The State of Navy Cruisers


Navy cruisers are a class often ignored in favour of moving straight into HACs. If you don’t have racial cruisers to V, you’re not getting the most out of them with their typically awesome hull bonuses. With it, you’re only a stone’s throw away from a HAC with its T2 resist profile and MWD bloom role bonus, as well as double hull bonuses: Two for the base cruiser and two for the HAC skill.

That said, hulls like the Augoror Navy Issue and Vexor Navy Issue still see a lot of play, though some of the other hulls are so ignored they become a spectacle just to see them in space. Navy cruiser hulls are often 25–50% of the cost of their T2 counterparts. Generally, we see most Navy cruisers start out at 80–100 million ISK; if they then become popular like the ANI/VNI, prices drop down to around 50mil, with obvious price fluctuations depending on warzone control and people dumping their LP from time to time. Therefore, when I start talking about balancing, I’m going to balance against what I assume to be a roughly 50mil ISK hull, rather than 100mil. Given the unique nature of faction hulls, I’m also going to include screenshots of three month market data taken from Jita at the time of writing, in addition to the usual baseless conjecture you’ve come to expect from my posts.

Disclaimer: I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a damn thing about PvE, so my analysis will purely be focused on the PvP feasibility of these ships.

Augoror Navy Issue


Selling about 50 per day with spikes of what I assume are either people dumping stock they’ve LP farmed, or buying a ton for alliance contracts. As we’ll see, that puts it on par with the Omen Navy Issue in terms of amount traded, tying up second behind the VNI. There are only four T1 or faction cruisers with a base powergrid of over 1000; the Maller and ANI at 1150, the Vigilant at 1050, and the Ashimmu at 1300 (after all, it does expect to fit neuts). On its own, this would appear to be fairly inconsequential, but unlike the Vigilant or Maller, it only has three turret slots, using a 25% per skill level bonus to bring damage up to par. In regards to fitting, this means that you can do almost anything you’d like.


This is a fairly standard fit for the ANI, analogous to a beam Zealot, for half to a third of the cost. As you can see, we get a full rack of top-of-the-line long range weapons and a T2 plate without needing even one fitting mod. Hell, it even has just over 100 spare after all of that. Seven low-slots means you can fit resist mods to make a beastly armour tank with the 10%/level armour hitpoint hull bonus. In terms of cost/performance, the ANI may well be one of the best hulls in the game right now.

If you’re doing some hardcore brawling in lowsec (one of my favourite pastimes), you can swap down to pulses and in exchange for throwing on an ACR to bring you down to “only” 100k EHP, you get to have two medium neuts. You can’t permarun them even with the small cap booster, but for turning off hardeners and screwing over logistics, two on every mainline ship is plenty to wreak havoc.

Overall, I think part of the ANI’s success is that lasers are a really good weapon system. Pulses have the amazing ammo that is scorch, while beam lasers inherently track beautifully. After the rebalancing, medium beams are a really underrated, but powerful platform.

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

In terms of consistency with the other navy cruisers, I would probably lower the percentage damage increase to 15% per level but give it five turret highs. Not only that, I’d probably reduce the EHP bonus from 10%/level to 7.5%/level, along the lines of the recent T3 nerf. This, I think would give more room for other brawlers to have some validity.

Omen Navy Issue

The ONI, before and certainly after rebalancing came through, could be considered among the most unloved of the Navy cruisers. It’s perhaps a little before my time, but I don’t think the cry of “Hey, I’ll just use an ONI!” was ever heard on comms.


Everything changed with Kovorix’s release of this, featuring nearly an entire fleet of Omen Navy ownage. The ONI joined the Scythe Fleet Issue (ScyFI) as an intermediary step from the nano-sky-goddery of T1 cruisers to Cynabals and Vagabonds. The introduction of the Ancillary Armour Repairer module gave it a beautiful short term tank, and combined with good speed and the amazingness of Scorch, it is a lovely little thing for pilots to try out kiting with an active tank without investing in a pirate cruiser or HAC, which you do not want to be welping in while learning the ropes.


