Drones vs DPS?

Could you experienced PvP & PvE folks talk about drones vs DPS? In my first 45 days I’ve noticed that so much of the advice/talk/fits are drone-drone-drone.

But in my first 45 days I have also noticed that none but one of my gankers or WH/Lo-Sec spankers has used drones. For all of about half a heart beat I flew a VNI and was clapped before I could deploy a single drone.

I’d like to understand prose/cons especially in the two circumstances of “SURPRISE! You’re getting mugged!” And clearing of C1-C2 Wormholes.

Different weapons platforms are useful for different scenarios.

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Okay…keep talking…

Do you have additional questions? This is a pretty broad topic.

I’ll try a little. Drones take a lot of SP to use effetely. They take time to fly to the target and fly back. Missiles are faster. When you gank/spank, you want to apply dps as fast as possible and the last thing I want to do after poping someone is wait for anything to have to return before I leave.

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  • Drones allow you to select damage type
  • Drones allow you to select damage application (i.e. use light drones against frigs and dessies and mediums against cruisers and up).
  • You can kite and keep transversal up without hurting the damage application of your drones.
  • Larger Drone Bays can offer a lot of utility (i.e. you can keep some ECM drones in their for helping you to escape if you do get tackled)


  • Drones take time to travel to the target (except for sentries)
  • Drones can be destroyed

I guess you might be getting recommended drone boats because, as a newbro, you will be flying squishier ships. And, a drone boat will allow you to kite without hurting your damage projection and damage application (as long as you stay within drone control range). But all weapon platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, so go for whatever you find the most interesting/fun.

Anyway, gankers favor blasters (and the catalyst in particular) because they offer good DPS and an excellent DPS to isk ratio. It doesn’t mean drones suck, it just means that blasters are well suited to their very specific needs.

Oh, and if you got spanked before you could even deploy a single drone, that means you likely need to work on your fit and/or execution.

Does this same thinking also apply to the “blitzing” school of running missions? Or are drones better there? (If so why).

I’ve been ambushed a few times running the vanilla serpentis sites in an Atron. Typically the ambush works because shelf is out and armor is in a pretty bad shape. From the perspective of getting ambushed…is DPS or drone boating the better position to be in?

From a play style perspective, I’m generally doing everything Except for the “preying on the innocent” parts. But as I spend isk and most importantly spend skill points, I want to focus very much and the skills/hardware that helps me survive the “shoot the preschooler in the head” play style.

Excellent answer, thank you.


I’m going to quote you forever with that one.

I haven’t done missions in a long time. Last I knew, (or I should say, last time I did) drones can add just about a cruisers worth of dps to your cruiser. I say this so others will post and correct me. But at least you will get more responses.

Come on people, help a new player with more info then I can offer! :sunglasses:

Personally, I took dps over over drones till I could really wallop with a bs before really driving up my drone skills.

To answer the mission part of the question.
Drones work for blitzing missions, but, like someone mentioned in a different context, they take a lot of SP to do so effectively.
I do ok with blitzing in a sentry sniping dominix, but to do that effectively, you’d need Gallente BS and sentry drone interfacing at 5.

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The agro AI of the mission NPCs varies a lot. Some of the NPCs will focus fire on your drones as soon as you launch them -making it very challenging to use drones for those missions.

Other NPCs ignore the drones - for those missions drones are absolutely over-the-moon fantastic. So drones are either the best or the worst, depending on which NPCs and mission you are dealing with.

You could get around the drone issues somewhat by using sentry drones and sniping the NPCs as they approach.

I have heard stories from mission runners about fitting a good tank and then just flying straight into the NPCs and engaging them at close range with drones. If you are close to your drones then you can recall them before the NPCs can destroy them.

I’m going to take the “different scenarios require different weapons” thing that was mentioned above and change it to “different tactics require different weapons.”

Drones are a weapon system that is a bit difficult to master and takes a lot of skillpoints to get good DPS out of it.
That said, droneboats offer a kind of flexibility that allows for some crazy setups and equally mindboggling tactics.
A good drone pilot in the right situation can infuriate opponents and be a saving grace to allies.

But lets start with the basics.

Where drones work well:

  • Situations where endurance is favored over brute DPS (damage per second)
    – Example: Most PvE encounters, attacking structures
  • Situations where one wants to confound and be as slippery as possible
    – Example: Applying Electronic Warfare (see: debuffs) at a distance while the drones pound away either up close or from a different direction
  • Super close, in-your-face (see: brawling) battles where all ships are moving slow
    – Example: Capital/Battleship/Battlecruiser fights

Where drones do not work well:

  • “Running” fights where both sides are hitting 1500+ m/sec at sub-warp and/or warping to different points in the field.
  • “Hit-and-run” / “Ganking” style warfare where one wants to deal as much damage in as little time as possible
  • Large chaotic battlefields where connection issues become an issue

In today’s meta running battles, kiting, and hit-and-run style tactics are pretty dominant.
Only a few drone ships can really pull off those same tactics and they still require a bit of setup and methodical execution (which means that they will still not be favored by most).

In the scenarios in your OP, you mentions that people were killing you before you could deploy drones.
This can come down to a few things:

  • Your fit wasn’t “sturdy” enough (post your fit and maybe we can help)
  • You encountered a situation where there was too much damage aimed at you and were doomed from the start (see: it would not have mattered what weapon you were packing)
  • You fumbled with the controls (hint: you can create hotkeys for drones!)

Additional: I love drones, but fleet warp is a drone abandoner, that’s why I scarcely use drones in PvP fleets.
If you warp away with drones still out, they’re lost in space and have to be reconnected or picked up on grid. Even worse when someone else warps (or booshes) you away, so you can lose a lot of your DPS within a blink of an eye. So in my experience, drones are far more often used in PvE and solo fights.

In PvE, before warping in any way, I got used to align and type shift + f and ctrl + f to get my drones in and reload ammo, no matter if they are actually out or the charge is low.
Leaving drones behind is very common.

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