After doing missions for er… almost 5 months, I’ve realised that there are actually more than 5 implant slots.
Yeah, go me.
Implant slots 6 to 10 are used for skill hardwirings, as opposed to slots 1 to 5 which are for boosting the various learning attributes. There’s a great comparison of the various implants in each slot on EVEWiki, most of which provide benefits that are similar to an existing skill e.g. more capacitor, better tracking for turrets etc.
I’d like to claim that it was the fact that there are no drone implants that led to my having ignored these slots for almost half a year. Unfortunately it was more like I plain forgot about them after randomly browsing through them in the market oh so long ago, when I didn’t have a friggin clue what any of them actually did. “Explosion radius duh wut?”
However, now that I’m oh so close to being able to fly my Rattlesnake (3 more days for Missile Launcher Operation V, followed by Cruise Missiles) I decided that it didn’t make sense to leave these slots empty. The chances of getting podded in high-sec are pretty low, and it’s not like I’m going to shoot at some dumb ninja salvagers in my Rattlesnake.
Looking at all the implants, I eventually decided to go with an all-missile set for both me and my wife’s character. The Gunnery group was immediately ignored since I hate guns. Navigation was a nice-to-have but battleships are slow and various forms of “5% less slow” isn’t going to turn my Rattlesnake into a Rifter. Mechanic implants give bonuses to remote repair and armor/hull tanking. My Dominix’s armor tank is already super awesome, so again not a priority. Electronics gives more CPU or reduces capacitor for Electronic Warfare. I rarely have CPU problems in my fittings and don’t use EW in PvE. Science gives bonuses to probing and salvaging/hacking/analysing, which is a nice-to-have but I can wait a few extra seconds for those if needed. Industry is obviously out since I have pitiful industry skills; assembling missiles would be about the limit of my ability, although I have a Rifter and Punisher blueprint sitting around somewhere.
So when all is said and done, it seemed like only the Missile and Engineering groups were worth looking at. My initial thoughts were to pick up the 2 capacitor implants in Engineering; the ‘Squire’ CR8 in slot 6 and the ‘Squire’ CC8 in slot 8. I figured that with my love for all things cap-stable, having roughly 10% more cap recharge would be a good thing and could make ships easier to fit.
The other slots were pretty much no-brainers for missiles. Slot 7 is either missile flight time/velocity or shield capacity. Slot 9 is missile explosion velocity or shield recharge rate. Slot 10 is missile launcher rate of fire. Unfortunately I can’t use the ZMM-1000 with the 5% bonus due to not having (and not wanting to train for 2 weeks) Cybernetics V. So I’ll settle for the 3% rate of fire bonus. My Rattlesnake has an amazing awesomesauce shield tank which should make grown Guristas weep in frustration and curse the capsuleer who sold me their beloved Rattlesnake design, so increasing the tank beyond 780 dps isn’t really necessary so I am not sold on the shield implants. Will probably leave slot 7 open for now as cruise missiles don’t really need more range as I can’t even lock targets that far out, although this will change if I switch to torpedoes sometime in the future.
So that leaves slots 6 and 8 as the puzzlers. Slot 6 for missiles is more damage to either cruise missiles or torpedoes. For slot 8, the best candidate is explosion radius for cruise and below. I didn’t like either of these all thaaaat much. The explosion radius bonus would be great if it applied to torps as well… but it doesn’t. Still good for killing pesky cruisers and frigates though, so not bad. Slot 6… ok now I may be an odd duck in this, but I’m not impressed with 3% additional damage to cruises/torpedoes (no 5% because of Cybernetics V).
Missiles are, by their nature, spiky damage. They cycle slowly, but have high volley damage. While 3% more damage per missile should give 3% more dps in theory, that is only against a target that has a huge amount of hitpoints. Against, for example, a battleship that dies in 6 volleys, it is quite likely that it would take the same number of volleys/missiles to kill it with the 3% bonus as without. With spiky damage, a sizable proportion of the last volley would probably be overkill anyway. 3% more damage could simply mean 3% more overkill. The only scenario where there would be time saved would be if the 3% extra is just enough to mean the difference between 5 and 6 volleys, which is quite understandably going to be rare. With a fast-firing weapon system like pulse lasers or autocannon, where the damage profile is much smoother, it’s easier to take advantage of individual enemies dying incrementally faster.
Plus, I don’t like having to choose between cruise or torpedoes. If I choose cruise and switch to torpedoes in the future, that’s a useless implant in my head. So the engineering implants looked to be decent alternatives at first.
That is, until I did some EFT warrioring to see if I could improve on my fits with these implants. Turns out that even both implants aren’t enough to make the difference between cap-stable or not for most fits, unless they’re really so close to the edge that they would have lasted an hour anyway. Being able to run my shield booster on a Raven for 8.5 minutes instead of 6.5 minutes doesn’t exactly thrill me… it’s not going to change my tactics significantly and it’s unlikely to be the difference between warp out/stay, especially since it’s the Rattlesnake that will be doing the tanking and that’s passive.
So it looks like I’ll be taking the ‘ZMU1000’ 3% cruise missile damage implant. My wife pointed out that a large proportion of my damage still comes from drones, so that may help to smooth out the spikiness in the damage and gain some time savings. Plus they are only something like 22 million ISK, which is not a lot should they need to be replaced eventually. Still, 4 missile implants for each character comes out to a bill of around 640 million ISK (140+140+20+20 each) but this should be a once-off purchase that will last a long time.