Flying The Stiletto Interceptor
The stiletto is a Minmatar interceptor that specializes in "tackling" enemy ships. That is, keeping them from escaping by warping out or by out-running other ships. It is an indispensable role in group combat, but also lends itself well to ganking weak targets. As the most flexible interceptor ship in EVE Online, it is a fantastic option for even new players, requiring relatively short skills to be trained as pre-requisites. It is probably the best option for a new Minmatar player looking to try a tech two ship in PvP.
Why Fly The Stiletto
The Stiletto is the most amazing interceptor in EVE Online. Period.
The best, most fantastic thing about the stiletto is that it has four mid-slots, making it the most flexible interceptor in the game. Due to this flexibility, there are several ways to fit it out. It also has a tracking speed bonus, which is excellent for shooting fast-moving light drones, a critical ability for a ship that is too fast to shoot but not quite fast enough to out-run Warrior II drones. This though it can go upwards of 4000 m/s without breaking a sweat (or having maxed out skills).
All this costs a little over 11mil ISK a pop, less nearly 4mil ISK insurance pay-out, as of this writing. Even with modules on top of that, it's pretty manageable for a newish player with a decent income stream to handle losing one, every few days, since an afternoon of level 2 or 3 missions should pay for a couple, without too much sweat. That makes it an excellent tech two ship for players that aren't quite "pro" but are ready to stop flying tech one ships.
Fitting Setup: Tank and Tackle
- x2 125mm Gatling Autocannon II (Ammo: Barrage S)
- x1 Empty
These are the smaller gun options available to you, for reasons of fitting and because smaller guns have better tracking, which is important for reasons that I will explain in a minute. If you like, you can upgrade to 150mm Light Autocannon II projectiles, but this will probably require Advanced Weapons Upgrades V and a power grid-boosting implant (the "Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Squire' PG4 is a good bet for that).
Barrage S is good because you need to get as much range as possible out of your guns, and can't handle too terrible a tracking penalty. In this case, the barrage yields an unbeatable extra +50% falloff range. The tracking penalty won't be a problem, even with your high speed, because of the stiletto's tracking bonus and the high tracking on its guns.
If you don't have tech two guns trained up yet (and I don't blame you if you haven't), use the best-named versions, "125mm Light Prototype I Automatic Cannon." In this case, you should use Carbonized Lead S. If you can afford it, Republic Fleet Carbonized Lead S is worth the pricetag.
The empty slot is necessary because of fitting limitations, though an offline "Salvager I" module might conceivably be helpful.
- x1 Catalyzed Cold-Gas Arcjet Thrusters
- x1 Medium Shield Extender II
- x1 Warp Disruptor II
- x1 Warp Scrambler II
The arcjet thrusters are the best-named frigate-sized microwarpdrive, which offers the same speed boost as the tech two version but is easier to fit (though it does sap your capacitor ever so slightly more). Because fitting the stiletto can be so tight, it is important to get the extra power grid where you can. The shield extender gives some much needed additional hit points, while the disruptor and scrambler are standard tackling gear.
With some fittings jiggery-pokery, you can use an MWD and an Afterburner on the same ship. This is an interesting option because the MWD is used to get to the correct range around an opponent, and then the pilot switches to the Afterburner in order to keep its sig radius down but its speed up, without running out of capacitor. This is a very popular tactic with older players, but may require maxed-out fitting skills and expensive faction modules to pull off. At least, without making any major performance sacrifices.
Pay attention to how fast you are moving relative to a target. If you are moving in a straight line toward him, you are doing it wrong.
One thing you probably don't want to do is fit a "Stasis Webifier." First, your bonus to Warp Scrambler range means it out-distances the webifier. Second, a webifier is usually only a superior option against afterburning frigates. To be fair, it is helpful against light drones, but your ability to kill them is more than sufficient without sacrificing a mid-slot.
