This is part two of an on-going series intended to get newer players familiar with various aspects of Eve. Part one, a cursory introduction to Eve, can be found here: Welcome to Eve – Hey Wait Don’t Leave Yet!
In Eve you interact with the environment with your ship, and there are a wide variety of ships split between various races, classes, and subclasses – something like 250 different ships. It sounds like a lot of information to digest, and it absolutely is. Luckily when you start off, there aren’t all that many options open to you – just about 40 or so that you can get into on the first few days. For the four main races there are six frigates, two destroyers, four cruisers, three battlecruisers, and three battleships. Some ships are very specialized, while others are more generic. Luckily there is a visualization of all this through ISIS, and when you hover over a ship it’ll tell you – at a glance – basically what the ship can do, and the four main races follow the same general trends. So during downtimes, do yourself a favor and check out the ship tree just to get a feel for what’s out there. You will start to notice the patterns immediately, so a lot of the information can be absorbed much easier.
One important thing to note, however, is that the bigger ships aren’t universally better than the smaller ships. Don’t rush into the biggest ship you can fit into – a well flown frigate/cruiser can easily dunk all over a poorly piloted battleship/battlecrusier. At the same time ,don’t linger in a ship because you’re afraid to move up a class – if you can fit the appropriate modules to a ship, then hop in and give it a whirl. The worst thing that could happen is it explodes and everyone in the Eve universe laughs at you~
First let’s check out the four main races and what there general properties are. You have the Amarr, Gallente, Minmatar, and Caldari – and you pick one when you create a character. The choice you make here has a negligible effect on the decisions going forward, essentially the system you start in and the first free skills given to you. The biggest misconception I see is new players feeling pigeonholed into the race they started with. This is not the case at all, so don’t go re-making your character because you don’t like the ships in that race.
Of the four main races there are two that I consider to be “purist” races – Amarr and Caldari- and then two “hybrid” races – Gallente and Minmatar. I consider Amarr and Caldari to be the pure races because they have the least amount of synergy between one another. Amarr are almost exclusively armor tanking ships that use energy weapons and drones, while Caldari are almost exclusively shield ships that use missiles and hybrid. This is Eve so naturally there are exceptions, but generally this is the case. Gallente and Minmatar, on the other hand, have a bit of a softer transition from the “pure” races. Gallente are mostly armor tankers that use hybrids and drones – so they have weapon systems in common with both Amarr and Caldari, while having slightly more in common with the Amarr since they use armor tanks. Minmatar use projectile weapons and missiles, while favoring shield tanks over armor -but certain Minmatar ships are quite well suited to armor tanks. No matter which race you start in, you can rather quite easily transition into another.
Early game play is very conducive to playing the field, as it were. Swapping over to a different race early on is a matter of an hour or so of skill training. As you get further along in a certain race, swapping over becomes a bit more time consuming but it is by no means starting from scratch. The bulk of the skills you trained to be good in one race carry over to the others, especially the pure-to-hybrid transitions. Depending on how game balance is going, certain ships are better than others but there is no “best” race overall. My suggestion is to play around with the four races early on, decide what style you have the most fun with and stick with it for a bit. As you build up your support skills, transitioning into a different style is a cinch.
Finding the right ship to do what you want is only half the battle. After spending some time studying the ship-tree and training some skills – some of which you undoubtedly trained by accident – it’s time to look at ship fits. If you thought the ships themselves were confusing, oh boy are you in for a surprise when it comes down to fitting. I’m going to assume a cursory knowledge of how fitting work: high/medium/low slot layout, meta levels, and general types of weaponry. Fitting in Eve is the most criticized and necessary activity in the game, and it never stops. Finding the perfect fit depends on several factors: your skills at the time, your ship, and specifically what you want to accomplish. A fit can make your ship generic, or specialized.
While the skill of ship-fitting is very hard to perfect, there are some basic guidelines that will make your fits strong and functional. The first thing you should do is download a program to help you theorycraft a fit out of game – the most common tool is Eve Fitting Tool, and it’s a must-have to play Eve. The Eve fitting screen gives you some of the information that EFT does but you have to buy the modules and fit them first, and that’s the pits.
