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, January 9, 2013

For battle come to me

So, CCP Fozzie is at it again.  He's posted a thread with the tentative changes to EVE's eight older tech1 battle cruisers.

Let's get this out of the way first: given that the Gallente models are keeping what is widely regarded as a less-than-useful armor repairing bonus, I predict that we're going to see an Ancillary Armor Booster module shortly.  You know what I mean: something like the Ancillary Shield Booster, a burst armor booster that uses cap charges.  This prediction is bolstered by Hans Jagerblitzen being cute on the EVE-O thread.  ;-)  So, there should be that (or something like it) and we're going to see the announcement soon.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the changes.

First off, all of these changes strengthen the existing "tier3" battle cruisers against other BCs.  The general "tone" of the changes is to nerf (sometimes only slightly) the existing "tier2" BCs -- the Drake, Cane, Harby, and Myrm -- in favor of buffs (usually good ones) to the existing "tier1" BCs -- the Ferox, Cyclone, Prophecy, and Brutix.(1)  But since the "tier3" BCs -- the Tornado, Oracle, Talos, and Naga -- were already superior to the "tier2s" before these changes, this further widens the gap between the soon-to-be-re-branded "Attack" battle cruisers and the rest.  The tier3s have gone from being better than the rest to being much better.  But obviously, this is something that can be addressed with slight tweaks -- *coughsnerfscoughs* -- to the tier3s when that time comes.

Second, I think Fozzie and the rest of the ship balancing team are being far too focused on the issue of the number of slots -- high, mid, and low -- each ship has.  Though it's never brought up in this forum post, you can see it ducking in and out of view with many of these changes.  Each of these BCs has either 16 or 17 slots.  That's having a large impact on the traditional roles of some ships.  The reason the Hurricane no longer has two utility slots?  Because the Cane had 18 slots and will soon have 17.  There doesn't seem to be any other reason.  In my view, that's a poor way to go about balancing the ships, or at least a lazy one.

You can see the same thing here and there in more minor aspects.  For instance, all eight ships now recharge cap at exactly the same rate.  That happens whether the ship really needs the cap (Brutix, Harbinger) or doesn't (Hurricane, Prophecy).

Third, the general tone of these changes further enhances EVE becoming more of a "twitchy" game: most of the ships have been given DPS buffs and nerfs to tank.  The big exception is the Prophecy (which I'll get to presently) but in the general sense that's what's happened.  Most affected by this aspect of the change is the Drake which while not losing its shield resistance bonus, did lose some shield HP and a good bit of maneuverability, as well as having its sig radius increased slightly.  That last one happened to everybody, so BSs and the tier3 BCs are going to be hitting them harder.

Fourth and finally, these changes more or less verify the premise of my "Narrow the gap" post from a few weeks ago.  Not only are the differences between the eight hulls reduced, but the differences between cruiser and BC, BC and battleship, and BC and Command Ship are all reduced as well.  The fitting skills needed to get top performance out of these eight hulls are also reduced, most notably in the Harbinger, Hurricane and Cyclone (but affecting the Prophecy and Myrm as well).  Actually flying several of these hulls becomes easier as well; the actual amount of player skill needed is going to be reduced.  That's going to make getting into a BC easier for newer players.

But be clear about one thing: in the aggregate, these changes are a nerf to all non-tier3 battle cruisers.  Sure, tier1s are getting better but they were poor performers.  And the previously good performers are being brought down to their improved level.  That means a bunch of 5s and 6s have become 7s, and a bunch of 8s and 9s have also become 7s.  Overall?  Nerf.

Biggest loser?  Without question the Hurricane.  Already nerfed pretty hard through losing 225 power grid late last year, I felt like the Cane had been hit by that slightly too hard.  I currently have five types of Hurricane in my hangar: welp, ASB, armor, skirmish, and 720.  I spent a lot of time after the grid change updating the fittings.  When I was done, I was left with five ships that I couldn't think of a reason to undock in as opposed to some other hull instead.  Welp Cane?  HAM Drake does it better today.  ASB Cane?  Left with too little DPS to be that effective.  Armor Cane?  Ditto (and now the Harbinger is going to push it off a cliff entirely).  Skirmish Cane?  720 Cane?  Better done with tier3s.

