There's gear and then there's gear. The clothes make the man, and in EVE Online your gear is your clothing, at least until the Incarna and Incursion expansions are released. Once you reach a certain level with your skillpoints, and settle on a more or less standard ship fitting, your gear is the main factor that differentiates your ship from those flown by other players. An extra 3% here and there is not going to make a humongous difference, but the aggregate total of several such bonuses will have an effect on your performance whether you are PvPing or running a difficult mission.
Tech two modules are the most obvious quality milestone. But once you have all tech two modules on your ship, there are still ways to leverage your ISK into greater effectiveness. This guide presents an overview of reasonable options to explore for kitting out your ships and your self.
The closer you are to maximizing your skills, the more important extra bonuses become.Even seemingly minor advantages begin to matter.
Faction modules are usually just a smidgen better than their tech two counterparts, though this small difference can make all the world, especially with regards to getting a module to fit despite a shortage of CPU or power grid on a ship. Some ships have such tight fitting that they can't really be flown effectively unless their pilot is using faction modules.
Some faction modules are more than just a little better than their tech two counterparts. For example, the "Republic Fleet Warp Disruptor" has an extra 6km of range, allowing one to prevent targets from warping out at ranges of 30km, before overheating or any ship bonuses. With the various ships that receive a bonus to warp disruption range, like interceptors or the Gallente recons, this can reach pretty absurd ranges. That extra quality costs a heap, though. As of this writing, that there republic fleet gizmo will run you for around 160mil.
To maximize your ISK to effectiveness ratio, try sticking to modules that you only need one of, that will give you an advantage in your area of specialty on a particular ship. For example, getting a faction shield booster is generally more practical than getting several faction shield hardeners. Or fitting a faction "Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane" is a better idea than fitting seven faction lasers.
Pimping a ship out is all right, but going overboard with expensive modules, especially for PvP ships, is probably less desirable than being able to afford several ships with one or two faction modules, apiece. A good rule of thumb is that if your faction module flourish costs more than the rest of your modules combined, you are wasting ISK.
Though tech two ammunition has a few high points with regards to Scorch crystals, Barrage projectile ammo, and Scourge Fury missiles, faction ammunition is generally the way to go when you need more bang for your buck. They deal +15% damage with no drawbacks except their cost.
For PvP or difficult combat missions, faction ammunition is pretty much the new baseline for damage. It is probably the single best thing that a player can spend ISK on, to improve damage-dealing capabilities. Most PvP players probably don't worry about carrying more than three or four loads of faction ammunition at a time, unless they are going on an extended rampage.
The ship class that probably benefits most from faction ammunition is stealth bombers, who often have trouble fitting tech two missile launchers, and are all about their offense.
Once upon a time, rigs were expensive and rare. Without a thriving bank account, pilots needed to go without them. With a few exceptions, this era is long over. Rig slots are basically just a different kind of fitting slot.
There are some differences, of course. Armor-tanking ships get the shaft because of the high price of armor rig ingredients. And forget about tech two, they are pretty much just for capitals or supercapitals, on account of their cost and calibration limitations.
The best rigs depend on your ship race and type. Some guidelines:
- Small and medium rigs of every sort are so cheap that it is just plain kooky nuts to not use them. Even moreso for tech two ships. If you can afford a tech two ship, you can afford rigs.
- Shield rigs are incredibly cheap, and often useful for plugging up an EM damage vulnerability, especially in the case of Caldari ships.
- Capacitor rigs don't really have any drawbacks, and are incredibly useful on any ship type, but especially so for cap-thirsty Amarr ships.
- Gallente ships probably vary the most in their rig options, though it is noteworthy how lamentable the drone rigs are. Depending on the circumstances, Gallente ships benefit well from armor, shield, or capacitor rigs.
- Minmatar ships often thrive with some combination of projectile and astronautics rigs, though shield rigs play no small part of their fittings, as well.
- Practically all small ships benefit from using astronautics rigs to boost their speed or agility.
- Covert ops and dedicated salvaging vessels are unlikely to die under normal circumstances. It is therefore a safe investment to procure rigs relating to their area of specialty.