The most important step is deciding what you want to accomplish and pick a ship based on that. Each of the four races have 6 frigates – 1 ewar, 1 support, 1 scanning/exploration, and 2 more generic ones (one higher dps, one higher tank). Unless you know exactly what you want to do, stay away from the hyper-specialized ships. In the case of frigates/cruisers, for example, don’t choose the electronic-warfare or the support ships (the one with remote rep bonuses) unless you intend to use it for that specific purpose. These ships are great, and actually incredibly overpowered for what they do, but they have a specific role that is hard to overcome; unless you’re playing that role these ships are pretty sucky.
Second step: never mix tank, and try to keep the weapon systems the same. That is to say, if you’re going to shield tank – then shield tank. Don’t shield tank and have a backup armor repairer just in case. There is never, under any circumstance, a reason do this. Likewise, it is important to have weapon uniformity; that is to say if you are using railguns don’t have 2 railguns, 1 blaster, and a beam laser – either go all blasters, or all railguns. This is the most common mistake new players make, but I assure you it is never, ever, a good decision.
Rule three: utilize your ship bonuses and characteristics. Just because you can fit pulse lasers on a ship that gets a bonus to hybrids doesn’t mean you should. There are some scenarios where this is an acceptable thing to do, but they are the exception that prove the rule. Likewise, certain ships are designed to be tanked a certain way. A good rule of thumb is: Amarr – armor, Gallente- armor, Caldari – shield, Minmatar – shield*. It’s Eve, there’s always an asterisk. On par with this, you should always try to utilize the most of your powergrid and CPU. You’ll almost never get to 100%, but you really want to aim for 80%-90% of your fitting used. Powergrid and CPU are a premium when it comes to fitting, so you want to leave as little as possible on the table. Generally speaking, the more powerful a module is the more fitting it costs – so take advantage of it!
Let’s just talk briefly about tanking in Eve, it’s actually pretty simple. There is shield (midslot) and armor (lowslot) tanking, but there is another subset to each. Active tanking and passive tanking, and they’re exactly what they sound like. Active tanking relies on fitting repairers (shield booster, armor repairer) to your ship and tanking damage that way. Passive tanking relies on fitting modules that increase your buffer (shield extender, armor plate) and/or resistances.
In PvE scenarios you pretty much want to rely on active tanking – though there are a few ships that excel at passive tanking. In small-scale PvP you can do either – both can be very powerful. In large-scale PvP you want to go passive/buffer, as in these situations you rely on others to give remote repairs.
Since you’ll likely start with PvE, it’s important to get the basics of active tanking out of the way. Of the four damage types in Eve, NPCs deal two in a very predictable way. You will always know which NPCs you will be facing, so it is very important to boost your resistances based on what they deal. This makes your repairs more efficient, leaving more room for fun stuff. When crafting your fit you want your tank to be efficient at repping the incoming damage. A cheap and easy way to do this is to aim for capacitor stability. For armor tankers you can do this with Cap Rechargers and Capacitor Power Relays (mid and lowslot, respectively). For shield tankers Cap Rechargers and Power Diagnostic Systems are very good. Avoid Capacitor Batteries, Capacitor Boosters, and Capacitor Flux Coils. Once you have your tank in a good spot, you can then start progressively weakening the tank to maximize your damage potential. In PvP situations, the only capacitor mod you’ll want is a Capacitor Booster – a midslot module that injects capacitor from consumable charges in large bursts. Alas fitting for PvP is its own monster, worthy of a full guide.
And that’s that! Obviously this is just scratching the surface of fitting, but these tips should give you a solid foundation to build off of. While there are many generic fits floating around, do remember that fits are largely situational. Use the generic fits as a baseline and modify it from there if you feel really lost.
Comments, questions, and suggestions for further mini-guides are of course welcome and appreciated.