What is a good use for a Stratios? I first thought it was like a souped up Astero. So it would be good as a super exploration ship. The thing is, it aligns slower than the Astero. True, both get to use the covert ops cloak, but 5 second align with the cloak is not quite as safe as 3 second align with the cloak (yes there are inertia stabilizers, but starting at a higher align means it takes more to get it low). If the Stratios had a role bonus of “25% faster scan and +30 coherence on analyzers” in addition to its existing scan and virus strength bonuses, it would no doubt be better despite algining slower, it actually has comparable scan bonuses to the Astero.
Ok, maybe the role of the Stratios was intended to muscle away any Buzzards at hacking sites so you get to keep the cans for yourself? Well, an Astero’s drones are usually able to quickly much through those guys when they actually fight back with their drones, so this is actually overkill.
My eyes then switched to the chemical sites. Maybe the point is to get into certain sites like the Core Runner Exile Distribution Base, which no t1 frigate dares to enter? Nope, you just cap out trying to repair yourself with an active tank and a buffer tank doesn’t seem adequate. Even using pulse lasers to try to clear the rats before they deal enough damage doesn’t work.
Maybe it’s for cloaky hunting? I can’t see what this offers that the Legion doesn’t do.
So what is a good use for a Solo Stratios? Is it PVP? Is it exploration? Is it trying to run sites while scanning for others at the same time? Is it a ship that shines in wormholes and doesn’t do much in low sec? Does it do anything a high sec carebare would do? Unlike t1 battlecruisers like Burtixes, Hurricanes, or Prophecies, this isn’t exactly a ship you’d want to just try using blindly to figure out what it’s good for.
The stratios seems like it was designed to be a solid cloaky hunter, using drones, neuts and the flexibiity of slot layout to take on medium-sized targets. Alongside this it’s got decent abilities to refit for exploration.
The tradeoff always used to be that a stratios was a bit less effective than the T3Cs, but far far cheaper. Now the hulls have drastically increased in cost but the capability hasn’t.
I haven’t even flown a Stratios yet, so take everything I say here with a grain of salt, this is based purely on how I’ve seen the ship used by others:
PvE: It’s not really an exploration ship, at least not for the normal pirate data/relic sites - you are correct here. The priority for an explo ship is to gtfo as quick as possible, and every explo frigate has the upper hand here. It can be used to do Sleeper Caches and Ghost Sites though, where a bigger tank and combat capability are very useful.
PvP: It’s a capable cloaky hunter and neuting drone platform that, properly fitted, can go toe to toe with a T3C. This is its main use in wormhole space and that’s indeed where it shines.
The fact that a Stratios costs as much as it does now makes me sad, but it’s less skill intensive than a T3C so it has that going for it.
Back in the day, a stratios was ~150-200m isk, whereas a T3C would be closer to 450m isk.
From that standpoint, the stratios was the entry level cloaky cruiser, that required a lot less skills than a T3C (which would lose you SP on death).
With the changes to industry and to T3C’s, it’s now pretty much an inferrior T3C that requires less skills to fly, and is about the same cost.
The only advanges it has comes to clearing out a relic site after you kill the buzzard that was doing it while in a wormhole, faster align than most T3C fits, and having a lot better options for sexy skins than the T3C lineup by and large.
Obviously there’s a huge array of different T3C fits, even within the niche of solo hunting. There’s also a variety of decent solo hunting stratios fits.
This means lots of different matchups to consider. There’s some matchups and situations where a stratios will definitely win (mostly when an appropriately fit stratios can kite a brawling T3C or brawl a kiting T3C). However, if you look at them all in aggregate my assessment would be T3Cs win more often due to overal better damage and tank capabilities on top of heat bonuses.
One thing the Statios has is fitting room. It can go blisteringly fast, wield neuts like a Legion, drones like a Proteus, and tanks like either of them. It is super versatile, has a covops cloak, and is T1, so much more engageable.
The Stratios has a lot of PG, which can be used to fit big guns, big capacitor, or big tank. The tange bonus for lasers is a bit misleading. I’d use blasters with neuts and a dual cap boosted dual armor rep setup.
The drone bonuses let you do some really nasty things to frigates, and the raw speed of a Stratios can often let to get far enough away to covops cloak out.
While working on my T1 Frigate Guide Series project, I remembered a ship that immediately reminded me of this topic: the Punisher. Its laser cap use bonus is interesting, and it doesn’t actually improve the performance of the lasers themselves at all. That’s why AC Punishers, Blaster Punishers, and Laser Punishers are all seen, with the AC one being disproportionately common.
The laser one really comes into its own when used with double webs or AB single web, as the capacitor use bonus coupled with the insane projection of lasers means that anyone not on the ball will get destroyed while trying to close range or orbit. It can force off kiters, and will kill anyone that can’t destroy it through raw DPS or realize the lack of a scram and have an eeeeescape.
I use the Stratios to quickly farm Escalations. It’s align time is comparable to a T3D, it’s locktime as well with 2 Sebos in the meds (and you don’t need tank while farming the Anos for Escalations). I have used a Confessor before and the Stratios is not that much slower in the Anos, but offers much more firepower for the Escalations. The range bonus allows sniping tactics which is pretty useful in Lowsec when there are other people around. Also covert cloak is pretty much invaluable.