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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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thought experiment: Eagle

I've written about the Eagle several times on this blog, because it's a ship that -- more than any other -- disappoints me.

The ship should be pretty awesome, after all: it's in the same class as the Vagabond.  It's in the same class as the Zealot.  It's in the same class as the Ishtar and the Deimos.  Hell, even the Sac and the Muninn have their fans.  But both Caldari HACs suck suck suck.  And of them, the Cerb is the better of the two.  The Eagle is a waste of tritanium and morphite, a little blue and grey amalgam of uselessness.  And if all of this weren't bad enough, most people think the Eagle is ugly as sin, too.

And this was before the tier 3s came out and really put the Eagle (and indeed, all sniper HACs) into their graves.

Poor Eagle.

Kirith Kodachi started a contest on his blog to redesign the this much-maligned ship.  And EVE News 24 picked up the story and are upping the stakes with slightly better prizes.  I submitted an entry in both places, but I want to republish it here and emphasize some of the considerations.

First, let's get one thing out of the way: I'm going to go against the grain and say that I like the look of the Moa hull just as it is.  Is it ugly and asymmetrical?  Sure!  But it's ugly and asymmetrical in a way that makes sense for a Caldari spacecraft.  I might tweak the engines somewhat to make the propulsion sources look more balanced, similar to what was done to the Raven.  But I actually like the base Moa hull.  It's got a rough-and-ready look to it that I think fits with the Caldari mindset and a turret ship in general.  So you're not going to see a replacement drawing from me.

I also think the Moa hull has a Serenity from Firefly feel to it.  People get annoyed at me when I say that, but I believe it nonetheless.  It's got many of the same design aesthetics.  The thickset body is very similar, as is the arching neck and through-line.  The added side-block on the Moa and the lack of prominence of the Firefly engines are obvious differences, but easily explainable by the fact that Serenity had to be able to land on planets, and the Moa hull does not.

With that out of the way, let's talk stats.  The specific stat recommendations that I've made for the contest are these:
  • Increase power grid by +100;
  • Add a 6th turret slot;
  • Remove the missile slots;
  • Remove the HAC 10% range bonus, replace with a speed bonus; and,
  • Create a 280mm Railgun module (with associated meta, faction, and T2 modules).
Let's talk about the whys, starting from a basic Beagle fitting.

[Eagle, Beagle]
Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive
Warp Scrambler II
Stasis Webifier II
Photon Scattering Field II
Large Shield Extender II

Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Heavy Neutron Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge M
Salvager I

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I


Our comparison ships will be a Vagabond and a Deimos.  On paper, a Beagle seems a decent ship.  Fit with three MFS2s, it's capable of applying 526 DPS at short range with Caldari Navy Antimatter and max skills, out to about 11km.  Our comparable Vagabond does 535.  The problem is that the Vagabond is nearly twice as fast as the Eagle on MWD with comparable fittings, and has almost double the weapon range as well!  A Vagabond will top out close to 2500m/s.  The Eagle can only manage 1354.  As a result, the Vaga is going to have no problems kiting the Eagle.  The two ships have roughly comparable tanks, and the Vaga has a drone bay, rendering it much more flexible.

Compared side-by-side to a single-plated Neutron Blaster Deimos, the Eagle has an inferior tank with no compensatory e-war options that the Deimos doesn't have.  And the Deimos has a 50m3 drone bay, sufficient for a standard dual-flight of e-war and light drones.  And the Deimos does 684 DPS at max skills with CNAM to 12km and is still faster than the Eagle, about 1530m/s.  Read that again: a plated, armor-tanking ship of equal size is faster than a shield-tanking Eagle.  And the Eagle's sig radius is much larger than either of the other two besides.

In short, the Eagle is in no way comparable to its two sibling ships and would get murdered by either of them.

So, let's make the first four changes above.  There's no reason for the Eagle to have missile slots.  There's no decent missile configuration that works, and few non-Minmatar ships ever use dual-weapon configurations.  A sixth turret slot and +100 grid makes the addition of a sixth Heavy Neutron Blaster possible with no other changes needed to the fitting above.  DPS rises to 631 DPS, still under what the Deimos can pump out, leaving the Gallente boat as the king of medium blaster boats, as it honestly should be.  Still, 631 DPS is quite respectable for a HAC and brings the Eagle in line with the other short range HACs without increasing tank.

