While it is true the Amarr and Caldari explorers have better scan bonuses, this difference is smaller than you think because of other fitting considerations.
Let me walk you through the choices I made to get my T2 explorer fit - I can fly all 4 of them so I could easily pick the one that suits me most.
To catch a T2 explorer who plays well (so no smartbomb camps on a gate or drag bubbles with cans, good explorers know how to avoid that), you have two options:
- interdictor to bubble the valuable can when the explorer lands
- decloak next to a hacking explorer and scram them before they warp off
Since the introduction of the nullification modules, the first point is irrelevant except to T1 explorers and Asteros.
The second point means your number 1 safety priority is a low align time.
The lowest align time these ships can get is sub 3 seconds. All the ships can reach this, but one of them requires 4 modules instead of 3:
The Anathema loses this category.
At maximum level, the Anathema and Buzzard have a 25% deviation bonus, versus the speed while cloaked bonus of the Cheetah and Helios. For pure scanning, this is in favour of the Anathema and Buzzard.
This 25% scan deviation bonus is worth slightly over one mid slot item, as you could get 20% scan deviation with the Scan Pinpointing Array II.
Next, every mid slot item is a possible scanning upgrade. 20% less time scanning, 20% less scan deviation, 10% scan strength are all very useful so having more mid slots is good.
Amount of mid slots:
As you can see, Buzzard scores positive twice in this category (both many mid slots and the hull bonus), Anathema is 5% above the Helios as the Anathema has the hull bonus, but the Helios has a mid slot more to fit an extra module.
To get more relic and data sites it does not only matter how fast you scan the sites, but also how fast you move around to new systems and within the site. Especially when you’re racing against other explorers in the same area.
While moving fast is of less importance than safety and arguably of less importance than scanning, it’s good to keep speed in mind as well.
For on-grid speed, the Cheetah is the clear winner, with Helios a second. When you burn from one can to another the Buzzard and Anathema are really sluggish.
Add to this that the Cheetah and Helios are able to move faster while cloaked although that isn’t often a useful bonus.
Next, rigs and choice of propmod are important:
AB is much slower than MWD on grid, so if you can fit a MWD I would always pick the MWD. However, some of the ships (notably the Buzzard and Cheetah) have trouble fitting an MWD without sacrificing low slots or rigs for more fitting room.
Helios wins here. Cheetah is the fastest but limited to AB unless sacrificing other mods for fitting space, Anathema is sluggish and Buzzard is both sacrificing mods to fit a MWD and sluggish.
Now to fit it all together!
Scan upgrade (or cargo scanner if you insist)
(possible extra slot for Helios/Buzzard)
(depends on ship)
(possible extra slot for Anathema/Cheetah)
(depends on ship)
Helios is straightforward:
- An extra scan upgrade in the mids
- third low slot could be inertial stabilizer, but nanofiber also brings align below 3 yet adds speed → nanofiber
- Hyperspatial rig (for faster warping around)
- third and fourth low slot need to be inertial stabilizer and nanofiber to get below 3
- hyperspatial rig
- needs extra powergrid from either rig or low slot
- can use rig and/or low slots for more speed (2x nanofibers) or inertial stabilizer + hyperspatial rig
- needs extra powergrid from T2 rig, which means downgrading the scan strength rig to T1
- Extra scan upgrade in the mids (Scan Rangefinding Array II) to almost compensate the loss of scan strength of the downgrade of the rig
Cheetah is much quicker than all the others on grid, but has the least scanning power (= what I mean with the mix of scan speed, deviation and strength).
Anathema is slow, yet has a decent mix of scanning power.
Helios is very similar to the Anathema in terms of scanning power but is faster on grid (and much faster cloaked).
Buzzard is slightly below the Anathema and Helios for scan power, and is as slow as the Anathema.
Helios is most well-rounded with ample fitting space and 5 mid slots.
Anathema is a good second place. Maybe first if you value the 5% deviation bonus over the on-grid velocity and cloaked velocity that the Helios has over the Anathema.
Cheetah might be good if you value on-grid speed, but has fitting problems. If you want to fly an AB fit, Cheetah is fantastic though!
Buzzard’s fitting problems and slow speed nullify the strengths it seemingly has from the 5 mids and deviation bonus. With only 3 low slots that it all needs to get a good align time it has to sacrifice both scan strength and warp speed in order to fit a MWD, a sacrifice in scan strength that isn’t even fully compensated by the 5th mid slot.
Helios > Anathema > Cheetah > Buzzard