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Caldari Ship Guide by GC13

Updated: 01/05/07

A NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO CALDARI SHIPS

By: GC13
E-mail: Grand_Commander13@hotmail.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION
     1. What this guide covers
     2. Version history
     3. The lingo
     4. A review of ship attributes
     5. What skills should I get?

II. WEAPONS
     1. Railguns
     2. Hybrid Charges
     3. Missile Launchers
     4. Missiles
     5. ECM

III. SHIPS
     1. Frigates
     2. Destroyers


I. INTRODUCTION

1. What this guide covers

This guide is intended to help out anybody who is new to the ships of the
Caldari race.  It will discuss the weapons characteristic of the Caldari
(Railguns, Missiles, and ECM) as well as their early tech one ships (tech two
being considered outside of the scope of "newbies," much as some would
consider battleships).

The frigate and destroyer classes are both discussed, discussing the
usefulness of each ship in those two classes.

This guide is also hosted at some of GC13's webspace, and can be downloaded as
a PDF or an HTML file at http://evefiles.mysterious-mysteries.com .

2. Version history 

01-05-2007: The guide is put online.

3. The lingo

There are lots of terms out there, and it would be very difficult to find an
exhaustive list of the abbreviations and terms a person could find even
talking about only Caldari ships.  Still, here are some of the more important
terms you will come across (the function of various modules can be looked up
in the Item Database):

Modules:

PDS (or PDU): Power Diagnostic System.
BCS (or BCU): Ballistic Control System.
MFS (or magstab): Magnetic Field Stabilizer
RCU: Reactor Control Unit.
WCS: Warp Core Stabilizer.
Stab: Inertia Stabilizer.
Nano: Nanofiber Internal Structure.
Nos: Nosferatu.
Neut: Energy Neutralizer.
Scram: Warp scrambler.
Webber: Stasis Webifier.
Jammer: One of the ECM modules.
Multispec: ECM - Multispectral Jammer.
Racial Jammer: Any of the other kinds of ECM modules.
SB (or booster): Shield booster (size usually indicated).
SB: Can also mean Smartbomb.
Repper (or just rep, or rarely AR): Armor Repairer (size usually indicated).
Invuln: Invulnerability Field.
MWD: Microwarp Drive.
AB: Afterburner.

Terms:

Tackling: In PvP, using Warp Scramblers/Disruptors and Stasis Webifiers to
prevent a target from escaping.

Tanking: Setting your ship up to be able to absorb large amounts of damage
through resistances, pure HP, repairing/boosting capability, or a combination.

Named module: When an item is neither a manufacturable tech one item (a 125mm
Railgun I, for instance) or a tech two item (a 125mm Railgun II), but an
improved version of the tech one item (a 125mm 'Scout' I Accelerator Cannon).
Distinguished from normally undesirable "Basic" modules by the inclusion of
the "I" somewhere in the name.

4. A review of ship attributes

Many people are confused about what various attributes on the ship's
Attributes tab are for.  As such, this guide covers them:

Powergrid Output: Measured in megawatts (MW).  One of the two fitting
attributes that determine what you can place on your ship.  Powergrid
primarily constricts you from placing big guns on your ship without making
sacrifices elsewhere, but there are other powergrid-intensive modules as well.

CPU Output: Measured in teraflops (tf).  The second fitting attribute.  CPU
does not rise as fast as powergrid as you rise in ship size, and serves
primarily to moderate just what kinds of secondary systems (shield hardeners,
ECM modules, warp disruptors, etc...) you can fit.

Calibration: A fitting stat identical in function to powergrid and CPU, but
used only for rigs (which, in turn, use nothing but rig slots and
Calibration).  All standard (i.e. non-faction) tech one ships have 400
Calibration.

