Killmail Archivist

EVE Online theorycrafting and history

Modules With A Story: Hellhound Drones

(Apologies for going quiet for a few days — went out with the family for the Fourth of July!)

If you asked people what the rarest drone in Eve is, most people would talk about the “Augmented” drones (fast drones with split damage types that can be built with parts from Rogue Drone cosmic anomalies), or the Gecko. Incursion runners will probably know about the Shadow, the rare Sansha fighter-bomber that can be acquired from incursions.

But there’s a truly rare drone out there that very few know about: the Hellhound.

Entity, kindly showing off some Hellhounds in a equally rare ship.

The Hellhound is one of the rare cases of an developer item in player hands.

If you download the Eve Database and examine the item types table, you’ll find many items marked as unpublished — ammo, ships, modules, and more. The primary effect of being unpublished is that the item cannot be searched for in the Market, or in an item type search in Contracts.

Most unpublished items are simply unused items and unfinished artifacts from the CCP development process: They’re an idea that CCP devs liked enough to try implementing on a test server, only to find that the item wouldn’t really work out well in live play. The idea would be canceled, and was never launched in TQ, but the remnants of it remain in the database.

There are also a few unpublished items that were once part of normal play on TQ; these items were disabled by CCP for various reasons. If you still own them, they remain in your inventory, but CCP marks them as unpublished so that they can’t be sold on the Market — mainly so that newbies don’t accidentally spend billions on a useless item. This is the case for deployable minefields [1], most of the canceled skillbooks, and some old collector’s items.

The Hellhound drone, however, qualifies for both of these. It was a developer experiment for an ultra-powerful variant of the Ogre, and was never meant to get into player hands; however, due to a typo, it was accidentally added to the drop table for a structure in a certain mission. A few days later, when players started posting on the forums about them, CCP promptly fixed that typo and removed the source of them, never to be seen again. However, they allowed players to keep the drones that had dropped up to that point.

In 2012, CCP changed their mind, and attempted to remove the Hellhound (and other unpublished-but-extant items) from the game entirely; however, they ended up adding them back due to player outcry.

I don’t know if anyone who owns a Hellhound has actually bothered using them in PvP; until this spring, they were simply a clone of the Ogre II heavy drone, with slightly higher DPS. When the Kronos expansion came and readjusted all drone damage upwards (to compensate for the nerf to the Drone Interfacing skill), the Hellhound was left out of that adjustment pass; as a result, it now has significantly lower damage than any of the normal drones in use today, making it simply yet another collectible artifact of Eve history.

1: There’ll be a post in a few weeks about minefields. They once existed, and they weren’t nearly as cool as they might sound.

Modules With A Story: Micro Auxiliary Power Cores (MAPCs)

(This will be a short one; I was planning to do a piece on server ticks today, but I need a few more days to work on an interactive demo for that, as its a slightly tricky topic.)

What is a Micro Auxiliary Power Core, and when should you use it?

There are three general categories of modules in Eve that can increase the power grid on your ship for fitting mods.  All of them consume a fixed amount of CPU, and add grid:

  • The Reactor Control Unit (RCU) increases your power grid by a percentage — +10% for tech-1 modules, +15% for tech-2.
  • The Power Diagnostic System (PDS) increases power grid by a smaller percentage (+5%), but also gives you bonuses to capacitor size, capacitor regeneration rate, and shield size/regen rate.
  • The Micro Auxiliary Power Core (MAPC) increases power grid by a fixed amount: between +10 and +13, depending on meta level.

The distinction between percentage and fixed amount is mainly important for frigates and destroyers.  An Atron has between 37 and 46 MW of power grid to fit modules (varying with skills); a +10% bonus would only yield 3.7 to 4.6 grid, not enough to make a significant difference.  Adding an absolute +10 grid, on the other hand, is a significant improvement.  The same is true for most destroyers.  But once you start working with cruisers, an RCU (or even a PDS) yields dramatically more grid to work with.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking for more grid, you should only use MAPCs for frigates and destroyers, and only use RCUs/PDSes for cruisers and larger hulls. [1]

In fact, there are actually very few modules in Eve that add absolute bonuses to a ship attribute/stat, rather than percentage boosts:

  • MAPCs add a fixed amount of power grid.
  • Capacitor batteries add a fixed amount of capacitor.
  • Drone Link Augmentors (and equivalent rigs) add a fixed distance of additional drone control range.
  • Armor plates add a fixed amount of armor HP and mass.
  • Shield extenders add a fixed amount of shield HP and signature radius.
  • Signal amplifiers and auto-target-lockers add a fixed bonus to your max number of target locks.
  • Propulsion modules (both ABs and MWDs) add a fixed penalty to mass.
  • Data/relic rigs add a fixed bonus to virus coherence.

