Starting out as a Minmatar Pilot
Minmatar ships tend to focus on speed and versatility. They have the fastest and most agile ships in every ship class. They primarily use projectile weapons (autocannons and artillery), but most ships have a few launcher hardpoints and a moderate sized drone bay, so they benefit from having drones and missiles trained as well. Most Minmatar ships shield tank, but many depend more on speed for survival than soaking damage, and some tank armor or can potentially tank either shields or armor. If you want the most out of the race, you're definitely going to be investing more skill points than you would with other races, due to the broadly scattered specialties of the different ships. However, you can certainly be competent without needing excellent skills in everything. In addition, this makes Minmatar a good starting point if you want to cross-train into other races' ships later on, since their support skills overlap with every other race.
Minmatar ships excel at small gang and solo PvP. You'll have lots of useful options if you want to join Black Ops. In large fleets, they tend towards a support role. This is because Minmatar battleships are, in a word, bad. Their frigates and cruisers are awesome, and their capital ships are excellent, but you should be aware going in that there is a large "usefulness" gap between their cruiser-sized ships and their capital-sized ships. As a result, Minmatar aren't that great for PvE, since ratting tends to be most efficient while in a battleship. They can do it, but you'll never be making isk as fast as the Caldari guy in his Raven. While ratting is the most common source of personal income, there's plenty of other ways to make money (mining, scamming, trading, etc.)
Starting out as a Minmatar
As either a new Minmatar pilot, or as an older pilot just starting along the Minmatar path, your first choices are going to be frigates. Here are the various Minmatar frigates:
- Rifter - The pick of the litter. A common sight in our combat gangs and a ship with both offensive capabilities and the ability to tackle, or keep enemy ships from escaping by employing propulsion jamming modules. This is the standard-issue tackler issued to newbies via the in-game channel GFFrigates, and the unofficial symbol of the alliance. It remains useful even at high skill levels as irresistible bait for enemy Interceptors.
- Vigil - The fastest T1 ship in the game. It functions as both a low-volume transporter and a fast tackler in PVP engagements. While it won't do as much damage or absorb as much punishment as a Rifter, its superior speed and targeting abilities make it a solid alternative.
- Probe - Named after what it does, its probe bonuses make it a good starter ship if you intend on training into Covert Ops. It also functions as a transporter. While it's not as fast as a Vigil, it can hold 3x the cargo, and is often used to light Cynos for capital ships.
- Breacher - A missile combat frigate (the Rifter uses guns). It's far slower and more fragile than the Rifter and does less damage. Don't fly this.
- Burst - A mining frigate, it does okay but there's no reason to stick around in it when the Scythe takes an extra day to train for.
- Slasher - It's supposed to be the "speed" frigate, but since the Vigil has a speed bonus there's no reason to fly it.
- Reaper - Rookie frigate, totally useless.
There are a number of skills you should focus on early on; these are described in greater detail here. As a Minmatar pilot your important offensive skills will be in the gunnery (projectile weapons) and missile trees to start out, although once you get a cruiser you will need to expand to include drones as well. Your defenses will depend on the ship, but it's good to have a balance of skills in both shield tanking (Engineering), armor tanking (Mechanic), and "speed tanking" (Navigation).
Try to maintain a fleet of 3-5 fitted and combat capable frigates at all times in your hangar. Frigates are not powerful ships, but they are extremely effective in numbers, and there is always a demand for frigate pilots in combat gangs for the purpose of tackling enemy ships, if nothing else. Frigates are cheap, and keeping five or more won't cost you more than one to two million isk, and their loss will be a fairly insignificant expense after you've been in our space for long. You should not be paying more than 400,000 isk for any frigate.
The Thrasher is an interesting ship. Like all four racial destroyers, it brings significantly more firepower than a basic frigate by mounting large numbers of frigate-sized turrets, combined with tracking and range bonuses. The Thrasher is a glass cannon, in that you can do a lot of damage, but if you are on the receiving end of damage you will die very quickly. While destroyers are largely useless in fleets, a well-skilled Thrasher can pull off some surprising kills in a small gang or even solo. In addition, they're useful if you want to be a 10 Hour Hero.
In addition, destroyers have two niches in PVE. First, their large number of high slots makes them excellent salvaging ships for newbies who want to make isk and don't yet have the skills to rat effectively. Second, since they count as frigates for the purposes of running missions, they're the most efficient way to tear through L1 missions.
