So Helena Khan recently commented on one of my more vague and opinionated posts. Helena said, and I quote:
I’d go a bit further than that and suggest that it’s better to learn to fly frigates, and fly them REALLY well before stepping up to cruisers. Fly cruisers REALLY well, etc etc.
and then goes on to give some REALLY good reasons behind her logic. I do happen to disagree and, seeing as I write this blog, I’m going to inflict my logic upon you.
Frigates are hard. Seriously. They are the most demanding ships in the game to fit and fly REALLY well. They are very fragile, require a very thorough knowledge of mechanics to protect, and give a crushing advantage to the more skilled player in both SP and Skill level. Now this last point is true of all ships, but a battleship can’t be practically one-shotted. In fact I would submit that a Skilled low-SP character is more likely to win a 1 on 1 with a Battleship, where he has a bit more buffer to cushion his lapses (and let his strategy take hold) than in a frigate where there is less room for innovation and mistakes. That being said DON’T RUSH INTO BIGGER HULLS.
You absolutely want to be able to fit them, and fit them well. One of the reasons I love the new cruisers is I consider them to be an excellent hull class to learn the game. If you mess up in a frigate it is almost certainly dead, practically instantly. If you mess up in a cruiser you are far more likely to have time to correct your mistake (or to admire it if it was particularly nasty, like falling into web and neut range of an Ashimmu that is slowly murdering your buffer) and continue the battle.
Frigates require a “Hot Stick” at the controls. Someone who really understands the mechanics, who knows how to get everything out of their ship, from range control, to effective damage delivery, to damage mitigation, tracking, signature, the works. New players simply don’t understand how huge these factors are, and frigate aces understand them instinctively.
Manual piloting is another issue. I understand the rudiments of it, certainly enough to mess up the more junior EvE players. This is a skill that I understand in theory, that I understand the concepts of, but that I lack the overall awareness and focus to master. Another reason I like cruisers, they are FAR less demanding in this regard.
The last reason I really like cruisers is they have enough slots that they are really built. You can dig into a fitting and really have fun with it rather than deciding what to do with 2 lowslots or 3 mids. Getting to the more generous slot allocation of the cruisers can be bewildering, but if players educate themselves with the resources available they can skip past the worst foibles that plague many young up-and-comers.
I can’t say every player will enjoy the game more if they spend 2 months in a frigate, or if they race into a cruiser. I simply don’t have the data to support it either way. I know a player should wait until they have a certain level of capability before upgrading, but the way cruisers are now, that level looks a lot lower to me than it did a few months ago.