In terms of hull bonuses, it’s closer to the Zealot than the ANI, but a lack of power grid and tankiness leaves it leagues behind the Augoror Navy for larger fleet use; it does make for great anti-tackle in some smaller armour fleets, though. That said, not every ship needs to be an awesome fleet boat. In my opinion, as long as each ship can do one thing in a super-awesome, fun and engaging way, it’s doing just fine. The Omen Navy absolutely fills that requirement, so things are good in my book.

Other hulls in this piece have gotten a lot more attention with many more variants of fits, and for a while I felt like I was doing a disservice to the ONI by not searching for more. However, the point of this analysis is to discuss each ship’s balance, and this ONI fit alone makes it a viable, strong and engaging ship to fly. That one style of flying alone is broad enough for it to not be considered underpowered by any means. I’m sure there are better ways to use an ONI out there, but none of them (as yet discovered) are meta-breakingly strong. Therefore, we can already conclude it is neither too strong nor too weak. All is well!

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?


Caracal Navy Issue


The Caracal Navy Issue suffers compared to its little cousin, the Caracal, being objectively better than it due, in most situations, to cost. Its hull bonuses are: rate of fire and explosion radius, which primarily make me want to think of it as a rocking DPS platform that will apply really well. However, let’s look how that affects the three main weapons systems:

  • RLMLs: As per Gorski’s article, we know rapid light missiles already apply well to everything but AB sig-tanking frigates, and the hull bonus doesn’t apply to them anyway. Also, RLMLs benefit more from a damage bonus than a RoF bonus due to it bringing you closer to your lengthy reload cycle—a flat damage bonus here would give you more bang for your clip.
  • HMLs: Here, the application bonus is sorely needed. The RoF combines with it to make the HML Caracal Navy (comparatively) a DPS machine. However, HMLs have kind of naff raw DPS to start with.
  • HAMs: Having super-awesome applying HAMs, like HMLs, looks great on paper, but to use HAMs without the ridiculous projection bonus of a Cerberus means you’re brawling, and brawling typically means sig-tanking armour. In this class you’re going up against cruisers like the Aug navy, which can use its spare mids much better than you.

The Caracal Navy, under modern fleet fitting guidelines, requires max tank in the mids, and after the prerequisite three BCUs and DCU you’ve run out of slots. The extra turret gives the CNI a flat 20% damage boost over the Caracal which is cool, but doesn’t necessarily allow for anything new.

A look at zkillboard reveals that the CNI is either being used as a niche PvE boat which I won’t comment on, or as a step up from the standard RLML anti-frig kiting Caracal. It doesn’t seem to be the case that the community has found some role that the CNI excels at, so let’s see if we can come up with of something. I think the next step is to compare the performance of the CNI to the Caracal, or frankly any medium missile boat of this day and age’s two most popular roles; the aforementioned RLML kiter and the “TrebleCat” max tank AB fit HML. If we don’t find anything there, then let’s see if we can theorycraft some new ideas for it.



So what do we get for doubling the cost of each ship? For starters, a pretty hefty EHP increase as well as that extra volley damage, which is actually going to be more than the flat 20% boost of the extra launcher given the additional application. On the face of it, a big killer is the fact that the regular Caracal gets to fire out 50% further, pushing the engagement envelope down by 30k. Being able to pull range is super awesome in terms of damage mitigation. Going from 60k to 90k does mean that you’re less likely to be able to apply reps to dictor/inty tackle, and it takes you out of the recon tackle range, so there are those disadvantages. You can only lock out to 80k unless you’re packing info links, so don’t take the extra projection too seriously unless you’re doing a sniper-focus fit, where missiles are terrible anyway.

A CNI hull currently costs 75mil in Jita. If it were 40–50mil, I could see this being worth the extra cost as a heavier variant on a TrebleCat fleet, focusing on bringing in those Gal/Min recons as force multipliers. Unfortunately, as we’ll see in the next section, the Osprey Navy Issue is a much better way to bring the TrebleCat doctrine up to the next level.



