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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fit of the Week: Worst v. Worst

For the month of March, I'm going to examine all of the new battle cruisers that have been upgraded in the latest Retribution patch and tell you about my four favorites.  But as sort of a lead-in to that, I thought it would be amusing to revisit an old concept, the sniper Ferox.  CCP Fozzie says he wants to fix the intended role for this boat, so let's take a quick tour of how far it has to go, shall we?

[Ferox, Obsolete]
Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Large Shield Extender II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Sensor Booster 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
250mm Railgun II, Spike M
250mm Railgun II, Spike M
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Hobgoblin II x5


I last visited this ship in 2011, and things haven't changed all that much.  You can now fit a seventh gun, which is intended to help DPS.  And practically nobody fits links to T1 BCs any more outside of tournament settings; on-grid or off-grid boosters have taken over the role for virtually every type of fleet.  That combined with the lower grid required for rails means that you can dial back a couple of fitting mods.  So, if you go without a point, Feroxes are a lot tougher.  They're now tougher than a Drake, in fact, at 71k EHP!  But are they any better?  That, sadly, would continue to be a giant no.  They're still ridiculously slow at just over 1000m/s and DPS has only increased about 10% or so, to 227 at a sniping range of 100km.

It used to be a joke in the tournament setting that the only thing a Drake was good for in a tourney fight was "dying slow".  That accolade can now be moved to the rail Ferox.

To zoom in on how bad the Ferox is in this role right now, let's bring in its closest racial competition, the rail Naga:

[Naga, Basic Rail]
Reactor Control Unit II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range Script
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Large Shield Extender II

425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Thorium Charge L

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I


This is a fairly easy fit: you need AWU IV and Shield Upgrades IV to make it work, so once you have the T2 rails trained, it's within the reach of a relatively unskilled player.  In my opinion, this fit isn't optimal, but since it's within reach of many players and it's more forgiving of piloting errors than other Naga fits I like, it'll do for this comparison.  Let's start with the basics: the Naga is the worst attack BC currently in the game.  The Oracle, Talos, and Tornado are all better and further all have solid roles for which they are the best ships in EVE Online.  The Naga is the ugly stepchild.  It's ridiculously slow for an attack BC at 1400m/s, its agility is very poor, and its DPS is anemic.  At 100km, it's capable of just under 500 DPS, which a PL "TiDiCat" Oracle can do at literally double that range.

And yet it stomps the crap out of a Ferox, doing more than double the DPS of the combat BC... and its tracking is more than 50% better.  Yeah, you read that right.  Thanks to that Spike ammo, a Ferox with 250s has a 0.0075 tracking; the Naga has 0.0126.  The Naga has only 38k EHP but there's not much reason to care about a sniper's EHP.  You can solve the tracking issue by downshifting to Iron ammo but if you do that, you lose about 10km range and 60 DPS.  It's rather pathetic.

Close to 65km skirmishing range, and the Naga's DPS increases to 600 or more while the Ferox's DPS doesn't change; only its tracking improves.  And keep in mind that the Naga is the worst attack BC.  The Oracle is downright terrifying in this regimen, as I've covered before.

Anyway, the whole thing underlines and bold-faces how terrible medium railguns are.  All of the attack BCs give better combat results than this weapon.  All of the other combat BCs -- and particularly the Hurricane and the Harbinger -- give better combat results with their long range weapons systems.  Ditto Spike ammo, whose drawbacks still overwhelm its advantages.  A few tweaks isn't going to do it.  The medium rails need to be torn down to bare metal and rebuilt so that they're actually useful to EVE Online players.

And saying "there's no point to doing it because nobody uses them" is ironic and not allowed.  ;-)

In the meantime, here's my current favorite Naga fit:

[Naga, Advanced Rail]
Power Diagnostic System II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Sensor Booster II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range Script
Large Shield Extender II
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range Script

425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L
425mm Railgun II, Caldari Navy Uranium Charge L

Medium Polycarbon Engine Housing I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I


I'm still not 100% convinced this fit is optimal either, but this is the one I'm flying these days.  It has a lot of compromises intended to boost DPS and survivability in skirmishing situations, and it's a much tougher fit than the Naga above as well as being tougher to fly.  The tank is minimal: just enough for you to take a few laser shots given that the likely opponent of this ship are going to be Oracles and things that act like Oracles.  Overheat your Invul as you take fire then once you're dropped to low-to-medium shields, warp off and warp back.  Total tank is about 20k EHP, or less than a cruiser, so be careful.  But the Polycarb rig starts to correct some of the Naga's major speed and agility issues.  The PDS is there both to add a bit of buffer and to extend cap endurance under MWD.

