All The Pretty Ships in New Eden – What Should I Fly Next?

So far my adventures in null sec have allowed me to experience a bunch of things quite new, at least to me, in EVE Online.  Fleet battles and capital ships and player owned stations and sovereignty and war on an epic scale relative to anything I had seen before.

On the other hand, for the most part, I have been flying a Drake.

Not that the Drake is a bad ship.  It has been a very good ship for me and I have invested heavily in the skills to get the most out of it as a platform.  Aside from a couple of drone related skills, I have been able to fly any Drake fit that the CFC has thrown out there.

But the Drake has been my primary ship for more than four years now.  I have owned more Drakes… and lost more Drakes… than any other ship.

Earliest Drake pic on the blog

While I love this flying doorstop, this heavily shielded wedge of missile spewing doom, I do wonder if I should try out something else.

Yes, I did move on to running missions in a Raven, though I used to throw my other account in with a passive tanked Drake to be bait at times.  That Drake passive tank is mighty thing.

In fleet ops I have flown a Maelstrom and a Hurricane.

And the Tengu has become my ratting/anomaly ship of choice.

But in all of those cases, while the ship and even the weapons might be different, the role feels very much the same.  And, all things equal, I might as well put myself in the ship that takes the best advantage of my skills.  I join the Drake Fleet for coalition fleet ops, because that is where I am strongest and the result is about the same. (Actually, I think we have more fun in Drake Fleet than in Alpha Fleet, but my experience in that regard is somewhat limited.)

So I have started looking around for another ship and another role that might both be a different experience to me as well as adding value to my presence in the corp, the alliance, and the coalition.

But what to choose?  I mull over the options after the break.

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The Drake Fleet goes to EWN-2U

The economic war continues.

We of the CFC versus Raiden and their allies in an effort to deny each other the economic largesse of tech moon profits.

It is a war of timers and time zones as each side attempts to disrupt production and destroy infrastructure.

And so the call went out again for another fleet operation.  Structures in one of our systems, EWN-2U, had been put in reinforced mode, meaning that when the timer ran out on that, Raiden would be able to destroy them.

For a weekday fleet operation, this one started later than usual.  Thank the timer I suppose, but I was able to join up after work.  Again I was part of the Drake fleet.

We rallied in the usual location and moved off for our forward staging area.  I was a bit surprised to come out of warp right on top of one of our Titan supercapitals.

The face of an Avatar

The Titan was there to bridge us out to where we would defend.  The question was, would the enemy show up?

We waited for the cyno to be lit, the target for the jump, while we all hovered at 2,000m from the Titan.

Fleet awaiting deployment

By default, the hold ranges you can pick are 500m, 1,000m, and 2,500m, but by this point I had finally figured out that the “hold at range” button on the overview could be set to a different value.

So we hung there in space, waiting.  Would we go, or would we stand down once more?

More after the cut.

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The Defense of 92D-OI

The call for a fleet op was out.  Timers on some of our reinforced towers would be ticking down soon and the enemy was expected to show up and contest the systems to destroy the towers.

There was to be an alpha fleet as the main force and a Drake fleet in support.

Having fitted out a couple of Drakes to the new microwarp drive fleet standard in Mittaningrad, I opted for the Drake fleet.  My Drake skills are excellent relative to the skills required for a Maelstrom.

One of my fleet Drakes

Both fleets formed up at the local station and waited for orders to move out.  There were, between the two fleets, over 400 ships.

Ships crowded into a station bubble

We meandered about there for a while until finally the orders to move came.

Secret destination after the break!

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Cerberus Goes Home

In pursuit of some of my prerequisites for The Expedition I have been running some missions with my alt with the goal of getting a 8+ standing with Amarr Navy so I can get him a jump clone or two.

So there I was clearing out the second pocket of the first part of the three part mission called Recon. (The second and third parts are described here.)  I did not have to do that.  The mission was declared complete the moment I entered the pocket.  All I had to do was warp out and turn in the mission.

