Monday, October 27, 2014

"Mastering" The Wreathe

When I started playing EVE Online in 2009, the game had many ships for hauling cargo, but only two, the Mammoth and the Iteron Mark V, were really viable ships in the long term, with the Gallente industrial the obvious best-in-class.  The type of mission a player received from an agent (combat, courier, or mining) in those ancient times was chance-based and depended on EVE's random number generator.  Back then, Wandering Rose supported Rosewalker's stay in the constantly war-dec'd EVE University by transporting in her Mammoth what later became planetary interaction products between NPCs, buying low and selling high.  An activity that in many games is considered a bannable exploit was a feature, not a bug.

Times changed, mostly for the better.  In Incursion patch 1.5 released in May 2011, the number of agent divisions was simplified from twenty down to three: Security, Distribution, and Mining.  Better yet, the RNG was removed from the process and the type of mission handed out is now related to the agent's division.  Distribution missions now offered players the fastest way to increase NPC corporation and faction standings needed for things like access to better mission agents, the installation and purchase of jump clones, and lowest NPC taxes and fees when selling items on the market.  I have taken advantage of this over the years to obtain the best refine rates in every low sec system in which I routinely operate in Minmatar space.  I still use distribution missions to obtain the loyalty points I need to run my faction ammunition business.  But before I obtained the skills to fly a Prowler, the Minmatar blockade runner, I was stuck flying the lumbering Mammoth due to the cargohold requirements of level 4 missions.

The era of limited practical choice of tech 1 haulers ended with Odyssey 1.1 in September 2013 when the industrial ships received a rebalance pass that not only gave the ships different roles, but created specialized ships as well.  Now, the tech 1 version of my beloved Prowler was actually useful for the way I play.  Sadly, once you've gone blockade runner, you'll never go back.

Looking at the Wreathe, especially following the warp speed changes in Rubicon, I see the ship I wanted as a new player back in 2009 and again following the mission revamp in 2011.  While I don't plan to fly the ship personally, I think taking a close look at the Wreathe's potential, especially when combined with the Mastery system in the Interbus Ship Identification System (ISIS) that was released in Rubicon, is worth a few words.

First, a look at the bonuses on the Wreathe.  The ship receives a 5% bonus to ship cargo capacity and 5% bonus to ship inertia modifier for every level of Minmatar Industrial learned.  So while a pilot only needs Minmatar Industrial trained to the first level, a player has an incentive to train Minimatar Industrial higher, besides the obvious desire to fly a blockade runner.

This first fit is with a player who only knows the skills in Mastery I and Minmatar Industrial I in the ISIS system, with one exception.

I added Shield Upgrades I to the skills of my Mastery I character in order to fit the shield extenders and damage reduction amplifiers.  I added a large shield extender because with only Mastery I skills, a propulsion module will not fit due to lack of skills.  For a brand new player, this is a pretty good fit, although the Large Shield Extender I is possibly a bit much.  But I tried to show what is possible with minimum skills.  This fit has a 7 second align time with a cargohold that should hold the contents of any level 3 distribution mission.  However, I would only fly this ship in high sec.

Starting with Mastery II, I'll try to use my philosophy on how to fit haulers that will fly in dangerous space.  I try to minimize both align times and ship signature.  The best case is if a ship can warp off before an enemy can lock it.  I also want to keep the amount of modules a player needs to activate to a minimum.  For a new player, and for myself, I just want to have to hit one or maybe two buttons to escape from danger.  Keeping things simple is usually best.  At the same time, I want to keep the cost of fitting the ship to a minimum in case a low sec gate camp or high sec gankers manage to destroy the ship.  The ships do get more expensive, but hopefully by the time a player can spend the money for the fits, a player can afford to replace the loss without a major sacrifice.

The above fit is with all Mastery II skills trained plus Shield Upgrades II.  To train the skills from Mastery I to Mastery II takes a little under 12 hours with no learning implants and no skills optimization.  For this fit designed to stay within high sec, the align time remains 7 seconds, but can now hold enough cargo to satisfy the demands of most Minmatar level 4 distribution missions.  The ship can easily carry two disassembled frigates, parts, and a healthy amount of ammunition.  The big cost for this fit is the upgrade to Expanded Cargohold IIs.  The afterburner module is added in the mid slots to provide additional speed if the ship lands short of a station while attempting to dock.

For those wanting a cheap ship for moving small goods through low sec, the following fit possible with 12 hours of training may suffice.

The difference between the low sec and high sec fits is the replacement of the expanded cargoholds with warp core stabilizers.  In low sec, I figure that if a +3 warp core strength is not enough to escape from a gate camp, then fitting a MWD would do no good since the ship is probably scrammed anyway.  I'd rather have the capacitor available so I don't have to stop between gates.  But with a align time of 7 seconds, I'm not sure of this fit's ability to crash through a big gate camp.

At this point, for those who want to do a lot of distribution missions to do standings and faction grinds, I would recommend taking a day-and-a-half to make sure some social skills are trained to at least 3.  Social, Connections, Negotiations, Connections, and Diplomacy are all good skills for a mission runner to train.  Distribution Connections is also another good skill, but that is really expensive for a new player and can wait.  In fact, obtaining the skill book from one of the loyalty stores is perhaps a good early goal.

The Mastery III fits, with Minmatar Industrial III trained, show the Wreathe as a really capable ship, especially in high sec.  The best thing?  Reaching Mastery III/Minmatar Industrial III only takes 7 additional days of training.

I really like this fit because not only do the meta shield extenders keep the signature radius low, but they aren't very expensive.  Also, the Wreathe's bonus to agility for each level of Minmatar Industrial trained means the ship can decloak and warp away from a gate in 6 seconds.  That should keep a ganker from locking and scanning the ship's cargohold and deciding to carry out an attack.  Just don't fly on autopilot.

