And now, a long post that includes both World War II and Babylon 5 stories... but will take forever to get to an EVE-related point. Don't say you weren't warned.
One of these days, I may write a full blog post about the Battle off Samar, part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the closing naval battles of World War II. For today, though, I'll stick with one element from that battle that is historically interesting. For reasons that I won't get into, an American task force, made up of six thin-skinned escort carriers and a handful of destroyers and destroyer-escorts, found themselves facing the full might of a Japanese task force made up of four battleships (including the super-battleship Yamato) and six heavy and two light cruisers.
On any other day, the Japanese task force would have absolutely eaten the thin-skinned "baby flattops" and their escort. But 25 October 1944 went a bit differently, and the American group ended up driving off the much superior Japanese group. One reason for this was that the enormous Japanese ships began the battle with armor-piercing shells in their guns. These shells, when they struck the unarmored escort carriers and destroyers... simply passed through or bounced off. There wasn't enough armor in the thin-skinned warships to set off the shell's fuses! In general, the Japanese are a deeply spiritual people and I have no doubt whatsoever that the sight of their shells passing through the American warships without inflicting any apparent damage probably unnerved them quite a bit before they realized what was actually happening and changed to high-explosive shells.
For instance, USS Samuel B. Roberts -- a tiny destroyer-escort smaller than a modern frigate -- was struck by three 14" armor-piercing shells from the Japanese battleship Kongo. The shells passed through the DE leaving a 40 foot hole (the ship itself was only 300 feet long) and certainly killed many people. But the ship herself continued to fight. The same three shells striking an American battle cruiser would have obliterated the vessel. But there were no American battle cruisers off Samar that day.
In EVE context, it's not surprising that the Japanese cruisers ended up doing, and taking, most of the damage from the American ships. Without screening destroyers of its own, though, the Japanese task force took many hits that they could not respond to. At another point, Roberts moved so close to the Japanese ships that they could not lower their guns enough to hit the much smaller DE. Roberts, meanwhile, raked the Japanese ships with gunfire from everything she had, including heavy machine-guns. Sound familiar?
As for the Kongo's gun punching a hole in but not killing a destroyer-escort... yeah, that doesn't happen in EVE. For at least the last year, one of the most frequent Titan DD targets has been Logistics ships (that are 1/225 the size of a Titan).
Now let's talk Babylon 5. One of the things I absolutely love about this show is how well its space combat elements are presented.
Centauri battle cruisers, for instance, are depicted as numerous, heavily-armed monsters that are terrifying enough in a one-on-one engagement... but which are not particularly impressive defensively. Minbari cruisers, on the other hand, are rare. Few are ever seen. But their defenses are formidable and their weapons even more so, with tracking sufficient to hit much smaller targets. But they're shown as quite vulnerable to kamikaze attacks, if you can overwhelm them with enough of these smaller targets (usually, you can't).
Ironically enough, it is Earth and Narn -- the "youngest" races -- that are shown having the most balanced approach. And it's not surprising that the two races are related, since it's said on-screen that Earth learned much of what it knows about space combat from the Narn.
Their combat doctrine comprises three classes of ships: destroyers, cruisers, and fighters. Contrary to history, it's the destroyers that are the largest of the three types. An Earth destroyer has three classes of weapons: their main batteries (fore and aft), "interceptors", and a "defense grid." The main batteries are generally fired along the axis of the ship, with limited or no steering, and are useless against anything but a similar size warship. The defense grid is entirely defensive, for picking off enemy fighters. Interceptors are a sort of mix. Generally, they're defensive: they're used to destroy or dissipate the energy from an enemy ship's main batteries. But they can also be reset to be used offensively.
A Earth destroyer can also launch several squadrons of fighters. The job of the fighters is to attack enemy fighters, and eventually to pick off enough of the interceptors on an enemy ship that their home ship's batteries can punch through and destroy the enemy ship. The fighters can also attempt to destroy main batteries on an enemy ship, while avoiding or destroying its defense grid. Or the fighters can willingly throw themselves in the path of the enemy ship's batteries to prevent fire from them from destroying their home ship. In that way, an Earth destroyer whose interceptors are ineffective can still avoid fire from the enemy ship.
So, to summarize: an Earth or Narn ship attacking another Earth or Narn ship will use its fighters and batteries to try to overwhelm its opponent's interceptors, while using its own fighters, interceptors, and defense grid to keep its opponent from doing the same. First ship to overwhelm the enemy's interceptors and fighters will probably win.
Not only are the various differences between the races well thought-out in and of themselves, but they make for some very interesting fights between the various races. For instance, the first time a Shadow ship attacks a Narn battle-cruiser, the Narn ship's interceptors are enough to prevent the first attack from being instantly fatal, as it is to more offensively-minded races later in the series.(1)
As noted above, the Centauri rely heavily on batteries, but have few or no interceptors. When a single Centauri battle-cruiser attacks Babylon 5 late in season two, it pours enough battery fire into the station that it overwhelms the station's fighters and interceptors on its own and does damage to the station itself. The Centauri ship, however, lacking its own interceptors, is caught by Babylon 5's fighters, which quickly pick apart its batteries and defense grid and destroy it. Its batteries are useless against the Earth fighters, and it lacks fighters of its own.
Two Earth destroyers and two Earth cruisers trying to attack Babylon 5 in the season three episode "Severed Dreams", however, don't have enough punch with the station's own interceptors, plus interceptors from two friendly destroyers nearby preventing damage. But the Earth ships are much tougher to themselves destroy since their own interceptors and fighters initially prevent heavy damage, too. Captain Sheridan responds to this by ordering his station's interceptors to be reset for offensive fire against enemy fighters. This clears them away and gives his own fighters free reign to take out the interceptors on the enemy ships. The cost is hull damage taken by the station from the batteries of the Earth ships (since his interceptors aren't being used defensively).
You'll gather from all of this that I'd drop EVE for a Babylon 5 space combat MMO in a second. ;-)
What does all of this have to do with EVE? Glad you asked. It's now more or less confirmed that Titan Doomsday weapons will soon no longer be able to be used against sub-capital size targets.
This is what is known as "a good start." It's the equivalent of Kongo's 14" gun no longer being able to instantly sink a destroyer escort. But it doesn't do much yet to change the dynamics of EVE's large fleet doctrines. Titan non-DD guns are easily knocking down battle-cruisers.(2) Battleship tracking and damage is sufficient to instapop frigates. It's common for a so-called EVE large fleet "doctrine" to include only three types of ships.
I think it would be entertaining to cut every tracking speed number in EVE by at least a third. Maybe even by half. It's fun to think about. How would EVE combat be changed by this? It wouldn't change 1v1s or small gang fights all that much, I don't think. But imagine the impact on large fleet fights.
How much more interesting would EVE large fleet combat be if your fleet actually had to include ships of all sizes in order to be effective?
(1) We don't even have to be told this is what has happened. By this point in the series, we've been shown enough B5 space combat that we're expected to be intelligent enough to realize it. This is another thing that I love about B5. ;-)
(2) There used to be so few Titans that they all fit officer-class Tracking Computers to increase tracking. Now there's so many Titans in EVE that massive price inflation has struck the relatively crappy Shadow Serpentis Tracking Computer. They're running to the hundreds of millions of ISK.