But I was clearing it because that pocket also has more veldspar asteroids than any mission I have ever seen.  Potshot and I mined and hauled more than 3 million units of veldspar out of that pocket and barely made a dent in it.  But that was later.  I still had to clear the pocket.

My alt was flying his Cerberus and tanking the pocket.  With the afterburner and shield booster on at all times, he was barely ever taking a hit, and when he did, his shields were quickly restored.  I dragged my main in with his Raven to sit and provide more firepower while the Cerb skated around holding everybody’s attention.

An equilibrium had been reached.  My attention waned as I was listening to Gaff describe the dynamics of setting up a player owned station, which he got to do with his 0.0 corp this week.  In addition on of our kittens, Trixie, was sitting in front of the monitor trying to swat missiles as they flew past on the screen.

All of this was why I failed to notice the four frigates spawn in the mission. (The mission report linked above says three, but there were four.)

I was sitting in the window trying to retarget my main around an active kitten when I noticed that my alt, on the watchlist, was suddenly showing more red than before.  A lot more red.

I switched windows to find that he was no longer scooting along at 520 meters a second and immune from all fire.  Three of the frigates had him webbed, so he was down around 20 meters a second and taking heavy damage.  His shields were only at 20%.

My first reaction was to get out.  Unfortunately, two of the frigates also had him warp scrambled. (One was doing double duty!)  As hits started digging into my armor, I targeted the scrambling frigates and opened fire.  They were, however, elite frigates, and I was only able to take one down before my alt was flying a pod.  Cerberus was back where he came from.

Ouch.  Well, I’ve lost ships to this mission before.

2009.05.28 03:26:00

Victim: Selirus Szin
Corp: Twilight Cadre
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Cerberus
System: Ebtesham
Security: 0.7
Damage Taken: 20996

Involved parties:

Name: Centus Overlord / Sansha’s Nation (laid the final blow)
Damage Done: 20996

Destroyed items:

Scourge Heavy Missile, Qty: 1901 (Cargo)
Capacitor Flux Coil II, Qty: 2
Widowmaker Heavy Missile, Qty: 2122 (Cargo)
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 20
Heat Dissipation Amplifier II
Magnetic Scattering Amplifier II, Qty: 2
Capacitor Control Circuit I, Qty: 2
Ballistic Control System II
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Qty: 2

Dropped items:

10MN Afterburner II
Widowmaker Fury Heavy Missile, Qty: 623 (Cargo)
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 30
Medium Shield Booster II
Salvager I
Ballistic Control System II
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Qty: 3
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 1390 (Cargo)

I warped the pod and my Raven out of the pocket to regroup.  Losing a 100 million ISK ship on a mission calls for a pause.  Plus I was being called upon to read a bed time story.  So a break was taken.

Once everybody was settled in bed (though it was not my best reading performace, there being a bit of edge in my voice as I read “The English Roses,” and not just because I dislike the book as a transparent “don’t hate me because I’m successful” plea from Madonna… yes, I have serious opinions about children’s books), I went back to finish things off in space.

Fortunately, the biggest pain of losing a ship, refitting a replacement, was already covered.  I still had the fearsome Drake on hand and equipped.  And, not only that, but my alt had built up even more shield compensation skills (now level V for all forms of damage) so the mighty Drake tank was even mightier.

Back my main and my alt went.  I popped the alt into the pocket first, got all aggro, and pretty much tanked it without much worry while the combined fire of the Raven and the Drake cleared the pocket.

Then it was just a matter of Potshot and I mining as late as we could manage on a school night and then turning in.

The next day I ran the second and third parts of the mission series, which are both fairly short and easy.  On turning in the third part, I got a storyline mission.  An easy delivery.  And once that was completed, I found that I had achieved my standing goal with Amarr Navy.

