Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, October 25, 2013

Best in class 2013

Something that's becoming an October tradition around here is my feeling for what represents the "best in class" ship for each ship class.  I've done it now in 2011 and 2012.  As with last year, we've got an expansion coming up soon that will probably change some of my answers, but this still feels like the right time of year to keep this tradition going.  Consider it likely that this will continue to be a once a year thing around here.

As with last year, the faction ships will be regarded separately from the others and I continue to exclude tournament ships and limited edition ships.  Without further ado...

Standard ship classes:
  • Assault Ship: No change from last year; the Gallente/Enyo takes it.  It's fantastic in either shield or armor configurations, fast, tough, and hard-hitting.  The Caldari/Hawk continues to be the bridesmaid in this category with some wonderful defensive fittings.  The Gallente/Ishkur is also in the wings.
  • Battle Cruiser: The Gallente/Talos continues to hold this category thanks to its massive damage and damage projection combined with versatile fitting options.  There's a lot of ships nipping at the Talos's heels, though.  This is probably the most competitive category right now.
  • Battleship: Even before last year was over, the Gallente/Megathron pushed the Caldari/Rokh off this pedestal, but in my opinion was then itself pushed off the top spot by the Minmatar/Typhoon, with the Amarr/Armageddon as a reasonably close second.  MJD + Cruise Missiles + the Typhoon's natural agility make it an enormously fun ship to fly, and it's about to become even more stupid-good with the release of Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers in a few weeks.  The Geddon's versatility, meanwhile, grows on me more and more.
  • Black Ops: No change.  Amarr/Redeemer, for the DPS.  I'll be happy when the rebalance train passes through this station, though.
  • Carrier: The Amarr/Archon continues to hold this position handily.
  • Command Ship: The Command Ship rebalance pretty firmly pushed the Minmatar/Sleipnir off this pedestal to be replaced by the nightmarishly good Gallente/Eos.  The Eos's mix of strong tank, armor and skirmish links, and decent damage application even when link-fit vaulted it to the top tier of on-grid CSs.
  • Covert Ops: This remains the Caldari/Buzzard for versatility, and the hacking sites only strengthened its hold on the position.  No change.
  • Cruiser: If Battle Cruisers aren't the most competitive category, this one is.  There are so many lovely choices.  Overall, my pick for this year is the Amarr/Omen.  It's tough, versatile, hard-hitting, and great for both PvP and PvE.  The Caldari/Caracal, Gallente/Thorax, and Minmatar/Stabber are all nearly as good in their own ways, though.
  • Destroyer: The Minmatar/Talwar has shoved the Minmatar/Thrasher off the top spot and is currently holding off an attack from the Gallente/Algos... but only just.  Both are very fine ships.
  • Dreadnought: Gallente/Moros.  Still no contest.
  • EAF: It was the Amarr/Sentinel before Rubicon and will almost certainly continue to be the Amarr/Sentinel after Rubicon.  Still, the Minmatar/Hyena is growing on me.
  • Frigate: The Gallente/Incursus took this position after the hybrid buff and so far has kept it after last year's frigate rebalancing.  Still, there's no lack of competition.  These days, most frigates have strengths.
  • HAC: The Gallente/Ishtar continues to hold the top spot after this year's HAC rebalance.  There's almost nothing it's not good at.
  • HIC: The Amarr/Devoter continues to hold the top spot.
  • Interceptor: The Gallente/Taranis keeps this position for another three weeks or so.  After Rubicon, there's no telling which one I'm going to like the most.  There are soooo many interesting choices!
  • Interdictor: Likewise, the Minmatar/Sabre keeps this position until November 19.  After that, I'm sad to report that I think it's quite probable it will drop from 1st place to 4th.  But it had a really long good run in the top spot.
  • Logistics: All four ships in this class have struggled this year from competition from the T1 rep cruiser rebalance.  Last year, I chose the Minmatar/Scimitar, but only by the tiniest margin.  This year I think the Scythe is a good enough replacement for that one that the Gallente/Oneiros takes the top spot.  Not only is it great with friends, but there's a terrific viable ASB fit for single-logi fleet applications.
  • Marauder: The Minmatar/Vargur gets to keep this spot for a few more weeks.  After that, who knows?  This is the ship class I'll be watching most closely over the winter.
  • Recon: For three years now, this has been the hardest category for me to judge.  There are so many good choices and I'm biased about most of them.  Still, I continue to think the Caldari/Falcon remains the best of the eight, though the new sensor strength skills weakened its hold.  The Minmatar/Rapier is now a close second.
  • Rookie Ship: The Gallente/Velator continues to hold this spot, with the Caldari/Ibis still a close second thanks to its "LOL ewar noobfleet" capability.
  • Stealth Bomber: I'm looking forward to this rebalance.  Until it comes, I continue to favor the Caldari/Manticore for versatility, followed by the Minmatar/Hound.
  • Strat Cruiser: The hybrid buff, rail buff, and increasing importance of cloaky ratter hunters have caused the Gallente/Proteus to push the Caldari/Tengu off the top spot, though it's a very close thing.  The Tengu continues to be the king of this class for PvE.
  • Super Carrier: The Amarr/Aeon continues to hold the top spot in this category.  Its enormous tank and important super-cap fleet roles are tough to beat.
  • Titan: The Gallente/Erebus continues to hold this spot, in my opinion.

