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.
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.
I have not stopped to count all of the different ships available in EVE Online, and my Google-fu was not up to answering the question the way we do here in the 21st century. But just looking at the broken out list of ship classes, I would guess that the number exceeds 200.
Ships are divided into some basic classes based on size. There are frigates, cruisers, battleships, and capital ships, with destroyers being “super frigates,” battlecruisers like the Drake being “super cruisers,” and super capitals being… well… super capitals. And those are further divided up into different types of ships based on each platform.
Ships are also allocated amongst four major and a couple of minor factions. Each of the main factions of EVE, Caldari, Amarr, Minmatar, and Gallente have their own ship design, weapons, and defense philosophy.
So there is a matrix of ship choices, with a couple dozen types and sub-types on one axis and at least four variations, one for each major faction, on the other.
All of which might make you say, “So what, just pick one!” But there is the skills issue and the skill issue.
The skills issue, related to skill points, the way you enable your character to do things in EVE Online, is complicated by the fact that there are a lot of faction specific skills. I can fly the Caldari freighter, for example, but if I needed to fly the Gallente freighter, there is a set of faction related skills I would need to train. This matters because while there are always at least four variations on any particular ship type, there is generally one right choice among the four, and sometimes an okay second choice.
Caldari ships are often not the right choice, which means a lot of extra skill training.
And then there is the skill issue, by which I mean it takes some to actually use some of these given ship types effectively. For example, flying in Drake fleet means following the anchor ship at 500m, turning on my microwarp drive and shield hardeners, targeting what the FC tells me, and shooting what I have targeted. That is five things you need to do to be a success, and I can generally manage four. At any given moment I will be doing one of those things wrong, targeting the wrong bad guy, forgetting to turn on my MWD, shooting, or some variation.
There is a theory about short-term memory and that people can keep 3-8 things in their immediate memory before the buffer overflows and something gets pushed off the stack. My number is apparently four.
Sometimes, by sheer luck, I will manage all five things correctly while in Drake fleet, and then Zarks or Boat will say, “Align planet seven,” and my brain will have to hold that datum long enough to right click for the menu in space, select planets, convert “7” to “VII” in my brain, select planet VII, and select “align to” under that, at which point I won’t be able to tell you what the hell we were doing… assuming I knew in the first place.
Worse still is the order, “align to the sun,” which generally sets my mind to thinking about the fact that the window in my office faces south and that at the given time of day during the current season, the sun ought to be about yonder, lining up the bookcase on the left and the knob on the closet door, by which time fleet warp has pulled everybody but me away. Fortunately, fleet warp will eventually align and warp me as well, and since I have all those navigation skills, I am only a little late to the party, if facing some direction other than my monitor.
Anyway, the upshot of this is that some of these other ships require skills that include knowing how to do more than four things in a short duration.
So when thinking about new ships to fly, I have to take this all into account, along with what might be interesting and financially viable.
With all that in mind, here are some ship types I have thought about so far.
Capital Ships of Any Flavor
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Capital ships… and there are all sorts… are the big, jump-drive enabled ships that get used mostly out in null sec. They come in various flavors, from dreadnoughts to carriers to jump freighters.
The Good: As long as I stick to Caldari, I can be flying any number of capital ships within a day or three. I just have to go get the right skill. And, while I haven’t looked as deeply into this as I have for other ship types, Caldari does not appear to be the blatantly wrong choice.
The Bad: Capital ships cost money. More money than I have just for the hull, more for the skills to use them, and then even more for the fittings and the skills to use those fittings. And nobody wants to talk to you until you have jump drive calibration V trained, so while I could fly one today, if I had the ISK, I couldn’t join cap fleet or do anything effective for a couple of months.
Conclusion: I am unlikely to go the capital ship route for the foreseeable future. Jump freighter might be a possibility, but it is still a long, expensive training cycle to get there.
A frigate with stealth capability and the ability to mount battleship class weapons. And then there are the bombs!
The Good: I can fly the Caldari version today with fittings, including the bomb launcher and covert ops cloaking device. The Caldari stealth bomber, the Manticore, is the acceptable alternative in the stealth bomber class. Stealth bombers are relatively cheap. And having read the list of things you can do to annoy the enemy with a stealth bomber on the Goon Wiki, I am totally smitten with the idea of skulking around in red space being a pest. I want to plink enemy stations just to generate the alert email.
The Bad: A stealth bomber isn’t even a glass cannon. It is a Kleenex brand facial tissue cannon. And I have a long history with the Drake, the paladin of ships in EVE Online, tough to kill but not exactly the hardest hitting hombre in the fleet. Skill is clearly going a premium using a stealth bomber, and a different skill set than I am used to. And probably more than four skills at any given moment of time.
Time to Train: I’m there already
Conclusion: The only reason I do not own one yet is that our alliance doesn’t have any pre-fitted ones up on contract. They are cheaper than a Drake. Getting the right mindset and skills could be a challenge. I am a long way from being Mister Vee, but it remains a possibility, if only for comedic value.
Space priest! These cruiser class vessels are the fleet healers who often stand between victory and destruction.
The Good: Gets you into any fleet. Never once have I heard an FC complain about having too many logistics ships. Healing has been my specialization in other games. I think I already understand the basics. (Somebody broadcasts “Need shields!” and apply remote shield boost to them, right?) And I am not too far away from flying the Caldari version of this type.
The Bad: The ship to fly is the Scimitar, the Minmatar version of the type. I have to get Minmatar Cruiser V trained to catch up with where I stand on the Caldari side, and that is a 20 day skill right there. Add in the other skills I need and I am over a month away from being able to manage the fleet doctrine prescribed fit. Oh, and I become a priority 1 target and I never get any kills. That last one isn’t critical, but it is nice to have a tangible demonstration of your participation in fleets.
Time to Train: 38 Days
Thoughts: This is still my medium-to-long term goal. I am training up one of the skills I will need, signature analysis V, even now. I think I can put up with half the people on the ops channel pronouncing the ship name as “skimitar.”
Hictors! A heavy assault cruiser with the ability to generate a warp disruption bubble that moves along with the ship.
The Good: Everybody loves bubbles, right? This would be pretty cool, plus the Caldari version, the Onyx, is a good ship, so I have a lot of the training already under my belt.
The Bad: Well, it looks like a Moa for openers, one of the classic ugly asymmetrical Caldari ship designs. This is one of those ships in a fleet that when you screw up… and I always screw up at least once a night… that everybody will notice. That giant warp disruption bubble is a dead giveaway. And fleet commanders get pretty testy when you bubble your own fleet at the wrong moment. Plus, I am not as close to flying a fitted one as I thought.
Time to Train: 24 days
Thoughts: The Onyx, armed with missiles and a heavy shield tank, is probably the closest match to my current skills and skill. I think I will have to finish up the training for this ship some day because of that. But should it be my next ship? I am not sure. Heck, I am not sure where I would use it, though my imagination is somewhat stunted in that regard.
While I dismissed capital ships for ISK reasons alone, I have listed out three different classes that I wouldn’t mind exploring at some point. I picked ships where I think I know at least a bit about how they are used. On the other hand there are a lot of other choices out there. For example I could fly a Scorpion with the Alpha Fleet ECM fit today, if I had a clue how to run it in a fleet op.
What other ships ought I to consider?
Caldari is best, just because of my investment in skill points so far, but I am pretty far along with Amarr and Minmatar at this time.
And, as always, I’ll invest the training time for something that is interesting or useful.