Sunday, 1 April 2012

Know Your Enemy - Rookie Ships

Note: This article is now out of date. Head over to the Article Index page to see the updated list.

The Secure Commerce Commission obviously got a good bulk deal on these ships, because they seem to hand them out at every possible opportunity - if you're like me, I expect you have a whole fleet of such ships distributed across the Eve universe, each of them secretly joyous that you didn't just trash them like all those other guys.

When something is as common, and as...well... free as a rookie ship, it's easy to brush them off as worthless. However, could there be more to these ships than simply a container for that free unit of tritanium? In this article, we'll look at just how effective these often underrated platforms can be in PVP.

The Velator class frigate is one of the older vessel types in the Gallente fleet. It was first deployed on the market as a fast passenger craft but the extra passenger quarters were later modified into weapon hardpoints as the newer models came to be used for small-scale security and military duties. The Velator is still a very solid mining and trading vessel.

Despite being billed as a fast passenger vessel, the velator is in fact the most combat-worthy of the rookie ship line. Its 2/1/1 slot layout with 2 turret hardpoints is nothing special for a rookie ship, however its 10m3 of drone bay/bandwidth is double what the other ships are able to field, and a 5% hybrid damage bonus per frigate level solidifies the velator's position as king of rookie ship dps.

This ship's larger drone complement combined with the highest damaging weapon system around leaves the velator with a damage output that many t1 frigates would be jealous of! With a high dps fit, a blaster velator is able to put out almost 160dps (175 with overheat) - equivalent to a gank fit rifter!

Not only does the velator outperform the other rookie ships as a combat platform, but it evens tops the class as a miner too, with room for a second mining drone!

Like all rookie ships, the weakness of the velator is its low EHP - typically around 600-700. In addition, with only one mid slot the velator needs to choose between propulsion and tackle - this means that unless it has gangmates to tackle its target, the velator will need to start fights at close range in order to be successful. However if able to get in close, the velator has the potential to provide a challenging opponent, particularly if you are flying an unarmed hauler or happen to be afk for the duration of the fight. If you're dueling the velator in any other rookie ship, I strongly recommend keeping range on this little dps monster at all times!

The Reaper-class is the smallest of the Minmatar frigates, just barely reaching frigate status instead of a manned fighter. The Reaper is very cheap and is used en masse in daring hit-and-run operations by Minmatars either side of the law.

The game's flavour text describes the reaper as a combat frigate used in large groups to engage in hit and run attacks, and while this is almost definitely not common practice, you can see why the reaper would suit such a role. Well, it has the run part down at least - hit is still a work in progress. This ship receives the standard 2/1/1 slot layout of a rookie ship, with 5m3 drone bay/bandwidth - nothing special there. However, not only is this the fastest rookie ship in the game, it also receives a 5% bonus per level to ship velocity - enough to push the reaper up to around 1.2km/s with an afterburner, or over 3km/s with a MWD!

Unfortunately the reaper barely puts out half the damage output of its gallente cousin, and it's also the most fragile of the rookie ship line. Because of these factors, the reaper is unsuited to taking on a solo engagement and should be easy prey for velators, armed t1 frigates, and stray drones. On the other hand if you're flying any rookie ship other than the velator or you're otherwise unarmed, you should indeed fear the reaper!

With its high speed, it's only natural to fit the reaper with a propulsion mod. This means tackle on the ship itself is unlikely, however in a large swarm with some tackle frigates, a reaper fleet could potentially to do you what a swarm of locusts does to a field of crops - be warned!

The Caldari Ibis frigate is a small but stout frigate that fits admirably well as a cargo hauler or small-scale miner. Its reliability makes it a good choice for novice ship captains.

Don't let its appearance fool you, this is in fact not a tengu, but the new ibis! Presumably because CCP felt that a rookie ship which actually uses missiles might be overpowered, the ibis is a turret ship along the same lines as the moa - in addition to the standard 2/1/1 slot layout and 5m3 of drone bay/bandwidth, the ibis receives a 10% per level bonus to hybrid turret optimal range. With 150mm railguns and spike, that's enough to push the ibis' range out to over 50km (40+7.5)!

To support this, the ibis has by far the longest targeting range of any frigate (up to 60km when fitting a sensor booster). As you'd expect from a long ranged ship, the damage output of the ibis is fairly poor, although with close range ammo it can put out roughly the same as the other (non-gallente) rookie ships.

The volley damage of the sniping ibis is fairly low, at around 90 damage per shot. In a large group however, this can add up - a fleet of 20 or so sniping ibises has the potential to alpha un-tanked frigates, and only 7 or so are needed to wipe out another rookie ship in a single volley! Beware of ibises operating at range if you don't have a propulsion mod in order to close the distance. Obviously with a sensor booster fitted this ship won't be able to tackle you itself, however if it has support pilots to provide tackle or you forget to warp off for whatever reason, the sniping ibis could slowly pick you apart!

The Impairor-class frigate has been mass-produced by the Amarr Empire for decades. It is the most common spacevessel sighted within the Amarrian boundaries, and is used both as a basic trade vessel and as a small-scale slave transport.

Describing the impairor as best used as a slave transport ship is probably correct - mainly because slaves are small, and nobody is likely to suicide gank you for them. While the impairor would be equally viable for transporting more valuable items such as PLEX, most pilots opt for a slightly sturdier option such as the kestrel.

The impairor is a well rounded ship, but doesn't really shine in any particular area as its counterparts do. It has the standard 2/1/1 slot layout and 5m3 of drone bay/bandwidth, with a 10% per level bonus to energy turret cap use. The usefulness of this bonus is debatable of course, since with only two turrets the impairor has little trouble keeping its guns fed even with low skills.

As you'd expect from an amarr ship, the biggest strength of the impairor is its mid-range damage output - with scorch, it's able to put out similar damage to the reaper at an optimal of around 10km. While this may not seem like a huge advantage, it allows the impairor to be useful without giving up its only low slot for a propulsion mod - something which can't be said for the reaper or velator (unless of course they start the fight at 0).

The impairor also holds the somewhat underwhelming honour of being the toughest rookie ship, although not by much - its EHP without any tanking mods still slips in at just under 700. While likely a match for a reaper one on one (thanks to its stronger tank and better damage output if it switches to close range ammo), the impairor poses little threat to other targets by itself (excluding of course the usual unarmed haulers and afk t1 frigates). As part of a rookie ship gang however, it can provide an element of flexibility that the other rookie ships lack.


  1. Excellent write up, and long overdue

  2. About time we have a rookie ship write-up. I've been soloing in a reaper with 2 ACs and a MWD, its interesting because people never warpout...

  3. Not to be a dick, but Ive noticed in the last few (maybe more) that you have a large amount of typos. Not bad spelling, but more the wrong words. Its an annoying little thing (I think I do it often also on my blog), but nothing a quick proofread prior to posting cant fix, imo.

    Otherwise, great stuff you have here.

    1. Admittedly, this post was thrown together last night in about half an hour or so - I didn't really put the same effort into it as I would normally.

      Point taken though, I'll try to check future posts a little more carefully.

  4. This is definitely getting linked.

  5. We recently had a rookie ship event in the uni and blew up two thousand of them. The most effective fit was a Velator with an MSE in the mids (the low slot to get the grid). Or go with a point and a DCU2.

  6. Rookie ships are very nice cyno ships.
    And is very tricky because some PvP overviews don't show the rookie ships...

  7. Good joke re: transporting plex, yes kestrel > impairor for such duties

  8. 1,000 rookie ships descend upon you...


The Altruist is the Eve Online blog of Azual Skoll, PVP instructor and small gang PVPer.

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