What Is A “Tank” In EVE?

I see the word “tank” used a quite a bit in the EVE forums, but I am mildly confused about what it really means in terms of the game.

For example, I pulled these phrases from a single thread on the EVE forums:

“I was able to tank”
“this can fit a tank”
“it is a passive tank”
“taking away the need for a big tank”
“chew though its tank”

I know what a “tank” is in the sense of most of the games I have played.  The concept of the person who stands up front, keeps aggro, takes damage, and is generally the focal point of a battle is something I learned way back in the early MUD days. (Back in early Sojourn, when you had the best armor class (-100AC), it used to read out as “M1a1 Abrams Tank.”)

In EVE though, “tank” seems to have a different meaning… or set of meanings. 

I can spot the passages where it seems to indicate the ability to stand up to damage.  The context is usually pretty clear.  

But at other times it seems to refer to equipment fitted on a ship.  What constitutes a “tank” in that regard?  Is it shields?  Is it armor?  Is it some measure of a combination of equipment?

And then there are the modifiers to the word “tank.”  What is a “passive tank?”  I see that mentioned often.  On the other hand, I do not think I have seen any mention of an “active tank.”  Is there such a thing as well?

And what about a “tank” makes it “big?”  And if having a big “tank” is important, why don’t I get in-game spam about “tank enlargement?”

17 thoughts on “What Is A “Tank” In EVE?

  1. Ethic

    For example, a shield tank repairs the shield as it’s taking damage. Armor tank repairs the armor as it’s taking damage. Allows the ship to last longer. Special equipment allows you to do so.

    I think active tank means what I wrote above, passive is probably just having a lot of armor/shield.


  2. syncaine

    I’m still new, but this is what I’ve gathers so far.

    Certain ships are meant to armor tank, others are meant to shield tank. Caldari like shields, Amarr like armor, etc. I’m Caldari, so my skills are better in shield items, and my ships usually have shield extenders and shield boosters. Active tank (I think) refers to items like a shield booster, while a passive tank would be a combo of items that are always active, like shield rechargers and such. An active tank uses up the capacitator, while a passive tank generally keeps the capacitator at a stable level.


  3. Curious George

    You are right in that Eves definition of “tank” is slightly different from other MMOs but it is mostly the same. The one thing lacking in Eves “tank” is the ability to get and maintain agro through any direct form of management such as taunt or crowd control. There are mostly indirect ways such as positioning, jamming, dampening, speed, and warp timing.

    The others have explained the basics of passive and active tanking very well but the following link is to a really good guide that explains how to setup various kinds of tanking setup for different races/ships.


    Also the next link is good because in alot of setup they use Eve acronyms to describe some of the modules, this link explains most of them:



  4. trigger64

    Let me go ahead and step up to the plate and see if I can knock a few of these out.

    Tanks: Either shield or armor, Caldari/Minmatar (some)/shield tank. A good rule of thumb, if the weapons don’t use Capacitor (Missiles/some projectile), then that ship is going to shield tank, see Raven, Maelstrom, Cyclone/Sleipnir/Claymore, Drake. Ships that have weapons that use capacitor to fire (hybrid/lasers) will armor tank, see all Gallente/Amarr.

    Active Tank: Tank uses capacitor to provide resists and repair. Mostly this refers to the hardners, see Armor ________ Hardner I/II also see Shield Hardners. These modules actively use capacitor to harden your tank, granting more of a bonus over their passive counter parts. Includes Shield Boosters and Armor Repairers.
    Passive Tank: Tank does not use capacitor to provide resists or repair. See, Energized Plating (Omni Tank) and Resistance Plating (specific resists) for armor tanks, and Resistance Amplifiers for shields. It’s worth mentioning that shield tanks do not have a comparable [passive] module for omni tanking, only Invulnerability Shield I/II. Passive recharge is a charicteristic specifically regarding shields only. Ever notice how your shield slowly repairs it’s self automatically? Thats the passive recharge. Ships with a high shield recharge rate (Drake) will often passive tank, and supplement their naturally high shield recharge rate with modules that increase it, see Shield Rechargers, Shield Power Relays and Shield Flux Coils.
    Tank Size: Refers to the amount of HP repaired per second, refer back to the Maelstrom and compare with the Typhoon, fitted equally, 1x XL Shield Booster II the Typhoon will, with max skills, boost 120hp/s, where as the Maelstrom thanks to it’s 7.5% Boost Amount/Level bonus, will boost 165hp/s, thus it has a ‘bigger tank’.
    I hope this has cleared some of it for you, if you’ve got any more questions, you know where to find me :)


  5. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Ah, CG, that post on tanks (which is also available as a download, so I can print it out and scribble notes on it) is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!


