Since Oni started a wonderful thread over in Logi Tactics, figured to start up the same here, except in the form of a giant wall of text.
I. Love. DPS. My very first ship I've ever flown in incursions (long long ago) was the Navy Domi, back when sentry drone boats were a thing. The garde/blaster combo was something I had to get used to, as my only PvE experience was AFK lvl4s with a sentry boat. I very quickly gathered the isk to buy my first Vindicator, which I instantly fell in love with. Nothing beats the space shotgun in satisfactory annihilation of my enemies.
Now, nearly 3.5 years later, my main ship is still the Vindicator. I've tried nearly every other ship that we allow in fleets, even a few that aren't allowed just to test a few things. But nothing will come close to my love for the king of DPS. After these years of passion and experience, here are my tips in being an effective DPS pilot.
Behold, the King of DPS in all its glory. Loaded with Void Ammo, this thing skyrockets to 2155 of sheer, raw DPS. Nothing even comes close, even my beloved Kronos. Even that rattlesnake claiming to dish out just as much applied DPS. For tower bashes, it is the equivalent of two blaster rokhs, nearly two hyperions, two nightmares, or nearly three machariels. This is what a true king looks like, and that is your goal.
However, it's really expensive. That's ok. You'll get there. In the meantime...
The Starter Vindicator, starting out at ~1600 DPS. You want to get into this ship as soon as possible. Keep in mind the guns can be swapped out for Meta 4, but you should be getting T2 guns ASAP, as that is the most significant increase in DPS. All in all, this fit isn't that expensive, relatively speaking, sitting at ~400m. That is insanely cheap compared to how much DPS it pulls when compared to any of the starter ships. That's roughly 14 sites, easily doable in an evening of incursion running. Get this ship as soon as possible. You won't regret it.
Now, the upgrade path is as follows:
Meta 4 Guns to T2 Guns
T2 Magnetic Field Stabilizers to Faction
Add another web, by doing either:
Upgrade invuls to dual Pith C or better, change thermal rig to EM, drop EM amp
Upgrade invuls to single Pith B or better
Get a damage rig (Burst Aerator or Collision Accelerator)
Upgrade invuls to dual Pith B or better
Drop the two Large CDFEs
Optimal setup is 2x Geckos, 2x 'Augmented' Hammerheads, 1x 'Augmented' Hobgoblin
T2 Tracking Enhancers to Faction Drone Damage Amplifiers
The most unique thing about the Vindicator, other than its raw, powerful dps, is the ability to fit webs and use them effectively. Baseline, these slow sansha ships down. Doesn't seem all that special until you realize everything this does for us. First, you have to realize that the range of the Vindicator's blasters is god awful, especially with short range ammo. For you to apply effective DPS, you want every target to be within 10km, and stay within 10km. Vindicators can reduce the speeds of ships up to 90% with the strongest faction web, effectively rendering them motionless. This also means that you have a better chance to hit them, as your and everybody else's turrets don't have to track that much.
Now, this is where the term "Spreading Webs" comes in. Time for some simple math. Two targets moving at 100 m/s. Is it more effective to web each target, or put 2 webs on the current target? Let's say your web effectiveness is 80%. When applying a single web, the target's speed is reduced to 20 m/s. Apply another web, and the speed is reduced to 4 m/s (actually more than that due to diminishing returns). The difference between 20 m/s and 4 m/s is not that significant, meanwhile the other target is running away at 100 m/s, and will be out of the 10km range in less than 90 seconds. Sure, you might have killed the current target faster, but now the next target is out of range and you apply less DPS.
Here's a simple rule for spreading webs: If a battleship is moving over 100 m/s (denoted by the Velocity column in your overview), web it down. If a battleship you have webbed is moving less than 20 m/s (unless you have 90% web effectiveness), remove the web and put it on a different target.
When looking at the variations of webs, there are two faction webs that are used by the vast majority of Vindicators: Fed Navy and True Sansha. The differences are this:
Federation Navy: less range (14km), more webbing power (90%)
True Sansha: more range (15km), less webbing power (82.5%)
Keep in mind we have boosts to increase the range of webs, so the True Sansha one can go out to nearly 21km! In deciding between these two, it's mostly player's preference, though we encourage True Sansha due to the range advantage.
