The Basic Steps
There are some basic steps to follow to design a good ship fitting. Here they are with a short description;
- What is the role of the ship? You must decide what the ship is intended to do. The design process for a level 4 mission is completely different from preparing a PvP ship. Define the limits of what the ship must do first.
- What are the ship features and bonuses? Each ship has a set of bonuses in the description and a unique set of characteristics. It is best to design the fitting to suit these characteristics to get the most out of the ship. For example, fitting a Dominix as a railgun platform completely ignores the huge drone potential of that ship.
- What type of tank should you use? Ships often lean towards one type of tanking. Also the different roles also lend themselves to a particular style of tanking. Mission Runners and Complex Runners (plexers) often require a tank that runs permanently (perma-tank) while PvPers need a tank that will withstand a lot of damage over a shorter time.
- Who is the Enemy? You need to design your weapon systems to suit the likely targets you will face. Using large guns on frigates is going to cause you trouble. Using frigate guns on battleships will take a while. How close are you going to get to the enemy? It is extremely frustrating to have super damage close range guns and never being able to get close enough to use them.
- What auxiliary equipment will enhance my ship? PvP ship usually need a warp disruptor or warp scrambler. Plexers may need a codebreaker. Mission runners may want a Ewar module or two. These are usually the last slots filled in on a ship.
We'll look at a few of the more common roles ships have in Eve and discuss a few of the design requirements you will have for those roles.
Mission Runner/Complex Runner
One of the first requirements of these ships is the ability to withstand damage over a long period of time. The amount of damage is not huge, PvP does a lot more damage than missions. However you can be in a mission or complex an hour or two and you don't want your tank running out. The tanks that seem to work for this are Active, Passive and Speed. We'll discuss tanking styles later. Normally a mission boat will sacrifice overall damage output for a stable, permanently running tank.
The next thing a mission runner or plexer must deal with are frigates. As you use larger weapon systems you will find they have a reduced effect on frigates. The nasty fact is frigates often do the Ewar things to you that make life dangerous. The are also often the warp scramblers in missions and plexes. Its no exaggeration to say that it is frigates that get you killed. You must find a way to kill the frigates fast. Drones are the most common solution to this issue and you should always carry a flight of scout drones for this purpose. If you have a high slot spare, consider fitting a small anti-frigate weapon to assist your drones.
Mission runners should avoid trying to fit salvaging gear in place of weapons. Better to be able to deal with the rats first and come back later with a salvaging ship. There are a few exceptions to this rule like the Marauders but on the whole you should be ready to fight.
Mining and Hauling aren't as safe as people think they are. People will still attack you in high sec for any of several reasons. Thus every ship should have some kind of tank on it. Haulers, Barges and Exhumers lend themselves to shield tanks. A bit of buffer and a little shield boosting and some resists make a much tougher target. If you find that your area is being haunted by gankers then try one of the tougher mining ships or the tougher transport ships.
Mining ships should split between yield and tank. There are Mining Laser Upgrades and Ice Harvester Upgrades to increase yield. Find a medium between the two and you will lose less ships. There is no excuse to lose a barge or exhumer in high sec to rats. They should be immune with the right tank. Other players are your issue.
Transporters should consider tanks they don't have to turn on if they autopilot a lot. Passive resistances and shield extenders will make you harder to blow up. However the best way to avoid gankers is to disguise your cargo. If you can, put it into a container and then put that container into a courier package (you will need an alt or friend for this). Gankers wont be able to see the goods and will leave you alone. If you are going to low sec then consider the cloaking transports like the Viator. They should be uncatchable in low sec. Otherwise consider sacrificing some cargo capacity for a couple of warp core stabilisers that will make it harder for people to catch you.
PvP- Fast Tackler
The purpose of a tackler is to catch the target with a warp scrambler or warp disruptor (often called a "point") and hold them long enough for a bigger ship to get their point on the target. They are fast ships relying on speed mostly to avoid damage. Usually they have a little buffer tank and a lot of speed modules like overdrive injectors and nanofibre internal structures. They always have some kind of point. Weapons are completely secondary to their role and are just used to get on killmails. A damage control is a good option for these ships as it turns your hull into a reasonable tank as well. You also must have a Microwarpdrive or you can't catch targets fast enough. Afterburners work in some situations but MWDs are the standard.