So I haven't even undocked in a Hurricane since the grid change went into effect, and was hoping for the rebalance to back off slightly.  No such luck and in fact, the opposite has happened.  The Cane has lost one of its signature two utility highs, its drone bay has remained the same (making it much less versatile than its upgraded brethren), and its mass has been increased making it less agile.  In short, what we're left with is a pre-changes Harbinger.  Six guns, six-slot armor tank, slightly piggy.  It's no longer a mini Tempest... matter of fact, if the cost of Tempests ever comes back down we're going to see Pests taking over the Cane's old roles.  Needless to say, my five Canes are going to stay docked for the foreseeable future if these changes become permanent.

Second biggest loser?  Drakes.  CCP has had a hate on this ship for quite a while now and this nerf hits it where it had been re-tasked for PvP, namely as agile heavy tackle PODLA Drakes.  Problem there is that mass and agility have been nerfed as well as base shield HP and cap.  That's going to put the so-called cap-stable Drakes out of business and make heavy tackle duties a lot tougher.  Expect to see that role moved to other ships, notably the Cyclone and Ferox.  Meanwhile, the failure to convert the kinetic damage bonus to a ROF bonus, and the reduced toughness is going to see L3 missioning Drakes lose that role to the Cyclone and Prophecy.

In short, the two most-used BCs in EVE are about to become two of the least-used BCs in EVE for a little while.(2)

Honorable mention loser?  Myrmidon.  You'd think Prometheus Exenthal wasn't gonna be happy, but he seems quite calm about it.

Biggest winner?  Harder to say, but for now I'm going to say the Cyclone.  The Cyclone was already the best tier1 BC before these changes and while the flip from gunboat to missile boat will annoy some people, for most these changes are going to be a large net positive.  The added low slot, additional CPU, larger drone bay, and enhanced shields are all pretty huge.  Chances are pretty good we're going to see the Cyclone step into a lot of the roles that the Drake is filling now and the Hurricane was filling before, starting with a "HAMs plus dual neut" PvP model.  That also means the Cyclone will be the premiere L3 mission boat in New Eden and I can't believe I just typed that.  ;-)  But it's true nonetheless: its tank will be able to handle it and its tunable missile damage and large drone bay is going to make short work of them.  The additional low and CPU will make PvP Cyclones -- particularly ASB models -- easier to fit and to fly, and also means we're going to see the first armor Cyclones.

Second biggest winner?  Amarr BCs.  Both of them.  Both of these ships were pretty laughably bad for most applications; the only Prophecy I've ever bought has moved from badly fit to cyno bait fit to LOL-RR-Prophecy fit and has never died.  The Harbinger has long been regarded as a BC for players that didn't have the skills for a better BC... any better BC.  The latter now becomes a "new player special."  Though reduced by one gun, the increased damage bonus actually makes this a net positive to DPS.  In addition, the ship will be easier to fit and easier to fly due to reduced cap issues from trying to fire seven lasers from it.  Armor Harbies are also going to be a lot tougher.  Don't get me wrong: it's still a bit of a pig but of all the tier2s, it's suffering the least and therefore looks good by comparison.

The Prophecy meanwhile becomes a better drone boat than either of the Gallente BCs and isn't that just the weirdest thing ever.  Fit with HMLs and launching Sentries or Hammerheads, they're going to become quite effective mission boats.  Fit with HAMs and using a broad drone mix, they're going to become quite effective PvP boats.  The new Drone Damage Amplifier mod is going to be a huge boon to the Prophecy and the loss of a couple of high slots doesn't hurt it in the slightest if you get another mid and another low in the bargain.  It becomes far and away EVE's toughest, most versatile BC.  It's going to be doing both of the tasks above plus a fit that laughably, ludicrously out-tanks a brick Domi for bait cyno work.

