As I've mentioned before in this blog, I suffer from a moderate compulsion to collect things. If I have an interest in an item that is part of a set of similar items, I feel an overwhelming need to possess the entire set. I'm sure this makes CCP Games very happy, as there are enumerable things in the game that are well suited to becoming collectable. For example, as I've learned to fly different types of ships, I find I must have all the ships of that type in my hangar. This includes all the cross-trained pirate ships, of course.
Cross-training across races is a logical thing for capsuleers to do, once they have finished training for whatever ship types are of interest within their original racial selection. I started as a Gallente character, and trained for everything that was greenish, drone-laden and blaster-covered, from frigates to battleships, before considering cross-training into other factions. What motivated me to do so initially was the desire to fly a Rattlesnake, which was then - and still is, in my opinion - the ultimate Level 4 mission-running machine. For that, I needed to train Caldari ship skills - and so began my love affair with pirate faction ships.
I find that many new EVE Online players don't yet understand that in order to "unlock" access to pirate faction ships, they must cross-train their characters in different races' ship command skills. The Gurista pirate ships, for example, require both Gallente and Caldari ship skills; Angel Cartel ships require skills for both Minmatar and Gallente - and so forth. The various combinations that unlock different pirate factions are depicted in the following chart:
Note that training Gallente ship command skills lead to a disproportionate number of pirate factions - five of them, in fact - more than any other race. All the other races - Minmatar, Caldari and Amarr - connect to only three pirate factions each. Clearly, Gallente ship pilots are more independent and piratey-natured than the other races.
Before the Mordu's Legion pirate ships were announced as part of the Kronos expansion, most EVE Online aficionados expected those to be a result of cross-training Minmatar and Caldari ship command skills, as there is no current pirate faction that is unlocked from that intersection of skills. But CCP Games threw us a curve ball and decided to make Mordu's Legion a result of cross-training Caldari and Gallente instead. To date, there are still no pirate ships unlocked from Caldari/Minmatar cross-training.
I've since collected and flown all three of the Mordu's Legion ships - the Garmur frigate, the Orthrus cruiser and the Barghest battleship. All are designed to be kiting PvP ships - with bonuses for much increased missile range and velocity, as well as longer longer warp scramber and disruptor range - but they each accomplish this to different degrees of success.
I had high hopes that the Barghest might give the Rattlesnake a run for its money as a Level 4 mission-runner, but it just doesn't have as much tank or punch as the venerable 'Snake. Plus, it's far more expensive, costing around 800 million ISK, compared to the much more affordable Rattlesnake at around 345 million ISK. Still, I do fly my 'Ghest every once in a while, because I love its unique "giant spatula" design. But most of the time, it sits in my hangar, looking pretty.
The Garmur is a fine fast frigate and very good for tackling duties. But compared to interceptors, which have an MWD signature bonus, and to much cheaper Tech I alternatives, it's nowhere close to a cost-effective option, and therefore is not widely used.
I expect CCP to nerf the Orthrus soon, as it is generally considered to be overpowered. Arguably, it is now the best heavy tackler ship in the game, with a double missile damage bonus, scram/point range bonus, strong tank and speed. Fitted with RLMLs, or even Heavy Missile Launchers, the Orthrus delivers deadly damage. It also seems to be well-suited to Fozziesov as an Entosis Link-fitted ship. It isn't cheap, at around 300 million ISK each, but for the money, it is very effective, and hence, it has become a popular choice.
My Favorite Pirate Ships
Having now flown every pirate ship available, I have developed fondness for particular ones. My affection is based on two criteria - they do their jobs extremely well, and they are pretty. I admit I'm shallow and find slick, modern-looking designs more enjoyable to fly. That's why I rarely take out any of my Sansha's Nation ships - they all look like crude spiky clubs. Give me something that looks fast, and I'm a sucker for it - cost be damned.
So, here are my favorite pirate ships, in ascending order:
Machariel - it's big, fast, agile and delivers incredible alpha damage - and it looks like a hot rod ready to scream down the highway. What's not to like? The Machariel does all damage-dealing duties extremely well: Incursions, Level 4 missions, ratting, fleet ops. Because it moves like a cruiser, even in warp, it can hang with gangs of smaller ships and never get left behind. Next to the 'Snake, the Mach is my favorite battleship.
