  • 1x Utility – This slot has plenty of CPU/Powergrid for everything up to an Afterburner (even if you choose to use a Large Cap Battery).  Personally I use a Shield Boost Amp in this slot, mainly because I am in Gurista space and I am doing anomolies so I don’t need to travel much.  Some configurations use this slot for a Tracking Computer, which can be quite handy depending on what rats you are facing.

Low Slots:

  • 1x T2 Damage Control – Standard issue for any ship I fly.
  • 2x Gyrostabilizers – A strong boost to damage.
  • 2x Tracking Enhancers – A strong boost to Range and Tracking Speed.  However, it may be a good idea to trade out one of the Tracking Enhancers for another Gyrostabilizer if you find that you can keep the transversal down fairly well.  I tend to prefer this setup, especially since I have to deal with Gurista ECM cruisers.. which I want out of the way as soon as possible no matter how close they are.

Rigged Slots:

  • T1 Large Projectile Burst Aerator Rig – More Damage
  • T1 Large Core Defence Operational Solidifer Rig – Faster Shield Reps.

This configuration yields 800+ DPS/2300+ Volley, with a Shield Rep of 1055 pts per second.

There are alot of claims being made about 1200mm Arty, even some 1400mm Arty configurations.  I see where 1200mms configurations MIGHT be plausible, but the best EFT configurations, it only could max out at just below 540 DPS.  And while it does have range, almost 100km with fallout, most of the targets I went up against stay well with 60km.  The 1200mms required that you have at least one T2 RCU, and the 1400mms were alot worse, requiring two T2 RCUs AND a T2 PDU.  All in all, the 800mm configurations are the most adaptable and most effective providing a good balance of range and DPS while not skimping on tank or damage mods.