Hi everyone, I am returning to the game after a long absence and will mostly be running missions with friends. Having come back to the game, it seems that the debates around what ship/fit to use are as vibrant as they ever were, and as confusing.
Being a bit of an analytical geek, I thought I would do some (crude) analysis on the stated topic (rather than simply ask ‘what should I use’) and see what results come up.
Critically, I am keen to see what everyone (especially those veteran players) think of my analysis and hopefully readers, especially those new or returning to the game will find the information helpful in making their decision on what ship/fit combo to use.
As this is going to be something of a detailed post, here is my ‘TLDR’ summary:
Regardless of ship type, only use ‘bling’ fits with loads of faction/officer mods if you can throw away billions of isk without blinking. Such fits typically offer only limited benefit at huge cost.
Golem’s are the best of the Caldari missile ships for L4 mission running by no small margin. With a T2 fit at 1.6bn ISK, they are not completely out of reach in terms of ISK (especially for those who used to use T3 ships). But Golem’s are a ganking target simply because they are a Marauder, increasing the risk factor.
CNI Raven’s and Raven’s with T2 fits are cost effective, but lack the punch of the Golem so will be slower through missions, but may not be of interest to gankers (especially a standard Raven). If you are worried about ganking, can’t throw away 1-2bn on a Golem or don’t have the SP for Marauders then this is your best bet.
Drakes (CNI/standard) with T2 fits are extremely cost effective, but are unlikely to survive L4 missions (solo) without warping out. But if you are doing L3 missions solo or flying L4’s with a fleet they probably represent a good option if you are low skilled, low ISK or in a high risk area.
Tengu’s (whilst not currently part of this analysis) are unlikely to score well owing to changes to the T3’s in recent years (showing my age now!) and have therefore been omitted. If people feel it’s needed, I will look to add T3’s into this analysis in the future.
Brace for impact people, here it comes! If you don’t want to see the detail but do want slightly more than the TLDR above, skip to the bottom to see ‘conclusions’ for a little extra information.
Assumptions, data and approach:
This is a crude/fast analysis designed to inform, not win a prize for analytical approach/excellence.
This analysis seeks to understand the cost/benefit correlation between different ship types, classes and fitting approaches, it does not seek to identify the optimal ship fit for any type/class.
Ship fits may not represent perfect/optimal/’meta’ fits for each ship type, but hopefully they are close enough for the purposes of this assessment.
Ships are fitted in two ways ‘advanced’ (A) and ‘elite’ (E). Advanced fits may only use T2 modules (or lower in some rare cases where CPU was an issue). Elite fits use faction or deadspace mods in place of key T2 mods (weapons, boosters, shield, MWD/AB) on a ‘cost no object’ basis.
Ship fits are based on Aceface’s ‘anti gank’ fits, especially the Golem’s (see YouTube).
Ship fits are provided below.
Ship builds constructed in EFT, v2.51.0.
Pricing comes from EFT (but aligns closely with the EVE ship fitting simulator tool).
Drones are excluded from fits/DPS.
A baseline of skill level 5 on all skills was used for the analysis to keep scores consistent and clear.
All fits and calculations in EFT did not include any implants.
High damage kinetic (Scourge) missiles were always used in the weapons slots (cruise/HAM/HM).
Be aware, there are differences between calculations made in EFT vs. EVE fitting simulator.
No weightings have been applied to this analysis, which would be interesting but seemed like overkill for this analysis at this stage.
The key items this analysis considers to be ‘of interest’ are; DPS, effective hit points (EHP) and (tangentially), ‘tank’ (which is used here to describe the number of EHP recovered per second from a shield booster).
Please note this post is made by a character who is not used in game (and is for forum posts only), please do not DM in game as in game mail is not monitored.
The raw data collected is shown in the image below:
Note: EHP is in K, i.e. 200 = 200,000 ehp
Cost vs Benefit
As this is a ‘paper based’ analysis, it does not attempt to take data from experience/mission running tests in EVE/informed insights from other players (of which there is a lot of good material on YouTube).
