This article is the first in a series dealing with ways to trick yourself out for PVP, beyond simply using modules and skills.
EVE has a thousand different ways to micro-manage success in combat. Implants are one such method, and among the most important. Most players know about the so-called learning implants, but remain ignorant of PVP-specialized implants. This article discusses some of the more affordable yet useful implants with PVP applications.
If you find the actual listings a bit dry, try to think of them as a catalogue to peruse for impulse purchases.
"Implants" You Say?
First, a brief explanation of implants for those of you that are unfamiliar. Implants are installed into your character, in order to provide a bonus until that clone is killed (by having his escape capsule destroyed) or until he relocates to a new body (called a Jump Clone). In the case of jump clones, the implants remain in the inactive clone until the player jumps back into that body. If you don't know what jump clones are, don't worry about the second half of that sentence.
There are ten implant slots. The first five are usually used for learning implants, of which gives a bonus from +1 to +5 to a specific attribute, e.g., a "Memory Augmentation - Basic" implant gives a +3 to Memory, and goes into slot 2.
Because attributes determine how fast skills are trained, they are often referred to as "learning implants." Most professional pilots in EVE Online will always have learning implants installed unless they are expecting difficult PVP, in which case they are eschewed because of the risk of being "podded."
For implant slots 6 through 10, there exist a bewildering number of powerful and interesting implants, called Hardwires, that are often skipped because of the astoundingly poor presentation of them in-game. Each gives a bonus to specific activity or module, like probing or missile damage. If you don't know about one of the bonuses given by an implant mentioned here, try reading my guide on weapon systems to get a better grounding in the game mechanics of EVE Online.
[protip]In low security space, there is a huge security status penalty any time a pilot "pods" a pilot that he is not at war with. Once a pilot's "sec status" gets low enough, he will not be able to enter a high-security solar system. For this reason, many pirates in low-sec will not pod you, making your implants fairly safe, there. Don't assume that a pilot that you're fighting knows or cares about this, though, it's always better to warp out ASAP any time your ship goes boom.[/protip]
Why Use Implants In PVP?
Though the most powerful implants often cost an arm and a leg, and are thus impractical to use for PVP, the middle of the road implants are more palatable, usually costing between ten and twenty million ISK. They provide very significant bonuses, especially when used in tandem with other high-end PVP gear, and on a well skilled character.
More than anything, implants represent an additional bonus beyond that yielded by ship fittings or skills. A character with nearly optimal skills may need to train for weeks just to do another 2% damage, but with a reasonable set of implants he can do far better than that.
Implants are often re-usable because of how slippery escape pods are. When flown by a reasonably cautious pilot they represent a long-term investment that will pay off dividends for many combats.
But Which Implants?
Nobody wants to browse a list of hundreds of hardwires in the market browser. I have sorted a list of the PVP-related implants that I think are most likely to appeal to players. I have sorted them by slot, for ease of selection.
Note that there are several versions of each hardwire, with each having a minor change in name. When referring to these implants or searching for them on the market, it is best to just search for that part of the item. For example, when I want to find a "Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gypsy' KMB-50" I just type KMB-50 into the market search.
For convenience and cost efficiency, I describe with the mid-level implant of each type. Most skillwires of this level impart a 3% benefit, which is just enough to make a different for most things. After each entry, I include the abbreviated name of the other versions of each implant and their respective bonuses, in parenthesis.
Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Squire' PG4
+3% Power grid. While 3% might not seem like much, it can make all the difference in the world with battleship fittings. Particularly handy if skills relating to fitting could use some work. (PG2 1%, PG8 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gypsy' KMB-50
+3% CPU. For a lot of battleship or cruiser setups, 3% CPU can make or break a particular fitting. Particularly handy if you use missile-related rigs, because the CPU penalty caused by that kind of rig. (KMB-25 1%, KMB-755%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gnome' KTA100
-3% Missile launcher CPU requirements. Cheaper than the KMB series, but often able to fulfill the same role when you're shy on CPU in a ship that uses missile launchers. (KTA10 1%, KTA1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Snapshot' ZMU1000
+3% Cruise missile damage. Pro for mission running, and if you fly a Scorpion (the Blackbird's battleship-sized big brother) or a Raven in PVP it could conceivably be useful. Most players prefer not to use battleship-sized missiles in PVP, though. (ZMU500 1%, ZMU2000 5%)
Hardwiring - Eifyr and co. 'Rogue' MY-1
+3% bonus to afterburner and microwarpdrive speed boost. An incredibly versatile implant that will help with nearly every ship, but especially ships that rely on their speed in order to survive. Because nearly every PVP ship uses a propulsion module, you can know that your ISK is being well spent when you plug this in. (MY-0 1%, MY-2 5%)
+3% Turret falloff. Nice for Minmatar battleships, whose projectile weapons tend have significant falloff, and very cheap because turret falloff takes a back seat to turret optimal range in the minds of most players. While correct, if you are firing in your falloff rather than in your optimal, it is exceptional and well worth the cost. (ZGC10 1%, ZGC1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Eifyr and Co. 'Gunslinger' AX-1
+3% Turret tracking speed. Tracking is often underestimated because it is hard to predict the exact effect it will have on damage output. Nonetheless, tracking is often superior to damage bonuses, especially against targets that are small and fast. This is an especially good implant for battleship pilots. (AX-0 1%, AX-2 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Snapshot' ZME1000
+3% Heavy assault missile damage. If you're all about using close-range Drakes (or Cerberuses, for that matter), this is the implant for you. (ZME 500 1%, ZME 2000 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Snapshot' ZMH1000
+3% Heavy missile damage. For longer range Drakes or what have you, these are exceptional. (ZMH500 1%, ZMH2000 5%)
Hardwiring - Eifyr and co. 'Rogue' AY-1
+3% Agility bonus. For the past few patches, ever since CCP's "Need For Speed" push, agility has been almost as important as raw speed. Any speed-based ship will want one of these (AY-0 1%, AY-2 5%)
Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Squire' CC4
+3% Maximum capacitor. Any time a ship receives a bonus to maximum capacitor, it increases that ship's capacitor recharge as a side effect. Because capacitor is useful in nearly every ship and setup, this implant ranks high on my list. This is particularly handy for laser or hybrid turret users, or any ship with an active tank.
Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Lancer' G1-Gamma
+3% Medium laser turret damage. Practically made for the Zealot, which already pours out a ton of damage. (G0-Gamma 1%, G2-Gamma)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZMA100
+3% to missile signature radius bonus with light, heavy, and cruise missiles. This is especially great for shooting smaller targets. If you're in a ship like a Drake or Cerberus, I highly recommend this. (ZMA10 1%, ZMA1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZGM100
+3% Medium hybrid damage. For you Eagle and Moa pilots out there, this adds a little kick. (ZGM10 1%, ZGM1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Eifyr and co 'Gunslinger' MX-1
+3% Medium projectile damage. Recommended for Vagabond pilots or any Minmatar cruiser looking to get a little more mileage out of his guns. Especially nice with the recent changes to projectile ammo. (MX-0 1%, MX-2 5%)
Zor's Custom Navigation Hyper-Link
+5% Afterburner and microwarpdrive speed boost. This is a faction implant, meaning that it can only be found via contracts, and not on the market. It is exceptional because not only is it fairly cheap, but also because it may be used at the same time as the MY-1 implant, mentioned above under slot 6. (There is only one other version of this implant, called Zor's Custom Navigation Link. It requires Cybernetics V to be trained, and only affects Afterburner speed boost. On the other hand, it sells for next to nothing.)
Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Lancer' G1-Delta
+3% Turret rate of fire. Rate of fire bonuses are better than damage bonuses, as long as your turret-related skills are at IV or V. They may make laser or hybrid ships less cap stable, though. (G0-Delta 1, G0-Delta 5%)
Hardwiring - Eifyr and Co. 'Gunslinger' CX-1
+3% Turret damage. This includes lasers, hybrids, and projectiles. Though flexible, it is better to use the G01-Delta, above, unless the character has poor gunnery skills. (CX-0 1%, CX-2 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZGA100
+3% Turret optimal range. Wonderful for any turret user, especially for ships that rely on being able to shoot from afar, including Rokhs, Apocalypses, Megathrons, Zealots, Eagles, and many more. If you need range, this is the implant for you. Often sells for less than a million ISK, too. (ZGA10 1%, ZGA1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZMS100
+3% bonus to explosion velocity of missiles. This means that when one of your missiles strikes a target, that target is considered to be going 3% slower. Because fast-moving targets take less damage from missiles, this is an excellent choice for missile users, especially if you expect to be fighting fast-moving targets. (ZMS10 1%, ZMS1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZGL100
+3% Large hybrid turret damage. An excellent option for Rokh or Megathron pilots.
Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Lancer' G1-Epsilon
+3% Large laser turret damage. If you fly Amarr battleships, this is the implant for you.
Hardwiring - Eifyr and co 'Gunslinger' LX-1
+3% Large projectile turret damage. A guilt-free indulgence for any Minmatar battleship pilot. (LX-0 1%, LX-2 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Deadeye' ZMM100
+3% Missile rate of fire. Wonderful for any missile pilots. These used to be incredibly expensive because of level four mission-runners, but thanks to the loyalty store are now very reasonable. Note that this hardwire gives a bonus to missile launchers of all sizes. (ZMM10 1%, ZMM1000 5%)
Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gnome' KZA1000
-3% Turret CPU requirements. Sometimes just as good as a more general CPU bonus implant, such as the KMB-50, above, but it only costs a song to buy.
There are many, many other hardwiring implants, dealing with every aspect of PVP and PVE. Don't be afraid to poke around them a little bit --if there's a bonus you need, there is probably an implant that can do it.
And don't forget to resell the hardwires that are in high demand. Most people don't have time to schlepp to Jita for an implant every time they explode.
If the 3% hardwires seem pricey for a single digit bonus, try to think of them in terms of overall bonuses. When you have an entire set of five PVP implants, that's more like a 15% bonus. And whether you have really good skills or not, that's a pretty significant bonus. Especially if you're using other high-end PVP tools, but I'll get to them some other time.