I never was a fat kid. Growing up, I was always moderately fast, somewhat slim, and slightly flexible; in EVE terms, that means I was somewhat shield tanked my entire life. I have to confess, though, that I have recently gained a great amount of empathy for my rotund childhood friends, because in Eve Online, I only fly armor tanked boats. In Eve Online, I’m a fat kid.
In small gang PVP, the shield tank rules the field. Generally faster and able to dish out more DPS due to vacant low slots where armor mods would be, the shield tanked boat could do it all. On the other hand, the armor tanked boat, with either useless lasers or short ranged blasters, found itself in a perpetual game of catch up in just about every, single, small gang scenario. Relegated to watching the cool kids everlastingly get the kill, we armor boats would sit on the side lines, or at a maximum, waddle over to the action only to find that our subsequent kill-mail whorage was left wanting.
The Reactive Armor Hardener was supposed to change all of that. First introduced in the Inferno expansion, the Reactive Armor Hardener (RAH) was going to give armor tanks a serious advantage over their faster, more agile brethren. This little marvel would activate with 15% resists in all 4 damage types and adjust the resistances based on incoming damage. In theory, an armor tanked boat would be able to drop a Damage Control Module and not worry about plugging an explosive gap (if that is your thing) as long as a RAH was utilized. It was going to be fantastic… and viable. Via-tastic. Of course, in all things EVE related, there were problems.
The RAH module was slow to react. Originally tested at a 1% reaction rate every 10 seconds, the module caused many fat kids to drop out of the race early… usually accompanied by a large fireball. Through the Inferno expansion, and onto Retribution, the module had a few tweaks. The next tweak brought the reaction rate to 3% and added a skill that reduced the module cycle time by 10 percent per level. Still, the fat armored ships were not reacting quick enough to incoming damage. To make matters worse, the high Gigajoule cost for activation coupled with the skilled reduction in cycle time made the module non-viable for anything smaller than a Battlecruiser.
With the release of Retribution, the module has been tweaked once again, and once again, it has several issues. The module received a buff to resistance reaction time; the original 3% resistance reaction per cycle jumped up to 6%. In addition, the accompanying skill: Armor Resistance Phasing, tacked on a %5 reduction in activation cost per cycle.
On paper, the module looks to be more promising based on the cap reduction, but the same legacy problems carry over from the previous iterations. The current run of the RAH has a modest fitting requirement of 1 MW and 24 tf. With level 5 of the Armor Resistance Phasing skill, and a single type of incoming damage, the module takes approximately 40 seconds to fully adjust to a single, 60%, resistance. The way this works, is that the module will take 2% per cycle from the 3 unused damage types and apply it to the resistance that is taking damage. The trouble here, is that a single damage type is rarely used. When the fitted ship is pounded by 2 types of incoming damage, the module will take 3% from the 2 unused resistances and will split the resistance between the 2 incoming damage types; we end up with 30% resistance in one type, and 30% in the other. With level 5 skills, this will take 15 seconds to fully phase. When 3 types of damage (Think blaster boat with warrior drones) are incoming, the module phases resistance based on the percentage of the incoming damage. After testing though, it seems that that module will end up with a single phased resistance even though we are taking damage from 3 different types. The easiest way to think of this, is that the module is smart and might be looking out for your best interest… that is… until you find yourself in a fleet fight where all damage types are now bombarding your boat. When this happens, the module attempts to “omni” tank your ship by plugging any resistance holes in your fitting. Lastly, if the module is shut off (manually, accidentally, or because of energy neutralization), all phased resistances are lost (including the original 15% omni resistances). Once the RAH is reactivated, armor phasing must start over.
So the delta. I happen to agree with the Kil2 assessment, in that the module can be replaced with an Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane which will give nearly the same omni tank despite the ~30 GJ activation cost. Although currently heartbreaking, I believe the potential is still there. Namely, in the module’s ability to eliminate the usual fitting requirement for armor tanked boats (example: DC, EANM, and/or explosive plating or armor rig) and allowing 1 or more damage modules to be fit alongside the RAH. 1V1, and certain select small gang fights, this might work… any large fleet engagements and we should just self destruct after being scrammed. Though I can see this module being more viable with a pool of 75-80 resistance; I just want the RAH to work so damn bad. I grew up watching Angus after all, and once, just this once, I want to see the Eve fat kids be themselves.