Editor’s Note: This is the first article of many that I’ll be cross-posting over on Talking in Stations. Expect more of my usual posts as well as new writers as time goes on. If you have big ideas and fancy trying your hand at writing them up in a more public way then get in touch and I’ll gladly help out.
One of the most common questions I get in EVE Online has to be “Ashy do you have a fit for x?” Usually the answer is that I do and I can dig it up later on. If I can’t find that specific meme in my list of 2,000+ Pyfa trash, though, I’ll need to make it there and then. What I want to share today in this article is how I personally go about that process. The theory has been covered in depth by EVE Uni, and Jester’s Trek already, so I want to keep this short and sweet with my own personal spin. Think of it as the idiot’s guide to theorycrafting, going over the key areas that you need to know about to get a foothold in this wonderful part of EVE Online.
I know,, I know it’s an obvious one. Of course you need to know what modules do what to actually fit something. But you’d be surprised at how many people I see fitting an Armour Layering Membrane in place of an Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane (EANM). The difference between those two being that one gives a minuscule percentage increase to armour, the other a uniform set of resists. Another example being the Capacitor Power Relay + Shield Booster combo. A Power Relay is great, it gives you SO much more capacitor… until you actually read it and see that it’s reducing your shield boost amount…
EVE theorycrafting is full of these little nuances that you just kinda have to know. I’d love to create some sort of AI that shows you workable alternatives, but I don’t know how. Instead, I’ve created a few lists below of piloting styles with their key modules and some one-liner style tips that you might not have thought of. If you’re new and unsure about any acronym then google EVE <acronym>, that usually works.
- XLASB for cruiser and up, LASB only on tight fitting, MASB is for frigates.
- Ancillary Armour Rep + Plate is a thing for max buffer; Plate + T2 Rep is inefficient.
- Almost always maximise rep amount to get the most from your charges. Nano pump > Nanobot Accelerator.
- These can be considered “active buffer”. An XLASB is just a buffer tank that runs out when your charges do.
Speed/General Prop Mod Stuff
- Restrained > Enduring, usually. A restrained MWD gives lower signature and better cap life through reduced cap penalty. Enduring usually isn’t good enough to match this.
- Oversized prop fits have slow aligns. This translates to the time it takes to reach 75% velocity. Consider this your acceleration and your turning speed.
- Align times generally round up. Try and keep your align as close to x.99 as possible to avoid waste
- 1600mm plates are preferable on most cruisers and above. Sometimes it might be worth switching to a faction version to get a better align time.
- Energized resists can be replaced by Corpii A-Type resists to save a lot of CPU.
- Combinations of navigation rigs + armour modules or vice-versa have negative penalties for speed and buffer.
- Dropping the Damage Control can be a very good option on many ships.
- Passive tanks can often tank a lot of damage providing you have the EHP. If someone breaks past 25% shield, though, you’ll drop fast.
- Caldari extenders help with CPU, Minmatar ones help with PG.
- Make the most of your low slots. Usually this means aiming for high damage.
- Many polarised-weapon ships can effectively use lots of shield extenders, rather than plates.
- T2 Shield Resist Rigs are cheap, T2 Extenders are NOT.
- Racial ECM is usually better than multispectral.
- Sensor damps are often a good choice on unbonused ships, especially in fleets.
- Compact scrams are a quick and easy downgrade, but keep them at T2 if you can for the range boost.
- Sensor Boosters are often a good all-round module to have if mid-slots are spare.
- An Auto Targeting System I can give you more lockable targets for minimal CPU/PG.
- Nos modules will not work if the target has less actual capacitor than you. This makes large nos usually a poor battleship choice.
- Battlecruisers can often benefit heavily from making room to fit a self-link in a high slot.
- A small neut can sometimes be enough to save the day against tackle.