Standings

So my alt is now jump clone ready.  Or he will be once he trains one more skill.  This is EVE Online.   You always need at least one more skill.  In this case it is Infomorph Psychology.  So I just have to buy that and train for all of 8 minutes and I will be set.

Now, do I go buy another Cerberus or do I plug along with my old pal the Drake?

The Age of Cerberus?

I was playing the EVEMon “what if” game the other day with my alt, just to see how much training he would need to get into different ships when I hit the Heavy Assault Ship section and found out that he was less than a day from flying one of those nasty cruiser-class killers.

So I started playing around with configurations in EVE Fitting Tool.  The missile oriented Caldari Heavy Assault Ship, the Cerberus, certainly has a lot going for it.  With his skills, my alt can put together a pretty fearsome setup in a Cerberus, including one where I could leave a Medium Shield Booster II running all the time with a stable capacitor.  With large pools of CPU and power to draw on I was also able to fill all five launcher slots with Heavy Missile Launcher II modules.

All very interesting.

And then I brought up my alt’s Drake in EFT and started to compare.

The Cerberus can lock targets further out (100km vs. 75km), locks those targets faster, moves a little bit faster (not unimportant when facing ships with turrets), and, surprisingly, has a much bigger cargo hold.

The Drake, on the other hand, can mount those same five tech II launchers, plus two more tech I launchers, and can also throw five light drones into the fray, all of which puts the Drake ahead in sheer damage output.

Then there is the mighty-mighty Drake tank.  Sometimes, when running level 4 missions with my main and my alt, I just throw my alt in to grab aggro with his Drake.  I know the Drake’s shield will hold up long enough for me to whittle down the bad guys and since it is completely passive I do not have to fiddle with anything. (Whittle & fiddle?)

And finally there is the price.  In my region I calculate that I can buy and fit three Drake hulls for the same amount of ISK it would take to acquire the Cerberus and its fittings.  I recognize that there is a certain amount of “cool” factor with the Cerberus, but is it worth three Drakes?

So I have to conclude that the Cerberus might not be the best choice for somebody who primarily runs missions.

Not that I won’t buy one and try it, just to see.  One of the joys of EVE is that little is “bind on equip” if you will, so if I don’t like it, I can always put it up for sale if I don’t like it.  But I wonder if I should bother.

The Price of Worlds Collide

On average, the price of running the mission Worlds Collide seems to be a ship.

I don’t lose a ship every time.  But then sometimes I lose two ships.  Sometimes somebody else joins me for the mission and loses a ship for me.

The average might even be higher than one ship per run for me.  It was the first ever mission I drew after I ran the old tutorial and I tried to run it in an Ibis over and over again all the while thinking, “Why would they give me this as my first mission if it was impossible to run in my first ship?”

Because this is EVE.

I was in game on Sunday morning to clear out a mission Potshot and I had run on Saturday night.  It had lots of nice, if awkwardly located, veldspar asteroids, so we decided to see if we could clear and farm it again.  Unfortunately, when I warped out to the first gate, it was gone.

So much for that idea.

Thus thwarted, I turned in the mission sans early bonus, and asked for the next one.

I drew Worlds Collide.

It had been some time since I had last run it, so the memories (and scars) had faded a bit.  I just remembered that the bounties and the salvage were both excellent, so what the hell.

I got out the Raven to lead and my alt in his Drake for support and headed out for that long flight to unlock the first gates.

As I was working on the first group, Potshot showed up and, with no mining going on, loaded up his own pair of Drakes and headed out to join me.

Drakes cruising to the gate

Drakes cruising to the gate

“With a Raven and three Drakes,” I said, “It will be cake.”

We cleared the gate guardians, then headed into the Sansha pocket.  The pocket of doom.  The pocket of so many lost ships.

Things went well at first.  The Raven warped in, picked up aggro, started heading to a neutral corner to avoid waking up the rest of the pocket, called everybody else in, and started in on the first battleships.