Some tacklers also use a stasis webifier to hold a target still. These have the disadvantage of bringing you into web range as well. If the target has a web then you are probably going to slow down and get shot at. Same for warp scramblers, as they will turn off your MWD. You should probably look at a stronger tank to use webs and scrams in combat.
PvP - Small Fleet/Solo Roaming
There are so many variation to this its difficult to be specific. There are a couple of design principles that are common at the moment though. First is you must have a point. A warp disruptor is best unless you plan to get really close and can swap to the scrambler.
Next you want to do a lot of damage quickly so damage modules are a common fitting. Remember that stacking penalties make the third module only a little helpful and the forth nearly pointless. Next the current flavour of the month is to fit a large buffer tank with resists. These are good in empire space as you can easily dock and repair yourself for the next fight. They are a little harder to manage in Null or WH space.
People often sacrifice manoeuvrability for tank but this is a bad habit. To control a fight you must control the engagement distance so your weapons are in the correct range band. There is also the fact you may want to run away from a big gate camp. An afterburner at least will help you do this. People using close range weapons should use MWD or risk being ineffectual.
Having a trick up your sleeve is very useful in a fight. The two most common are energy neutralisers and ECM drones or modules. A weapon disruptor could ruin things for a blaster or autocannon boat. A smartbomb can clear enemy drones fast. A fleet fitted with sensor dampeners can really frustrate an enemy. Your creativity comes into play here. Spend some time looking through the Ewar and Engineering modules to see what is useful.
PvP - Large Fleet Op
When joining a large fleet op you pass the responsibility for keeping you alive to the logistics team in the fleet. That means no local armour or shield repairers. There is no way a single ship can repair fast enough to beat the DPS of a fleet of 30+ enemy ships. However a set of 28+ large repairers on 7 logistics ships can do it. You need to give the Logistic team all the help you can though so the standard fit is a large Buffer with resists. The whole fleet will have the same type of fit. People in a ship with the wrong tank will be left to die. A "Buffer Tank" is lots of hitpoints. Always in either shields or Armour. Never both. You will use modules that give you more hitpoints and resistances to reduce incoming damage.
Normally your corp or alliance will specify the fit you must use on big ops. They will typically have an AB or MWD, some Buffer tank with good resistances and some damage modules. Points are usually passed to specialist tacklers (in null sec these are almost always interdictors). Its important to use the fit specified as it allows the FC of the fleet to know exactly what his fleet can do. Alliances often shame people who turn up in the wrong fit.
There are a number of tanking methods available to a pilot. Choosing the right one is part of the fun.
Active Armour Tanking
Armour tanking uses a repairer combined with resistance modules to maintain the armour of a ship. The shields are ignored as just a time buffer. Use a repairer that is the same size as your ship; small for frigates and destroyers, medium for cruisers and battlecruisers, large for battleships. Resistance modules should at least fill the resistance hole in your armour or be tailored to the enemy you expect to fight. For example my mission dominix uses kinetic and thermal hardeners when fighting Serpentis rats to match their damage types. Higher resistances are usually better than more repair ability as it reduces the damage you must deal with. There are three levels of resistances to use; plating, energised plating and hardeners. The hardeners are active modules meaning they use cap but the others are passive. Hardeners give the best resistances.
Armour tanking modules use up low slots on the ship. So do most of the power modules. This is an important matter as you have to sacrifice some protection to power that protection.
An active tank uses up capacitor. In a PvP fight you may only need a couple of minutes of repair. In a mission or a complex you will need constant repair for ages. Thus part of your tank is how you are going to pay the capacitor bill for it. The modules that increase capacitor recharge are; Capacitor Power Relay, Capacitor Flux Coil, Cap Recharger, Capacitor Batteries and Power Diagnostic Unit. Each works slightly differently so read it carefully. The Capacitor Power Relays and Cap Rechargers are the best for armour tanks. You can passively increase capacitor recharge by fitting a Capacitor Battery and you can use a Capacitor Booster to use booster charges to inject cap into your capacitor.
There are rigs which will also enhance your armour tank and capacitor recharge rate. The Capacitor Control Circuit rig has no down sides to it and are a good investment for a mission running fit. Armour rigs vary so you will have to read them carefully. They typically affect your ship speed.
