Missiles 101

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This is a depcrecated class syllabus, intended as historical record for the teaching department.

Creating syllabi is no longer our process for new classes, and no classes in the syllabus library are considered current. They are here for historical purposes only, as well as an optional starting point for designing new classes. Please do not assume any of the classes you find here have slides, or have even been taught for many years. If you do use information in a syllabus, ensure that you have brought it up to date with contemporary EVE.


Class Information

This chapter contains the standard information of this class pertaining to scheduling and class contents. The General Information should be sufficient to create a proper class topic for scheduling on the Eve University forum. Additional information relevant to the teacher is listed under Notes for the Teacher.

General Information

The text in this section is formatted to be pasted into a forum posting as-is to announce the class.

[size=150][b]Missiles 101[/b][/size]


In this class, you'll learn all about missiles.

[b]Duration:[/b] 60 minutes
[b]Location:[/b] Docked up safely in a station

[b]Class contents:[/b]
* Missile advantages and disadvantages
* Missile types
* Missile accuracy
* Modules that can affect missile damage
* Rigs that affect missiles
* Skills that affect missiles
* Q&A

[b]Student requirements:[/b]
* Mumble registration and access - make sure you have Mumble sorted out and operational well before the class begins.
* Access to the Class.E-UNI in-game chat channel

[b]Questions?[/b] Post them here for follow up in this thread.

Notes for the Teacher

Required materials:

  • Class.E-UNI chat channel, to receive questions and post relevant links
  • Access to Mumble classroom channel
  • Class slideshow: http://eveuni.org/missiles101
  • More details on formulas for missile damage: http://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Missile_Damage
  • Link for SB's class on Ravens and Caldari ships 101
  • Volunteers in missile boats and appropriate target ships. ( for practical)
  • Volunteer to link the modules/launchers/missiles as class goes on.

Class Contents


Welcome to this class on missiles!

This course is designed primarily for anyone that wants to use missiles effectively.

(Instructor should then introduce himself or herself - covering relevant experience level and background.)

We have a few ground rules for this class:

  • Please put your Mumble settings on "Push to Talk" if you have not already done so.
  • Feel free to type any questions in the Class.E-UNI chat channel as we proceed - I will try to answer your questions as they come during the class. [At the end of my lecture, we'll open Mumble for any further questions or general discussion.]
  • You should be docked up safely in a station
  • There is a slideshow to go with this class, you can find it right here http://eveuni.org/missiles101 (or http://gdurl.com/8TI4/viewer)

Everyone ready? OK, then - let's begin....

Missile advantages and disadvantages

Missiles are the second major weapon type after turrets. They come with their own advantages and disadvantages over turrets.

  • They cannot miss their target, so long as your target is within range, so they will always hit. The amount of damage they do, however, varies with the target's speed and size.
  • There are four different missiles in each category, one for each damage type - EM, explosive, kinetic, and thermal. This means you can select the damage type you want to use. Certain Caldari ships possess bonuses to kinetic damage, however, meaning with those ships you might have better results using kinetic than other damage types.
  • Like projectile turrets, missile launchers do not use capacitor, which means you can keep your cap spare for other things.
  • Because missile damage does not depend on things like angular velocity, and there is no optimal or falloff ranges, missile damage is consistent across all ranges. Missile do just as much damage at long range as short range.

  • The biggest disadvantage is probably that missile can take a long time to reach their targets, especially at long ranges. This means your damage is delayed, instead of instant in the case of turrets. This can be a pretty big disadvantage in some circumstances.
  • Because the damage is delayed, some fast ships - especially interceptors - can actually outrun missiles!
  • The way missile damage is calculated (more on this later) means that larger missiles like torpedoes and cruise missiles do really bad damage against smaller ships like frigates, even if that frigate is stationary.

Missile Launcher Types

Just like turrets, missile launchers also come in different sizes. There are, in general, two different types of launcher for each size of ship. One is short range but higher damage, and the other is longer range but lower damage.

Rockets & Light Missiles

Rockets are the short range version designed for frigates. They fire rapidly, do fair damage but are very short range, even with skills they barely break 10km (although some ships - like Kestrel or Corax - have bonuses to missile velocity, meaning extra range). They have fairly low CPU and power grid requirements.

Light missiles are the longer range frigate launcher. They fire slower, do a bit less damage but have a much greater range - up to around 40km at great skills. They are also higher on the CPU and power grid requirements than rockets.

