Two blog posts about the recent capital ship balancing devblog. Let's start with the easiest change first.
Quick: how many anti-ship guns did a World War II battleship have, on average? Pick whatever type you've heard of: the U.S. Iowa class, the British King George V, the German Bismarck, the Japanese Yamato... whatever. If you thought "nine" or some number close to nine, you are forgiven, but wrong. The correct answer is "more than two dozen". The U.S. Iowa class was typical: an Iowa circa 1943 carried nine main guns of 16" (410mm) caliber, but it also carried 20 guns of 5" (130mm) caliber.
The smaller guns are invariably always forgotten. EVE's battleships exclude smaller guns completely.(1)
There were no "dreadnoughts" in World War II. The term itself was obsolete even then... but its definition is a battleship with an "all-big-gun" armament scheme. Early dreadnoughts had 12 main guns and no smaller guns. EVE dreads cut that to three guns... but those three guns -- in siege mode, of course -- can put out anywhere from two to four times the amount of raw DPS as a battleship... upwards of 5500 DPS in the right hands. EVE dreads, like their historical counter-parts, don't have small guns, either.
What they do (currently) have are large drone bays, of anywhere from 150m3 (Phoenix) to 500m3 (Moros) in size. Dreads typically carry Sentry drones; if your dread pilot can use tech2 Sentries, this adds another 300-500 DPS to what a dread can currently do.
But in a couple of months, dreads will be losing their drone bays. In exchange, they'll get a further 75% damage bonus from their siege mod. I have one dread pilot; he flies the Revelation. My standard Rev fitting does 5400 DPS in siege mode with non-faction crystals, which increases to 5700 with tech2 Sentries deployed. If my math is accurate, my Rev pilot will be doing 6000 DPS after this change... but those drones will be falling off the hull.
Dreads are also getting a 50% cut in the length of their siege cycle, from 10 minutes to five. And when you're in siege, locked down and prevented from moving and escaping, ten minutes is a ridiculously long time. ;-) I've been in the position of being able to attack dreads several times, and there's few things more amusing in EVE then watching feeble, helpless, stationary dreadnoughts die in large numbers. Clear Skies 3 aside, the chances of a dread hitting even a battleship is pretty low. The standard dread guns have one-fifth the tracking speed of equivalent battleship guns.
Here's some of my inexperience showing: I've never been in a capital ship vs. capital ship battle using dreads. Every time I've been in a cap-ship fight against other caps, it's been from inside a carrier. Every time I've attacked dreads, it's been from a sub-cap. Every time I've been in a dread, I've been shooting at structures, not ships. So, my view of the changes to dreads might be completely off the mark. And if that's the case, I apologize in advance.
But this change sure feels like strong encouragement for players to use dreads -- the biggest gunships in the game -- for nothing but quick hit-and-fade strikes.
Every time I've been in a dread fleet, everything has revolved around that ten-minute siege cycle. "Siege green" and "siege red" have entered the EVE lexicon as standard battle language in dreads. And in a normal tower assault, the standard tactic that I've been familiar with is to jump in a fleet of dreads, then let them siege for one and only one cycle... "then we'll finish up with the battleships." Can't tell you how often I heard that when I was involved with null-sec sov warfare. The basic idea is that if you have dreads on grid for more than one cycle, that gives the enemy enough time to form up to bubble and destroy the stationary dreads.
But people are greedy, and the temptation to keep the dreads on-grid for two cycles instead of one can be hard for some FCs to resist.
As a result, once you get into sov warfare at all, dread kills become remarkably easy to come by. ;-) But it has a side effect: fewer and fewer people want to buy them. So, you almost never have as many dreads on a POS bash as you wish you did, and "finishing up with the battleships" takes longer and longer.
But the money to buy large fleets of dreads is definitely there. A dread costs a small fraction of what a super-carrier costs. Hell, these days, a dread doesn't cost much more than a pirate battleship, and those are becoming grossly common.
So, why didn't CCP buff dreads more? God knows dreads were begging to get a nice buff.(2)
My theory is that CCP is betting that we're going to see the number of dreads tripling, quadrupling, or more, going into 2012. With only five minutes reaction time to get an anti-dread fleet on the field, POS-bash fleets can greatly increase the number of dreads they can attract into the fleet. The dreads will jump in, do 1.65 million or so HP damage each to whatever is being attacked over five minutes, then jump out again before the defender can react. With much-reduced reaction time to catch them, fewer dreads should die in 2012. Which in turn should encourage even more dread purchases, making the POS-bash dread fleets bigger. Which should lower their cost. Which should reinforce the trend.
But it -- quite amusingly -- means that come 2012, we're going to see the biggest gunships in EVE being used as nothing more than multi-million metric ton hit-and-fade stealth bombers. ;-)
Or am I wrong? As I said, I'm not experienced in using dreads in anti-ship warfare. Discuss.
(1) Though I've got a Medium Pulse Laser II Abaddon fit that used to be a great bait-ship for killing stealth bombers on jump bridges. But that fit doesn't use big guns. ;-)
(2) And they still will, if "New T2 modules" in the previous devblog means what I think it means.