EVE Evolved: Fitting Caldari cruisers for PvP in Retribution

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EVE Online's recent Retribution expansion brought forth a massive PvP revival aimed at new players and veterans alike. The new bounty hunting and flagging mechanics have added huge incentives to PvP and given industrialists a way to get revenge without getting their hands dirty. New players are also finding PvP a lot easier to get into thanks to changes to faction warfare and a complete revamp of all the tech 1 cruisers.

For the past few weeks, I've been exploring each race's tech 1 cruisers and coming up with new setups you can use in PvP. I've looked at the incredible damage output of the Gallente ships, the impressive tank on the Amarr cruisers, and the still-unmatched speed of Minmatar vessels. In this week's final part of the guide series, I look at the impressive and underrated Caldari cruisers. All of the fittings in this guide series are aimed at older players with at least six months' worth of skill training under their belts, but new players can use them too by swapping all of the tech 2 modules for tech 1 versions.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I give PvP setups for the Caldari Caracal, Moa, Blackbird, and Osprey.

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The Caracal was always just short of being an effective combat ship, never quite pumping out enough damage and always being just a little too slow to tackle. Retribution has rebranded the Caracal as a speedy attack cruiser like the Stabber, and it certainly lives up to expectations. The setup above has a top speed of just over 2.6km/second with the microwarpdrive overheated and can spare mid slots for both a warp scrambler and a stasis web, making it a highly effective tackler.

The Caracal can now dish out over 500 DPS with Heavy Assault Missile Launcher IIs and can hit targets up to 30km away due to its missile velocity bonus. Missile range is effectively shortened when chasing someone at high speed, so the velocity bonus is very welcome on a tackler. Other cruisers may deal more damage than the Caracal on paper, but using missiles means the Caracal can apply a much greater proportion of its damage while orbiting at close range. Small and fast ships like interceptors will shrug off your attacks, but anything bigger will turn into molten poop.

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The old Moa was designed to be a long-range railgun platform, but more often than not, players chose to sticky-tape blasters to it and shove it right down their enemy's throat. With its updated stats and bonuses, the new Moa takes that philosophy to the extreme. The setup above deals 726 DPS with Void M, has a respectable 34k effective hitpoint tank, and regenerates about 72 effective hitpoints per second at peak recharge. Its main drawback is that it's painfully slow, reaching only 2,177 m/s with the microwarpdrive overheated.

The blasters only start becoming effective at around 10km and need to be within 3km to deal optimum damage, so your goal is to get within 10km to start your attack. The warp scrambler and web will make sure nobody can escape once you've closed into this distance, but getting there will be a challenge. The Moa is best used in fleets with dedicated tacklers or against slower targets like battlecruisers, and in both cases, you might consider dropping the web for another invulnerability field.

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The Blackbird has changed the least out of all the Caldari cruisers, getting only minor stat boosts and an extra low slot even though it was previously one of the lowest tier cruisers. The truth of the matter is that the Blackbird was already very good at disabling enemy ships and was being used regularly in PvP, so it really didn't need much of an update. The setup above is a fairly standard rainbow jam fit designed for long-range electronic warfare support, using meta 4 jammers instead of T2 because of their lower capacitor usage. There's plenty of spare CPU to play with if you prefer to swap to multispectrals, but remember that racial jammers have much longer optimal ranges.

Try to stay around 50-90km from the nearest enemy ship and stay aligned to a planet or bookmark so that you can warp out immediately if you come under fire or if an enemy tackler starts burning toward you. The three Light Missile Launcher IIs with T2 precision missiles and two Warrior IIs will help defend against drones and some tackling frigates, and the 1600mm plate gives you just over 18.6k effective hitpoints. It's also possible to squeeze an Expanded Probe Launcher I into this fit if you downgrade a few modules, which can be handy for scanning down mission-runners in low-security space or finding enemies at safespots.

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When the tech 1 logistics cruisers were being buffed for Retribution, developers may have overlooked a few hilarious potential ship setups. The new Osprey is intended to be used with medium shield transporters at a range of around 60km, but it's actually possible to fit large versions and support your fleet from over 90km away. The setup above uses two large and one medium shield transfer and is based on a similar fit designed by player Ethendir on Battleclinic. I tried many different variations on his setup and found this one to be the most well-balanced.

This setup is designed for fleet combat and should be always be flown in pairs, with each ship transferring capacitor to its buddy to generate free energy out of thin air. Even without max skills, a pair of Ospreys linked together like this can run all of their shield transfers flat out. Never underestimate the effect this ship can have on the outcome of a PvP battle, as it can repair almost as much damage as an expensive tech 2 Basilisk. Some players prefer to drop one of the invulnerability fields for a Sensor Booster II or a second ECCM module to provide some resistance to electronic warfare.

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The Caldari tech 1 cruisers have historically been very hit-or-miss. The Caracal was too slow to tackle, the Moa was better with blasters than its native railguns, and the Osprey was relegated to starbase-repairing duty. Retribution has transformed these mediocre vessels into PvP powerhouses, with the Caracal being an effective tackler with massive damage output and the Moa almost matching the Gallente Vexor on damage and tank. The Blackbird is still the most cost-effective electronic warfare platform in the game, and the new Osprey makes a fantastic budget Basilisk.

If you're a new player and want to get into PvP, I suggest signing up to faction warfare and joining some roaming fleets. Swap all of the tech 2 modules in these setups for tech 1 or named versions and use the tech 2 versions and fitting skills as your training goals. It's never been so easy to get into PvP, and I can honestly say that a roaming cruiser fleet is one of the best PvP experiences I've had in any game.

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.