Writers should not be in the business of propping up stereotypes.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to what ship to fly in EVE Online. In fact, a very common question I see from new players is "What ship should I train for after X?" This series will attempt to answer that question by providing an overview of the combat ships available for each race and a general guide to how they all fit together.
As you'll see with all of these posts, there's not a single way to move through all the ships of the Amarr race. That said, the Amarr are the race where a single design philosophy permeates their ships more than any other. Because attempting to discuss both the ship progression as well as the capabilities of the individual ships would likely cause these posts to lose a bit of focus, I won't be doing much of that here. Instead, I would direct your attention to the excellent Know Your Enemy series over at The Altruist. I'll be linking to the individual posts of his blog as they apply to the ships at hand as a simple aid in readability and updating these posts with additional links as new articles get added to the KYE series. Many thanks to Azual for his terrific series and permission to link to it here.
First up for the Amarr is their primary ship line, focused on hard hitting lasers with versatile range coupled with sturdy armor tanks. These are the ships that most commonly come to mind when someone is talking about the Amarr race and there's good reason for that. These ships represent a majority of the combat capable ships of the Amarr and training down this path will provide a Capsuleer the most ships to fly for the skillpoints invested. The elegant simplicity of Lasers and Armor skills will also ensure none of your time spent training for one goes to waste for the next.
Step 1. Frigates
Unfortunately for the Amarr, they really only have one T1 Combat Frigate worth mentioning. While the Executioner follows the same design philosophy, its 2/2/2 layout and low HP don't make it a viable choice in most, if any, combat situations. The good news is, a new player in EVE can have a solid T2 fit Punisher with most support skills to IV by the end of their first month.
Step 2. Elite Frigates or Cruisers
This provides the first real choice for the laser enthusiast. Training Amarr Frigate V only takes about a week, with training Assault Ships or Interceptors to IV only needing another four days to finish. Unfortunately for the Amarr, the Retribution is regarded as a substandard choice due to its single midslot (This may change very soon as recent changes on the Sisi test server have the Retribution receiving an extra mid) making solo work extremely difficult. Fortunately, both the Crusader and the Slicer are a solid choice for players who felt the Punisher was just too slow for their play style. As with any of the Four Faction's Frigates, no additional skills are required to sit in them, but the additional cost of the hulls makes them a ship that generally needs better than starting support skills to not just be throwing ISK down the drain.
For those looking to get into something a bit bigger, the Omen stands out as the obvious next step. Cruiser combat is somewhat of a lost art in EVE, presenting many players with just a stepping stone on to bigger and better things. You'll need to decide for yourself if training Amarr Cruiser to V (approximately a month long endeavor in itself) is worth it to unlock the more specialized Tech 2 Cruisers, or to spend most of your time in this ship working on Medium Weapons while polishing your support skills before moving on to Battlecruisers. The Omen does present the first opportunity for an Amarr player to utilize drones in combat, although with the limited bay they represent a small percent of the Omen's overall DPS and drone support skills are often neglected. While the Maller is the other Combat Cruiser for the Amarr, its lack of damage bonus and notorious reputation as a bait ship make it the less appealing choice.
Step 3. Elite Cruisers or Battlecruisers
If the added skillpoint and ISK investment didn't scare you away from T2 Cruisers, you'll be rewarded with a solid lineup of the Zealot or Devoter as well as the less skill, but still ISK, intensive Navy Omen. As with many of the Tech 2 ships, the Amarr Cruisers fit well in their specific roles, but at a loss of a degree of versatility and with the added expense of both time for the ship skills and money for the more expensive hulls.
A favorite of many EVE PvP enthusiasts, the Battlecruiser lineup is in many respects similar to the other races in that one, the Harbinger, is considered far superior to the other, the Prophecy. The Prophecy receives the same resistance and cap bonus as the Punisher/Maller, and makes for an excellent bait ship, but is outdone by the Harbinger in most other categories. The Harbinger, with its 8/4/6 slot layout, also presents the first time a for an Amarr ship that a Shield tank becomes a standard option. If you've been ignoring shield tanking, now is a good time to pick up those skills, even if you don't intend to try the shield fits people still need to shoot through your shields before getting to your armor. Both ships also offer the first chance to launch a full flight of 5 drones, meaning Drone skills are no longer something that can be completely ignored going forward.
Step 4. Elite Battlecruisers or Battleships
Following roughly the same pattern as the T2 Cruiser vs Battlecruiser dynamic above, the next choice to make is whether to devote your time to Battlecruiser V (I know many players who swear this is the best skill they ever trained, even if T2 Ships are not the goal) and the subsequent Command Ships skill, or to go for the more versatile and also cheaper Battleships, which require the training of Large Energy Turrets. Because Command Ships tend to fill a very specific niche in EVE, the majority of players are likely to find that they find more use in the Amarr Battleships than they do in the Absolution, and there's good reason for that.
