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
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.
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.
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.
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.