Most frigate tacklers and PvP ships would tend to fit rockets due to the difficulty of fitting light missile launchers along with all the tank and propulsion mods. Rockets also do significantly greater damage against frigates & destroyers than light missiles.

HAMs and HMLs (and RLMLs)

Heavy Assault Missiles - also known as HAMs - are the short-range high damage version for cruisers and battlecruisers. Just like rockets, they have a very short range, barely breaking 20km with skills. But just like rockets, some ships - Cerberus or Caracal e.g. - have velocity bonuses meaning they gain extra range. HAMs have slightly better application than heavy missiles due to their explosion radius and explosion velocity.

Heavy Missile Launchers (also known as HML) are the lower damage longer range launcher for cruisers and battlecruisers. Their damage compared to HAMs is not that different, so don't assume they're somehow a far inferior option. In many cases the ability to apply damage from a far greater distance (on some ships over 100km) greatly outweighs any slight loss in damage. HMLs take more CPU but less power grid to fit than HAMs. HML apply worse than HAM, however, with Precision Missiles (T2, higher application and way worse range than t1 missiles), one can get nearly the same application as with HAM, however with same damage as t1 HM and 1.5 times the range of HAM (normally, HM range is about 3.1 times higher than HAM range).

There is also a third type of launcher for cruisers, called the Rapid Light Missile Launcher. This takes far less power grid and CPU than either HMLs or HAMs. It also fires light missiles, not heavy or heavy assault, which means it does less damage. However, it will do far more damage against frigates and destroyers than either HMLs or HAMs, because of missile explosion velocity and missile explosion radius. It also has a very high rate of fire, but a 35 second reload time, which means it has a short period of very high damage, but then a significant downtime whilst you reload.

It's often used as a secondary weapon on a ship like a Hurricane, or as a primary weapon system if you expect to be shooting frigates or destroyers.

Torpedoes and Cruise Missiles (and RHMLs)

Torpedoes are the short range high damage launcher for battleships (although they also fit on stealth bombers). They do extremely high amounts of damage against other battleships and capital ships, and - if you can reach them from outside the shield - POS towers. However, they are very inefficient at shooting anything smaller. Shooting a frigate with a torpedo is almost completely pointless (5-10 damage per torpedoes, after bonuses). Their range is similar to HAMs, barely reaching 20km.

Cruise Missiles are the longer range lower damage version, and their range is indeed very long. You can easily shoot over 150km, and even up to 250km with the right ship and modules. The downside to this is that your missiles will also take a very long time to reach your target.

Just like the Rapid Light Missile Launcher, there is also a Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher, which functions in a very similar way and serves a very similar purpose. It has low fitting requirements, and is mostly intended use on a battleship engaging smaller ships like cruisers. Also just like the Light Missile version, it has a high damage output but a long 35 second reload time.

Other Missiles

All missiles have two separate Tech 2 variants. These can only be fired by Tech 2 launchers, you can't load them into T1 or Faction launchers.

Tech 2: Rage & Fury

Rage and Fury missiles have a very similar purpose, and that is doing very high damage against larger targets. Fury are the longer-range types (Light, Heavy, Cruise) whilst Rage are the shorter-range types (Rocket, Heavy Assault, Torpedo).

They do improved damage, but they have a larger explosion radius and a lower explosion velocity, which means they do less damage against small and fast targets. I'll talk more about these attributes later. They are very useful when shooting targets that are larger than you, and/or targets that have been slowed down by webs (or targets that are very slow moving anyway, like capital ships). They also have a slightly shorter range (flight time) than normal, so you will also need to be closer to the target.

Tech 2: Precision

Precision missiles exist for the longer-range launchers (Light, Heavy, Cruise) and their Rapid variants. The range (flight time) is much shorter than T1 and Fury missiles, and the damage is a little lower, but their smaller explosion radius and lower explosion velocity means they are very effective against small targets. If you know you are facing much smaller targets than you, you should probably switch to Precision to gain damage. For instance, in a Drake with Heavy Missiles you would load Precisions to shoot frigates. Or, if you are in a frigate yourself, you might load Precision to shoot drones (which are very small targets).

Tech 2: Javelin

Javelin missiles exist for the shorter range launchers (Rocket, Heavy Asssault, Torpedo). The explosion radius and velocity is does not change, and the damage is a little lower, but they have a much longer range via missile velocity. They are shooting targets further away and/or moving quickly. They are not very common, because most people will just get closer instead.


Defender missiles received a rework with YC118.10 Release 1.0 on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016. Defender launchers are now only fit to Destroyer-class vessels, and target incoming bombs.