For faction ships, I'm going to split the categories in two this year for Empire and non-Empire factions:
  • Empire Faction Battleship: There are eight of these, and the best one is the Amarr/Apocalypse Navy Issue.  It's a terrific mix of tank, DPS, projection, and style.
  • Non-Empire Faction Battleship: For my money, the best in class is the Guardian Angel/Vindicator.  There are few roles it can't be applied to, and it excels in most of them.
  • Faction Battle Cruiser: A new ship class since last year!  Only four of these, but in my opinion the Gallente/Brutix Navy Issue is the best one.
  • Empire Faction Cruiser: No contest, the Minmatar/Scythe Fleet Issue, and if you'd told me before 2013's rebalances that I was gonna pick a split-weapon ship in any category, I would have laughed.  But this bad-ass little boat has made a believer out of me.
  • Non-Empire Faction Cruiser: The Blood Raider/Ashimmu was my choice last year, but this year's rail buff has allowed the Guardian Angel/Vigilant to supplant it.  But there's a white and red shadow on the horizon that's going to step to the top of the pedestal with both feet come November 19.
  • Empire Faction Frigate: There's only four of these and I'd be hard-pressed to choose a ship that's bad.  But overall I'd give a very slight edge to the Gallente/Federation Navy Comet.  The "cop car" has a great mix of damage, speed, and versatility, even if it no longer has its police light.
  • Non-Empire Faction Frigate: The Guardian Angel/Daredevil continues to be the one that scares me the most, though the Angel Cartel/Dramiel is catching back up thanks to some real innovations in high-end fittings this year.  The other three continue to lag behind, and badly.

For non-combatants:
  • Exhumer: No contest: the ORE/Mackinaw easily wrested this title from the Hulk last year and nothing's changed to alter that in 2013.
  • Freighter: The Minmatar/Fenrir was last year's winner thanks to the increasing importance of "quick freighters" and Nomad implants.  I think it's going to hold the title for another few months, then I think it's possible we'll see one of the others take it away as alignment speed becomes less important and warp speed becomes more so.  I think we're going to see a lot of Ascendancy freighter pilots.
  • Industrial: Gallente/Nereus.  The former Iteron wrests this title from the current Iteron Mark V.  The quick-aligning Nereus is fantastically adaptable and carries 5500m3 in a fitting that aligns in four seconds and tanks 26k EHP.  Alternately, you can put together a quite viable combat fit!
  • Transport: Gallente/Viator, with the Minmatar/Prowler as continuing runner-up.  No change from last year.  The Viator holds up to 10000m3, aligns just as quick as the competition, and looks great.  The Prowler's additional high slot is important but has fewer use cases.

