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Tanking Damage

This article explains tanking. It deals with shield and armor tanking and how to improve a ship's tank.

Recommended reading before starting this article: DiminishingReturns and ActivePassive.

What is tanking?

Traditionally, in MMO's a 'tank' is a character or class that is good at taking damage while it, or its group gets a chance to deal some or to perform some other task. So, tanking is handling damage well.

Types of hitpoints

Since ships in EVE have three types of hitpoints (shield, armor and structure), there's three types of tanking: shield tanking, armor tanking and structure tanking. Each type of tanking requires a somewhat different approach, though the basic ideas are the same. It's generally considered a bad idea to combine multiple types of tanking, since it's usually more efficient to tank one type well.

Types of damage

Weapons in EVE deal (a combination of) four types of damage: Electromagnetic (EM), Explosive, Kinetic and Thermal. Typically, shields are very vulnerable to EM damage and somewhat vulnerable to Thermal damage. Armor is vulnerable to Explosive damage. Structure is vulnerable to all damage types.


This vulnerability is expressed in resistances. Shield, armor and structure all have resistances to each damage type. A resistance of 0% to a damage type means all damage gets through as lost hitpoints, a resistance of 100% means no damage gets through.

Handling the damage

There's a couple of aspects to tanking:

Training skills to improve all three aspects for your preferred type of tanking is a good idea.

A good tank

Ideally, a tank will be able to repair all the damage done at roughly the same speed at which it is being dealt, without draining the ship's capacitor. Usually, running a tank is a juggling act of turning modules on and off, balancing damage and repairs with incoming fire and the capacitor. Afterall, the capacitor is usually needed for firing at the enemy as well and eliminating the enemy is the best way to solve the problem altogether.

Structure tank
This list above also shows why structure tanking is very impopular. Structure starts with no resistances at all, so its resistances need more boosting to block a similar amount of damage as shields or armor would. Hull repair modules repair damage very slowly. And there are not a lot of ways available to raise your structure hitpoints.

The most common 'structure tank' is seen in PvP, where pilots fit a Damage Control Ileaving this site or similar module. This will boost all of the resistances of shield, armor and structure and the total result can be worthwhile in a fight from full health to the death, compared to fitting a module for a more specific tank. But a hunter or mission pilot will generally try to avoid structure damage altogether.

Shield tank
Shield tanks work very well on most Caldari and Minmatar ships, but can be made to work on other ships as well. A shield tank typically uses a shield booster (mid slot) to regain hitpoints, shield extenders (mid slot) to increase total hitpoints and shield hardeners (mid slot) to increase resistance. A shield tank can also fit modules to increase natural shield recharge.

Shield boosters are very capacitor hungry, so often a shield tank will have modules fitted to improve the capacitor recharge rate and possibly even a capacitor booster for tight spots or for intense shield tanking in PvP situations.

Armor tank
Armor tanks work very well on most Gallente and Amarr ships, but can be made to work on other ships as well. An armor tank typically uses an armor repair module (low slot) to regain hitpoints, armor plating (low slot) to increase total hitpoints and ArmorHardeners (low slot) to increase resistance.

Armor repairers take less capacitor at once than the shield boosters, but they're generally slower in terms of damage repaired per minute. On the upside, most ships tend to have more low slots than mid slots, so there's room for extra hardeners.

There's a lot to be said in an armor vs. shield tank discussion, but it mainly depends on the ship, your skills and the situation.

Tanking the right damage type

If you don't know what enemy you are going to face, you should tank all damage types. If you do know what enemy you're facing, for instance when you're fighting a specific type of NPC or when you're fighting a well known player opponent, you should tank the damage you known this opponent deals. You can find out what damage types are dealt by npc's in grismar's rat databaseleaving this site. If you're flying missions, http://eveinfo.comleaving this site (oog) has an excellent mission database with rats and damage types.

Tanking a specific damage type means raising the resistances for that specific type. Remember that most hardeners (both passive and active) have stacking penalties. And hardeners do not add their percentage to the existing percentage. Instead, they take the specified percentage off whatever lack of resistance remained. For example if you're already at 70% resistance and you add a 50% hardener, it will take 50% off the remaining 30%, so it's an improvement of 15%, for a total resist of 85%. And on top of that, if you already had hardeners, it will be even worse, since every next hardener suffers a worse penalty than the one before. EVE Geek has a stacking calculatorleaving this site to find out the details.

Current EVE version: 2.09.3913 (Bloodlines)

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