Greetings, Capsuleers! Eve is a very unique game. Above all, Eve favors those who can gather, plan, and execute on the most up to date information. It is a game of who knows more. Today, we will discuss the defining attributes of some of the weapon platforms used in frigate sized pvp, with all skills to level 5 simply as a standard for comparison. Please be aware that this guide will not give you information on all of the available weapon platform variants, just the ones that I have personally come across as the more popularly used ones by lower skill point pilots. However I do hope that this will give you an idea of how the different weapons generally interact with its environment.
I have provided a diagram from Eve Fitting Tool depicting 5 weapons and its respective ship that receives a bonus for the weapon – blasters, pulse lasers, autocannons, light missiles, and drones. We will discuss these weapon systems primarily in the context of T1 frigate hulls. Now let’s talk about the defining characteristics of each.
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BLASTERS – Part of the hybrid weapons family, this is a high DPS, short range weapon that sees bonuses for the Gallente and Caldari racial line. These can only deal thermal and kinetic damage.
PULSE LASERS – When equipped with the T2 ammunition Scorch, can effectively reach targets beyond 10km. Primarily used by the Amarr, these can only deal EM and Thermal damage.
AUTOCANNONS – When equipped with the T2 ammunition Barrage, can project damage beyond 10km comfortably. However it suffers from relatively low DPS. This weapon is primarily used by the Minmatar and has selectable damage types as far as the T1 and faction ammunition is concerned. What this means is that you can use a particular type of T1 or faction projectile ammunition to deal a specific damage type – EM, Kinetic, Thermal, or Explosive.
LIGHT MISSILES – A high damage per volley weapon that sees bonuses primarily for the Caldari and Minmatar racial line. These have selectable damage, much like the projectile ammunition used for autocannons.
DRONES – Although other racial ships do have a drone bay, the Tristan is the only T1 frigate with bonuses to drone tracking speed and hit points. Effectively, drones use a type of turret based weapon themselves. If you were to look at the “SHOW INFO” of any combat drone, you will see that it has the following attributes – optimal range, accuracy falloff, and tracking speed / accuracy. These attributes are also present in any of the other turret based weapons of the other races.
Now that we have discussed the general descriptions of these weapons, let us next compare them to see which one would be more appropriate in certain situations. We will refer to the diagram and break down their numerical values to have a better idea of where each weapon has an advantage over its counterpart.
DAMAGE – The blasters top this category at 143 DPS, followed by the pulse lasers, light missiles, autocannons, and finally the drones. One thing to note on this comparison – missiles are typically compared using damage per volley as opposed to damage per second. This is due to the nature of missile flight. Missiles need to travel from the missile bay to the target. This action creates a delay from the moment the missile is launched to the moment damage registers.
EFFECTIVE RANGE – Drones shatter this category by quite a significant margin. Drones can be controlled as far as the Tristan’s max targeting range of 50km. Second to the drones are the light missiles, followed by autocannons, pulse lasers, and finally blasters.
Now armed with this information, you might ask the question, “What is the best weapon to use?” I counter that with another question of my own to you. “What are you willing to give up?” Understand that these same attributes are simultaneously a source of advantages and disadvantages.
Blasters may be the highest DPS source, but it has incredibly short range. Drones may be best at projecting damage from afar but once the drones themselves are destroyed, then you will lose all source of damage. Missiles may do significant damage per volley but what if you have the wrong damage type loaded and the time it takes to load the correct one will cause your destruction? In short, there is no best weapon to use all the time. Rather there is the best weapon to use in a very specific situation where you will mitigate most of the disadvantages and exploit the advantages to destroy your enemies.
Let’s take what we’ve learned about weapons so far and flesh out some fits. Since only certain weapons have bonuses for certain racial lines, you can have an idea of the general feel and capabilities of a ship. Let’s take 2 ships that run on opposite sides of the spectrum.
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(Newbro Tip: Don’t be afraid to utilize your low and rig slots for fitting modules that will give you more CPU or Power Grid in order to fit over sized or generally more powerful modules. If you believe having this type of module will add more survivability or DPS to your fit as opposed to using that low or rig slot for something else, then experiment and see if it works for you.)
Note that these fits are for instructional purposes only and may be sub-optimal for use in your own organization. The key here is that these fits seek to make the ship more able to apply damage based on the weapon used. Kiting fits needs to maintain range and brawling fits need to have effective gap closing capabilities. Now let’s compare some key attributes.
DPS – The Atron crushes this category with 193 DPS compared to the Kestrel’s 121 DPS. However, be aware of the Kestrel’s 953 specific damage type per volley. In optimal conditions, the Kestrel could literally take out almost 1/3 of the Atron’s HP in one volley if the Atron mismanages its armor repairer or positioning.
EFFECTIVE WEAPON RANGE – The Kestrel outclasses the Atron in this match up. T2 Light Missile Launchers loaded with high damage variant (Fury) T2 Light Missiles can reach up to 47km as per the diagram. The Atron can only effectively apply damage with its own high damage variant ammunition up to 5km.
RANGE DICTATION – This is where piloting skills come in. If the Kestrel can keep the fight at the edge of warp disruptor range, it wins. If the Atron can close the gap, apply web and scram, and properly manage its armor repairer, it wins. According to the diagram, the Atron has a max speed of 3700m/s compared to the Kestrel’s 2767m/s. If the fight doesn’t start from too far of a range, the Atron can reasonably catch up.
TANK – Don’t be fooled by the EFT numbers here. The Atron may have more effective hit points and and an ancillary armor repairer, but the Kestrel’s Medium Ancillary Shield Booster (MASB) can essentially burst repair itself much more effectively than the Atron. However, the MASB has a much more limited lifespan than the ancillary armor repairer due to the MASB shutting off once its out of charges. The ancillary armor repairer can keep running even without charges, although at much lower repair rates.
SLOT LAYOUT – The Kestrel has a very distinct advantage in this category. Notice that the Kestrel has 4 mid slots. It has fitted an added EWAR module. The Atron simply cannot do this due this to its own slot layout limitations. With a fitted Tracking Disruptor, the Kestrel can diminish the effectiveness of the Atron’s blasters if it manages to get within scram and web range of the Kestrel.
So who wins this match up? The one that can achieve more win conditions than its enemy, which is directly linked to piloting skills and awareness as opposed to skill points. However, there is one more layer to that question. If the pilot acknowledges that he cannot achieve his own win conditions and disengages, then he denied the enemy a kill. That, ladies and gentlemen, will always be a win in my book.
Thank you very much and I do hope to expand on the concepts that I explained to you today. Remember, the more you know, the more you can kill. Fly safe and good fights.