Carry Antimatter and either Thorium or Uranium ammo.  The AM is good to skirmish range and allows the Naga to push about 650 DPS... not too shabby!  As your range opens to about 100km, switch to either Uranium or Thorium.  The latter is good for 500 DPS out to 135km.  If you're pushed out farther than that, you can carry Iridium which will drop your DPS to 380 but works out to the edge of your fleet-boosted lock range of 165km.

As with all skirmishy ships, the important thing to remember is to warp off when seriously threatened.  As you warp off, make a bookmark near the site of the fight.  That bookmark will be your warp-off point for any future warp-offs.  Once you land, get a good warp back to the site and rejoin the fight.  Like all skirmishing ships, there's no need to go down fighting.

Remember again: this is the worst attack BC.  For these tactics, Tornadoes and Oracles are better.  But this is the first ship that the Ferox has to be competitive with to even be in the same game.

Happy sniping...


All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

46 comments:

  1. So, as far as medium rails go, what's the fix?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Re: Naga vs Ferox tracking. Two words: scan resolution. 400 (Naga) vs 120 (iirc, Ferox).

    -Davion

    ReplyDelete
  3. Without having time to actually fix rails (thanks again for the fail, CCP Tallest), CCP Fozzie opted to compromise on the Ferox and make it, temporarily, into a blaster boat.

    Blasters work reasonably well, and the added range you get from the Ferox bonus helps a bit with its anemic speed.

    However, I expect we'll see the Ferox get another round of tweaking, after rails get their redesign.

    Speaking of rail redesign, I'd like to see rails get a boost to long-distance damage, hitting hardest at long falloff, and doing progressively less damage as the target gets closer. Sort of the inverse of blasters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get what you're saying, but I disagree. Optimal range bonus doesn't do blasters much -- if any -- good. It's still intended as a sniper.

      Delete
    2. "Optimal range bonus doesn't do blasters much -- if any -- good."

      Not true. In a knife fight, an additional inch of reach can mean the difference between winning and losing. Blasters are not much different than knives - they have such a short optimal range that any improvement is significant.

      "It's still intended as a sniper."

      Eventually, yes. Today, no.

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure many harpy pilots will agree that optimal range bonuses don't do blasters much good ;-)

      Delete
  4. The Oracle, **Naga**, and Tornado are all better and further all have solid roles for which they are the best ships in EVE Online.

    should that be talos?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL I seem to be plagued by small bugs in my posts lately. Fixed.

      Delete
  5. It's a little tricky, but the Ferox does truly have better tracking than the Naga due to the difference in signature resolution on the guns and the way it modifies the tracking equation.

    Not to say that this excuses the failings of rails, especially the mediums variations, but the Ferox/Naga comparison isn't quite so bad as the raw tracking numbers suggest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In actual practice, signature isn't much of an issue because both sides will tend to be MWD'ing around. I agree that if both ships are static, the sigres of the guns will take its toll, but in an actual battle? Not so much.

      Delete
    2. Jester, I see people say this, but how accurate is it? If you are MWDing straight away, or straight towards someone, tracking doesn't matter at all, but the closer you get to 90 degrees, the less the sig bloom on the MWD matters as it relates to the tracking formula, because it is completely nullified by the increased speed from the MWD, thus bringing the sig resolution of the gun back into play.

      Delete
    3. Is it hard to be so wrong all the time Jester?

      Delete
  6. Sorry, Jester, bad blogger.

    You can't compare a heavy cruiser with 8-inch guns (or 10 or even 12) to a battlecruiser with 15-inch guns and then get all shocked when the battlecruiser outperforms the heavy cruiser, which is what you've just done comparing any of the T3/Attack (True) Battlecruisers to their T1/2 Combat brethren.

    CCP can call the all three tiers Battlecruisers all they want, but those are just names that bear little resemblance to what the ships actually are. The old T1/2 battlecruisers really are heavy cruisers - sporting cruiser armament - and only the T3s are the true battlecruisers - sporting battleship-class weapons.

