A lost another Arazu today, and it got me to thinking.
I really like the idea of these Gallente Force Recon ships. A cruiser-sized covert ops vessel, the Arazu is able to move, observe, and warp undetected. With my skill in Gallente recon ships, I am able to move while cloaked at about the same speed as uncloaked. I can sit at a safe spot with no danger of being probed out. I can warp to an asteroid belt or station or gate to take a closer look at ships detected by my on-board scanner--and even if I had a global criminal timer, the sentry guns would leave me alone.
There are two ways I like to fit my Arazus. First, I like a blaster Arazu, a stealthy cruiser that is also tough enough to take a respectable amount of damage. With heavy blasters, a trio of damage enhancing ship modifications, and a mixed bag of drones I am able to dish out a capable DPS of over 400, while an innovative passive shield tank provides me with almost 30,000 EHP. I enjoy roaming solo in my blaster Arazu; my victims rarely know their doom is upon them until I suddenly decloak within just a few thousand meters of their ship. With the Arazu's built-in bonuses to warp disruption technology, I am able to disable my target's warp engines and microwarp drives from about 20 kilometers; my own afterburner allows me to outmaneuver my thusly disabled prey.
Imagine yourself in a T1 cruiser--your favorite model--as you're killing a battleship rat at an asteroid belt or scanning for targets from a planet. Suddenly, my Arazu appears on your overview. Your speed drops as your microwarpdrive disengages. You throw at me everything you've got, but it's not enough. We fire broadside after broadside at one another, but my ship is tougher and the numbers work in my favor. Within a minute or two, you're dead. That's a blaster Arazu.
When I fly with a gang, however, I go with a force-multiplying configuration. This flavor of Arazu is more conventionally armor-tanked. The distinguishing characteristic of this Arazu is a set of three remote sensor dampening modules, each of which reduces a target's targeting range by over 40%. If I activate all three "damps" on a single target, his targeting range is drastically reduced. Another feature of this setup is a faction warp scrambler with which I can shut down both warp engines and microwarpdrives from almost 24 kilometers. I typically fill my drone bay with fast and light Warrior II scout drones.
Now picture yourself as a dreaded Falcon pilot. Your mates are under attack by a gang of Tuskers, and you warp in at 100 kilometers. You drop your cloak and proceed to target the Tuskers, jamming several of the most dangerous ships. Suddenly, my Arazu appears on your overview, maybe 80 kilometers away. As a flight of light drones speed towards you, you lose your lock on your other targets; with your sensors dampened, the main fight is taking place outside your targeting range. Your choices are to speed closer to the fight (and risk your expensive ship in the process) or warp away and try to warp back in at a closer vantage point. But the truth is often that by the time either option works out, the fight is over and Tuskers hold the field.
Or how about this--imagine you're an interceptor pilot, and you've just tackled a cruiser orbiting a planet. You're prepared for a long battle of attrition, or perhaps you have mates a couple of jumps away who are coming to help resolve the situation. Suddenly my Arazu uncloaks near your target. As you carefully ensure you are out of web range but still close enough to keep your prey tackled, a flight of Warrior II's start chasing you. No problem--your speed provides a measure of protection from even those speedy little bastards. But wait--what's this? Although still 20 kilometers from the Arazu, your microwarpdrive has deactivated. Those drones have caught you and start poudning on you relentlessly--and you can't take much of a pounding. Adding insult to injury, you lose your targets, as your already puny targeting range has been more than halved. In a panic, you align your ship to a celestial object, and hope that your natural high unassisted speed is enough to get you out of tackle range before those drones finish what they've started, even as my microwarpdrive-assisted Arazu is making top speed in your direction.
It would appear that life is good for an Arazu pilot, wouldn't it? And so it is. Unfortunately, there are two small flies in this ointment. The first is that it takes several seconds after disengaging her cloaking device for an Arazu's targeting systems to cycle through their start-up routines. An interceptor or even a cruiser with his wits about him should be able to warp out before being tackled, and a sharp-eyed Falcon may have time to target and jam an Arazu before he himself is targeted and damped.
But the second issue is even more serious; I've simply not found Arazus to be generally cost-effective. I can gank any number of T1 cruisers, mining barges, and industrial ships solo, and with my Tusker comrades even prevail over some very nice combat ships--and still end up with an pwned bottom line from losing just one 150M-ISK dampening Arazu or 175M-ISK blaster Arazu.
A lost another Arazu today, and it got me to thinking. As much as I enjoy flying 'em, I won't be going right out today and replacing the one I lost.