08 November 2010

New Player Guide: Racial Ships

   This is a guide to the racial ships of EvE online.  As you may already know the best part about EvE is that your racial choice is almost entirely for role play reasons and you are allowed to fly any ship you choose (given the proper time to train the skills).  Since EvE has a time based training system (which is not actually related to play time) you can technically fly anything in the game if you so choose.

  Of course you have to start somewhere so what follows is a description of each race's ships in general terms.  There are always ships which do not fit the mold of their race; these outliers which will be discussed in the future.

  I will outline each race in what I consider to be "noob" friendliness (from most new player friendly to most experience friendly).  The most important thing to remember as you learn about each racial ship type is that EvE is a balancing act and no ship, race, or setup is perfect; New Eden is a sandbox and it is 100% impossible to predict what your enemy may be flying.  When fighting NPC's never forget that the management of aggression and knowing what you are getting into are more important than skills in many cases.  Check out EvE Survival to find out what the mission you are about to accept entails.

  This guide has been written as of the Tyrannis version of EvE and will be updated with annotations to account for future releases.  There will also be a small follow up for the best mixed race ships as well as the best ships not made by the four playable factions of EvE.

Caldari - Most new player friendly 

Defense: Shields
Offense: Missiles
Secondary Offense: Hybrid Weapons 
Notable Strength: Electronic WarfarePassive Tanking
Notable Weakness: Low Damage Output

  Caldari ships are some of the best PvE ships in the world of EvE.  They are shield tanking ships which means that they have a natural tank regeneration (shields automatically regenerate whereas armor must be repaired by a module or a friend..."healer").  This built in tank can be further improved by adding modules that increase the regeneration rate of shields or the maximum shield strength of the ship.  The great thing about this type of setup for PvE is that it can have an extremely low capacitor (energy) usage while fielding an impressive tank; this is known as "passive tanking."

  Many people may say that the Caldari ships are PvE only and therefore useless in PvP.  That is certainly not true.  While their ships are strong PvE contenders early in your EvE career they can do well as PvP vessels; it does take a bit of training for them to shine in PvP though.  For PvP work Caldari ships specialize very well in electronic warfare and have the ability to tank extreme damage.

  The damage output of their ships may be low but the effect of a good "e-war" pilot within the fleet can hardly be overestimated.  A skilled pilot can use Caldari ships to keep their fleet nearly untouched in some cases by jamming the targeting systems of opponent vessels and therefore keeping them from even shooting at you.  These specialized ships do require a lot of skills so if you choose to fly Caldari you *may* not be a very effective PvP pilot early in your career.

Best early level ship
The Drake is a battle-cruiser which means you will need Caldari Cruiser III and Battlecruisers II to fly it.  This is not exactly a new player fit, but you can train those skills in about 5-6 days.

This example fitting is very powerful

You will not be able to properly fit this ship for a while, so continue to use frigates and cruisers to gather money and complete agent missions while training the skills needed.

Even though it may take a while to train to this particular ship there are too many advantages to skip it if you choose Caldari.  The first is that Battle-cruisers such as the Drake use cruiser sized modules, weapons, and rigs which means you are training two classes of ships at once.  The second is that this ship has enough firepower and tanking ability to take you all the way from level one missions to level four missions and even into PvP.  It may be the "plain-jane" of ships in EvE but that does not mean it isn't a mean fighting machine.

Best mid level ship
The Onyx is a Tech II ship which means it is a specialized version of a normal ship.  In this case the Onyx is a Heavy Interdictor.  This means it has the ability to project an envelope of energy that disrupts the warp engines of other ships.  It also means that as a Tech II vessel it is more expensive, more skill intensive, and much better defended than the base variant.  The good news in all of this is that the Onyx is a variant of a cruiser class.  This means that all of the skills you worked on for the Drake will help here and make your Onyx even more formidable.  The special ability of this class (warp disruption sphere) is only usable in zero security space; BUT that same module can be fitted with a script that allows this ship to disrupt the warp engines of any ship in the entire New Eden universe via focused energy: Focused Warp Disruption

Here is an example Onyx fitout

You will need to train Caldari Cruiser V, Heavy Interdictors I (III recommended minimum), and Graviton PhysicsIV/Propulsion Jamming V (for Warp Disruption Field Generator).  This ship is more skill intensive but it pays off by being notoriously hard to kill and being a huge benefit to fleet operations.

