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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Friday, July 19, 2013

Twice as expensive, 25% better

I'm realllly going to toe the :nda: line on this one.

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).
In each case (except for the two ships I regard as better for PvE), I can give you lists of ships I'd rather fly than the eight HACs.  From my perspective, the attack battle cruisers, the much superior T1 cruisers, and the faction cruisers all act as "competition" to HACs in the size of gangs in which I fly.  In particular for HACs intended to fight at skirmish range, the attack BCs are cheaper, insurable, nearly as mobile, more survivable due to average longer range, and require about half the SP of a HAC.  It's not a hard choice if you look at your ships purely pragmatically.  Tracking is obviously an issue, but you can overcome that pretty easily both thanks to the long engagement range and with careful flying.

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.

29 comments:

  1. I'll speak mostly about the Vagabond, but in reality it applies to most of the other HACs as I feel there's currenly nothing that defines them as specialists (since they are Tech 2). I mean all the other T2 cruisers have a speciality to them, the HACs are as they are now, just designed to be more powerful version of their basic T1 hull. Those changes doesn't really fix the last of a specialty, nor makes them a worthy 'upgrade' to the T1 version. There are three main things that bug me.

    1. There's basically no point in flying those ships. Their increase in performance (if any) are so abysmal in comparison to the ridiculous price difference with theit Tech I or navy equivalent.

    2. The sig reduction while MWD is on bonus is just retarded. It doesn't fit, doesn't work (won't help tank better against ABCs for example) and most of the hulls don't have the fitting/capacitor to use MWDs like an assault frig would.

    3. I get it that Kil2 was flying a very niche variant of the vagabond and decided to slap on a bonus that works with his playstyle, but the ship is now a mess. Is it a kiter? Is it a brawler? Why would I take it over an SFI or a Cynabal? Heck I wouldn't even take it over having multiple regular stabbers.

    4 (bonus). SPACE CAMO IS STILL THERE. GET RID OF IT PLEASE!

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  2. SACRILEGE - Someone please explain to me why in the hell an AMARR ship cant fit lasors? Previously the ship could fit 4 Pulse or 5 Hams allowing an AMARR lasor shooter to ride this ship or a missile shooter could hop into it and fly it as it was intended: up close and personnel. Now why would the AMARR build a ship that lasor trained toons cant even fly is just stupid, stupid and really stupid. Please some one needs to kick CCP in the ass and knock out the proverbial head in ass syndrome. Else I want an AHAC caldari ship with lasors! that any caldari toon who doesnt have 8m sp in lasors cant fly for the love of GOD!

    Sly

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    1. Each race has two weapon types. Amarr are lasers/missiles. You don't hear Caldari players complaining about how they have some ships that use hybrids.

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    2. At least it will live up to its name now.

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    3. You apparently dont understand the lore of the Khanid ship line.

      The Vengeance and the Sacrilege are both Khanid attack ships, and the Khanid are somewhat a mix of Caldari and Amarr; using Caldari missile weaponry with Amarrian armor tanking.

      Its a very effective combination and its a god damned beast of a ship. Go fly a zealot for your laz0rs!

      Delete
  3. The core problem seems to be the pricing imo. All this nice pirate and navy faction ships scale with player request and activity. If there are more people hunting angels there will be more cynabal bpc drops and therefore more on the market.
    If price is high, more people interested in it and total drops increase.

    Now take a look at T2 production...
    There is a fixed and limited number of moons. If they are all used (except of fountain region this is most likely the case) there is still a finite value of T2 Material. If more T2 Ships are needed... no new moons open up. Maybe some lower level moon material gets interesting but the R32 / R64 Materials stay the same. They rise in price cause of request but no player driven action can be done to create "more" T2 Material.

    With T1 it works fine, if mineral prices go up, more miners get to work, supply is increased price gets stable.

    So the artificial hard limit on resources for T2 is what drives the prices up as it doesn't scale with a crowing player base. That's the point CCP has to tackle in order to keep the economy balanced.

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  4. Can everyone please stop saying "solo is dead".

    From a solo frigate pilots point of view the changes are welcome on the whole. They will put a few new ship names on your overview that haven't been seen for a while. Aside from medium - large scale fleet doctrine, they will still be in limbo like their younger siblings the Assault Frigates.

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  5. Bottom line, that thread is reaching epic size, and 90% is negative.
    Your thoughts echo what I posted 10 minutes ago in the forum in a separate thread. CCP has too many ship classes chasing too few roles in the game. And I am NOT saying create new roles in the game, because that area is also saturated.

    The HAC has been squeezed out with the T1 combat cruisers and the Navy versions and the tier 3 BC's.

    CCP has yet to learn, and probably never will, that sometimes less is more.

    Imagine what this conversation would be like today if some moron 18 months ago had been stopped from creating the OP tier 3 BC's, that were primarily designed to fit the role of a suicide ganking ship.

    CCP could make some (not all) of these issues go away by doing the following:

    1. Stating that the tier 3 BC IS the ONLY TRUE BC class in the game, and were upping the mineral costs by a factor of 75%.

