05 September 2009

New Player Resources: Picking A Race

As I've mentioned, I have a co-worker currently testing out the capsule lifestyle. I have an old college roommate that I'm trying to talk into a capsule. I started gathering new player resources, but I want to take a step back and explain the races of New Eden and how they differ from the experiences that most players may have from other games.

Before I do that, I want to mention Eve University. It is a player-run corporation that works to train new capsuleers. I don't really have any experience with Eve U, and I understand they are under war declarations a lot, but I like the idea. I think they are worth looking into.

In order to explain the differences in the races, I feel that I need to explain two mechanics: standings, and tanking.

Standings with an NPC corporation affect which of those corporation's agents will be available for missions. Standings with an NPC faction are entry requirements into Faction Warfare, or in setting up a player owned station (POS) in faction space.

Doing missions for an agent increases standings with that agent, and through that agent, the corporation for which that agent works, and through that corporation the faction with which that corporation is aligned. There are some missions which will lower standings with an opposed corporation or faction. Standings damaged in this way can be mended.

All ships have shields, armor, and structure. They must be defeated, in that order, in order to destroy a ship. Some pilots will opt to shield tank, meaning they are putting resources into their shields and not their armor. Some will armor tank. I've only ever seen proof-of-concept fits to structure tank. I don't know of any case where it has actually been done.

Once a shield tank is broken, the neglected armor usually falls quickly. For armor tankers, the shield is usually just a soft shell easily peeled away. Measures to extend shields make a ship's signature larger, making it easier to hit. Measures to increase armor make a ship heavier and slower to turn and accelerate.

There are options to speed tank or rely on range or electronic warfare, where a pilot ignores shields and armor. They are valid, but more complicated.

Having explained all of that, I now want to explain the four races of Eve.

Picking a race does not commit anyone to anything. It does give a slight head start with standings and frigate skills for a particular race. Standings, though, can be easily changed, and changed back, just by running agent missions. As to frigate skills, many capsuleers can fly more than one race's ships. I personally can fly nearly as many Caldari ships as Minmatar, and I can fly Amarr frigates and Gallente cruisers.

During character creation, and in the Evelopedia, there is some backstory on each of the four races, and even the blood lines and such. Again, this doesn't bind you to anything if you don't want it to.

The Caldari are probably the most popular race. If not, their ships certainly are, and with good reason. They are very simple and straight-forward, and in some cases, define the role in which they fill.

Caldari ships are shield tankers as a rule (which can be broken). There are Caldari ships that are gun boats, purposed to carry the devastating, if short-ranged, hybrid rails. There are Caldari ships that are missile boats, and these ships are the best missile boats in New Eden. Included among these is the single most common battleship, the Raven. It is nearly twice as common as any other battleship. Even I have to admit that the Raven is excellent for running missions and fighting NPCs.

Caldari ships also include the best mining cruiser and the best sensor jamming ships. The Blackbird is the butt of many jokes for being such a fleet spoiler. I tend to fly a Blackbird, and have many more killmail appearances in one than any other ship. Most pilots, myself included, don't like it. It is slow, ugly, and not particularly lethal on its own. It is very much so not glamorous.

Clearly, I've never been one to be confused with glamorous.

But the Blackbird must be doing something right. It will often be called as a primary target in a fleet battle.

The Gallente share the use of the hybrid rails with the Caldari. The Gallente, however, tend to be armor tankers. There are a number of Gallente ships that could shield tank just as easily, even if that was not truly their original intention.

Gallente are famed for employing drones. More Gallente ships are capable of carrying more drones and have better bonuses to their drones.

Gallente also lay claim to having the best industrial and transport ships, though they just do barely outclass the Minmatar ships.

The Amarr have nothing in common with the Caldari or Gallente. They are armor tankers as a rule, and rarely, if ever, use missiles or drones. Amarr ships rely on lasers. Lasers have a lot of flexibility and very commanding ranges. Lasers, however, are very hungry weapons, making an Amarr ship very vulnerable to power draining attacks.

While the numbers from the quarterly reports don't always bear this out, I swear that the Amarr battleships are New Edener's second most favorite. They do look very imposing on a battlefield.

It is probably worth noting that one of the scariest frigates outside of Jovian space, is an Amarr Punisher fitted with Minmatar autocannons.

That's right, there are no rules saying one can't mix races. There are restrictions though. If a ship doesn't have a turret hardpoint, then it can't be fitted with a turret. If it doesn't have a drone bay, then it can't carry drones.

The last race is probably the most complicated, and my favorite, the Minmatar. Minmatar ships are constantly derided as being flying scrapheaps, held together with duct tape and good intentions. They clearly do lack the grace and elegance of the Gallente or Amarr, but at least they tend to be more symmetrical than the Caldari.

Minmatar ships are difficult because they are sometimes a split platform. They have turret and missile hardpoints in near equal numbers with a small drone bay. To effectively fly some of them, one has to have twice or three times as many skills as one would need for a comparable ship from another race.

Minmatar ships also don't follow a rule as far as tanking. Some are shield tankers, some are armor tankers. It would be hard to make through life as a Minmatar pilot without learning skills for both.

Why does anyone fly Minmatar? They are often faster than other ships. And the Minmatar projectile turrets tend to have better range and don't rely on energy to drive them at all. The Minmatar Tempest battleship had the nickname SniPest for being the best sniping battleship for the longest time, and New Eden's frigate of choice is the Minmatar Rifter. Aside from looking very bad-ass, it is very lethal and faster than anything it can't kill outright, giving it the option to disengage (usually).

Again, the selection of a race doesn't tie anyone to anything. It is just as easy to start learning the ships of a second race after gaining some familiarity with New Eden. For new capsuleers that are having a hard time deciding, I would usually recommend the Caldari.

The Caldari have adequate mission running frigates and cruisers, and ships that can be used in a fleet with few skill points. The main reason I would recommend Caldari is the Osprey. It is the best mining cruiser, and tends to be the reason a lot of pilots ever learn Caldari, particularly pilots around before the introduction of ORE's mining barges.

For those that don't ever want to shoot a rock with lasers, the Caldari have a whole line of ships that make great mission runners (Kestrel, Caracal, Drake) that should hold one over until settling on a career or finding a niche.


  1. Great write up, as a vet of three races of ships ( even though im Caldari) your guide is quite good and should provide enough info to get rolling.

  2. Good guide, I would suggest it to new players to take a good look.

    Well done mate.