This page is a guideline only, and is in no sense the be-all and end-all, definitive list. This is simply some of the effective tools of the trade I have found, both in cost and scalability. You don’t need to be able to fly everything here, but the more options that you have, the more situations you can capitalize on.
At the bottom is a guide for what ships to focus on in your quest for glory in the murky world of Black Ops.
These are the most recognizeable ships of the trade, the ships that make new pilots sit up and take notice. Knowing that you could be anywhere, waiting to pounce, makes a lot of people nervous.
Covert Ops Frigate
If you need to go somewhere you’re not allowed or want to find something or someone that wants to remain hidden, this is the ship for you. Quick enough to dodge gatecamps with ease, able to fit essentials like point, webs, and the Covert Cyno these ships represent so much more than a simple scanning platform. With a very low skill requirement to enter, most pilots should quickly be comfortable in this ship class almost immediately. The objective with this ship is simple; stay out of sight. An uncloaked CovOps is a dead CovOps, plain and simple. If you do go for the hero-tackle, your support had better be warping already. Complex-runner will love you for finding all those shiney 10/10s for them, just make sure you get a finder’s fee of some sort.
The game is much the same for these ships as for the CovOps, except that instead of scanning, you launch explosives. Unfortunatley, the only things the average bomber can take on by themselves are haulers and unguarded cyno ships. That being said, a small group of bombers can easily and quickly ruin an unwary battleship’s day. Keep in mind that you are firing a glass cannon, and you’ll get the idea. Any extra slots should be dedicated to a mix of EWar like sensor damps, target painters, and tracking disruptors spread over your fleet to keep them damn Reds from getting too frisky.
The ganker’s choice. These ships are built to spring from their hiding spots and cause mayhem and havok to opposing forces by killing the weak and alone quickly and disappearing like mist in the night. Work best is small groups flying mixed races to take advantage of multiple EWar options (warp disruption for the Gallente, webbers for the Minmatar, ECM for the Caldari, and neutralizers for the Amarr). Equally deadly in belts and on bubbles.
Stealth Transport (optional)
While not strictly neccessary, the usefulness of the cloaked Blockade Runners far outweighs the training time. These ships are key for moving goods around in hostile space, whether it is lowsec, nullsec or the far reaches of the wormhole network. Also works well as a fuel truck for Covert Cynoing fleets around.
Black Ops Battleship
These are the ships that cloaky pilots dream about. Able to jump covert fleets in secrecy, the logistical advantage these ships give makes up for the fact that they cannot warp while cloaked. Their specialized use does tend to mean they get parked frequently, but when a cloaky-pack is on the prowl, chances are there is one of these bad boys nearby.
Fear and finesse aren’t enough to accomplish your goals in a war. Sometime you need brute force, and lots of it.
These will be the first ships that you come to know and fly in this business, but are as fun and useful for vets to fly as they are for new pilots. Small and agile, yes but each a deadly machine in the right hands. Some are meant for damage, while others are meant to hold and pin larger targets until the calvary arrives. Cheap and disposable, frigate combat allows you to experience the thrill of battle at entry-level costs. Being able to evade most larger enemies will let you pick your fights and increase your odds of survival.
There is no polite use for these ships. Warp into position and fire everything you’ve got until fire purges you from the battlefield. Pure damage is the order of the day, and these ships sacrifice everything to give the most DPS that they can. Used in groups, these inexpensive setups will obliterate unwary pilots who sometimes don’t realize that hisec doesn’t mean safesec. Can also be used for anti-frigate roles in nullsec by parking themselves around gates and station undocks.
Fast Attack Cruisers
These are the primary patrol boats for our pilots. Quick enough to get out of harms way, but with enough firepower to punch holes in both battleship rats and most solo pilots. Speed and range are key for the skirmish style, and cruisers like the Stabber, Thorax, Maller and Caracal excel at getting in, getting the kill, and getting out before becoming a glowing cloud of space dust.
While not absolutely needed, bubbling ships are great for controlling your enemy. The Interdictors make mincemeat of frigates while leaving a trail of warp bubbles that can keep enemies trapped, while escaping themselves. The Heavy Interdictors on the other hand have enough tank to survive in close quarters, so they project a warp disruption field centered on their hull and are used to keep larger ships on the field of battle. Both provide roaming gangs with the abilities of stationary bubbles without the setup and tear down time. Oddest of all is the fact that the Interdictor is NOT a prerequisite for the Heavy Interdictor!
These are your standard fleet formations. A battlecruiser gang is still one of the most deadly things in space, at least to sub-capitals. No fancy tricks, just in your face with damage and viciousness. Mix to taste equal parts gank and tank, to be served either hot or cold.
No, not Mallers. Maulers like a bear mauling your face, or a cougar mauling the bartender. These are the new third-tier battle cruisers, and like their destroyer cousins, they a meant for speed and DAMAGE! Whether it is banging on Customs Offices, small PoS towers, or just whatever the roaming tackle frigate has caught, these ships get killmails by the basket, as long as they stay at a safe range.
When there’s a PoS that needs bashing, the Golf Clubs are what we reach for. Battleships fit for projecting damage, but also able to take any punishment that the PoS may dish out (with a bit of support). The fits for these ships are fluid, since there are so many styles of PoS Defence setups, but all of them try to maximize damage so as to minimize time spent at the driving range. Prizes go to whoever puts up the highest damage shot of the event!
These ships, while not used directly in PvP are highly useful, and will be invaluable to keeping ISK levels in the black, and your troops fighting.
Not every player has the skills or experience to track down and clean out high-value complexes on their own. Ratting ships are similar to the Fast Attack Cruisers in fit and flight style, but without the need for points or scrams. Warp to belt, kill the battleships and repeat. The key here is staying mobile, and if trouble shows up, being able to stay that way.
This could be a number of different ships, from a well fit battlecruiser, to a hulking Maurauder, to a sleek and deadly Strategic Cruiser. No matter what the hull though, they should be fit with a scan probe launcher and cloak. While these modules can technically be left out, not having to change ships to scan down complexes and having the ability to disappear when company comes calling makes for a less worriesome ISK making experience.
With the repurposing of many old hull designs into Support ships, even new pilots can now help to keep their friends alive with repairing goodness. When the Maulers and Golf Clubs come out, it always helps to have a few Support ships nearby to rep up any incidental damage. Also, these ships can be used to repair damaged PoS modules so that they can be carted away for sale after the PoS Bash is over.
The Newbro’s Path
Scanning/Combat Frigs > Cov-Ops/Bomber > Attack/Support Cruisers > Specialty Cruisers Recon/Plexer/BC/HAC) > Golf Clubs > Black Ops Battleship