Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Proposal: Heavy bomber

Fair warning: this isn't an original idea.  I've been seeing it getting kicked around various EVE fora for at least a year now, and the idea might be older than that.  But I haven't seen anyone sit down and actually formalize a proposal around this idea, either.  If you know of such a proposal, then please point me to it.  And right now, a couple members of the CSM have said that they're looking for quality proposals in the Assembly Hall.  So, I figured I'd write this up and ask for suggestions before actually posting it to the Assembly Hall.

If you have comments, please post them.  As I've said, EVE players are sometimes not that good at seeing the obvious holes in their own proposals.  So if you make suggestions or if you've written this up before and point me at your proposal, I'll list you as a co-developer on this one.  ;-)

So here it is: a formalized proposal around the idea of...


Battlecruiser Class "Assassin" Heavy Bomber

Introduction

Everyone seems to agree that supercaps are a problem, but nobody seems to know what to do about it.  CCP has been contemplating a nerf, but at this point such a nerf would come at the cost of hundreds of disgruntled players who -- worse yet -- are some of the most dedicated to EVE.  This isn't a population that CCP wishes to anger.  On the other hand, super-carriers in particular are proliferating out of control and it's nearly impossible to destroy them.  Unlike every other class of ship in the game, there's no viable counter.  The only counter to a fleet of super-carriers is a bigger fleet of super-carriers.

This doesn't happen often.  From the 3Q (page 38-39) and 4Q (page 14) QENs, we can determine that in 4Q2010, 595 super-carriers were produced and only 67 were destroyed.  For the full year 2010, the numbers are (approximately) 1561 produced and (exactly) 155 destroyed.

But directly nerfing super-carriers is not going to stop their proliferation.  On the contrary, there is every reason to believe that if super-carriers are weakened, the alliances that rely on them will call on more of their pilots to acquire them to make up the difference.  An alternative means of nerfing them is to introduce a viable counter.  In much the same way that battleships (particularly sniper battleships) can be countered with frigate-class bombers, many pilots have suggested that CCP introduce a battlecruiser-class "heavy bomber" that would counter capital and super-capital ships.

Encouraging the destruction of capital and super-capital class ships through a sub-capital class platform will both serve to limit their proliferation and will be a boon to the EVE economy in terms of super-capital production, and the production of the new heavy bomber ship class and the specialized modules and ammunition that it will consume.


Characteristics

The class name for the new ship will be "Assassin".  It will be a T2 ship based on the stronger of each race's current T1 battlecruiser hulls.  To wit:
  • the Caldari Assassin will be based on the Drake, and be called the Gorgon;
  • the Gallente Assassin will be based on the Myrmidon, and be called the Prometheus;
  • the Amarr Assassin will be based on the Harbinger, and be called the Penance; and,
  • the Minmatar Assassin will be based on the Hurricane, and be called the Direwolf.

The primary skill requirements to fly the Assassin will be Battlecruisers V and Recon Ships IV.  The secondary skill requirements to fly the Assassin will be Bomb Deployment IV and Weapon Upgrades V.

The Assassin will have the following class bonuses:
  • Battlecruiser Skill Bonus: -10% targeting delay after decloaking per level, +10% bonus to citadel torpedo velocity and explosion velocity per level
  • Assassin Skill Bonus: +15% to racial citadel torpedo damage per level
  • Role Bonus: +10% damage bonus to racial doomsday bomb, -99.95% reduction in Citadel Torpedo Launcher powergrid needs, -70% reduction in Citadel Torpedo Launcher CPU Use, -50% reduction in Citadel Torpedo Launcher rate of fire, -99.5% reduction in Cloak CPU Use
  • Note: can fit covert cynosural field generators, bomb launchers, and doomsday bomb launchers

Each Assassin will have five high slots, two of which will be launcher hardpoints, and four of which will be turret hardpoints.  The Assassin will be capable of fitting either two bomb launchers or one doomsday bomb launcher.  The Assassin will be able to fit Covert Ops Cloaking Devices and will be able to warp while cloaked when fitted with such a cloaking device.  Assassins will be capable of utilizing covert cynosural fields.  The Caldari Assassin will have four mid slots and three low slots.  The Minmatar Assassin will have three mid slots and four low slots.  The Gallente and Amarr Assassins will have two mid slots and five low slots.