Low slots: All slots are a space where you can put a module (each of which
will go in only one kind of slot and can be freely added or removed at the
fitting screen in a station).  Low slots primarily contain gear for armor
tanking (armor hardeners, plates, and repairers), weapon damage upgrades
(Magnetic Field Stabilizers and Ballistic Control Systems for Caldari), and
various hull modifications (Nanofiber Internal Structures and Warp Core
Stabilizers for two common examples).

Med slots: Usually referred to as "mid slots" by players.  For Caldari
especially, mid slots are where you need to make tough decisions about your
fitting.  Mid slots contain all form of electronic warfare (most importantly
for Caldari your ECM, warp jamming, and stasis webifiers), afterburners and
microwarp drives, and shield tanking gear (shield hardeners, boosters, and
extenders).

Hi slots: These slots are mostly restricted to weapons.  Turrets, launchers,
smartbombs, and nosferatus/energy neutralizers all go here.  "Medical" mods
such as remote shield boosters, capacitor transfer arrays, and remote armor
repairers also go here, allowing you to aid your allies.

Rig slot: As the name implies, a slot specifically for rigs.  Nothing else can
go in these slots, and rigs can only be placed here.  All tech one ships have
three rig slots.  Note that rigs cannot be removed and re-used, making them
unlike modules.

Hardpoints: All launchers and turrets (including mining lasers which count as
turrets) require hardpoints of their respective type in addition to a high
slot to fit.  Smartbombs, "medical" mods, and nosferatus/neutralizers do not.
If you run out of turret hardpoints (for instance, the Moa only has four), you
cannot fit any more turrets (even if you have six high slots like the Moa).
The same logic applies to missile launchers and launcher hardpoints.

Shield, armor, and structure: These are simple, so they are getting lumped
together.  These are your hitpoints.  You lose shields first, then armor, then
structure.  When your structure goes to zero, your ship blows up (though your
ship suffers no ill effects until then).  Note that when your shields get low
(it starts at 25%, but that number is lowered if you get and increase the
Tactical Shield Manipulation skill), a small amount of the damage will go to
your armor before your shields are completely depleted.

Damage resistance: These reduce damage of the specified type to their
respective HP layer (shield, armor, or structure) by the stated percentage.
These resistances can be further modified by hardeners and resistance
amplifiers for shields, hardeners and resistance plating for armor, and a
damage control module for structure.  Structure has no base resistances and so
takes 100% damage from everything unless a Damage Control is active.

Capacitor capacity: In many ways this is the lifeblood of your ship.  Using
modules in combat drains capacitor energy, which takes time to regenerate.
Guns, shield boosters, afterburners/microwarp drives, and ECM modules are all
likely to be your capacitor's biggest drains in battle.  Likewise, enemy
nosferatus will steal your capacitor, and you can steal an enemy's capacitor
with your own nosferatus.

Recharge time: Your shields and capacitor regenerate themselves over time.
Obviously a lower regeneration time will mean it regenerates faster.  The
regeneration is not linear; when you are 30% shields or capacitor, you are
regenerating at your quickest (approximately 2.4x as quickly as simple
division of max amount by recharge time would indicate).  As you move away
from 30% in either direction, natural recharge rate slows.

Max velocity: Quite simply how fast you can go when you finish accelerating.
Speed is very useful for increasing your transversal velocity (making you
harder to hit with enemy turrets) and for controlling the range at which
combat occurs.

Mass: Mass, combined with a hidden attribute that is the same for every ship
of a given size (frigate, cruiser, etc...) determines how quickly your ship
accelerates (as a proportion of its max velocity) and turns.  Having a higher
mass will also mean you get less of a bonus from afterburners and microwarp
drives than the module says you will get.

Capacity: How much room you have in your cargohold to hold stuff.

Drone capacity: How much room you have in your drone bay to hold drones.
Light scout drones take 5 m^3 each, medium scout drones take 10 m^3 each, and
heavy drones take 25 m^3 each.  Not every ship has a drone bay.  Smaller
drones can hit smaller ships better, and do more damage per m^3 they take up
than larger drones.  Five medium drones will still heavily out-damage five
light drones, however (and likewise for heavies versus mediums).