Here, the lack of projection is a killer. The RLM can start killing tackle burning towards it much earlier, so even though it has less DPS it’s still more likely to get the job done before things get hairy. There’s a tiny speed increase, and the shield buffer increase is nice, but negligible in terms of usefulness for what you’re trying to do with this fit.

In trying to come up with a new role for the CNI to fill, I’ve fiddled with a solo HAM fit as the application. The RoF bonus gives it potential to be an outrageous brawler, yet I can’t quite get it to where I like it. It may become a feature of my F*ck Ishtars series in the future; right now nothing comes to mind. There are of course vastly more intelligent people than me out there when it comes to theorycrafting (inb4 Gorski publishes an article after this one on the obvious brilliance of the CNI), but for now I can’t come up with anything that excites me.

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

On balance, I’d probably wait for more hull experimentation, yielding more data. I’d be quite interested in seeing a Navy railgun boat from the Caldari, with an optimal/damage bonus like a mini Naga that can’t project as well or do as much damage but can kite around the grid.

Osprey Navy Issue

I knew two things about the Osprey Navy before started writing this piece: Nulli used it in a similar manner to the aforementioned TrebleCat doctrine during the most recent Provi-bash, and that it’s supposed to be super agile. Once again, as with the CNI, and as it’s a missile boat, we must compare it to the Caracal. But first, let’s look at the market data and properties of the hull.


Averaging at only five sales per day, it’s one of the least traded of the Navy cruisers; let’s see if we can work out why. Where the CNI gets an extra high and turret, the Osprey Navy gets an extra mid which screams “I can be tanky!” Irritatingly, it gets a weird 5% damage to non-kinetic and 10% damage to kinetic missile bonus, but it also gets an awesome projection bonus. Given that we’ve just discussed a lot of the relevant ideas here in the CNI section, let’s get straight to the comparison with the Caracal as we did for the CNI.



Now we’re talking. Double the EHP and a significant speed increase to allow you to control range and take advantage of that projection bonus. HML doctrines such as the TrebleCat are ones that focus on alpha, so a flat damage bonus is the more useful one. Using a non-kinetic missile you’re doing the same alpha as a Caracal, using kinetic you get 25% more, which is enough to offset most resistance profiles except maybe T2 Gallente.



Now I see it. The ONI makes for a gorgeous little nano ship, a great stepping stone of missile-nano from the Caracal to the infamous Orthrus. You get tons of spare fitting to do an ASB tank, its speed is ridiculous and the extra mid is wonderful. It’s glorious! The damage bonus instead of RoF also means you get more damage output per reload of RLMLs.

But wait, the DPS is less than a regular Caracal. This, on its own, pretty much ruins the whole thing. The Osprey Navy Issue has a ton of potential, but the damage type locking and lack of DPS ruins the appeal of an otherwise lovely space vessel.

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

It is nice little ship already, but a little tweak to give it back the fifth launcher and a flat damage bonus rather than kinetic-based is needed to give it a reason to be flown over other ships. It’s important to note that for both Caldari Navy cruisers, the incoming missile changes (whatever they might be) have the potential to completely turn the tables on how these ships function. Therefore, any balance changes made to them before we get through aren’t really worth considering. I have, for the sake of consistency, made my suggestions as if the missile changes weren’t coming.

Vexor Navy Issue


The VNI is good. Damn good. It was a good and popular choice back when it cost 90 mil, and it’s a bargain now that the price has dropped by 20 mil. The VNI can do everything: it works as a poor man’s Ishtar for ratting, it can be supplemented into Ishtar PvP fleets for low-SP bros, even though it lacks the Ishtar optimal bonus, it brawls armour tanked in lowsec amazingly well, etc. The key to this awesomeness I believe, lies in two places:

Firstly, it gets a full five heavy drones. For a cruiser, that means it does reasonable damage even without damage mods. With damage mods, it’s a monster. The drone bay is somewhat limiting in that you can only carry a single flight of heavies, but a mobile depot can help alleviate that problem.

