Drone Guide

Been explaininig a few things far too often, lets make a thread that might help as a reference guide, while
studying ofcourse Smile.. it turned out a bit big, but I had a lot to say..
Before I start I should probably mention i'm a drone purist, the only reason I have a laser on my domi is to aggro
rats (and laser means no ammo, always useful) and I now have about 5.3M sp in drones (also I can't use fighters,
so these are pure drone sp). Now that I have sounded arrogant enough to say I know a thing or two about drones:
I know a thing or two about drones. I'm gonna limit this story to drones and non-capital ships, ie no fighters and
carriers/moros stuff here.


First things first, the ship..

Gallente have most of the drone shippies, although the amarr have a couple drone beauties too, and certain other
ships work well with drones (for instance a Typhoon).
There can however only be one king and for me that is the Dominix: this cheapest of battleships has a dronebay of
375 (something that the Ishtar can only achieve with lvl 5 HAC and the Eos can't even get with lvl 5 Command
Ships..). I suppose the Ishtar is a close second, but with 2 low slots less and lacking the ability to put on
heavy nos (something very useful for drone purists), I firmly believe the Dominix at it's lower (and insurable)
price, quicker to learn BS lvl 5 and BS sized fittings is your best bet overall.
Now there are ofcourse many situation where you would rather have a HAC or Recon cruiser, but at that time you
will probably already have 5M sp in drones.



Secondly, the skills..

Time for the skills. As mentioned before, tech II drones are very easy to learn. T2 medium drones are however (at
this time) horribly expensive, so before you go off to learn t2 drones lets get some things straight. T2 drones
improve your dps considerably. I ran some tests when i could first use t2 meds and my finding was:

      A Tech II drone will do hits comparable to a tech I drone of one class higher. A tech I heavy drone hurts as
much per shot as a tech II medium drone. Drone dps is however not just related to damage per second while
shooting. A medium drone has a higher rate of fire, but is also faster, a lot faster, and drones need to travel a
lot when clearing a group of enemies. I know for a fact that 5 random t2 light drones clear a room of frigates,
cruisers and battlecruisers faster than 5 t2 ogre heavy drones.


So don't be afraid to use t2 light drones at first. Your ship will need to be able to tank a lot anyway, and light
t2 drones are incredibly fast and have such a high rate of fire, most rats won't be able to tank anyway. You will
also be doing easy criticals more often, so your dps should be near optimal all the time vs the bigger targets.


Back to the skills:


      Drones – lvl 5 is a must really


      Drone interfacing – lvl 4
      Is a must lvl 5 is really really really good    (sure it takes a while but consider  the impact of 20%
      extra damage, that's 2 levels of most of your ship skills on a drone ship..).

      Combat drones – lvl 4 is a must if you plan to use light and medium drones much (which you should)

      Scout drones – lvl 5 is a must, you start with 20km control range, 5km for each lvl of this skill is not
      only useful, the skill at 5 is needed to get t2 drones

      E/W drone operation – useful skill, but one drone link module gives 20km, lvl 5 on this skill only gives
     15km drone control range..

      Drone navigation – sharp double edged skill: makes your drones MWD faster, but it also makes them overshoot
      more, this thread is interesting on this skill

      Drone sharpshooting – the second double edged skill, far less than the first tho.. It improves your drones
      optimal range, I'll talk about that later, but it can lower your dps in certain scenarios..

      Drone durability - funny, helps a bit, train it to lvl 4 if you have spare time, but drones pop easily, this
       skill will not be the tie breaker against experienced people.


Then the big ones.. will you go for heavy drones or sentry drones..
in my honest opinion the ranking is a bit like this:

     Heavy tech II drones >> Sentry drones > Heavy tech I drones
     So yes, t2 heavy drones are the wtfpwnz0rbbqgrill of drones, but if you can't use em, substitute sentries iso

      Heavy tech I..
      I feel that sentry drones are great for pve and have their uses in pvp. My domi never leaves station without 'em
     (I tend to take wardens, since they are the long range type and kinetic damage is usually pretty good, and I also
     have a tech II heavy drones for short range. Before I had those I just used 5 wardens and 5 gardes and assorted t2
     combat drones. For more info on sentries, check here).
     So in time you're looking at:

     Sentry drones – lvl 4, lvl 5 is optional and unless we get tech II sentries (please) really only if you use
     sentries a lot (as in you have a sentry drone dmg rig on aswell).