Volume: Only important if you have a friend with a Carrier to put your ship
into.  The (X m^3 packaged) stat, however, is more useful, as you can even fit
a repackaged cruiser into a good industrial ship.  Repackaged, shuttles are
500 m^3, frigates are 2500, destroyers are 5000, cruisers are 10000,
battlecruisers are 15000, and battleships are 50000.

Maximum targeting range: How far out you can target an enemy to shoot at them.

Scan resolution: How quickly you can target enemy ships.  A higher number
means you target faster.  Your targeting speed also depends on the enemy's
signature radius.

Max locked targets: Determines how many targets the ship will let you have at
once if your skills are high enough.

Sensor strength: You will have zero for three of these, and a number for
Gravimetric.  This number is used solely to determine how hard your ship is to
target jam with ECM modules.  A higher number here means you are harder to
jam, but since the system is entirely probability based, you can still be
jammed even if you get this number over a hundred.

Signature radius: How large your ship shows up as on an enemy's sensors.  In a
practical sense, the smaller this number is, the longer it will take an enemy
to get a target lock, the less their turrets will hit you, and the less damage
their missiles will do (as long as your signature radius is less than the
explosion radius of their missiles).

Propulsion strength: Does not do anything at the moment, and is only visible
on the Item Database.

5. What skills should I get?

This question, like all other questions as open-ended as it, is very difficult
to answer.  Rather than lay down some dogmatic answer, I will lay down a few
lists of skills that are helpful to Caldari pilots in their respective areas.
In each category, the skills are vaguely in order of importance, but your
mileage may vary.

IN GENERAL:
Engineering
Electronics
Weapon Upgrades
Energy Management
Energy Systems Operation
Navigation

SHIELD TANKING:
Shield Operation
Shield Management
Shield Compensation
Shield Upgrades

MISSILES:
Missile Projection
Missile Bombardment
Rapid Launch

GUNS:
Motion Prediction
Sharpshooter
Rapid Firing
Surgical Strike

Most of these are fine at getting to level three right now and level four
soon, but Engineering, Weapon Upgrades, and Electronics are crucial for your
ability to fit your ship well.  It may seem like a long time when you are
first starting, but getting Engineering and Electronics up to level five and
Weapon Upgrades to level four once all your other important skills are at
acceptable levels will reap great dividends in the future.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of support skills.  These are, however,
what I think a new player should concentrate on getting first.


II. WEAPONS

1. Railguns

Railguns are the Caldari gun of choice, and get bonuses from the hybrid turret
line of Gunnery skills.  Railguns emphasize dealing damage at a long range and
the optimal range bonus many Caldari ships get for them further enhances this
ability.  Just like all guns, railguns need to worry about the problems of
optimal range, falloff, and tracking speed.  The Tracking Guide at
eve-online.com goes into greater depth than I will here, but here are the
basics you need to know about guns:

Shooting at anything up to your optimal range will leave you missing no shots
due to range.  Going out to optimal + falloff has roughly half of your shots
missing due to range, and you basically cannot hit past 2xfalloff + optimal.

Your target's transversal velocity causes you to land fewer or weaker shots
with your guns.  You can reduce transversal velocity by properly using manual
flying (look at the direction your target is flying, and set yourself to be
flying in the same direction and at the same speed), which in the case of NPCs
and inexperienced players can be as simple as tricking them into flying
straight at you as you fly away from them.  Firing from longer ranges makes
you miss fewer shots due to transversal velocity.

Be warned that even if you are orbiting a larger target, the transversal
velocity you are creating will still negatively impact your ability to hit.

Small railguns go on frigates and destroyers, medium railguns go on cruisers
and battlecruisers, and large railguns go on battleships.

Just like ships, railguns have a set of attributes.  Powergrid usage and CPU
usage should be self-explanatory, optimal range and falloff range have already
been explained, and volume only matters for carrying the item in your
cargohold.  Still, the rest of these attributes are important as well.

