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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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fit of the Week: Face-melting

This week, let's look at the king of the blaster ships, the Megathron.  To have a little fun with it, we're going to do an old-fashioned "compro", comparing the Thron to some competition.  To do this and to set up a somewhat fair contest, we're going to compare the Thron to its most equivalent armor-tanking opponent, a Hellcat Abaddon.  Are there situations where a Thron can beat a Hellcat?  We'll find out.  As a result, the fitting I'm going to use is juuuust a bit wonky.  We're going to give the Megathron all of the advantages against its Amarr opponent:

[Megathron, Hellcat Killer?]
Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Corpii C-Type Adaptive Nano Plating
Corpii C-Type Adaptive Nano Plating
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Quad LiF Fueled I Booster Rockets
Heavy Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 800
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range

Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
Neutron Blaster Cannon II, Null L
[empty high slot]

Large Trimark Armor Pump I
Large Trimark Armor Pump I
Large Trimark Armor Pump I

We're going to keep drones out of the equation for now.  Theoretically, the Thron can launch five heavy drones against its opponent; the Abaddon can only manage three.  If this is important to you, feel free to add that DPS.  For this analysis, though, I'm going to ignore that factor because heavy drones are so rarely used.(1)  If you do use heavy drones with your PvP Thron set-up, please link some KMs in the comments.  I'd love to see them!

Why do we need to give the Thron all the advantages?  Here's why:

I'm not usually a big fan of DPS graphs.  They ignore a hundred factors that individual pilots can bring to a fight.  Reducing combat in EVE to the raw numbers is almost always a bad idea.  There's nearly always an X-factor in an EVE fight that's far more important than the actual DPS involved.  Still, for the purposes of this comparison, the DPS graphs are useful, so we'll examine them.

The light blue line is our Thron, using Null L ammo.  As you can see, DPS peaks at around 16-17km at more than 640.  Not inconsiderable!  On this graph, though, the Hellcat is using Scorch.  They're the red line.  Its DPS at 16-17km with Scorch is only 450 or so... but approaches and stays at 550 almost to Drake range... 67km or so.  Beyond 20km, the Thron damage drops off very very rapidly, and Null is as good as it gets for long-range blaster ammo.  So if our Thron isn't perfectly placed when this fight starts, he's going to lose, and lose badly.  He won't be able to damage the Hellcat at all.

If the Hellcat can control range, he's probably going to win.  So to even give the Thron a chance, we have to give him the advantage of dictating range.  We're going to spot the Thron a tackler with a point but no web.  All the Thron has to do is apply DPS.  Can he do it?  Can he keep the Hellcat at range?

Actually, he can!  I always smile a bit when people refer to Gallente ships as "flying bricks" and the like.  They're actually surprisingly quick.  Firing Null ammo and eating cap booster charges, our Thron can burn at 822m/s with max skills and has plenty of cap to fight the entire battle.  This significantly exceeds the Hellcat's maximum speed of 698m/s.  So, if the Thron can control the initial range of the engagement, he won't have any trouble keeping the Hellcat where he wants it.

This, incidentally, is why significant changes to Gallente ship mass or speed to balance hybrids is a bad idea.  Gallente ships are plenty quick right now.  It's the weapons themselves that are the problem.  As I said in my previous post, I believe blaster mods should introduce small (1%) buffs to the speed of the ship carrying them, but it should not be overdone, or it will be abused.  And because I feel that other races should have the chance to add blasters to their ships, I'm also not in favor of any Gallente-ship-only changes to rebalance hybrids, at least not at first.

So, the Thron has the Hellcat at 16-17km.  What does the Hellcat do?  He switches to Imperial Navy Multifrequency crystals, of course.  This happens instantly, and our DPS graph changes to this:

This is very bad news for our Thron.  He's got all the advantages: a Hellcat at close range, right where he wants it.  He doesn't have to tackle the Hellcat.  He just has to melt face.  And yet, he still can't do it as well as the Hellcat can.  And I've given the Throns every advantage.  The tank I've given him is not... quite... optimal.  But where it shines is defeating laser damage.  Still, the Thron has about 120k EHP.

The Hellcat has more than 150.  At this range, the Hellcat will just be entering structure when the Thron explodes.

So the Thron can't win at ranges over 17km.  He can't win at 17km.  Where can he win?  Well, first, he can win at 17km if he's using heavy drones as I mentioned in the footnote.  But again, let's keep drones out of it.  The Thron switches to Navy Antimatter ammo.  Ten seconds go by as the Thron reloads (an eternity under concentrated Hellcat fire), but then at least the picture changes to this:

Again, light blue line.  Megathron DPS is now pushing 700-750, again exceeding what the Hellcat can do.

