I want -- desperately want -- to write about HACs today. If you've been keeping track, CCP Rise has now posted his proposed changes to both medium guns and the game's eight heavy assault cruisers. Go give the changes a read if you haven't already.
Now, needless to say, these changes have been... ummm... somewhat contentious among the CSM members. Different CSM members have been active on this based on their own experiences in game. I'm of course most active as a small gang PvPer, which means that I come at this ships from a perspective of a fleet of no more than a few dozen of them. Alternately, there's the more historical role of small-gang HACs in either solo or super small-gang PvP, something that has been hunted to extinction in EVE in recent years.
Either way, though, I tend to be hugely pragmatic when it comes to ships. I don't have a ship replacement program feeding me, so I must look at ships in terms of bang for the buck and performance relative to competing alternatives. I don't have any choice since ships aren't being bought for me. ;-)
On that scale, HACs have been failing for a good long while for the small gang player.
With that in mind, I can give you my perspective on these eight ships before the proposed changes:
- Sacrilege: Basically a Zealot alternative, tankier but with inferior projection; overshadowed by much superior Legion fits.
- Zealot: Best of breed currently, terrific thanks to small sig, great tank, and predictable solid DPS.
- Cerberus: Mostly useful as a PvE ship in my view, but currently overshadowed by the Tengu.
- Eagle: I've written on this one innumerable times. It's all but worthless... flattened by the competition.
- Deimos: Used to be a great ship for countering Drake/Sleipnir meta, but as those metas have fallen off so has the Deimos.
- Ishtar: This is another one that I think of as a PvE boat.
- Muninn: It's OK in big fleets but in small fleets the alpha is overshadowed by a half-dozen competitors.
- Vagabond: Used to be my go-to quick response ship, whereas now I use a Thorax for this (bang for the buck).
So to summarize, when I look at the HACs, I start to ask "What is the role of these ships? What's their intended purpose? In what fleet comp do they fit?" And then, given their expense, I usually ask "Is there a cheaper alternative? Is there a better alternative?" And today, for me, for every HAC but the Zealot the answer is usually "yes" so I fly that ship instead.
Now CCP has stated that the intent behind T2 ships is to be more specialized versions of their T1 counterparts. But they've also said that in terms of balance, they like the balance between T1 combat frigs and assault frigs. And I like this balance, too. The usual joke that's been tossed around at Fanfest and other venues is that CCP's goal for T2 counterparts to T1 ships is that they be "twice as expensive, 25% better." And it's a workable real world meta and what's more, makes good sense. You can buy a Ford Mustang... or you can buy a Porsche. But you're not getting twice as much car for the doubled amount of money.
But suppose the competition is also 25% better but is only 50% more expensive? To continue the analogy, can you not buy a Corvette which directly competes with the Porsche but at somewhat reduced cost? Sure it has drawbacks... but if the goal is to drive stupid fast, both cars will do the job and you can drive the 'Vette in such a way as to mitigate the effects of its drawbacks. And in so doing, you can save yourself a lot of money. So it is with the HACs when I view them from my pragmatic, bang-for-the-buck small gang eyes.
And when viewed from that mindset, these specialized T2 counterparts of the excellent T1 cruisers are individually falling short on a number of levels. The competition is... just... better. My alliance-mate Namamai has done an absolutely masterful job of describing some of my concerns with these ships in a three-post series in the second thread. Go read them. They're worth your time.
But as a CSM member, how does one say that in a way that makes sense to game developers trying to do their jobs and improve ships that thousands of players love to fly? My impulse was to sit back a bit and see what EVE players thought of the ships and now that the thread is up to 33 pages, it's been interesting to watch the reactions. So that's what I've been doing so far, with a couple of exceptions.(1)
So for now, I'm going to keep my specific opinions to myself, continue to share them with CCP devs until these changes are finalized, and ask all of you out there to weigh in. In particular, you can download replacement EFT data files that will allow you to build these HACs yourself, again courtesy of Rote Kapelle member Namamai. Just extract the files, make a copy of your EFT v2.19.1 directory with a new name, then replace everything in the Data directory with these files. At that point, you'll be able to fit up a few of these new HACs and see what you think.
Have fun, and stay tuned...
(1) I've been arguing for more grid and more cap for the Eagle, and a better-defined role for the Sac. About my beloved Vaga, I haven't been able to say much... I've just been kind of flabbergasted about it and hoping I just "don't get it". I suspect the Vaga changes are intended to support this kind of fight, though. It was one of Kil2's last PvP videos before he became CCP Rise and I think this kind of flying was on his mind for the Vaga.