Capacity: How much ammunition, measured in cubic meters (m^3) that the gun can
hold.  The more ammunition it can hold at once, the longer it can fire without
reloading (which takes ten seconds).

Activation cost: The amount of energy deduced from your current capacitor
energy every time the gun fires.  In addition to being modified by the
Controlled Bursts skill, different hybrid charges will reduce this by
different percentages.

Rate of fire: The amount of time in between shots.

Charge rate: How many rounds this gun consumes when it fires a shot.

Damage modifier: This number is multiplied by the base damage on the loaded
hybrid charge to calculate the average damage dealt by a successful hit on
your target.

Charge size: What size of hybrid charges this gun accepts.

Tracking speed / accuracy: This gun's ability to hit quickly-moving targets.
A higher number is better.

Tech level: Whether the gun is tech one or two.  Only tech two guns can use
tech two ammunition.

Signature resolution: The gun's ability to hit smaller targets.  A smaller
number is better.

Railguns come in three different sizes (small, medium, large) each with three
different railguns in each size category.  Likewise, each different railgun
come in six separate flavors (tech one, Carbide, 'Scout', Compressed Coil,
Prototype, and tech two).

Named railguns are improved over standard tech one railguns in the following
ways: Less CPU usage, greater optimal range, higher damage, and less
activation cost.  Each step of improvement gives a 5% bonus over the standard
tech one variety, putting the prototype gauss gun at +20%.  Tech two railguns
require more powergrid and CPU than the standard tech one version and do not
get the reduction in activation cost, but have the same damage and optimal
range as the best named version of that gun: the prototype gauss gun.

What makes tech two guns worth using over prototype gauss guns is the fact
that they are manufacturable and therefore cheaper, and they are also capable
of using the tech two ammunitions: Spike and Javelin.  They also get +2%
damage per level of the correct Railgun Specialization skill, which applies
ONLY to tech two railguns.  For now though, stick with 'Scout' accelerator
cannons if you want to buy gear better than the standard tech one variety;
Scouts are not too expensive, but still have a 10% boost over the normal tech
one gun.

Railguns have their damage and rate of fire affected by the Magnetic Field
Stabilizer, the damage mod for hybrid turrets.

The following table shows, for the standard tech one version of a gun, (from
left to right) Powergrid Usage, CPU Usage, ammunition Capacity, Activation
Cost, Rate of Fire, Optimal Range (in meters), Falloff range (in meters),
damage modifier, and tracking speed.  All small guns have a signature
resolution of 40m, all medium guns have a signature resolution of 125m, and
all large guns have a signature resolution of 400m.

SMALL RAILGUNS     Grid CPU Cap Activ. RoF   Optimal Falloff  Dam  Tracking
75mm Gatling Rail     2   5 1.0  1.67  2.6    6,000   3,000   1.5  0.13
125mm Railgun         7  15 0.4  2.15  3.25   9,000   5,000   2    0.085
150mm Railgun        10  25 0.2  3.34  4.25  12,000   6,000   2.75 0.07
MEDIUM RAILGUNS
Dual 150mm Railgun   80  32 4.0  5     3.9   12,000   6,000   1.5  0.042
200mm Railgun       180  35 2.0  6.45  4.88  18,000  10,000   2    0.028
250mm Railgun       225  40 1.0 10     6.38  24,000  12,000   2.75 0.023
LARGE RAILGNS
Dual 250mm Railgun 1250  55 8.0 15     5.85  24,000  12,000   1.5  0.0175
350mm Railgun      1875  60 4.0 22     7.31  36,000  20,000   2    0.01167
425mm Railgun      2500  70 2.0 30     9.56  48,000  24,000   2.75 0.009625