Destroyers generally cost around 1 million isk. Do not pay much more than this for a destroyer.
Interlude - Projectile Weapons
One thing you should know by this point is that there are two different types of projectile weapons. Autocannons are generally short range weapons, with high rates of fire, fast tracking, and generally low damage per shot. Generally, using autocannons will require you to get close to your target, so many people use them on ships equipped with afterburners or microwarpdrives to enable them to move faster. In PVE afterburners are fine, but in PVP you will always want a microwarpdrive unless you're in an Assault Frigate.
The other type of projectile weapon is the artillery cannon. In contrast to autocannons, artillery fires very slowly but does a lot of damage per shot, with slower tracking. The overall damage is worse than that obtained with autocannons, but the range is generally significantly better. If anyone talks about sniping as a Minmatar, they're using artillery. Artillery is fairly crappy compared to the other races' long range weapons, but does have its uses. For example, it has a large "alpha strike", meaning its damage is all front-loaded and it's possible to insta-pop some smaller targets at a considerable distance. Tracking is an issue, however, as it's difficult to hit anything that's moving too quickly.
You will want to place artillery on slower ships where you would prefer to engage from range, and autocannons on faster ships that you wish to bring in close to the enemy.
In addition, each "class" of ships (frigate, cruiser, battleship) has different sizes of guns (three autocannons, two arty cannons) within that class. Generally speaking, larger guns have longer ranges and consume less ammo. Smaller guns have better tracking and easier fitting requirements.
Cruisers are the next step up in size from frigates and destroyers. Significantly more expensive than the smaller ships, but correspondingly more powerful and durable, the Minmatar cruisers are generally quite useful, particularly from a PVP standpoint.
- Scythe - Mining cruiser with a substantial bonus to mining laser yield. If you're an incorrigible masochist who wants to start out mining this is the ship to get. It also gets a bonus to the rarely used tracking links, which can be used on friendly battleships to better enable them to hit small or far-away targets.
- Bellicose - Probably the worst cruiser in the game, it gets a bonus to target painters (which are almost totally useless) and a single projectile weapon bonus, which doesn't do much for it since it has to split its offense between guns and missiles. Rarely used, except during gimmick ops, or as Bait Ships.
- Stabber - Fastest T1 cruiser in the game, the stabber inherits the speed bonus of the Vigil while gaining the ability to absorb more punishment and deal out a little bit more damage. Its main function in fleets is to act as an overgrown Rifter, zooming at the enemy and tackling them while not instantly dying as frigates are prone to do. The Stabber is reimburseable.
- Rupture - This is your first chance to do a non-trivial portion of damage. It's a fairly slow armor tanker, but the double damage bonuses mean you can provide useful DPS support in small gangs. Not so useful in fleets since it doesn't have the grid or the midslots to fit a lot of artillery, so autocannon setups are more common. Also reasonably good for PVE purposes, but you'll have a hard time ratting effectively on your own.
Expect to spend between 4 and 9 million isk to get your first cruiser. Prices in 0.0 space for cruisers are significantly inflated from empire prices, due to profit-making and higher low-end mineral prices. You should always fully insure your ships when you buy them, as odds are high you will lose it before three months pass.
Note that when it comes to piloting cruisers, you will be moving up to medium sized guns, which means that you will need to train small projectile turret to 3 and gunnery to 3 as prerequisites.
Of the two PVP cruisers, use the Stabber in large fleet engagements and in small gangs where you don't have a lot of frigates or smaller ships, so its speed will be useful. If your gang has plenty of smaller ships and needs more big bruisers, go for the Rupture, where its slower speed isn't that much of a liability if someone can tackle for you. You should probably get both and try them out to see which is more to your liking.
Each race has two battlecruisers. The current Minmatar battlecruisers are the Cyclone and the Hurricane. The Cyclone is generally not worth flying. It has 5 projectile turrets, but only one damage bonus, meaning it doesn't do that much more damage than the much cheaper Rupture. Its only selling point is the shield boost bonus, which isn't useful for PvE since shields have low resists to the damage types Blood Raiders do. While it has some merit as a cheap PVP platform (mostly as a bait ship), you need lots of skills to make it viable.