Whatever other shortcomings can be aimed at the Amarr ship line-up, it's difficult to find fault in their Battleships. With the inherent range of Large Turrets with T2 ammo, one of the single biggest threats to the Amarr thus far (being kited and too slow to do anything about it) have finally been eliminated. Furthermore, the Amarr present the only race in the game in which all three Battleships use a single Weapon and Tanking Style, meaning that training for one gives you access to all three. All three ships also have ample Drone bays, 75 for the Apocalypse/Abaddon and 125 for the Armageddon, necessitating Drone skills to take full advantage of the ships, but further increasing their versatility.
Deserving special mention is the newly introduced Oracle class Battlecruiser. I don't have much to say about them, not having flown or fought one yet myself, and the emerging Meta game surrounding their use is still in a bit of flux. What I can say is they represent a training step beyond your other Battlecruisers, requiring Large Turrets, but below that of Battleships or Command Ships as they don't require a separate Spaceship Command skill be trained.
Offering a more limited selection, the second choice for an Amarr pilot is often the Khanid manufactured line of ships. Eschewing lasers in favor of short range Missile combat, they still display their Amarrian roots with strong Armor tanks. The biggest downside to going this route is likely to be the impact it has on your wallet as the Amarr offer almost no Tech 1 Ships that utilize missiles. The biggest upside to training this path is likely to be the ease of crosstraining. If you follow this path to its conclusion of the Damnation, then you're only 4 days away from flying a Drake, although additional shield training would be highly recommended.
Step 1. Frigates
As previously mentioned, there are few T1 Amarr ships using Missiles. In fact, there's only one; the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor is generally ignored in the discussion of viable combat frigates and there are a number of good reasons for that. Its 4/2/3 slot layout makes it a poor tackler, a role often suggested for new pilots flying in gangs, and it doesn't receive any particular abilities that make it excel at anything else. Equipped as a close-range brawler, the ship has comparable speed, DPS, and EHP to the Rifter and, without falloff to worry about, doing it out to about 10km...at least on paper. The lack of midslots prevent fitting a Web, which leaves it likely doing about half of its potential damage if tackling alone and no way for it to keep another Frigate that has a web from escaping. The other option, suited for gang work, is to equip Standard Missile Launchers and spew missiles from outside 40km. Foregoing tackle mods for something like a Tracking Disruptor can increase survivability, but most gangs would rather have their newer players serving as tackle instead of contributing 70DPS and quickly dying to a single flight of light drones.
To make it clear, I wouldn't recommend actually flying the Inquisitor into combat. While the ship does have uses elsewhere, (I flew it when first starting Level 1 Missions and it did just fine) you're unlikely to be pleased with its performance in PvP. Unfortunately for the budding Khanid, you don't really have any options until T2 Frigates, but oh what options they are.
Step 2. Elite Frigates
The good news is that Amarr Frigate V and your choice of Spaceship Command allows for three options, the Vengeance, the Malediction, and the Purifier. The bad news is that CCP can't see an elegant design choice when it's staring them in the face, so the Purifier is actually manufactured by Viziam in game. Thankfully, this has absolutely no bearing on your ship availability, unless you're one of those crazy Role-Playing types.
The Vengeance and Malediction are both available after training either Assault Ships or Interceptors and the prerequisite Rocket skills. You'll be rewarded with an excellent ship for either solo or small gang work with either choice, and the bonus to Capless weapons will make you the envy of all the Laser Amarr struggling to run their tank and guns at the same time. Following the Khanid design philosophy, you only receive a bonus for the short range launchers (Rockets) and not the long range ones (Standard Missiles), leaving you somewhat at a disadvantage when long-range tactics are called for. On the plus side, you can forego training Guided Missile Precision and your weapons are capable of doing 100% of any of the four damage types, making you the envy of all the Caldari pilots with their All Kinetic All The Time launchers.
On the topic of long-range tactics, with all your time spent on Missile Support skills it's an easy enough step (Requiring less than 2 days in fact) to get Torpedoes for a Stealth Bomber. You'll need to spend some time on a few out of the way skills, such as Cloaking, and a couple of Electronic Warfare related skills to really take advantage of the ship, but with a potential DPS of ~500 you can quickly find yourself of use to a larger gang in a DPS role that would otherwise take much longer to reach by training for another ship. Something to note if you happen to be plugging training requirements into something like EVEMon or EVEHQ is that, like all Missile Launchers, the Weapon System has far fewer requirements than the Missile itself. It's just something to be aware of when figuring out what skills you'll need, and doesn't work the same way for Turrets (which always have the requirements attached to the Weapon not the Bullet).
