Level 4 mission ship fits

Level 4 missions are a unique challenge for an Eve player, and they demand a unique approach to ship fitting. This is an article about how to go about fitting a ship for level 4 missions generically - there are proposed fits linked at the bottom of the page, but the main purpose of this article is to explain why things are done a certain way, not to pass along cookie-cutter setups.

Contents

Level 4 Missions

See also: Level 4 Mission Guides

In order to understand how we should fit ships for level 4 missions, we must first look at what a level 4 mission consists of. Level 4 missions frequently feature upwards of a dozen battleships, swarms of frigate- and cruiser-class ships, sentry towers, and every type of electronic warfare in the game. They feature far and away the highest concentrations of NPC rats anywhere in highsec. Easy missions can be done by most ships, but the difficult ones often require management of how many ships are attacking you("aggro management"), because no ship can survive the amount of firepower that would be aimed at them if every NPC ship was firing.

Many missions also feature follow-up waves of enemies after a trigger condition, usually destruction of a particular NPC, is met. These missions require some care, as the number of enemies after a trigger or two can overwhelm a player who could handle one wave easily. If you don't know a mission, read the guide on how to do it properly, because there are many traps for the unwary. The triggers vary from mission to mission and can be any type of ship, The highest bounty NPC is frequently the trigger but this varies.

Basic Fitting Techniques

There are two basic schools of thought on how to go about fitting ships for level 4 missions. The first method emphasizes building a large, capacitor-stable tank, usually with 2 Large Armor Repairer II or one X-Large Shield Booster II, several Mission Specific Hardeners and enough capacitor to run it indefinitely. This school treats dealing damage as secondary, focusing on surviving to kill enemies at leisure.

The second school tends towards building a less solid tank in order to increase DPS, in order to both complete missions (and thus earn money) faster, and because additional DPS may kill enemies fast enough to lower the damage received to the point where less of a tank is necessary.

Both of these make sense in some contexts. The first school is generally preferred for solo, casual missioners who care about never losing their ship. The second tends to perform much better in gang contexts, where the several hundred extra DPS can often melt rats and tanking duties can be split.

As well, some ships clearly lean one way or the other. For example, the Dominix is very difficult to fit with large guns, and prefers to do most of its damage with drones. Since most drones have no damge increasing module, it is unrealistic to increase the DPS of this fit, and thus it goes to the tank school. Fortunately, it fits for tank very easily, being able to mount a tank of 2 cap-stable Large Armor Repairer II with a pair of Auxiliary Nano Pump I Rigs.

Conversely, a Raven is very difficult to fit for cap stability, requiring three Capacitor Control Circuit I Rigs and five Capacitor Flux Coil II to be even nominally stable. Most players thus prefer to fit a Raven for a "pulse tank", that can only run its shield booster in pulses, and fit two to three Ballistic Control System II to increase DPS dramatically.

In all cases, you should look at what your ship is capable of and how you prefer to play and determine which style is preferable. Don't feel locked into conventional setups, feel free to experiment to see if you can find something that fits your play style better.

One other important point is that you should never use more than one tank type. Players occasionally fit ships with a shield tank, but an armor repairer and a hull repairer "just in case my shield breaks and I take damage". This is wrong because it is counterproductive. If you waste two slots on useless modules, your tank is far more likely to break than it would be if you just fit your ship with one good tank in the first place. Even low-skilled players can build a ship that should never die if they're careful, do not put in insurance policies "just in case". If you want to repair damage, leave the hull repper in your cargo hold back at the station and switch to it after you've taken damage to save repair costs, but don't fly into combat with it. Similarly, never mix a passive shield tank with an active one - they don't go together, and both require total commitment to be good. Also, don't use any modules that just increase your HP - you should be tanking these missions, not trying to survive for a few extra seconds. Shield extenders are used in a passive shield tank, but they should never be used in an active tank, and armor plates should never be used in any PvE combat. Your goal with a mission tank is to survive the mission fully intact, not to scrape by and have to do contortions to survive. It's possible for everybody, so don't try to work around it.

  • An important caveat: Your effective armor/shield HP does have one function in PvE tanking, in that it sets an upper limit on the DPS you can tank. Armor and shield regeneration is not continuous, but occurs in discrete bursts based on the activation time of your repair modules, or for passive tanks, your ship's innate shield regeneration cycle.

If you have 6k effective armor HP, and your armor repair system has a cycle time of 10 seconds, a swarm of rats that do 700 DPS total will repeatedly penetrate your armor, damage your structure, and eventually destroy your ship, even if your repper is technically able to repair 800 DPS. This is typically only a factor in "extreme builds."

