Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guide: Frigates and You

EDIT:  This was written in 2011, and has not been updated to reflect the Retribution changes to frigates. 

So you just graduated from flight school, and plugged your pod into the spaceship the academy gave you, civilian equipment and all.  Maybe you accepted a mission to take out some pirates, and found out that your ship seems a little… underwhelming.  The good news is, there are a lot of frigates that you can very quickly upgrade to.  The bad news is there are a lot of frigates to choose from.  Six per race, to be precise.  So how to choose?  Luckily, frigates fall into a few categories, defined by the bonuses on any given hull.


Every single ship in Eve has at least 2 ship bonuses.  Some have more, but are generally more advanced Tech II or Tech III hulls that are a bit beyond the scope of this article.  The bonuses on each ship will tell you how it is intended to be used.

These bonuses can be grouped, to some extent, and the following list is by no means complete:
  • Offensive: Bonuses relating to weapon damage, rate of fire (ROF), range (optimal or falloff), missile velocity or flight time, and for some Amarr ships, turret capacitor modifications.
  • Defensive: Just about anything with the words ‘shield’ or ‘armor’ in the bonuses is designed to increase defensive capabilities.
  • Industrial: Mining turret and cargo capacity bonuses.
  • Electronic Warfare (EWAR): These bonuses  are intended to take away capabilities of other ships, are include bonuses impacting stasis webifiers, warp jammers, ECM, sensor dampeners, turret disruptors, and many other things that are generally painful in pvp settings.
  • Specialty Bonuses:  Most Tech I (beginner) frigates do not have specialized bonuses. These are often related to a Tech II hull designed for a specific role.

Usually you will want to add modules to your frigate (often called ‘fitting’) that will benefit from the bonuses on the hull.  By fitting to your bonuses, you maximize your ship for the intended use.  So don’t use a Navitas (with cargo and mining bonuses) as a combat ship, use an Incursus or Tristan.

A final note on bonuses:  They are multiplied by your racial ship class skill.  This means  if you have Gallente Frigate trained to level 4, your Incursus will receive a 40% bonus to small hybrid turret falloff range (4 x 10%) and  a 20% bonus to small hybrid turret damage (4 x 5%).  Read the bonuses and races closely to make sure you are fitting properly!

Frigate Types

By now you probably want me to get on with it and just tell you what to fly, right?  Well, I won’t.  I will however give you a pretty table that may help you.

Tech I Frigate Roles
Tech II Role
Electronic Attack Ships
Inquisitor, Punisher
Kestrel, Merlin
Incursus, Tristan
Breacher, Rifter
Assault Frigates

As you can see, there are 4 main classes of frigates, and I have split them based on hull bonuses and general characteristics.  But many ships can blur the lines.  All four “Fast” frigates can be effectively flown as combat frigates, and there are cases where you would rather use the fast frigate to transport goods, or use a combat frigate to fulfill an EWAR function.

I also mapped out the Tech II roles that each ship class leads to, although that is a separate topic to cover properly.

Final Thoughts

Frigates are among the most varied and interesting class of ships in Eve.  Creative fitting can make a player who has existed for a few hours a force multiplier in PvP.  Frigates are fast and can get a player through situations that would be fatal to larger, slower ships.  Frigates are also a brilliant place to learn how to fit ships, and to learn one of the fundamental concepts of Eve:  Choose and fit your ship to a specific purpose.

New Eden is more often than not a hostile environment, and although you may feel underpowered and overwhelmed in your first few frigates, stick with these ships.  Learning to fly and fit frigates is a stepping stone to choosing specialities, learn how to fir larger ships with more options, and when to follow and break fitting rules.

Fly safe!

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