The fit also introduces warp speed rigs, which requires training Jury Rigging III and Astronomic Rigging I.  The three rigs double the price of the ship, but the 57.1% increase in warp speed is well worth the price in the long run. 

For the low sec fit, I didn't make any changes.  A 6 second align time, while good in high sec, is still a bit slow for my tastes in low, which is why I do not have rigs fit.  However, I'm a risk-adverse carebear who's flown blockade runners in low sec for years.  To a new player not afraid of a little risk and wants the greater rewards (and thrills) found in low sec, I say, "YOLO!"  But I included a graphic anyway in order to show that the skills do matter.  Learning Minmatar Industrial III and the additional navigation skills shaves a full second from the align time.

In my opinion, having Mastery IV in the Wreathe is a good base for flying any ship.  Add in Minmatar Industrial IV and the Wreathe really shines.  However, training from Mastery III to Mastery IV takes 5 weeks without learning implants.  Since so many of the skills are common to other ships, I'd recommend new players taking a week or two to train another type of ship to Mastery III (like mining barges) or some science/industrial skills before committing to Mastery IV.  For players looking to make a living from the loyalty point store, producing the basic items can help pass the time or even provide an additional income stream.

The only change in modules compared to the Mastery III fit is the replacement of the meta 1 nanofiber structures with the more expensive meta 4s.  Depending on the cost on the market, a player can replace the nanofibers with the tech 2 variant, Nanofiber Structure II.  Either one for a pilot with Mastery IV skills will result in a sub-5 second align time.  The other notable characteristic of this fit is that replacing one of the nanofibers with a fourth Expanded Cargohold II results in a ship that can handle any distribution mission and takes only 6 seconds to align and warp to the next gate.

For the Mastery IV low sec fit, I added rigs, but not the same ones as used in the high sec fit.  Why?  Because I wanted to preserve the option to add cargo room by replacing the nanofiber structures with an Expanded Cargohold II and a Local Hull Conversion Inertial Stabilizers I.  That combination results in enough capacity to do all level 3 distribution missions, have a sub-5 second align time, and still increase the warp speed by 40.9%.  I'm a little uncomfortable with making the ship's signature larger (up to 180), but I may worry too much.

Personally, at this point I would not try to train up the skills for the Wreathe up to Mastery V.  For low sec dwellers who like this style of flying or high sec pilots trying to move cargo in secrecy, I would recommend training for the Prowler.  I would train Spaceship Command V, Cloaking IV, Minmatar Industrial V, and Transport Ships IV.  That path will put a pilot's Mastery level for the Prowler at 4.  For high sec pilots just looking to run distribution missions or make long distance trips, I'd suggest training Warp Drive Operation V, Spaceship Command V, Minmatar Industrial V, and then some shield skills starting with Tactical Shield Manipulation.

I haven't provided a detailed skills training plan for the Wreathe because I think players can learn more by going into the Interbus Ship Identification System in game and looking at the skills needed themselves and finding out what the skills do and why they are important.  Also, having players determine which skills are most important to learn in what order will help them understand a bit more about the fits.  Perhaps some of the skills aren't absolutely needed and the fits I've provided are possible to fit before the mastery level is complete.  I encourage the use of EveMon or some other tool to plan the skill queue out and Pyfa or Eve Fitting Tool to actually play around with the fits.

Finally, I wanted to show how a ship is fitted can evolve over time.  One thing about EVE that drives me crazy is the insistence of some people that they have to sit in a station and spin there ship for weeks before they can actually play the game.  Perhaps that's true if a new player joins a veteran group that flies very precise fleet doctrines.  But if a group is recruiting low skill point players, shouldn't the leadership of the corp take into account the low skill player and allow him to fill a valuable role?  I've read stories where that doesn't happen.

The Wreathe, on the other hand, is ready to fly almost immediately after finishing the current tutorial missions.  After a day, the ship could head out to low sec to do distribution missions, but I'd really recommend waiting a week in order to save up for a replacement ship for when the first ship dies.  For pilots sticking to high sec, the ship will quickly perform the gamut of tasks from running long distance courier runs to any type of distribution mission, and perform the tasks well.  No waiting or ship spinning.  Just make the ship active and start flying around New Eden.


  1. A concerned MinmatarOctober 27, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    What feature/exploit activity are you refering to at the end of the first paragraph?

  2. In most games, if you buy an item from one NPC and sell it to another NPC for a profit, that's considered an exploit and you get banned. Back in the day, the price of the PI commodities would actually rise the greater the demand, so eventually the difference would disappear until the following downtime. Now, of course, those are player-made goods, but I think you can still do this with consumer goods.

  3. A concerned MinmatarOctober 27, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    That is what I thought you meant. Do you have a specific example in mind from another game? I can only think of one other example, in Freelancer, where this was also a feature.

  4. Here's an example from GW2.

    I know it also happened in WoW a couple of times.

  5. My indy alt has been making use of the Wreathe for quite a while now, almost to the exclusion of the Prowler. I run a fit very similar to the T2 fit you have posted with the only alteration being 3 nano's/2 expanded vs the opposite. With the Warp speed rigs, you are faster from gate to gate than the Prowler but *no cloak*.

    I have found, however, that going really really fast generally gets me through most low sec runs that I need to make.

  6. A concerned MinmatarOctober 29, 2014 at 6:05 AM

    Wow, they banned people for using vendors? I guess I've also been playing EVE for too long. Thanks for the example.

  7. The Nereus is superior to the Wreathe... just FYI. Give it a look.