After seeing too many bad loadout I decided to write the following guide. There are many articles covering specific components of ship fitting, and this guide put more emphasis on the fitting process rather than the mechanics of individual modules. Please please point out my errors and suggest improvements. Also please excuse my English as it's not my first language.Step by Step Guide on How NOT to build a BAD fighting ship
This guide will not help you make the best or most creative fit, but is intended to help NEW player with the process of fitting a ship and avoid some common mistakes. For commom acronyms, both full names and acronyms will be used when they first appear, and only acronyms will be used subsequently. Some simple but important rules are high-lighted, make sure you don't break them unless you really know what you are doing.Step 0: Setup EvE Fitting Tool (EFT).
Download it from http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=548883
if you haven't already. EFT is extremely useful, and together with EvEMon, are must-haves for any serious player. Get your EvE Online API from http://myeve.eve-online.com/api
and import the the skills of your character. If you intend to fit a ship for near-future, you can manually increase the skills you are training. I will not cover the details of how to use it, as it's fairly intuitive.Step 1: Decide the purpose of your ship.
You need to know what you want to do with the ship before anything else. Are you using it to run missions & kill NPC pirates (PvE/missioning/ratting), or use it to fight other players (PvP)? For PvP, are you going to be the scout, the tackler (fix opponents in place and prevent them from escaping), the main damage dealer, the long range sniper, or the electronic warfare (EWAR) guy? Or do you plan to do PvP solo, in which case you will be both the tackler and the damage dealer? Each of these uses & roles require a different setup, and some ships are more suitable for a certain role than others. Never try to build an "all purpose" ship,
because in the end it's going to be unsuitable for any purpose. Instead, choose only ONE purpose and design your ship around it. Most of the guide will deal with common elements of a combat ship and focus more on PvE setups. PvP is much more complicated and unpredictable, so a newer player who wants to do PvP should refer to various PvP guides and maybe join a PvP corp to learn from the more experienced pilots.Step 2: Choose the right ship.
First choose the right size/class. Bigger is not always better. Don't buy a ship just because it's the biggest you can afford
. For example, the big guns on your battleships will have harder time hitting fast moving frigates, and even when they do it is not very cost-effective. For PvE, use frigate-sized ships for level 1 missions and high-sec ratting, cruiser-sized ships for level 2 missions, battlecruiser(BC)-sized for level 3 and battleships(BS)-sized for level 4. It's generally okay to use one size up (e.g. BS for level 3), and if you are skilled enough, one size lower would also work most of time (e.g. frigates for level 2). Also notice I said X-sized ships, which include the main T1 ships and their T2 variants, such as Assult Ships (AS/AF) for frigates, Heavy Assult Ships (HAC) for cruiser. In PvP, almost every class of combat ships has its use, and your role and your target will decide the best class to use.
All T1 classes of combat ship and many T2 classes have two or more ships per race. Which one to choose is somewhat more complicated and personal. Usually there is one that is heaviest and packs most firepower (the "brute"), and other ones lighter and more agile. Read the text description and bonuses of each ship and choose according to your fighting style. Sometimes your skill point (SP) distribution will help you choose, for example if you have a lot more SP in missiles than gunnery, choose a ship with more missile hard-points and bonuses missiles, such a Caracal instead of a Moa for a Caldari cruiser. For PvP your role will again be the deciding factor.Before you continue, make sure you are familiar with the basic concepts related to ship fitting. You should at least know the meaning of modules, hard-points, high/mid/low slots, CPU, power grid (power/PG), capacitor, T1, T2 and "named". You also need to know how turret weapon and launcher weapons work. If not, read the corresponding official guides at http://www.eve-online.com/guide/en/mn06.asp. Step 3: Choose your weapon.For a combat ship, always fit weapons first
, because 1) they will use the majority of your CPU and power, and 2) your tactics is most strongly connected with your choice of weapons. The mid and low slots need to fit according to the tactics (e.g. your desired speed and range) and use left-over CPU and power. The exception here are special purpose ships, such as dedicated EWAR ships, in which case you should first put on modules directly serving that purpose.
