My favourite solo plexing ship
Our home system of Heydelies was heavily plexed by the Caldari, taking it from 30% contested up to 70%. This meant that our prime task was to defend our home system by plexing it ourselves, which we did last night. I started our fleet and advertised it (we got some non-Aideron people to join, thanks guys!) and three of us headed out. I decided to use my cloaked Venture instead of an expensive Tristan because I had a suspicion it would be more useful and it turned out I was right.
[Venture, Cloaked Plexing]
[empty low slot]
Medium Shield Extender I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field I
Limited 1MN Afterburner I
150mm Railgun I, Uranium Charge S
150mm Railgun I, Uranium Charge S
Prototype Cloaking Device I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
[empty rig slot]
Hobgoblin II x2
(You could put a drone damage amplifier in the low, or whatever you like. And remember that the Venture has a role bonus of +2 Warp Stability built right in - it takes at least 3 points to warp scramble it. The guns/drones are there for taken out the NPC rat if you're offensive plexing. If you're purely defensive plexing you don't need the drones or guns.)
Over the next couple of hours I ran a novice plex, did ten minutes in a medium and ten minutes in a small, all solo. I also provided intel on enemy movements in a plex that was outside d-scan range for the main fleet. My fourteen corpmates handled the fights and had a blast! I think this contribution makes a good case for having a cheap cloaked ship in any plexing fleet. If your aim is to run as many plexes as possible then you want to have ships in all available plexes simultaneously. If you're a small fleet with plexing as your main goal, you might want to ALL go cloaked. A group of three or four cloaked Ventures could plex a system much faster than three or four fighting frigates.
A cloaked ship is a very safe way to have just one pilot be able to either run a plex completely or run down the timer. BUT if you're just using plexes to find Good Fights, a cloaked ship is just one less set of guns and is a liability.
Non-cloaked ships have to be ready to fight, flee or be present in numbers high enough to take a fight. But a single cloaked ship watching d-scan (see my guide from an earlier post) can just cloak up if someone shows up. They probably know you're in there since they will have d-scanned before jumping in, but if they can't find you then you can just wait until they leave.
I've done this a lot and very rarely have the newcomers stayed to actually run the plex. Most of the time they're looking for a fight and, not getting one from you, they leave. Or someone else comes in a few minutes later and blaps them, then they leave.
This is where things get interesting, in a sociological way. There is a bias against cloaking! It's not outright hostility but I've heard hesitation from others in my corp when I suggest doing plexes cloaked, with the sense that it's "not the done thing". I get the feeling that in low-sec and faction warfare you're expected to to fight, or flee, but not hide. An answer along the lines of "we're here to fight together" has come up a couple of times when I've proposed it, even if our stated aim that night was to run plexes. I can understand that position, but fighting is not the only way to have fun in Eve. It can also slow down the process of taking plexes.
It might be an interesting subject for someone to find out where this attitude came from how prevalent it is, and how it survives in a game where the full exploitation of every available game mechanic is encouraged. "If the game allows it, I'll do it" applies to cloaking too, doesn't it?
A cloaked ship is not invulnerable and I'll tell you what makes me nervous when I'm hidden: ships in wide orbits. You can spook a cloaked ship by having your gang orbit the button at different ranges. Go round a couple of times at 5/10/15/20/25/30 km if you think there's a cloaked ship in there. He can't move fast, can't recloak for 30 seconds (if he's using the cheap cloak) and can't target you if he decloaks. He'll probably decide to warp out. You only have to go round a couple of times to "sweep" the system, then return to orbiting at your optimals as usual.
In conclusion, my takeaway message from this post is that plexing fleets should consider using cheap cloaked ships more often, especially if you're a small fleet. It's an easy, cheap, safe way to run more plexes per hour and give you intel on enemy movements.