Gila - before it got a facelift from CCP Games, the Gila looked like an ungainly can-opener. Now, it's streamlined and functional-looking, and reminds me of the Serenity from the old Firefly series. It's basically a cruiser-sized Rattlesnake, but faster, which is not a bad thing to be. Strong damage-dealing from drone and missile bonuses, decent speed, nice shield tank resist bonuses, and relatively affordable as pirate faction ships go (about 265 million), the Gila is nearly always an appropriate choice.
Rattlesnake - often have I praised this incredible Gurista battleship in this blog, and I do not apologize for it. Apparently, a lot of people agree with me that the 'Snake is a fantastic mission-running ship, as my fitting guide post continues to be among the most popular articles I have published. This ship is tough, with an amazing shield tank, and it features very strong bonuses for both missiles and drones. If you want to earn ISK from running Level 4 missions, you just can't go wrong with a 'Snake. I've made a couple billion on mine over the years. Plus, they are fairly cheap as pirate ships go. I actually have three of them now, stashed near useful agents, and I often clone jump to one and then happily spend a couple hours killing red icons, and watching the ISK roll in. If mission-running is your thing, get a 'Snake - 'nuff said.
Stratios - you might think my favorite pirate ship is the 'Snake, seeing that I've extolled its virtues so frequently, but you'd be wrong. It's a great mission-running boat, to be sure, but does not offer the utility of a Stratios cruiser. This boat is stealthy with a covert ops cloak, well-tanked with armor resist bonuses, and a decent damage dealer with drone and laser bonuses. It also is bonused for exploration duties, for probing and hacking. This makes the Stratios the ideal ship for running Ghost Sites, which can blow up in your face if you aren't careful - in the Stratios, you can run them with an excellent chance of survival, even if all goes wrong. I keep a Stratios based in Solitude and use it for exploration in low-sec, and I've never gotten caught, though many have tried. The Stratios is simply too elusive to catch, if you keep a watchful eye on d-scan. It's a fun ship to fly.
Some EVE lore experts speculate that the Sisters of EVE faction ships have some mysterious capsuleer-tracking purpose hidden within them. This only makes them more interesting, if you ask me.
Plus, I think the Stratios is the coolest-looking ship in the game, with its sleek lines and clean white and red color scheme, and a beautiful translucent blue shimmering warp affect in its ringed aft section. I never get tired of admiring the appearance of this fine boat while in flight.
The Future of Yarr Ships
Perhaps we might see more pirate ships released in the future. There are still other factions in EVE Online lore that are not yet unlocked by cross-training. Interestingly, there are no obvious candidates for the as yet unoccupied Caldari/Minmatar intersection, though.
Two criminal factions that are begging for their own player-flyable ships are the Equilibrium of Mankind (EoM), a pirate faction spun off the Amarr, and the Intaki Syndicate, black marketeers spun out of the Gallente/Caldari conflict. We have some Intaki SKINs for some Gallente ships already in the game, as well as the Victorieux Luxury Yacht - and some EoM SKINs for Amarr vessels - but no dedicated ship designs for either faction yet.
I'd be surprised if the Intaki was not a Gallente/Caldari cross-train, if CCP ever decides to release ships for this faction - based on the lore, it's an obvious choice. As for the EoM, they'd have to be Amarr/something - probably Minmatar, I would suspect, but that is only a guess.
There are other options for cross-trained ship lines as well. The Ammatar Mandate is an obvious Minmatar/Amarr cross-trained faction. The Khanid Kingdom could be Amarr/something as well. Perhaps the Amarr may eventually lead to more pirate cross-training options than the Gallente do today.
We already have one Society of Conscious Thought faction ship - the Gnosis battlecruiser. The SoCT is affiliated with the Jove. This is the only faction ship that does not require cross-training, making it unique. Perhaps we might see SoCT frigates, cruisers and battleships someday, which also do not require cross-training to fly.
Also notable is that the Gnosis is the only faction battlecruiser - I wonder why pirates don't like battlecruisers? Clearly, this is a gap in every pirate faction ship line that CCP could fill, if they chose to do so.
According to the lore, Jove technology is a what gives CONCORD ships their amazingly punishing powers, and supposedly it is what makes Angel Cartel ships so speedy, too. And now we have the Drifters, also of Jove extraction. Perhaps the empty Minmatar/Cadari cross-trained slot might be reserved for a CONCORD-inspired Jove-enabled faction ship line. Now, wouldn't that be something?
Fly safe! o7