    If you're going to compare T1/2 battlecruisers, at least compare them to each other, please.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The old differentiation by price argument? Nagas are more expensive, therefore they're allowed to be better?

      Delete
    2. No, the old differentiation by ship class argument. Heretic's argument is (I think) that 1) CCP has smushed what are objectively two different ship classes together under the battlecruiser name and 2) you are doing the comparison between ships in those different classes. Granted, it's a bit dangerous applying mid-20th century naval doctrines in a science fictional setting but in this case it really does strongly resemble the old heavy cruiser/battlecruiser distinction.

      Delete
    3. They both require the same piloting skill to use and while t2 large rails are about a month of training on top of T2 mediums you could get similar performance with meta T1 large rails that require less than 1 hour training on top of the T2 mediums. Any player who can fly the Sniper Ferox fit is going to require less than 1 day's training to fly a meta-gun version of the Naga, so the fact that the naga offers more than double the Ferox's performance for only twice the hull cost is relevant regardless of the reason.

      A lot of the problem is that the main advantage of combat BCs over attack BCs is in their ability to soak damage rather than deal it, but sniping as a role doesn't really benefit from tank because a sniper shouldn't be exposed to prolonged damage - they should be out of enemy DPS range or at least able to warp off if attacked, which negates the benefits of the Ferox's tankiness. All you're left with is the sluggish hull and underpowered weapons.

      Delete
    4. DJ Thoris has it. Apologies for not making it clearer, it's just that the new T3 BCs are so obviously derived from actual Fisher battlecruiser design, the RL comparison seemed best.

      The Naga sports battleship guns where the Ferox uses cruiser-sized weapons. You can't really compare the two, nor any of the other T3 BCs, with their T1/2 counterparts.

      Until the T3 BCs came out, the T1/2 battlecruisers could keep the type name, inaccurate though it was/is and it didn't really do any harm. Once CCP brought out the T3's, though, they should have redesignated the T1/2's to reflect the way they are actually designed and used - as heavy cruisers.

      It's not just an academic point, as many, many people - Jester included - make the mistake of comparing all three tiers of battlecruiser to each other, because if CCP calls them all battlecruisers, they must be comparable, right?

      Delete
    5. This is a fairly interesting point, they do behave and are deployed very differently. 20th century naval definition or not the analogy is fairly accurate when it comes to distinguishing between these ships.

      Also Jester, why no DCU in your fit? it would add about 6k EHP to the ship and the benefits of the PDS to cap are negligible at best? As you say, the instant you are primaried you GTFO so why worry about cap, if that is the issue. You are going to be operating at skirmishing ranges, so why not swap a TC for a cap injector? the grid is tight, but with CA-1 and CA-2 implants it is possible to squeeze one in.

      Delete
    6. Hivemind, you're comparing apples and oranges.

      Sniping is not exclusive to large weapons. If a comparison is to be made, make it between ships of similar capability. Saying a ship with battleship guns does more damage than a ship with smaller weapons is, well, obvious, but it doesn't serve to give a good account of how effect each ship is in its own type/class.

      The Attack BCs need to be compared to each other and to battleships.

      The Combat BCs need to be compared to each other and to cruisers, because those are the ships they really compete directly against, in much the same way that destroyers are designed to go after each other and frigates.

      Does the Ferox perform better or worse than the other Combat BCs? Does it perform better or worse than the cruisers it (and the other Combat BCs) is meant to dominate?

      If we're going to compare the Ferox/Hurricane/etc to Nagas/Tornadoes, etc, might as well compare dreadnaughts to battleships. The Attack Battlecruisers and their more lightly armed cousins are simply not in the same class. If a Combat BC is better than an Attack BC, that's news and newsworthy, but the reverse is not the case, as Attack BCs are supposed to be better than the Combat BCs, at least in terms of firepower.

      Delete
  7. "Let's start with the basics: the Naga is the worst attack BC currently in the game. The Oracle, Naga, and Tornado are all better "

    I see what you did there :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so bad that even it is better than itself.

      Delete
    2. Jester, c'mon, you're better than this! Read http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Turret_damage heck, open EFT! sig res and tracking speed only appear multiplied together (or divided, however you want to look at it)... You must, must, must look at them together.

      There is one pathological exception when the target is stationary, and titan tracking is now all weird, but "oh the MWD is on" is absolutely not any kind of exception to what I and many of your readers are saying.

