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Flying The Caracal In EVE Online

Posted Thu, Sep 30, 2010 by Space Junkie

The Caracal is one of the most popular early-game mission running ships for newer players, due to the ease of use and aptitude for running level one and level two missions. Though it shines brightest when inflicting kinetic damage, the flexibility of missiles lets the caracal custom-tailor the damage it deals for the specific kinds of NPCs that it will be fighting.

Why Fly The Caracal?

The best part about the caracal is that you can be flying one in missions within a day or two of starting EVE Online, and run missions as your learning skills train up. A lot of new players will train up learning skills before they start on combat missions, and I consider that time wasted. Running missions during your first few days will give you a crash course in how to play EVE, and get you started grinding your standings with an NPC corporation, which is something that most EVE Online players will want to do sooner or later.

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The caracal is a great early mission-running ship, and you can stay in it until you are ready for level 3 missions.

Another point in the caracal's favor is that even though you can start using it within a day or two of starting EVE, you can keep using it until you are ready for level three missions and a drake battlecruiser. The missile and shield skills used for a caracal are just as handy with a drake or raven, which is the path that most Caldari players chose for advancement, eventually diverging into other stuff once they can run level four missions and generally have a decent ISK income.

Out of all the tech one cruisers, the Caracal is the best at using missiles, and the relatively high damage output allows it to run many missions without even having an active tank. It also has a smattering of light drones, which can be useful for getting rid of NPC frigates.

All this for a minimal cost. As of this writing, the hull can generally be obtained for less than three million ISK. Even if you botch a mission, the cost of the lost ship will be so low that even fairly new players should be able to handle it.

Bare Bones Caracal Skills

The following skills are the minimum required to use a caracal for running level 1 or 2 missions. For pilots eager to dive right in, I recommend the following skills:

  • Hull Skills: Caldari Cruiser I, Caldari Frigate IV, and Spaceship Command III.
  • Missile Skills: Missile Launcher Operation II, Standard Missiles I, Weapon Upgrades I, and Gunnery II (this last so that you can use some "Ballistic Control System I" modules in your low slots).
  • Shield Skills: Shield Upgrades I, Tactical Shield Manipulation I, Engineering III, and Science I.
  • Drone Skills: Drones II and Scout Drone Operation I.
  • Propulsion Skills: Afterburner I and Navigation I.

The only skill you need to train to level IV for this is Caldari Frigate, though fittings may be a pain without training Engineering, Electronics, and Weapon Upgrades up to at least level IV, each.

High Slot Modules (Missile Launchers)

  • x5 Assault Missile Launchers I

Assault missile launchers are used by cruiser-sized ships to do a bit more damage to frigate and destroyer-sized ships. They're great for low level missions because those missions are largely filled with NPCs within that class.

Your default ammunition of choice with these launchers is "Bloodclaw Light Missiles" which inflict kinetic damage. You may want to shake this up a bit depending on whom you are fighting in a given mission, but once you have Caldari Cruiser trained to IV, it is probably best to stick with kinetic damage to fully benefit from your damage bonus, unless you are fighting an NPC that is especially strong against kinetic damage.

Medium Slot Modules (Propulsion and Shield Tank)

  • x1 10mn Afterburner I
  • x2 Large Shield Extender I
  • x2 Invulnerability Field I

An afterburner is important for moving around missions in a timely manner. In lower-level missions, this is more important for not letting NPCs swarm you, or getting within range of a wreck containing mission-critical loot.

Your shield extenders and hardeners are to give you a whole bunch of extra hit points. Hopefully, they will be enough that you don't need to warp out of a mission and wait for them to recharge. For level one missions, the invulnerability fields should be quite sufficient, but for level 2 missions you will probably need to change them out based on what mission you are doing. Use a site like EVE-Survival to check out what kind of NPC you will be fighting, and change your shield hardeners accordingly.

The damage-specific shield hardeners and their associated damage types are as follows:

  • EM Damage: Photon Scattering Field I
  • Explosive Damage: Explosion Dampening Field I
  • Kinetic Damage: Ballistic Deflection Field I
  • Thermal Damage: Heat Dissipation Field I

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