Choosing what ship to use for exploration could give you a headache.
With so many selections to choose from, you might end up picking the one that is not compatible for you. Choosing the right ship for your budget, skills and experience is important. Some ships are more expensive than the others, but it’s not a guarantee that it will be the best one for you.
We have compiled some of your options as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
T1 Frigates: Imicus, Heron, Probe, Magnate
This is your only option if you are a beginner with less than 1.5 million skill points. A starter-level scanning ship does not necessarily mean being a bad choice. Aside from newbies, this ship is also perfect for older pilots who are just starting to explore.
It’s important that you take your long-term goals into consideration when selecting which ship to use. Picking up a Heron is the best choice if you want to fly a Buzzard or Manticore later on. Magnate or an Imicus is a great start if you’re planning to upgrade to Sisters of EVE ships soon.
T1 frigates will only require you with under 3 days’ training because of their very low skill floor. You can scare off or evade potential killers or find hidden salvage with its expanded probe launchers. They’ve got cargo holds nearly the size of a cruiser which allows you to carry mobile depots or haul back extra loot. And most importantly, they are extremely cheap at less than half a million ISK each.
On the other hand, T1 frigates have low skill caps and require longer training for high efficiency. They only have +37.5% maximum scan strength bonuses; this means that you would have to train your racial frigate skill to V. In addition, it’s difficult to infiltrate in well-guarded areas of lowsec/nulsec because they can’t fit covert ops cloaking devices. Their extreme fragility makes them incapable of running combat sites they scan down and easy targets for pirates.
T2 Frigates: Buzzard, Anathema, Helios, Cheetah
These ships are perfect for players who have previously flown stealth bombers or who have advanced their skills from flying their T1 counterparts.
They have a maximum scan bonus of +50%, making them the highest efficiency ceiling in EVE Online. In addition, they also have solid bonuses to virus strength and probe flight. They are pretty much affordable at only 15 to 25 million ISK each. They can give the pilot easy access because of their ability to covert cynosural field modules and easily equip expanded probe launchers.
Flying a T2 comes with training a lot of annoying skills, including electronics upgrades to V and Cloaking to IV and racial frigs. You should also have at least IV Covert Ops skill; this requires weeks of training for someone who does not have any covops/stealth bomber training. They are not the perfect choice for drone/ninja salvaging, extended deployment or structure deployment because they only have half the cargo space of their T1 counterparts.
T3 (Strategic) Cruisers: Loki, Legion, Tengu, Proteus
When built with the right subsystems, these ships can be powerful exploration vessels. These ships are modular by design so they can be pretty much anything you want them to be.
Having some of the most advanced tech in EVE, it does not come as a surprise that T3 cruisers have a lot of advantages. Their emergent locus analyzers give them the ability to tie covops ships in virus strength and scan power. Covert ops cloaking devices are enabled by covert reconfiguration subsystems, plus it comes with a 5-second cloak deactivation timer. On the propulsion side, you have the powerful ability to simply shrug off warp bubbles with the interdiction nullifier system or choose a gravitational capacitor for faster warping. If you’re still not impressed by these pros, don’t forget the fact that any of these capacities can be traded for improved salvage or combat.
With so many pros mentioned above, it seems unwise not to choose a strategic cruiser for your exploration adventures. Well, let’s not forget that T3 ships have their cons too.
One of its biggest drawbacks is the huge skill requirements for maximal efficiency and minimal operation. If you’re planning to fly a T3 ship, you would need 8 to 10 weeks of training. Training does not stop once you are already in the cockpit. If you want to gain bonuses equal to or greater than those available to T1, T2, or SOE hulls, you would need to train your subsystem skills to IV or V. And mind you, that training will require a lot of your time and sometimes at the expense of other vital exploration skills.
Strategic cruisers are also not easy in the ISK department. You need 100+ million for hull alone and all the subsystems would require several tens of millions. And try your very best not to die in a T3 cruiser. Not only you will lose your ship but your skill points will be gone too.
Sisters of EVE faction ships: Stratios, Astero
Three Sisters of EVE “pirate” ships were added for long-range exploration – the Stratios Cruiser, the Astero frigate and the Nestor battleship.
The Stratios and the Astero have a strong baseline efficacy and require extremely low skills. You’ll get the full +37.5% bonus to scanning when you pilot either one of them. They also have massive bandwidth and drone capacity which makes them powerful for class-appropriate PvP or PvE.
Both of them are very expensive. The Stratios will run you 275-300 million ISK while the Astero 70-90 million ISK. You don’t only need a good bankroll but also a higher confidence in your wits if you want some justification why you choose these ships to fly in dangerous space. Though they require relatively low skill level, training is split between Amarr and Gallente which double your time of mastery.
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