EVE Evolved: Upgrading to a PvP cruiser: Minmatar and Caldari

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EVE Evolved: Upgrading to a PvP cruiser: Minmatar and Caldari
Over the years, I've introduced several friends to EVE Online and tried to give them the best start possible. Offering a financial safety net for ship losses definitely helped a little, as did providing funding to back market experiments and manufacturing or research ventures. What I found helped most of all was to bring new players on quick PvP fleets and discourage them from gravitating toward mining or mission-running as their primary form of gameplay. The adrenaline rush of EVE PvP is something I've yet to find in another MMO, and it's the reason so many of us are hooked to the game. It only makes sense then to introduce new players to it as soon as possible.

Last month, I encouraged new players who might be starting out on their own to grab a few friends and similarly charge into PvP from day one. To follow up, the last two weeks' columns have been dedicated to getting new players into their first PvP frigate and upgrading to a cruiser, with emphasis on staying financially ahead of the inevitable ship losses. Last week we tackled Gallente and Amarr ships, with some cheap battle-tested setups for the Thorax, Vexor, Arbitrator and Omen that new players will be able to fly with only a few weeks of skill training.

In this week's EVE Evolved, we look at Minmatar and Caldari cruisers, with setups for the Stabber, Rupture, Blackbird and Moa and tips on saving your escape pod to minimise the cost of death.

Basic training

As with last week's Gallente and Amarr setups, the fittings in this article assume that you've trained Electronics and Engineering to level IV. The Stabber, Rupture and Moa setups are all shield tanked, so you'll want to train Shield Operation and Shield Management both to level III. Shield Upgrades reduces the powergrid requirements of shield extenders and should also be trained to III or IV. You'll also still want to train Hull Upgrades and Mechanic to at least level III to provide extra effective hitpoints once your shield is gone.

Stabber and Rupture pilots will get most of their damage output from autocannons and so will want to train up Medium Projectile Turret III, Minmatar Cruiser III and all of the turret skills discussed in last week's article. Moa pilots will also want to train the same basic turret skills, but will want Medium Hybrid Turret III for a little extra damage and Caldari Cruiser III for added survivability.

Blackbird pilots will want to train Caldari Cruiser III for the increased ECM jammer strength and optimal range, Frequency Modulation III for extra jammer range and at least Electronic Warfare II. Extra training time should be devoted to getting Electronic Warfare IV and Electronics V, as this opens the Long Distance Jamming and Signal Dispersion skills.

The Stabber is the fastest tech 1 cruiser in the game, with an unmatched ability to dictate the range of conflict and avoid damage through maintaining high speed. The setup above is a speed-tanked damage dealer for small gangs. Maintaining a high transverse velocity by orbiting the target at high speed will reduce your chance of being hit by turrets and high speed will directly reduce incoming missile damage. Because being slowed will make the Stabber very easy to kill, try to stay outside enemy stasis web range (10km) by keeping a distance of at least 12km.

Against a single target, you should orbit between 12 and 15km, getting as close as you can without ever risking falling below 10km. Autocannons have an optimal range of about 1km, but their large falloff distance means that in practice you still deal plenty of damage in the 12-15km range. Against an enemy gang, managing distance from multiple enemies to ensure none of them can web you is tricky. You might instead want to just close in to point blank to increase your damage output, but if that's how you plan to fly the ship then definitely consider getting a Rupture instead.

The Rupture is as deadly at close range as the Gallente Thorax but a lot more versatile. The setup above is a shield-buffered close-range damage-dealer with some serious damage output. Use the microwarpdrive to get close enough to the scrape the paint off the target's hull and open up with everything you've got. This setup uses the capacitor from a medium Nosferatu to feed a small energy neutraliser. The Nosferatu only drains capacitor from the enemy ship if his energy percentage is lower than yours, but against large targets like battlecruisers and battleships this works to your advantage.

If you have more capacitor than the enemy, you'll quickly lose enough energy through the energy neutraliser to begin draining him again. Unless you are also being neutralised, your capacitor percentage will stay roughly around the target's percentage and will only drop low when the target's almost empty. The autocannons don't use any capacitor and the microwarpdrive is only needed to get within range of the enemy, leaving plenty of capacitor for energy neutralisation. Don't be afraid to go completely empty on capacitor, as your damage and tank don't rely on it at all.

If you don't plan to go up against large targets like battleships, you might want to trade the Medium Nosferatu I for a Medium Energy Neutraliser I. You'll run out of capacitor much faster, but will get a short burst of very high energy neutralisation that can knock out a tackler's microwarpdrive from 10km away. If you know you'll have solid tackler support, you could instead trade the Medium Nosferatu I for a second Small Energy Neutraliser I and swap the Warp Disruptor I for a second shield extender to provide a much bigger hitpoint buffer.

Skip over to page 2 to see gang setups for the Caldari Blackbird and Moa, as well as some tips for keeping your escape pod alive.

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