Generally I've been pretty happy with how I've approached skills. I remapped Int/Mem pretty early on for the character and burned through the core skills, while still having enough time to get into the ships and guns needed to learn my way around. With 2014 coming, a new corp, and the character older it's time to look at the plan.
Evolution of Skill Training
Previously I pushed my way up the skill tree in one faction (Gallente), primarily moving to Battleships for their L4 mission potential as an ISK generator. Since my tolerance for red crosses is pretty low I don't expect to return there, though when my ISK runs low I may have to reconsider given how lucrative Incursions report to be. Along the way I also focused on core skills to give myself a strong base, and in particular with a nod to the advice I'd been given that if I was going to fly an expensive large ship I should be able to fly it well. Since my POV was Gallente I didn't develop any missile core skills, though I drove most turret support skills to 5.
As I moved away from missions I decided instead to branch out into the sub-Battlecruiser world, though still motivated from a Gallente point of view. Assault Frigates, Recon, HACs, and T3 cruisers (primarily for wormhole use) allowed me to use my base skills in new ships. As I developed these skills I started eyeing the other races. It seemed a shame to have Recon and HACs and only fly the Gallente ships. The best match seemed to be Amarr, since it had the armor tanking, turret, and drone skills in common, so I trained Amarr Cruiser to 5 to unlock those T2 cruisers.
The price point of the Recon, HAC, and T3 ships has kept me from flying them recklessly into danger as a solo pilot. As I trained lasers I realized that the real skill needed wasn't character skill but pilot skill. I knew how to brawl with blasters, but I hadn't learned how to kite. I did have some fun with a kite Omen and 10MN Coercer, but realized I probably should learn with the frigates first. I also kept hearing how Sugar Kyle loves her Jaguar and saw how that not having Minmatar Frigate 5 was keeping me from that ship.
So my training has evolved from a focused deep train into Gallente to a plan similarly focused, but along a different axis - focusing on flying all the (turret) frigate (and then cruiser) hulls at high levels of character skill to help me develop the pilot skill. Branching across races also then opens up the pirate ships - probably just in time for them to get a balance pass.
I think this will also make me a more valuable member of my new corp - I will be able to jump into any frigate/cruiser and contribute, with the caveat of my own learning. Since part of my core skills was making sure I could run T2 remote armor/shield repair and T2 ewar then I can get into that support role for any race. Not T2 logi, since that's a separate long train, but if I find I like it and the corp has a use for it I can start the true Logistics path given that I'll have the basis of the cruiser 5 skills.
What would then be new for me in 2014
Focusing on the smaller hulls also means their T2 variants. Assault Frigates I particularly look forward to flying more. Interceptors are currently a big meta now and I can pick them up quickly. The Ewar Frigates require Long Range Targeting 5 which isn't terrible efficient in my current Per/Will remap, but isn't that bad either (11 days). Effective use of logi may mean I need to get my logi drone skills trained as well.
Opportunity Cost - so what did I give up by this choice of path
- I am not driving towards the T2 heavy drone and T2 sentries and their long trains, though I know this means I won't be able to use the very fashionable Ishtar to current meta.
- I am not going to be Incursion capable anytime soon, with only Gallente Battleship 4 and no other racial Battleship skills, and thus no Marauders.
- I am not going to be Wormhole ready for many corps who want to see shield battleships, Tengu/Loki perfect skills. I do see some WH groups who say they want applicants to be in a capital or on path to one. As we've seen recently, this applies to some nullsec entities too.
- Large weapons may or may not be off the path, depending on their use in Attack Battlecruisers. Right now the meta seems to be swinging against the ABCs so I'm not considering that a huge loss.
The decision point will be when my next remap comes up. I'm in Per/Will now - do I stick with that for a while and pick up all the missile skills, switch to Int/Mem to get some of those level 5 shield skills I skipped, or am I now far enough along that I'll need a compromise Int/Per remap to do both. I figure I'm still a year away plus from wanting the Leadership and Links type skills.