Defender Missiles will no longer shoot down missiles aimed at you. Instead they will launch at a random bomb (non-structure) within its flight range. A single defender missile will kill any bomb. These defender missiles can only be loaded into a new defender launcher, the Defender Missile I, which has a base range of 30km (45km at max skills), and a flight time of 3 seconds.

The launchers are not usable in Empire space.

Auto-targeting (aka F.o.F.)

Auto-targeting missiles come in Light, Heavy and Cruise variants for use in the appropriate long-range launcher type. You do not need a target locked; when you activate them they will fire on the nearest hostile target (that is, any ship or drone that has aggressed you). If there are no hostile targets, they will not fire (nothing will happen). They have significantly lower damage than their standard variants, but apart from the damage they have identical stats. They can be useful if you expect to be ECM jammed constantly, however they are not commonly used.

Missile Range

The range of your missiles is shown on the mouseover tooltip of your launchers, whilst in a missile boat in space. This takes into account your ship bonuses, modules and skills.

If you are not in a missile boat in space, then you will have to look at the Show Info of a missile, and multiply together the velocity and flight time. This will not take into account any skills or bonuses.

In practice, the range of a missile is slightly less than this because missiles will follow an arcing path if their target is moving. Missiles are rather dumb things, they will only move directly towards their target. They cannot tell which way a target is moving. So if a target is orbiting you, a missile will move in a wide curve towards them (assuming your missile moves faster than they do, of course!).

Another factor is whether the target is moving away from or towards you - if a target is flying directly towards you, you can fire missiles long before the target is actually in range, because by the time your missile reaches the end of its flight time the target will then really be in range. The opposite is also true - if a target is flying away from you then even if the target is within range at the moment you fire a missile, it might no longer be when the missile reaches the end of its flight time, and you will miss.

Missile Damage

Previously I mention two missiles attributes; Explosion Radius and Explosion Velocity. These are two attributes of missiles that alter how much damage they will do against various targets. They do interact with each other, but I'll explain them separately to start with.

Explosion Radius

Explosion radius tells you how big the explosion is. A larger explosion will spread out its damage over a larger area, and do less damage to small ships. A small explosion radius will concentrate its damage in a smaller area, and do more damage to small ships. The attribute of the ship that controls this is called the signature radius. The signature radius of a ship affects how fast other people can target-lock that ships, it affects how easy it is to hit that ship with a gun turret, and how much damage missiles will do to that ship.

Generally the smaller the missile the smaller the explosion radius (a smaller radius being better). Rockets for example have the smallest explosion radius, and they will be most effective at hitting frigates. Whether they actually do the most damage to frigates out of all missiles depends on lots of different things, including your skills, the target's speed, and exactly what sort of missiles you have loaded.

The graph on page 12 of the slideshow shows you how the damage varies with target signature radius, it's a linear relationship. This graph assumes the target is stationary, once the target starts moving explosion velocity comes into play. You can see that once your target is sufficiently sized for your missiles, you will consistently do 100% of the missile damage, whereas if your target is half the size of your missiles, you will do half the damage.

For an example, let's consider heavy missiles, from maybe a Drake or a Caracal, as these are quite commonly used missiles. With no skills, the explosion radius of basic T1 heavy missiles is 140 metres. The signature radius of a cruiser is usually about 100-160 metres. So a heavy missile will do pretty good damage to a cruiser. A frigate on the other hand has a sig. radius of only 40-50 metres, meaning that a heavy missile will do less than half its damage.

Explosion Velocity

This missile property tells you kind of how fast the explosion spreads - imagine a Hollywood action hero outrunning a series of explosions, if he runs fast enough he might just be able to escape. In the same way, a fast frigate might be able to 'outrun' an explosion, and so take less damage from a missile.

In game terms, having a faster explosion velocity (for example, rockets) means your missiles will do more damage against fast-moving targets, whilst a missile with a very slow explosion velocity (for example, torpedoes) will do very little damage against a fast-moving target.

You might think that the explosion velocity indicated on your missile is the point at which damage starts to drop off as the target moves faster than that velocity, unfortunately it's not that simple. The point at which your damage does start to drop off is also related to the missile's explosion radius, and also the signature radius of the target.

You can see a graph on page 13 of the slideshow of how damage drops off with velocity. Below a certain velocity your missile will do 100% damage, above it damage will drop off quickly at first but then the decrease will slow down. The easiest way to move that damage drop off point to a faster velocity is to increase your target's size with target painters, which will increase your damage done (up to 100%, that is). Alternatively you could just decrease your target's velocity with stasis webifiers.