Honorable mention winner?  Ferox.  Though it doesn't quite step into the PODLA Drake role as a heavy tackler, the extra low and the extra turret is going to make Blasteroxes something to fear again.

So all in all, this is a big huge change to the BC landscape.  EVE's current two most-used BCs are going to lose their titles in short order, and we're going to all have to get used to a lot of new metas both in PvP and PvE.  Should be interesting to watch!


(1) Ever notice how bad ships in EVE rarely have nicknames?
(2) Fozzie reports since Retribution launched, Drake usage is down 4.8%, Cane usage is down 3.9%, and HML2 usage is down 7.8%.  These numbers will increase.

35 comments:

  1. IMO, by making the cap the same across BC's, they should have at least removed the cap use bonus and made the cap better on the harbinger while giving it a rof boost to lasers; the damage bonus is just barely more dmg than having the lost turret. A net gain, but not much for the harbinger.

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  2. At least I got my post out first. HA! Take that robo blogger.

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  3. The changes bonus on the Harb isn't as gret as it sounds, especialyl for newer players-

    effective guns on OLD Harb:

    Level 0: 7
    Level 1: 7,35
    Level 2: 7,7
    Level 3: 8,05
    Level 4: 8,4
    Level 5: 8,75

    and on the NEW Harb:

    Level 0: 6
    Level 1: 6,6
    Level 2: 7,2
    Level 3: 7,8
    Level 4: 8,4
    Level 5: 9

    However, my greatest issue with the Harb is it's reduced CPU. On all V, it will have only about +40 CPU compared to an Omen, and a Harb has to fill one low, one med and one or two (if you want to use the utility high or not). And a Heat Sink II needs 30 CPU, an EANM II 36 CPU ...

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    1. The FMPL version of armor harby usually fit one EANM, one adapt nano plating for tank. Remember, u lost one slot of guns, (FMPLII 29CPU w/o skill, 21.8 with weapon upgrade V, HPL II 35 w/o skill, 26.3 with weapon upgrade V), so 25 less cpu is not that bad. worst case, you can only fit meta version of web.

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    2. On the other hand, learning the higher Amarr BC levels will be so much more satisfying now.

      Are there even people who learn ship skills to less than IV?

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    3. @ Anon

      Don't forget that you lose 25 CPU only if you haven't skilled Electronics at all. As you skill up Electronics, you will effectively lose 31.25 (25*1,25) CPU. With engineering V, you will lose 218.75 PG. At all V, the Harb will have 1625.25 PG and 437.5 CPU. Like Messiah Complex said, it will be a bitch to fit.

      @ Druur Monakh

      Before CCP made the cruisers awesome I could understand a player that was tempted to fly a BC (especially an Amarrian) with BC 3 or something. Nowadays, not so much.

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    4. @Klingon
      The PG/CPU nerf is due to the -1 gun slot. FMPLII harby never has any PG issue. CPU nerf will force you to use a meta web, not a T2 web. That's it. It's very hard to imagine the new harby will not able to fit what old harby can fit. I don't think new harby should fit more than what old harby can fit,or it'll be an over-buff.

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  4. What a disaster! It seems like thy are making these changes without even looking at what they already have done. The cruiser buff that just happened as all but eliminated the need or idea of flying a battlecruiser. (When taking cost vs overall performance into thought) but these changes all but seal that fait. By closing the gap between ships there is no incentive to pvp in something that cost nearly 100mill when something that costs less than half can do nearly the same thing or in some cases better. If I was a new player this would probably be good news but as a 2008corp player I find these changes silly. It would be easyer to stomach if we new that command or tech 3s where going to be the skill intensive awesome heavy hitters that you want to train into nut those are getting slammed too. I feel like I should stop training my 65mill sp toon and start making cruiser capable alts to sell because there is no reason to continue training anything subcap once you have cruisers v. And marginal fitting skills.

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  5. @Klingon Admiral: I don't understand Jester's "new player special" argument either. The Harbinger is going to be a bitch to fit -- even with good skills -- and having to train Amarr BC to 4 just to get the damage output of the old Harb sounds very unfriendly to new players, to me.