But he needs to pull the Hellcat to 10km to do that.  And there's a downside to that.  To emphasize the differences between the ships, I've maximized the transversal crossing velocity of the two ships, as indicated by the velocity arrows on the bottom right.  As the Thron moves to close range, transversal is going to drop rapidly which will give the IN crystals their maximum damage at that short range.  They'll be doing 650 DPS to the Thron, which is also not something to scoff at.

It takes 200 seconds for 750 DPS to burn down 150,000 EHP.  It takes 185 seconds for 650 DPS to burn down 120,000 EHP.  So even at ultra-short range, if the Thron isn't careful to maintain transversal, he's still going to lose.

So, how do Throns beat Hellcats: they pull them to 10km, and maintain transversal once that's done.  That's the only way.  In any other circumstance, the Hellcat is probably going to win.  The chances of pulling off exactly favorable conditions to the Thron are simply too remote to rely on.  And this is a one-on-one fight.  A fleet fight between these combatants?  Forget it.  Too few players these days will have the drone skills to give the Thron the advantage, even if they have the skills for tech2 blasters.  The very short range of the Thron blasters simply makes it too specialized to be a viable fleet battleship.

One of the comments on my hybrid rebalance Wish List post last week noted:
...proper balancing is not about making everything identical, its about making stuff have the same value, while providing the player with the decision of a different play style.

To that, I responded:
The problem with blasters is not a matter of a different play style. It's a problem of taking a ton of damage in a blaster boat from any possible alternative before you can close range to apply damage yourself. If CCP were going to balance that "style", every blaster boat would have 10-15% more EHP to reflect the fact that they're going to take an ass-kicking before they can close range.

The Gallente boats don't have that.  Amarr boats are much tougher.  Failing that?  Again, blasters need range, not DPS.  Face-melting damage does you no good if there's only one condition under which you can apply it.

(1) Still, I'm not going to completely ignore it, so I'll make it clear here: if you've got a good drone pilot, five tech2 Ogre II heavy drones will add 300 DPS to the Mega's total.  It's not inconsiderable, and it's a damn shame that tech2 heavies have gone out of fashion.  Applying drone damage in general needs a bit of a buff, IMO.


  1. if you are at 10km (or even 20) id say there is every reason to use heavys
    all good pilots i know (who fly relevant ships) can and will use heavys to good effect

    that being said i do agree that something needs to be done, but very carefully and in small steps

    not so sure range is the answer tho

  2. A few comments on this:

    - The abbadon is a tier 3 BS and the megathron is a tier 2 BS. That must be kept in mind, although it does not invalidate the comparison, especially since I don't see how a hyperion could do better.

    - I agree with you that simply changing the gallente (or caldari) boats is a bad idea. If CCP does this ppl will just put projectiles on the buffed boats to get the best possible combination and will keep ignoring the hybrids.

    - Unlike you, I don't want to see the hybrids as versatile weapons. It would make me very happy if the changes make blasters the UNDISPUTED kings of dps when used in their optimal range, for any of the charges. Instead of more range, give them a big damage boost, even if it means reducing the tracking to compensate.

  3. Once a BC is webbed & scrambled, they're hit for full damage by Ogre IIs with no problem, thus nearly all standard Megathron fits use them.

    Neither fit you are using is exactly standard PvP fits btw - normal Megathrons are definetely not fit with dual Tracking Computers and Hellcats are fairly niche, restricted to large gang warfare only where they don't need to fit tackle.

    Also, I'm not exactly sure how transversal has any effect with 2 MWDing (plated) Battleships being in each other's optimals - they're not agile enough to get under each other's guns, plus the speed differential between the two is just too small for either to attempt to get "under" each other's guns.

  4. I think comparing a tier 2 bs to a tier 3 bs is slightly off kilter due to the fact that the tier 3 ships were designed to have bigger tanks. A better comparion would be the apoc to the thron except the apoc has a range bonus instead of damage bonus.

    The dual tanked hyperion with blasters comparedto hellcat would be interesting as well,or the blaster rokh.

    I also admit surprise at the assertion that heavy drones have gone out of style. Upon reflection,is that because major conflict moves to fast for the accurate deployment and usage of drones?