      There's no need for in-game tests, no appealing to killboards, no phenomenology whatsoever. Just look it up. Unless you think that the turret equations are wrong and EFT is also wrong.

      I can tolerate having this discussion in NPC corp chat, but I hold you to a higher standard.

      Delete
  8. You have to take the signature resolution of the guns into account when comparing tracking

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See above. Sigres doesn't enter into it if the Ferox is MWDing around, which it surely will be.

      Delete
    2. Jester, I think you are mistaking sigres of a ship with a sigres of a weapon. Ferox guns have lower "ammo" sigres which means it can hit frigates effectively. Nagas can't (i have killed a couple of nagas just by MWDing assault frig straight into them, their hits were barely scratching me, even though I have been flying without transversal)

      Delete
    3. Trust me, I understand this subject just fine.

      http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/2012/01/proven-in-field.html

      Delete
    4. The ferox mwding has no impact on the target's signature radius.

      The target mwding just makes it easier to track; the ferox still has better effective tracking in all cases.

      Delete
    5. While I don't disagree with analysis in that post, it's really arguing a different point.

      Michael is correct. Sigres is a direct modifier of tracking speed - doubling your gun's sigres is mathematically identical to halving its tracking, so to say sigres is irrelevant is false unless tracking is also irrelevant. In other words the Ferox has far better actual tracking than the Naga even if the tracking number on the gun is lower, because of the difference in sigres.

      The point you argue for in your linked post is not that sigres doesn't matter, it's that low tracking/high sigres does not prevent you from damaging small ships, which is also (in the right circumstances) correct.

      I'm not sure if I've explained that effectively, but I don't want to go all wall of text on you. Tl;dr - the Ferox *does* have significantly better tracking, but that might not be as big an advantage as it sounds.

      Delete
    6. People do understand that tracking is not an issue when shooting BC's at range.

      We complain that are you stating that the Naga has better tracking when it clearly has worse effective tracking.
      Stating that a Naga with Large guns has better Tracking then a Ferox with Mediums is missleading and leads to people not familiar with the tracking Formula being confused about how actually works.

      I don't understand why you would want to devalue an otherwise solid post by insisting to keep wrong Data in it :)

      Delete
    7. The Tracking stat is never used in isolation; it only appears as the quotient (Tracking/SigRes). The same construction is used regardless of target size; there is no cutoff or change in behavior when the target is "large enough" for a turret.

      The rail Naga may track well enough, but the claim that it tracks better than the Ferox is false (or at least pedantically misleading). A large gun with 0.0126/s and 400m has half (52.5%) the effective tracking of a medium gun with 0.0075/s and 125m.

      This is not hard to test in practice. For example, a MWDing Moa (because Moa) without shield extenders has a sig radius of 810m. Put it in orbit at 31km and, with a speed of 1531m/s, it has an angular velocity of about 0.049/s. That's about equal to the Ferox's tracking (0.049/810 ~ 0.0075/125), so the Ferox will connect with about half of its shots. A Naga in the same position will not fare nearly so well. Try it! (Ungroup the guns so that you can see their individual hits and misses.)

      Delete
  9. There's no point in fixing them because nobody uses POSes.

    Shit, wrong subject... hang on.

    There's no point in fixing them because nobody uses Rockets.

    Shit, did it again.

    There's no point in fixing it because nobody uses FW.

    Goddamnit.

    There's no point in fixing them because nobody uses Medium Rails.

    *Whew* Finally got the right one.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In a perfect world (IMO) the naga (and all other L Weapon using ships) would have a greatly lowered chanced to hit against the smaller targets. Using a L gun to shoot at a frigate, even if its flying straight towards you (~0 transversal) at 100km distance even a 10^-9 degree derivation would lead to several meters difference. So hitting with them would be more luck than anything else. Then you NEED your "support" guys with M guns (or even S) to get rid of this small bastards.

    As a side effect it could spice up PvE as you need a support vessel to kill frigates. Group content ... another topic.

    Nice naga fittings.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Rails doesn't have to mean sniper - I can't see why you'd ever used a medium turret ship over a large turret ship for sniping, period. Medium arty are considered decent for example, but no medium arty ship is for for sniping - you'd just use a 1400mm Tornado instead.