      Heavy drones – lvl 5, without question, only use tech II heavy drones, tech I are for suicide Megathrons and
      even they should carry sentries in my opinion.


And of course there are the specialisation skills, get them all and all to lvl 2 or 4, one of the reasons drones
are so hard hitting is because you can choose specific damage types, so you will want tech II drones of all types
available to you (heavy t2 drones require the specialisation skills at lvl 4) and the skill gives another 2% dmg
bonus to the drones that need the skill, 8.5M iskies in the faction regions.

NB: the Advanced drone interfacing skill is ONLY useful for carrier pilots, the mod you can use with it is just
for carriers.



Third, 'how do I use drones', in a nutshell

Well to start you will need to know your enemy. Basically lets start by dividing this section into pvp and pve,

starting with pve.
The useful thing about fighting pve is that you (should) know exactly who they are and how their tank works, ie
what kind of drone to take. Again I have to insert some personal experience here:
Just because a rat is weakest on EM, doesn't mean you should bring EM drones. Unlike missiles (because lets face
it, drones are a lot like missiles in that they only do one type of damage, take time to reach the enemy before
they do that damage, and can be killed before they do damage) drones have dmg multipliers. Take for instance a EM
drone vs a Thermal drone .. The em drone has higher tracking and higher velocity (very good) but the thermal drone
has a higher dmg multiplier (think 50% higher). In most situations the Ogre II will be a better pick (most EM
weakest rats have Thermal as the second lowest resistance).

I should mention here:

      Amarr drones do EM damage, are fast and have decent hitpoints
      Minmatar drones do Explosive damage, are beyond fast and do good damage
      Caldari drones do Kinetic damage, have high shield hitpoints (will talk later on the benefits of this)
      Gallente drones do Thermal damage, slow but do the best damage

      The sentries not only have this setup, but add different ranges, 30, 40 , 50 and 20 km base optimal iirc.
Also, although they have an activation range of 250 km, sentries very rarely do any damage beyond 100km. More on
activation range later.

Now you know your enemy and have picked you drone: Lets talk aggro. Most of you will know what aggro is, but for
those of you that don't: A ship that commits an aggressive act on your ship is considered aggroed to you.
Similarly are you aggroed towards and enemy by an aggressive act. The red blinking targetting brackets in EvE are
the indication here.

Lets not be comfortable with rats shooting our drones (although it can be a valid tactic, i know my sentries have
taken a lot of rat aggro) and try and avoid mass aggro in mishes (missions). In some missions you will get jumped
on by the entire room just for launching drones, no way to avoid that. Not shooting rat sentry turrets and
structures is a good way to start and I like to get aggro on me before unleashing the drones. This means bringing
something that is considered an aggressive act to get those rats going. If you use guns, any gun will of course
do. If you don't there are other options. Sticking a small/medium laser on is a great way, they don't take ammo. A
target painter is also useful, but takes up a med slot, while it's usually the high slots you have spare. Webbers
and nos have a max range and are therefore not really useful to cause aggro.

It does happen sometimes that you have one group aggroed and are having fun (afk?) watching your drones ignoring
your commands, when suddenly you see the shields on one or more of your drones vanish.. this means your drones
have somehow attracted aggro. This could have happened because they came too close to a different group (although
in some missions I've seen mine kill a rat that has flown inside a non-aggroed group without any consequences, so
it's a bit random). Sometimes it's best to retrieve it (return and dock), sometimes it's best to immediately attack the
rat that is shooting them.

Drones are very easy to hit while flying (mwd on drones works the same as on ships, exploding sig radius) so chose
carefully. Since they orbit at short range they are hard to hit when attacking, especially for long range rats.

      Medium tech II drones rip through frigates like a mega pulse through butter, but like I said they are quite
expensive and relatively slow compared to light t2 drones. For pve I therefore recommend using light t2 drones on
anything that uses drones as secondary weapon (Raven, Megathron, anything with the large high dmg weapons that
will have trouble with frigates). An added bonus is you can usually bring back up light t2 where a raven for
instance can only carry 5 medium drones..

      I also recommend light t2 drones for the domi pilots that use heavy tech II drones. If you use sentry drones
I recommend using medium t2 drones, since even Garde sentry drones will have a lot of trouble killing cruisers
circling within 25 km. And here we come to the afore mentioned problems the Drone sharpshooting skill can cause: I
have it trained up quite high to make sure my Wardens kill anything within 100 km, sadly this also means my Gardes
prefer 30km iso 20 km. They still rule for shooting stationary targets as close as 2 km, but moving targets have
to be BS size to be hit nicely. Like I said, once you have tech II heavies, this isn't a problem, 25 km is a
workable distance for these drones and the dmg output is great.