Those are my choices for now.  But in a few weeks, we'll have new possibilities in the Interceptor, Electronic Attack Frigate, Interdictor, and Marauder categories.  In addition, it's a good bet that there will be a new title holder in the faction cruiser category as well...  But we'll see where things stand next year.  Most improved race  in 2013?  Hard to say!  But this year's losers are the Minmatar.  They got bumped out of a couple of key categories, but at least they're still ahead of the Caldari.

Tomorrow, an extension of this post I hadn't thought of until this year.

So, what did I get wrong?


  1. "Stealth Bomber: I'm looking forward to this rebalance."

    oh god plz dont let ccp touch these ships.
    that is the only ship class in eve that is perfectly balanced for a few years now.
    what ever they do that can only break it.
    its powerfull and instant dead at the same time.
    it can decide fights fin all sizes with a few ships or can just do nothing to the outcome even with 100+ of them.

    1. Yea CCP leave my Nemesis alone :P

    2. Bombers need to be buffed. It's quite terrible that a single bomb cannot kill a frigate. The whole signature radius/explosion radius needs to be reviewed for bombs. Preferably, the bombs should be able to flat out do more damage, on top of ignoring the sig radius of the target.

    3. yeah a single bomb cant kill anything (except the frigate is mwding).
      but 7 bombers can kill an entire frig /t1 cruiser fleet and maybe even some battlecruiser fleets.
      20 bomber can kill almost everything without any limitation of numbers. 100, 200, 300, 500.
      ae damage has to be balanced very carefull. and right now it is just perfect.

      add a few more hitpoints to the bomber somehow (more power/cpu or directly added tothe hull) and suddenly suicide bombruns are a possible option - you dont want this to happen.
      add more damage and suddenly bombers are the main fleet doctrins.
      remove hitpoints or damage and bombers become useless

  2. Damn, there is a lot of Gallente on this list. It's a good time to be green. :3

  3. Dont you think that since you're still able to pick best of class from the various ship categories that tiercide failed? Instead of achieving that elusive balance they were looking for, all they accomplished was a shuffling of the deck with new fotm's appearing.

    1. It wouldn't be terribly difficult to produce an equally or more compelling alternative list, especially given a different set of criteria.

      Speak of, what were the general criteria that these ships were judged by?

    2. The point of the rebalance was not to make all equal, but to give valid reasons for picking various different ships, or to make the picking difficult rather than "Rifter, rifter, rifter" for example. In this regard, tiericide was wildly successful.

      Best by a little is better than best by a lot for variety and EVE.

    3. Yeah, others are certainly welcome to disagree with me and/or produce their own lists. My list is my general opinions of each class for both PvP and PvE use, with a slight but measurable preference for those that do well in PvP. It was really hard to pick the best strat cruiser this year because the Tengu is good at both. Similarly, I nearly picked the Raven Navy Issue for empire faction BS, and for the same reason.

    4. Tiericide is not about balancing every ship, it is about making viable ships previously ignored because they were a lower tier. Look at Jester's comments about Battle Cruisers, Cruisers, and Frigates. There is competition for best in class where there was none before.

    5. If the differences among ships have generally narrowed--that is, that a survey of all pilots everywhere would show a smaller gap between Teh Awsum and LOLFail hulls--then rebalancing is succeeding. If more of the available ship hulls are seeing actual use (judged by undocking stats as well as sales), then rebalancing is succeeding.

      Every possible use for a hull should be considered by popularity, from marauder missioning to the popularity of a destroyer in the last alliance tourney to null roam to Festival Launcher lulzfleeting, should be included in the algorithm. Jester's analysis comes from broad experience, I'm sure, and is far beyond my ability to criticize--but it's necessarily incomplete. CCP should keep rebalancing as new play styles emerge to ensure that every ship sees use roughly as often as other members of its class and tier. No single player's or coalition's opinion on which class is already perfectly balanced is relevant; CCP must (and probably does) examine the big picture.