Removing the 10% HAC range bonus reduces the Eagle's effective range from 11km to... 10km, reflecting how ridiculously poor medium blaster ranges are and showing that this Eagle "bonus" is nothing of the sort.  The replacement speed bonus would increase the Eagle's MWD speed to between 1700 and 1800m/s... still not as quick as the Vagabond, so the Vagabond will continue to be able to kite the Caldari HAC.  But again, this is as it should be, and the Eagle will be able to outrun its armor-plated cousin, which is also as it should be.  Speed while not under MWD would rise to about 254m/s, again comparable to the Deimos.

It's not perfect... the Deimos would remain the superior blaster boat.  Still, that's as it should be.  And Beagles would go from being a slow, underpowered laughing stock to at least being a credible threat.

Let's look at sniping.  We'll use my FOTW from October as the base ship here:

[Eagle, Gotta Beep Somebody]
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Power Diagnostic System II

10MN MicroWarpdrive II
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Large Shield Extender II

250mm Railgun II, Spike M
250mm Railgun II, Spike M
250mm Railgun II, Spike M
250mm Railgun II, Spike M
250mm Railgun II, Spike M
Standard Missile Launcher II, Caldari Navy Bloodclaw Light Missile

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I


As I stated in October, nothing is going to help this ship.  Still, with Crucible, 250mm Railguns have had their power needs reduced, which means that this fit now mostly works with only a single ACR rig; the second can be replaced with pretty much whatever you like.  All other elements remain the same.  Still, nobody is going to fly this ship for any reason, as I said in that post.  At maximum skills, its damage out Sebo-enhanced, FC-bonused targeting range using Spike is 207 DPS.  Our comparison ship this time is... a shield-tanked Oracle.

Oh yes, it is.  An Oracle costs half as much as an Eagle, requires fewer skill points, and the sig radius of the two ships is nearly the same.  Can the Eagle compete or not?  The answer is: hell no!  At 143km, the Oracle does 446 DPS with Aurora L crystals, more than double what the Eagle can do.  The Oracle's speed is the same as the Eagle's, so their skirmishing capabilities are identical.  Sure, the tracking isn't quite as good: 0.005 on the Oracle versus 0.007 on the Eagle.  And the Eagle's tank is better.  But who the hell cares about tracking or tank at 143km?

Let's be clear: sniper HACs as a tactic are dead, dead, dead.  What the sniper HAC could do, the new tier 3s can do better.  Still, let's finish.

The main issue with a sniper Eagle (and, for those that wish to fly them, sniper Feroxes) isn't actually the ship itself.  It's the piss-poor guns it's forced to fit.  While there are three sizes of medium rails, in practice, there is functionally no difference between the 200mm Railgun and the 250mm Railgun except range.  Fitted to the Eagle and loaded with Spike, the 200s do 197 DPS, only 10 DPS less than the larger guns.

A sniper Eagle really should be forced into the position to use dual ACRs.  Again, nobody cares that a sniper Eagle has a 45k EHP tank when it's sitting 150km away.  That gives our Eagle 1389 power grid with literally nothing to spend it on.  Maxed out with MWD, LSE, and five 250s, only 1225 grid is consumed.  That leaves 164 grid available and nothing to spend it on except increasing tank.  A sixth 250 added thanks to the sixth turret slot I suggest and +100 grid increases DPS to 248... still barely half of the Oracle.  It's not enough.

As I've said a couple of times in a couple of places, CCP did not go far enough buffing medium Rails.  They're still sub-standard even when compared to their small and large counter-parts.  I still choose to believe that DPS should be increased on the existing medium Railguns.  But if someone from CCP disagrees, the an alternate solution presents itself: a fourth size of medium Railgun that bridges the gap.  Let's call it the 280mm Railgun.  Trade out the PDS for an RCU2, as is typical in pure sniper boats, and that gives us more than 1500 grid... more than 200 grid per gun for six 280mm Railgun turrets.  With a squad commander with InfoWar Spec 5, the Eagle can currently target to 154km with a single Sebo.  The 250s can only hit to 146.  That says our theoretical 280mm Railgun can also confer a bit more range.  But mostly what we need is more DPS.

At range, only DPS matters, CCP.  The Eagle doesn't have nearly enough.

As I said with the Oneiros thought experiment back in August, you've got ships out there that outdo the Eagle in its own role.  You fixed the Oneiros.  And the new tier 3s are great!  I love mine and wouldn't trade them.  But you've put an entire ship class out of business here, CCP.  Some of the other HACs can use some help as well, but let's fix the Eagle first.

13 comments:

  1. The other day I had a strange dream. I was a biologyst in the middle of a complex ecosystem, studing how the introduction of exotic species affects the equilibrium of the native ones.

    Then all of sudden the vegetation turned into spaceships and were named NPCs. Then all the herbivore became spaceships in their turn and were called PVErs. Then all the carnive became spaceships too and were called PVPers.