  6. Malenfer

    Good information Trigger. A question for you. I remember reading somewhere that there is a sort of an efficiency increase in passive tanking when your shield/armor hp increases. As the passive tanks recharge rate is percentage based.. is that correct (for both shields and armor)? How does it work and how can you best analyse this between different ships. Which modules generally improve this modifier further?


  7. Trigger64

    Not entirely sure as to the math behind it (I’m not too into that. But here’s what I do know. The total recharge time for a shield is modified by Shield Operation, 5% per level, and various modules (Shield Rechargers, Shield Power Relays and Shield Flux Coils) will increase your shield recharge time.

    Strictly speaking, comparing between a stock (max skilled, all 5) Drake and a Drake, also max skill, with 6x Large Shield Extender II.

    Shield HP: 6836.3
    Recharge: 1050s
    Peak Recharge: 15.63hp/s

    Shield HP: 26,523.8
    Recharge: 1050s
    Peak Recharge: 60.63hp/s

    So the answer to your question, is, Yes, as your shield hp increases, so does your peak recharge to meet the ‘static’ time limit of complete shield recharge time. (You have X amount of time to naturally recharge Y amount of shield, and your peak recharge adjusts accordingly)

    (Passive recharge applies only to shield, not armor.)


  8. Debes

    The post has a decent explanation for how that works, but in short: ships have a set recharge time for their shields, no matter how many hps it actually has. Without any modules or skills affecting it, a Vexor will always regenerate its shields in 900s. Thus, the more shields you have, the faster the regen rate.

    Also, as to the “efficiency”, if you have 50% resists perfectly across the board, each of your shield (or armor) hitpoints is effectively TWO, because 50% of the damage is absorbed. 75%, and each would be worth 4. So depending on what your resistances are and what mods you’re using, it can actually give you more effective hp to put on an extender or armor plate instead of more resistance.

    Mods useful: Power Diagnostic Systems and Shield Power Relays for passive tanking.

    It applies to armor, but only the second part, as there is obviously no natural regen rate for armor. That said, “passive” armor setups can be done with high effectiveness in pvp, because the fights don’t last long so you can survive by repairing afterwards. This does not work so well in pve where you have a high amount of damage coming at you for an extended period of time. Common ships to see passive armor on are ruptures and thoraxes. When fighting in a gang setting, battleships will do it too occasionally, relying on their gangmates to repair them.


  9. Kirith Kodachi

    The efficiency increase you speak of applies to shield tanks because shields have a natural recharge rate (as opposed to Armour which does not).

    The shield recharge rate is measured in seconds for your shields to return to maximum from zero. As you add Shield Extenders to your ship, this increases the number of hit points your shield has but does not change the recharge time. Thus the number of shield points repaired per second increased as the shield extenders are added, a double bonus.

    Typically you don’t see passive armour tanking (if ever) because armour does not have this passive recharge ability. Passive shield tanks depend on this recharge by not only adding shield extenders, but increasing the shield recharge rate as well through Shield Rechargers, Power Diagnostic Units, and Shield Power Relays (for ships that don’t need as much cap). Passive tanking also works best when one increases the four shield resistances as well through Resist Amps and/or rigs.


  10. Debes

    Oops, forgot to mention that the whole regen rate thing is a lie. Shield actually regenerates on a curve that peaks at 30%, plateaus until around 25%, and then drops again. So at 30% you actually regen shields at about 2.5*(shield hp/shield regen)..well, 2.something. Can’t recall offhand. To contrast, at 99% shields you’re regenerating at about 1 hp every 10 minutes (or so it feels).


  11. trigger64

    Mal if you’ve got any questions, it me up on MSN, trigger(dot)64@hotmail(dot)com or in game, I’ll be glad to help you if I can.


