Having finally worked up enough standing to access a decent lvl 3 agent in a safe system (Eystur) I ran a few level 3 missions in my Rupture last night.
First mission was "The Mordus Headhunters" which I found quite challenging with a mixture of heavy hitting cruisers and fast moving frigates including webbing interceptors. I got through it in the end with a few lessons learned and happily no ship lost.
Second mission was the Serpenti version of "Unauthorised Military Prescence". This mission was a comparative doddle. The Serpentis didn't appear to have any effective long range weapons so I could pick them off from a distance with impunity. They did use sensor damping to break my target lock occasionally but this was no more than a minor annoyance.
The third mission offered to me was "The Blockade". The level 2 version of this was long and challenging so I was expecting this to be very tough but I decided to give it a go anyway. Blockade is a tricky mission with multiple waves of opponents. In each wave a certain ship is the trigger to spawn the next wave. In the level 2 version I didn't bother to read up about it and just blasted away triggering multiple spawns at once which almost overwhelmed me. I took a much more cautious approach this time - making sure to kill everything but the trigger before unleashing the next spawn. With careful pulling I managed to clear the first two spawns but it was getting late so I decided to call it a night. The mission will reset during server downtime today but I am hopeful my tactics will see me through it tonight given more time.
I am sticking with the passive shield tank that has served me so well in level 2's. My DPS is still poor although I have upgraded to medium artillery and heavy missile launchers to try and get a bit more oomph. These put quite a strain on my power grid so I have had to trade off some speed and tanking in order to fit reactor controls power upgrade modules. The basic fit out looks like this:
My mid slots have two large shield extenders which form the basis of the tank and an afterburner.
In order to fit medium size artillery I have had to to sacrifice two of my low slots to reactor controls which do nothing other than upgrade the power grid. The power diagnostic system in the third slot is a kind of wonder module which provides a smaller power grid increase along with increases to my shield and capacitor and my rate of shield recharge. The two remaining slots are filled with shield power relays which provided a healthy increase in shield recharge rate and are a cornerstone of passive shield tanking.
For offence I have four medium artillery turrets, two heavy missile launchers and three medium drones. This is set-up for for sniping at the enemy from a distance of 25-30km.
No room for overdrive injectors to increase speed, no room for weapon upgrades to increase damage, no room for shield hardeners to increase my resistances, no room for a damage control unit to give me that extra insurance policy in case my tank fails.
I actually vary the fit out a bit depending on what I am up against. If there are a lot of fast moving frigates about (especially interceptors) I swap out the heavy launchers for assault launchers which are better suited to smaller faster targets. On the other hand if there is a clump of heavy hitting cruisers who can hurt me plenty at my preferred 25-30km range then I swap the afterburner for an appropriate shield hardener to cut down the incoming damage while I take them out one by one. It is possible to change mid mission by warping out and docking before returning to the fray.
So, back into the fray tonight. I am reasonably confident that this set up will see me through a bunch of level 3's. It will have to because it will be a while before I have the skills to upgrade to a bigger ship. My weapons skills in particular are lacking as evidenced by my poor dps figures but this is the downside of being a Minmatar. Our ships are very flexible combining projectile turrets with missiles and drones but it takes a lot of training to get proficient in all three areas.