The Hurricane, on the other hand, is excellent, probably the best entry-level ship for PVP as a Minmatar pilot. It can fit 6 projectile turrets with a double damage bonus, plus two utility slots for missile launchers, etc. It deals absolutely phenomenal amounts of damage, second only to the Sleipnir for non-battleship Minmatar vessels. It excels at DPS support for small gangs, and as an anti-support sniper for fleets, where it is reimburseable. It's also useful in PVE, although it will likely have trouble tanking the hardest battleship spawns. The Hurricane is a great, great ship.
Once you've polished your skills enough to fly a decent Hurricane (with T2 guns), you can either move on to battleships or start training for T2 small ships. If you plan on training for battleships but not capital ships, you should consider cross-training Amarr or Caldari, as their battleships are at present far superior platforms for both PvE and PvP. However, Minmatar capital ships are excellent, and there's always the possibility that CCP will fix their battleship shortcomings in the future (Minmatar capital ships used to be by far the weakest) so don't feel like Minmatar Battleship is a complete waste of skill points.
If you want to go with T2 ships, note that while the Minmatar T1 ships and capital ships vary in their tanking styles, almost all Minmatar T2 ships (the exceptions being the Wolf and some very specialized PvE Muninns) are shield tankers due to the much more balanced resists.
Battleships are the biggest non-capital ships in EVE, and will likely be the biggest things you fly for a while. Able to dish out large amounts of damage, and able to take it (but not necessarily at the same time), battleships are probably the most commonly used tech-1 ships in EVE overall. They are big and slow and powerful. The Minmatar battleships are the Tempest, Typhoon, and Maelstrom.
- Typhoon - This ship is generally used for close range combat. It's the most effective Minmatar PVE ship, able field both battleship missiles and five heavy drones, making it a very easy and hands-off choice for ratting, similar to the Raven and Dominix (but without the bonuses of either). The Typhoon requires a lot of skills to fly effectively, but when fit for pure gank with T2 torpedoes, autocannons, and heavy drones, it can put out the most DPS of any battleship in the game at close range except the Hyperion. Unfortunately, you'll need to get really close to put out that kind of damage, and the Typhoon is slow. It's strictly a support ship for PVP purposes, as you'll need a good warpin or a hardy tackler to hold the other guy down while you get in range.
- Tempest - The Tempest is the closest thing to a fleet sniper the Minmatar have, but in this role its exceedingly mediocre. The Tempest is limited in range compared to other snipers, particularly the Apocalypse and Rokh, and doesn't have the power grid to fit the robust tank of either. It only has two advantages: a high alpha strike to top killmails (but which isn't particularly useful against smaller ships due to poor tracking), and a "hidden" damage bonus since it's the only ship with a sniping ammo that does explosive damage, which is powerful against primarily armor-tanked snipers. If you absolutely must train Minmatar battleships because you want their capital ships or something, the Tempest is grudgingly reimbursed.
- Maelstrom - Like the Cyclone, the Maelstrom isn't particularly great at anything except shield boosting. While it can mount eight guns to the Tempest's six, that doesn't leave it much room for any kind of a tank, and don't underestimate the usefulness of utility items such as neuts or cynos. While it can boost fairly absurd amounts of shield hp when properly outfitted, it's exceptionally slow, being generally intended (by CCP) as an artillery-using ship. Since artillery use requires mid slots to fit sensor booster and tracking computer modules to extend range, in practice, the shield boost bonus isn't particularly useful.
Tech-2 frigates require you to train Minmatar Frigate to 5, as well as some other skills to 5. The tech-2 frigates include assault ships, interceptors, covert ops, and stealth bombers. Minmatar tech-2 frigates are generally considered either good or excellent.
- Assault Frigates are frigates with significant resistance and (as of the Dominion expansion) afterburner bonuses, making them more difficult to hit due to low signature radius, and more difficult to damage when they are hit. The amount of damage they can soak up means they'll hold a tackle on an enemy for longer, but are still likely to evaporate in any sort of major engagement. The Jaguar is the fastest of the assault frigates. With good shield resists and a slot layout allowing it to perform fairly well as a heavy tackler, it does okay in gangs. The Wolf is slower than the Jaguar, and has a slot layout suited for armor tanking, where its resistance bonuses are not well suited. However, it can fit 4 projectile guns and a missile launcher in the highs, making its damage output quite respectable for a frigate.
