Last month, I went into some detail about skill training for a suicide ganking Catalyst alt. Needless to say, I have been very pleased to see so many new Gallente characters showing up in Kamio to join the Knights of the Order. Each one is very valuable. If you've been following along for awhile but are still sitting on the fence about whether to create one of your own (or to repurpose an otherwise idle alt), you haven't fallen behind: Thanks to the low skill requirements needed to pilot a gank Catalyst, a ganker alt can be created almost at the drop of a hat.
In what is likely to be my final post about skill training, I'd like to focus on the manner in which a new alt can increase his firepower in an efficient manner. Even without moving up to tech II modules, Catalyst pilots may rapidly enhance their DPS with additional training. You add a little here, a little there, and it adds up very quickly. For the sake of comparison, I'll occasionally mention the effect of various modules/ammo.
It can be somewhat intimidating to start a character from scratch. There are so many skills out there that you've probably forgotten half of what you've trained on your main. Luckily, the life of the Catalyst ganker alt is more simple. If you read this post and have read my earlier ones, you'll practically know the drill by heart.
For the last time, then, we start with the basics. To fly a Catalyst with its basic fit (8 Light Ion Blaster I, 1 Warp Scrambler I, and 3 Magnetic Field Stabilizer I), you only need Destroyers I, Propulsion Jamming I, and Weapon Upgrades III. Add Long Range Targeting I for a Sensor Booster or two if you want.
(If you're not rolling a Gallente alt, train Gallente Frigate III. If you're neither Gallente nor Caldari, get Small Hybrid Turret I. Note how minimal the Gallente-specific requirements are. If you're choosing between rolling a new alt or repurposing an old one, you're probably better off keeping the old one if it's got any gunnery skills trained at all. Nevertheless, Small Hybrid Turret gives you 5% damage per level and is quick to train, so get it to III and catch up with those Gallente/Caldari alts.)
Now let's get down to business. Here is, roughly, the fastest way to add DPS. Because our small blasters fire so quickly, and because faction police are not as easy to time as Concord, I'll speak of damage and rate of fire bonuses interchangeably. I'll talk about tech II stuff separately, since most often you won't be fitting tech II--but you'll see the comparison.
Rapid Firing I (4%)
Cybernetics I (4% with implants)
Enables you to fit two cheap implants (less than 1 mill each in trade hubs), the Zainou 'Deadeye' Small Hybrid Turret SH-603 (3%) and Eifyr and Co. 'Gunslinger' Surgical Strike SS-901 (1%).
Note: If you remember to select a planet or whatever and spam the "warp" button as soon as police attack you, you should be able to save your pod after each gank.
Rapid Firing II (4%)
Jury Rigging I, II, III; Hybrid Weapon Rigging I (10% with rigs)
Enables you to fit Small Hybrid Collision Accelerator I and Small Hybrid Burst Aerator I. Each will lower your powergrid as a drawback, but luckily it won't interfere with the basic fit, thanks to the improved powergrid in Retribution.
Gunnery III (2%)
Gunnery is a Rank 1 skill, and Rapid Firing is Rank 2. Gunnery trains twice as fast and provides half the bonus. It's the same bonus/time ratio, but since Gunnery finishes first, you get your bonus to the battlefield sooner.
Rapid Firing III (4%)
Gunnery IV (2%)
Surgical Strike I, II, III (9%)
Gunnery IV is a prerequisite to Surgical Strike, otherwise we'd have trained it much sooner.
Small Hybrid Turret IV (5%)
Rapid Firing IV (4%)
Engineering IV, V; Science IV; Energy Management I, II, III; Thermodynamics I (15%)
The gauntlet for overheating your guns. Luckily Engineering is a Rank 1 skill. Its bonuses to powergrid may be useful later on, when fitting Neutron blaster variants.
