Hello! And thank you for reading this article on 4 solid PvP capable ships that feature 4 of the most common builds you will find in PvP these days. Now I know that having a good ship doesn’t instantly make one a PvP ace. That will come with many many rebuys and much practice. However having a solid build and understanding the different build variants in PvP will go a long way in helping you get into, and get better at PvP in Elite Dangerous.
Part 1 – Understanding The Builds
In elite you have 4 different build types: Hulltank, Hulltank Hybrid, Shield Tank and Bank Tank.
Let me explain a little about each build type and list their strengths and weaknesses.
Hulltanks – Strength+++ Skill++
Hulltanks are pure armor builds with no shields. They are usually fast nimble ships that hit hard and rely on their ships armor rating and overall hp to win the fight. Since they have no shields, they can usually leave their pips static, and be able to permaboost far more often when compared to the other build types.
Pros: Static Pips. Can usually survive ramming a weaker, less armored target providing they have weak or broken shields. Can Permaboost. Silent Running can be toggled off/on without fear of losing shields.
Cons: No passive regen (With a hybrid or bank tank, you can replenish some of your ships HP by running a bi weave shield gen or using the Shield Cell Banks. Keep in mind that the shield will only regenerate if it’s not receiving fire) Modules are also exposed to railguns and missiles. If you are up against a Shield Tank or Bank Tank, they will win Rams if you try and ram their shield off. * A Module Reinforcement Package greatly increases your internal module survivability*
(As of 3303-3304 hulltanks are effectively dead and usually only used by gankers. They favor the Federal Assault Ship since she has very weak shields, and can have almost 5000 armor when hulltanked. Combine that with her 550 m/s boost speed and 4 frag cannons, and you have yourself a nice ganking machine.)
Hulltank Hybrids – Strength++++ Skill+++
Hulltank Hybrids or just Hybrids for short, rely on their fast regenerating bi weave shields to replenish their overall healthpool, while sacrificing minimal armor protection to use the shield. While their shields are not as strong as a Shield or Bank tanks, they embody the best of both worlds when it comes to ships in Elite. The Hybrid setup is usually found on a ship that doesn’t have a high shield multiplier out of the box. For Instance the Alliance Chieftain has about 350-400 mj with a class 6 bi weave and 2 boosters, whereas the Fer de Lance has a much stronger shield multiplier and can have double that or even higher.
Pros: Fast Recharging Bi Weave shield enables passive regeneration of your shield during fights (When not receiving fire). Strong Armor Protection (While losing a bit of overall Hull HP compared to a straight hulltank, hybrids are effectively stronger since they have more sustained hp over the course of a fight.
Cons: Modules are still exposed to Rail and Missile fire in between shield charging cycles. *A Module Reinforcement Package greatly increases your internal module survivability*. You must constantly cycle your pips. Unlike hulltanks, the hybrid is much more taxing on the Power Distributor and you must constantly cycle your pips between Systems, Weapons and Engines in order to prevent Distro Starvation. Many in Elites PvP community use the AUTOHOTKEY program to program different pip macros in order to assist with the distro cycling and pip management. You can also setup a simple repetition macro through voice attack if you so choose. The Hybrid build will still lose to a shield or bank tank build when it comes to ramming. You want to avoid taking rams as much as possible when up against one of these builds. FDEV have made shield tanks the stronger choice when it comes to PvP, but it is totally up to you to fly what you want.
Shield Tanks – Strength++++ Skill++
Shield Tanks are ships that have a overall high shield multiplier out of the box ie: FDL Mamba or Vulture (Although the vulture is limited by its small Power Plant). Shield Tanks rely on their high shield healthpool to overwhelm their opponent, and usually combine high damage weapons such as thermal conduit plasma or frag cannons, combined with ramming to win the match. The build usually consists of a Prismatic Shield Generator (Highest overall Shield HP in the game, but the lowest Passive regen as well) combined with 4 or more Shield Boosters. You can usually find this build on a FDL or Mamba.
Pros: Very High Shield Healthpool. Almost no risk of damage to internal or external modules (Until the shield breaks).
Ramming, You can win rams against hulltanks and hybrids, although its less effective against bank tanks which can regenerate the shield.
Armor, Strong armor under the shield usually combined with guardian shield reinforcement packages.
Cons: No passive regeneration. Usually slower than a hulltank or bank tank (Prismatic Shield Generators have high mass, combine that with 4-6 boosters and you are one heavy boi. The mamba however can be fast and heavy at the same time, it’s dumb IMO). You have to run a overcharged power plant usually. This means that you will be running hot and are usually restricted to efficient weapons that don’t cook you in one salvo (Unless you are CMDR Rui Rebui and learn to EMBRACE THE HEAT).
Bank Tanks – Strength ++++ Skill ++++
Bank tanks combine the high shield multiplier of a FDL or Vulture with Shield Cell Banks. Which usually means if you play your cards right, you have almost 0 risk of internal or external module damage (Unless the shield breaks of course). You can easily win rams vs any of the other 3 builds (You might have a problem against a 6 booster prismo). This is the most popular of any of the builds because it is so versatile and very strong. A favorite build of FDL pilots and almost exclusively used by many of the aces in the game. The bank tank FDL is mainly used in competitive ED PVP.
Pros: Strong Shield Healthpool, combined with a bi weave for passive regeneration makes the build absurdly strong. You can also run a Prismatic or A rated shield with banks, which is very strong as well. The bi weave bank tank requires the most skill to use out of the 3 shield setups for this build.
Almost 0 risk of taking internal or external module damage.
Fast. Very Fast.
Cons: Feedback Cascade (A shield cell bank cancelling effect that is applied to railguns). A good pilot with Feedback can ruin a bank tanks day in a heartbeat.
Low Armor. Bank tanks rely on their shields to survive and have limited armor compared to the other 3 builds listed here. If you are lucky enough to break their shield, they will usually disengage and fly evasively in attempt to restore their shield. If you are quick and accurate enough, you can make short work of their hull. A bank tank FDL has between 700-1000 HP of hull under the shield.
Well there ya have it. All 4 build types laid out for you. As a parting gift I am going to leave a coriolis link for the most popular variant of each of these builds for you to check out and build should you so wish.
Mamba Shield Tank Build (Please don’t be this guy)
Thanks for Reading.
Hybrid Pilot since 3302