This page is a guide for new players to understanding turrets in EVE. Turrets are one of the main types of dealing damage along with drones and missiles.1 Fundamental to understanding the gameplay mechanics of turrets is to think of them as not being guns. In flight simulator games guns are mounted on your ship and your ship's orientation determines where it fires. A turret is a gun mounted on a 720° rotating weapons platform and this is important to understanding the tracking mechanic in EVE.
Basic Turret Damage Mechanic
A detailed and mathematical description of how turret damage is calculated can be see on the turret damage page. A qualitative description is presented here.
Each turret has an optimal range. Optimal range can be affected by many things, including character skill, ship bonus, ship modules, boosters, fleet boosters, loaded ammunition, meta level, and so forth. However, each turret has a default optimal range under its attributes tab which can been seen by finding that module in the market window and clicking "show info." To find the optimal range of a turret including all modifiers simply undock from a station, load the turret, and right-click on it and select "show info."
If a pilot is at optimal range or closer, is not moving, and has a target that is not moving, then that pilot will do maximum damage to the target; also, any distance within optimal range is suitable for maximum damage. As the target is placed farther and farther outside optimal range the damage done by the turret decreases, as on the turret damage page. The governing factor for damage outside optimal range is called falloff, and essentially sets the maximum effective range of a turret.
If a pilot is moving or the target is moving then the turret has to rotate in order to track the target. At long ranges and at slow speeds this generally does not decrease damage much, but the turret has a innate rotational speed (which can be modified by character skill, ship modules, and so forth) that sets a maximum to how fast it can rotate. As the target gets closer or faster moving the turret will have to rotate faster and faster. If the target is close enough and moving fast enough then it may be unhittable by the turret. This set an effective minimum range for the turret for a given spaceflight situation. In order to monitor this you can add transversal and angular velocities as columns to the overview; compare these numbers to the tracking speed (in radians per sec) listed under "show info" after right clicking on your turret in space.
Understanding the mechanic that decreases damage at long range (falloff) and at close range (tracking) is fundamental to comparing different turrets and the discussion below.
Maximizing Damage through Piloting
Your ability to damage a target is determined by the target's angular velocity relative to you, and your turret's tracking speed. There are many skills and modules that will increase the tracking speed, but often the easier solution is to reduce the enemy's angular velocity, through clever piloting. NPCs fly in a predictable pattern, and this can be exploited.
NPCs want to orbit you, at a preset distance. They will fly exactly like your own ship will when you use the orbit maneuver. When an NPC finds itself outside the orbit distance, it will steer towards an entry point into the orbit. (Try it yourself, and see how your ship aims to the side of the target, and slips smoothly into orbit.) When the NPC finds itself inside the orbit distance, it will head straight away from you until it reaches the orbit distance and then turn into the orbit. This can be exploited, to great effect.
At long range, the NPCs will be heading towards their entry point into the orbit around you. The smaller their desired orbit, and the further away the NPC is, the lower the angular velocity will be. In other words, the enemy will be heading almost straight towards you, providing a stationary target. At this point you can get a clear shot; even a battleship with slow tracking weapons can hit a frigate in this situation. To get the most out of this situation, head away from the enemy and force them to chase towards their orbit entry for as long as possible. This is obviously a tactic mostly suited for long range turrets: beam lasers, artillery cannons, and rail guns.
At short range, you have a golden opportunity. As the enemy heads straight away from you, his angular velocity will shrink. If you also give chase (using the approach or keep-at-range operations) you will end up with angular velocities close to zero. He will get clear shots at you - but you will also get completely clear shots at him. Assuming your ship is fast enough to keep the enemy from reaching his orbit distance, this maneuver will give you as many clear shots as you need. Even though the range to the enemy can be very small while you chase it, the angular velocity remains close to zero, and even the biggest and slowest tracking weapon can hit a small agile target with great ease. This is very effective with any turret, regardless of tracking speed (as no tracking is needed to hit any more.)
This is the worst situation you will face, when you use turrets. The enemy has entered into orbit around you, your turrets are too slow to track and hit it. If possible, you want to turn this situation into a short range chase, or a long range situation, like described above. If however the enemy is faster than you, he will remain in orbit. The best thing to do in this situation (aside from killing the enemy with drones of course) is to keep moving. Any ship that tries to orbit you while you move will sooner or later come up alongside you and try to "overtake" you like a car on a highway, in order to complete his orbit around you. At this point you are moving parallel to each other, the enemy's speed and your speed will cancel each other out, lowering angular velocity. This is your best opportunity to hit the enemy. Of course, the clever pilot will go to great lengths to make sure he never ends up in this situation in the first place!