Best high level ship
The Widow is not only a Tech II ship but also a battleship.  This means that this ship is extremely high level.  Battleships require a much higher level of skill than cruisers/battle cruisers and as you may have already noticed the tech II variants require even more specialization.

What do you get for the extreme amount of training required for this vessel?  Well this is where the Caldari's natural affinity towards electronic warfare jamming comes into play.  This ship gets an amazing boost to the effectiveness of jamming modules.  The regular battleship variant also gets a nice bonus (Scorpion) but it's the ability to move so well while cloaked that makes the Widow such an amazing e-war platform.

In this ship you can easily sneak up to an enemy and jam their equipment while the rest of your fleet sets up their attack.  Obviously this type of vessel is almost 100% PvP, so if PvE is your target there are also specialized ships on that front: Golem (a tech II variant of the Raven battleship which is a very powerful PvE ship already).


Defense: Armor
Offense: Energy Weapons (Lasers)
Secondary Offense: Missiles
Notable Strength: Extreme damage output
Notable Weakness: High energy requirements

  Amarr ships are armor tanking vessels which means that in order to repair your ship in combat you HAVE to fit a repair "rep" module.  While the Caldari ships can use modules that boost the repair rate of their shields; ships of the Amarr empire have weak shielding and strong armor which necessitates tanking damage with that armor and forgoing almost all shield defense (NEVER mix defenses).

  What you give up in defense when choosing to fly Amarr, you gain in firepower and flexibility.  The Amarr empire can field some impressive ships, especially those "ships of the line" that are meant to strike fear in the enemy.  Their ships also use lasers as weapons platforms (instead of the missiles favored by the Caldari).  The use of lasers give the Amarr an advantage in that they can switch the crystal that focuses their weapons (basically the ammunition) to attack the weakest point of their enemy's defenses.

Best early level ship
The Maller is a standard cruiser with the ability to tank an incredible amount of damage.  It does not put out the damage of some of the other cruiser hulls out there but it can often out-tank vessels that could be considered far superior (battleships in some cases).  This tanking does come at the cost of some offensive output but given the fact that this is a cruiser hull many pilots can be flying a fully fitted maller within days:

Example Maller fitout

 If you choose to fly the Amarr ships you will notice that tanking can sometimes be difficult.  The capacitor use of the tanking modules can be overwhelming.   You should certainly upgrade your skills to include higher level tanking skills and capacitor skills (such as Energy Management), but you should also be more aware of your situation and be ready to warp out of engagements with NPC's when you start to take a beating.

Best mid level ship
The Harbinger (battle-cruiser) is a formidable ship, very well suited for PvP.  When properly fitted this ship can punch well beyond its weight and take the abuse of larger ships respectably.  Like every other ship it does have its flaws; in this case the Harbinger is very capacitor hungry when running an active tank and firing the energy thirsty lasers that make it so damaging.

When this ship is properly fitted it is a force to be reckoned with.  The heavy thirst for energy is offset by high damage output  which can pummel even the mightiest of ships in New Eden.

You will want to make sure your supporting capacitor skills are at least mid level before flying a ship like this.  You will also want to work towards tech II lasers such as the Focused Medium Pulse Laser II to maximize the damage output of this vessel.

Best high level ship
The Apocalypse is a tech I battleship which is much less skill intensive than the Widow of the Caldari.  However, this particular ship can dish out as much damage as almost any (non-capital) ship in EvE.  Obviously you would need higher level skills and tech II fittings to reach the full damage output of the "apoc" but from a "bang for your buck" viewpoint this ship is one of the most powerful damage dealers in EvE.

Example Apocalypse Fit

The drawbacks to this ship include huge capacitor usage and a need for higher level supporting skills.  This ship is also better suited for for fleet operations where it can expect either remote repairing or remote capacitor transfer.  In return you get a ship that can really dish out the damage and is considered one of the best all around PvP and PvE ships in the game.


