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Support skills are those affect your proficiency at fitting and flying ships. While not necessarily being directly required to use particular modules or sit in certain ships, they are invaluble and can give you the edge you need to get the kill or survive the mission. For example, you don't need to train Controlled Bursts, Energy Management and Capacitor Systems Operation to put large lasers on an Amarr battleship, but, if you do so without training them you will find you swiftly run out of capacitor.
'Good Support Skills'
The need for 'good support skills' is often emphasized because a skilled pilot can easily be twice as effective as an unskilled pilot flying exactly the same ship.
This concept can seem counterintuitive. In many MMORPGs the value of expensive equipment comes from its inherent bonuses. For example a +5 sword of slashing will be just as effective for anyone who can wield it. However, in EVE most of the value of an expensive ship is dependent on the skill allocation of the pilot operating it. This allows for significantly increased power in the hands of a well trained character, while simultaneously offering very little advantage over a cheaper alternative in the hands of a poorly trained one.
Tech 1 frigates and cruisers are more forgiving of poor skills, and often have a bigger impact than more expensive ships if you don't have many skillpoints (as anyone who's been jammed by a two-week old character in a Griffin can testify) so long as those skillpoints are distributed into good support skills and not concentrated in a misguided attempt to sit in a Tech 2 ship.
Since good support skills are so important, both to fly tech 1 ships well and often crucial to flying tech 2 ships effectively, this page attempts to suggest what training qualifies as 'good' in different circumstances. This page also lists some particular categories of support skills for ease of reference, and contains links to other lists of skills on this wiki.
The 80/20 Rule of Skill Training
Of particular importance to new characters is the concept of the 80/20 rule, which is as follows:
"You will receive 80% of the benefit, while taking 20% of the time, by training only the first IV levels of a skill."
This is due to the exponential increase of training time as you train a skill.
Because of this, it is well worth it to train skills that affect many of the ships you pilot to level IV in the short to medium term. Training some skills to level V can take a long time and is often best left as a longer term goal or only worth training when they are required as prerequisites (for T2 ships, for example). However, some key skills with low training time multipliers give you such significant benefits that they're well worth training all the way to V -- Drones, Capacitor Systems Operation and Navigation are three good examples, but are by no means the only ones.
When someone says they have 'good' skills in a certain category, they most commonly mean that they have most if not all of those skills trained to IV or V.
Note that there is some overlap between these lists.
These all either reduce the CPU or powergrid requirements of modules, or just give you more raw CPU or powergrid to play with. Having decent fitting skills is very useful. T2 modules, which have higher CPU and grid demands, and T2 ships, which tend to have quite tight amounts of CPU and grid in the first place, really demand good fitting skills.
- CPU Managament: 5% more CPU per level
- Power Grid Management: 5% more powergrid per level
- Weapon Upgrades: 5% less CPU need for weapons per level
- Electronics Upgrades: 5% less CPU need for signal amplifiers, co-processors and backup sensor arrays
- Energy Grid Upgrades: 5% less CPU need for most of the modules requiring Energy Grid Upgrades per skill level.
- Shield Upgrades: 5% less powergrid need for shield extenders, shield rechargers, and other shield upgrades
- Advanced Weapon Upgrades (requires Weapon Upgrades V): 2% less powergrid need for weapons per level
- Mining Upgrades 5% less CPU need for mining upgrade modules (useful for miners but, of course, only for miners)
Ignoring skills relevant only to capital ships, there are seventeen skills which can help your capacitor. You don't necessarily have to train all of these, since many of them only apply to specific sets of modules (Sensor Linking, for example, won't help you if you never use sensor dampeners or remote sensor boosters). But some of these skills are vital for every pilot, and many of the rest are quite important.
- Essential capacitor management skills - every pilot should train these to level 4 or higher and their importance can't be stressed enough for Amarr pilots with their cap intensive laser weaponry:
- Module-related capacitor management skills - these skills reduce the capacitor requirements for various commonly used modules and are therefore useful for many capsuleers in many circumstances.
