Newbie Skill Plan 2.3: Vanguard Edition

Post: 

It's an age-old complaint about the EVE skill system: it takes too long to get going and without a bajillion SP, your character is useless. The only thing as old is the simple fact that this complaint is not true. A series of previous posts have answered why the latter issue isn't nearly as much of a problem as it's said to be (cf. EVE Skills, parts I, II, and III). This post will go into detail about why the first issue is greatly overstated as well.

This is the third large revision of this post — an update that is needed in the face of some of the starting skill changes that took place in the span between the Odyssey and Vanguard expansions and as a general update for some other skills that have changed in the years since the first post was conceived. Let's start out by reiterating one thing: the largest problem with the EVE is people giving new players bad skilling advice. In particular, you often see people suggesting the most ridiculously high-level skill plans — everything to lvl V — as some kind of “minimum starting point” when it should rather be a year-long goal to get to that point.

Back in 2011, an attempt was made to come up with a training queue for newbies that provided a good illustration of the fallacy behind, and a reasonable alternative to, the old all-to-V tirade. That post is long lost in the depth of the forum archives, and this is essentially the continuation of the newbie skill plan that originated from that discussion. The goal here is to create a character that can take on a wide swath of combat roles with a minimal expenditure of SP and training time, while still offering decent enough stats to make a difference. In the original plan, a Minmatar character was chosen as the sample character because back then, it was the only sensible choice for small-ship combat. Since then, the “tiercide” balance pass has swept in to radically alter that assessment — these days, almost any race will do.

For the purpose of this particular post, however, the Minmatar character is retained for a couple of reasons. One is that, even after the balance pass, small Minmatar ships still require a wider selection of skills. You'll want to be able to both shield and armour tank to get the most out of the entire selection of ships (but as always, only use one tanking style at a time — this is not an invitation to dual-tank your ships). For another, when we move up in ship classes, these platforms offer the ability to fit a slightly wider array of weaponry than most other races, so you'll want to be prepared for that as well. Finally, this setup offers a worst-case scenario where you have to train more of everything, which eats up a lot of SP. Even so, it is worth paying attention to what your character comes equipped with from the start. Some races will start out with skills that are high(er) up on this list, and instead not have skills that this list presumes the character already has and which act as prerequisites for some of the early skills.

Since the purpose of the exercise is to get the most out of your training time, this allows us to use this plan as a catch-all basis that can then be slimmed down for more specific builds. If you want to train a lasers-only Amarr character, you can skip all the proposed missile and drone skills and get a much leaner character much quicker. Even so, racial ship and weapon skills will be listed as, for instance “[Racial] Frigates” and “Small [Racial] Turret”, and will have to be manually adjusted for the individual newbie character since they will start out with a (very tiny) head start in those areas. If you are entirely new to the game, these will be the frigate and turret skills that your character has from the very start, e.g. Minmatar Frigate and Small Projectile Turret for Minmatar. In addition, wherever possible, skills that might conceivably be skipped for any specific race will be supplied with footnotes that indicate the circumstances that would make it worth-while to not include them in your specific plan.

The Plan(s)

The training plan is cut up into three stages: 900k, 1,380k, and 2,050k SP — each corresponding to one of the deprecated clone grades. However, even with the clone grades long gone, these thresholds still offer a good way of layering new skill levels on top of old ones. So rather than just pouring everything into a continuous training queue, the stages offer short(ish)-term goals that can be combined into a cohesive bundle. With the starting attributes and maybe the help of a few implants, these stages can be reached within (roughly) one, two and four weeks, respectively (or, with a friendly sponsor and lots of implants and cash, a bit faster than that). It's also important to note that not all prerequisites are listed, particularly if they mainly open up skills that are more relevant to the intended goal for the character

It should be noted that these lists contain a frightful mix of all kinds of skills, so the use of shortcuts such as implants and remaps can't really be applied optimally. Approximate training times will be given using an assumed 24 int / 24 per remap (the other attributes being left at 17) and with an alternate shorter time that assumes the new character has also gotten his hands on a set of +3 implants or a Cerebral Accelerator implant.

Finally, it should be noted that the guiding philosophy behind these tiers, and indeed for the plan as a whole, is to go for a kind of “all to III” approach. The articles linked to earlier will explain exactly where this philosophy comes from and why, at the same time, it should not be treated as a dogma. In many cases getting a skill to lvl IV will unlock important support skills or T2 equipment, and some of these skills will therefore show up in the plan, in spite of their (relatively) massive SP cost: it's simply too good to miss out on and will lets us get more oomph out of the limited skill point budget.