2. Hybrid Charges

The ammunition you put in your gun is just as important as the gun you use.
The type of ammunition you use influences your damage, optimal range, and can
reduce the capacitor you use when firing your gun.
                  DAMAGE
CHARGE     Small  Medium  Large  Range bonus  Cap. use
Iron         5      10     20       +60%         -30%
Tungsten     6      12     24       +40%         -27%
Iridium      7      14     28       +20%         -24%
Lead         8      16     32         0%         -50%
Thorium      9      18     36       -12.5%       -40%
Uranium     10      20     40       -25%          -8%
Plutonium   11      22     44       -37.5%        -5%
Antimatter  12      24     48       -50%          -0%

Charge damage doubles when it goes from small to medium, and doubles again
from medium to large, allowing bigger guns to have the same damage modifier as
small guns but still do more damage with the same type of ammunition.
Longer-ranged ammunition also uses significantly less capacitor to fire than
short-ranged ammunition does.

3. Missile Launchers

Railguns may be the Caldari gun of choice, but missiles are the Caldari weapon
of choice.  Missiles have a large amount of benefits for a new player: they
are unaffected by tracking or range issues (they will hit anything within
range for full damage), and deal only one damage type per missile, making them
perfect for use in missions where enemies have a single weakest resistance for
both shields and armor.

Missile launchers come in seven different varieties.  Like railguns, there are
three different sizes (frigate/destroyer, cruiser/battlecruiser, battleship),
but each size has a launcher designed for short-range/higher damage missiles
and a launcher designed for long-range/lower damage missiles.  There is also
the assault missile launcher, a cruiser-sized missile launcher that fires
light missiles for anti-frigate work.

Missile launchers use significantly fewer of the weapon attributes, but those
that they do use work like the railguns.  Launchers vary in their powergrid
usage, CPU usage, capacity, volume, and rate of fire.

Like railguns, there are also six versions of each missile launcher (tech one,
'Malkuth', 'Limos', a name involving a number, 'Arbalest', and tech two).
Named missile launchers work rather differently from named railguns, however.
Going from a tech one launcher to the +5% variety gets a 5% improvement to
rate of fire and ammunition capacity, as well as the maximum -20% CPU usage.
The +10% variety gets the 10% CPU reduction, the 15% variety gets the 5%
reduction, and the +20% variety gets the 15% reduction.  All named launchers
work this way except for cruise missile launchers, which work like railguns
with the better launcher always getting the better CPU reduction.  The tech
two launchers get the 20% rate of fire improvement and an ammunition capacity
one-third greater than the standard tech one version, and also require more
powergrid and CPU as would be expected.

Missiles have their damage and rate of fire affected by the Ballistic Control
System, the damage mod for missiles.

The following table shows, for the standard tech one version of a launcher
(from left to right), Powergrid Usage, CPU usage, ammunition Capacity, Rate of
Fire, the name for the +15% version, and the type of missile used.

SMALL LAUNCHERS               Grid CPU Cap RoF +15% Name Missile Fired
Rocket Launcher                  4  15 0.15  4 OE-5200   Rocket
Standard Missile Launcher        8  25 0.6  15 TE-2100   Light Missile
MEDIUM LAUNCHERS
Assault Missile Launcher        50  35 0.9  12 SV-2000   Light Missile
Heavy Missile Launcher         100  50 0.9  15 XR-3200   Heavy Missile
Heavy Assault Missile Launcher 120  45 0.75  8 XT-2800   Heavy Assault Missile
LARGE LAUNCHERS
Cruise Missile Launcher       1250  60 1.0  22 XT-9000   Cruise Missile
Siege Missile Launcher        1750  80 1.5  24 ZW-4100   Torpedo

4. Missiles

While railguns have eight separate types of ammunition to put into each gun of
a different size category, each missile launcher (which the exception of the
Assault Missile Launcher) uses its own type of missile.  Each missile type has
four versions: one for each damage type.  These versions all have the exact
same stats (raw damage, max velocity, etc...) and only differ in the type of
damage they do.

