Help with drone boats

Hey tried out a drone boat (arberator ?) for the first time properly yesterday. I like the idea but are there any tricks to get stuff to stick to shooting my ship rather than my drones because I’m doing lv2’s atm (don’t have the rep for 3’s) and at 1m per drone it’s getting expensive.

Is it because my heavy launchers aren’t doing enough damage? My drones do 330 and I’m doing 70 with my launchers .

Edit I am recalling them when they get shot at ie when stuff goes yellow

Within the ‘drone window’ there’s a little icon in the top left, click that and you’ll have a couple of options you will want to enable, Aggressive & Focus fire. Focus fire should ensure all the drones shoot the same thing, aggressive will see them attack anything that attacks you. You may like to switch between Aggressive & Passive depending on what you’re doing, shooting at. I’m not aware of any reason to turn off ‘focus fire’.

To ensure the NPCs shoot your ship you need to maintain their aggravation on you and last I checked ewar was the best way to do this (a target painter for e.g.) if your guns aren’t able to manage it. NPCs will also target drones ‘larger’ than themselves, so sending out heavy drones will get the attention of all the cruisers & frigates (BCs too, maybe, not 100% sure) and they’ll attack the heavy drones.



Thanks for the reply I will adjust the focus fire thing and have a fiddle and see if I can jam a painter on (will have to sac my tank as I’m currently shield ranked ) when I get home later hopefully it will lessen the problem

BS. You can’t ENSURE that NPCs only shoot you.

Therefore you MUST consider that your drones WILL be primary’d, especially vs elite rats which have a taste for drones.

The only way to ensure (and even then… it may bug) that your drones are no attacked is to never have drones that match the size of the rats, so no medium drone out with pirat frig on the field or elite cruiser, no small drone out with elite frig, no heavy drone till all remains is basic BS.

The only time when NPC’s didn’t aggress drones at all was like, back pre-2007. What you are describing is a behavior that literally does not and cannot happen anymore in the game.

NPC’s have different levels of aggression towards drones. “Elite” NPC’s in particular will aggro drones quite heavily. There is absolutely no way around this.

@Roswitha_Astara NPC’s will shoot drones regardless of what you do. There are no “aggro” or “tanking” mechanics in eve like there are in other MMO’s. The best way to combat this is to learn the hotkeys to recall drones, launch drones, and to focus them on your target. If necessary you can also always tether at a citadel you have docking rights at to have your drones in dronebay repaired via tether.

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That’s a shame that they will always be focused , i kind of like using them but having to recall them every 3 seconds is a pain. not to mention unlike every other weapon system they can be shot (well i think you can shoot missiles) , might have to learn how to Drone Brawl so i can recall them with out them being 40k away

better skills, rigs and using faction drones can make them less likely to die. until you’ve got the skillset though stick to cheapo t1’s.

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Then you have to low drones skills? You first have to use your smallest drones to take out the smallest rats, then work upwards. Make hotkeys for your drones, and install the proper midslot drone modules. Watch some videos on drone ratting. Good luck.

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later you will also be able to use sentries, at long range and stay beside them to recall them

My first missioning cruiser was a Arbitrator. A good drone boat and a cracking e-war/support platform.
Bit of a weak mission ship, but it does the job.

You want to fit it with an armour tank. While it is a rare Amarrian shop that can take a shield fit, it’s a bit of an awkward thing. Use the mid-slots to fit e-war and capacitor modules to make life easier. Most of your defence is “not getting too close”.

You want a mix of drones: medium and light. Use the light drones to clear the small stuff. Then use Mediums on cruisers and above. Frigates will chew up your medium drones

Rapid light launchers are good against small ships to help clear the main threat to you.

It’s a good ship and will serve you well.

Yeah, the new drone AI is so aggressive towards drones that I have even lost salvage drones to it. Just primary those frigates as fast as you can, although cruisers now and then get lucky and start on your light drones for a bit before you haul them back in.
The drone AI will also try the tactic of making a slow fade by orbiting frigates until their original distance is 2 or3 times their original distance from you. Then they hit your drones with a web (by those eltes) and you are too far to recall them in time. The Trigs are experts in that tactic.

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Good thing upcoming changes give NPC a 250% damage boost against player drones. No more AFK at all.