Power grid and CPU will be set such that each can fit two Citadel Torpedo Launchers, a Doomsday Bomb Launcher, and a Covert Ops cloak with a fairly minimal tank, or a Doomsday Bomb Launcher-based utility fitting (covert cynos, or a cloak and three medium turrets) with a much stronger tank.  However, even when fitted for a stronger tank, the tank of the Assassin should only average about half that of the comparable T1 battlecruiser.  The Assassin will have a decloak targeting delay comparable to that of a Recon, and a scan resolution of about 200mm.  Base signature radius should be about 350m, comparable to the smaller battleships.

The Assassin will be able to mount a new weapon, the Doomsday Bomb Launcher.  The primary skill requirement to fit this module will be Bomb Deployment V.  The secondary skill requirement to fit this module will be Energy Pulse Weapons V.  The tertiary skill requirements to fit this module will be Science V and Advanced Weapon Upgrades V.  Assassins will be able to fit only one of these weapons and will be the only ship capable of doing so.  This weapon will fire a new type of ammunition, the Doomsday Bomb.

Doomsday Bombs will be large: too large to fit into the Assassin's cargo hold, so that only one may be carried, and that one in the launcher.  They will be expensive (whatever that means).  The Doomsday Bomb Launcher will have a ten second cycle time, and the Doomsday Bomb will be launched at the end of that cycle, similar to the way in which current remote armor reppers operate.  Like current bomb launchers, it will not be targetable; it will be a dumb-fire weapon fired in the direction the Assassin is flying at the moment of launch.  The Doomsday Bomb will only be usable in null-sec, and will have a travel distance comparable to that of current bombs, covering 30 kilometers.  However, the Doomsday Bomb will be slower, taking 30 seconds to cover that distance instead of ten.  The Doomsday Bomb will have a large signature radius, be targetable, and will be relatively easy to destroy.  The Doomsday Bomb will take ten seconds to arm itself and will be harmless if it strikes a target before it is armed, meaning that the launching ship must be at least ten kilometers from its target when it launches the Doomsday Bomb.  Doomsday Bombs will do no damage to structures.

Unlike current bombs, it will not be an area of effect weapon, but will strike and do damage to the first target it comes into direct contact with, whether that target is a hostile, neutral, or friendly ship.  Upon striking the target, it will do damage equivalent to the racial doomsday of the Doomsday Bomb fired, but the Doomsday Bomb will have an explosion velocity and explosion radius just as any other missile weapon does.  These values will be set such that the Doomsday Bomb will do full doomsday damage to battleship, capital, and super-capital ships, but damage to ships of sub-battleship size, while serious, should not be instantly fatal if the ship involved has any sort of tank.


Commentary

The Assassin will be an extremely specialized ship, focused on hit-and-fade strikes against capital and super-capital targets.  It will have limited utility in sub-capital warfare, though its ability to fit and fire two standard bomb launchers will make it a credible threat to battleship fleets as well.  Medium to large groups of Assassins fit with Citadel Torpedo Launchers will likely quickly become the preferred method for strikes on enemy player structures.  This use should give sov-holding alliances incentives to develop counters to this sort of attack on key sov structures such as jump bridges, cyno jammers, and station services.  However, the relatively high skill requirements of the Citadel Torpedo Launcher should keep the number of Assassins used in this manner manageable.  It will be much easier to fit and fly the cruisers and battle-cruisers that can quickly destroy Assassins than the Assassins themselves!