Small Hybrid Turret V (5%)
This is a prerequisite to tech II, but we're getting to the point where it's worth training here just for the damage. Surgical Strike is a Rank 4 skill, so training it to level IV is not much less than the time to train Small Hybrid Turret to level V.
Motion Prediction I, II, III; Small Blaster Specialization I+ (tech II)
Small Blaster Specialization offers a 2% bonus per level, but sadly the bonus only applies when using tech II guns.
Surgical Strike IV (3%)
Gunnery V (2%)
Rapid Firing V (4%)
If you have nothing else to do, you can train these skills.
Now let's talk about tech II and some other stuff.
Always remember to fit your tech I guns with faction ammo, either Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S or Federation Navy Antimatter Charge S. It provides a 15% bonus to damage.
With tech II guns, remember to fit Void S instead. It offers over 11% more damage than the faction ammo does.
Weapon Upgrades IV allows you to fit Magnetic Field Stabilizer IIs. Upgrading all three will only offer less than 12% extra damage, due to stacking penalties. Not as much as you might think, given their cost. Weapon Upgrades IV will reduce the CPU need for guns, which may be useful when dealing with Neutron blasters. However, Electronics IV trains twice as quickly and offers a slightly better bonus since it boosts your total CPU.
Upgrading to tech II guns (with Void S) offers a bonus of 36% and you can increase it a little more by training up Small Blaster Specialization a couple times. That's more than twice the bonus of overheating your guns. On the other hand, overheating can be done for free and regardless of what guns you're fitting--you won't always be using tech II.
The enhanced CPU/powergrid in Retribution makes it more practical to fit Neutron blasters, or at least to switch out some of your Ion blasters with Neutrons. You may need to drop Sensor Boosters/Warp Scramblers. Just make sure your gang has at least one person with a Warp Scrambler for tackle and at least one person with a Sensor Booster or two (with Scan Resolution script(s)) to kill pods.
Switching from Light Ion Blaster I's to Light Neutron Blaster I's offers a bonus of 6.5%. It's very close to the same bonus when you switch from tech II ions to tech II neutrons. Not too much of a jump, but it's there.
Here are the bonuses you would get for swapping out modules of the basic tech I fit (Light Ion I's and MFS I's) with the named modules I listed in this post, and tech II mods listed for comparison:
Magnetic Field Stabilizer I -- 0% (benchmark)
Linear Flux Stabilizer I -- 5%
Gauss Field Balancer I -- 8%
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II -- 12%
Light Ion Blaster I -- 0% (benchmark)
Regulated Light Ion Phase Cannon I -- 5%
Limited Light Ion Blaster I -- 10%
Anode Light Ion Particle Cannon I -- 15%
Modal Light Ion Particle Accelerator I -- 20%
Light Neutron Blaster I -- 7%
Regulated Light Neutron Phase Cannon I -- 12%
Limited Light Neutron Blaster I -- 18%
Anode Light Neutron Particle Cannon I -- 23%
Modal Light Neutron Particle Accelerator I -- 28%
Tech II Guns:
Light Ion Blaster II -- 36%
Light Neutron Blaster II -- 46%
From these stats, you can see the wide variation of damage bonuses provided by the different kinds of guns. Certain named Ions are better than some Neutrons. Tech II Ions and Neutrons both beat the best named Neutrons. By contrast, the difference between the bonuses provided by upgrading damage mods is not as great.
It's interesting to compare some of these bonuses in context. For example, if you trained Rapid Firing I, II, III, IV, and V, you would get a total improvement to your DPS of 20%. This is less than the improvement of fitting the second-best named Neutrons rather than Light Ion Blaster I's. If you trained Surgical Strike I, II, III, and IV, you would get a bonus of 12%, which is equal to the bonus provided by getting your hands on a set of the fourth-best named Neutrons.
But don't count out those skills! Training Surgical Strike to III and the rest of the gunnery skills up to IV from their original levels gives you a bonus of over 41%, which is greater than the upgrade from tech I to tech II Ions.