This is only absolute velocity, by the way, missiles do not care about a target's angular velocity.

Missile Damage Equation

(slideshow page 14)

Explosion Radius and Velocity are combined in the missile damage equation, which is what the game uses to determine how much damage your missile will do when it hits a target. It takes the base damage of the missile, then multiplies that by the smallest of three calculated values: one value involving only target radius and explosion radius, one value including target and explosion velocities (but also includes radii in that term), a value of one.

The one simply ensures that the damage can't go over the base damage, but the other two, if they are less than one, will reduce the damage you do in ways I explained earlier when we talked about explosion radius and velocity.

You don't really need to understand this equation, but if you're awesome with maths you might find it interesting.

One factor that may be worth mentioning is the damage reduction factor of a missile, which is a value that you can't see in game, but you can find in external applications like EVEMon or PYFA. Smaller and more specialized missiles tend to have a smaller DRF, whereas larger missiles like torpedoes tend to have large ones. The smaller this value, the less your damage falls off when the target is travelling too fast - see the little graph on page 14 of the slideshow for an example of how this works. Essentially all it means is that big missiles like torpedoes and cruise missiles are truly awful at shooting small targets.

Skills that affect Missiles

(slideshow page 15)

The first skill in the Missile section is simply called Missile Launcher Operation. This will make you fire your missiles faster - it provides a 2% per level bonus to rate of fire. It's worth mentioning here that the bonus is actually -2% reduction in launcher duration, which because of the way maths works is better than a +2% bonus to damage done. Bonuses that increase rate of fire are generally better than those that increase damage done, although they will obviously cause you to use more missiles.

Missile Launcher Operation is also a basic prerequisite for all the rest of the missile skills on this page, and for many missile upgrade modules.

There are 6 different basic launcher skills, which I'll call the Tech 1 launcher skills. These are: Rockets, Light Missiles for frigates and destroyers, Heavy Assault Missiles and Heavy Missiles for cruisers and battlecruisers, and Torpedoes and Cruise Missiles for battleships. The small ones are rank 1 and rank 2 skills, so they don't take very long to train. Heavy and Heavy Assault are rank 3, whereas the battleship launcher skills are rank 4 and rank 5. These skills are required to use the relevant launcher type, but they also increase the damage of that turret by 5% per level.

There are also 6 specialization skills, one for each of the same categories, and these unlock the Tech 2 launchers. For example, once you've trained Light Missiles to 5, you can then train Light Missile Specialization, which will let you fit T2 Light Missile Launchers. As well as unlocking the Tech 2 launchers, they also provide a boost in damage to those Tech 2 launchers - if you train it to IV, it's an 8% damage increase, which is a lot compared to a Tech 1 turret. This damage increase only applies to the T2 launchers, one reason why T2 launchers are usually a great upgrade over T1.

The next page on the slideshow, page 16, shows you a skill tree of how these missile skills work.

There's actually two missile skills missing from this page, and they are Defender Missiles and Auto-Targeting Missiles. These are required for, and will increase the effectiveness of their relevant missile type. As mentioned earlier, these missiles are not very popular for various reasons (mostly due to low damage).

There are also some missile support skills - these skills are not required for anything, but they serve to make your missiles more effective.

Rapid Launch will increase all launcher rate of fire by 3% per level, which is a really good bonus. This is one of the most important support skills, and it's only rank 2.

There are two support skills to increase your missile range: Missile Bombardment increases the flight time of your missiles by 10% per level, whilst its brother Missile Projection increases missile velocity by 10%. They are equally as effective at increasing your range, but Missile Projection will also make your missile arrive at their target faster, which can be important to catch fast-moving targets. (But do note that Projection is a rank 4 skill, where Bombardment trains much faster, as a rank 2 skill.)

Target Navigation Prediction increases your missile explosion velocity by 10% per level, making you do a lot more damage versus fast targets. The text on the skill is a bit verbose, talking about a 'factor of target's velocity', but what it actually does is simply increase the missile explosion velocity.

Guided Missile Precision decreases your missile explosion radius by 5% per level, which is a good thing and will make you do more damage versus small targets. Just like the last skill, the description talks about 'factors of signature radius', but again what it actually does is simply decrease your missile explosion radius. CCP should be a lot clearer on what skills do! This skill requires Missile Launcher Operation V as a pre-requisite.