Even though there are huge number of specific weapons in EvE, your actual room for choice is fairly limited. The bonus of your ship will decide the major type (e.g. hybrid, energy, projectile, or missile launchers) and the major size (e.g. small, medium, large and extra-large for turrets, and similar choices for launchers). Always use the weapon type you get bonus for
. At this point you still have 3 dimension of choices for turrets, or 2 dimensions for missiles. Eliminate one dimension according to your prefered or anticipated engagement range. For turrets, use blasters/pulse lasers/autocannons for shorter range and more damage, or railguns/beam lasers/artillery cannons for longer range. For launchers, use rockets/heavy assault/siege for shorter range and standard/heavy/cruise for longer range. Assault launchers are only used on a cruiser for smaller targets.
Now for turrets you still need to choose the minor-size (such as 75mm/125mm/150mm for small railgun). Here your fitting related skills comes into play: with maxed out skills, you can usually fit them all with the largest weapon of the major size, for example 7 x 425mm Railgun for a Megathorn, 5 x Heavy Pulse Laser for a Maller. However with lower fitting skills you may not have enough CPU and/or power.
If you are just a little bit (1~4%) over budget on power, consider putting a Power Diagnostic System (PDS/PDU) in a lower slot as it gives you 5% additional power and some other benefits at a very low cost. For a frigate-sized ship, an auxilary power core (gives you 10~12 units of power) might be a choice, but you should really avoid it since it takes away one of the few low slots of a frigate-sized ship without any additional benefit. If you are a little low on CPU, try one of those "named" versions (e.g. neither T1 or T2) with lower CPU consumption. Alternatively you can just those train fitting related skills such as Engineering, Electronics and Weapons upgrade. If you are over budget on power and/or CPU by a significant amount, use weapons of one size lower till they fit. For example, if you are 15% over budget on power fitting 7 x 150mm Railguns on a Cormorant Destroyer, try 7 x 125mm.
Once the minor-size is fixed, you'll need to choose a specific variant of the weapon, e.g. T1 vs named vs T2. The following table applies to all types modules, not just weapons.
"Useful Attributes": T2 > named > T1
CPU & Power Usage: T2 >= T1 >= named
Market Price: "the better" named > T2 > "the worse" named > T1
For weapons, the T2 variant also gives you the option to use two types of T2 ammo, which presents you some tactical flexibilty during combat. So use the T2 variant whenever your fitting skills allows. Otherwise, choose the best named you can fit and afford. If you are low on ISK, consider using the "worst" (meta-level 1) named, as they offer a slight increase of useful attributes and saves you a lot of CPU (and sometimes power) at a fairly low price. If you are really broke and can only afford the T1 variant, forget about using that ship for now (unless it's your first true frigate) and start saving for ISK, because you probably can't afford losing that ship. Never use a ship you can't afford to lose.
Until now I have been pretending as if you can only fit either turrets(guns) or launchers(missiles) on your ship. Many ships have high slots for both, but that doesn't mean you should use both. Why? Usually each ship has bonus for only one type of weapon, and you should take maximum advantage of it. Using only one type of weapon also allows efficient use of weapon upgrade modules. So if your ship bonuses on a turret weapon (and likely has more turret hardpoints than launcher hardpoints), use up all the turret hardpoints, and vice versa.
Sometimes you still have one or two high slots left. If you have hardpoints for the other weapon-type and lots (>%15) of power & CPU left, you might fit those weapons, but make sure they have similar range as your main weapon. Alternatively, you may consider using energy vampires (Nos) or energy neutralizers (Neut), especially if you plan to fight in close range. Generally speaking, use Nos if you are low on capacitor balance, Neut if you have lots of extra capacitor output. You should probably make this decision after you filled the mid/low slots, since there might be major capacitor users there.