Step 3. Elite Cruiser
The Sacrilege, being a T2 Ship, requires a relatively heavy skill investment leaving you in a similar position as when looking for a T1 Frigate to fly. It's probably advisable to crosstrain into something else before waiting on Amarr Cruiser V to be completed, assuming you're not satisfied just flying Frigates while you wait. The necessary skills to fly a Drake can be trained inside 10 days, with a loss of about 20% of your potential EHP if you have poor Shield Tanking skills, and a HAM Drake can provide a suitable alternative to the Sacrilege while you wait.
Step 4. Elite Battlecruiser
The Amarr missile user may not have a Battlecruiser to call their own, but they do have a Command Ship in the Damnation. Of course, as with most T2 ships, the Damnation fills a niche role and won't be for everyone. However, if you have an Armor Gang, they'll be pleased as punch that you came along. The Damnation requires a significant investment to fly, both in ISK and Skillpoints, so you should make sure it's really the ship for you before starting to train for it. Again, crosstraining is recommended, not just into Caldari ships this time. Although I'm not discussing them here, as their not really mainline combat ships, the Command Ship skills requires Logistics IV to train, and if you're training for the Damnation it's likely that you've already got Armor Gangs to fly with and Guardians are often welcome.
The final role an Amarr pilot is likely to find themselves in is one of Electronic Warfare. Providing a relatively small niche to fill, with no ships going above the Cruiser sized hull, the Amarr Electronic Warfare of Tracking Disruptors and Energy Neutralizers/Nosferatu is still a deadly pairing. This progression provides at most 5 ships, two Tech 1 and three Tech 2 and it's worth noting that while the Tech 2 ships receive bonuses to both of the above mentioned E-War types, the Tech 1 ships receive bonuses only to Tracking Disruptors.
Step 1. Frigate
The Crucifier, in a similar vein to the Inquisitor above, is not an oft-used ship in EVE. While it can provide a starting point for a new player wanting to go down this path, the ease at which a Cruiser can be trained and the vulnerability of a Tracking Disrupting frigate to both Missiles and Drones make it an unpopular choice. That said, if you don't want to spend the time training other weapon skills, the Crucifier is the only T1 Amarr frigate able to fit three mid slots and thus the Holy Trinity of Tackle mods.
Step 2. Elite Frigate or Cruiser
The Sentinel is the Amarr Electronic Attack Ship and one of the few (if not only) given consideration as a Solo vessel. Its bonuses to Energy Neutralizer Range and Transfer Amount, coupled with Tracking Disurptors can allow it to disable and slowly kill other frigates from range with a flight of 4 Light Drones. Its generally low EHP and narrow target selection doesn't make it a terribly popular choice, but it is a very capable ship in the right hands and under the right conditions.
The Arbitrator is the Amarr E-War Cruiser. It's also the Amarr Mining Cruiser and, surprisingly enough with that said, a rather effective Combat Cruiser. Since the Arbitrator relies on its drones for the vast majority of its damage (Or its mining for that matter), it's able to project damage without sacrificing much else in the way of fitting space. While the combined Tank & Gank isn't all that impressive on paper, the drone damage is consistent and the bonus to Tracking Disruptors can allow it to mitigate incoming damage to survive longer than its EHP would otherwise seem to indicate. The biggest downside of the Arbitrator for a new player is likely to be the investment involved, both of ISK and Skillpoints, stemming from its large drone bay. While the skillpoints won't go to waste training down this path, and can also make cross-training into Gallente Drone boats for more variety in ships a bit easier, they still represent a significant time investment. The ISK is also not an insignificant consideration as this is a T1 Cruiser, Tech 2 drones to fill its bay can push the total cost of the ship over 20misk.
Step 3. Elite Cruisers
Ah yes, the real reason people train down this path, now presenting the Amarr Recons. Both the Curse and Pilgrim are deadly ships. The Curse in particular is likely to have caused more tears than any other Recon barring the infamous Caldari Falcon. While both ships can provide excellent support for Gangs, the Amarr Recons are also somewhat unique in that they can still be terrifying when alone. Although this Tertiary role of the Amarr offers a very narrow selection, plenty of pilots still train it solely for the use of one or both of these ships. It is worth noting, from a skill investment standpoint, that while both ships rely on largely the same pool of skills, that the Pilgrim will require a few extra days to gain access to the Covert Ops Cloak, while the Curse is often seen sporting a Shield tank due to its 5/6/4 slot layout, necessitating time spent on Shield Tanking skills.
That's a wrap for this first installment of racial ship progression in EVE. You may notice that I omit certain categories of ships during these posts, such as Strategic Cruisers, Black Ops Battleships, Marauders or, beyond a small mention, Logistics ships. This was an intentional editing choice for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is that these ships are not typically stepping stones along any particular path, but rather a singular means to an end. As always, your feedback on ways to improve future installments (or this one through the power of Ninja Editing) are asked for and greatly appreciated.