    If there is any place for ships like the rail Ferox (which is a valid question - maybe there isn't) then it's as a mid-range rail ship in a similar sphere to the arty Hurricane, not as a sniper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm wondering ... is there a way to make medium rails viable at mid-range without making them OP at long range?

      Delete
    2. "...is there a way to make medium rails viable at mid-range without making them OP at long range?"

      Sure. CCP simply needs to tweak the damage vs. distance equation, which is currently governed by: optimal + 2*falloff. This equation results in maximum damage in optimal, decreasing as you go into falloff, reaching zero damage at 2*falloff.

      Another equation could be created for rails, such as: falloff + optimal + falloff. This equation would have damage ramp up from distance 0 to falloff, apply maximum damage from falloff to falloff + optimal, and then decrease again from falloff + optimal to falloff + optimal + falloff.

      Delete
  12. 1. Fit blasters to the Naga.
    2. Melt stuff.
    3. Stop complaining it's the worst attack BC.
    4. ???
    5. Profit.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think the role of the ferox has been misunderstood I don't think it was ever intended to be a sniper but a kiting brawler. Now hang on just think about it. Range increase for blasters to alow a outside of scrambling range dps shield resists for taking fall off damage of other brawlers. I have some friends flying 100mn ab feroxs on sisi and seem to be doing it quite well. Perhaps it's the beginning of a new combat style? Tank+ simirange+ simispeed?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jester, over the last year you have been increasing your use of "And" at the beginning of sentences. While it is acceptable in today's relatively grammar-free society, it does make my grade school teacher turn over in her grave.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Most-of-What-You-Think-You-Know-About-Grammar-is-Wrong-187940351.html

      Delete
    2. ^-- this. Part of this is my writing style. I deliberately use a more conversational style on this blog.

      Delete
  15. The whole concept of a "sniper" in EVE needs to be reworked.

    Currently, all sniper ships do miserable damage at long ranges, requiring a lot of shots to kill - whereas, in RL, a good sniper rarely requires more than 1-2 shots to kill his/her target. Being a sniper is mostly about being able to place your 1-2 shots exactly where it will do fatal damage. Esp. when your target is stationary.

    RL snipers also operate under cover, not in the open. Locating a sniper is a significant part of the challenge in nullifying a sniper. And, running directly towards a sniper, in the open, in RL, is pretty much guaranteed to get you killed, regardless if you are wearing body armor.

    In EVE, sniper ships are easy targets 'cause they show up nicely on the overview. And, thanks to their aforementioned miserable damage, running directly at them at MWD speeds is the best way to counter them.

    So, looking at RL as a model, how about the following easy changes to sniper ships:

    1) Allow sniper ships bonuses to cloaking, so that they suffer no lock time penalty upon decloaking, get a speed bonus while cloaked, and have a shorter reactivation delay.

    2) Change sniper weapons so that they do critical damage, at their longest range, when the target is standing still and/or has a low traversal velocity. A sniper weapon should be able to kill a target in its same class (ex. small guns vs frigates) with 1-2 shots, when perfectly placed. Under less than ideal conditions, ie. target moving, sniper weapons should be relatively ineffective.

    3) Flipping the optimal/falloff curve for sniper ships would make them more interesting - ie. they would do less damage close up and full damage at the longest range.

    With these changes, sniping would become the challenge of getting into the right place, where the sniper weapon will do the most damage; waiting under cloak for the target; wait for ideal conditions - ie. stationary or slow moving target; decloaking and firing 1-2 times; then recloaking and sneaking away, before you can get targeted by someone else.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem with this proposal is that EvE is a naval game, not an infantry game.

      Delete
    2. @Heretic - no, actually it isn't. You obviously have not spent much time, if any, in the military.

      Delete
    3. 12 years in the army, 8 as an NCO.

      If you really think this is an infantry game, well, just...wow.

      Delete
  16. The problem is the extra range on a blaster Ferox is nice until you realize you are slower than everything else short of a Battle Ship or larger. If the Ferox was as fast as the average BC then it might matter, but the reality is the majority of BC and smaller ships can dictate range with the Ferox. Battleships and larger can't, but I can't see wanting to field a Ferox against them.

    At range sig, and tracking don't matter as much as people think. A Naga can snipe frigates under MWD at max range if they don't watch their angle very carefully.

    ReplyDelete
  17. haha wrong wrong wrong !

    ReplyDelete

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