I am obliged here to mentioned the Principle of Not Mixing Guns. Generally speaking, use the exact same type of guns
. There are considerable debate on whether there exist any exception to the Principle. Personally, I believe in the following rules: never mix guns to provide "point defense"; never mix guns of different major sizes (e.g. vastly different ranges); never mix guns if you get lower damage per second. Go read the many threads on this topic and decide where you stand.Step 4: Fit additional propulsion, or not
Speed is another thing closely related to your role and tactics. As such, it's important to decide early whether you need an afterburner (AB, taking you to 500~1000m/s), a Micro Warp Drive (MWD, taking you to 1200~2000m/s), or neither. For PvP, a MWD is often a requirement. For missioning, MWD can't be used (since missions generally take place in "deadspace") while an afterburner is often very helpful, allowing you more effectively "kiting" the rats (if you have longer range), or getting within your weapon range faster (if you have shorter range). and reaching the wrecks faster. If you choose to use a propulsion module, use one with the right size.
An 1MN AB on a cruiser is just pointless. You should know the drawbacks of the MWD (increased signature size) and AB (increased align time). Don't worry about overdrive injector or nano-fiber structure for now, as they're considered fine-tuning and will be covered later.Step 5: Fit role/use specific, must-have modules
These include a warp scrambler (scram) or warp disruptor, and usually a stasis webifier (web) for tackler and solo-PvP. For long range sniping, sensor booster (and script) and/or signal amplifier is often needed if your weapon range is way over your targetting range. For specialized T2 ships, this means modules that receives a "role bonus", such as cloaking devices on covert ops, stealth bomber and black ops ships: it would pointless to use these ships without such modules.Step 6: Decide your tank
In EvE "tank" means the ability to sustain damage. Of the three layers of defense, only shield and armor are used for tanking. Caldari ships tank shield, Armarr and Gallente ships tank armor, Minmatar ships can usually tank either shield or armor. You can also get some clue by comparing the inherent shield and armor amount, as well as the number of med and low slots: more med slots means it's probably easier to tank shield, and more low slots indicates it's better to tank armor. Never tank both shield and armor
. There also exists a technique called "speed tanking", e.g. to avoid/reduce taking damage using high speed. This is particularly effective for small-ish ships that cannot tank shield/armor very well but can easily obtain very high speed. I will not cover it here since it's very different from shield/armor tanking, and is a more advanced topic. Some players choose not to tank at all, using only the built-in tanking capability: you'd better know what you're doing if you choose to do so.
There are three components to a tank: hit points (HP), resistance (resist) and recovery rate. A few types of modules exist to increase each of the three. In an ideal world you want to increase all three of them, but with limited slots, CPU, power and capacitor, you often need to make some compromise. An active tank focuses on increasing the recovery rate using shield booster or armor repairer (rep/repper), while a passive/buffer tank focuses on increasing the hit points using shield extenders or armor plates. Focus on either active or passive, not both
Whether to use active or passive tank depends on a few factors, but the most important one is your capacitor usage. Generally speaking, if you haven't used much of your capacitor at this point, an active tank may be a better idea. Fit a armor repairer or a shield booster of the appropriate size (e.g. small for a frigate, medium for a cruiser, etc). For shield, you may also consider fitting a booster amplifier, which increases yours booster efficiency by 30%~36%. If you are already fairly tight on capacitor, use a passive tank. For shield, passive tank is also more desirable if the ship has a fairly high natural recharge rate or has a bonus on shield amount/recharge rate. This is because the shield recharge time for a ship is fixed, so the more shield you have, the faster it's going to recharge. Thus a very strong passive shield tank might have a natural recharge rate closer to the boosted recharge rate of an active tank. Armor does not have such property since it doesn't naturally recharge/repair. Notice that modules that increase your HP also have drawbacks: armor plates increase your mass thus lowering your speed, while shield extenders increases your signature, making you easier to target and hit. Improvements on resistance is desirable for both active and passive tanks, and we will cover resistance modules in the next section.Step 7: Fine tuning
By now you already have all the key components in place: firepower, speed and defense. You probably still have a few mid and low slots left, and some surplus CPU / power. And you may either have a deficit or surplus on capacitor usage. It's time for fine tuning, where your creativity, style of play, willingness to compromise, and wallet size comes into play. Everyone does this part differently, and I'm simply going to describe my usual approach.