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    1. Keep in mind that it's been CCP's intent that BCs should not be able to fit a full set of the largest short-range guns without at least one fitting mod.

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    2. I didn't know that. Is the same true for the rebalanced cruisers? Or can they fit the largest short-range guns without a fitting mod?

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  6. CCP Fozzie says "As always these stats are subject to change and we welcome all the feedback you can provide." And, unlike most of the other devs, Fozzie has already proved that he actually means this, when he says it.

    Based on the updates to frigs/cruisers, I'd expect the proposed changes to BCs to be under discussion in the F&ID thread for another 2 months or so, before they are finalized.

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  7. TL;DR version of my opinion: Too many people think of their ship like a WOW character class, when in reality they can easily cross-train (and in the cases of most bittervets, already have). As a result the tears and whines are really overstated. Vets shouldn't think of themselves as a "Hurricane pilot", particularly when they probably have liquid ISK equal to 20+ BC hulls. If people free themselves from the “I am my ship” self-image they may well find even more to love about the game.

    Long version at my blog: http://evechecklist.blogspot.com/2013/01/rebalancing-leaving-you-ship-hurt.html

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    1. After the BC skill changes to racial BC skills, cross-training BCs will take a lot longer. Also, you need to cross-train weapons, as well as ships. For new and younger players, this isn't easy.

      However, it is CCP's intention to eliminate, or at least minimize, the necessity to cross-train races. One of the driving forces behind the revamp of all of the ships is to remove/reduce the disparity between races with regards to ships within the same class. The goal is: no more FOTM, no more "favored race". With this in mind, we can expect Fozzie to be making tweaks to the posted BC changes.

      BTW - some people call this "homogenizing", and it ain't necessarily a bad word.

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  8. tl;dr - tiercide is a failure - just reshuffling the deck to create new flavors of the month.

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    1. Tiericide isn't a failure, as far as CCP is concerned.

      CCP's goal is to remove the gank/tank differentiation between ships of different races, and make it easier for noob - and esp. Dust - players to fly all of the ships, without needing level 5 fitting skills or expensive implants.

      If the bittervets want to whine about it, CCP execs say "go ahead". They know that the vets aren't going to quit the game.

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  9. I don't know about this, Jester. I disagree with your take on most of the changes. The Harbinger got a kick in the nuts because you need BC 5 skill to get more DPS out of the 6 turrets than before. At anything less than BC 5 the DPS output is lower (or the same). More CPU was removed than necessary for that 7th turret. It's a disaster and I think you're on something when you call it the 2nd biggest winner.

    As for the Prophecy and Cyclone.... yeah, maybe. Unless you're not skilled in missiles like most early-stage turret pilots. CCP's fascination with forcing everyone to train for missiles never ceases to amaze me. I've been playing 3 years and still have less than 500,000 SP in missiles. Missiles are not even close to my tentative skill plan for the next year or two. Missile boats open up zero gameplay options for me right now.

    Then you say CCP hates on the Drake, yet they barely touch it with these changes. It needs a nerf HARD and CCP so far refuses to do it. If that's hating on it.... yeah.... whatever you're smoking, dude, I want some.

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  10. How can you say in the same breath that the harb is a new player special, because its dps has been buffed for people who have bc V?

    Also, the shield nano harb was always the 2nd best nano bc, second to the drake and better than the artycane.

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    1. It's a new player special because it's easier to fit, particularly for armor which is obviously its intended strength. I disagree with you about the relative merits of nano BCs.

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  11. Fitting skills take a lot less time to train than the cap skills that you need Ved for pretty much any laser ship

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  12. I think the goal of CCP is being achieved. And, YOU Jester point this out in your blog. "...the two most-used BCs in EVE are about to become two of the least-used BCs in EVE for a little while."

    That was the point of the change. BALANCE. There is a reason those are the two most-used BCs in the game... they are OP. Now, the playing field is more level, giving the other BCs an opportunity to find there way into gangs and fleets.