A good test to add to this would be to take these fits out for a period of time (5-10 days) and calculate their ISK/hour ratio. This would provide useful ‘real word’ evidence direct from EVE with which to test this assessment. I hope to do this in the future, but for now we must rely on raw numbers.
This analysis defines ‘benefit’ (or ‘effectiveness’) as being a very crude focus on DPS output and EHP. Tank is discussed later. The cost is derived from EFT pricing estimates.
Note: When reading a cost/benefit plot top right is considered best, bottom left is worst. The closer to the ‘right wall’ the fit is, the more effective it is. The closer towards the bottom a fit is, the more expensive it is.
There are two key cost/benefit assessments that need to be made.
The first seeks to combine EHP and DPS into a single ‘score’. This is done by ranking the 14 fits in order of highest to lowest DPS and allocating a number based on their ‘finishing’ position - 14 being highest, 1 being lowest. This is then repeated for EHP and the score combined. By using this score, cross referenced against the fits estimated cost, it is possible to draw a ‘cost vs benefit plot’ that combines the two key measures of merit (DPS and EHP).
This draws the following plot:
The second seeks looks only at DPS vs cost. The rationale here will be explained in more detail later.
This draws the following plot:
The inference of both plots is that the more expensive ‘E’ fits certainly provide more DPS and often (but critically, not always) a better combined DPS/EHP score. However, there is a very clear separation between the ‘E’ fits and the ‘A’ fits in terms of cost, most notably for the Golem (E).
A simple analysis based on the plots alone could conclude that provided you have the ISK, it is better to plug for the best ‘E’ fit ship you can afford and go off making loads of ISK. But sadly, EVE is not that simple.
Further, (and perhaps critically) looking at the combined DPS/EHP plot and the DPS only plot, it would be understandable for readers to be confused – ‘how is it possible that a Golem, even T2 fitted, is apparently comparable to a CNI Raven (E)?’.
The answer is, it absolutely isn’t (as is clear when reading the raw data for those ships/fits). The CNI Raven (E) score’s better than the Golem when combining DPS and EHP because the CNI Raven (E) has a very high EHP and the Golem (A) has a low EHP compared to many other ships, which means it does not have a brilliant benefit score in the combined DPS/EHP plot.
In terms of DPS alone, the second plot shows the Golem ahead to the CNI Raven (E), but only marginally. This (like the DPS/EHP combined plot) is because of the linear scoring approach and lack of weighting of scores. The Golem (A) actually has 84% more DPS than a CNI Raven (E) – there is just no sense of this in the plot as the scores are not weighted.
This is where weighting of the scores becomes important rather than a simple (crude) linear score – but I have not had the time/inclination to do this as the conclusions below move much further beyond ‘just DPS’ (or EHP or the combination thereof).
While it is possible to conduct this analysis purely on the basis of the two cost/benefit plots, it does not provide context, and context is critical when assessing what ship to purchase. Therefore, is worth exploring the following in turn: Difficulty of L4 missions, time to complete L4 missions, SP/ISK availability of pilots, and the risk of ganking.
Difficulty of L4 missions: One of the most obvious aspects of the two plots above are the fact that all of the Drake variants are red. This is for a simple reason: The drakes (especially ‘E’ fitted drakes) score well on EHP, - but they have no ‘tank’. The battleship variants all fit some form of shield booster to enable them to recover their shield by (temporarily, as they would not be cap stable) by pulsing their shield booster. This gives the battleships a higher probability of being able to stay in a L4 mission until completion than any of the Drake fits, which may not be able to stay in a L4 mission area solo without risking the loss of the ship. Drakes warping away will save the ship, but has a negative impact on the likely ISK/hour ratio.
Time to complete L4 missions: There are several factors that must be taken into account when considering time to complete the mission;
Travel time (including align times, warp speeds etc).
Range vs speed (a ship with high range can snipe the whole mission area, whereas a low ranged ship, even with an afterburner must move around the site to get into range, which costs time).
Missile type and effectiveness vs target type.