Stage 1

~900,000 SP: ~9 days without implants, 8 days with implants. Total skill book cost: 4 million ISK:

  • Hull Upgrades III
  • Mechanics IV
  • Repair Systems III2
  • Propulsion Jamming III
  • Cloaking II
  • Energy Grid Upgrades III
  • Weapon Upgrades III
  • Motion Prediction III
  • Surgical Strike II/
  • Trajectory Analysis II
  • Biology III
  • Armor Rigging III2
  • Astronautics Rigging III
  • Jury Rigging III
  • Shield Rigging III1
  • Astrometric Acquisition II
  • Astrometric Rangefinding II
  • Shield Management III
  • Shield Operation IV
  • Shield Upgrades III1
  • [Racial] Destroyer III
  • Long Range Targeting III
  • Signature Analysis III
  • Target Management III
1 This skill is not required if you intend to only fly armour-tanked ships (mainly Amarr or Gallente).
2 This skill is not required if you intend to only fly shield-tanked ships (mainly Caldari).

This tier gives you the classic newbie frigate user for tackling, scouting, and shooting other frigate users as well as the currently popular destroyers for… various mischief. Some of these skills are, in a sense, superfluous at this level — the dual-tanking with both shield and armour tanking and rigging in particular — but it helps build a solid foundation for the next layers. Again, a more focused character can use these as a way to get to the good stuff faster and for less SP.

Stage 2

~1,380,000 SP: ~11 more days without implants, 9 more days with implants. Additional skill book cost: 600k ISK.

  • Drones V
  • Drone Avionics II
  • Drone Durability II
  • Drone Navigation II
  • Light Drone Operation II
  • Medium Drone Operation II
  • Thermodynamics III
  • Electronic Warfare III
  • [Racial] EWar III4
  • Controlled Bursts III3
  • Medium [Racial] Turret III
  • Surgical Strike III
  • Trajectory Analysis III
  • Light Missiles III
  • Missile Launcher Operation III
  • Light Missiles III
  • Rapid Launch III
  • Target Navgiation Prediction III
3 This skill is not required if you intend to use projectile turrets.
4 Weapon Disruption for Amarr, Sensor Linking for Gallente, Target Painting for Minmatar. Caldari characters only need the Electronic Warfare skill, but the other three races need that skill as well in order to unlock ewar drones.

While this list seems to be very focused on missiles (which only really become nice once you get the cruiser and can fit an assault launcher) and drones, the hidden gem in this tier is actually the Thermodynamics skill. These days, it is a starting skill for new character but is still easy to overlook. It instantly and drastically improves what you can do with your ship, and is well-worth training at an early stage. Yes, at this low level and with none of the support skills, it will burn out modules quickly and/or take ages to repair the damage, but on the other hand, we are still talking about T1 frigates and cruisers and T1 modules — they are dirt cheap to replace to the point where repairing them is rather wasteful and almost pointless.

At the same time, the value of the drone skills should not be overlooked. In sharp contrast to the earlier “only train to III” principle, the Drone skills should be taken to V as early as possible. The skills it unlock and the ability to field a full flight of drones are simply to valuable to miss out on even at this early stage.

Stage 3

~2,000,000 SP: ~13 more days without implants, 12 days with implants. Additional skill book cost: 10 million ISK.

  • Advanced Drone Avionics
  • Drone Avionics III
  • Drone Durability III
  • Drone Interfacing III
  • Drone Navigation III
  • Drone Sharpshooting III
  • Light Drone Operation III
  • Medium Drone Operation III
  • Salvage Drone Operation III
  • Cloaking III
  • Electronic Warfare IV
  • Heavy Assault Missiles III
  • Heavy Missiles III
  • Missile Bombardment III
  • Missile Launcher Operation IV
  • Missile Projection III
  • Rockets III
  • Warhead Upgrades III
  • ORE Industrial III
  • [Racial] Battlecruiser III
  • [Racial] Cruiser III
  • Spaceship Command IV

…and there we go. A character that can do pretty much anything you could conceivable use a T1 frigate for; fly basic cruisers, except maybe as miners and remote-support ships and which can at least somewhat competently fly battlecruisers. L3 missions can be done with ease (especially if you've gone Caldari instead, at which point the good old Drake is almost good enough to take on L4 missions). You can even clean up after yourself and earn some extra cash from mass salvaging if you can avoid the ninjas.

OMGz n00b!

Indeed. That's the whole point. It's not a complete character — it's a start. However, for the SP and time invested, it can do a surprisingly wide array of things and do them competently. Player skill (and training) can further augment this to a surprising degree, contrary to persistent rumours that (character) skills are all that matter.

So happy newbie…ing!

Files

Yes, you really had to slog through all of that to get to the good stuff…

  • EVEMon skill plan — from a completely new character through to the Gamma clone described above, and slightly beyond. The clone limits are marked with remap points.
  • EFT character files — for each of the three clone levels (alpha, beta, gamma).