But while there was not much to say about the attributes of the launchers,
there are some new attributes for the missiles you need to be aware of.  While
missiles are unaffected by range except for their maximum range, and are
unaffected by tracking, the speed and size of your target can still be factors
in how much damage you do.  If their signature radius is smaller than your
missile's explosion radius or if their velocity is greater than your missile's
explosion velocity, your missile will hit for reduced damage.

Missiles also have a maximum velocity they are able to reach in order to
pursue a target.  They also have a maximum flight time, after which they
self-destruct doing no damage.

Finally, each missile type has its own volume, unlike hybrid charges which are
all the same volume for a given size.

The following table shows (from left to right), missile Volume, Explosion
Radius, Explosion Velocity, maximum Velocity, Flight Time, and Damage.

SMALL MISSILES         Volume Rad Exp.Vel Velocity Time Damage
Rockets                0.005   20    2000    2250     2     25
Light Missiles         0.015   50    1750    3750     5     75
MEDIUM MISSILES
Heavy Missiles         0.03   125     750    3750    10    150
Heavy Assault Missiles 0.015  125     750    2250     3    100
LARGE MISSILES
Cruise Missiles        0.05   300     500    3750    20    300
Torpedoes              0.1    400     250    1250    30    450

Rockets and Torpedoes are not affected by the skill Guided Missile Precision,
but every other missile type has its explosion radius reduced by the skill.
Rockets and Torpedoes are affected by every other skill just like every other
missile.

For ease of use, the following table shows the names of each missile,
categorized by size and damage type.

SMALL MISSILES         EM          THERMAL    KINETIC    EXPLOSIVE
Rockets                Gremlin     Foxfire    Thorn      Phalanx
Light Missiles         Sabretooth  Flameburst Bloodclaw  Piranha
MEDIUM MISSILES
Heavy Missiles         Thunderbolt Widowmaker Scourge    Havoc
Heavy Assault Missiles Torrent     Hellfire   Terror     Fulmination
LARGE MISSILES
Cruise Missiles        Paradise    Cataclysm  Wrath      Devastator
Torpedoes              Mjolnir     Inferno    Juggernaut Bane

5. ECM

ECM (short for Electronic Counter Measures) is the Caldari racial electronic
warfare type.  ECM uses a chance-based system to allow you to remove your
target's ability to lock any targets for twenty seconds, and removing any
locks they have made already.  This stops your target from doing anything
offensively for the full twenty seconds, after which you have a chance to jam
them again.

Like turrets, ECM modules all have a powergrid usage, CPU usage, activation
cost, optimal range, and falloff range.  They also all have an activation
time / duration of twenty seconds.

The optimal and falloff ranges on ECM work much like they do on turrets; as
you exceed your optimal range, you become less and less able to jam your
targets.

ECM modules also have a jamming score for each of the four sensor types:
Gravimetric (Caldari), LADAR (Minmatar), Magnetometric (Gallente), and RADAR
(Amarr).  Racial jammers will have a high score for the correct sensor type
and a low score for the other three, while multispectral jammers have a
moderate score for all four sensor types.  The base strengths for racial
jammers are three for the strong type and one for the other types.
Multispectral jammers have a base of two against everything.

To determine a jammer's chance of successfully jamming a target, the game
takes the jammer's strength (modified by ship bonuses, the pilot's Signal
Dispersion skill, equipped Signal Distortion Amplifiers, and distance from the
target if further away than the jammer's optimal range) and divides it by the
target's sensor strength (modified by any equipped and activated ECCM
modules).  This number, multiplied by 100, is the percent chance for that
jammer to jam the target on a given cycle.

For instance, a jammer with a Magnetometric strength of four attempting to jam
a Gallente ship with a Magnetometric strength of ten would have a forty
percent chance of successfully jamming the target.

Spatial Destabilizers are strongest against Gravimetric sensors, Phase
Inverters are strongest against LADAR sensors, Ion Field Projectors are
strongest against Magnetometric sensors, and White Noise Generators are
strongest against RADAR sensors.  Multispectral jammers are equally effective
against all four, but are weaker, have shorter range, and need more capacitor
and CPU.