      The auxiliary drones are useless in pve unless you're remote repping someone. The webber drones are large
(25m^3 each) drones and could therefore be used by a blasterthron in mishes (to compensate the lack of mwd).. but
who does that anyways, just bring rails and combat drones.


So now pvp.. I have to be honest here and say my pvp experience is old apart from the occasional rabble in empire.
But I have been talking to a lot of people and seen/heard many ideas/tactics.
Drone ships aren't in fleets. Many a fleet commander forbids it, and when you think about it, it makes sense.
Drones cause lag, you can't warp instantly without losing your drones and unless you are using sentry drones, they
have to travel to the enemy to start hurting them. If you do use sentries their maxium range is 100km (basic stuff
really, check the tracking guide for more info, but basically guns don't do much outside optimal+fallof), which is
usually not enough for fleet combat. It also means using at least 2 drone links to be able to get 100km control
range, which means 2 less big guns. Bringing a domi to a fleet means you will most likely be the repair guy (and
why not, you can fit a full rack of both shield and armour maintenance drones, large ones at that).

Small gang pvp: well you do see the drone ships here, but to be fair you see all sorts in small gang because
people become creative. I usually think of small gangs as being nimble and easily redeployed, which can be a
problem with drone ships, but the Ishtar is a great HAC and performs very well in small gangs. The Ishkur is a rat
ship in my opinion because of the lack of drone dmg bonus and the small drone bay (not even 2 full sets of 5 tech

II lights when you have lvl 5 assault).
All the stuff above does not necessarily reflect my corp, my alliance or even me..


      The Curse and Pilgrim are great drone ships and have the natural strength of drone dmg ships in their bonus.
The sucking of the cap, the draining of energy, Nos and Neut. When you can use drones as your main weapon, you get
free high slots. Energy is important, so important that most pvp BS won't leave dock without a cap injector and
every square cm of cargo left after ammo stuffed with cap charges. This brings us to the dreaded Nosdomi (the
Vexor has been used in a similar way, but lacks the staying power).



Used mainly in solo pvp, the Nosdomi has been referred to as the 'Iwinbutton', Solopwnmobile' and what not in
recent years. Since ecm was introduced to the nerfbat however, the Nosdomi has evolved. Many current Nosdomi's use
a dual repper setup, with heavy injector and an array of medium nos (powergrid issues) with tracking
disruptor/remote sensor dampener to help keep themselves and their drones alive. Many have been training the tech
II large blasters to use 'the other' bonus on the domi, although this takes an awful lot of skills (again with the
fitting).

The operating range of these vessels is very short. You want to be within webber and medium nos range (12km with
good mods, 10km with regular stuff). This has as a bonus the drone drag 'n drop tactic: You drop your drones on
target, as soon as they get fired on, you retrieve and re-drop them with full shield (sweet stuff, the only reason
drones can still be considered viable weapons in pvp tbh, and this makes the caldari drones with their relatively
high shield hitpoints great for this tactic. Most of the damage will be instantly healed by this tactic, your
drones live longer..).
What people who .. utter their concerns about this, repeatedly .. don't seem to realise, is that this drops a
domi's dps considerably. If i'm hugging the enemy I can usually have them in and out within 5 seconds.. that's 2
missed salvo's. Another considerable bonus to being on top of your enemy in the fight is that you are the closest
target, meaning FoF missiles will hit you and not your drones.

I'm very much against gate camps, but I understand the need to protect territory, so what I would like to see is
some creative drone usage. Have sentries hanging several km from the gate while you are on top of it. You will be
a huge tackler for them, see em rip through anything once you have double webbed it. Sentry drones are cheap and
with the warp-to-0 possibilities you could use 'em in ways new and fresh :). They also have the hitpoints of a
small cruiser on a domi, making them hard to pop and smartbombs will rarely reach them. Many people don't like
them being static, I think it's a challenge..
That should be enough about the combat use of drones.