The battleships were easy and we were left with the two webbing frigates.  I decided to swat them, having read somewhere that if the first person into the pocket attacks them, the whole pocket does not go red.

So I targeted them on both of my ships and promptly started launching missiles from the wrong window.

The whole pocket lit up and targeted the Drake.

Crap.

Well, the Drake has a good tank.  It might last until we thin this crowd out a bit.  And, if not, I’ll just have him warp out.

The Drake’s tank is good, but not that good.  The ships in that first Sansha pocket put out a lot of firepower.  The Drake went to half shields in disturbingly quick order.

I aligned the Drake with a station then, seeing the shields continue to drop to 25%, went to warp away.

And that is when I noticed that three ships were web scrambling the Drake.  I targeted both of my ships for the offending scramblers and had almost killed the second one when the Drake disintegrated and my alt was sitting there in a pod.  I sent him off for home to look for another Drake hull and went back to the battle.

All the webbers and scramblers were down, but things were not looking good.  Everybody was now on the Raven and the incoming fire was eating up shields and capacitor.  I knew we would have to pull out soon.

So I gave the word to retrieve drones and align with the local station.  After I took down one last NPC, I gave the word to warp out.

Back at the station I put together a minimalist Drake for my alt so I could jump him into the second pocket and have him loot his wreck.  I outfitted him with some shield modules I had around and a tractor beam.

I also passed out some ammo for the last pocket.  I went into the mission with all EM and Thermal loads, forgetting that the last pocket is a serious issue unless you are dropping kinetic rounds on them.

We warped back out, flew to the gate, and started in on the Sansha pocket again.  This time things went much more smoothly.  We took things one group at a time.  My alt snagged his wreck and I was happy to find most of his tech II heavy missile launchers intact along with some of this other gear.  Enough to equip him and get him back in the game.  I warped him back to refit and rejoin while we peeled back the Sansha battleships.

We cleared the pocket and I called a break to salvage.  That meant the salvage destroyer for me and Potshot’s hauler to carry off the big items.  The destroyer can scoot about pretty well and when I run out of cargo space I use one of the tractor beams to tow a jet can.  We cleaned up, there being two major disappointments.

The first was that I got no salvage from the wreck of the Drake.  Nothing.

The second is that we did not draw a single ward console in any of our salvage attempts.  I have not seen a ward console drop from salvage in quite a while.  They are one of the components for shield rigs, and I could obviously use a few now.

Maybe next time.

The clean up accomplished, we headed back to the station, got out the four warships, and headed for the last pocket.

The last pocket went very smoothly.  The Raven warped in, got aggro, then called in the troops.  We deployed in classic trail formation, looking like a fleet formation from the age of sail, and took down the hostiles one by one.  I designated targets and we popped them easily, kinetic rounds being just the thing for this part of the mission.

The line of battle

The line of battle

Then it was clean up time.  Out came the salvage destroyer again.  Potshot pulled out his mining rig to clean up some asteroids lurking in the last pocket.

I was able to turn in the mission well within the bonus time frame.  In a sign of how this mission often goes, they give you 7 hours to complete it.

Now I have to go finish fitting out a new Drake.

Sizing Up a Vulture

The wonder of EVE is not only figuring out what you want to do, but then figuring out how you get there, how much it will cost, and how long it is going to take.

So when I noted that my mining alt had evolved into a decent combat alt, it was suggested by Andreaz that I look into Command Ships as a possible path forward for him.

That meant it was time to crank up everybody’s favorite EVE Online toys utilities, EVEMon and the EVE Fitting Tool.  Some days I am in those two more than I am in the game.

There are two Caldari Command Ships, the Vulture and the Nighthawk.  I picked the Vulture to work with.

A quick mock up of a Vulture with the fittings currently on my Drake showed a good 45% boost in effective shield strength.  Granted, I lose two missile launcher hard points, but that much of a boost over an already awesome low maintenance shield tank makes it all worth it.  This is a ship worth having.

