After a few weeks of building up a nest egg, I knew that I would want to begin my life of crime. Back in my EVE days, solo PvP was my favorite part of the game, and lowsec was my favorite hunting ground. The question was, what would my first ship be?
I'm going to walk you through my thought process and let you see how I design a combat ship. Hopefully, in addition to a teaching you to build one ship, you can start learning to think like a pirate.
TARGET: LOWSEC RATTERS & AFK MINERS
The first step in developing a solid fitting is to decide what your intended target is. You won't hit rabbits with an elephant gun, and you'll only piss off bears with your air rifle. Similarly, if you don't tailor your ship for your chosen prey, you can expect repeated disappointment.
For this build I want to hunt PvE pilots doing cosmic anomalies in lowsec. These pilots are typically flying T4-T5 cruisers and destroyers. They will have a shield booster or armor rep that is cap stable, meaning they will be able to tank no more than 90 HP/s worth of damage. Their weapons will be midranged (no more than 25km), low-mid damage and intended to pick apart slow-moving rats.
Ratters are typically pretty slow (no room for an afterburner, let alone a microwarp drive) and will probably equip nosferatu and/or webs in their mid slots to help keep cap stable and hold down the smaller rats. Most will not want to equip a warp core stabilizer, since it takes up a valuable low slot and slows their targeting.
In short, these are ships that are designed to tank rats and methodically kill them. If I can lock them and pin them down, they won't be able to escape.
Finally, these are ratters. They are used to crowded anomalies and other ratters jumping in briefly as they look for an available anomaly. Seeing another ship warp in, their first thought probably isn’t
“AH! A PIRATE” but “I hope this guy moves and doesn’t poach my loot.”
Lastly, I won’t turn down the opportunity to pop the occasional AFK Venture (spoiler warning: I pop a LOT of them). However, this ship isn’t really well-suited to that task. It doesn’t have a strong enough tackle to pin them down, and it doesn’t do enough up-front damage to kill them in one shot. Basically, the only way we’ll kill miners is if they aren’t paying any attention. Lucky for us, there are a lot of miners who are asleep at the wheel.
THE SHIP: T4 TALWAR
For my first pirating ship I decided on a T4 destroyer - the Talwar. There are a few reasons I picked this particular ship:
- CHEAP - First, it’s cheap and easy to replace. The first rule of PvP in Eve Online is “don’t fly it if you can’t afford to lose it.” At a hull price of ~2mil, the Talwar is expendable and replaceable. The only expensive part of the fit (see below) is the warp disruptor (which is unavoidable).
- FAST - While not as fast as an interceptor, the Talwar has plenty of pep. With a T5 microwarp drive, it can easily top 1.5k/s - plenty for our purposes.
- WEB RANGE BONUS - This is VERY handy. With maxed skills, the Talwar can web out to a range of 15km. Being able to web our prey - while staying out of the range of their webs - is a huge advantage.
- INCONSPICUOUS - Last but not least, a T4 is the sort of ship a new PvE pilot might be hopping around from anom to anom in. Most pilots in cruisers or even other destroyers will view it as a nuisance, not a threat. That creates just a moment’s hesitation before jumping… and a moment is all we need.
THE FIT: STEELY-EYED MISSILE MAN
So we know the target and have picked the ship. How do we fit it out?
- TACKLE - The most important part of any solo pirate build is the tackle - without it, you’ll never catch your target in the first place. For this ship I went with a T3 warp disruptor (which at 13mil is the cheapest on the market and still worth more than the rest of the ship put together) and a T5 stasis webifier (which gives us a little more than 14km range).
- MICROWARP DRIVE - After tackle, the most critical quality of a PvP ship is its speed. This deserves its own post, but for now I will just briefly repeat my favorite EVE proverb: “Speed is life.” Speed lets you dictate the range of the encounter (forcing the fight to happen at YOUR ideal range), helps you keep your opponent from running away and (most importantly) helps you run when things go the wrong way. In addition, with this build the 1.5m/s speed lets us effectively negate our opponent’s weapons - you can outrun drones entirely, minimize the damage from missiles and exceed the tracking speed of most medium guns. Basically, the microwarp drive makes you NEARLY invincible.
- DAMAGE - Missiles aren’t the ideal weapon for PvP. High speed opponents can largely negate them, and their slow firing speed and delay before hitting can cause problems, but this build they will serve just fine. With my far-from perfect skills, I can get about 100 dps out of them - MORE than enough to kill most ratters.
- TANK - One of the most common mistakes new pirates make is focusing too much on the defensive capabilities of their ship. For PvP, you really don’t need a cap-stable, booster/repper tank. PvP fights just don’t last that long. Instead, focus on maximizing your HP - you just want to have enough that you can align to warp if things go wrong. With that in mind, a couple shield extenders is plenty. By the way - don’t forget that you can activate those extenders to give yourself a sudden boost of HP. You’d be surprised how often that can save you…
- STOP THERE - Don’t put on rigs. Do NOT get a bunch of top-shelf, faction gear. This is a pirate destroyer - it lasts slightly longer than toilet paper. Keep it cheap so you don’t cry when (note I said “when” not “if”) it blows up.
I have flown this setup for 3 days now, and have so far racked up 14 kills and not lost a single ship. Here’s how they broke down by type:
- Miners - 6
- Frigates - 2
- Destroyers - 2
- T4 Cruisers - 4
I have encountered a few T5 cruisers in class 5 anomalies, but haven’t quite managed to land one yet. They might be a BIT too tough for this ship to routinely handle (though you might be able to kill a few here and there). I survived a couple close calls - including one T5 Omen that was built to “bait” pirates and was outfitted with webber and disruptor (I got away with ¼ hull remaining). My shining moment was taking down a cruiser and a destroyer in the same anomaly - thinking they had me outnumbered, they both chose to stay and fight and learned too late that they weren’t a match.
On the whole I am VERY pleased with this ship. I will likely keep one ready to fly from here on out - it is simply great at what it does, and cheaper than any other solo ship I can conceive of. I may upgrade the disruptor so that I can more easily snag miners in the belts, but other than that it is nearly perfect as it is.
Let me know in the comments what you think - especially if you try it out yourself!
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