Although gun mechanics in EVE Online can seem complicated, a good understanding of the math behind the scenes can be the difference between winning and losing a fight. In this guide, I’ll break down each factor that influences gun damage in EVE: optimal range, falloff, tracking, signature radius, and the random damage modifier.
Optimal Range and Falloff
The two gun mechanics that determine whether you can hit a far away target are Optimal Range and Falloff. Both of these factors are affected by your guns, as well as the type of ammo loaded. Signature Radius of the target is NOT used in the range calculation. The way these factors come into play is simple. To illustrate, I will use an example. Take a Taranis, with an optimal range of 1km and a falloff of 3km. Below 1km, distance has no effect on my chance to hit my target. Once my target is at a range greater than 1km, my accuracy will begin to decrease. This decrease is not linear! Once my target is at a range that equals my optimal + falloff (1km + 3km = 4km), my accuracy is down to 50%. At a range of optimal + 2*falloff (1km + 2*3km = 7km), my accuracy is down to a mere 6.25%. At a range of optimal + 3*falloff (1km + 3*3km = 10km), my accuracy is only 0.2%.
To illustrate the importance of optimal range and falloff, see the table below. I will compare the accuracy distances of this Taranis with the Rifter from the PVP Fit Rifter guide. With good skills, this Rifter has an optimal range of only 700m, but a falloff of 10km.
|Hit Chance||Range (Taranis)||Range (Rifter)|
As you can see, while a Taranis has a mere 0.2% chance of hitting a target at 10km, the Rifter has a >50% chance to hit the same target. Understanding the ins and outs of each type of gun comes in very handy here. Caldari/Gallente hybrid turrets have high damage, but low optimal and falloff ranges. Minmatar projectile turrets have lower damage, but much higher falloff ranges, making them more versatile. Amarr energy turrets are somewhat of a compromise between the two, but more closely resemble projectile turrets.
Understanding the gun mechanics being these numbers demonstrate the critical importance of range control during fights. One very useful technique for ensuring that your opponent remains at your optimal range in a fight is slingshotting.
Tracking and Signature Radius
Now that we’ve discussed hitting a far away target, let’s talk about hitting a faster one. The two gun mechanics that determine whether you can hit a fast target are Tracking and Signature Radius. While tracking is dependent on your guns and ammo, signature radius is dependent on your guns, as well as your enemy’s ship and fit. Larger ships have larger signature radii, and modules like microwarpdrives and shield extenders increase this value.
Tracking defines how quickly your gun turrets can move to follow a target. How quickly they need to move depends on both the velocity and the range of your target. The value of interest is known as angular velocity. Angular velocity is measured in radians per second, or rad/s. To understand what this really means, we need to review some geometry.
A circle is 2π radians around. That means that when an enemy ship completes one full orbit around your ship, they have gone 2π radians around you. If a Slasher was orbiting you at 5km with a speed of 1km/s, it completes an orbit every 31.4 seconds (circumference = 2*r*π = 2*5*π = 31.4km). Its angular velocity can be calculated by diving 2π radians by the time it takes to complete an orbit. (2π radians/10 seconds) = 0.2rad/s. If that Slasher was orbiting you at 10km at the same velocity, it would take twice as long to complete an orbit (circumference = 2*r*π = 2*10*π = 62.8km). That means an orbit time of 62.8s, giving an angular velocity of (2π radians/62.8 seconds) = 0.1rad/s. Both distance and velocity must be taken into account to compute angular velocity. In addition, angular velocity is shared. That means that in the previous example, if your ship is stationary and the Slasher orbits you with an angular velocity of 0.1rad/s, then your angular velocity relative to the Slasher is also 0.1rad/s.
Your guns’ ability to track a target depends on three factors. These factors are:
- Your guns/ammunition (some T2 ammunitions affect turret tracking speed)
- The signature radius of your target
- The angular velocity of your target relative to you
When angular velocity is 0, tracking does not modify your chance to hit. Otherwise, there is a reduction in the chance for your guns to hit your target. This reduction is at 50% when the following equation is true:
As the term on the left side of the equation increases (i.e. angular velocity increases, or the target’s signature radius decreases), the chance to hit reduction is larger in magnitude. Inversely, as the term on the left decreases, the chance to hit reduction is smaller in magnitude.
Now that you understand how tracking works, you can explore strategies to mitigate its effects. If an opponent is keeping a tight orbit and staying under your guns, you can try burning away from them in a straight line. Their ship will burn straight behind yours, minimizing their angular velocity and allowing you to land some solid hits. Adding a stasis webifier or target painter to your ship can also help mitigate the effects of tracking on your guns. Using a tracking disruptor can give you an edge in a variety of fights against gunships.
Random Damage Modifier
The important factor to touch on in our discussion of gun mechanics is the random damage modifier. For every shot fired in EVE, the server generates a random number between 0 and 1. The shot will deal damage according to this equation:This occurs with a single exception: if the number is below 0.01, the shot will be a wrecking hit. A table that displays types of hits, alongside their damage modifiers, can be seen below.
This random damage modifier cannot be influenced by skills, but is affected by the hit chance of the guns. Think of your guns’ hit chance as a decimal between 0 and 1, representing anywhere from 0% to 100% chance to hit. Each time a gun fires, the random damage modifier is generated, also a decimal between 0 and 1. If the random damage modifier is greater than the hit chance of your guns at that moment, the shot misses. If it is less than the hit chance of your guns, the shot lands according to the damage modifiers in the table below.
This means that with a 50% chance to hit, it is impossible to land a hit that Penetrates or Smashes. Recall that a shot Wrecks if the random damage modifier is below 0.01. An interesting caveat of this system is that if the hit chance is below 1%, only complete misses (random damage modifier 0.01-1.00) and wrecking hits (random damage modifier <0.o1) are possible.