Then I had to look into the cost.  Being a tech II ship, I gave up on any idea of building it myself.  I would need a couple of long skills to manage that, so I started pricing Vultures on the market and available via contracts.  From that it looks like a Vulture is somewhere between 105 and 130 million ISK.  More expensive than, say, a Raven, but on par with a Rokh both in price and coolness.

Finally, I made it to the usual EVE back-hand slap.  I want it today, I can afford it today, but when can I fly the damn thing?

57 Days.

If I keep on the true path of training, let not a minute got to waste between skills, and do not get distracted by other wants and desires, I can fly a Vulture on January 21st, 2009.

That’s the way things go in EVE.

At least I was already well into one of the two long skills in the training plan.  In fact, I just wrapped up Battlecruisers V this morning and started on Caldari Cruiser V, a 21 day skill to overcome.   The next longest skill on the list is Long Range Targeting V, which comes in just over 8 days, and then skills fall into a pile of four days or less cycles.

And, of course, if I am going to bother with a command ship, I should go all out and get the warfare link modules going along with the associate implants.  I can get the first one fully up and running by some time in March of 2009.

EVE is a game of long term goals, and I had no other plans for my alt in any case.

Battlecruiser Alt

Suddenly my mining alt became a combat stud.

After I had max’d out all the mining related skills on my alt, I wasn’t sure what else to do with him.

I started him on shield skills, figuring that those are always useful for a Caldari, while I considered where else to go.

I thought for a while about letting him go up the assault ship path to a heavy interdictor just to try something new.  I thought it would be an interesting change.  But then I decided that was probably more ISK than I wanted to spend on an alt.

At that point my main, Wilhelm, was driving for battleship skills, which meant that I would have a perfectly good Drake sitting around, fully fitted and ready for action.  So I set my alt on the path to fly that thinking that the extra firepower against smaller ships would be helpful on level IV missions.

Eventually Wilhelm was flying a Raven and my alt was about ready for the Drake.

The extra firepower certainly helped, especially for swatting annoying little frigates that were hardly worth wasting a cruise missile on.

I kept his skills rolling, with missile and shield skills being the priority.

Then on one mission I accidentally sent my alt through a gate first.  This was on a mission which had proven challenging to tank in the past with my Raven.  Ooops.

Well, I figured he would grab the aggro and take the heat for a while, then I could warp him out and let the Raven, the battleship, the big guy, take up his role as the main target.  I didn’t expect much.

But my alt and the mighty Drake tank ended up surviving through the entire mission.  It seemed that his skills, which included all of the shield compensation skills up to at least level 4, and level 5 for EM and thermal, had been a good investment.  Furthermore, being a passive setup, I did not have to baby sit the shield booster and capacitor.

I got a little nervous when the Drake’s shields dipped down to close to 20% remaining.  I aligned him for the nearest station and got ready to send him off.  But by that point I had whittled down the incoming fire enough that the shields only went up from there.  By the end of the battle they were above 90%.

altdrake

I knew the Drake had great shields, but this was beyond my expectations.

Not that the shields are better than the Raven.  I know with a careful eye on the capacitor and shield booster, along with some luck with the nosfaratu, that my Raven can deal with a lot more damage for a lot longer.

My alt is now working on the skill Battlecruisers V, which will give his shield resistances another little boost.  And after that I have some missile skills he can train up to level V.  Then I have to decide what else he should work on.  Perhaps I should put him on the path to research agents?

Worlds Collide… With Me

The EVE Online mission “Worlds Collide” and I have a history.

Almost two years ago, when I first started playing EVE Online, I was given “Worlds Collide” as a mission.

After running the old tutorial I was sent to my first agent, Purkkoken Honuken, located at the Caldari Navy Assembly Plant orbiting moon 4 of Jita IV. The very first mission Purkkoken gave me to run in my Ibis was the level 1 version of “Worlds Collide.”