Another way of reducing the angular velocity is by matching the vector of your target. It is a lot more work than the previous solutions, but you can reduce your angular velocity to almost zero, even for targets which move a bit faster or have a very shallow orbit. First set your speed to be the same, then continue matching the direction of the target. The easiest way to match the direction of the target is by using the 'look at' function on your target, rotate the camera so you are watching straight at the aft of the target and double click just above it; in the direction the target is going. You will need to keep adjusting your direction and speed until the target is gone.
Types of Turrets
|Laser||Pulse Laser||Beam Laser|
Differences Between Turret Types
Each of the turret types is a little different from the others. Projectile turrets are the most similar to contemporary firearms in that they require and consume ammunition. The type of damage that they deal is controlled by what sort of ammunition is loaded into the turret. Laser turrets are quite different in that they are loaded with a frequency crystal that is not consumed like projectile ammo is, but instead laser turrets require energy from the ships capacitor every time they fire. However, the damage type from laser turrets is always EM, usually with a lesser amount of thermal damage. Hybrid turrets require both ammunition like projectile turrets but also use ship capacitor every time they fire, and their damage type is always some combination of kinetic with thermal. It should also be noted that it takes ten seconds to change loaded ammunition or reload empty projectile turrets, whereas it only takes one second to swap the frequency crystal in laser turrets, and five seconds to change or reload hybrid turrets.
Turret range is a bit tricky because a lot of factors can alter a turret's optimal range, however there are some noticeable trends in the different turret types when looking at default and actual ranges. While there are short and long range versions of each turret type, the range differences are more complex than that. The shortest ranged turrets of all are blasters, followed by autocannons, followed by pulse lasers. The ranges continue increasing through beam lasers, artillery, and railguns. That means the range difference between blasters and railguns is huge compared to the difference in range between pulse lasers and beam lasers. (I will be adding a chart to this effect later, unless someone else beats me to it.)
Also there is a trend in that projectiles tend to have huge falloff while lasers have extremely short falloff with hybrids somewhere between the two. As a result of this projectile turrets are often used "in falloff."
Regular Fitting Considerations
Turrets are only fitted in "high" slots and use up one "turret" mount on the ship when fitted. Generally when fitting turrets it is important to look at the bonuses of the ship. For example, both the rupture and the hurricane have two bonuses for projectile turrets, one that increases damage and one that increases rate of fire. It would be foolhardy to use any other turret type on these ships. There are some general rules of thumb regarding fitting turrets, although they all add up to making sure that you can fire all your turrets at the same target at the same time:2
- fit turrets that the ship has a bonus for
- fit turrets that are identical
- same size (S, M, or L)
- same type (hybrid, projectile, or laser)
- same class (pulse laser or beam laser)
- same subsize (Small Ion Blaster I vs Small Neutron Blaster I)
- same meta level (Light Neutron Blaster I vs Anode Light Neutron Particle Cannon I)3
Note that some ships may not have any bonus for turrets but still have turret mount points, i.e. the myrmidon. Since this ship has no high-slot bonus at all you are still free to fit turrets (since it has turret mount points) but you can select any type of turret you are skilled in and feel works with the rest of your fit.
Irregular Fitting Considerations
Sometimes a ship has a weapon bonus but you will want to mount different weapons in the high slots on that ship. This can occur when the bonus is not a damage bonus (whether a direct bonus to damage or indirectly through rate of fire), but rather a bonus that does not affect the damage output of the turrets. Many Amarrian ships have a bonus that reduces the capacitor used by laser turrets and some Caldari vessels, i.e. the moa and the ferox, have a range bonus for hybrid turrets. If one were to fit projectile turrets onto an Amarrian vessel then one would be foregoing the capacitor bonus, however projectile turrets require zero capacitor anyway. This allows for a rather unique fit in that most Amarrian ships have large capacitors to feed their lasers and this extra capacitor can be put to use, for example in supporting a very strong tank. This is similarly the case with the moa and the ferox, where one ship bonus is to shield resistance. Fitting turrets which are not hybrid turrets foregoes the range bonus but may result in more damage overall, depending on the specific fit.
- There are other (non-main) ways to damage or destroy the ships of other players. These include smartbombs, bombs (pseudo-missiles), NPC ships or sentry guns, and convincing them to self-destruct.
- It is extremely important strategically as well as tactically to focus all of your damage capability on one target at a time. Most targets regenerate over time and your ability to destroy them is measured by how much your damage output exceeds their ability to repair/recharge. If you only barely exceed their defense then it will take a long time to destroy that target and you are likely taking damage from multiple targets in the meantime. Eliminating targets from the field as quickly as possible is a good strategy. (I often illustrate this from the RTS genre by comparing sending your entire army into the enemy base compared to sending one troop at a time - in the former situation you overrun their base while in the latter the base defenses destroy each unit handily.)
- There are exceptions to this. Often it will not matter whether your turrets are the same meta level or not, however you will not be able to group turrets if they are not exactly identical (and empty of ammunition). You can group your turrets by shift-dragging them onto each other in space (on the HUD) or at the fitting screen (in station).