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The Dramiel, the Daredevil, the Comet, The Firetail.  Those are just some of the Faction Frigates available to Eve Online pilots for use in PVP.  The entire list of ships numbers about fifteen, including special ships given away by CCP either for promotions or for the Alliance tournament.  These ships range drastically from about 20 to 25mil isk to over a 100mil isk for some pirate faction ones.

But are the costs worth it?  At the very least their price is equal to a Tech 2 assault frigate, and at most, their cost is equal to a Tech 2 cruiser.  This article is going to go through the pros and cons of Faction Frigates.

Like the Faction Cruiser, Navy Faction Frigates tend to gear more towards a specific type of combat, while Pirate Faction Frigates tend to mix combat with recon abilities.  Unlike the Faction Cruisers, however, the price for most Faction frigates are the same as their Tech 2 counterparts and because of their smaller size, some of the bonuses do not have an effective use due to the range and tanking ability necessary. 

So, what are the advantages of going with a Faction Frigate over a Tech 2?

  • Less specialization:  Faction frigates, particularly Pirate Faction frigates tend to be less specialized, and have additional attributes that improve their ability to do a wide variety of tasks.  Normally, this isn’t a good thing in Eve Online, however, the nature of the game allow that rule to be bent in the frigate realm.
  • Less skillpoint requirements:  Even with Pirate faction ships, it takes far less time to raise two racial frigate skills to level IV, then it takes to raise a single racial frigate skill to V.  As many of these ships mix high speed with high damage capabilities, you can start being effective in roaming gangs right away.
  • Unique Ship models:  Yeah, I know.. not much of an advantage.. but its still nice to have something distinctive in your hanger.. and even more so when you hear folks “oh” and “ah” that you brought a new shiny to the battle.
  • Bonuses:  Navy Faction frigates have been given some serious combat focused bonuses, while Pirate Faction frigates generally have a good mix of combat and recon-based bonuses.

However, they also have some serious flaws:

  • Expense:  As mentioned before, the expense of a Faction frigate at the very least is equal to that of a Tech 2 Assault Frigate, but usually you should expect to pay at least 80% more for a Navy Faction Frigate (prices as of July 17,2011 were running about 20 to 25 mil each) to several times more for the Dramiel or Cruor which currently run 100 to 140mil each.
  • Fitting Requirements:  The CPU and Powergrid on Faction frigates tends to be tight, especially on Navy Frigates.  If you want your ship to field Tech two weapons, make sure to have some Co-Processers, Micro Aux Power Cores, and ACRs at the ready. 
  • Module Expense:  This is the “gotcha”, particularly of Navy Faction frigates.  As the CPU and Powergrid of the Faction frigates leave a lot to be desired, a pilot setting one of these up may find themselves forced to purchase Meta 4 named modules to make a fitting work well.  Those modules tend to also be the most expensive, costing several times more than even Tech 2 modules.

Pirate Faction Frigates – The Best of the Best

To put aside all doubt, the Pirate Faction frigates are the best, with at least three being far better than even T2 Frigates.  The price of some of these frigates, however, make it fairly easy to pass up in favor of the nearly as good, but also much MUCH cheaper T2 frigates.

Dramiel – Currently the premier frigate.  Prices for this ship run up into 100mil and with the bonuses this ship receives, its a bit difficult to understand why.  That is until you see that its base velocity is as fast as any interceptor and it’s mass is 1/3rd that of an interceptor.  This ship is fast.  But wait, there’s more.  The 100% damage bonus to the turrets means that your two turrets translate as four.. and are further augemented with enhanced tracking and falloff.  Oh and don’t forget.. the Dramiel also has a perfect midslot arrangement that allows you to tank either armor, shield, or speedtank and still have decent tackle.  Oh, did I also mention it can field a full flight of drones too?  Yeah.. perhaps its a teeny-tiny bit overpowered.

Cruor – The rare Cruor is next on our list and has the strange situation where it has the same bonuses as the Ashimmu cruiser and because of that, sells for exactly the same price.  While the neutralizers and vamps may not be as effective, the more important webs are.  It is also a much faster ship, allowing it to overtake enemies much easier than its larger brethren.  While not as fast as an Interceptor.. it’s far more effective at locking a target down.