    2. The other 2 BC's would be re-classified as heavy cruisers. The Navy BC's would be reclassified as Navy Heavy cruisers. The cost of all these ships should likely stay where they are.

    3. ALL HAC's should be given about 10% more speed and agility than their T1 counterparts, and the cost of the HAC's reduced by about 30-40%.

    4. The Navy cruisers and the faction cruisers should be tougher versions of their T1 counterparts, maybe even as tough as a HAC, but without that agility/speed bonus.

    5.Dial back the effectiveness of the vanilla T1 versions.

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  6. try that. Some dude proposed it.

    https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=3365961#post3365961

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  7. You need to consider the following:

    A highly trained and experienced small group of elite soldiers, equipped with the best technology/weaponry and feed with the best intel reports, will surely accomplish precision strikes much better than several platoons of grunts. But you are just looking at two different tools with different results.

    HACs (and most t2 ships) are not "bang for buck", they are the elite precision tool, where the effect of 1 man in a group of 10 makes a huge difference....yes, twice the cost, twice the skills, heck even twice the equipment.....but 25% better than the alternative.

    If you answer by saying, yea but i can bring 6 more friends, then you are not bound by group size anymore. Thats the balance CCP and CSM need to aim for, otherwise HACs will become the blobbers tool, and you don't want that.

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    Replies
    1. What this guy says I like. It fits for the assault ship rebalances they did and to me, it looks like a repeat with HACs.

      Im damned excited for the HACs all around now the same as I was for assault frigs. HAC 5 in training =P

      Delete
  8. Okay, for my newbish ears I'll ask a question I've seen a lot on the forums on this thread.

    "What is the specialization of the HAC?"

    The role bonus MWD seems to imply that it is meant to be something about speed. Is it meant to be killing BS by speed/sig-tanking their guns while bringing more dps than anything else that could do that kind of tank? In the meta of sentry drone BS and T3s is that even a thing?

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  9. My personal feeling about this is that it merely underlines the ultimate failure of tiercide as an eve concept. Eve is a sandbox, yet tiercide is anti-sandbox at its core - its all about CCP assigning roles to ships and telling its players how to fly them. But there is no role for the HACs to fill. The roles that they could fill are already occupied. Ultimately CCP is forced to shoehorn in the ships but can't balance their cost/usefulness without undoing all their other role balancing efforts.

    All in all, it would have been better if CCP had just trusted the sandbox. Give its players more options for ship customization and allow the sandbox to balance the ships rather then CCP working in opposition to the sandbox.

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  10. Really excellent write up. Had a lot of the same intuition, but I feel you hit the nail on the head.

    I am wondering though if the buffs also have an intended consequence of boosted T2 material consumption. From my chair, as an industrialist, I can't see how the new metamaterials cause R32/R64 materials to bottleneck (therefore driving specific conflict). With a generous boost to T2 cruiser options, the consumption rate on those high-ends should increase significantly...

    I wrote some more words at my own blog http://eve-prosper.blogspot.com/2013/07/careful-what-you-wish-for.html

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  11. Keep nagging, bothering, nudging, or even screaming at those folks until they do it right. It's flabbergasting to see what "balance" means to ccp Rise. This balance is just embarrassing. It looked like he was trying, but every time a new ship "balance" thread comes out, I see less and less effort into actually making them useful and more of a "I have to get this done" mindset.

    tech 3's and ABC's completely (or near-completely) obsolete hacs. I love my legion and loki because hacs suck so bad.

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  12. None of them are worth the skill reqs and the isk....esp for any player under 40M SP and not totally space rich.

    The performance is not worth the isk/SP investment.

    The insta-zealot will die with the tracking penalty to beams now too. just bad all around CCP.

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  13. "I'm realllly going to toe the :nda: line on this one."

    Where exactly in this post would that be? Can't find it.

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  14. "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."

    Long time lurker here but today I feel I've found my long lost twin.
    I used to like the old navy Omen as a solid alternative to Zealot before the rebalanced. Small gang hacs, (relatively) cheap and effective is where I would want these ships to be as well.

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  15. Replies
    1. Thank you! I cringed IRL when I read that.
      To be fair, he does designate a smaller gang size (Probably closer to what we think of as 'small gang') as 'super small gang', but damn, as a (mainly) solo pilot, a few dozen is a damn blob.

      Good write up Jester. Always interesting to read your perspective on things.

      Delete
  16. Well said Jester, I honestly don't get for example the active tank bonus on the Vaga since it pidgeonholes it into the XLASB brawler when it only has 4 mids and the dual LSE one is just shitty nowadays

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  17. Nice writeup, although I'd have to say that a Porsche is definitely twice as good as a Stang ;).

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  18. Im 100% happy with the changes proposed to the sacrilege. Make it a bigger version of the vengeance and its perfect.

    I hope to keep the cap bonus on the Sac, because it helps with the active tanking I prefer; but some people seem to hate it and think its a worthless bonus. IMO, the Sacrilege has been an extremely underrated ship just like its little brother, the Vengeance.