That did not go well.

I ran at it more than a few times, but it just wasn’t going to happen. That was about enough to make me quit EVE, being faced with a mission that is pretty much impossible in an Ibis. The mission expired eventually. I buckled down and worked on getting a better ship by mining. Eventually I felt ready for another mission. I drew the first of many, many runs through “Avenge a Fallen Comrade.”

I ran across “Worlds Collide” a few more times. By the time I saw it again though, I was flying a destroyer and, while it still was not easy, it was manageable.

Then I started running level 2 then level 3 missions. “Worlds Collide” is only available as level 1 or level 4, so I did not see it again.

And even when I began running level 4 missions, I never seemed to draw it… until the weekend before last, which lead to last week’s “Vacation Cliffhanger” post.

The simple answer to the questions posed last week are:

  • Will I align and warp out in time? No.
  • Did I remember to insure the ship? No.
  • How did I get in this position in the first place? Poor reading comprehension and being in a hurry.

Things went well to start with. I got on, accepted the mission, flew out, and cleaned out the first pocket of both factions. I even flew back to base, got out my salvage Cormorant and cleaned up the first pocket.

All that took more time than I thought it would. Things in MMOs always take more time than you think they will. So I checked the mission outline to see if there were any shortcuts I could take. The entry on EVE-Survival said the following for pocket 2 of the mission:

(Angel Base): Kill or ignore the two Angel Spy frigates & Angel Sentry Guns. Fly directly to the gate and activate gate.

“Cool,” I thought, “I can just scoot right through the second stage!”

And so I flew my Raven back out, took the gate to the Sansha Base, and tried to blaze on through to the warp gate.

The Sansha Base is a little tougher than the Angel Base. That would be my guess.

By the time everything in the pocket was aggro and attacking me, it was a bit too late to get away.

I busily tried to take down the frigates that were webbing and warp scrambling me. The ship went boom and I sat there in my pod feeling really dumb. Somebody commented on the other post about taking the time out for a screen shot. Screen shots only take a second. The agony of that death took a good minute.

2008.08.09 23:44:00

Victim: Wilhelm Arcturus
Corp: Twilight Cadre
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Raven
Damage Taken: 57651

Involved parties:

Name: Centus Overlord / Unknown (laid the final blow)
Damage Done: 57651

At least you get a booby prize for uninsured ships. I got a 45 million ISK pay out for an uninsured Raven. Who says EVE is hard core?

Now I had to get back there and pull out what fittings I could, salvage the ship, then start in on the painful process of fitting out a new Raven.

Time to compound my problems!

I got my trusty old Drake, fully insured still, out of the hanger and thought, if only I could sneak in there with the tractor beam and pull the Raven wreckage out, I would at least get something back.

This is where I discovered what sets the whole room on aggro. If you get within a certain range of the warp gate to the next pocket, the whole room lights up.

I got into the second pocket, pulled in the Raven, looted and salvaged it without a problem. A pile of my tech II fittings came through intact! All I had to do was warp out and things would be fine. I had actually knocked off a couple of the insta-aggro Sansha ships with the Raven, so things were going smoothly. they were going so smoothly, I thought I might as well salvage and loot the other wrecks as well. I just had to travel a little bit to get them in tractor range…

And then the pocket lit up on me again.

This time I really didn’t have time for a screen shot.

2008.08.10 00:16:00

Victim: Wilhelm Arcturus
Corp: Twilight Cadre
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Drake
Damage Taken: 41884

Involved parties:

Name: Centus Overlord / Unknown (laid the final blow)
Damage Done: 41884

Well crap. Down two ships.

Time to regroup and refit.

I found a Raven for under market price only a jump away. I found most of the fittings I needed close by as well. I had the salvage parts to make two Capacitor Control rigs. And I had a tractor beam sitting in storage. I put it all together and headed out again.