I’d like to think that anyone could look at the above list and know exactly what to do. Unfortunately, ISK doesn’t grow on trees and players aren’t born with an inherent knowledge of what goes where. Outside of all of those tips you really have to understand certain basic principles like how a ship can be bonused towards shield/armour/hull. Or on a more basic level, the difference between short and long-range weapons. When making a fit you take this knowledge and sandwich it together in the following formula:
Experimentation([Basic Principles] * [Type of Fit] * [Hull Choice] + [Fitting Method])=[goodFit]
Ok that’s all a bit silly but we can break this down properly and dive into what each of those key areas are. The first is to really just know some of the more basic elements of the game and how they interact. Here’s an incomplete list of “things everyone knows” in a nice, easy-to-read list.
- Stacking Penalties exist for most modules. Damage controls and Reactive Armour Hardeners are in their own stacking class.
- Hull tanks have the opposite of this. Each bulkhead gives more EHP than the last.
- Gallente ships typically have bonus hull. Always try to fit a Damage Control on them and consider nano’s carefully (they reduce hull).
- Minmatar ships are historically the fastest and fit either shield or armour, usually.
- Amarr ships are slow, heavy armour ships and Caldari ships are slow, heavy shield ships. Simple.
- T2 resists can be “calculated” by looking at the weapon damage which they oppose. Minmatar’s enemy for example is Amarr who use lasers. Therefore T2 Minmatar ships have extra EM/Thermal resists.
- Pirate factions tend to take on characteristics of the two racial ship lines you need to fly them. Read their descriptions.
- Long range guns have poor application (Rails, Arty, Beams, Light/Heavy/Cruise Missiles).
- Don’t mix shield and armour unless you know what you are doing
- Don’t mix tanking styles (Passive/Active/Buffer)
- Always have a plan for how your setup will get into range of and apply to the enemy.
- Don’t just look at cap stability. How much cap resistance do you have and how many Gj positive are you?
- Alpha damage through your reps is a common problem. Tanking 2k DPS is no good if your shields are blown away between every cycle.
- Have a clear goal in mind for what one job the fit will perform. There are rarely exceptions to this and hybrid fits almost always fall down against a proper dedicated fit. (i.e. no exploration + PvP)
- If all else fails, work towards the bonus of your ship and the slot layout. Read it!
- Don’t be afraid to use a ship for something weird and unusual. Just compare the numbers to conventional fits and see if you’ve made something better. Break any of the above rules if you know what you are doing.
Types of Fit
Classifying every single fitting into the game into a concise list is pretty much impossible. Instead, here’s a list of most of the possible ways to fly a ship in EVE Online. You can mix and match with some success depending on environment and in many cases that’s exactly what I would expect. Ancil tank plus a lot of speed, for example, is a very common way of running a kiting ship such as an Orthrus.
Kiting – The conventional way of being an elite solo PvP player. Often found glued to phrases such as I’m feathering my Kestrel so hard right now. This is the act of flying fast and keeping out of range of your opponent while still holding them with a warp disruptor. These kinds of ships usually want to move quickly with high acceleration for changing directions (low align time!) They will sometimes be equipped with defensive scrams, webs, or neuts to prevent faster ships from approaching them easily.
A derivative of this is known as scram-kiting and typically involves an afterburner and fighting at the edge of scram range. This helps turn off the opponent’s MWD and might keep you out of range of their weapons.
Brawling – This is what it says on the tin. You get in close and slug it out with a big tank and hefty close range guns or hard neuts. A good example of this is the dual or triple rep Myrmidon. Without much speed or weapon application, it can’t hit targets at long range and will wait for targets of opportunity at close range when it scrams and grapples them. Most brawling ships won’t have the luxury of such a big tank, though, and must always be sure to have a way to close in on the target.
Skirmishing – is a bit of a mix between brawling and kiting. These types of fits are usually very fast with high damage and disengage potential. They find a target, hit hard, then leave or burn away before hard tackle comes to hold them down. My own Drekavac fit is a great example of this. The long range disintegrator ammo is another bonus, giving them the ability to kite to an extent as they burn around. Hecates often work in this way despite technically being brawlers. A fleet of four can drop 3k+ DPS and leave before backup arrives.
Overprop – While this is often seen as a method of skirmishing in order to maintain an ability to disengage, I’d put them in a class all on their own. The concept involves putting a 10mn AB on a frig/dessie, or a 100mn on a cruiser/battlecruiser. This will blow your align time somewhere into next week and make your turning circle that of a freight train. Among fitting issues this makes an overpropped cruiser quite difficult to fly. If you can manage it though, you can attain some serious sig tanking and “fuck-off-ability”. As a rule, aim for about 22s and below for your align with these ships.