Active Shield Tanking
This kind of tanking is the same as active armour tanking but using the shields instead. The principles are the same except that shields also recharge themselves a little normally (one advantage over Armour). Shield Boosters come in five sizes of which four are for subcaps. This gives you a little more flexibility with fitting. There are two grades of resistances; amplifiers (passive) and fields (active).
Active shield tanking has the same power problems as active armour tanking. The notes above apply here as well.
A new kind of active shield tanking came out with Inferno. The ancillary shield boosters take cap booster chargers and inject the value of the charge straight into your shields (ie a cap booster 400 charge will inject 400 hp into the shields). This is basically skipping the capacitor altogether. The down side is the booster takes a minute to reload so you will run out of tank eventually.
Passive Shield Tanking
Passive tanking uses the shield's natural regeneration as a tank. There are modules you can fit to increase the recharge rate of the shields. You can also greatly increase the recharge rate by increasing the HPs of the shields by fitting extenders. A truly passive tank uses no modules that require power but most people fit a few resistance fields anyway.
The shield recharge rate is based on a bell curve with the peak recharge rate at about 30% shields. At that point your shields are recharging about 3 times the rate than at 90% shields. This sweet spot is also the warning point. If your shields drop below this point then its time to leave.
Passive tanks are largely immune to energy neutralisers and vampires which is a big advantage in PvP. The main disadvantage is there is nothing you can do when your tank is broken and you find out that it is broken at 30% shields.
A buffer tank is just what it sounds like, a buffer. Take one tanking type (armour or shields) and put HP modules on it and some resistances. The idea is to make it take time to kill you. This is either to give you time to kill them or to give your logistics team time to repair you.
This is the common tank for massive fleets where there are 10+ logistics pilots waiting to repair you. Its largely immune to neutralisers and takes little effort to manage. The problem is it is limited. Eventually you will run out and die.
This requires some piloting skill to make it work. If you move fast enough then enemy guns can't track you and enemy missiles can't catch you. You don't have to be going like a bat out of hell. My ishtar speed tanks Serpentis battleships at about 530m/s. This kind of tanking is often combined with another. Eg the aforementioned ishtar has an active armour tank but can punch above its weight by speeding out of the way of the heavy hitters in a complex. Interceptors are almost always speed tanks with a little buffer. You should be careful though relying on speed. A stasis webification tower or a frigate with a web can spoil your tank and make you take damage you can't handle.
Direction of flight makes a difference in this kind of tanking. Never fly directly towards or away from the enemy. That allows guns to track you more easily. Flying perpendicular to their fire is the best way as it maximises your angular velocity.
Speed tanks rely on either and Afterburner or a Microwarpdrive. You need to be able to run that AB or MWD full time or you'll get popped when you slow down. They often have several speed modules fitted too. Be wary of enemies using webs or warp scramblers as they can kill your speed.
On the whole, weapon systems should all be of the one type. Some ships are designed to mix missiles and guns or guns and drones but you shouldn't mix long and short range guns on the same ship. This mean you only get half your damage potential at any range. It is better to make all your weapons standard and fly at the right range to use them all. There are a few exception to the rule. For example you may want to fit an anti frigate weapon. However most successful ship designs use all the same weapon.
You should use the weapons that the ship has bonuses for. Most ships have bonuses listed in their description and many are for particular weapon systems. Choose the right weapons to get the most of your ship.
Select your weapon based on your desired engagement range. Many Gallente pilots try to use blasters in missions only to discover they can't get them to hit. Blasters are very short range weapons and not really suited to PvE. Choosing an engagement range also has to do with how fast your ship is. If you are slow then you better have long range damage projection.
There are three variations of weapon for each class. For example, for medium railguns there are 250mm Railguns, 200mm Railguns and Dual 150mm Railguns for cruiser size ships. While the 250mm have the biggest punch and range, they have trouble with tracking a target. As you come down the sizes the rate of fire and tracking speed increase making the Dual 150mm Railguns the best tracking of the set. Don't be afraid to downgrade your weapons to either get better tracking or make more fit on the ship. Often the lower grade weapons are better for the situation.