    6. ultimately they didn't make more ships useful - all they did is shuffle the deck. Look at the poor rifter - does anyone still use it? sure other ships are seeing their day in the sun -- but ultimately so what? in a year or two the cry is going to be that ships are unbalanced and their will be a new round of nerf/buff and the cycle will continue. Its a waste of time and effort because balance cant be achieved. Instead ccp should be looking at ways of giving more flexibility in fitting to the players -- letting the players control balance in a sandbox is what a sandbox is all about.

  4. Man, Caldari really need some love.

    1. More like nerf Galente a teeny bit and the universe will be rosey.

      The Condor is an awesome frig and contender for top spot - if the Incursus is nerfed a little bit.

      Same with AFs. Nerf the Galente ships and the Caldari AFs take top spots as they are both great.

      HACs? Cerb is a fantastic ship and IMHO would take top spot if that damn Ishtar would just be nerfed a bit (a lot?).

      On top of those you've got the Falcon, Manticore, Hookbill, Tengu... And with the RHML, the bigger Caldari ships might also be in good shape soon.

      The Caldari aren't really in *that* bad a shape. If only the Galente weren't so strong!

    2. Agreed; in winning 3 out of the 32 categories they are eligible for, Caldari seem to be woefully underrepresented here.

      I do find it interesting though that all three of the Caldari ships proclaimed best in their class (Buzzard, Manticore, Falcon) are able to fit Cov Ops cloaks. I'm not sure that it means anything, I just thougth it was a commonality worth considering.

  5. Not convinced about the Moros "easily" over any other dread. The nag is probably about equal with it.

    1. The Nag is second, I agree. But not a close second.

    2. I disagree. It's much closer than you make it sound, purely because of selectable damage types. Especialy in small capital brawls (<15 per side), adding a handful of Nags to your Moros blob means that EVERY opposing capital must refit their tank from pure EM/Therm into omni-tanking. Drastically reducing their effective buffer.

      Are Nags worth bringing in the same numbers as Moros? Probably not. However, I feel comfortable saying that NO dread squadron is complete without them. Might seem odd calling them a "support" dreadnought, but that's essentialy what they are. Substantialy reduced in effectiveness solo-but incredibly powerful on a fleet level when combined with an appropriate number of higher DPS but fixed damage type Moros.

  6. Marauder Class:

    Bastion module will be a joke in null/wh/low, since no one in their right mind will make themselves immobile for a minute, unless in a very secure enclave. And in high sec, the Marauders could already tank all L4's and did great in Incursions with logi support, so more tank is an utter waste.

    Plus the bastion module kills any kind of site time efficiency in Incursions, and getting everyone to MjD at the same time...just stupid. The overall effective nerf with the loss of the web bonus to the armour Marauders is a death blow also.

    1. Well, usually you are already immobile when you are pointed and webbed, so what's your fuss about?

    2. Translation: "I don't know how to fly this ship yet, therefore it sucks."

      It might take a bit of experimentation, but someone's going to figure out a deliciously evil strategy using them, and they'll be laughing over the wrecks of their enemies when they do. Wait and see.

    3. Or warp to 0 on gate to highsec that is being camped. Cause havoc. If fight is not going well use Bastion module. wait for aggression timer to wind down, jump. Or does the module give you a timer?

    4. On Sisi right now, bastion mode activates a 60-second aggression timer that does not start counting down until after bastion mode is over.

  7. I would love to see a post on the meta of the Dramiel after seeing your comment. I've switched to the Daredevil camp and then to the Incursus lately for my solo stuff (so good for so cheap) but would love to try out the Dram again. I just don't know where to start on the meta though anymore :(

    1. http://www.rotekapelle.com/killboard/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=93729

  8. for HACs i would say Zealot is still better than ishtar, although ishtar is better for small gangs....the role for fleet HAC is still firmly in its grasp.