- Controlled Bursts: 5% per level reduced cap use for hybrid and energy turrets (important for hybrid/laser users, no use for projectile/missile users)
- Fuel Conservation: 10% reduced cap per level for afterburners (hefty bonus, together with the duration increase from the Afterburner skill itself, makes it very easy to permarun an AB at level IV or V)
- High Speed Maneuvering: 5% reduced cap per level for microwarpdrives (very useful in PvP engagements)
- Propulsion Jamming: 5% reduction per level to warp scrambler/disruptor and stasis web capacitor need (essential for tacklers)
- Shield Compensation: 2% less capacitor need per level for shield boosters (though in the long run it's good to train for both kinds of tanking, if you only use buffer tanks when you shield tank, this may not be useful for you)
- Capacitor Emission Systems: 5% reduced cap per level for energy emission weapons (energy neutralizers or energy transfers)
- Jump Drive Operation: 5% reduction per level of the capacitor need of initiating a jump (not useful for sub-capital ships without jump drives)
- EWAR-related capacitor management modules - if you fit EWAR modules, you will want to train the relevant EWAR capacitor improvement skill(s) to level IV or higher
- Electronic Warfare: 5% less cap per level for ECM jammers and ECM bursts (required for Caldari EWAR)
- Sensor Linking: 5% less capacitor need per level for remote sensor boosters and sensor dampeners (useful for Gallente EWAR)
- Target Painting: 5% less capacitor need per level for target painters (useful for Minmatar EWAR)
- Weapon Disruption: 5% less capacitor need per level for tracking disruptors (useful for Amarr EWAR)
- Logistics-related capacitor management modules - remote repair modules require a great deal of capacitor energy, so if you fit any of these modules regularly, plan to train the related skill to level 4 or higher
- Remote Armor Repair Systems: 5% reduced capacitor need per level for remote armor repair modules (vital if you ever do armor RR work)
- Remote Hull Repair Systems: 5% reduced capacitor need per level for remote hull repair system modules (This is included for completeness. Don't waste time training this as you should not fit hull repair system modules.)
- Shield Emission Systems: 5% reduced capacitor need per level for shield emission modules (important if you ever find yourself in a shield logistics ship)
- Capacitor Emission Systems: 5% reduced capacitor need per level for energy emission modules (important if you ever find yourself in a Basilisk or Guardian logistics ship)
There are relatively few skills that directly help you become nimbler and faster, compared to the variety of fitting and capacitor skills available. Those that are available, however, are very helpful for any ship (and extremely helpful for small ships).
Since your ability to move around often depends on keeping your propulsion module running, capacitor skills are indirectly very important for mobility too.
- Acceleration Control: 5% bonus to the speed increase from afterburners and MWDs per level
- Evasive Maneuvering: 5% bonus to agility per level -- a very significant bonus
- Spaceship Command: 2% bonus to agility per level -- not as impressive as Evasive, but more quickly trained, and a prerequisite for various ships too
- Navigation: 5% faster sub-warp speed per level -- a very nice bonus and a skill that's quickly trained
The Full T2 Tank page linked previously is a good one-stop summary of the required skills for fitting a T2 armor or shield tank.
In the long run many characters wind up training for both kinds of tanking, even if they only fly one race's ships, partly because many tanking skills will increase your EHP (5% more shields is a smidgen more survival time even if you're armor-tanking) and partly because every race has some ships which can be tanked both ways.
As with mobility, if you mount an active tank (usually for PvE or for solo/very small gang PvP) then your capacitor skills will be key to your tank.
There are three skills which boost raw hitpoint totals:
- Mechanics: 5% more hull hitpoints per level; quickly trained (great for everyone, especially great for the Gallente who usually have large amounts of hull hitpoints to begin with)
- Hull Upgrades: 5% more armor hp per level (despite having 'Hull' in its name); levels IV and V open up some key T2 armor-tanking modules; takes twice as long as Mechanics to train
- Shield Management: 5% more shield hp per level; takes three times as long as Mechanics to train, which makes level V more of a medium-long term goal
Besides these three, there are a number of other significant skills for armor tanking:
- Repair Systems: 5% less cycle time on armor repairers per level; high levels open up T2 armor repairers (note that this skill will increase an active armor tank's load on your capacitor!)
- The four 'X armor compensation' skills: EM, Explosive, Kinetic and Thermal.
- Each of these increases the armor resistance bonuses of passive armor hardeners by 5% per level. Their bonuses to active armor hardeners only apply when the active armor hardeners are turned off, and are therefore irrelevant in most scenarios. They are, however, a nice backup if you are being neuted heavily enough to turn off your hardeners, but that is rare.
- Since there is no omni-resist active armor hardener module (an armor equivalent to the I-Field), the passive omni-resist platings (Adaptive and Energized Adaptive) see a lot of use in armor buffer and armor RR fits, and these benefit from the armor compensation skills.
- So it's a good idea to get these to III fairly quickly, and perhaps to IV in the long term, if you ever have reasons to fit resistance plating.
