A lot of the fits that I talk about on this site are low-cost beginner pilot builds. Destroyers, T5 cruisers or even frigates: these ships are perfect for beginner PvP pilots because they are easy to fly and easy to replace while still allowing you to take on 95% of ships that you encounter in your life as a pirate.
But sometimes, you want something more. Sometimes you want a true predator - the kind of ship that can go toe-to-toe with even the toughest PvE ship and which even other pirates learn to fear. If that is the kind of power you seek - and you are willing to throw down >100mil on a PvP ship - then I humbly suggest you consider the Caracal Navy Issue.
THE TARGET: EVERYTHING
Typically, I use this section to create a narrow profile of ships that we intend to hunt. The reason for this is that making a specialized craft to hunt specific targets allows us to build light, tight and efficient builds that punch above their weight.
But this time, we don't care about "efficient." We want to be able to kill whatever we come across, and we don't care what it costs (within reason - I'm still not putting 200mil of faction mods on a PvP ship).
So, we want something exceptionally fast - since that allows us to catch and keep up with our targets effectively. It also allows us to escape gate camps and the untimely arrival of hostile reinforcements - after all, no ship is indestructible. Speed will also improve our resistance to damage, particularly turrets.
Furthermore, we need some with high DPS. If we expect our ship to be able to kill a Maller, Moa or Battlecruiser (note, at time of writing battlecruisers are just about to hit the market) fitted for tanking anomalies, then we need enough damage to break their tank before they return the favor.
Finally, the ship has to be tough. Ratting ships frequently employ named/faction weapons as well as top-quality drones. While speed can mitigate that to an extent, we need enough effective HP to outlive our opponents.
An observant reader will likely notice that this build requires good speed, damage AND tank. In other words, this ship has to be great at everything. That is why this build ends up costing so much - you need high-quality ship with pricey mods and rigs if you want the trifecta.
THE SHIP: CARACAL NAVY ISSUE (CNI)
The Caracal Navy Issue is a excellent platform that meets all of our rigorous criteria.
Highs: 5x Medium Rapid Missile Launchers,
Mids: ‘Interruptive’ Warp disruptor, Stasis Web and Medium Nosferatu
Lows: Microwarp drive, 2x Medium Shield Extenders, Invulnerability Field
Rigs: Warhead Calefaction, Loading Bay Accelerator, Capacitor Control Circuit, Semiconducting Memory Cell
1. SPEED - It is the second fastest cruiser currently in the game, capable of speeds in excess of 2300m/s while running its microwarp drive. Only the Stabber Fleet Issue (clocking in at >2700m/s) or an interceptor can hope to keep up. This is more than enough to fly circles around any turret ship, guaranteeing frequent misses, and to leave drones lagging behind.
2. DAMAGE - On first glance, the CNI seems to lag behind the other T6 cruisers on the damage front. With my (far from perfect) skills, it struggles to get to 275 without drones (which we won't use, since they tend to die too quickly in PvP). Compared to the Stabber Fleet, which can easily put up numbers in excess of 350, you might wonder why I would choose the CNI.
However, this is a excellent lesson in the difference between "on paper" damage and actual damage. While the Stabber can pump out >400dps, this requires that the ship be within its optimal range (less than 5km) and traveling slow enough to track its target (too slow). In practice, a Stabber moving at full throttle struggles to hit opponents consistently even out to 15km, posting "real world" dps far below 200 unless it deactivates slows to sub-1000m/s speeds.
In contrast, the Caracal Navy Issue can deal its full 250+ dps regardless of its speed - its missiles don't have to worry about tracking speeds - out to a range >25km. Additionally, the fact that missiles deal every damage type means that your damage is more-or-less equally effective against armor, shield and structure.
3. TOUGH - In addition to its speed and dps, the CNI can easily fit 22k+ effective HP (counting the active effects of its shield extenders). While not as tough as a battlecruiser or one of the more defensively-oriented T6 cruisers, this is more than enough to outlast PvE and PvP opponents and gives plenty of time to escape in the event of a mistake. While you don't buy a Caracal Navy for its tankiness (its bonuses improve its speed and damage), the CNI is no pushover.
Unfortunately, every ship has its disadvantages. Here are a couple to keep in mind if you want to fly this bird:
1. CAPACITOR STABILITY - Unless you have exceptional skills (and maybe not even then) your CNI is not going to be cap stable with a disruptor and MWD. Mine can run for more than 2min 30s, which is plenty for most fights, but for long slogs against battlecruisers and tougher T6 cruisers, you may need to be selective about your MWD usage to avoid running out of cap.
2. COST - This goes without saying, but this ship isn't cheap. Fully rigged, this monster runs at least 120mil, possibly as high as 150mil.
To test this fit, I decided to go on a nice, leisurely roam through Molden Heath. Given the fact that it was a weeknight, I expected to find a few kills, maybe nab a juicy Moa or Thorax if I was really lucky.
That is... not what happened.
Over 4 hours, I racked up 20 kills worth a total of 354mil isk. There was nothing that could touch it - T5 cruisers didn't die, they evaporated. I broke the tank of a double-boosted Caracal Navy within 60 seconds. I escaped when a Maller, 2 other CNIs and a Thorax jumped in and had me scrambled and double webbed. Most dramatically of all, when a Can-Yue, Thrasher and Executioner II warped in to avenge their friend who had just lost his Omen, I was able to pick their fleet apart and systematically kill them one-by-one, without them so much as scratching my armor. Since then I’ve racked up another 15 kills, including Vexor and Omen Navy’s.
I had expected that the CNI would be effective. I hadn't imagined that it would be the scythe of the reaper himself.
"Seriously, can I borrow that when you're done? There's a couple Navy Vexors I've been chasing for weeks..."
The Caracal Navy has earned the place of honor in my humble hanger. While it costs a fortune - which I'm sure will cause plenty of tears when it eventually dies - it is well worth the price of admission if you have the isk to burn.
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