March 16, 2010

Turrets 101

Almost all new pilots have a natural wish: to shoot stuff. To that end, your first ship is already equipped with some basic gun fittings. If you're Amarr, you are granted an Impairor-class frigate, equipped with a Civilian Pulse Laser. If you're Caldari, you receive an Ibis-class frigate with its own Civilian Railgun. Gallente pilots are given a Velator frigate with a Civilian Electron Blaster. And, last but not least, the Minmatar receive a Reaper frigate with a Civilian Autocannon mounted. All of these also have a Civilian Miner, but combat pilots won't care much for that.

These "Civilian" quality weapons downright suck, but they do fire at people, and they don't use any ammo. Therefore, they're going to be your best friends for the first few minutes... until you get your hands on some real weapons. 

Unlike the beginner turrets, real-man turrets use "charges". What these charges are depends on the type of turret: laser turrets (pulse and beam) have frequency crystals that focus the energy into a beam; hybrid turrets (blasters and railguns) have special hybrid charges; and projectile turrets (autocannons and artillery) have projectile ammo. Hybrid charges and projectile ammo is used up with every shot, while frequency crystals typically last a longer time before cracking. Additionally, lasers and hybrid turrets also require energy from your ship's capacitor to fire.

Some new pilots may then ask "why so many types? I'll just use the one that makes the enemy cry most! Which one is that?" Well, if you have to ask, it's the neutron blasters - a hybrid turret. However, their range is abysmal. A Taranis interceptor, the hardest-hitting interceptor, can hit nigh-nothing that's farther away than 5 km. This is because for maximum damage, it usually is equipped with Antimatter hybrid charges, that do a ton of damage, but don't travel very far. When it is up close, though, it hurts.

As such, all weapons have something they're good at. So, let's take a look at all turret types, starting with the ones I'm most familiar with:

Autocannons and Artillery

Minmatar guns and ships are known for their versatility. This means that they can adapt to whatever foe they are fighting in order to best fight him where he's weak. This means that, for example, my Claw fitted with autocannons in the kill I linked above could probably have taken the Taranis down, if I had moved outside his range. Equally, if I met a ship with railguns, I could move up close and it would not be able to harm me. To this end, autocannons have amazing accuracy falloff distance, with a short optimal range. They also have the best tracking of any close-range weapons. Their damage, however, is not the highest, because of the more "primitive"  method the damage is delivered: projectiles.

Another point to be made about Minmatar guns and their versatility is their ammo itself. Projectile ammo has a wide range of damage types to best take advantage of the enemy's weakness. If the enemy is shield tanked, a smart Minmatar pilot loads up his EMP or Proton rounds, to hit the shields as hard as possible with EM damage. If the enemy is armor tanked, Fusion or Nuclear ammo is a better choice, depending on range. In the hands of a pilot on his toes, these different ammo types can easily bring an enemy to his knees, even if the raw damage of autocannons is inferior.

The damage of artillery is stranger, though. The philosophy of artillery dictates that more damage up front beats more damage over time. In that respect, their volley damage is incredible, but their rate of fire is very slow. However, it does not matter much if they deal low DPS, if they can pop their target in one shot, does it? This makes a small gang of Thrasher destroyers very dangerous against lone targets. 10 Thrashers fitted with artillery can take down an unsuspecting hauler or battlecruiser in seconds, while only costing a fraction of what they destroyed. This is the frame of thought behind the infamous "suicide ganking" in high-security areas. Watch out for it.


(Warning: the information below may be inaccurate, since I have never used any of these, yet)

Blasters and Railguns

Hybrid weapons are perhaps the most bipolar of weapon types. Blasters are super-painful, but can only be used at short range, while railguns are long range, but deal mediocre damage. Power consumption can be an issue with both, since they require capacitor power to run, and no ships have bonuses to capacitor usage from hybrid turrets. 

I don't have much else to say about these, other than that I do not like to be pointed at with a hybrid turret. Be it the Gallente preference for blasters, as shown by my friend, the Taranis, or the Caldari preference for railguns, as demonstrated by (arguably) the best sniping ship in the game, the Rokh, I would much prefer you keep these pointed at my enemies.


Hybrid weapons usually deal kinetic and thermal damage, which means that they are neither good nor bad against shield or armor tanks. Their raw power more than makes up for it, though.

Pulse and Beam Lasers

The choice weapons of the Amarr, the lasers are the most intensive so far as capacitor use out of any weapons. They are also the ones that have the poorest tracking and falloff, so it is paramount for ships using them to keep at or near the optimal range. They also don't eat up ammo, and Amarr ships meant for laser fights have bonuses to capacitor usage by laser weapons, making them as efficient energy-wise as hybrid weapons. In this way, lasers are the most straightforward of weapons.

However, don't expect them to make a "pew pew" sound. That's closer to blasters.

Pulse rangers are close to blasters in damage, and have a bit of a wider range, while beam lasers are superior to railguns in damage, but lag behind in range slightly. In fleet fights, a large complement of remote-repairing Apocalypse battleships with beam lasers is a popular way to go about hitting the enemy hard.

The greatest weakness of lasers is the fact they only deal EM and thermal damage, most of which is in EM. The problem with this is that, while shield-tanked ships will be susceptible to being brought down by lasers, Amarr ships are hard pressed to kill armor-tanked enemies. 

So that's about it as far as turrets go. Sorry, Caldari pilots, I can't address your missile systems at all so far, as I have not successfully fired a single missile out of any of my ships.


  1. A handy guide for figuring out whether you're going to hit what you're shooting at with your turrets (goes into tracking, transversals, sig radius and resolution) is here:

    I've found it extremely useful in the past.

  2. Just a few notes: only advanced laser crystals take damage at all, i've never had a MF/Radio crystal ever burn out on me while Gleam ans Aurora do.

    the split between EM/Therm is 60/40 ( roughly) so they WIll do decent damage against armor tankers not fit up for that.

    I fly the Carladri Race/ the minmatar Race and the Amarr race all T2 guns/rails/projectiles...of all of them the Amarr have the edge in ammo means no stopping to reload after 20 40 or 120 rounds.

    Large fleet battles have the advantage of simply overwhelming any target there is ...period. IN Large fleet fights the ability to keep firing down on the target ( and switching in less than a second) gives the Amarr Great versatility.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys! As I said, I don't have the most experience in non-Minmatar ships and guns, so others' input is greatly appreciated.

  4. Just to clarify Manasi's comment - faction crystals do take damage and will also go poof, although not at the same high rate as T2 ones.

  5. To further clarify, each T2 crystal lasts for 2000 or so shots. Each faction crystal lasts for 10000 shots.