Updated Fri, Feb 11, 2011 by Space Junkie
The Drake is one of the most interesting ships in EVE Online, because despite the relative ease with which it can be flown, it sees use in nearly every venue. Mission runners fly it. Solo gankers fly it. Fleet PVPers fly it. Small fleet PVPers fly it. It's a swell ship, and still versatile enough to surprise people. This article covers a basic overview of the Drake's capabilities, how it can be used, and some available fitting options. The example fitting given is one that would find use in small-fleet warfare such as fairly typical null-sec fleets, or a newer PVP corporation's roaming gank squad. I concentrate mainly on the PVP aspects in this article, though there is a large degree of crossover for running missions and NPCing.
The Drake is a battlecruiser, the size of ships between cruiser and battleship. It was added in the Revelations expansion, at a time when CCP was trying to add more versatility to ships, so that they would be less predictable. The Drake's bonus to shield resistances make it the most resilient battlecruiser of any race, and its seven launcher slots and kinetic missile damage bonus allow it to deal a respectable amount of damage without compromising that tenacity.
A Tough Nut To Crack
The Drake excels at tanking damage, and can customize its resistances to handle any race of NPC. Because it uses missiles, it can deal any kind of damage. The Drake is an excellent bait ship, able to take large amounts of damage in order to get attackers to engage, as a trap. The Drake can tank low-security sentry guns, and is thus a decent ganking ship for low-skill empire PVPers. The Drake uses missiles that are small enough to deal at least some damage to any ship, including fast-moving frigates and cruisers, including the kinds of ships likely to attack it while it is running missions. More than any other option, the Drake illustrates the versatility of Caldari ships.
High-Slots: Missile Launchers
Heavies, as the Heavy Missile Launchers are often called, are the long-range missile launcher for cruiser-sized ships. It can hit out to about 60km under typical conditions, and with minimal skills trained.
Heavy Missile types and the damage they deal are as follows:
HAMS, as the Heavy Assault Launchers are usually abbreviated, are the short-range launcher option. They do more damage, but are limited to hitting out to about 13km under normal conditions, or perhaps 16km with advanced skills and tech two ammunition. Because Drakes are incredibly slow and most close-range targets engage outside of 15km, this usually presents a problem. Thus, HAMs are not recommended for a Drake unless the pilot knows that he will be engaging at very close range, such as on a station undock point. In fact, I would go so far as to say that tech one HAMs aren't worth using, period.
Heavy Assault Missile types and the damage they deal are as follows:
Because of the Drake's damage bonus with kinetic missiles and the general applicability of kinetic damage, those missiles should be used, barring special circumstances. The only circumstance under which it might be better to switch is if the target is expected to be particularly resilient against kinetic damage. This might occur if a target is aware that a Drake is going to engage him, and has had a chance to re-fit his modules accordingly. Another possibility is that a target might be set up to fight Gurista NPCs, who primarily deal kinetic damage. Against targets like these, it is usually better to switch to another damage type. Thermal is usually peoples' first choice for generally applicable damage because most ships have very low inherent resistance to it.
The Salvager I module is handy for picking up a little extra isk, no matter what the Drake is being used for.
Mid-Slots: Shield Tank
As most pilots surely know, shields naturally regenerate at a slow pace. The rate at which shield regenerates is dependent on the maximum hit points of the shield. The higher the maximum hit points of the shield, the faster it will regenerate. This regeneration is called "passive" if there is no Shield Booster module in use. Because Drakes inherently have a tremendous number of hit points and very high resistances, these are the strengths that should be emphasized in fitting.
By increasing the maximum number of hit points with shield extenders, the passive shield regeneration is further increased. These extra shield hit points are also protected by the Drakes ferocious resistances. These resistances are boosted even more by the two Invulnerability Field modules. Between them, incoming damage is reduced by about half.
The Warp Disruptor is the point of the entire exercise. Anything that point settles on is going to be stuck there, unless it's faster than the Drake. Which is not too hard, for cruisers and under, but battlecruisers and battleships are going to be stuck, and stuck hard. The "MWD" is useful because without it, the Drake is slow as heck. With it, a decently skilled pilot can exceed 900 m/s. This is the only thing that the Drake's capacitor is used for, with this fitting, aside from very minute amounts used to power the Invulnerability Fields.
Upgrading to named and, depending on what skills you have trained, tech two modules, is par for the course, especially for the shield extenders.
For PVE or missions, swap out the Invulnerability Field modules for specific shield "hardeners" that protect against the specific kind of damage used by those NPCs. Hardeners are anything that increases damage resistance. Also swap out the warp disruptor for an additional hardener. This should make for a Drake that can do most level 3 missions without too much trouble.
The tech one shield hardeners that protect against the different damage types that they protect against are as follows:
Low-Slots: Even More Tank (And A Little Damage)
The Damage Control module, or "DC," increases shield resistances by yet another 7.5%. This may seem like a trivial amount, especially if you have heard of the "stacking penalty" that affects modules when they offer a redundant bonus. However, Damage Control modules are not affected by the stacking penalty, and 7.5% is no joke, especially when the Drake already has such ferocious resistances. Note that a ship cannot fit more than one DC at a time.
In addition to the power grid bonus that makes fitting easier for pilots with few skill points, the Power Diagnostic System or "PDS" as it called, adds an 8.5 shield recharge rate bonus. These extra hit points take advantage of the Drake's wonderful resistances, adding even more to the overall tank.
The Ballistic Control System, or "BCS," is to improve missile damage a bit. The firepower won't be staggering, but fitting at least one damage-increasing module is a good idea.
The reason that I specifically insist on the tech two versions of the DC and PDS is that they only require level four skills in order to be used, the skills required are must-haves for any pilot, they are cheap modules as far as tech two goes, and they yield tremendous benefits.