- x1 Micro Auxiliary Power Core
- x1 Damage Control II
- x1 Nanofiber Internal Structure II
The power core is needed in order to fit the medium shield extender in your mid-slot. The damage control adds some wonderful resistances and gives you a little bit more structure hit points should your tactical situation begin to deteriorate. The nanofibers give you some more speed and maneuverability, which is always helpful on an interceptor.
- x1 Small Anti-Explosive Screen Reinforcer I
- x1 Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Because the main threat to you from a ship that you are tackling is usually Warrior II drones, as discussed below, protecting against the explosive damage that they inflict is of the utmost importance. Thus, the anti-explosive rig. The polycarbon generally improves maneuverability and speed, which is always helpful.
A second shield rig might be all right, but I eschew it because of the increased signature radius drawback that each one causes. Two is too much for me.
When you see a target that you want to tackle, do not hit approach. Do not hit orbit. This is the most critical mistake that new players make. Instead, you need to manually steer your ship by double-clicking in space, in a spiral that gets you heading closer to your target, yet does not fly directly at him. If you fly directly at a target, you risk two things. First, that his weapons will get a shot at you in which you have a low transversal speed, meaning that you will take a lot of damage (and probably blow up). Second, that a skilled pilot will be able to trick you into getting closer than you perhaps mean to, and thus being hit with a stasis webifier, energy neutralizer, or warp scrambler, any of which could potentially mean disaster.
Generally, you want to stay close enough to a target to use your warp scrambler, but far enough away that he cannot use his un-bonused warp scrambler or web on you. Around 12km will do the trick, though many pilots can over-heat their modules to get a bit more range, and will possibly be able to snag you. If you're worried about that, forget the warp scrambler, stick to the warp disruptor, and orbit around 15km.
The biggest threat to a stiletto, especially from larger ships, are Warrior II drones. They are favored because they are the fastest drone, goes about 5km/second, and are able to harry and destroy ships like the stiletto despite its great speed. Warrior drones will swarm you as you orbit a larger ship, eating away at your shields until you die. Usually, your first order of business is to lock up the drones and blow them up. Hopefully while avoiding damage from your main target, and while maintaining your tackle.
If a ship uses energy neutralizers on you and you are running out of capacitor, try orbiting a bit farther out. Neutralizers can often be out-ranged. If you can't out range them, you may have to either grin and bear it. Possibly ways to cope include getting closer so that your lack of speed is less important, or breaking off the chase and running.
Dealing With Threats
Some pilots have killed Vagabond heavy assault cruiser ships, with a stiletto using much the same fitting. Personally, I would not risk it. One good shot from a vagabond will blow you out of the sky. The Rapier is a Minmatar force recon ship that poses much the same threat, with its bonus to stasis webifier modules and respectable firepower. A Curse might also end up being a threat if it has enough energy neutralizers. It probably would not run out of drones before you ran out of life.
Against other frigates, things get a bit more tricky. Rifter pilots with excellent pilots can often trick interceptors into moving in a straight line toward them, and so being tackled and/or blown up. Other interceptors are kind of a crap shoot: I wouldn't go after a Crusader or a Claw, but I might go after a Malediction or Crow.
Very important: Under no circumstances should you engage a Dramiel or Amarr Navy Slicer. At present, these ships are an annoying "flavor of the month" ship flown by high-end PvPers looking for ganks. It is unlikely that a Stiletto could beat either of these ships in a 1 vs. 1 fight, particularly the Dramiel. This is worth mention and emphasis because so damn many people are flying the Dramiel, which is essentially a better version of the stiletto that costs ten times as much.
Keep in mind that speed is life, and you can do no wrong. In gate camps, especially, never just sit in space. Always orbit a gate to have at least some speed. If you get blown up, buy another and try again. Hopefully you will soon kill more than you lose. If it's too pricy, consider downgrading to a frigate or destroyer (I suggest the Thrasher). Good luck!