# Now for the most important thing, drone AI operation, useful for both drone users and drone fighters.
      Drones right now (rev 1, Jan 25 2007) are bugged and bugged hard. They sometimes get stuck on each other
when returning, causing them to hang outside scoop range, they sometimes forget your orders and just attack random
viable targets, unlike any of the other weapon systems (not counting smartbombs) there are no t2 mods for them, no
damage mod whatsoever, no implants and not all t2 versions are available (sentry). You can't make short cuts for
them, the UI is horrible (if you're in a gang/fleet and still want to keep an eye on your drones in space and the
overview, best run 1600x1200 stuff), no buttons, no info on drones apart from the base stats (so no account of
your skills, ship boni, etc.) the list goes on. Then there are the changes to drones where you can't use your
maintenance drones on your own drones any more (argh!, change this back please!!).

But the most important thing is people get confused with what drones will and will not do automatically. So lets
learn Smile:

   1. Drones that are within the control range of their controller will perceive anything that aggroes or has
aggroed the controller, from any distance, as a viable target. It will be placed in the 'to do list'. If the
drones are in attack mode they will work through this list at random until dead, the list is empty or they are put
on 'return' (either to orbit or drone bay).

   2. Drones that are idle (this is the state a drone is in after launch and after it has completed a 'to do
list') will automatically attack anything that aggroes the controller, from any range. Drones that are returning
and orbiting (this is the state they are in after you have recalled them to orbit you and only after that command)
will only automatically attack anything the controller aggroes himself.

Please read these last things again and again until you understand them. This means that if you ever tell a drone
to return and orbit it will not respond to enemy aggro anymore. It also means drones will attack outside your
control range and/or lock range, something very useful in missions with those pesky sentry turrets outside your
control and lock range, just drop some sentries to kill the last thing you can lock and is within control range,
let them destroy it and watch as they kill those 95 km turrets. It can be used against the drone controller by
luring his drones out of control range (tho difficult, it can be done).

Another often misunderstood thing is drone activation range or activation proximity.
      Lets pick a drone to explain this with. The warrior II is the scourge of any interceptor, even a snake set
will have trouble surviving these puppies with proper skills, just look at them.. so what sticks out:
      Optimal range 1000m, activation proximity 1000m, orbit velocity 900m/s, max velocity over 5000m/s.. but what

does it all mean for the drone..
      A drone has several modes, or functions if you will. While in attack mode (doing the whole 'to do list') it
will switch between several functions: the mwd towards target at max velocity, the shoot at enemy and the orbit
enemy are the main ones here.
      Basically, if the enemy is within activation proximity, the drone will perform the orbit and shoot
functions. If the enemy is outside activation proximity it will do the mwd function.


Notice here the importance of the activation proximity: this is the orbit the drone will follow, no matter how big
the optimal range!! This means some drones don't orbit at their optimal range and increasing it might be very
useful or slightly harmful (again this could be related to critical hit chance when not on optimal range)!! If you
check out the sentries you will see they have the 250 km activation range, which is also the capped lock range in
EvE atm, so they will fire on anything that aggroes you within the rules mentioned above.
This also means that anything travelling faster than the orbit speed of a drone but slower than the max velocity
of that drone can still be killed by that drone (although the drone will like it is learning to drive with the
constant mwd-ing). It is however a true mwd, so a drone will coast (I know this is one of the problems fighters
have) and can therefore easily overshoot the enemy, meaning a drop in dps due to not shooting efficiently or not
shooting at all for a few secs.


Alright, that should be about enough for now, if anyone has extra info or I made a mistake, lemme know in here or
in game, I'll try and rectify it asap. I'll leave you with a few useful tips:

   1. Your ship is not your pod, and your drones are not your ship. I have never been in a situation where it was
worth it to stay just to get my drones back, while in a burning ship with a broken tank. I know it's hard but just
leave them behind if you feel like you need to get out.


   2. Know the limits of your drones and ship, know when to let your drones run free and when to command them..
these days I just use my heavy t2 drones in lvl 4 mishes to kill everything, controlled BS destruction and then I
let them free roam the rest: it goes faster that way, but make sure you can tank the whole room if you do that..


   3. With drones, more is better, only after that is bigger important, and sometimes you would rather have small.
A full set of lights will do better than 2 meds and 1 light or 1 med and 3 lights, not to mention 1 heavy. After
that you can vary if you want, but remember, with drones being the only weapon system that can be destroyed (quite
easily nowadays if you know what you're doing), spare drones are good if they are you're only means of attack.

   4. fly safe and take care of your drones Smile

   5. When starting a thread don't make it into an essay

-Keitaro Baka




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