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    1. That's not balance that's just changing the FOTM.

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    2. There are no more obvious FOTMs in the frig/cruiser arena. That is what Fozzie is now trying to accomplish with the BCs.

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  13. Since there was stated somewhere that there is no ASB for Armor but something different that's awaiting us ...

    I would like to see a low-slot module that takes incoming remote reps and pushes them through the local rep bonus. That would make the repair bonus of the Gallente ships very useful.

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    1. I run missions solo, so an ASB for armor would be as utterly worthless as the ASB itself. No endurance. Also, RR-related bonuses do me no good at all.

      I think it would be better if local reppers worked the same way as shield extenders and armor plates - ie. ships should actually be able to fit and run over-sized local reppers. This just requires tweaking the CPU/PG and cap usage on the modules, which is simple as pie.

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  14. I'm curious ripard, is there any particular reason you believe the myrmidon lost out overall? the loss of a turret seems reasonably compensated for on the "high" end of its damage potential with the larger drone bandwidth. not to mention that We'll be seeing improved active armour tanking fairly soon (at least according to the grape vine)

    :)

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    1. The grid loss seems to put the standard triple-rep Myrm fit out of business. That combined with the lost high alters the one meta about this ship that was really working for people. In my mind, there wasn't a good reason to do that, so I classified it as a loser.

      What impact the still-theoretical armor-tanking buff will have on the ship definitely remains to be seen. I might rethink after I see it.

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    2. Myrmidon is now a fantastic mission runner, with 4 Sentries it should tear through L3s like a mini Dominix.

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    3. It would be a "fantastic mission runner", if it had more drone bay for spare drones. The upgraded NPCs tend to target & kill drones more frequently than the old NPCs. So, while I'm happy with the +25 bandwidth, I'm not so happy with only +25 bay. As it stands, it remains merely a good mission runner.

      The loss of the triple-rep fit isn't a big deal, though. Nor the passive recharge shield fit. Those were both more novelty fits than practical fits, anyways. Moving a chunk of tank from shield to structure is a big win, though, since most Myrms do fit a DCII.

      The loss of the high slot is unfortunate, but also non-critical. I've always found it difficult to fit anything substantially useful in the extra high, and the loss of PG would have made it even more difficult.

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  15. Yep. folks are going up in smoke and flames, over the proposed BC rebalancing. Just as I predicted here, way back when this whole "tiericide" idea was put forward by CCP.

    Suck it up, pussies. You were fine with the idea when CCP wasn't touching *your* favorite toys.

    Nerfing the FoTM BCs was inevitable, as part of tiericide. If you were too stupid to realize this and failed to stand with those opposed to this nonsense from the beginning, well... that's just too damn bad. As we've heard often from CCP in the recent past, there's no going back anymore.

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  16. Excited. EVE needs to be shook up a little. Good or bad, it keeps people on their toes.

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  17. Jester, the Prophecy may gain big as a PvP boat, but will remain useless as a PvE/mission boat. L3 missions have a LOT of frigs in them, and with the new AI, any small drones are insta-popped in the presence of NPC frigs. Drone boats are dead in missions, unless you have exceptional sentry drone skills.

    The Myrm's drone bay buff is a joke compared to the destruction of its DPS and fitting capabilities.

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    1. The Prophecy is going to be a good L3 mission boat because it'll be able to fit a full flight of mediums plus have mids for Omnidirectional and Navigation drone units and a TP or web. With that support, mediums will shred rat frigs, no problem.

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    2. I often fly a rattlesnake for L4's. All drone DPS and I don't have any issues. Usually I don't even actuate the hardeners on my passive fit, and I've all but one tank modules off. (all BS V skills are awesome)

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  18. I don't understand how they can justify the Ferox's confused bonuses, and why both non-sniper Gallente ships keep the rep bonus. Those Gallente ships are essentially half-bonused ships in gangs that use RR or if fit buffer. The Ferox has no clear design, being an inferior sniper to a Naga and having a useless bonus for a bralwer.

    Also, utility slots are disappearing very quickly.

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