- Interceptors are the fastest ships, mainly suited for PVP. Extremely fragile, they rely on their extreme speed and MWD bonuses to avoid damage. The Stilleto is the best tackler in EVE. Period. With 4 midslots, it can disrupt, scramble, web, and use a microwarp drive all at the same time for neatly wrapping up any (unstabbed, meaning it doesn't have warp core stabilizers) target. Lacks any real offensive capabilities, so bring friends. The Claw is a combat interceptor, meaning it's very fast and can deal respectable amounts of damage, but can't tackle well at all. Note that it's not quite as good for PVP as a Crusader or Taranis, so don't try to duel those ships in it.
- Covert Ops ships can warp while cloaked, move rapidly, and generally are ideal for scouting. They can also probe out other ships, as well as wormholes and complexes. If you're in a covert ops ship, you should rarely die unless you fuck up, which is good since the covert ops cloaking devices are quite costly. Every operation should really have a covops scout, if not more than one, so you will always be useful. The Cheetah is the fastest covert ops ship. This is good, since you'll have to move around while cloaked to get warp-ins on enemy ships, and being faster is very good.
- Stealth Bombers used to be regarded as gimmick ships, but after a recent buff they're finding a niche in large gangs of hit-and-run attacks on much larger ships. The Minmatar bomber is the Hound. It's fragile, like all stealth bombers, but will do very high DPS at close ranges. It's considered the best bomber by a small margin since it's the most agile and has a bonus to explosive damage, taking advantage of fleet battleships' weaknesses.
Interdictors are T2 destroyers which are faster, can do more damage, and most importantly deploy interdiction bubbles which prevent ships from warping. The Minmatar Sabre is bar-none the best dictor for solo and small-gang work, with its speed and ability to spit out a ridiculous amount of DPS. However, be aware that these properties make it by far the most expensive, so if you're flying in large fleets (where dictors tend to die a lot) be prepared to eat a little bit more cost or consider cross-training into a cheaper dictor such as the Eris.
The Minmatar T2 cruisers are some of the best in the game and the reason many people who don't start out as Minmatar pilots will cross-train into the race.
- Heavy Assault Cruisers are currently the last word in mobile roaming gangs. The Vagabond is a Stabber with a better tank, and probably the consensus best solo ship in the game due to its ability to fight from just outside web/scram range and disengage from anything it can't kill. It's combination of speed, damage, and tank also makes it ideal for roaming gangs. The only time it isn't useful is in large fleets, which is where you turn to the Muninn, a Rupture with range bonuses. The Muninn is of limited use in solo pvp, but can be extremely useful to anti-support work in fleets and HAC gangs. It's an excellent sniper, although be aware it isn't insurable, so if you're low on isk you might want to go with the slightly less effective Hurricane.
- Recon Ships are cloaky ships with bonuses to e-war. Unfortunately, the Minmatar e-war is target painters, which are rubbish. Fortunately, they also have a second bonus to stasis webifier range. This makes them quite useful as support tacklers for gangs to catch fast ships which might otherwise be able to run away. The Rapier sacrifices some offensive capability for the ability to warp while cloaked, making it a good initial tackler but bad at combat. The Huginn cannot warp cloaked, but does more damage. (A well-skilled Huginn is one of the few ships capable of catching and killing a Vagabond one-on-one).
- Logistics ships are space priests, which exist to latch onto a target ship and massively increase its tanking abilities. The Scimitar is a shield transporting ship which excels in small gangs due to its mobility (notice a pattern with Minmatar cruisers?). While dps is lacking, tanking capability is both very good. Its speed and high resists mean it can also be used as a heavy tackler, although you'll pay a pretty penny for it. It also inherits the Scythe's tracking link bonus. Reimburseable.
- Heavy Interdictors are super-tanked cruisers which can deploy bubbles that stay alive as long as the ship is (but no longer). The Broadsword is probably the most popular hictor for small gangs, and is also one of the only hictors which can effectively solo, although like the Scimitar, it's not quite as useful in large fleets where tanking tends to be more important than mobility.
Command Ships and T2 Battleships
stuff goes here, no one flies any of these ships except the claymore which is useful when mindlinked in fast roaming fleets