Tech One Frigates. Cheap, dependable, and capable of greatness. Their loss doesn't sting the wallet like their Pirate or Faction cousins, and yet they can also tackle and solo ships much larger than themselves. Challenge a Frigate against the right opponent and watch the magic happen. We love T1 Frigates for all the potential glory each one represents, the hours and hours of hunting, fine-tuning fits, and hopelessly being caught by those annoyingly linked blobs.
So what are the best T1 Frigates in Eve right now? And why. The following list is my personal opinion based on actual combat experience as a daily (Until the AT and Null Sec campaigns at least) undocker and fighterer in them. Feel free to disagree.
#5: The Merlin
The key to being a good T1 Frigate in my opinion is versatility. As you'll see from this list, most of the Frigates excel at being versatile. Essentially what versatility boils down to is unpredictability and the capacity to fit multiple versions that each fill a certain and distinct role. The Merlin is a good example of this verisimilitude in action. Blaster fitted with tank, mwd fitted with rails, dual webs, the Merlin can be legit fitted in a number of ways that allow it some options when it comes to engagements.
#4: The Tormentor
The Amarr only get one T1 Frigate on this list because, while they are all fun to fly, they simply can't measure up to the top tier Frigates. Mostly this is a result of inherent capacitor issues and even the Tormentor must deal with those. But despite that, this plucky little ship has also benefitted from the recent meta-changes around Beam Lasers. These changes have, once again, given the ship versatility in fittings and options when it comes time to engage. The Tormentor is slow for a Frigate, but it can take a lot of damage for its class.
#3: The Incursus
It is fitting that the Incursus lands squarely in the middle of this list, because this standard bearer is the epitome of the middle-ground. No matter how you decide to fit your Incursus the potential tank is always going to be the foundation around which this ship excels in combat. Blasters or rails, and that one solitary drone, the Incursus' abilities revolve around its defensive capabilities. Which can often be extraordinary and legendary.
#2: The Breacher
The Breacher is probably the least versatile Frigate on this list, but what it lacks in variety it more than makes up for in sheer power. Depending on your fit the Breacher can reach amazing heights in applied damage mixed with a rather potent burst tank. ASBs and recent changes to rocket applications have benefitted the Breacher and made it one of the best Frigates in Eve for combat.
#1: The Tristan
The most versatile T1 Frigate in Eve right now, the Tristan combines everything into one little package. Based around a solid drone bay, the Tristan can choose its engagement window better than any other Frigate. This choice means that no matter how you fit it, and there are a multitude of choices from blasters, rails, and neuts, it is usually the one dictating the engagement. And as any combat pilot will tell you, that is almost always the first key to victory in any fight.
The next five:
The Atron, awesome and unexpected damage application built around speed and a light tank. The Slasher, another example of speed and potential engagement window dominance. The Kestrel, not as versatile as it used to be but still a good choice for combat. The Maulus, unexpected and a viable counter-fit candidate that can surprise you. The Crucifier or the Executioner, I really can't decide between these two. Both are good choices but they each also suffer a bit in certain areas.
Every ship in Eve fills a role. And sometimes those specific roles make a ship a potent and dedicated opponent. For T1 Frigates it is important not only to be strong, well fitted, and flown with ability - it is often just as important to be able to surprise your enemy. This is why I appreciate versatility in my choices of Frigates. Predictability might work for larger or more expensive ships, but cheap T1 Frigates need an extra edge.
What do you think of this list and what Frigates do you rely on for the win?