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The Merlin is the most powerful combat frigate of the Caldari. Its role has evolved through the years, and while its defenses have always remained exceptionally strong for a Caldari vessel, its offensive capabilities have evolved from versatile, jack-of-all-trades attack patterns into focused and deadly gunfire tactics. The Merlin's primary aim is to have its turrets punch holes in opponents' hulls.
Caldari Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
The Merlin is a Caldari Combat Frigate. It is the slowest of all Tech I frigates, but also one of the toughest, in terms of both tank and damage output. As a result, the Merlin is a very popular damage dealer in small-ship fleet compositions. The ship can also be used as a “second tackle” frigate in mixed fleets, following up the initial tackler by applying a warp scrambler (“scram”) and stasis webifier (“web”) to targets. The Merlin is an outstanding PvE frigate for Level 1 missions and for the Sisters of EVE epic arc. Given its versatility, the Merlin is an excellent first ship for new Caldari pilots.
You may fit this ship to fulfill almost any need, whether it be a swift shield tanked tackler, a very tough shield tank, or an above-average damage dealer. The Merlin has a bonus to shield resistances, and so the ship is frequently fit with a buffer shield tank (including extenders and/or additional resistance modules). Maybe more than any other Tech I frigate, the Merlin’s buffer tank bonuses pair well with shield logistics fleetmates (like the Bantam). The Merlin is also typically fit with small blasters to take advantage of its bonuses to hybrid turret damage. In solo PvP, the Merlin is too slow to dictate range in most fights and is almost always fit with dual webs, though these may be paired with either blasters or railguns. New Caldari pilots interested in solo frigate PvP might also be interested in the Kestrel which similarly uses two webs to make up for speed but most commonly uses rockets. In fleet PvP the Merlin's speed matters less. It is fast enough to catch up or warp to the first tackler once they get scram.
Further information about additional or recommended skills to pilot Merlin for a specific or its common role(s) can be written here.
The Merlin is a powerful frigate in that it can be fit for either DPS or tackle, whilst maintaining a respectable tank for a T1 frigate (thanks to its shield resist bonus). A common EUni doctrine fit can put out 134 DPS with the guns overheated with only the Short Skill Plan trained.
When flying a blaster Merlin, get in close. Your minuscule optimal ranges mean you basically have to face hug your enemies. Unless you are faster than your opponent this will fail, so in solo PvP Merlins are usually fit with dual webs or overdrive injector systems to make up for the speed gap. In fleet PvP a group of Merlins can apply a large number of webs to targets making this less important. Remember to turn off your MWD once you get in close to the opponent in a fleet - it's easy to overshoot the enemy when you have the MWD on.
When flying a rail Merlin, stay just outside your opponents' range. It's uncommon to see rail MWD kiting Merlins given the lack of a range bonus for the ship. Usually, they are fit with two webs, an afterburner, and a warp scrambler or disruptor. The two webs help prevent an opponent from getting in a close orbit under your guns.
Because Merlins are slow but tough, tackle Merlins usually serve as second tackle, applying a scram and web to hold a target still after faster frigates secure the initial point. Their significant DPS is a bonus in this role.
Given the avian theme of Caldari ship names, the Merlin is probably named after the merlin, a common small falcon, rather than after the legendary wizard.