Warhead Upgrades is a straight 2% per level bonus to missile damage. It's the least effective of any of these support skills in improving your damage output, but it's still pretty good. This skill requires Missile Launcher Operation IV as a pre-requisite.

All these support skills are great for flying missile boats, and if you specialise in missiles you want to get all of them to IV as soon as you can.

Modules that affects Missiles

There is pretty much one single module that affects missile launchers in a big way, and that is the Ballistic Control System. It buffs your missile damage and rate of fire, and it is very good. You'll probably want to be fitting at least one and more likely 2 or more on most missile ships. It is stacking penalized if you fit two or more.

A quick note on stacking penalties: even though the second BCS you fit is only 86.9% effective, a second can actually contribute more DPS to your ship than the first. The first T2 BCs you fit on a ship gives you, in total, about 23% extra DPS. The second one, although only giving you about 20% extra DPS due to stacking penalties, also buffs the benefit from the first one (i.e. the bonuses are multiplicative). So on my own L4 mission ship for example, whilst the first gives me an extra +68 DPS, the second gives an extra +72 DPS. After the second, however, the benefit does start to drop off noticeably.

Stacking penalties mean fitting more than 3, or maybe 4 if you don't have anything else to put there, is generally not worthwhile.

Two other modules that will affect your damage output are Target Painters and Stasis Webifiers. Making the target bigger, and making the target slower will both increase applied DPS, although only up to a certain point (if your target is already big enough and slow enough, in practice there may not be any benefit in making them even bigger or even slower).

Because stasis webs reduce velocity by 60%, whereas target painters only increase signature radius by about 30%, webs are more effective at increasing applied DPS, although the range on a web is far shorter than the range on a target painter.

Here's an example graph: http://i.imgur.com/w5M7ojr.png (link in chat). This is the amount of damage done when firing various missiles at an frigate with a signature radius of 40m going at 1000m/s (which is typical for a frigate with an afterburner active). Ignore the Max damage line of text. Each of these 5 graphs includes different bars indicating how much damage is done when you apply various web and target painter effects to the target.

You can see that there is always a huge difference between the lowest and and the highest damage, showing just how much of a difference multiple EWAR modules can make to applied DPS. It also shows that the age-old question of "should I use faction missiles or T2 precision missiles when shooting frigs?" depends largely on what you can apply to the target. If you don't have many webs or TPs, precisions will do better, but if you can lock down the target with multiple webs, faction missiles pull ahead. Another thing it shows is how adding extra webs or TPs won't always make a difference, once you reach your maximum missile damage.

Because missile damage is affected by signature radius, shield tanked ships will often take more missile damage than armour tanked ships. Things like Shield Extenders and CDFE rigs will both significantly increase signature radius. Microwarpdrives are also a major cause of increased missile damage - they increase signature radius by 500% when active. Be careful when microwarpdrive-ing around enemy ships.

Rigs that affect Missiles

Like other weapon systems, missiles also have their own rig category called missile launcher rigs. The Launcher Rigging skill will reduce the drawback, which for launcher rigs will increase the CPU demand for launchers by 10%, making them harder to fit. If you have Launcher Rigging trained to 2 for example, the rigs will only increase CPU demand by 8%.

The Rigs and their effects are as follows (Tech 1):

  • Warhead Calefaction Catalyst - increases missile damage by 10%
  • Bay Loading Accelerator - increases launcher rate of fire by 10% (this is better than the Calefaction Catalyst rig)
  • Warhead Flare Catalyst - increases missile explosion velocity by 15%
  • Warhead Rigor Catalyst - decreases missile explosion radius by 15% (these two both make your missiles more effective against small and fast targets, then can be very useful if you expect to be shooting small targets - for instance, very useful for making Heavy Missiles effective in L2 missions)
  • Hydraulic Bay Thrusters - increases missile velocity by 15%
  • Rocket Fuel Cache Partition - increases missile flight time by 15%

Ships which use Missiles

Missile Ships can be found across a wide range of ship types in every race, often showing up in places where an inexperienced player would not expect to find them. However, the only races with Tech 1 missile ships are the Caldari and Minmatar, with the Caldari generally using missiles as their primary weapon type over turrets. The Amarr have a handful of Tech 2 missile ships, all developed by Khanid Innovations. The Gallente have only one dedicated missile ship, the Nemesis stealth bomber.

Class Wrap-Up

This concludes the class of Missiles 101. Thanks to everyone for joining. If you have any feedback, please let me know either by EVEMail or reply to this class forum thread! Mumble is now open for general discussion and questions if you have any.

Fly safe!

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