Doomsday Bombs used in large numbers should put the fear of God back into super-capital pilots.  However, these weapons are balanced by the myriad ways to destroy and counter them.  A super-capital fleet with a large sub-capital support fleet will have little to fear from Doomsday Bombs.  If nothing else, T1 frigates can be ordered to stay in close proximity to the capital ships and suicide themselves into Doomsday Bombs before they strike.  However, a capital or sub-capital fleet unsupported by sub-capitals will quickly become easy meat.  And a well-coordinated Assassin strike (say, all of the Doomsday Bombs approaching from the same flank) could potentially still overwhelm the defenses of a super-capital ship.


Conclusion

The Assassin creates a viable, non-supercap counter to EVE Online supercap fleets.  In particular, it strongly encourages FCs of supercap fleets to ensure at least some measure of sub-cap parity on the battlefield before deploying their supercaps.  Yet the ship itself is not imbalanced and is easily countered by existing ships in EVE.

12 comments:

  1. not only do I support such an idea, but it would also give me an incentive to finally try big fleet action, as I see capital ships a a nuisance.

    Plus, how could i go wrong with a ship called Dire Wolf !!! :)

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  2. I like this, although the skill tree may be a bit too short to be anti-super capital.

    Baseline. T2 ships are based on T1 hulls - 1 Rig Slot and + additional slots based on Role. Tier 2 Battlecruisers are 6/4/8/3 (Harbinger), 4/6/8/3 (Drake), 6/5/6/3 (Myrmidon), 6/4/8/3 (Hurricane). Each one would need slot adjustments appropriate to their existing and new roles. However, in a brief perusal, most T2 from T1 ships all have the same total number of slots (mods+rigs), so you need to work within that assumed rule, so 21 total slots to be divided appropriately per ship, where two are rigs and 19 are mods (except of course the Myrm, with only 20 total slots).
    They shouldn't be crippled/pidgeonholed into a single role, although they should be gimped when used too far outside that role. The easiest way to manage that is a PG or CPU reduction for role-specific modules (your doomsday bomb or citadel torp launchers) but maintaining similar existing CPU/PG limits.

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  3. I think the biggest issue with this idea is the bomb launcher. This involves creating a new module and modifying some game mechanics in ways that have never been done before.

    An alternate solution is to make a light dread. A T2 battlecruiser that gets a -99% bonus to the powergrid of dreadnaught class weapons and a single hard point to fit one of these weapons. Give it the same bonuses to damage that a sieged dread receives, as well as the tracking issues that sieged dreads have so that the weapons are useless against sub capital ships.

    This provides a solution where a subcapital fleet can dish out meaningful damage to supercapitals without requiring a lot of work on CCP's side to actually create and implement it. I can imagine that if a coalition is fielding a fleet of 300 light dreads their opponent would think twice about fielding super capitals. This also changes the equation on shooting structures and makes the process less painful.

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  4. I like the idea, a lot. The only thing I'm not fully convinced about is the travel time and targetability of the bomb. It seems to me that in 30 seconds any number of bombs launched will simply be destroyed by a fleet of decent size, unless the bomb is very, very resilient. I'd rather make the cycle time of the launcher longer (say 20 seconds, yay for tension), and the flight time shorter.
    That way flying the bomber will be more risky, and require heavy cover, but launched bombs will be able to have a good chance to reach the target.

    I also would base the caldari version on the ferox hull, mostly because it looks quite a lot more like a bomber than the drake, and we see even too many drakes and drake-like ships around :P

    I only wish eve would work in such a way that we could do away with the cloaking altogether (heavy bomber cloaked seems counterintuitive to me), requiring the bombers to be escorted to the target, but unfortunately i don't really see how to make the whole concept of a classical WWII-ish "escort" work in EVE *sighs*

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  5. This is a very well thought out idea. I think it might actually work! Supported.

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  6. Awesome writeup. The core concept seems solid, and hopefully CCP will implement something similar instead of nerfing supercarriers back into functional uselessness.

    The idea of making the bomb slow and targetable is awesome. It could potentially make destroyers and other high-dps, fast-locking ships useful as point-defense platforms for shooting down inbound bombs, and could even make younger pilots more relevant in large fleet engagements.