Formulas

  • Effective (Armor|Shield) HP = (Armor|Shield) HP / (1.00 - Weakest Resistance)
    • (Example: 5000 Armor / (1.00 - 0.10 Explosive Resistance) = 5556 Effective Armor HP)' Note: Assumes a "worst case" scenario of an enemy attacking your weakest point exclusively.
  • Maximum Dps Tankable = Effective (Armor|Shield) HP repaired by cycle * Number of Repair Modules / ( Repair Module Cycle Time )
    • (Example: 800/(1.00 - 0.75) Effective repaired Armor HP * 2 Large Armor Repairer II / 12 second cycle time = 533 maximum tankable Dps)' Note: Assumes you stagger the activation of the Armor repair modules with 75% resistances and using 2 large Armor repairer II with repair systems at level 4 (brings down repair time from 15s to 12s at level 4).

Threat Assessment

Most level 4 mission fits are aimed primarily at tanking and destroying battleships, because those are the primary threat in most level 4 missions. However, there are other threats that need to be addressed in many missions, and this table provides a guide to those:

Threat Enemies Class Response Notes
Scrambling All Frigates No good response Kill these frigates first if you may need to escape the mission, otherwise ignore
Webbing All Frigates Afterburners Kill these frigates if you need to fly around at speed, otherwise ignore
Jamming Caldari, Guristas Cruisers Drones, ECCM, FOF Missiles The most annoying EWar, kill it first
Energy Neutralizing Blood Battleships Cap Boosters, pulsing your tank Deadly if you don't pay attention, largely harmless if you do
Tracking Disruption Amarr, Sanshas Cruisers Tracking Computers, Tracking Enhancers, Webs Only affects turrets
Sensor Dampening Gallente, Serpentis Cruisers Sensor Boosters Target nearby ships early in the mission. Long-range targets will de-target frequently
Target Painting Minmatar, Angels Cruisers None Essentially harmless, ignore it

As well, a note on killing small ships. Most battleship-sized guns are terrible at killing cruisers and frigates, and thus the task ought to be left to either smaller guns, which most ships don't fit, or small and medium drones. For many ships this isn't a problem, but for the Megathron and Armageddon, with exactly 125 m3 of drone bay, it can be since they must either sacrifice the peak DPS of heavy drones or the ability to kill smaller ships easily. In gangs this can easily be worked around by having allies kill them, but in solo combat you will almost inevitably need to use medium drones and sacrifice DPS. The only real alternative is to fit a Web or two in order to slow the targets down to where you can track them, but after the Quantum Rise web nerf this no longer works very effectively.

Gear Selection

There are three classes of gear that most missioners use - named, Tech 2, and faction. Named is generally the easiest for newer players to use - it is relatively cheap and requires low skill levels. Tech 2 gear is quite common for most systems, but Tech 2 weapons tend to be very skill-intense and most new players will usually not be able to use them. Tech 2 gear tends to be somewhat cheaper than named gear, but require more power grid and CPU. Faction gear has the same low skill requirements as named gear and is usually better than Tech 2, but is very expensive, sometimes it costs tens to hundreds of millions for a single module.

Choosing what kind of modules to use can be a challenging in many cases, but here is a simple method for that. For modules where the Tech 2 version has low skill requirements - Cap Recharger II, Large Armor Repairer II, etc. - Tech 2 is usually preferable. It's the cheapest option for good quality gear, and even newer players should be able to use it by the time they can fly a Level 4 Missions capable ship effectively. For some modules, the best named variant is just as effective as Tech 2, so if the cost difference is acceptable, then newer players may want to use named modules to avoid having to invest a day or two into skills like Energy Grid Upgrades. Faction gear is best purchased by players with larger bankrolls, and even then only when it provides significant benefits. For example, an N-Type Thermic Hardener I is a better module in many ways than a Domination Armor Thermic Hardener and costs far less. However, in most cases, faction gear is better, and if you have the money to invest in it, it can be worthwhile.

Weapons are a bit of a special case, because unlike most modules where Tech 2 can be skilled into relatively easy, getting Tech 2 weapons is a serious undertaking. For example, Tech 2 versions of a large turret require over 3 million skill points - about 2 months of training - invested into nothing but getting the requisite gunnery skills. This is far more investment than can be justified for a new player, and as such the new player will have to get by without Tech 2 guns for a long time. Most players get named weapons, but faction is a perfectly viable option for those who can afford it. However, Tech 2 weapons are a good long-term goal for most players. While they appear to only do as much damage as the best named weapons, they also benefit from specialization skills (e.g. Cruise Missile Specialization), and thus do 6-8% more Dps for most players. Also, for torpedo and pulse laser fits, the addition of Javelin torpedoes and Scorch-L adds a significant amount of effective range to your ship and thus make it much more effective in many missions. However, don't neglect support skills to go straight for Tech 2 weapons, it's more important to be well-balanced than to be somewhat better at just one aspect of your ship.

If you do feel the need to buy named or faction equipment with the intent of upgrading to Tech 2 in future, don't look at the money you spend on the intermediate modules as a waste of money. Prices tend to be relatively stable in Eve, so you will usually be able to recover most of the money you spent on those modules if you choose to sell them when you go for Tech 2. As long as you have the money to spend, it's worth spending even if you're not going to use the modules forever.