Defense: Armor
Secondary Offense: DronesMissiles
Notable Strength: Affinity for drones 
Notable Weakness: Often need to be extremely close to an enemy to be effective

  Gallente ships are armor tanked just like the Amarr, however instead of using lasers or missiles (like the Caldari) the Gallente employ hybrid weapons for their vessels.  Hybrid weapons are railguns/blasters with specialized ammunition.  While weapons systems always differ between each race the Gallente have an extra challenge because their ships typically gain a large portion of their damage from drones or from fighting at extremely close range.  This means that as a Gallente pilot you will need additional skills trained in order to be fully effective.  Where the previous races are *generally* focussed on their primary weapons systems Gallente ships inflict their damage in two distinct ways.  Some ships are pure gunboats that are only focused on inflicting maximum damage on the enemy by launching hybrid ammunition across the void of space.  On the other hand many Gallente ships use drones as a primary damage dealer.

  While it may take a bit more training to master Gallente ships; a pilot does gain some impressive flexibility when choosing them.  Among the positives to drone based offensive systems is the ability to focus more heavily on defense without sacrificing much offensive output.  On the PvP front drones also give you the ablity to hit fast ships which you may not normally be able to shoot at or to attack ships even while unable to target your enemy.

  The Gallente also favor speed more than the Amarr and Caldari.  This is because they are slightly less focused on tanking than those races and the favorite weapon of many Gallente pilots is the extremely close ranged blaster.  These blasters will put out impressive damage but have a need to fight at such a close range that it has fueled the desire for speed in many Gallente designs.

Best early level ship
As you may have noticed the "early level" ships for the Amarr and Caldari required a fair amount of additional training to reach from the frigates you are able to fly when you first begin EvE.  There are two reasons for that:

  • The Amarr/Caldari favor tanking power over maneuverability putting their frigate class vessels (which need to be agile to survive) at somewhat of a disadvantage.  
  • The skills for the ships chosen and the ships themselves can be useful both early on and throughout your EvE career.  

The Tristan is a solid all around frigate that will allow you to perform lower level missions without too much trouble.  Being faster than many other ships gives the Tristan an ability to avoid the fire of larger enemies simply by keeping its speed up.  This speed will also make it a viable option for combat even after you have learned to fly more advanced vessels.  The Tristan will always be a decent (and relatively cheap) tackling ship should you choose to venture into PvP.

Best mid level ship
The Vexor is an excellent cruiser for mission running or other PvE.  The drone bonuses that the Vexor receives make it a very powerful PvE ship because it can dish out impressive damage while still devoting most of the ship's resources to defense.

The flexibility and power you get from a ship like the Vexor does come at the expense of increased skill requirements for both drones and the standard armament.  A Vexor pilot must also be prepared to handle the power requirements of armor repairers (meaning that you will also want to train energy management skills).

Example Vexor Fit

As you can see in the example fit; a Vexor pilot can use the flexibility gained from having drones as the primary offensive system to fit Tractor Beam and Salvager modules where most pilots only have the option to fit guns.  In reality a few guns would make the job much easier but this is only an example fit.

Best high level ship
As a Gallente Pilot myself this was one of the hardest choices.  The Gallente ships are among the most specialized for a specific type of play in EvE.  In this case the Dominix is a drone ship that really cannot count on it's on offenses to do much damage.  In contrast the Megathron is a brutal weapons platform which can hit an opponent with a lot of damage.

The Dominix wins out because it has the most flexibility of all Gallente ships and because as a Gallente pilot you have probably invested a lot of skills in drones.  Like the Vexor this ship will make your drones all the more lethal.  Those drones also give you flexibility in damage type which is a distinct disadvantage of other Gallente ships.
Example Dominix Fit

This ship also has the advantage of being an excellent mission runner while still being a viable PvP ship as you can see in this fit:  PvP Dominix.  These days the Dominix and Gallente ships in general are a bit out of favor for PvP but continue to rule all but the Drake and Apocalypse in PvE.

Minmatar - Most experience friendly 

Defense: Armor or Shields (situational)

Secondary Offense: Missiles
Notable Strength: Speed, Flexibility - all around
Notable Weakness: Skill intensive

  Minmatar ships have been placed last because they are the least new player friendly ships in EvE.  As a rule they are extremely flexible in how they are flown.  In many cases these ships can be either shield tanked or armor tanked and fit for a variety of purposes.  This flexibility makes them lethal opponents and much sought after as fleet mates but it does require much more time to develop the skill base required to excel at flying these ships.