Daredevil – Another expensive and rare pirate faction ship, the Daredevil is more geared toward tackling than its cousin the Dramiel as it has a web velocity bonus.. much like the Cruor.  The Daredevil was granted a very nice 200% bonus to small hybrid turrets.  So its two guns now translate into six, and with web velocity bonus that is some serious damage at close range.  It also has less mass than interceptor so its speed is still competative with the T2 ships.

Worm – The Worm is a more common sight and the price tag for such a ship is still relatively low, but it has some very distinctive features.  First off, it is the only other pirate faction frigate to carry drones.. and it can carry double the amount of the Dramiel.. up to 5 medium drones with Gallente Frigate V.  Add to it a shield resist bonus and you have a ship that can stay in the battle quite a while.  I think will be seeing a lot more of these in the future as people start training Rockets again (yes, they did get fixed).

Succubus – The final Pirate faction frigate is the Succubus, which you can get pretty inexpensively.  The reason for this is because it’s not really all that great.  It’s tank is mediocre as is the damage.  The ship is slow, despite the light mass and excellent agility.  While it can mount two 100% bonused turrets.. they suck cap so badly that you are going to have to mount vamps just to keep firing.  Unlike the other faction frigates, the Succubus really doesn’t fare too well against the Tech 2s.

The Navy Faction Frigate – You, only better

With the revamp of all the faction ships after Dominion, the Navy frigates have certainly been beefed up and all four have become much more popular in PVP.  The prices for these ships are around the same as you would pay for Tech 2 ships as well, so you aren’t going to be out hundreds of millions fielding one of these.  The downside to these ships tends to be related to fitting.  Often the ships either don’t have enough CPU or PG for a really nice configuration and so you have to drop something or add a fitting mod or use up a rig slot or two to make up for it.

Caldari Navy Hookbill – It only looks ugly.  If you are going to be doing some close range combat, the Hookbill’s bonuses are pretty impressive to missile throwers.  10% bonus to missile velocity, 20% bonus to kinetic missile damage and 10% bonus to all other damage types per level.  And yes, it can field three missile launchers to boot.  The five midslots allow you to improve your tank considerably.. though from what I understand.. the CPU is still a little on the low side and may require fitting mods.

Federation Navy Comet – Another formerly much aligned ship that is now rather popular.  The Fed Navy Comet was improved with a more interesting drone setup (30m3 dronebay, but only 15mb – i.e. you can only fly 3 light drones at a time).  Having such a setup allows you to have a set of damage drones and a set of ECM drones at your disposal.  The slot arrangment allows it to be both armor and shield tanked, while its light mass gives it decent speed and agility.

Imperial Navy Slicer – Probably the prettiest of the bunch, the Slicer suffers from having to choose between a web and a disruptor because of its two lonely midslots.  It doesn’t help that it is also the slowest and least agile of all the Navy Faction ships.  On the flipside it does field a better armor tank than the Comet and the bonuses allow the two turrets to essentially be four and a half at Amarr Frigate V.

Republic Fleet Firetail – The Firetail is the fastest of the Navy Faction frigates and thus is inheritly a good choice for a tackler.  It is also quite well armed with two projectile turrets and a missile bay attached to a 20% to projectile damage per level and a 7.5% to tracking per level hull bonuses.  The downside is that the shield tank isn’t particularly strong, and reliance on speed is still paramount.

In Conclusion

So, now that you’ve seen the faction frigates, you can go right out and get one right?  Well, personally I would hold off until you are comfortably skilled in the art of tackling.  Many interceptors, which can be considerably cheaper as well as easier to fit, provide the same or even better tactical ability to a fleet that most of the Navy Faction ships do.  The Assault Frigates also are considerably cheaper and function much the same way as how you would operate Faction frigates.

Should you never get a faction frigate?  No, I wouldn’t say that.  Faction frigates are better than their Tech 1 counterparts.  If you do have a lot of isk, but not a lot of skills and can’t fly Tech 2 right now, then flying a Faction ship will be a better way to go.  Otherwise, they can be just pricey toys to show off and have fun with at your next wardec.

The only caveats to this are the Dramiel, the Cruor, and the Daredevil.  These three clearly outclass both Tech 2 interceptors for their combat flexibility and Tech 2 Assault frigates for combat.  They also cost a pretty penny and tend to be magnets for incoming fire.  Still, flying one of these effectively requires a considerable amount of skill and doing so will gain a lot of respect to you and your corpmates.