Secondly, the fact that its weapon system doesn’t require any PG or CPU means you can throw pretty much whatever modules you want at it, similarly to the reduced fitting requirement for the weapon system of the ANI. Look at this lowsec brawler for example:


Over 500 DPS using the second LOWEST DPS output heavy drone with excellent tracking thanks to the hull bonus, an 80k EHP tank and a good deal of neuting power. I’ve seen versions of this with dual-prop and you still don’t need a single fitting module. Four mids is also plenty to do a MWD/2LSE/Invuln shield version when you can kite out to your control range (which is effectively your lock range with highs not taken up by turrets and launchers), the DPS becomes incredible as well. This is a variant of a shield-kiting Vexor fleet I run with SniggWaffe:


700 DPS, super fast, you can swap the drone nav comp for a point or invul to taste.

Basically, its great base stats, huge drone bay, good slot layout and generous fitting means you can do pretty much whatever the hell you want with the VNI and it will be good at it. That in and of itself is not a bad thing, but compared to the other navy cruisers it just seems unfair. I lay some portion of the blame for the death of T1 cruiser brawling in northern lowsec at the feet (or thrusters?) of the VNI.

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

Sure, I don’t think the VNI is game-breakingly overpowered, but I do think it is out of balance with the other navy cruisers as they stand at the moment. I’d start by shaving off a fair bit of PG. In addition, I’d limit it to 100Mbit bandwidth so it can only launch 4 heavies at once. It gets both a damage and application bonus on the hull, so four is plenty (as any Myrmidon pilot will tell you).

On the other hand, dealing with the whole “large weapon system on a cruiser hull” thing is showing to be a pain in the rear. Drone bay sizes become difficult as does general balance as we see with the Ishtar. Another possibility could be to take the VNI down a similar path as the Gila, bring it back to 50Mbit, but have super cool bonuses to use medium drones. I think medium drones with plenty of flights would be more interesting and balanced than being restrictive on how many drone flights you can have available, but letting them be super powerful.

Exequror Navy Issue


The ENI has the potential to be my one true love—I get a giant hard-on for Gallente blaster badassery. It’s a pure and simple DPS machine with hybrid bonuses to both flat damage, and rate of fire. The ENI can be compared with the Thorax, where it gains a low and loses 25Mbit of drone bandwidth. If you want to project with rails and have a tank, use a Moa. The ENI just doesn’t have the power grid to fit both a rack of 250s and a good tank. Fitting 150s or 200s limits your range and DPS significantly. If you want to kite, rails won’t track frigates, even struggling on a tracking bonused hull like the Thorax. In the current meta you’ll need to use scorch lasers or light missiles.

Okay, so rails aren’t a good choice for the ENI, what about old school brawley blaster fits? What we’re looking for is to see whether we’re getting 60mil more performance, or we may as well stick to the Thorax. I have a lovely dual-prop brawling armour Thorax fit I’ve been using for years, let’s see how the ENI compares when fit similarly. One thing to note, that given the hull tracking bonus on the Thorax cancelling out the penalty on Void, we’ll be using it in the Thorax and faction antimatter in the ENI.


Given the extra low, we can either tank it in the same way we did the Thorax and have double mag stabs, or switch out to a triple hardener setup with only one mag stab, allowing overheating and more favourable stacking with links.



There is one super cool thing the ENI does that I rather like—brawling it out with hull tank. This is also its only use I’ve seen after trawling through zkill. Given the limiting powergrid and huge Gallente base structure, a hull tank makes sense as it doesn’t require any PG at all, so you can finally fit top tier guns.


Put simply, the other guy(s) have to burn through 30k hit points while surviving over 700 incoming DPS (you can overheat your guns for a whole minute taking you past 800 DPS), and as it goes over 2km/s (3km/s if you overheat your MWD), it has a good chance of chasing down what it’s hunting.

Finally, I want to look at a fit for sitting in mediums in FW space. Four mids and a bunch of lows screams to me for an active armour-tanked scram-web fit and with that DPS, it’s going to be mean.