And there are a number of other significant skills for shield tanking:
- Shield Operation: 5% faster shield recharge rate per level; quick to train, good for everyone, vital if you ever plan to mount a passive shield tank
- Tactical Shield Manipulation: When your shields drop below 25%, damage begins to 'leak' through into your armor; each level in this skill lets your shields drop 5% lower before this begins to happen, to 0% at level V so that damage never leaks through
- Tactical Shield Manipulation's usefulness is disputed, but level IV is required to use the very useful T2 active shield hardeners, so most people train it to IV and then forget about it
- Like the armor compensation skills, there are four 'X shield compensation' skills (not to be confused with Shield Compensation per se!): EM, Explosive, Kinetic and Thermal.
- Like the armor compensation skills these grant a 5% bonus to the resistance increase to one damage type that you get from passive shield hardeners per level; as with the armor compensation skills the bonuses they give to active shield hardeners only apply when the active hardeners are turned off and are therefore irrelevant most of the time, but are again useful if you're being heavily neuted. With the skills at 5, an inactive Adaptive Invulnerability field still provides half the resists that an active T2 one normally would.
- However, unlike armor tankers, shield tankers have the option of an active omni-resist module, the Adaptive Invulnerability Field, and so passive shield hardeners are very rarely used
- Consequently you can probably get away with ignoring these or only training a few levels in each one
Most (but not all) rigs come with a drawback (a 10% penalty to something) as well as a benefit. Each subset of rigs has an associated skill which lets you fit them, and that skill itself reduces the drawback effect of those rigs by 10% per level out of the original penalty, so you lower the penalty by 1%/level to 5% with max skills. You can use a ship which has rigs on it which you don't have the skills to fit -- you have to get someone else (someone that you trust) to rig the ship for you beforehand, and you'll get the full, unreduced drawback.
Training to Fit Rigs
In practice getting other people to rig your ships for you is a pain, since you can't always be sure someone will always be (a) free, (b) willing and (c) near where you are. Furthermore, when you start flying battleships and specialized T2 ships, you'll find the pool of people who have the skills to pilot the ship you want to rig (you need to get into the ship to open the fitting screen and fit the rigs) gets much smaller.
It is, therefore, a good idea to train a few levels in the fitting skills required for any rigs you plan to use at all regularly. You'll need Jury Rigging level III as a prerequisite for other rigging skills, though it appears to give you no other real benefits. Electronic and Energy Grid rigs however only requires Jury Rigging level 1 (or 4 for T2 rigs) since they do not have a specific rigging skill dedicated to them.
Training to Reduce Drawbacks
In some circumctances, training specific rigging skills to high levels may not be a very efficient use of your time. The amelioration of the drawbacks doesn't hurt, but it can be a very minor reduction in what is usually a minor penalty in the first place.
For PvP combat pilots, reducing the drawbacks to armor and shield rigs can be the difference between winning and losing a battle. For example, the Armor Rigging skill reduces the drawback of Trimark Armor Pumps (armor buffer rigs), which is a drawback to speed. The reason is each rig compounds the drawback penalty, and all T1 ships can fit up to three buffer and/or resists rigs to improve effective hit points. While one rig may not create much of a penalty, three rigs can.
To continue the example, an armor-tanked Hurricane using a 10MN Microwarpdrive II, fitting one 1600mm plate and flown by a pilot with all relevant navigation skills at Level V, has a max speed of 1161 m/s. Add three Trimark Armor Pump I rigs with Armor Rigging only trained to Level 1, and his max speed is reduced to 924 m/s, a more than 20% reduction in velocity. Increasing training to Armor Rigging V increases max speed back up to 1025 m/s, which is 11% faster than having the skill trained to Level 1. Is it worth training a skill like Armor Rigging from Level IV to Level V? With Armor Rigging IV, this hurricane will have a max speed of 999 m/s; it some PvP situations, that 2.5% extra speed will make a big difference.
Getting the weapon rigging skills up a few levels is usually a good idea. A few percent lower penalty to your guns' powergrid usage can make a big difference: every two levels of the rigging skill is roughly equivalent to training Advanced Weapon Upgrades one extra level, multiplied by the number of weapon rigs you have fitted.
In a sense, Thermodynamics is the ultimate PvP support skill. It lets you overheat modules beyond their design specs, at the risk of temporarily burning them out. Each level reduces the damage your modules take from overheating, so, while level I is all you need IV is well worth the train.
There's a more detailed guide to overheating's mechanics here.
PvE vs. PvP
Before looking at specific ship classes it's worth noting that PvE combat usually requires lower support skills than PvP.
