Training to use a ship or module is only half the battle. Without so-called support skills, you will be unable to leverage your ship's full capabilities. This EVE Online skill guide deals with gunnery, the category of skills that can improve your character's ability to use lasers, hybrids, projectiles.
Gunnery Support Skills
Turret weapons include projectiles, lasers, and the soon-to-be-buffed hybrids. They inflict instantaneous damage, but can have trouble hitting targets that are fast-moving, at close range, or orbiting your ship. Training support skills for your guns mitigates this, allowing you to inflict more damage overall.
Gunnery support skills improve your use of all three kinds of turrets, which is beneficial if you intend to train for multiple races of ships. They are also handy if you fly Amarr ships, as many of them do as well or better with projectiles than they do with lasers. For that matter, projectiles are so in vogue right now that a pilot of nearly any race could conceivably benefit from them.
Gunnery Support skills in EVE Online are (sorted by skill level):
- Gunnery (level 1): The basic turret skill that increases your damage and allows you to train other skills. It is a quick skill and should at least be trained to level 4 on any turret-using character. Because it is only a level 1 skill it is worth training this to level 5 for PvP, even as a new EVE player.
- Controlled Bursts (level 2): This skill reduces the capacitor needs for firing lasers and hybrids. While critical to players using those weapon systems, this skill does literally nothing for players that prefer projectiles since they do not cost capacitor to fire.
- Motion Prediction (level 2): Improves your ability to hit small or moving targets. This is not critical for missions if you have drones to deal with the fleets of small ships that tend to harass you, since you can still hit the big enemies. This skill is essential for PvP, though.
- Rapid Firing (level 2): This skill makes your turrets fire faster. Since firing faster is generally better than a raw damage improvement, this is a critical skill for improving your mission-running speed or your ability to break a target's tank in PvP.
- Sharpshooter (level 2): This increases your turret optimal range, which is useful for lasers and hybrids, but somewhat less handy for projectiles since they are largely falloff based. If you are flying Minmatar, you can train this to level two and not look back until you are doing PvP.
- Surgical Strike (level 4): Another skill that improves your turret damage. You should at least train a couple levels in it for missions, then train up to 4 for PvP.
- Trajectory Analysis (level 4): Increases your weapons' falloff range. Incredibly important for projectiles, important for hybrids, and so-so for lasers. I think of this more as a PvP skill than anything else, and probably would not worry about getting more than a few levels in it for low-level mission-running.
In short, you are best off training gunnery to level four, getting a few levels in everything, and then training up the skills that are particularly useful to your weapon type.
Advanced Gunnery Skills
There are some modules in EVE Online in which it doesn't really matter if you use the Tech I version or the Tech II version. Turrets are not in that category. In more than almost any other module in the game, Tech II turrets provide a huge improvement over their Tech I equivalents. This is because the modules themselves are better and also because the Tech II specialization skills impart a significant damage bonus when using Tech II turrets.
Grinding up the skills to use Tech II guns can take months, so it is not something that new players will often embark on until they have trained several other areas of skills. Still, they make a tremendous difference, regardless of whether you are running missions or practicing piracy in the asteroid belts of low-sec.
The Tech II gunnery skills are:
- Blaster Hybrids: Small Blaster Specialization, Medium Blaster Specialization, and Large Blaster Specialization.
- Railgun Hybrids: Small Railgun Specialization, Medium Railgun Specialization, and Large Railgun Specialization.
- Autocannon Projectiles: Small Autocannon Specialization, Medium Autocannon Specialization, and Large Autocannon Specialization.
- Artillery Projectiles: Small Artillery Specialization, Medium Artillery Specialization, and Large Artillery Specialization.
- Pulse Lasers: Small Pulse Laser Specialization, Medium Pulse Laser Specialization, and Large Pulse Laser Specialization.
- Beam Lasers: Small Beam Laser Specialization, Medium Beam Laser Specialization, and Large Beam Laser Specialization.
Some Final Advice About Training Gunnery Skills in EVE Online
All too many players make the mistake of assuming that bigger is better. These players spend weeks training into battle cruiser or battleship hulls and then have guns that hit infrequently and, even then, for little damage. A player with a disciplined skill training plan that focuses on frigate-sized weapons and the related support skills will usually outperform a player in a bigger ship with bigger guns that has not trained their support skills. The moral of the story is: the more you train, the more you cause pain.
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