This is essentially an old school dual-rep Thorax on steroids. You can downgrade the guns from ions to electrons to fit an MWD when chasing people down (something I highly recommend given the innate speed of faction hulls). This, I think, is probably the situation where the ENI comes out best against its contemporaries right now.

So yes, the ENI can brawl a little harder than the Thorax; when shield or hull tanked it can output over 700 DPS, but I feel like the step up is by and large a lot less than the other Navy cruisers. The VNI suddenly gets to use a full flight of heavy drones, the ANI gets a ridonculous tank, the ONI gets an amazing optimal bonus and kites like a god. The ENI is “nice” when you compare it to the Thorax, but it’s more like a Thorax in a little black dress and a new pair of heels rather than the “we can rebuild him, we have the technology” approach of the other Navy cruisers.

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

I want to make the ENI more exciting, so I’d give it the traditional Gallente 50m^3 drone bay, drop one of the damage bonuses for a tracking bonus and give it an extra turret. I’d also give it extra fitting, both for that turret and a little extra on top of that so we could see a mini Proteus-style 250mm railgun, sick armour tank baller of a ship with those mids used for TCs or tackle or damps. All that awesomness at once should probably require an ACR, not three fitting mods. To put the powergrid issues into perspective, the ENI has 20 less base PG than a Moa, or 30 more than a VNI whose weapon system doesn’t require any PG at all.

Stabber Fleet Issue

The SFI has a lot of things going for it. It’s been a solid ship for many years with a good slot layout, nice tank and an immense 10% tracking bonus.


Not selling many units but very reasonably priced, the SFI makes a great little dual-propped brawler. The problem is, the ANI and VNI do that job so much better right now they trap the SFI in their shadow. An old-school brawling SFI would look something like this:


Not particularly fantastic DPS, though it is selectable, a sturdy tank and the maneuverability that dual-prop provides made it versatile. As balance passes have come and gone the SFI has fallen behind the times however. Similar to the ENI, it lacks the fitting to get away with a rack of 425s when armour fit.

Navy cruisers tend to be rather speedy, unsurprisingly some mid-way between regular T1 and faction. With the fitting issues holding back a sturdy buffer tank, I decided to look for solo/small gang fits to see if I could make ACs work.


We end up with something similar to an Omen Navy issue, but even with Barrage loaded and a falloff rig, the projection is just not adequate. You want to be able to kill off tackle before they get into scram range, and though this ship should be able to track them, it’s getting scrammed. When kiting, a scram is a death sentence. So if projection is our problem, why not fit artys? We’ve got a tracking bonus for them, right? A full rack of 750s leaves you with barely any PG to play with at all lvl 5 skills; therefore, we’ll need to get a little creative.


Projection wise, this is a lot better, though the DPS is a little thin and the tank is thinner. A small gang of these could definitely have some fun volleying frigates that come in to try and grab them though.

Okay, so we can’t close-range brawl with buffer and we can’t kite nearly as well as an Omen Navy Issue—what can we do? The tracking bonus means that up close, we can at the very least, apply damage well. We also have plenty of mids for control—what about a scram-kiting active tank?


This fit I actually like quite a bit. Sitting inside a medium PLEX in FW space with selectable damage, excellent tracking, capless guns, and a reasonable tank, this would make mincemeat of frigs that would try to get under its guns and be able to brawl down a good number of cruisers. I get the feeling, however that it may just straight up die to a similarly fit ENI or even a regular Thorax or Vexor.

Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

In my search I’ve found some fits that are “viable”, but are significantly inferior to other hulls doing the same job much better for the same price. Part of the problem I think is the current lackluster performance from medium projectiles, especially autocannons. Not quite as poor as HAM/HMLs right now, but compared to lasers, hybrids or drones they definitely come up short. Compounded on top of this is the fact that the SFI just does not have the fitting to do fits with the top-tier members of that weapon system, whereas the VNI and ANI at least can do it with ease. With that in mind, I’d give the SFI a decent bump to fitting, mostly on its PG, with a little CPU thrown in for good measure.

