This will be my first post in what I hope to become newbro series. This blog will focus on the often-overlooked importance of fitting and support skills.
This is always a difficult topic to discuss with players because fitting and support skills aren’t generally exciting and don’t usually unlock any new ships or modules. Most players are excited about unlocking that next new thing, like the Vexor or Dominix hull that people have been telling them they should be ratting in. Unfortunately, most of the people giving this advice are generally doing them a disservice. That is, unless they are having the discussion with them that we are about to get into here.
Before we delve into the importance of support skills, let’s briefly talk about fitting skills. These skills are much easier for new players to swallow as being “essential”. That’s because the issues slap them in the face the first time they try to fit their newbro Tristan frigate and they don’t have the CPU or Power Grid to fit them. Here is a list of what I consider to be essential “fitting” skills, but this list is not comprehensive:
- CPU Management: 5% more CPU per level
- Power Grid Management: 5% more power grid per level
- Weapon Upgrades: 5% less CPU need for weapons per level
- Energy Grid Upgrades: 5% less CPU need for most of the modules requiring Energy Grid Upgrades per skill level
- Shield Upgrades: 5% less power grid need for shield extenders, shield rechargers, and other shield upgrades
- Advanced Weapon Upgrades: (requires Weapon Upgrades IV): 2% less power grid need for weapons per level
- Capacitor Management: 5% bonus to total capacitor capacity per level
- Capacitor Systems Operation: 5% cap recharge rate reduction per level
- Warp Drive Operation: 10% reduction per level in capacitor use when initiating warp
- Fuel Conservation: 10% reduced cap per level for afterburners
- High Speed Maneuvering: 5% reduced cap per level for microwarpdrives
CCP has somewhat recently changed the starter skills and the starting levels of those skills so I am unsure if new players have all of these or if purchasing some skill books is required. Either way, players should rush getting all of these skills to level III. After that, a priority would be getting them all to level IV. As bad as it sounds, you will need to EVENTUALLY get most of these skills to level V to properly run some fits (yes, including Advanced Weapon Upgrades V).
There isn’t much else to say about fitting skills other than “train them asap”, so let’s talk about support skills. The long story short on these is that new players are WAY better off being masters of a few ships instead of novices of many. The reason for this is because EVE online has two primary tanking (defense) systems and 3 distinct weapons (offensive) systems.
The two tanking systems are shield tanking and armor tanking and both systems have requisite primary skills and their own support skills. Here are the essential tanking skills broken down into general categories:
Raw hit point skills - These skills boost your ships hp, and are the basic skills of tanking
- Mechanics: 5% more hull hitpoints per level
- Hull Upgrades: 5% more armor hp per level
- Shield Management: 5% more shield hp per level
Armor tanking support skills - These skills are more relevant to ships that focus on armor:
- Armor Layering: Skill at installing upgraded armor plates efficiently and securely.
- Repair Systems: 5% less cycle time on armor repairers per level
- EM Armor Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
- Explosive Armor Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
- Kinetic Armor Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
- Thermal Armor Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
Shield tanking support skills - These skills are more relevant to ships that focus on shields:
- Shield Operation: 5% faster shield recharge rate per level
- Tactical Shield Manipulation: Reduces chance of damage bleeding through to armor when shields are low
- Shield Compensation: Bonus to Shield Booster Capacitor Usage
- EM Shield Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
- Explosive Shield Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
- Kinetic Shield Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
- Thermal Shield Compensation: increases the resistance bonuses of passive hardeners by 5% per level
The easiest way to see these skills now is to navigate to your character sheet and click on a skill category such as armor or shields. Make sure you have the dropdown set to “all” and you will be able to see all your current skills and levels, but also the skills you don’t have.
The point of all these skills is that they support the primary skills, either armor or shields, by making them stronger or more effective. Overlooking these skills can mean the difference between a strong tank and a lackluster one.
This same philosophy remains true for offense, but this is where things get even more vital and focus becomes more important. That is because, like mentioned earlier, there are 3 distinct weapon systems in EVE online. Before someone corrects me, weapon systems are Drones, Gunnery and Missiles. This is often confused with the 5 weapon platforms (of which there are many size variants) of Drones, Missiles, Energy Turrets, Hybrid Turrets and Projectile Turrets.
This probably all seems very confusing and that is because it is. The important part to realize is that the Drone, Missile and Gunnery weapon systems all have their own distinct and specific support skills. This is why focus becomes even more important. Achieving the ability to fly a specific drone or to use a specific missile launcher is only the beginning. You will then need to train all of the accompanying support skills for that weapon system before the weapon itself will become powerful and function “as advertised”.
For drones, this includes the following skills:
Primary drone skills – These are the base skills required to unlock the use of small, med and large drones.
- Drones: Can operate 1 drone per skill level
- Light Drone Operation: 5% bonus to light drone damage per level (unlocks tech 2 variants at V)
- Medium Drone Operation: 5% bonus to medium drone damage per level (unlocks tech 2 variants at V)
- Heavy Drone Operation: 5% bonus to heavy drone damage per level (unlocks tech 2 variants at V)
- Sentry Drone Operation: 5% bonus to sentry drone damage per level (unlocks tech 2 variants at V)
Support drone skills – These are the skills that make your drones stronger and more effective.
- Drone Interfacing: Increases all drones damage by 10% per level
- Drone Navigation: Increases drone mwd speed by 5% per level
- Drone Durability: Increases drone shield, armor, and hull hit points by 5% per level
- Drone Avionics: Increases your drone control range by 5000 meters per level
- Advanced Drone Avionics: Increases your drone control range by 3000 meters per level and allows the use of EWAR drones
- Drone Sharpshooting: Increases your drones optimal range by 5% per level (mandatory skill for sentries)
- Racial Drone Specializations: Increases drone damage by 2% per level for that races drones
To make things worse, many players think that simply because they unlocked the requisite skills to “fly” or get into a ship, that it means they are ready to go. Unfortunately this is not the case. Ships also have per skill level bonuses that pilots have to pay attention to. If you don’t, the combination of poor support skills and poor ships skills can make the ship almost useless. Here is an image of the Dominix bonuses per level of Gallente Battleship:
Here is a Dominix running t2 heavy drones with great support skills and Gallente battleship 5, essentially highest possible dps with these fittings:
Now here is a Dominix running t1 heavy drones with poor support skills and Gallente battleship 3:
The DPS difference alone is quite staggering and that is giving this player the benefit of the doubt that they are able to fit t2 Drone Damage Amplifiers. More seasoned players will also hone in on the other statistics about the drones, as they are essentially this ships weapon system. The drone control range, tracking, velocity, HP and optimal ranges are all suffering. This means that not only would this pilot have to deal with sub-optimal DPS figures, they would be dealing with drones that probably aren’t consistently hitting mid sized targets, difficulty putting their drones on targets at longer ranges and drones that are getting popped by rats left and right.
Obviously these pictures only delve into the Drone weapon system and for that I apologize. It is surprisingly time consuming to make fictional characters in Pyfa and to adjust all of their skills, but I think you get the point. Now just imagine how bad this pilots tank would be with the same disregard for defensive support skills as they showed for offensive support skills.
Not surprisingly this battleship would find itself doing less damage than a t1 cruiser and tanking like one to boot.
Pilots, new and old, can really benefit from choosing one race of ships and one weapon system. This is because with focus comes power. If you are spreading your training time across multiple races, multiple ship classes and multiple weapon systems you will use none of them well.
TLDR: Just because you can get into the ship, doesn't mean you should fly it