Focus: CSM Summit Minutes, "Ship Balancing" session
First, the most interesting bit: CCP Ytterbium opens the session by blandly stating that CCP isn't going to be looking at capital ships or industrial ships in 2013, and probably not early in 2014, either.
Yeah, yeah, OK. He didn't say that. But what he did say is that the order of the next set of changes would be: battle cruisers, battleships, adjusting the skill requirements needed for T1 ships, then on to T2 ships. So... er... yeah. He kinda did say that, didn't he? Once T1 combat sub-caps are out of the way, the first T2 ships adjusted would be Command Ships, Black Ops, and EAFs. The first one, we knew about. And from the time when CCP Diagoras was doing stats, we know that the other two comprise the two least-used classes of ships in the game.
"Nobody uses rockets, so why should we waste time on them.", I think the saying was once. ;-) CCP can be taught!(1)
That's the good news. The bad news is that we're all going to have to exercise a lot of patience on this one. There's a lot more ships in EVE than anybody realizes and Ytterbium and CCP Fozzie have job security for the next couple of years while they steadily work on them. Overall, the discussion in this session revolved around four items:
- a few imminent changes, to armor-tanking, Black Ops, battle cruisers, and such;
- black ops ships;
- the role differences between tech 1, tech 2, and tech 3 ships; and,
The first one, I'm pretty content about leaving alone. The one really great thing about this team is that they've been completely open with players every step of the way. I credit CCP Fozzie on that one. Even when he's pissing players off, he's open and honest and communicative about it. As long as this team continues operating as they're operating today, I have many compliments and no complaints. The only thing I'm gonna say about armor tanking 2.0 is "called it" and other than saying I like almost all the changes in all respects, leave it at that. ;-)
The one change I don't like? The new skill. This is really starting to feel like CCP is just tossing new skills into the game so that long-term vets will have something to train, and so that alts that aren't training skills will fall further behind the state of the art. But as a side effect, it's impacting and widening the gap between new and old players. But I'm going to be a long tent-pole post about that issue coming up before the end of the month so I'm not going to cover it further here.
For the role differences between T1 and T2, Fozzie and Ytterbium lay out basically the following strategy:
- T2s are like T1s, just ultra-specialized into one or two aspects of the T1 design, with comparative reductions in other aspects;
- T3s are like T1s, just able to do more in every area, or in specific areas, than the T1 design.
And finally, that leaves black ops ships. They're getting three quick changes:
- Increase the base jump range of all Black Ops ships to 3.5 light-years (equal to that of Titans);
- Reduce the fuel cost of covert bridges by 25%; and,
- Increase the fuel bay on all Black Ops by 25%, to 1250m3.
That first one, though? That's huge. And I can't decide if I'm happy or sad about it.
One of the big concerns about titans and super-caps in general is their ability to power project. This is their ability to sit in a centralized area and strike fast in a lot of different directions, or quickly cross space as needed. You can jump a super-cap fleet right across New Eden in a very short time.
Now let's be clear: as a Black Ops pilot, the massive increase in jump range makes me very very happy. It means that I can drop a "blops" group right across an entire region from my home system. It's a big deal. What's a bigger deal is that blops droppers can strike at carrier ratting groups, or mining groups, from half a region away or from bordering systems in the next region over, with little to no warning. This is going to hit the north particularly hard since both of those activities are common from east to west. Today, those groups are protected by bubble cages on the in-bound star gates and cynosural field jammers in the systems themselves. Individual pilots, even when cloaked, are often ignored because regional intel channels are so good. Today, any blops group large enough to threaten a large mining op is going to be detected long before it gets within range of the op, and the individual titan pilots are known and watch-listed to prevent them from using the titan's long range to perform bridges.
But now, with stronger black ops ships and the longer jump ranges, fleets of these will be able to jump far behind enemy lines with little to no warning before they strike. A blops drop will have more than enough DPS to kill ratting carriers. There's no way alliances can possibly track every single black ops pilot so there will be no way to stop ops for that reason. In short, this forces more carebeary alliances to be a lot more diligent in their scouting and intel, and will probably force them to actually come out and defend their ratters and miners. Fatal Ascension should be particularly fearful of Pandemic Legion blops drops if the CFC/HBC "limited engagement" allows such things. The only bad thing is that ratting supers will still be safe since there isn't a ship capable of tackling a super that can use a black ops bridge.
The flip-side of people having to come defend their ratters and miners is I think all of us have a much better chances of getting some black ops kills once this change goes into effect. That can only be a positive, since I still don't have one of those. ;-)
So yeah, in those respects it's a good thing. I have a Redeemer, and I'm looking forward to flying it.
But on the other hand... we've now just extended the power projection problem one step down, into sub-cap ships. And I can't help thinking that's not such a hot idea. Alliances already like to joke sometimes that every hour of every day is hot drop o'clock. This certainly ain't gonna help... I guess we'll see how it goes.
(1) In other news, reading that post today is kinda creepy. It's great how far CCP has come in two years!