Ammo type makes a big difference to how weapons work. You should check the stats on the ammo types for your weapons. Its often a good idea to carry several ammo types to allow you to adapt to any situation. For example I once rescued one of my boffins who had only short range ammo and had got webbed by a tower 50km away. He had no way to attack the tower or the frigates that had scrambled him. Some long range ammo and some scout drones would have made a big difference.
Drones are a common method of dealing with frigates. Battleships should always carry a flight of scout drones. However the drone ships like the Vexor, Dominix and Ishtar are impressive in their versatility. I've used my Dominix for almost all the Gallente level 4 missions. Heavy drones or sentries can put out an impressive amount of damage. The main complaints against drones are that they can draw aggression, get killed or take time to switch targets. There are now new modules to increase drone speed, range, accuracy and damage output (finally).
Electronic warfare tends to work very well against players and poorly against rats. Here is a list of the different types and some notes about them. Some ewar modules use "scripts" as a kind of ammo. Scripts are for one or the other facet of the ewar module. For example a Tracking Disruptor will have a script to affect target tracking and another script to affect target optimal range.
Sensor dampening either increases the time a ship takes to lock on to a target OR it reduces the targeting range of the ship. The second mode is most often used. Its possible to dampen someone's targeting range to 5km or so if you have enough dampeners. The problem is that if you are getting close to the enemy then the issue is moot. You also usually need a lot of dampeners to get the targeting range down for long range ships.
If sensor dampening works against rats then I haven't seen it. Rats seem to have huge targeting ranges and fast lock ons so this just doesn't work.
Electronic Counter Measures (ECM)
ECM breaks the target's lock on a ship and blocks them from re-targeting for 20 seconds. Its extremely effective if you can get it to work. Your chance to jam a target is equal to the strength of the ECM unit (against that sensor type) divided by the sensor strength of the target. Each module activated on a target gets a "roll" to jam. Same with ECM drones. There are four sensor types, one for each race and you need to counter the sensors type of the ship you are facing. The normal ECM modules are very strong against one type and very weak against the others. There is a multispectral ECM unit but its not as strong as the racial ones.
ECM works against rats but when the rat re-targets it will target the jammer. That's not always what you want. An ECM boat in a mission is in trouble.
Drones have four different sensor scores so they must be jammed against each one. This makes them almost impossible to jam.
These modules either ruin the tracking of guns or reduce the optimal and falloff range of guns. They have no effect against missiles though there are rumours that this may change. I think these are under used. That's largely due to the large amount of PvP drakes wandering around. However they "always" work against gun systems. They are especially effective against blasters and autocannons.
These modules work against rats. Especially the range disruption. The result is a reduction in the DPS incoming but since you can only disrupt one ship at a time this is a small amount. Rats are not smart enough to change their range when they are disrupted so they always work. Throw it on a rat battleship and take its damage out of the fight.
Target painting increases the signature radius of the target. This makes it easier to hit with weapon systems larger than the target. For example, if you target paint a frigate it will be easier to hit with cruiser missiles or guns. Its is of no advantage to frigate guns and not a lot of use against battleships. It always works if there is a size difference between target and weapon so battleships often carry them to help against cruisers and frigates. Make sure you turn on the TP before your guns so your first shot gets the bonus. I think it will even help heavy and sentry drones against small target but I haven't been able to get data on this.
Works fine against rats. Works well against you too. If you are a HAC, Strategic Cruiser or smaller then being target painted is going to make any battleships in the field hit you more easily. Get rid of them.
Many pilots neglect the speed of their ship and to be honest in missions a patient person can get away without it. It wasn't until I went to null sec and started using an Ishtar for complexes that I realise how important movement was to your tank and survivability. The smaller your ship, the more important it is. I have heard of people tanking complexes in a fast frigate because the enemy can't lay a finger on them. Killing targets is a bit slow but there are options.
Afterburners use a modest amount of capacitor to increase your speed by 100 - 150% (depending on module). You can usually arrange enough cap to run an AB easily. They make mission and complexes tolerable when there is a commute between gates. On a small hull like a HAC or Strategic Cruiser, they can move you fast enough to avoid the fire of most battleship guns allowing you to tank more stuff. In PvP they will greatly increase your chance of getting back to a gate to avoid a camp or controlling the range of a fight.