  5. @Suleiman: good comments. Yeah, I went a little bit wonky in my fit. In particular, dual Tracks was to show that even range boosted blasters are at a huge disadvantage. If you take off the tracks and put webs there instead, the picture just becomes horrid in terms of range.

    I set transversal high just to get nice DPS curves. Without high transversal, the minimum range goes away and the Amarr ship gets an even bigger advantage. Try that one yourself.

    @Kirith: Yeah, true, but the Hyp is a pure PvE boat unless there are dual-rep PvP Hyps I don't know about. ;-)

    As for the Ogres, we're in the second phase of nanowar. The most common PvP BSs that I see are Pests and Machs, neither of which are slow. A lot of the common large PvP ships can do a good job of outrunning Ogres. I've done it in a Drake of all things.

    For those invoking the "Tracking! Just fix tracking and it'll be all better!" argument... yeah... to a point. I worry about this solution back-firing and allowing Throns to instapop dictors. Not sure that's a step in the right direction. ;-)

  6. Well, you're right about the Hyperion not doing any better. It has one more turret... but one less low slot. It also has a 100m3 bandwith down from 125 for the Mega.

    Net result (if fitted identically with one less mag stab for the Hyperion) is that the Hype just wins the DPS battle without drones, the Mega wins with (5 Ogre IIs vs 4).

    The Hyperion also nets an additional 10k EHP. In both cases, the EHP and resists suck.

    An ammo tweak until they can look at Gallente as a whole (info warfare, command ships, sensor damps) might be a way to go in the interim as a short term place holder.

    What they could also potentially do is provide an afterburner/MWD bonus per level for certain gallente ships, so that their straight line speed is improved (their mass and inertia is unchanged).

    This retains their relative lack of agility and adds a touch of the "CHARGE!!!" mentality implied with driving Gallente blaster boats.

    It gives the agile and situationally aware a chance to get the hell out of the way, and the Gallente pilots a (slightly) better chance of applying that DPS.

    Because, and lets be fair here, trying to maneuver or close with one or more 1600mm plates/trimarks is a little like trying to sprint 100 meters while wearing concrete gumboots.

  7. Autonomous MonsterOctober 19, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Alright, gonna start by saying this seems like a pretty good post, and it's given me a little to chew on. Nothing should be out-dpsing blasters at extreme close range. Maybe a bump to raw damage is in order.

    I do have a few niggles I'd like to explore, though.

    The comparison with Scorch seems more like an argument to nerf Scorch than anything else. 65km isn't short range, it's not even mid range, that's pushing into sniper territory. @_@ (Is my Gallente showing?)

    AM vs. IN Multi - I'm assuming yes, but just to make sure: that is Navy AM? :P Also, I've recently reevaluated Void. I think it might be more useful than I'd originally thought. So, play with that a bit perhaps.

    Drones - if you do think Ogres are unviable in the current metagame, you could at least throw some Hammers on there. Med drones do surprising amounts of damage, and even if it doesn't change the DPS difference any it'll help the Thron at long range.

    Thron vs. Hyp - you're right, sadly, the Hyp is more of a PVE than a PVP boat. But you could always give the classic Sparkly Blue Hyperion a whirl for giggles.

    "unless there are dual-rep PvP Hyps I don't know about"

    Well, BC has this :P

  8. Whoops! Navy Antimatter, yes. I'll fix that.

  9. I know I'm going to get a thumping for this, but, uh...web drones? Doesn't even need to be a full rack; dump out 2 webbers and 3 ogres, or vice-versa.

  10. I think a better comparison would have been between the Megathron and the Armageddon. Both are seven-gun battleships with 125m^3 drone bays and corresponding bandwidth, which can then be eliminated as a factor.

    Assuming both ships have the largest guns possible (Neutrons and Mega Pulse respectively), it comes down to whether the Armageddon chooses to fit three plates or three heat sinks.

    With three plates, the Mega beats it in the DPS department by about 70 DPS, but loses in the EHP by a whopping 15k.

    With three heat sinks, the Armageddon gains the DPS advantage, but only by 25 or so, while losing 20k EHP, which could likely be the difference between a win and a loss in a 1v1.

    1. I didn't take specific damage types into account for the EHP values. Mega Pulses have IN MF loaded, Neutrons have CN AM.
    2. The Megathron is able to fit a heavy neut in the utility slot even with an MWD and a full rack of Neutrons, while the Armageddon fitting Mega Pulses is not. This may allow the Mega to win the cap war since it has a larger base capacitor.
    3. If the Megathron chooses to fit a web, it might be able to mitigate some damage through transversal, since Neutrons inherently have better tracking than Mega Pulses. Then again, these are battleships we're talking about.