This time I grabbed the Drake wreckage, hauled it in, looted it, and got out with my missing tech II fittings. That put me back to about 90% of the capability of my old Raven.

Then I went back in and did the mission by the book, carefully peeling off each group, keeping them at maximum range to minimize the damage they could inflict, and generally doing things the way they should be done when you’re not in a rush. It took time, but dying took even more time.

I got to the third pocket, fought the one aggro group, rescued the crew from the damaged Heron, and headed home.

With the mission payout, with time bonus, the bounties, and the insurance payouts, my bank account ended up with about as much ISK in it as when I started out. I was just short a fully fitted Drake.

Later that evening I went back to the agent looking for another mission. And wouldn’t you know it, I drew “Worlds Collide” again.

Ducks and Drakes

Losing Caracals at 4 million a piece starts to get expensive after a while, at least for me.

So I decided to do with Level II missions what I did with Level I missions.

When I was finding some of the Level I missions a bit challenging in a frigate, I bought a destroyer.

Now that I am having issues with Level II missions, I thought I should take that next step.  So I bought a battlecruiser.

A Caldari Drake, to be specific.

drakeflight.png

I named it “The Golden Hind.”

I would have called it “The Golden Hindquarters,” but that exceeds the name length restriction for ships in EVE.

I considered the Ferox as well, but given my experience with rail guns on the Moa and the training I had already been doing in missiles to make the Caracal more effective in my hands, the Drake seemed to be the right ship for me.

In my usual semi-informed manner, I have equipped it as follows:

High

4x ‘Malkuth’ Assault Missile Lanchers
2x Heavy Missile Launchers
1x Small Tractor Beam
1x Salvager I

Medium

2x Large Shield Extender I
1x M51 Iterative Shield Regenerator
1x Medium Shield Booster
1x Explosion Dampening Field

Low

3x Power Diagnostic System I
1x Damage Control I

Rigs

Core Defense Field Extender I
Bay Loading Accelerator I

For once I actually have “named” missile launchers on a ship.  I had stopped spending the extra money on them previously due to the ongoing loss of Caracals.  But I had two sitting in storage and picked up two more as drops, so I am fully equipped for light missiles.  Aside from rate of fire and magazine capacity, I do not quite get the difference between the variations of missile launchers.  Of course, maybe that is all there is to get, but there seems to be a bit more data to compare on the info pages.

I have two heavy missile launchers that I use on cruiser sized targets, installations (like that habitat in “Avenge a Fallen Comrade”) and to pick off targets that I do not want to take the time to close to light missile range with.  My light missiles seem to be good for about 24km while the heavies reach out to 46km.

I also took two of my high slots and stuck on a salvager and a tractor beam.  For level II missions at least, I do not miss the extra launchers, and it lets me loot anything that dies within 20km of my ship.  The one thing about the Drake is that it is a lot slower than other ships I have flown.

In the medium slots I went mostly the passive tank route, though I could not resist putting one shield booster on the ship.  I am too anxious to leave the shield management in the hands of automation.  I like to be able to turn capacitor into shield energy at need.

The low slots are mostly about more power, with the damage control unit there to give me some better resistance over all.  I would like to find a better version of the damage control unit, but they seem pretty rare on the market, at least in my part of space, and the ones I see for sale are pretty pricey. 

And finally, for the first time, I actually have used a could of the rig slots on one of my ships.  I went for something to boost my shield size (bringing my shields up to 13,714 hp with a recharge rate of 780 hp/sec) and something to boost the rate of my missile fire. 

I had looked into rigs before, but they seemed very expensive for what they did.  In the end, I calculated I could easily buy the blueprints and make them myself for less than the market price.  But that is a story for another post.  Rigs do require a lot of salvaged equipment, which is another reason I want that tractor beam and salvager on the ship.

I now seem to be pretty well set when it comes to level II missions.  Should I start trying level III missions?  Or does that require a step up to battleships?  What is the cut-off?