Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hybrids versus Lasers - An Analysis

I'm in the process of getting ready to train Tech II lasers and then Tech II Amarrian frigates and cruisers. The main reason is that the hybrid ships I specialize in are not as in demand as their laser counterparts.

Overall in the community there is a belief that hybrids are overall inferior to lasers. The weapons share a lot of characteristics: fixed damage types, instant damage, use capacitor, have various ammos for an inverse relationship of damage to optimal range. Projectiles share some of these traits but not all (i.e. don't use cap, have different damage types, fixed range types) so I don't look at them here.

Below I made a quick spreadsheet comparing the biggest caliber weapons for hybrids and lasers in both short range and long range types. These numbers are based on all level V skills and no ship bonuses. DPS values take into account reloading times of hybrid weapons.

In the long range weaponry, we can see that the range advantage of the railguns is minimal while the tracking and damage advantage of the beam lasers is quite significant. This is balanced a little by the massive cap drain of the laser weapons which requires logistics support or specialized ship bonuses to mitigate.

Overall beam lasers have the advantage in all but the most extreme cases.

For the short range weapons, the pulse lasers are obviously the superior choice. Three times the optimal range so its effective engagement envelope is far larger. Tracking is more than adequate; look at the lower chart and see that the advantage of the blaster is a small range of speeds before both are out-tracked. Damage advantage of blasters is significant but hampered by the lower range. Fitting is comparable. And while the cap use of the pulse lasers is more than twice as high as blasters, logistics and cap boosters even the playing field in most cases.

Simply put, pulse lasers are more tactically flexible than blasters in all but the extreme short range and heavily webbed targets.

Now I've ignored ship bonuses, faction and Tech II ammo, damage mods, etc because I wanted to give a relatively equal comparison of the weapons. Besides, for every Gallente ship with a damage and tracking bonus, there is an Amarr counterpart. For every Magnetic Field Stabilizer, there is a Heat Sink. For every Null ammo, there is Scorch.

Not to mention the other advantages of lasers such as not needing massive cargo holds for ammo and much faster switching of crystals compared to hybrid charges.

While I still love my hybrid based ships, I do want to explore some interesting laser based ships such as the Abaddon and Zealot.

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I would be remiss if I did not provide a suggestion for how hybrids could be "fixed" or at least improved.

I think rails suffer most from their reputation of low DPS. This could be partly improved if combat ranges increased beyond the feasible beam laser and artillery engagement ranges where long range railguns would be superior. However, a lot of game mechanics in Eve would need to be addressed in order for this to work, not the least of which is near instanteous probing and warping onto of on grid fleets. Perhaps we need to remove on grid warping to start, i.e. up its minimum range to 1000 km instead of 150 km.

As for blasters, I think some combination of optimal range and tracking improvements are called for. While you might not think the Heavy Neutron Cannon II's range is all that shabby, remember it has the best range of all blasters and most are a lot less. A doubling of optimal ranges for blasters would not be untoward in my amateur opinion, coupled with a slight tracking increase to compensate for the changes to stasis webifiers way back that made it hard for blasters to adequately track targets at optimal range without multiple webs or web and scrambler.


  1. One thing overlooked is that the Amarr are the only race to have a "third" long range beam option, all other races only have two Long range options, I guess technically rails also have dual 250's but those don't really count :)

    the way I have always looked at it is 425 rails, 1400mm arty and mega beams are all on one tier while Tach's are a tier above. the stats certainly are closer if you look at it that way.

  2. "For every Null ammo, there is Scorch."

    Except that Scorch has to be the most amazing ammo ever, and the instantaneous switch between IN Multifrequency and Scorch is really one of the major factors as to why lasers are so awesome.

  3. Anonymous12:17 am

    I can't say much for larges, since I spend a majority of my time in medium size ships, but I can say that one of the reasons I switched to lasers from hybrids early on was ranges. It seemed like rails were very long and blasters were very short in the range department. Pulse lasers allowed me some breathing room, and beams I didnt feel were any better than rails, outside of saving me ammo costs. Still, I love hybrids for the Sound FX if nothing else. Very distinct. (-:

  4. laser are awesome. No need to waste space for ammo except maybe cap booster. Most don't break and changing charge take less than a second. But like any other turret that uses caps you are vulnerable to cap warfare but that is what cap booster for

  5. I don't think it does much good to compare these guns alone. The ship bonuses and fitting slots make a huge diference.

    Amarr ships have more low slots which is where the damage and tracking/range mods go but less mids where cap mods go and the need more cap.

    Another would be the Kronos that has a web bonus. Which means you can only fit blasters unless you want to ignore one of the ships bonuses and since with it's tractor bonus it is pretty much a mission ship only it becomes a nearly useless ship. I understand that the Paladin has the same web bonus but pulse lazors can have enough range to be useful in missions.

    The devil is in the details and my issue is that in Eve there is no way to effectively compare actual dps delivered. EFT does not really tell you all that much about actual outgoing damage and it make comparisons like this near impossible.

  6. Hellen: I strongly disagree that base analysis has no place.

    While you are right that various ships have advantages and bonuses, if often balances out in the big picture. Thus the base weapon stats often carry out in the end regardless of individual ship bonuses.