EVE Evolved: Fitting Minmatar cruisers for PvP in Retribution

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Ever since EVE Online's PvP-focused Retribution expansion landed last month, I've spent most of my play time hunting for kills in cheap PvP cruisers and loving every moment of it. The standard tech 1 cruisers used to be underpowered ships that new players used as a stepping stone into more capable battlecruisers or tech 2 cruisers, but Retribution buffed them to ridiculous proportions. Every tech 1 cruiser was given extra module slots and stats, and the low-tier cruisers were buffed up to the same level as the highest-tier hulls. Believe it or not, these cheap ships that new players can comfortably fly with just a week of skill training have become competitive PvP ships.

In the first two editions of this ship fitting series, I put together new ship setups for each of the Amarr and Gallente tech 1 cruisers. This week, I've been zipping about the universe at high speed in the Minmatar cruisers and putting together effective ship setups that can take down some huge prey. The Stabber has been transformed into a competent miniature Vagabond that can keep enemies at arm's length and nibble them to death, and the tanky Rupture remains a highly effective close-range brawler. The Bellicose now excels in an anti-tackler role, and the Scythe is a throwaway remote repair platform that uses speed to stay safe on the battlefield.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I give PvP setups for the four recently revamped Minmatar tech 1 cruisers.

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In the cruiser world, the Stabber is the undisputed king of speed. The setup above is a Vagabond-style fit designed to hold enemies at arm's length and pummel them with autocannon from a distance. Medium autocannon have almost point-blank optimal ranges but incredibly large falloff distances, so you can still deal just over half your maximum rated damage from over 20km away. The prey of choice for the Stabber is slower ships with close-range weapons, which covers most other cruisers and even battlecruisers and battleships.

While the setup above deals only about 200 DPS to a moving target at its effective operating range of 20km, it has all the time in the world to nibble slow prey to death. You'll be fast enough to dictate the range of engagement, and the aim is to stay between 18km and 21km from your target. Be careful not to let any enemies get within 12km of you as medium energy neutralisers, stasis webs, and warp scramblers will all stop you dead in your tracks. If it's a choice between losing a kill by letting him get out of warp disruptor range or losing your ship by getting warp scrambled and having your microwarpdrive shut off, pick the former.

The microwarpdrive can run continuously off the small cap injector, which can hold either two Navy Cap Booster 200s or one Navy Cap Booster 400. You have enough buffer to handle the damage from light drones and can generally outrun larger drones as long as your microwarpdrive isn't disabled, but avoid missile ships and snipers if possible. For a little more defense against frigates, you can swap the missile launchers for small energy neutralisers and upgrade the microwarpdrive and shield extender to tech 2.

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The Rupture has always been a fantastic, survivable damage-dealing platform for highly mobile fleet warfare, so it wasn't changed much in Retribution. The Rupture is as subtle as a brick in the face, charging head-first into point-blank range at around 2km/second and tanking as if it were a battlecruiser. Some of the old high-damage setups no longer work as one of the high slots was moved to a mid slot, but this opens more options for shield tanking and tackling.

The Rupture makes a fantastic solo PvP armour tank when fit with 220mm autocannon and a 1600mm plate, but I have a real soft spot for shield-tanked Ruptures. The setup above is a shield-tanked damage-dealing platform for gang and fleet combat and should be paired with dedicated tacklers to hold faster ships down. It has none of its own tackling gear but is about 550m/s faster than an equivalent hitpoint armour tanked version, can regenerate between fights, and deals significantly more damage.

The Tracking Enhancer II makes fast-moving targets easier to hit and lets you deal about half of your maximum damage from 17km away. The main decision to make is whether to go with three Gyrostabilizer IIs and one Tracking Enhancer II or two of each. Two tracking modules will give you lower peak DPS but let you deal a higher percentage of that damage at distances over 5km, which should help more in a real fight.

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The Bellicose isn't so much a strict electronic warfare platform as a specialised combat ship designed with one goal: killing tacklers. It doesn't quite have the damage output of the other cruisers, but its bonus to target painters means it can light a frigate or interceptor up like a Christmas tree. Some Bellicose setups use the mid slots for tackling gear, but it doesn't really have the speed to reliably get within web or warp scrambler range of a good interceptor pilot. With that in mind, the setup above is designed to kill tacklers from a distance without any support.

This setup can deal about 200 DPS to a moving interceptor within 42km with Caldari Navy light missiles and Warrior IIs, or about 230 DPS within 21km with tech 2 precision missiles. It has enough speed to dictate range against pretty much anything larger than a frigate and enough hitpoints to take a few hits from smaller ships. Though it has 40 Mbit drone bandwidth, you're better off using only 25 for a full flight of Warrior IIs. Most good frigate pilots will also try to kite and destroy your drones, but you have enough extra space to carry three spares.

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Veteran players will remember the Scythe as a mining ship, but since Retribution, it's been seen on the field as a highly mobile remote shield support platform. It can't repair as much as its tech 2 big brother or the Gallente and Amarr remote repair cruisers, but it makes up for that with extremely high mobility. The setup above is a bit of a squeeze but can comfortably fit a 10mn microwarpdrive, raising the Scythe's top speed to a hair over 3km/second. This is a huge strategic advantage for the Scythe, as it can hang back during combat and outrun practically everything cruiser-sized and above that tries to approach it.

The ECCM module is absolutely essential as Minmatar ships already start with low sensor strength, and so the Scythe will be very vulnerable to ECM without one. Enemies will often underestimate the strategic value of a tech 1 cruiser and may ignore you; if you find yourself being ignored by enemy ECM jammers, swapping the ECCM module for a Cap Recharger II will let you run all three shield transfers and the microwarpdrive flat out. Similarly, you might want to drop an invulnerability field for a second ECCM module if you're being constantly jammed.

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Minmatar ships are designed to be the fastest things on the battlefield, able to dictate the range of engagement and evade damage rather than tank it. The Stabber is still the absolute king of speed, able to hit a top speed of around 3.5km/second, and the Scythe uses its speed to stay safe on the battlefield. The Rupture is still a solid damage-dealer for fleet combat, while the Bellicose is death incarnate for frigates and interceptors. If you prefer brute force to the finesse of speed-tanking, tune into next week's EVE Evolved when I'll be looking at the newly updated Caldari cruisers.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.