  11. This comparison doesn't really make sense, tbh - you've fit a Mega like a (fleet) Abaddon and then demonstrated that a real Abaddon is better than a wannabe Abaddon. A Mega isn't supposed to be a mid-range BS, it's supposed to be a point-blank facemelter; when balancing, the aim shouldn't be to make it competitive with the Abaddon at mid-range and beyond, it should be to make it crushingly superior at point blank to the extent that tactics based around 0-km facemelting become a viable alternative.

    Second, because you've fit the mega to be an Abaddon wannabe, your comparison doesn't really address the way a fight like this would actually pan out - in practice, a properly-flown mega will never have tracking issues against other BS because neither will be MWDing and the mega (having both scram and web) will have complete control over the range and transversal of the engagement within scram range.

    Third, disregarding (heavy) drone DPS at mid-range is fine; Ogres are sloooow and most of that nominal DPS will never be applied. At point blank, it's a different story - the drones will begin applying damage almost as soon as they're deployed and will hit without issues.

    Fourth, laughing off the Hype in this specific scenario (BS 1v1 against a low DPS non-neuty opponent) is silly since even with the current lackluster state of blaster BS, that's a fight the Hype should win without breaking a sweat - it can permatank the Abaddon even while MWDing into scram range, and once it's got tackle, it becomes an effortless case of ctrl-space, switch on guns, chew through buffer while pulsing reps. Active tanking isn't half as dead as some people like to claim, and in small scale fights (which also aren't as rare as some people like to claim...), it comes into its own. In this scenario, it could even loot the Abaddon's wreck for cap boosters and paste and be ready for a new fight with completely undiminished capabilities - full EHP, heat damage repped up, and a full load of 800s in the cargohold.

  12. Sorry to be an ass, but:

    "I always smile a bit when people refer to Gallente ships as "flying bricks" and the like. They're actually surprisingly quick."
    Jester about Gallente ships in this post

    "Yet, here we are in EVE, using the shortest range weapon on the heaviest, slowest ships."
    Jester about Gallente ships in a post a few days old

    I do sense a lack of coherence. ;)

  13. " It would make me very happy if the changes make blasters the UNDISPUTED kings of dps when used in their optimal range, for any of the charges. Instead of more range, give them a big damage boost, "


    Blasters should be huge dps machines and and worth the price of having no range. Currently blasters do not offer a large benifit in DPS compared to other weapons systems to offset the lack of versatility.

    For rails they should remain sniper weapons with crazy range. But if they are snipers better tracking and resolution would let them snipe smaller ships and act as snipers while not over lapping the role of arty or beams.

  14. @Gunther: ::grins:: I'll cop to a little bit of inconsistency on this. But it's only coming up because we're not talking about Minmatar and Caldari ships here. Gallente ships are surprisingly quick... for ships that aren't Tempests or Scorps. ;-)

    @Anon0737: I could live with a DPS buff on blasters with no range or tracking buff. I just don't think we're going to see that happen.

  15. Back when we lived in Providence (a little over a year ago, during the 'New Provi Fight Club' era) Evoke used megas much like these against us as their main fleet doctrine. We (provi residents) were mainly using AHACs and/or shield BS at the time, and the massive dps of the megas would completely annihilate our logistics wings in ~100 v 100 fights.

    If you want to see something even scarier (mainly for smaller fights where the ratio of logis to megas is somewhere between 1:1 and 2:1), try looking what happens when you bring oneiroses instead of guardians and whack some bonused tracking links on them...

  16. Once again, a post with very, very good analysis.

    The graph comparing Null blasters and Multifrequency pulses very effectively demonstrates that blasters have no range, even with double optimal scripts and Null. However, I, and others, still contend this isn't a problem, nor is changing it a solution. Boosting optimal on blasters will only allow them to start hitting slightly sooner when the ship using them is chasing or closing. However, effective blaster range would still be shorter than web range (for any reasonable fit), and once the target is webbed, getting up close and personal takes very little time, rendering that slight boost Null.

    Though, really, all you've demonstrated here is how not to fit a mega.

  17. People are right Jester. This Fight would go completely differently.

    The Megathron Fleet fit has a Web and a Scram on it. They Sacrifice initial DPS and durability for the ability to web their targets, get in close and scram them to control the transversal battle.

  18. Worth pointing out that you have the CPU to bump one of those Corpii C-Types to an EANM II. Puts you at 687.25/687.5 CPU used.


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