To unlock your true potential of a short range DPS pilot, you have to invest in some 6% implants. Remember that 2155 number that optimal vindi spits out? With max skills and implants, you can push that to 2357. This is the true cap for our vindicators, without going purple (fitting officer mods). Here's what I run for my implants (literal copy&paste from the Implant Guide):
SLOT 1: Genolution Core Augmentation CA-1 Primary Effect: Boosts perception by 3. Secondary Effect: Gives a +1.5% powergrid and capacitor bonus
SLOT 2: Genolution Core Augmentation CA-4 Primary Effect: Boosts memory by 3. Secondary Effect: Gives a +1.5% ship agility and armor hit points bonus
SLOT 3: Genolution Core Augmentation CA-3 Primary Effect: Boosts willpower by 3. Secondary Effect: Gives a +1.5% ship velocity and shield capacity bonus
SLOT 4: Genolution Core Augmentation CA-2 Primary Effect: Boosts intelligence by 3. Secondary Effect: Gives a +1.5% CPU and capacitor recharge bonus
SLOT 6: Inherent Implants 'Squire' Capacitor Systems Operation EO-606
Gives a reduction in capacitor recharge time by 6%
SLOT 7: Ogdin's Eye Coordination Enhancer
Gives a boost to Tracking Speed by 6%
SLOT 8: Inherent Implants 'Squire' Capacitor Management EM-806
Gives a capacitor capacity boost of 6%
SLOT 9: Eifyr and Co. 'Gunslinger' Surgical Strike SS-906
Gives a boost to all turret damage by 6%
SLOT 10: Zainou 'Deadeye' Large Hybrid Turret LH-1006
Gives a boost to all large hybrid turret damage by 6%
Now, you do you want to run the complete Geno set, because each implant boosts the effectiveness of all other Geno implants. However, if you're a low SP pilot, I would recommend running with +5 implants for now (the improved set). Once you're at the point where you're training gunnery/drone skills to V, then you can start popping those out and replacing them with the Geno set.
The other slots are rather self-explanatory, except maybe all of the cap implants. Keep in mind the Optimal Vindi is not cap stable, nor should it be. Cap stable means it deals less DPS. However, this implant set gets it really, really close, to the point that I never broadcast for cap except under Outuni aggro. It's a nice thing to have.
These implants are expensive, yes, but keep in mind you can buy these from the Concord LP market, at 250m isk & 250k LP. Furthermore, you get to keep these implants all the way until you are podded. I've had these implants for over 3 years at this point, so they last a very long time.
Your rivals are the Snipers. You must beat them in every wave. Compete with them, challenge them, as they challenge you to kill all targets before they kill theirs. They may not admit to this rivalry, but it is very real as a DPS pilot. But here's the truth: they don't have to work as hard. You do. But that's where the fun comes in.
Here's what you have to do: MOVE. You have a microwarp drive, use it. Any time you're out of range of the anchor or the next spawn, light it up. Get to position. The key difference between a good vindi and a fantastic vindi is positioning. The VVV anchor mostly helps with this, but I actually encourage you to move yourself.
Yes, that's right, I'm telling you to unhook yourself from the anchor, and be free my little bird. Or rather, my death-dealing shotgun with wings. Be free. You are free to burn after out-of-range ostingeles, as long as you're in position for the next wave (and within Logi range). When I'm just in fleet, not doing any FC roles, I almost never keep at range on the anchor, and burn to all of the positions myself, burn after the ships myself. Not only will this help with your range, it'll help you learn the positions for the VVV anchor. If the role opens up, then you certainly have the confidence to take up the role. I'm not saying the VVV is a bad thing, I'm just saying the truly good vindi pilots are those who unshackle themselves from the VVV. Edit: As Spudzy pointed out, best if you stick with your anchor if you draw aggro.
Now, there are some cases in which you won't apply much DPS by burning to one target, smacking it with void, burning to the next target, smacking it with void, etc. This is where Null comes in. Beginning of TCRC, first wave of NRF, first two rooms of TPPH, I'm running Null. You'll apply way more damage to targets consistently 20km+ out of range. It's only a 5 second reload time, utilize both ranges of ammo where it is applicable.
In terms of drones, you should almost always assist them to the VVV (or HHH if there is one). Exception to this is beginning of a TCRC, where the DDD needs those drones to kill schmaeels (only if you have lights/mediums). If you are the VVV, assist your own drones to another random vindicator. Two options as the VVV in what to shoot: Main targets or cruisers. The FC won't mind which and either one is effective.
And then let me talk about targets. Here's the deal. If there is an Ostingele tagged 5 that is 60km away, and then an Ostingele tagged 6 that is 20km away, which one should you shoot? Most FCs won't mind if you shoot 6 in this case, because it's obvious that you can apply more DPS. If you're in my fleet, I actually want you to do this. However, keep this within reason. If an Outuni is 30km away and an Osti is right next to you, you should still shoot the Outuni, due to its threat.
Remember what I said: The snipers are your (friendly) rivals. Don't let them win. Use these tips to give yourself an advantage over the snipers. They're a bunch of lazy brats that complain about cycle times anyway.
Seriously though, there is nothing more satisfying than running up to a target, blasting them with void, and watching their shields melt under your power. You'll impress FCs and Logi by drawing aggro all the time, maybe even earn yourself an Aggro Magnet badge in the process.
So be free, my death-dealing shotgun with wings, and show the sansha the true meaning of Ridiculous DPS.