(Most of these absolute boosts are particularly beneficial when used on “undersized” ships — which is why Stabbers with 100MN MWDs are used for bumping, and why cruisers tend to use large shield extenders and 1600mm plates. [2])

MAPCs were the only “Micro” module whose blueprint continued to exist after Red Moon Rising; throughout most of the game’s history, only the plain Tech-1 module and some meta versions were available.  Navy versions were added during the introduction of Faction Warfare in 2008 (as part of the Empyrean Age expansion), and the Tech-2 version was added during Crucible.

1: The one exception to this is when you're flying a shield-tanked frigate with unused low slots.  The PDS is the only low-slot module capable of increasing raw pre-resist shield HP; if you have absolutely nothing better to fit in a low slot, you might consider a PDS.  In practice, there's almost always a better use of that low-slot; the main frigates that use PDSes are shield-tanked tacklers such as the Hyena and Keres.

2: It's also that absolute boosts are generally not subject to stacking penalties.  In fact, RCUs and PDSes are one of the very few modules that are not subject to stacking penalties.

Modules With A Story: Micro Injectors

This will be the first in what I plan to be a regular series — discussing modules and other items in the Eve universe that have an interesting story behind them. Let’s start with a simple one: Micro Capacitor Boosters.

Most modules in Eve come in three sizes: small modules for frigates, medium modules for cruisers/battlecruisers, and large modules for battleships. There are some occasional exceptions in naming, of course: Frigates use small armor repairers, small turrets, small injectors, small neuts/nos, and small rigs… but they also typically use medium shield extenders. (Consistency isn’t one of CCP’s strengths.)

However, at one point in Eve’s history, there was also a micro size. Only five groups of modules were ever made in micro size:

  • Micro capacitor boosters (injectors)
  • Micro capacitor batteries
  • Micro shield extenders
  • Micro remote shield boosters
  • Micro smartbombs

Most of these are newbie traps… except for the micro injectors, which are actually quite useful. They require less CPU and power grid than a small injector, but they have extremely limited capacity: Tech-1 versions can only hold a single Cap Booster 150 or 200 charge, or two Navy Cap Booster 100s.  That combination of low fitting requirements and poor performance make them a perfect module for ships that only need an occasional burst of capacitor, but don’t have the grid/CPU to spare for a full-sized small injector — namely, interceptors, Sentinels, and Cruors.

Module Name Grid CPU Capacity Cycle Time
Micro Capacitor Booster I 3 10 8 m3 15 sec
Micro F-RX Prototype Capacitor Boost 3 8 8 m3 12.75 sec
Micro Capacitor Booster II 3 10 10 m3 15 sec
Small Capacitor Booster I 5 15 12 m3 15 sec
Small F-RX Prototype Capacitor Boost 5 15 12 m3 12.75 sec
Small Capacitor Booster II 5 15 15 m3 15 sec

Unfortunately, because most of the micro modules were generally useless and going unused, CCP decided to eliminate them from the game. Rather than removing the existing micro modules from the game, they decided to choke off the supply: one day, a patch was applied to Tranquility that replaced all micro module blueprints with the equivalent small module blueprints. (I can’t find the patch notes for when this happened; I vaguely remember it happening sometime during Red Moon Rising.)

There’s a limited supply of micro modules still available on TQ; they can be traded on the market and fitted to ships, but no more will ever be made. If you’re addicted to frigate PvP and have some spare isk, the micro injectors are a decent module to stockpile, although they are getting quite expensive due to their rarity; the basic T1 versions go for 3M isk each at Jita, and the good meta versions for up to 35M isk.

Of course, even useless modules can occasionally have a use. An early Titan kill in Eve’s history can be blamed on a micro smartbomb… but that’s a story for another time.

(Astute readers will notice that Micro Auxiliary Power Cores are not listed above. Blueprints for the MAPC are still available, and it’s actually an incredibly useful module that I plan to talk about sometime this week.)