    Disagree a bit with some of the specifics, however:

    While the idea of a collision-based projectile sounds cool in theory, I don't think EVE currently gives ship pilots enough control to be able to aim such weapons with any accuracy. It may be better instead to make the Doomsday Bomb a true AoE weapon like a regular stealth bomber-launched bomb, albeit one dependent heavily on signature radius. It would be designed to deal 100% damage to titans, or maybe even only to target-painted titans, and would also have its damage reduced by target velocity, dealing full damage only to ships moving less than 40m/s or something. In that vein, it should take at least two or three dozen of such bombs to kill a supercarrier, much as it currently takes numerous bombing runs to kill more than a few battleships in a good fleet.

    I'm also not sure that limiting the proliferation of a ship by skill points is a good idea in the long run. No doubt the developers never imagined that there would be hundreds of titans and thousands of supercarriers in the game due to their high skill requirements.

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  7. Here's how you nerf super carriers: remove their EWAR immunity, remove their drone bay, give them a bay for fighters/fighter bombers only, move the +2 drone control from the hull to the super carrier drone control system (i.e.: +3 drones on a high slot module).

    Pilots will thus have to decide whether they want DPS or logistics. They will be vulnerable to ECM jamming, and they won't be able to deploy endless clouds of heavy drones.

    They will still be powerful (super carrier with triage will be an awesome logistics platform, super carrier with FBs is still plenty of anti-cap DPS), but by forcing specialisation and removing the game breaking immunity, they are taken down from their solowtfpwnmobile status.

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  8. Jester: don't know if you can edit comments. There is a long (long) thread on the focus about nerfing super carriers here: http://www.eveonline.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=1434296&page=1#1

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  9. Nothing wrong with the idea except that the nature of the ship in question is flawed by the nature of the engagement it will (most likely) be participating in. By your descriPtion it seems you want the primary damage dealing capacity of the ship to be a bomb-like device, with complex timing and tactics in place so it's not considered overpowered. But what happens when there's lag, as there almost always is in any sort of engagement where one side or the other is expecting supercap presence in enough numbers to demand the presence of this counter-ship? The bomb will be rendered ineffective by about a dozen or so factors, and tactics even on a good match-up, never mind the ever-present bane of eve. In short this ship seems like a good idea to ambush lone supers out doing something stupid like gate camping or ratting, and does nothing to correct the present imbalance without committing greater numbers of (now even more specialized) ships to an overloaded node.

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  10. Supported, wholeheartedly.

    My own take on it, here (I grant you my version might be a bit O/P as-stands, but man, I just want to MURDER these RMT-fattened smug little cunts in as expedient a manner as possible):

    https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=21820

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  11. It seems to me that this would be an excellent Mod for T3 cruisers.
    The entire offensive subsystem could be replaced by a Doomsday Bomb and that subsystem would then be "launched" at the target.
    It still leaves the tank of the T3 intact, but it sacrifices its entire offensive capacity for the ability to hit capital ships effectively.
    The bomb should also be released at the end of the launch cycle and during the cycle course corrections cannot be made. Launch speed of the bomb is the same as that of the ship at the time of launch. Maybe tech 2 bombs could have a bit of a speed boost.
    Would bring a bit of the Star Wars trench run feel to launching big nasty weapons.

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  12. I applaud the 'forward thinking' ideas of those who would espouse the advance of real life warfare science rather than those who would nerf everything into a sickening amalgam of 'balance'.
    Looking at the history of warfare, one sees the weapon vs armor competition, and the constant advance of one over the other. It must have started when man first realized that his opponent had a club and that in order to keep from being beaten, he had to have a larger club. It goes on to this day and is a fact of war. Eve should mimic that instead of allowing nerfs to everything that is better than the current 'club'.
    Constant progression and scientific advancement, however slow, should be the way to improvement. Better shields? Then more effective ammo is in order. Better ammo? Then more effective shields - or armor - should be developed.
    Thank You for your idea of a better, bigger club rather than nerfing a popular weapon system.

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