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Okay, different rats can have different A.I.'s, but there are things you can do to help reduce drone losses.

First, you can move your ship(s) up the agro table relative to your drones by:

  • Doing more damage with your ship
  • Having more Ewar (this includes the autotargeter for some reason)
  • Spider tanking
  • Remaining in range of the rats (so that they are less likely to switch to the drones that remain in range)

Furthermore, you can:

  • Train Drone Durability, Drone Navigation, and any ship skills that increase drone HP.
  • Make sure you are redboxed before launching drones.
  • Keep an eye on agro, and pull your drones in if you lose it.
  • Prioritize webbing frigs, as they will increase damage application to drones and slow their return to your drone bay. For example, use light drones to clear out all the frigs and destroyers, then switch to medium or heave to take out cruisers and up.
  • You can also fit a remote armor rep to repair your drones.
  • I’ve also heard some voodoo about ejecting from your ship to reset agro, but have never tested it.

Finally, I treat T1 and T2 drones as expendable, and avoid using expensive faction drones in content where I expect a lot of losses.

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Do you have any proof for that ?

The few non-significative tests I did indicate that this is complete BS, and the probability to be targeted after X seconds for a drone is static, that is not influenced by the player activity besides recalling and preparing drones.

Maybe I’m wrong and some rats have such an AI, but then you should be able to prove that such an dynamic AI model suits the experimental results better than a static chance model. Otherwise, claiming it is correct is just BS (ocam razor).

I only have personal experience. I understand that the plural of anecdote is not data, but the effect of these assertions is so striking that I would bet money on this being true. And sorry for the wall of text. I just don’t know how to make this any shorter without just saying, “trust me.”

Autotargeter: I had heard that an autotargeter can reduce drone agro, but was skeptical. So, I went out into the same combat sig with and without the sig amp on, and the difference in drone agro was like night and day. I went the entire first pocket without any agro, and I believe I only got drone agro in the second because I got too far away from the rats with my orbit.

Damage/Ewar: In incursions, we have what we call agro magnets. They are guys whose combination of damage and Ewar help them to consistently draw agro switches. Thus, we add them to watchlists and/or keep them pre-locked. Hell, we even give them Teamspeak badges for being an agro magnet.

Spider tanking: I’ve heard people complain about drone aggro in content that I had personally experienced no drone agro in -I attributed this discrepancy to the fact that I was spider tanking. Regardless, WTM teaches logi pilots not to use all 4 reps unless in emergencies, because doing so will greatly increase the chances of logi ships drawing agro. In fact, I over rep in some situations in order to intentionally draw agro. For example, I like to draw agro during the 1st wave 3rd room of a TPPH in order to pull the rats towards the DPS anchor spot. I will get at least some of the agro 99% of the time (no exaggeration, it’s almost guaranteed). And can get most to all of the agro about 50% of the time -which seems to depend largely on the presence of badass dps boats in fleet. Long story short, I’d bet money that remote reps have an effect on threat generation.

Anyway, I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea. I don’t have a source, nor have I conducted scientifically rigorous research or anything, but I have had gotten good results by operating under the assumption that these things are true.

Now, for the matter of your test results.
I think the way agro works is that a multitude of factors each contribute to an overall agro score, which determines your place on the agro table. And then the higher you are, the more likely you are to get selected. My belief in this is based on my experience with agro magnets in incursions. Instead of one guy always getting it, the same 2-5 guys will draw agro switches wave after wave, site after site -most of the time, that is. Sometimes, however, “a lesser agro magnet” will draw agro -which I believe is the result of them being high enough on the agro table to have a small chance of getting it.

Moreover, things like range to the rats does appear to have an affect on agro. Thus, it needs to be controlled for. For example, when running EC’s, I would usually warp to an asteroid at 70 in order to land near the spawn point, set up my spider tank, and get to work. In such instances, I hardly ever got drone agro (I’m talking I might lose 1 drone every 80 hours or some ■■■■). However, I would sometimes accidentally warp to the asteroid at zero, and wind up further away from the spawn point. I found that when I did this, my drones would be significantly more likely to draw agro.

Anyway, all of this is to say that all confounding variables need to be controlled for. For example, an autotargeter might dramatically decrease agro for someone who has good DPS and who stays within range of the rats, but might have little effect for someone who is orbiting 50k away with no weapons fit. Is this making sense? Perhaps a hypothetical chart might illustrate what I’m asserting.

