There are few things in Eve that make me as happy as being in a Dramiel with the Sariel's flame skin running. The ship's attitude and disposition tend towards aggression, anger, and badassery all mixed together in a combination that leaves most other frigates in the dust. Plus flames. What more could a Pirate want?
Over the years the Dramiel's abilities have been nerfed, buffed, and generally messed around with in a seemingly never-ending cycle. But this once abused and over-powered insanity generator has settled into a workhorse role that suits it. In many ways, it has taken over the slot that the Daredevil used to inhabit. A general purpose role that is well suited for solo or small gang PvP, but not over-powered enough to dominate any specific niche to the point of fear. Which, for those of us looking for good fights, is a good thing.
The Dram has enough versatility to avoid predictability. It can be fitted effectively in many different ways, from Arties to Auto-cannons, dual prop, speed, kite, or scram brawl, armor-rep, to even hull tanked variations. This versatility, while not as wide as other ships in the category, helps to keep the Dram from being overly predictable. You can never be entirely sure what you'll be getting when you face one down. The odds are, at least in Low Sec, that it'll be AC/AB fitted. But, will it?
In my opinion the Dram is best served with at least one wingman along for the ride. While the Dram is still an excellent choice for solo adventures, the sheer number of variations these days make any engagement unpredictable enough to worry any pilot. Having at least one other ship along for support can make all the difference. In the last few years the Dram has overtaken my favorite ship, the Daredevil, in my top list for one very simple reason - I can still get fights in one. And while that might not be the most important determining factor for anyone reading this post, it is number one for me.
The last Dram I lost was on March 8th against 2 Firetails and a Comet in a new fit I was trying out, which isn't my normal Dram fit. And while that was a trial fit, it also helps to show how versatile the ship can be. And I encourage all pilots to explore new ways of fitting the ship and exploiting its power. The Dram benefits a lot from T2 and faction mods, and I would advise against flying it until you have enough skills to properly fit it. Not to mention the skills needed to fly it properly.
The best Dram fits work in a narrow range of space we call "Scram Kite" range. Which is a narrow band that runs from over-heated scram range, usually around 11k, to the bitter end of optimal range for the enemy, usually around 7-8k. Inside that zone, depending on what ammo you have loaded, is where the speed, sig radius, and agility of the Dram shine most effectively. But it is also among the hardest places to operate in all combat in Eve. It takes skill, practice, knowledge, and patience to be successful at Scram Kiting. But the results can be phenomenal. And I highly recommend it.
The Dramiel might not be the scary beast it once was, but it can still empty locals when it appears on d-scan. Jump into one and go out looking for good fights. I guarantee you won't be bored.