The Crow may be one of the most feared interceptor-class frigates in New Eden. Although not the fastest interceptor out there, it can fly fast enough to stay ahead of missiles and drones, and fast enough to muck up the tracking of even small turrets. What makes the Crow such a menace, however, is the fact that it can launch standard missiles from three missile launchers while orbiting at top speed; while the target ship's guns, missiles, and drones chase the Crow fruitlessly, the Crow's missiles slam into the target with deadly monotony. Over the past three days, I've been putting a state-of-the-art Crow through its paces. This is my report.
First, I found the Crow an expensive ship to buy and fit. The ship itself cost me almost 20 million ISK--I placed buy orders at lower prices, but found no takers in my home region. On top of that, the three 'Arbalest' Standard Missile Launchers I fit it with cost an arm and a leg; fortunately, I managed to loot the launchers I used. Unfortunately, that means I missed out on millions of ISK I could have realized from their sale. With such a hefty investment, I went ahead and used T2 modules for most of my other fittings, wanting to get as much of an edge as I could over my opponents.
Although I'm still filling out my skills at effectively commanding interceptors, I had to take quite some time to hone my missile skills. Even though I had significant missile training from my military training as a youth, I was (and am) unsatisfied with my overall efficiency at maximizing missile run times, speed, and accuracy. This is a situation I continue to remedy.
When I tested a railgun Taranis, I was completely unimpressed and haven't pursued additional opportunities to command such ships. When I tested blaster Taranises, I was ecstatic and fell in love with the brute power offered up. So what do I think about the Crow? I haven't fallen in love with it; but on the other hand, I have a growing appreciation for its role in combat.
Compared with the Taranis, the Crow is simply faster, while the Taranis deals out more damage. In combat, I typically flew the Taranis in close orbit at speeds of 5-600 m/sec, and did over 190 in DPS. I typically took damage, but only for a short period of time--the few moments it took to gank my target. In the Crow, on the other hand, I orbit at about 20 km out, going at speeds of over 5 km/sec, and doing less than 40 DPS to my target. I generally don't take any damage at all in solo combat, even if it takes me several minutes to kill my target--even if it takes me half an hour of firing missiles and waiting for more and more mates to join me in nibbling our target to death.
If that was the whole story, I'd just ignore Crows and continue to fly blasteranises for now. But one more difference between the two interceptor classes is what types of ship they may safely engage. In a blasteranis, I was confident against T1 frigates and cruisers, and if the captains were inexperienced, battlecruisers. In a Crow, I feel comfortable engaging all those ships, plus assault frigates, battleships, and even many heavy assault ships. Either ship will fare about as well (or as poorly) against other interceptors, using their corresponding strengths. In the Taranis, I could only engage ships that would be quickly overwhelmed by my DPS; in the Crow, I just have to avoid ships that can run me down and web me (and there are several that can).
Over the three days that my first Crow survived, I killed four frigates and two destroyers in solo combat, and with the assistance from a wingman killed an Ishkur-class assault ship and won a 17 million ISK ransom from a battlecruiser. BattleClinic valued those kills at 28.75M ISK, against 42M for my Crow. Not a profitable run; but not bad tuition for a new fighting style, either.
My last battle started with me tackling a Myrmidon ratting in lowsec (where else). My mate then jumped into the system in his Enyo and warped to the battlefield as I took out the battlecruiser's drones. We demanded a 20M ISK ransom, but our target claimed he didn't have it and countered with an offer of 17M. My colleague and I decided to reject the offer, and set our weapons to maximum DPS against our victim; we expected a long fight, given the Myrmidon's tanking ability and our limited DPS. However, the fight was cut short when a Rapier appeared at the asteroid belt. My wingman, wiser than I at such things, got out immediately. I, however, told the Myrmidon we accepted his counter-offer, and immediately my wallet flashed as the ISK was transfered to my account. I quickly set a course to get away from both ships, but before I knew it my ship was simply shot out from under me (teaching me about Rapiers and long-range webbing, which let every drone, missile, and rat in the neighborhood catch me and beat the living daylights out of me).
The Rapier apparently did not want the security status hit of attacking the Myrmidon, so the battlecruiser paid his ransom and lived to rat at lowsec asteroid belts another day. The Rapier scooped up about 10M ISK in loot. My wingman received 8.5M ISK for his share of the ransom. I managed to warp out in my escape capsule and return to my home station, where I fit a backup Crow that was standing by; like my intended victim, an overall loser in spite of earning over 10M in ransom and insurance.