Of course, I just pulled these numbers out of my ass, but I suspect that agro works like this. Anyway, in this example, adding an autotargeter to the domi can make a big difference to drone agro, while adding the same exact mod to a VNI orbiting at 50k might make no appreciable difference.

I’ve also heard that threat generation can work differently depending on the A.I. of the rat in question. So your mileage might vary depending on your content. FYI, most of my experience has been with incursions, Invasions, Anoms, Combat Sigs, Escalations, live events, and the abyss, to a lesser extent. IIRC, things like drifters and diamond rats have different A.I.'s, but don’t quote me on that. I also usually brawl in PvE, and have been spider tanking trig ships a lot since they came out.

Alright, that’s enough. If you want to go out at conduct actual research, be my guest. I get noticeable results from my assumptions, however, and will continue to act as if they are true until I see strong evidence suggesting otherwise. I may not have proven this is true, and there may even be other confounding variables that I havent’ considered*, but I’ve like the results that I’ve gotten.

Fock. I know this is already a wall of text, but this is interesting, and may even be relevant. So, I once read an article about an MMO that had finally found and fixed a long standing agro bug. Certain players had complained that they were significantly more likely to draw agro, but the devs initially thought it was in their heads. Turned out it was true. Something about their character id’s, or some ■■■■, was causing them to get placed higher on the agro table than they were supposed to be. Thus, there is the remote possibility that we might straight up be getting different results due to a bug. Anyway, sorry I can’t find the article I read, and don’t even remember the name of the MMO.


This is definitely true. Different rats have different “pack AI” (and elite rats have their own pack). For example most of the time in incursion there is ONE target for the whole pack, so you need to rep ONE ship at a time ; but in L4 for example you have as many packs as there are groups/spawn, so sometimes 10 packs on the grid .

I totally agree that it’s very interesting and very complex, and I agree with even the last point that bugs may create discrepancies in perceived aggro mechanism among players (see infamous drone hate bug in eve)

Designing a protocole to test :

  • find a forsaken/forlon anomaly (with elite rats)
  • use a drone frigate with huge drone tank (worm with max tank)
  • go in the site with a cleaner alt (made to clean the useless rats),
  • kill the rats required to make elite rats appear.
  • come back in configuration A, wait for rats to aggro you (all). Then launch drone in passive mode. When they take damage recall them, launch next squad to have fresh drone shield HP - don’t kill rats.
  • count the time to have let’s say 20 aggro switch towards the drones, in minutes (so you launched 20 drones and recalled them after they took aggro)
  • repeat in configuration B. The difference in time should give us the increase/reduction in drone aggro from the difference of configuration. (eg A = nothing, B= auto targeter, C= RR, D = max DPS fit(not applied), E= neutralizers used, etc.)
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I noticed a few things that seem to help, though none of them are a 100% cure.

  1. Target painting whatever drones attack helps
  2. Drones that are a size smaller than target tend to get aggroed less (light against cruisers, medium against battleships)
  3. Drones with higher max hitpoints (from ship bonus like worm, fila, etc) seem to draw less aggro
  4. Sentries sniping from ridiculous range almost never die - I’ve had same 2 CN wardens in my rattlesnake for at least 20 missions :slight_smile:
  1. do a lot of damage
  2. use smaller drones

should fix 90% of drone aggro issues.

Also sentry drones are fantastic, you can sit on them and just scoop them whenever they take aggro

or use gurista ships and don’t care about drone aggro.

I use dominix to rat. my dominix is an armor +drone boat to prevent my drones to die. I warp-scarm or warp-disrupt the biggest ship in each wave then attack the smallest first then I go for the biggest ship. that can prevent the rats to attack the drone and focus on ur ship. I learned this from a friend when I went to null for the first time. hope this helps.and, to be frank, I still follow that but sometimes it does not work and I lose 1 drone for like per 3 to 4 sites. I am ALPHA not OMEGA

Armageddon RHML/Drone boat what i used to use, running dual armour reps. and dual guidance computers.

Solo’d Caldari and Amarr epic arc with it, loose count of how many lvl4 missions.

Drone setup was more tracking and speed, and highslot RAR’s to do on the fly Drone armour repairs.