First consider the capacitor budget. A decent surplus on capacitor gives you a few options to bolster your defence: armor and shield hardeners increases your resistance by a very sigificant amount, while shield power relays exchanges capacitor recharge rate for shield recharge rate - very useful to further strengthen a passive shield tank. An additional repper might also be used for active armor tankers. If you still have quite some surplus capacitor and you're planning to fight in fairly close range (such as being a tackler), consider putting a neut in an open high slot. Or just leave it there: surplus capacitor allows you to fire certain types of T2 ammo, and gives you some breathing room if your opponent uses nos/neut on you.
If you are using capacitor faster than it recharges, don't panic. Not all modules needs to be on all the time, especially major cap hogs such as the MWD. See how long your capacitor will last, and compare it with your anticipated length of the battle. A capacitor that lasts for 10 minutes should not be a problem for a battle that lasts 5 minutes.
If capacitor is indeed a problem, there are many modules to help: a power diagnostic system is the best option if you're 5% or less over-budget and have an empty low-slot; capacitor batteries give you additional capacitor size (and as a result, also boosts cap recharge rate), but take lots of CPU and power; capacitor rechargers increase your cap recharge rate by 15% to 20%; capacitor flux coils take way some capacitor size but signficantly increase capacitor recharge rate, while a capacitor power relays increase capacitor recharge rate by sacrificing shield recharge rate, operating as the exact opposite of shield power relay; capacitor booster takes a few types of "charges" (like ammo), and inject them into your system, giving you from 1.6 to 57 units of additional capacity per second depending on the booster and charge size - particularly useful if your capacitor balance is very negative and you don't have enough slots/cpu/power to fit permanent capacitor enhancement mods. If you are still having problem with capacitor after using these options, you probably did something wrong in an earlier step.
For a bigger ship you should still have some slots left. You can use them for the appropriate weapon damage upgrades, such as a ballastic control system (BCS) if you're using missiles or gyrostablizer/heatsink/magnetic field stablizers for projectile/laser/hybrid weapons. For turrets you may also consider the tracking modules, which increases your range and tracking ability - they are more useful than damage upgrades if you're having a hard time hitting things. For the more defence oriented, there are also plenty of mods to use. A damage control unit (DCU) gives you a healthy increase in reistance over-the-board at a low cost, and can be used by shield or armor tankers. Notice only one DCU can be used on each ship. You generally want one or more passive or active resistance mods for your tank: active resist are better than passive ones if you have the excess capacitor and CPU. To increase speed (after putting on the main propulsion module), you may use nano-fiber structure, or overdrive injector for better MWD performance. Which and how many mods to use is a matter of your style, but remember most such mods have stacking penalty: using more of the same type will give you smaller and smaller benefit. Most people try not to fit more than 3 such modules of the same type.
The fine tuning process requires you to go back and forth between modules, and make every effort to increase your offense and defensive capabilities, little by little. This is also when the differences between T1, named and T2 variants can make a big difference. For example, sometimes you'll have to use a named variant instead of T2 for a certain mod, so you can squeeze in some mod in another slot, increasing the overall capability of the ship. Make the best use of every bit of CPU and power, and never leave a slot empty. Step 8: Pre-flight & in-flight fitting
One great thing about fitting ships in EvE is you can change them anytime you are in a station. Refit your ship for your potential adversary. This is particularly easy and useful for mission running, since you know ahead of time the exact type of rats you'll be facing. In this case, refitting involves changing armor/shield resistance modules to the main damage types of that faction. For missile users, you should also load the type of missiles that does damage to the rats' weakest resist. It's slightly harder for gun users, as gun ammo do two types of damage, and the ammo have varying ranges. Refer to the official EvE online guide on missions for the damage and resistance type of each faction. You can also find it in many players' Bio.