PvE combat emphasizes your knowledge of missions and your ability to tank incoming DPS for long periods. While doing more damage will help you do missions faster (getting more ISK every hour), you can often get by with sub-par damage-dealing skills. In PvP combat you want to have the best tank possible (usually, unless you're solo or in a very small gang, a buffer tank or a spider tank) and deal good damage for your ship's size.
For this reason most of the advice below is directed primarily at PvP.
A battlecruiser is a nice step up from a cruiser in firepower and tank. The cost of the fitted ship is also a lot lower than a battleship (1/4 to 1/3 the price) meaning they deliver the best gank and tank for the ISK in the game. An added benefit is that large guns (which are a long train) are not necessary. However, cruisers are also very powerful.
Support skills you'll want to work towards are:
- Being able to fit a T2 armor or shield tank.
- Good enough fitting skills to fill all the turret or launcher slots.
- Full flight of drones (Drones V) -- battlecruisers have drone bays, and these are your anti-frigate defense.
- T2 light and medium drones (Scout Drone Operation V plus Minmatar Drone Specialization II and Gallente Drone Specialization II -- Amarr and Caldari drones are rarely used).
- T2 medium weapons (a significant train, so more of a long term goal).
- At least a few levels in relevant rigging skills to reduce drawbacks and to fit your own rigs.
If you have medium gun/missile skills to IV, can fit a T2 tank and a full rack of weapons, don't hesitate to step into a battlecruiser.
You can use rigs without having the rigging skills trained, but you'll need someone to install the rigs for you, which is a pain (see the section on rigging below) -- so you may want to train rigging skills for whatever kinds of rig you're fitting. Also remember that buffer and resist rigs for both shield and armor tanking create significant drawbacks that can hurt your PvP performance in some situations, so skilled pilots have often trained Armor Rigging V or Shield Rigging V, depending on how they are usually tanked. Rig drawbacks can only be reduced by your skills, not by the skills of the pilot who installed the rig.
Battleships are potentially very powerful ships, but without good supports they're slow, expensive coffins. It's very highly recommended to have the following (most of which you will hopefully have trained while flying battlecruisers):
- Full T2 shield or armor tank.
- Sufficient fitting skills to fit that tank, and a propulsion module, and fill the turret/launcher hardpoints for your primary weapon.
- Full flights of T2 light and medium drones.
- or, if your battleship is one of the few with 125Mbit/sec drone bandwidth, T2 light and medium drones and at least T1 heavy or sentry drones.
T2 guns on battleships are great, but the training time for T2 turrets is on the order of 70 days, from basic T1 large gun skills -- making them a long-term goal. T2 missiles take less time to train but still aren't exactly one weekend's training. Most pilots initially invest in high meta-level Tech 1 weapons, though the cost of Meta 4 large lasers and the attraction of Scorch crystals may encourage Amarr BS pilots to head for T2 guns earlier than others.
T2 frigates are specialized for a wide range of different tasks, and so the optimal skillset varies widely. As an extreme example, you can fly a covops ship without putting a covops cloak on it, but you'll be missing the point completely!
However, all T2 frigates benefit greatly from most of the skills in the Navigation category, because as frigates they usually rely on speed and agility for a significant part of their tank against larger enemies. You should also definitely aim to fit T2 modules for at least the key functions of your ship -- interceptors deserve T2 MWD skills and T2 tackling modules, assault frigates deserve T2 weapons and tanks, and so on. A full T2 fit is a good goal for T2 frigates but not strictly necessary.
In general, at this level you should be able to fully T2 fit your ship. T2 cruisers are small, fast, and powerful, but tend to have limited CPU and/or powergrid, and limited capacitor as well. In practice, you'll really want excellent fitting skills including Weapon Upgrades V and Advanced Weapon Upgrades III or IV, or you'll be very frustrated when you try to fit guns. You'll want your cap skills to be nearly maxed-out before flying one of these, too.
As with T2 frigates, you will want other supports which will vary depending on your ship's specialization -- a Falcon deserves ewar supports that don't help a Vagabond at all. Just as with frigates, a T2 cruiser deserves T2 modules wherever possible.
There are a number of other useful lists of support skills on this wiki:
- For basic skills with low requirements, see Basic Skills.
- For damage-dealing you should train gunnery supports and/or missile supports and/or drone supports, depending on your weapon of choice.
- Electronic warfare benefits from these skills.
- Capacitor warfare benefits from these skills.
- A list of useful stealthy ships skills is here.