  12. Jonathan Cain

    Err, well there is also speed, EW and range tanking. Basically, ‘tanking’ in EVE refers to what kind of defensive measures you employ. The other descriptions are very correct as to the methods to do so, but any way that you protect yourself is ‘tanking’ in EVE, including the three I mentioned which entail not getting hit! (Well, speed tanking entails being so fast that either you dont get hit or if you do, it does very minimal damage)

    Amarr – Best at Armor Tanking, can speed tank ish in interceptors and Assault Frigates. Apoc range and armor tanks.

    Minmitar – Best Speed tankers, other ships mix some shield and some armor… they are not nearly as effective as the speed tankers on the whole.

    Caldari – Amazing shield tankers, Crow is one of the best speed tankers in the game, rokh is the ‘best’ sniping (range tanking) ship in the entire game. Mostly, tho, Caldari are used PvP for Electronic Warfare tanking, IE making it so the enemy cannot get a lock to begin with.

    Gallente – pretty much only (though the best) armor tanking. Gallente can mix in a bit of Electronic Warfare to amplify their effectiveness. Gallente are, on the whole, the best PvP race.


  13. Sedative

    Simply put: All ships with defense modules have “tanks”. It isn’t simply a single player with large amounts of HP like in WoW (throw all your standard MMO knowledge here, LOL, EVE is way more complex than that). Since there is often no way to assure that you will be the primary target of attacks, especially in PVP, all ships has to have the ability to withstand/avoid fire.

    The opposite of a “tank fit” is a “gank fit”, in which all modules are offensive. They’re fragile, but they can deal large amounts of damage in a short amount of time which can work in your favor in quicker battles and in large fleet battles in which your ship would relatively be ignored.

    That said, it is very rare for a ship to be solely tank-fitted or gank-fitted. Usually that only happens in fleet operations in which there are enough people supporting everybody else to afford specializing. Most solo ships or small fleet ships have a mixture of both.

    There are three ways to avoid getting hit/withstanding damage: Shield Tanking, Armor Tanking, and Speed Tanking (not to mention another form of ‘tanking’ which avoids being fired on altogether, jamming the enemy ship so bad with electronic warfare modules it becomes a useless hunk of metal floating in space, yours for the taking).

    The two most common tank forms are already discussed above. Shield and Armor Tanking all rely on HP. While the third, Speed Tanking/Nano-fitting relies on the ability to avoid direct hits and take lower damage because of the sheer speed and smaller size of your ship. Speed-tanked ships are often called “Nano ships” because they are often fitted with nanofiber hull modules which makes their hulls brittle but also lighter = hence faster.

    You may notice that a small cruiser-size ship like Vagabonds can take down a lone battleship quite easily, this is because the smaller signature radius of the Vagabond plus its faster transversal velocity (extremely fast I might add), enables it to move in and out of optimal range of the battleship very quickly, as well as only take very small amounts of damage even from large artillery because it never takes direct hits. Not to mention that the closer you are to a battleship’s main guns, the lesser chance there is for them to score a hit. The only real problems for speed tankers are missile-fitted ships (which always hit if you’re within range) and drones/fighters which are relatively way faster than your average pod-piloted ship.

    Nano ships were a huge problem in eve back then because they were virtually untouchable. Reaching speeds to a whopping 16 km/s for cruisers and 20 km/s for interceptors. They are at much more reasonable levels now, but speed tanked ships are still a headache to pursue to and flush out, and they’re very effective in solo piracy against lone ships.


  14. Mithfindel

    Quick rundown:
    – active tank: You have a module that repairs your shield/armour – in fantasy MMO terms, you’re having a self heal
    – all gank: victory by superior firepower (may be combined with a light buffer, passive shield tank or specifically EW)
    – buffer tank (armour): you have a high amount of armour with good resistances – this means that all your capacitor (“power”) is left for weapons and EW (“debuffs”). Also, in situations like massive fights where no amount of repair (“heal”) can keep you in one piece, buffers may help to let you last to fire a few more volleys
    – EW tank: using EW to avoid getting hit
    – logistics: “buffs” or remote “heals”
    – passive tank (shield): basically, HoT tank using shield regeneration
    – sniping: “kiting”
    – speed tank: don’t get hit (or if you’re hit, get out before you die)
    – spider tank: having fleet mates remotely repair your HP and capacitor (combined with a sufficient buffer, very effective)
    – turtle tank: a totally overblown spider tank with generally limited offensive abilities (rare outside tournaments though, since when fights grow, damage can increase faster than ability to “heal”, since outside of specialized logistics ships, the range of “heals” is short)


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