For PvP this is more complicated. If you know who you are going to engage, great, use the right type of resistance modules and ammo. In fact, you should also consider changing other parts of your ship fitting if you know a lot about your human opponent(s). But more often in PvP, you don't know anything about who you're going to encounter. In this case, don't leave any of your four resistance type too weak, and carry a few types ammo in the cargo, be ready to change them right before and/or during the battle. Against a tough enemy, consider swapping the ammo that kills his armor most efficiently after taking out his shield. More importantly, you should pick your target wisely so your ship fitting is suitable for engaging him while his is less capable of damaging yours.Step 9: Read & post fitting on BattleClinic
Either visit the loadout forum on BattleClinic website, or browse them in EvEMon. Study the top rated loadouts of the ship. Some people would say this should be the first step. But the top rated loadouts have varying (and most often, high) SP requirement, and their role/use may not be the same as yours. Copying the top rated missioning loadout wouldn't do you much good if you use it for PvP. If you do find a loadout that you like and suitable for your purpose, but lack the skills to fit it, try replacing the T2 modules with some named variants. Sometimes you may also downgrade the weapons by one caliber to make it work for you.
Try to find similarities between the best loadout: this usually indicates the ship is, in some sense, "meant to be" fit that way. Read people's comments: they tell you what is good and what can be improved on, and sometimes they would also describe a ship or tactic to counter that specific loadout - you should watch out for such counters.
As long as your setup fits (e.g. doesn't exceed CPU or power requirement), you can post it on BattleClinic's loadout forum. Don't worry if your ship isn't as powerful or fancy as the other ones there: the forum welcomes loadout for every skill level. Just make sure you describe the intended purpose of the ship and the skill requirements. And ask kindly for people comments. Never just put a one-line description, "this is the best loadout evar!" - unless you want to farm negative karma. Also don't post a Drake loadout unless it's particularly creative: it will be locked very soon.Drones, Rigs, Faction & Commander Modules, and Cost
I didn't talk about drones because I never played Gallente and don't know enough about drones. I just have a few combat drones in my bay and send them out during a fight. See the further reading section for guides to drones.
Rigs or "ship modifications" are not covered here, because they tend to be fairly expensive, and you probably wouldn't use them until you get a battlecruiser or a T2 cruiser. The purpose of this guide is to cover the basics for new players and point out some common mistakes, and rigs is not part of them. In fact, the only common mistake about rigs I can think of, is to fit expensive rigs on vulnerable, throw-away ships. Once you started to using bigger and more expensive ships, rigs will become more important, and you'll often find rigs increasing certain capabilities of your ship by 5~20%, or freeing up one or two mid/low slots for other uses.
For the same reason I'm ignoring faction and commander modules here. Faction mods are expensive, and commander mods are usually very very expensive, and neither are available on regular market. By the time you can afford them, you really shouldn't be reading this guide. The good news for new player is, they don't offer their owner a big advantage as their price may suggest. In my opinion, only when you're very good at fitting should you consider using them, because before that you can improve your ship much more cost-effectively with normal modules. And make sure you have the neccesary skills, not just the SP but also the fighting skills of you the player. Of course you're free to use them if you really have too much ISK to burn, but do remember that you will be a more lucrative target for pirates, who found out you are faction/commander fitted.
I touched a little about cost in this last section. You'll use the same principles about costs as in real life. Personally, I try to use modules that matches the value of the ship. For example, I wouldn't spend more than 5m on a T1 frigate. But some other people put the best modules they can afford on every ship they fly, which is also quite valid especially if they're more are concerned about the safety their implants in low-sec/null-sec. Whatever you choose, you should know that your ship will be lost at some point, no matter how good it is (go read about the Gold Magnet) or how good you are, and you should be able to afford the loss both financially and mentally.
Some further reading:
The Official Player Guides on EvE Online: http://www.eve-online.com/guide/en/mn06.asp
Collection of guides on various modules: http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=793368
EvE Online forum's good fittings: http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=801041
BattleClinic guides: http://www.battleclinic.com/forum/index.php/board,141.0/FAQ-s-Tips-Guides-and-Questions.html