Sig Tanking – Speaking of sig tanking…. This is the process of keeping a small signature radius and dodging bullets like Neo. It’s the signature (ha, get it) tool used by Sansha’s Nation ships such as the Succubus. I don’t want to start talking about every type of tank here, but the way a sig tanker is piloted is quite different to many others and demands a specific approach to theorycrafting. Big shields are a nono and sometimes light drones can be your worst enemy.
Support Ships – Often a ship that performs a supporting role is clearly defined as logistics, EWAR, or fleet boosting. The key to theorycrafting these ships is to strictly the follow the rule of doing one job. Think carefully about engagement range and build everything around surviving and continuing to harass safely for as long as possible. This might include small autocannons on a hybrid ship purely for killing drones. HAMs on a Rook might also be a novel idea, but it sure isn’t the most effective way to apply ECM.
Once you’ve picked just what sort of ship you’re going to fly, you need to picture it in your head and imagine how it’s going to work. This is a necessary step in narrowing down the available options in the first place. Let’s say you’re after a sig tanking frigate. It’s possible to use almost any frigate to perform in the role, but going for AB Punisher won’t be nearly as effective as a Dramiel or Succubus.
Normally what I start doing now it throwing on an equivalent T2 fit to all the ships I want to fly and seeing how they perform against each other in Pyfa. Try similar amounts of nanos, similar range weaponry, and similar tanks to see which starts to edge it’s way ahead. You can then focus on one or the other and refine using the method described in the next section.
Starting from the other side of things is also entirely possible and probably a more common question for younger players in EVE. “How can I fit this ship?” An obvious answer is to read into the ship bonuses and see what CCP is trying to make it do. A rep bonus obviously means you should probably fit a rep, tracking/range bonuses probably means long-range guns are preferable! Outside of that, or if the bonuses aren’t exactly clear, it’s a good idea to just try things out and compare different methods of fitting and see what sticks.
One line of thinking for the Rupture, for example, might be well a shield tank is fast and gets 27k EHP with 558 DPS, but the armour tank gets 40k and 424 DPS with webs too. So you have to weigh up in your head if you’d rather the damage and speed, or the tank and webs. It eventually all comes back to knowing what to expect in your combat environment. Picture in your head just how this ship is going to engage and what potential threats are; it can always be reevaluated after you die. This process is vital and I can stress the importance of general EVE knowledge and learning from your mistakes enough.
So with everything else covered, the barebones method of fitting itself comes into play. A prerequisite here is to have Pyfa installed. The sheer amount of information on display, storage of fits, and experimentation options make it so much better than Ghost Fitting in-game.
I’d start by suggesting that you fit exactly what you want and check out the PG/CPU. Literally just throw on the guns/tackle/tank/prop(s) and see how well it fits. In many cases it won’t and it will need rejiggling by way of module downgrades or faction-ing. This process, however, needs you to know a hell of a lot of different ways to do the same thing. A common choice could be to drop navigation rigs to fit a nano and use rigs for fitting space.
Once your fledgling fit is in a place where it can actually be built, it’s good to start running through your choices and just trying out the options. You might, for example downgrade two of your gyrostabs and drop the web to enduring just scrape up the CPU for a medium neut rather than a small. You could also swap damage mod > damage rig and use the newfound lowslot to gain more tracking. The nuances that describe changing fits in this way can hardly be explained in a simple article, though. It’s always been a case of tinkering and watching EHP/Speed/Align/Damage/Capacitor/everything move up and down. A good theorycrafter is someone who can effectively manage that and pick the best tool for a specific planned job.
And unfortunately, that’s about all the information I can give without going into specific fits and talking them through. Writing that up in an article is just asking for this to turn into a textbook-based lecture. I’d much rather put together a video talking through some theorycrafting on the fly. That’s something I’ll perhaps do in time, but until then, Lasker has an excellent video on the topic. Enjoy~