Considering these elements, even the HM drakes lack significant range vs their albeit slower battleship counterparts, forcing them to spend time moving around L4 sites whilst not always firing back (whilst being shot at, without a shield booster). This costs time, impacting the likely ISK/hour ratio, especially if the drake warps away. So while the HAM drakes in particular appear to have high DPS and drakes in general have a good combined DPS/EHP score, the odds are that these will not be realised in the mission area and will negatively impact the ISK/hour ratio. However, there is equally a negative impact of using large (Cruise) missile vs smaller/faster targets at range, which is what battleship pilots use drones or to help with.
ISK availability / SP for new pilots: Not all pilots have L5 characters and the ISK to perfectly fit their ships (for Golem’s in particular). Equally, some may just not wish to spend large amounts of ISK on a ship based on fear of losing more than they can afford. In this case, the ‘A’ fitted drakes and Ravens are likely going to be the best choice for a pilot in either of these situations as the impact of ISK/hour becomes a mooted point as they have no better choice. Equally, if running L3 solo or running L4’s as part of a fleet then the ‘A’ fitted drakes and ravens become a very appealing choice for lower SP/ISK pilots, irrespective of ISK/hour ratios.
Ganking: Whilst returning to the game its comforting to see the constant debates about the merits of ganking have not gone away. I will not bore anyone with my views here, but certainly this means ganking has to be considered contextually against this assessment. Marauders are a recognised target for ganking, based purely on hull value alone (regardless of fit). Pilots must therefore consider the risk/reward of any expensive ship in this assessment. Even the ‘A’ fit of the Golem is a target for ganking, let alone the hideously expensive Golem ‘E’ fit. Are faction ships considered to be a likely target for ganking (regardless of fit)? My only observation here is this: If you are operating near known ganking corps/pilots or your own risk/reward assessment deems the risk to high and the cost impact to great, then Golem’s and ‘E’ fits are simply not an option for you. Given the limited additional cost, CNI ships might be worth the limited extra cost (relative to ‘E’ fits or Golem ‘A’) and may make such ‘A’ fitted ships a more attractive option, even at the impact of ISK/hour. This assumes that CNI ships are not (like the Golem) a default target for gankers.
CONCLUSION: WHAT MISSILE SHIP IS ‘BEST’ FOR L4 MISSION RUNNING?
Let me start by clearly stating this: This assessment is not intended to tell you what ship to buy (or how to fit it), but hopefully it will help you make your own decision based on the information presented above and below.
This assessment has mostly focused on the cost/benefit and covered the risk/reward of certain ship and fitting options. It does not specifically try to tell people how to optimally fit or ‘meta’ their ships (although I hope the fits below are not completely useless and help pilots with their fitting choices).
To that end and based on the information shown and discussed above, I would say this:
Don’t purchase a Golem with a bling/expensive fit. Yes, they will likely have the highest ISK/hour ratio. But is the extra is the extra 8.5% DPS over a Golem (A) fit really worth the extra ISK? Also, do you actually need the extra 57% EHP or does the Golem (A) already fare quite well in L4 missions? Finally, is it really worth it long term? At c.6bn a pop, it would take at least 60 hours at 100m ISK/hour (ignoring ammo and drone losses etc) to provide a return on this ship fit. If you are confident that you can keep the ship alive for AT LEAST 120 hours of in mission time (60h to pay for ship 1, 60h to pay for a replacement) despite the probability of being a high target for gankers and/or you have ISK in carnal abandon then yes, go nuts – otherwise, avoid because its probably not worth the hassle.
Golem ‘A’ fits are undisputedly the king of L4 (at least, in terms of Caldari missile ships). But they have an automatic ‘gank me’ bullseye painted on them, regardless of a bling or basic fit. Only you can assess your risk/reward level but at 1.6bn ISK, providing you are careful then it seems like the best L4 mission runner.
There appears to be limited value in purchasing ‘elite’ fits for Raven/Drake variants in order to secure higher DPS. The benefits (while real) are only marginal compared to a ‘standard’ (T2) fit but the costs are excessive for the benefit. But they cost double a much superior Golem ‘A’, and while they might not automatically inspire gankers like a Marauder, at those prices they are likely to attract attention. Again, if you can keep your ship alive for c.60 hours of mission running time (30h to pay for ship 1, 30h to pay for a replacement) then (again), go nuts if you want to. But, like the Golem ‘E’, you throwing money at a law of diminishing return, trying to squeeze c.10% extra benefit out of the fit at huge cost - and there are arguably better options at cheaper prices.