    1. Drone assist says you are wrong.


  9. Good post.

    Now, if you could only get CCP to fix the Extra Materials so that the ME of the BPO/BPC actually meant something when building most of these ships....

  10. Having just seen a Hawk solo 2 thoraxes, I'd have to give the AF award to the Hawk

    1. Hawk is indeed pretty bad-ass. If it did slightly more DPS, it'd be an easy choice.

  11. Prorator is better than the Viator. Better paper align time, better grid for MWD and tank, bigger actual cargo hold. Only advantage for Viator is slightly lower signature radius. Low sig is nice, but the small difference here doesn't make up for the rest.

    1. Prorator has a huuuuge ship model. Can't count the number of Prorators I've decloaked.

  12. I'm not sure the fenrir will lose it's spot. The warp speed changes only add two minutes to the Amarr-jita run (currently 20 minutes manual, 40ish AP).

  13. I have to say prowler beats all. that second slot is a benefit to covert cyno, RR, probes... all good things.

    I have a fondness for the procurer. Anything that can give the finger to riff raff is a worthy mention.

    Love the scythe as logi - put one of these on a new char and even with low skills. but those six lows and large drone bay for the exeq ; plus the ease of c-type medium reps - its a close second.

  14. Why don't you do a separate one on best fleet ships, because once you are in fleet the winner would be different in many categories. Fleets are what most people fly in anyway now.

  15. Given that the Procurer is a mining barge, and not an exhumer, it still beats the Mackinaw for pure awesomeness.

    You can't beat the combination of price, tank and mining ability, esp. if you stocked up on them before the mining ship BPO changes.

    Heck, even the single turret is an advantage - if you do get popped, you only lose a single mining turret, yet you still get great mining capability thanks to the 3x bonus on that turret.

    1. Mining in a mackinaw in any ice belt the probability is very high you will be ganked. It would only be useful in the very quiet systems. For its limited use in this respect I would choose the procurer. No ganking outfit in their right mind would waste 5+ catalysts to blow up a well tanked procurer (it loses little in mining yield).

      Empire faction cruisers I think its a dead heat between the Navy omen and the scythe fleet issue. I think its really a choice of playing style here, whether you want to kite or get close in and dirty.

  16. I strongly disagree with your T1 cruiser choice. We (shadow cartel) have been using a T1 cruiser doctrine for some time now, utilizing Omens, originaly, as the main DPS ship.

    Post Railgun buff, we imediatly swapped to Thoraxs and they are tankier, with more DPS, and more projection. As gang ships, rail Thoraxs are just plain BETTER than pulse Omens.

    The rupture is... Pretty much garbage. I have a shield/nano thorax that is better in ever way than a Shield rupture, and the armor rupture is just plain bad.

    Stabber are okay for solo work. Not particularly worth bringing to a fleet except maybe shield nano if that is all you can fly.

    Vexors are awsome, and if the Thorax wasn't so damn awsome I would say these are number one.

    Not even gonna talk about Maller/Caldari.

    1. I almost chose the Thorax and rail Thoraxes are indeed awesome. I do really like the various possibilities of brawly shield blaster Thoraxes, and the more kitey rail Thoraxes. For me though, the Omen got the very slight edge because not only can it mix it up at both short and long ranges, it's extremely tough (something the Thorax isn't) and quite useful for both PvE and PvP (something else the Thorax isn't).

  17. Jester, im planning to be a dread pilot, and want to choose one good. I thought among dreads the revelation is the best as my friends told, but nowadays heard many people including you says moros is the best and, shockingly, naglfar is the second. There are plenty of days left until i fly dread, so i want to choose one that good and might least influenced by nerfs which can be in the future. What should i choose? (Sorry for my bad english)

    1. The Rev is not bad. But the Moros and Nag are so much better that the Rev looks bad by comparison. I would definitely train Moros or Nag.


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