Scythe Fleet Issue


The ScyFI used to be the intermediate step from T1 kitey cruisers into your ISK-heavy Vagabond/Cynabal top-tier kiters. It is ridiculously fast.  Nowadays, with the ONI and RLM Caracal its popularity has suffered, but it’s by no means useless. As with the ‘Phoon Fleet Issue, instead of getting two normal hull bonuses for one weapon system, it gets slightly stronger bonuses for two, one each.


The AC fit suffers from a slight lack of PG. Ideally, you’d be able to throw on a T2 Ambit rig for extra falloff, and probably a tracking rig as well, given no native bonus. It has a decent DPS output, but nowadays it just can’t put it out far enough to start killing incoming tackle as soon as the Caracal or ONI. The RLM version does significantly better:


This is vastly better. It can start shooting incoming tackle far further away, the DPS will apply much better, and you have enough fitting space for full T2 shield extenders and even a medium neut so that if someone does get too close for comfort, you can attempt to neut off their tackle as you make for a swift exit. The RLM version posted here I think is a super solid setup for solo/small gang work.

The ScyFI gets a great flat damage bonus and a pretty even slot layout, which means you can do a reasonable armour TrebleCat fit with a baby sig for damage mitigation and a rack of unbonused EWAR, or go the more typical shield fit with extra tank and speed. The DPS is a little low, but the volley damage is comparable, and having that many EWAR mids on every ship in the fleet can be overwhelming. The shield fit is also ridiculously fast for an afterburning cruiser, even if it’s not that much more tanky than the Caracal. You even have enough fitting to throw a medium neut on there! The lack of a cool range bonus means it isn’t an immediately obvious choice for a step-up, but I think it’s still an interesting and viable option.


Apoth, if you were suddenly swapped into CCP Fozzie’s cuddly body, would you change anything?

The ScyFI is cool. In a dream world it would have just a sliver more PG, but it’s a great ship nonetheless.

Closing thoughts

If we look at the T1 cruiser lineup, each one has a compelling reason to use them. Some have a wider appeal than others, but each has its own role to play. What’s more, their strengths at each of these roles is largely consistent. This, I feel is the main problem with the navy cruisers at the moment. Ships like the VNI and ANI can have whichever modules you want thrown at them and they’ll fit, whereas hulls like the ENI and SFI need fitting modules or rigs for anything but the most basic of fits. Other ships, like the CNI have hull bonus combinations that are somewhat lackluster. Another issue in the lack of consistency of performance is the current state of medium autocannons, and to some extent missiles.

Overall, the navy cruisers are by no means the class of ships most in need of the attention of the rebalancing dream team that is CCPs Rise and Fozzie. I should make it clear that all of this is not a criticism of the job they’re doing; I’ve met both in person and I wouldn’t have anyone else I know at the helm of the rebalancing effort. They do a fine job, and pieces like mine and others from members of the community should, in my opinion, be geared more to positive feedback than screaming and shouting and pointing fingers. I may have suggested changes for all but one of the navy cruiser hulls, but in the majority of cases they’re just little tweaks. The balance changes I have proposed are not because I think any of the ships are super broken. They might give the navy cruiser line more consistency in their performance, and allow each of them, as well as other ships, the space to be used in interesting ways.

I think the Navy cruisers are a cool niche transition point from T1 cruisers to HACs, where you start to reach the limits of T1 logistics support and are flying hulls of non-inconsequential ISK for the average player. I also think it’s important to have these stepping stones in the game, helping to avoid a vast, limiting chasm for advancement as players skill up.

If you vehemently disagree with any of the conclusions I’ve come to, I’d be very interested in hearing them (presented nicely, of course) in the comments, or on Twitter @CallMeApoth.

Tags: apothne, EFT, fitting, navy cruiser

About the author


Apothne is a proud member of Sniggerdly and an experienced roaming FC. He is a Guest FC and Lecturer for EVE University and anyone who invites him to ramble on their comms for a few hours. He is currently one of the most active and experienced player commentators for EVE Tournaments, including hosting and casting AT XII-XV and all #EVE_NT leagues, as well as the Amarr Championships on stage at Fanfest 2016.