If you feel the need for speed then the Microwarpdrive is for you. It gives you a 500% bonus to your top speed. However its not perfect. It doesn't increase your acceleration or ability to turn. That's your ship agility that does that. It also uses a tonne of capacitor to run. To top it off the module reduces the capacitor total just by fitting it. The last drawback is that your signature radius flares out 500%. That means its easier for people to hit you with large weapons. The last nasty surprise for MWD users is the warp scrambler. If someone hits you with a warp scrambler then your MWD shuts off immediately. Having said that, a MWD can make you almost untouchable by conventional ships. Special frigates can catch you but you'll fly rings around a battlecruiser.
Modules You Need to Know About
There are a number of modules that are either useful or dangerous and your should be aware of them. Here is a short list of the ones I can think of.
Damage Control - These amazing little devices are magic. They give resistance bonuses to all damage types on shields, armour and hull. They are the only module that gives hull resistances. The resistances you gain are also immune to the usual stacking penalty. They use a tiny amount of power and are a low slot fitting. Some pilots swear you shouldn't undock without one.
Warp Core Stabilisers - A "Stab" counters one point of warp disruption. That enough to escape a warp disruptor. Two will escape two warp disruptors or a single warp scrambler. The down side is they halve your targeting range and speed. That's not important on a transport though. Highly recommended for low sec operations. They cannot save you from a warp bubble or a heavy interdictor though.
Damage Modules - These are modules that increase the damage and fire rate of your weapons. There is a different type for each weapon group. They are; Heat Sink, Gyrostabiliser, Magnetic Field Stabiliser, Ballistic Control System and Drone Damage Amplifier. There is no point fitting the wrong module. Read the description carefully.
Warp Disruptor/Warp Scrambler - An essential tool for PvP, these modules shut down the target's warp drive. The scrambler also turns off MWDs and is double the strength of a disruptor but has shorter range. They are usually the first module activated in a PvP fight.
Capacitor Booster - These modules take charges like a Cap Booster 800. When activated the module injects an amount of power equal to the Cap Booster rating into your capacitor. IE a cap booster 800 injects 800 points. They are often used to artificially sustain a tank when there isn't enough skills or modules to do it. People run double and triple repairer fits using these. The charges are bulky and you usually can only carry a few at a time.
Cap Rechargers - These modules increase your cap recharge rate. No down side other than using a slot. Great for armour tanks who don't make a lot of use for mid slots.
Smartbombs - These are usually anti-frigate or anti-drone weapons. The do damage in an area effect blast. They use a lot of cap and are very risky to use in high sec as you can accidentally hit structures or people that you aren't allowed to hit. Then CONCORD shows up.
Rigs - There are rigs available for most things. Your ship can use between two and three rigs and they are like implants for your ship. If you aren't using rigs then you should be. The most useful rig there is is probably the Capacitor Control Circuit which increases capacitor recharge rate.
Cargo Scanner - You aren't likely to use it but you need to know it exists. This module may be activated on anyone as it is not an attack. It reports everything in the ship's cargo bay and the containers in that cargo bay. It can't see into a container that is in a courier package. Gankers use this on trade routes and busy stations like Jita to find people moving expensive cargo in cheap ships. If the cargo is worth more than the ships needed to blow you up then they will kill you and loot what they can. It takes only one tornado to kill an normal industrial so that means cargoes over 100 MISK are a risk.
Cloaking Devices - There are three levels of cloaking device. The Covert Ops Cloak is the only one that can cloak and warp and can only be fitted to certain ships. Cloaks will not work if ANYONE has you targeted. They usually slow you down a lot and have a targeting delay after de-cloaking. They also make targeting a ship take longer. Its possible to de-cloak a target by flying within 2000m of them. This means that its not as good at getting away from baddies as we'd like. However, if you are cloaked in a safe spot it is impossible to find you.
Co-Processors - This is a low slot item that increases the ship CPU by a % amount.
Reactor Control Unit - This is a low slot item that increases the ship powergrid by a % amount.
Micro Auxiliary Power Core - This low slot item adds between 10 and 13 powergrid to the ship. Intended for frigates and destroyers.
Power Diagnostic System - This low slot item increases shield HP, shield recharge, capacitor recharge, capacitor amount and powergrid amount.