    With the changes, it will become a top of the line ship; at least for solo/small gang warfare. And small gang is less than 15-20. Anything more is medium fleet =P

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  19. I'm keeping out of official discussions on this one because fankly, I simply don't have enough experience with HACs to discuss it. However, I've always felt that HACs should perform much likeTengu in combat - i.e. a fast, sig or speed tanking alternative to battleships with slightly lower dps. Their training time and cost simply requires them to be similar or superior to battlecruisers, else nobody would use them over T1 options. Apart from Zealot, I just don't see myself picking one of the changed ones over alternatives.

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  20. The only HAC ship that stands out to me at all is the Sacrilege and it's because it gives Amarr a missile option aside from the assault frigate or command ship

    But I wouldn't mind if HAC were completely removed from game and the skillpoints released. It's not like there are any unique hulls.

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  21. Why does that moron Kil2 - excuse me, I mean, CCP Rise - believe that it is a CCP written-in-stone rule that all dual weapon bonuses *must* be removed from all ships?

    Did he happen to notice that the Vexor still has dual weapon bonuses to drones and hybrids? CCP Fozzie wisely left this unchanged, during the cruiser rebalance. Heck, Fozzie even *gave* the revamped Tristan new dual weapon bonuses.

    Please take the time to smack Rise in the head and point out his misconception that tiericide includes removing dual weapon bonuses.

    Rise already nerfed the Domi badly with the removal of its hybrid damage bonus. I see the same stupid change here with the Ishtar. The new bonuses to drone tracking and optimal range are only useful for sentry drones - which have a very limited use, ie. for fleet/sniper work when you don't need to move around much or are within a limited arena (ex. AT). The hybrid damage bonus was much more generally useful for both PVP and PVE, by giving these ships more versatility with a powerful in-your-face punch.

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    1. Managing dual weapons is considered too complicated for most players, esp. new players. CCP wants to make the game easier, to encourage more subs, esp. casual players who don't want to spend a lot of time searching the Internet for articles on how to play EVE.

      This simplification also means making the ships easier to fit, preferably with a single optimal fit for each ship, in its role. You might have noticed that it is much simpler now for just about everyone to optimally fit a ship, for what Rise considers to be the best fit, without extensive need for level 5 fitting skills and/or expensive CPU/PG +5 hardwirings.

      This also means making weapons more homogeneous - similar damage at similar ranges - giving no race a serious advantage over another. This deals with the problem of new players asking which race and/or weapons to train, since they will all have more or less the same performance in most situations. We get to see this with the changes to medium guns.

      So, yeah, less challenging for the older players, but easier for the newer players. Makes good business sense.

      Delete
    2. I always found it rather odd that CCP put Rise in charge of ship rebalancing.

      As Kil2, he was never very original with ship fits - he typically used other people's fits, mostly sticking with the standard FOTM fit, for each ship. As far as understanding the mechanics of things like tracking speed, he also entirely relies on other folks, like Azual, for his information - not doing the math for himself. He hasn't actually flown most of the ships in the game - most of what he knows about flying haulers or mining ships, for example, is second hand. He has a good overall knowledge of the game, but garnered mainly from the hands-on work of others rather than his own.

      This makes for a fine tourney commentator, but not a great player (too predictable) and a lousy game designer, esp. when compared to someone like Fozzie, who has probably fit every possible module to every possible ship, just to find the odd combinations which would provide the most effective comps.

      Not surprising, then, that Rise's changes tend to gravitate towards a single, optimal fit, for a single specific role, rather than allowing ships to be more sandboxy, with a wide variety of possible fits.

      Personally, I'd prefer to see dual weapon bonuses on *all* PVP ships, rather than dual bonuses to the same weapon. This would give players a choice of what primary weapon to fit, an option to mix it up with a bonused secondary weapon, and thus make ship fits much less predictable. Let players decide the roles for the ships, rather than the devs.

      Delete
  22. Firstly, I am surprised that the Goons (possible tinfoil) that they are more behind giving tech2 cruisers something special. The whole push into Fountain is for tech moons can be chained into the sale of tech2 ships and modules. So it would be in their interest to have tech2 ships be a success and variable player option.

    At it is heavy cruisers are lackluster. The prior position of the Isthar as a mission boat with access to five heavies or sentries is now over-shadowed by the navy vexor and the change of mission AI to be able to swap to drones. (I lamented the day when the ishkur was not longer on the only frigate with five drones).

    What a heavy cruiser can do, commonly a battlecruiser can do better in terms of damage and tank; and cheaper. The appeal of recons and logi is that these features are not available anywhere else. And it is sort of special touch that is required for tech2 combat cruisers. Each of them should have something unique to hull, and still maintain racial favor.

    Going forward, this recent update is a serious concern if this to be template of remaining tech2. The "give all a MWD bonus" is my honest option just so lazy.

    Also I see that the long since promised changes to command ships have been skipped in favor of foundation heavy cruisers. It makes sort of sense in that light. But it also raises concern that CCP is unable to properly address command links. For myself I am not a fan of OGB. Specially since it can be done within a POS shield. (that's like being able to RR within the shield, in my book). And yes my main does have 9mil SP in leadership. I believe it was Soundwave that off-handed suggested a "sphere of influence" effect to command links - and I am completely on board with sort of option.

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