    You see, Jester, everytime we get new ships they will either partially or completelly kill the usefullness of some ships, if those remain unchanged.

    Now, were did I leave my medicine ...

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  2. I so agree with everything you're saying, good article.

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  3. I thought the range bonus for HAC is per level? So wont you loose 50% of your range if you remove it?

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  4. The Eagle receives the range bonus twice, both for Caldari Cruiser level and for HAC level. However, the range bonus is to Optimal range ONLY, and Optimal range for blasters STINKS.

    At fully maxed skills with CNAN ammo, the Eagle has a range of 5.1+6.3. If you remove the HAC range bonus, the range drops to 3.4+6.3... you lose 1.6km of range.

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  5. The Drawback of Sniperoracles is they won't hit anything thats smaller then a BC if it moves when using Aurora.

    But then most 0.0 Fleets consist of BC's anyway, so it won't matter much there :D

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  6. Range bonus for blaster is seriously retarded. It goes all the way down to to the Merlin. There is no reason to fit blasters on a Merlin EVER. ACs do just as good at short range, can do damage out to scram range and require WAY less fitting. Lasers do quite a bit less at very short ranges, but can hit out to scram range for more than even rails.

    It's stupid if a weapon system with a bonus is worse at (pretty much) everything than both others without a bonus.

    The reduction in laser cap need bonus found on most amarr ships is equally stupid. It just makes lasers useable without a cap booster. It's hardly a bonus at all.

    It (kind of) works on the BS level because all amarr BSs also have another laser bonus (Abaddon doesn't even have the cap bonus). So does the Harb.

    But on the frigate and cruiser level and for the prophecy it's just sad. No one would ever fit lasers on a punisher, because ACs are better at everything while having 1/4 the fitting requirements and use no cap at all.

    Let's look at Rupture vs. Maller. Without their boni they look roughly equal (ignoring the Mallers lack of a dronebay for no reason).
    The Maller gets 25% armor resis which is roughly equal to a 25% rof bonus. A bit worse solo because less than 100% of your total HPs are in armor and a bit better when you can get armor reps. Now the Rupture also gets 25% damage while the Maller gets the cap "bonus".
    Outcome: the Rupture is a way better ship.

    The very same is true for the hybrid range bonus, which just isn't a bonus at all.

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  7. @Jester wouldn't a better change for the eagle be to change the HAC bonus from Optimal Range to Falloff range?

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  8. Should a beagle not outdamage a deimos at 15km and and outtank a vaga which simply can not apply enough damage from 30km to do significant damage?

    Correct me if I am wrong here, but 12.7km optimal + 7.8km falloff looks for me exactly between the usual effective ac and blaster ranges.

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  9. Quite frankly, there isn't anything wrong with rails or blasters, nor with most of the existing ships.

    The real problem is that projectiles have been given too much of a buff over the past couple of years, and now really need to be rebalanced.

    I'd say that the optimal + 2 x falloff is a good place to start. It doesn't matter that ACs have terrible optimal, when the falloff can be extended to ridiculous ranges via ship bonuses and nonsense like the Tracking Enhancer II (30% bonus to falloff - WTF). Look at the DPS vs range curve. The net result is that ACs do almost full damage at ranges which they were never really meant to hit.

    Projectiles use no cap, have variable damage types - unlike hybrids and lasers. Compared to missiles, projectiles hit instantly (zero flight time) and take up less cargo space. Tracking speed on ACs is pretty much comparable to blasters. They are also easier to fit than the other weapon systems.

    So, what disadvantages do projectiles - and the ships which get bonuses for using them - have anyways?

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  10. Yeah, sounds like the Eagle needs some serious help, no wonder why people hardly ever fly them. I like your idea of giving it another turret slot probably the best. (more speed would be a good one too, it is pretty sad that a plated Diemos will out run it.)

    One part that doesn't need help is the hull model- One of my favorite ships in the game is the Gila, and I too feel the Moa hull is very lovable, despite being a rather weird design.

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  11. I seem simply to screw up my deimos fittings, because at ranges between 4km and 10km an eagle will do very good damage compared to my deimos with void. Void is no option for a deimos, but seems to work just fine with an eagle.

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  12. Void worked for the Eagle because of the range bonus, and because of tracking deficiencies of blasters in general. Now that the tracking efficiencies have been eliminated, you can ram Eagles with your Deimos and use Void if you like.

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  13. The muninn only gets around 230 or so dps at 114km and half that at 155km. With a similar setup the Eagle gets 200dps as 200km.

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