I've always flown Amarr as much as I could. The mostly symmetrical designs, gold coloring, heavy armored, laser-firing ships of the Amarr Empire have simply won my heart. I don't like the rust buckets of Minmitar with their flimsy little wings or the Caldari with their asymmetrical, jagged lines. The Gallente have some nice ship designs, but their odd bulbous quality never took with me. There wasn't really any room for another race's ships in my life but Amarr, truly.
So as I've been flying my Amarrian ships around faction warfare the last couple of days, trying to get acquainted with this new tiny world and its tiny ships, I've begun to realize something: modules that fit into the mid slots really turn the tide of one versus one engagements. The Amarrian designs favor armor, of course, and armor fits into low slots. So Amarr ships get a lot of them. Of course, to balance this out, they are given relatively few mid slots, otherwise you could shield tank or amor tank and it just wouldn't be all that fair to the other guy. Other races get few low slots and many mid slots. Makes sense.
But here's the problem. If you take two ships that are designed to fulfill the same role, say close-range brawling, the one with the more mid slots wins. Why? Well, I've found it's because of a few reasons.
Generally, ships that have few mid slots will not bother utilizing armor to fill them. This means they have lower mass than a ship that has many low slots on average. Because of that, the ship that has less mass out of our two that are built to fill that close-range brawling role will have an automatic edge. Imagine they both have afterburners so that their propulsion drives can't be shut down by the other's microwarpdrive, the lighter ship will be able to maneuver itself into better firing positions more often, while the slower ship would be unable to counter the increased speeds of the other, giving it less opportunity to strike with full damage.
Furthermore, the greater speed means that one ship can position itself at a more advantageous position to egress if desired or even kite the other, despite the fact that it wasn't designed to do so originally.
Most modules that can be lumped into a utility category fit into a mid slot. These are usually offensive in nature such webs, tracking disruptors, warp scramblers, warp disruptors, and sensor dampeners. Likewise, defensive utility can be found in the mid slots with either microwarpdrives, afterburners, or even both.
Let's take offensive utility first. Both of our imaginary pilots know that, no matter what, two things are going into their mid slots: a propulsion and a warp scrambler/disruptor. Now, for close range fighting, we're going to want to choose the scrambler, simply because if you're not within range of that module, you're dead anyway. The afterburner is my personal choice here, since chances are the enemy is going to be fitted with a scrambler too, and this allows you to keep your all-important speed up; if your target has a microwarpdrive, all the better.
From there, many Amarrian ships are done. That's it, no more mid slots. Every now and then there are one or two more, but not often. Let's imagine our Amarrian pilot is flying the Tormentor, an admirable tech one frigate. It has three mid slots and has bonus to damage and capacitor use, making it a good candidate for our pilot. For our Minmatar pilot, we'll have him in a Slasher, which has four mid slots and bonuses to tracking speed and damage.
So, we know both pilots pilots have a warp scrambler and, in this case, both will have an afterburner. Here's where it gets interesting. Let's have our tormentor pilot fit a web. The thinking here is that with his afterburner and heavy mass, he may need to slow the target down more to maintain a favorable position. It's a decent choice. Our Minmitar pilot feels the same way, and he fits a web into one of his remaining two mid slots as well. On top of that, he fits a tracking disruptor, the theory here being that once the fight begins, he has no way to recoup whatever damage his ship takes, and so best to avoid it altogether. If he gets into a long range fight he didn't want, he can reduce the optimal range of the enemy and use his superior speed to close the distance or escape. Once close in, he can use the tracking speed disruption script to ensure that the enemy turrets can't track enough.
Clearly, in this match up, that ability to fit a tracking disruptor tilts the battle heavily in the favor of the Slasher. He'll be able to maintain a higher velocity throughout the entire battle while mitigating any damage done to him to a bare minimum. If the Amarrian pilot had fit a tracking disruptor instead of a web, then the slasher would have been able to travel even faster, manually piloting into favorable positions while the webbed Amarrian ship would have floundered trying to counter it.
The key to winning a battle in EVE Online is to pick your fights. A lot of people won't engage unless they're almost entirely certain that they WILL win, not if they CAN win. I haven't been taking that approach the last few days because I've been purposefully trying to find the limits of my ships, but it has made me wonder if the deck is stacked heavily against me. I'm wondering if I'm going to spend most of my time running from fights waiting for that one fight that I know I can win rather than rolling the dice and relying on my own skill. But as it is now, whoever has the most mids wins.