At this stage I pretty much have level 3 missions on farm status using an armour tanked Hurricane battlecruiser:
It does the same job as the amour tanked Rupture that I previously used in level 3's but has the considerably more hit points, capacitor and fire power. Having three active armour hardeners is another nice feature and allows me to tailor the tank for the expected damage profile from any given mission.
Using short range autocannons goes somewhat against accepted missioneering wisdom. Unlike the Rupture the Hurricane does have enough power grid to fit longer range artillery but this short range set up is so much fun to use that I have decided to stick with it for the time being. You need to chase down enemies with afterburner enhanced speed before you can bring your main firepower to bear. HAving a slot available to fit a webber on the Hurricane is another huge advantage over the Rupture. Once an enemy gets within the 10km webber range you can pin them in place and open up with the autocannons. There is nothing in a level 3 mission that can survive those six 420mms at close range and everything dies very quickly once you get them webbed.
The high firepower of the autocannons helps me finish missions quickly but you do have to be careful. Getting into close range exposes you to the full brunt of enemy fire and it is possible to get overwhelmed. This is definitely not AFK missioning, you need to stay awake but that makes things a bit more interesting. An unexpected advatage of short range fighting is that enemy wrecks tend to be less dispersed which eases the tedious job of looting and salvaging.
With level 3's pretty much sorted the time has come to plan for Level 4 missions. Some folk have reported successfully doing level 4's in a battle cruiser but from what I have read they use ridiculously expensive rigs and equipment to get battleship level performance. Better, I think, to train up for a battleship proper. It will be a couple of months before I have the skills I need and in the meantime I need to farm quite a bit of cash to fund the step up in level. As a general rule I never like to spend more than half of what I have. A decently fitted out Maelstrom will probably set me back 200 million so it would be nice to accumulate 400 million or so over the next few weeks while my skills are training. That's a lot of level 3 missions :(. Perhaps it is time to revive Marb's market trading career and see if I can squeeze a few extra isk out of that.