  There are several major factors to keep in mind when planning to fly Minmatar that make them more difficult to fly.  The first is that in almost every sub-capital Minmatar ship speed of huge importance.  It allows them to gain a tactical advantage and in many cases to avoid much of the enemies damage.  To maximize this speed navigation skills are vital.  Next is the flexibility in tanking.  In order to truly take advantage of this a Minmatar pilot must plan on eventually becoming a master of both tanking styles (shield/armor) which means a commitment to an additional skill tree.  Lastly is energy concerns.  Minmatar ships are relatively energy hungry and often difficult to fit or maintain.  This means that engineering skills are also important for a pilot.

  However, in exchange for these difficulties Minmatar ships can often outperform there counterparts in every phase of the game.  Of course they aren't perfect and cannot always defeat there racial match but they are often the better choice.  This difficulty makes picking "starter" ships at each level hard as even the lowest level Minmatar ships can really benefit greatly from more advanced skill training.

Best early level ship
The Rifter is a longstanding favorite of many pilots as a terrific PvP weapon.  It has been flown in hundreds of PvP fleets and will continue to do so.  The reason for this success is simple: it's cheap.  This ship packs some of the best "bank for your buck" that you will find in the EvE universe.  While it can be outclassed by more expensive ships a Rifter pilot really won't feel too bad after losing a ship this cheap, especially after killing a few other ships in the process.  

Despite the price this isn't exactly a throwaway kamikaze ship.  It does have good survivability and can pack a punch for something so small.  All of this adds up to an excellent PvP ship which many pilots continue to use well after their early days.
Example Rifter Fit

If you can fly this ship well, rest assured that you will be welcomed in many PvP fleets.  Of course in a ship like this you can also do plenty of damage alone (once you have had some practice).

Best mid level ship
This is a tough call because the Stabber (cruiser) is also a very good ship, as are some of the other Minmatar cruisers.  The Hurricane is a battle cruiser which does mean there is an extra skill book associated with it.  However, as with the Drake, battle cruisers do use cruiser sized weapons and modules which means that your skills will apply to both types.

The Hurricane wins the mid level category because it is one of those ships that a pilot can use at nearly any stage in their career.  It is an excellent ship early on which will allow you to complete many PvE missions as well as be a competent (and deadly) PvP pilot.  But this ship only gets better as your skills improve.  Even after flying battleships for years many Minmatar pilots choose to jump into a Hurricane regularly for the speed and damage that this ship brings to the table.

The example fit is a PvE focused fit because this ship will take some time to master (as will any Minmatar ship) so it is typically best to begin with PvE and grow your skills before jumping into PvP.  This is just general guidance so if you prefer PvP then by all means jump in with both feet.

Best high level ship
This is another tough call as there are many terrific ships in the Minmatar fleet.  Most notably "Tech II" cruiser variants such as the Command Ship the Sleipnir or the Heavy Assault Ship the Muninn.  Follow the links provided to learn more about each of those ships or ship types.  The Tempest wins out because in many cases the tech 2 ships are much more specialized, expensive, and harder to fly while the Battleship class is often a bit cheaper and more forgiving.  The Tempest can pack a punch, take plenty of abuse, and can travel at incredible speeds for a Battleship sized vessel.  

This example fit highlights the advantages of Minmatar.  Not only is this Tempest powerful both offensively and defensively but it has the speed to outrun even (some) frigates from other races.  Keep in mind that this is a skill intensive ship and a Minmatar pilot will need plenty of training to get the most from a Tempest (or any Minmatar ship).  However, once you learn to fly a ship like the Tempest properly you will rarely be disappointed.


  1. Very cool content here, cheers

  2. Why are a Vexor the best mid level Gallente ship, when an Onyx the best mid level Caldari ship?

    An Ishtar takes the same training time as an Onix and costs slightly less Isk. But an Ishtar are better then a Vexor in all ways.

  3. Good point PenMount. Thanks for the comments; I will certainly be taking the feedback I get and hopefully improving this.

    In the end I went with slightly higher level ships for the Caldari because (in general) their ships are more new player friendly. Because of that I felt that the extra training would be augmented by the ability to use lower level ships relatively effectively until a pilot can fly the ship I picked.