‘E’ fits do provide better DPS/EHP benefit relative to their ‘A’ consorts, but, this could be a false economy. Noting the remarks about ‘E’ fits vs DPS and the Golem (E) specifically above, the other item to consider is just how much EHP you need to stay alive in a L4. If experience shows that either your skills or your fit just can’t handle soloing a L4 yet, then adding the ‘bling’ might help you stay in the L4 to completion. But it is only in this niche (and likely temporary) positions that ‘E’ fits really stand out as worthwhile. Either you need the extra EHP/DPS combo to stay alive long enough to not warp away (improving ISK/hour), or you need to add ‘elements of bling’ just to get your fit over the line for Cap/CPU or whatever. Otherwise, I would avoid as the increased costs may make you a target for gankers. But if you are not concerned by gankers and have the isk, there is no specific reason not to purchase ‘E’ fits and it will have an (albeit modest) impact on your ISK/hour ratio.
‘A’ fits, especially on standard Ravens are a really cost effective solution. ISK/hour will suffer, especially when compared to a Golem ‘A’ fit, but if you are new to game, lack SP or are concerned by gankers, this is almost certainly the right choice for you, at the cost of ISK/hour.
Drakes (and I suspect/guess Tengu’s) are not viable for L4 missions. Drakes likely lack the staying power to stay alive long enough (solo) without warping out. Further, drakes (and probably tengu’s) lack the range/speed to be really effective in a L4 in the way a battleship hull can. All told, even an ‘E’ fit CNI Drake (and maybe even a Tengu) is likely to not make the ISK/hour of a well fitted ‘A’ fit Raven. This issue is then compounded by being extremely expensive, which raises questions about risk/reward, especially when considering gankers.
What would I pick? Probably a CNI Raven or a Raven with an ‘A’ fit (depending on how my shields held, whatever was cheapest). If I am feeling bold/flushed with ISK, I would take a Golem with an ‘A’ fit.
The Golem is undoubtedly the king of DPS and certainly has the staying power to solo a L4, and in my mind is worth the 1.6bn price tag and risk of gankers. But if I was operating near gankers, feeling scared or low on ISK I would take whatever Raven had the shields to handle a L4 solo in one go - with an ‘A’ fit for best risk/reward combined with cost/benefit.
I might be inclined to splurge on the Golem ‘A’ fit for faction mods that improve DPS (specifically) to draw a (not discussed above) compromise between a bling fit and a higher DPS fit. I don’t think the Golem in bastion mode needs more EHP/tank than the fit suggested. But in terms of ISK/hour a pilot could focus ISK here, for the c.150 DPS bump. It probably does not increase the risk being ganked (you are in a Marauder and already a target) but it will have an (albeit modest) ISK/hour benefit for only (comparably) modest additional investment (c.0.5-1.25bn ISK extra?).
Note: When I say the Golem ‘A’ fit doesn’t need more tank, this is true right until the point you are ganked, where tank (might) be what keeps you alive – but odds are on if the gankers know their stuff, you are going home in your pod (at best) either way.
In the case of a CNI Raven ‘A’/’E’ hybrid, you might just stay out of the notice of gankers, keeping your risk level low(er) and reaping the (more limited) benefits of c.77 DPS more. But I would not go down this route personally.
If I am going to break my own rule and ‘cheat’ with an ‘A’/’E’ hybrid with faction mods only for DPS, then it does bring the standard Raven back into play as an option that will likely (hopefully?) be ignored by all but the most determined/bored gankers? This may be a good risk/benefit compromise (more so than the CNI Raven) for those not wanting the hassle of a Golem with an extra 77 DPS and still likely cheaper than a Golem ‘A’ fit. But I would only do this if the Raven ‘A’ fit shields held against the L4 missions - I would not go down the route of then adding better faction shields etc and you are back in ‘Raven (E)’ fit territory - which is not worth it.
I am sorry this has been such a long post – really interested to hear your views.