A few players go beyond faction gear to officer or deadspace gear, which can cost up to billions for a single module, but that is essentially just the same decision as using faction gear except with a bigger budget. If you can afford it, and you want to use it, go for it, but an in-depth analysis of modules worth billions of ISK is beyond the scope of a guide for newer players. The only further note worth making is that if you have modules worth several billion ISK on your ship, it can become profitable for players to suicide gank you, so be vigilant when flying a ship worth that much, don't go AFK sitting around a gate.

Fitting Constraints

Many of the proposed fits will operate on the assumption of perfect fitting skills - Electronics 5, Engineering 5, Weapon Upgrades 5, Energy Grid Upgrades 5, Shield Upgrades 5, and sometimes even Advanced Weapon Upgrades 5. Unfortunately, not all players have these skills. There are usually workarounds available to players, however. Substituting Tech 2 gear with named or faction gear will often save a lot of Powergrid and CPU. Fortunately, the best named module is always the one with the lowest fitting requirements as well as being the most effective. In extreme cases, storyline gear (which tends to be very expensive) can also be used to replace some modules.

There are Implants whicht add Power Grid to your ship:

  • 1%: Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Squire' PG2
  • 3%: Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Squire' PG4
  • 5%: Hardwiring - Inherent Implants 'Squire' PG8

There are Implants which add CPU:

  • 1%: Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gypsy' KMB-25
  • 3%: Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gypsy' KMB-50
  • 5%: Hardwiring - Zainou 'Gypsy' KMB-75

You can only use one of these implants from each group at a time.

Failing these, you can trade out normal modules for low slot fitting modules:

Also do not forget Rigs:

  • Ancillary Current Router I
  • Processor Overclocking Unit I

This tends to lower your ship's effectiveness, but it can be necessary.

In a similar vein, people talking of tanks that run forever tend to assume perfect capacitor skills - Energy System Operations 5, Energy Management 5, and sometimes even Shield Compensation 5. If you don't have these skills, there are again other options, though fewer than there are with fitting. Named gear tends to be no more cap-efficient than Tech 2, but there is sometimes faction gear that is. The only faction cap gear that's better than tech 2 is the faction Capacitor Power Relays, but those are only 1% better. Capacitor Control Circuit II exist, but cost hundreds of millions. The best workaround here are Implants (Hardwirings) for capacitor recharge and capacitor amount, both exist and can be used together, though the recharge implants cannot be used with PG/CPU implants. Hybrid and Energy Turret users can also gain some capacitor from moving towards mid-range, mid-damage ammo - Lead L and Standard L minimize capacitor use, though the difference is small on every ship but the Abaddon. Of course, modules can be changed to make a capacitor more stable - adding a cap booster or a Nos can help, as can switching things out for more cap gear and rigs. For shield tankers, it can sometimes be worthwhile to play around with Capacior Flux Coil II versus Power Diagnostic System II, as either can be better depending on the exact details of skills and fit. Ultimately, however, the best solution is almost always to pulse your tank instead of assuming it can run forever. It removes some of the fits utility, but it lets it work.

Damage Types

The four damage types are not equal. Every enemy has stronger and weaker resistances, and deals different amounts of each damage type.

There are five broad categories of damage:

  • EM primary, Thermal secondary: Amarr, Blood Raiders, Sanshas Nation
  • Thermal primary, Kinetic secondary: Gallente, Serpentis
  • Kinetic primary, Therm secondary: Caldari, Guristas, Mordos legion, EoM
  • Explosive primary, Kin secondary: Minmatar, Angels
  • All four roughly equal: Drones, Mercenaries


When a fit calls for Mission Specific Hardeners, these are the ones to harden against. With three hardeners, equip two against their primary damage type and one against their secondary, with four put on two of each. For Drones and Mercenaries it's usually best to put on 3x Invulnerability Field II or 3x Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II with three hardener slots, or three specifics against your three weakest resistances and one InvuField/EANM if you have four hardener slots. The idea of two pairs of hardeners may seem like overkill, but it really isn't - hard missions can put out well over a thousand DPS, and it takes a lot of hardening to bring that down to a level you can repair without dying. The stacking penalty for two modules of a type is minimal, so use two. Shy away from using a third one, however - an InvuField or EANM does significantly less effect when used with a pair of specific hardeners of a type, and thus becomes much less worthwhile. Also, resistance rigs are never worthwhile for a L4 ship, since you're going to harden specifically against mission rats instead of wanting to be locked into one resistance type.

When dealing damage, most rats have their lowest resistance to their own primary damage type, meaning that it's best to do the same kind of damage to them as they are dealing to you. However, the differences are small, meaning that you should only switch damage types if the damage loss is small. A Raven pilot, who can switch between all four on missiles with no loss of DPS, should always do the optimal damage type with his missiles, but switching drones is almost never worthwhile, as the difference in DPS is as high as 28%, which makes it prohibitive to switch. On the whole, missile users (except on ships like the Drake which has a specific damage bonus) should always switch and projectile users usually should, but drone, hybrid, and laser users should not.

Suggested Fits

Amarr Caldari Gallente Minmatar Faction