Named jammers work like named guns, with the 5% steps improving their CPU
usage, activation cost, optimal range, and strength.  Tech two jammers get the
+20% to optimal range and strength, and use more capacitor and CPU.


III. SHIPS

1. Frigates

Every pilot in Eve starts out in a frigate, and frigates are an effective ship
class that you can get a lot of mileage out of even after you have skilled up
to fly battleships.  Frigates are cheap and fast, and very fun to fly.  A
Caldari player's first priority should be to get out of their Ibis and into
either a Condor (for beginning fighting missions) or a Bantam (for mining).
Once that is done, the pilot then must decide if they would like to go down
the path of railguns (the Merlin, Moa, Ferox, and Rokh) or missiles (the
Kestrel, Caracal, Drake, and Raven).  It is also possible to train for ECM
(the Griffin, Blackbird, and Scorpion) for support in groups.

The Bantam is an excellent mining ship.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Though
its description says it is ideal for trading, a pilot will find very
frequently themselves with too little capacitor to warp all the way to a gate,
even with the skill Warp Drive Operation at level three or four.  Do not use a
Bantam if you will have to haul anything; a Kestrel will not take too long to
save up for, and will give you a larger cargo capacity and will not have the
same problems warping as a Bantam.  A Badger would be even better, but that
requires another skill and another investment.

The Condor is a fun little ship to fly around in, and at least better than an
Ibis.  It also gets a velocity bonus for missiles and rockets, pushing the
range on rockets out far enough for a player with low skills to be able to use
them well.  Unfortunately, the Condor is quickly made obsolete when a player
is able to advance to one of the two main combat frigates: the Merlin and the
Kestrel.

The Merlin is a very sturdy frigate with its bonus to shield resistances and
four mid slots that can all be used to tank its shields.  It does suffer
somewhat from a dual weapon system (meaning any damage mods added affect only
half of its weapons), but the 2/2 turret/launcher setup still works well for
it, and is very easy to fit with a powerful setup.  This is GC13's favorite
frigate.

The Kestrel is very different from the Merlin.  Lacking both the Merlin's
tanking bonus and a fourth mid slot, the Kestrel gets four missile launchers
and a damage bonus for them.  Unfortunately for the Kestrel, it is also rather
tricky to fit with four standard missile launchers (a Power Diagnostic System
or a Reactor Control Unit is likely needed to be able to fit a shield booster
as well), and does not get the Condor's missile velocity bonus or its speed,
making it difficult to use rockets against NPCs in the beginning.  Still, it
is a powerful missile boat, and is the favorite frigate of a very large number
of people as well.

The Griffin is overlooked by many people because of the Blackbird.  That does
not change the fact that the Griffin is capable of, with some decent skills,
running three racial jammers and not costing very much if it gets destroyed
(and it WILL be an enemy player's first priority to destroy, just like any
other ECM ship).  The Griffin is only really effective in PvP.

The Heron is only really useful to use scan probes, either for exploration or
for finding players hiding in a system.

2. Destroyers

Each race gets one destroyer, and for the Caldari that is the Cormorant.
Getting a double optimal range bonus (50% for being a destroyer, and 10%/level
from the Destroyers skill), the Cormorant is capable of getting some
amazing ranges with its seven small railguns.

Still, the Cormorant only has one low slot, which will ideally have a magnetic
field stabilizer in it for optimum damage.  It does have four mid slots,
however, allowing it a great deal of versatility in improving its mobility,
locking speed, or survivability.

Destroyers, while fun, are not incredibly useful when fighting NPCs.  They
will make missions a bit easier, but level ones are easy enough for frigates,
and a new player will likely want a cruiser for level twos.  You can pass up
Destroyers on your way to cruisers if frigates are enough for you to do level
ones with, or go ahead and get yourself a Cormorant if you think you need more
firepower to run missions with.  For PvP, they are excellent at swatting enemy
tacklers, and so have their use there as well.

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