Learning implants are an obvious long-term investment, but there are also implants that help with mining, research/invention, manufacturing, and nearly every aspect of flying a ship. Not investing in some of the cheaper ones that affect your area of expertise is silly. Ten Ton Hammer already has a guide to PvP implants, and there will be a guide to PVE implants later this week, so I will eschew naming specific implants, here.
If you are going to fly an expensive ship, you should also go to the trouble of getting similarly pricy implants. It matters.
Even when I am PvPing, I tend to keep at least +1 implants installed. One never knows how long you could be stuck in a particular system, logging off to try and keep your fancy ship alive. Time without attribute-enhancing "learning implants" is time wasted.
Come up with a "standard implant set" list for flying in your favorite ship, to try for consistently getting the most performance possible while spending the least amount of ISK. It is well worth it, especially when you consider that implants have far better survivability than ships and modules.
When I first heard about drugs in space, I assumed it was relating to a David Bowie music video. It turns out that they are special bonus-imparting consumables with a somewhat high price tag attached.
Combat boosters and their bonuses are as follows:
- Blue Pill: Shield boosting amount.
- Crash: Missile explosion radius.
- Drop: Turret tracking speed.
- Exile: Armor repair amount.
- Frentix: Turret optimal range.
- Mindflood: Maximum capacitor/capacitor recharge.
- Sooth Sayer: Turret falloff range.
- X-Instinct: Signature radius reduction.
There are four grades of boosters, with stronger varieties having more intense side effects. From weakest to strongest, the varieties of each booster and their bonus amount are: synth, standard, improved, and strong. These once had standardized bonus amounts (3%, 10%, 15%, and 20%, respectively) but have been tweaked by CCP to the point where that is not an especially helpful guideline.
Synth-grade boosters do not have any drawbacks, and are also not illegal in high-sec. The other kinds of boosters will be confiscated if the NPC customs police that lurk on most gates in high-security space see you with them. To avoid this, use a covert ops to move the boosters to the system where you plan on using them, or to low-sec/null-sec. As long as you warp directly to gates and cloak as quickly as possible, the customs police are unlikely to have a chance to hassle you about your illegal cargo.
The most important thing to realize about them is that, although their drawbacks can be severe, selecting the proper ship and booster combinations can serve to minimize or eliminate any risk of those penalties actually mattering. Take "Standard Drop" as an example: if you use it on an Apocalypse, the penalties are all of minimal importance (most apocalypses will not care about velocity, shields, or turret falloff, and most PvP setups will not worry about armor repairers). Many other such combination exist.
The second thing to realize about boosters is that, although they are a tad bit pricey for most players, they are not affected by stacking penalties. You know how when you use a module giving a +10% bonus, a second module of the same time will only give a portion of the benefit, and additional bonuses of the same time will yield even more diminishing returns? Combat boosters sidestep that, and impart unmitigated bonuses. They are therefore an incredible option for a player that already has great skills, great modules, expensive implants, and is still looking for an even greater edge.
Still More Phat
There are even more elite ways to gear up, of course. "Deadspace" modules dropped from exploration sites, and "officer" modules dropped from mega-rare NPCs are generally the best equipment in the game, though their prices can range from the hundreds of millions into the billions. As a result they usually find use on supercarriers, titans, or "maxed out" mission running ships.
And speaking of ships, there are always tech three cruisers or faction battleships, if you really want to get recherche. These ships scream pricy, though.
A Final Word About When To Splurge
For newer players that don't have so much in the way of skillpoints, they are yet another way that ISK can be used to narrow the gap between them and more advanced characters. If you are financially successful in EVE but have not yet been playing long enough to maximize your PvP skills, you should consider actually putting your ISK to use, and helping make up for any skill deficiencies.
It is much safer to use expensive gear on PvE ships, particularly mission-running ships, since the circumstances of their usage are so much more controlled. There can still be problems, though, when using them on ships like marauders or faction battleships, which just scream "suicide gank me" when running missions in high-sec space. There are entire corporations devoted to this activity, and they usually scan your modules before they decide whether or not to gank you.
Have no doubt that using superior gear will make you more effective, but also recall that it only takes one bad decision to nullify any advantage that you might have gained from it. Be careful out there, and when in doubt, stay safe.