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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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Winter is coming~

Yesterday, I covered the one immediate, significant way I think the capship rebalancing CCP is undertaking this winter are going to change how capital ships in EVE Online will be used.  But let's talk supercaps.  The devblog covered a half-dozen changes that are being made to the various supercaps in EVE.  The most significant are that super-carriers are losing their drone bays and getting their remaining fighter bay sizes reduced significantly, and Titans will no longer be able to doomsday sub-caps.

So, thanks to these changes, we'll see some changes in how supercaps are being used in EVE, sure.  But significant change?  I'm not so sure.  The main problem with supercaps in EVE is still this:

And that is not changing in the slightest.  See all those little frigate-looking things scattered among the dozens of Titans and super-carriers in that image?  Those are Hellcat Abaddons.

I'll grant you that a few niche supercap players are going to be hurt by these changes.  RaidenDOT comes to mind, for instance.  They're far too reliant on supercap-only tactics.  PL's tendency to escalate to their supercaps only when they're in trouble will also likely have to evolve.  But the bulk of supercap users are already pretty familiar with the need for controlling the sub-cap battlefield before they commit their supercaps.  Really, the only significant change we're likely to see is a reduction in hot-drops against lone or small groups of targets, particularly solo hot-drops.  And the change that will reduce that is the fact that you'll be able to pin hot-dropping ships to the grid indefinitely by aggressing on them.  This, even more than the 20% EHP nerf, will make hot-dropping super-carriers much more killable.

All that said, the ability for supercaps to resist attacks from sub-caps hasn't been changed that much.  In a time when every supercap pilot has a full set of Slave implants, a 20% reduction in supercap EHP is nice but not particularly relevant in the big picture.(1)  Titans can't doomsday logistics ships and command ships, that's true, but their standard guns will still be working and tracking fine.  Super-carriers are losing their drone bays, but those that carry fighters, supported by Target Painters, are still going to do very decent damage attacking sub-caps.  Super-carrier fleets will start inviting along Thanatoses to carry spare fighters to drop and abandon.  Those groups that use supercaps for sov warfare had sub-cap support fleets before, and they'll continue to have them, and in the same ships.

In short, the only reliable way to counter a large supercap fleet is still going to be "a bigger supercap fleet".  With the changes in this devblog, CCP hasn't changed the calculus of large fleet battles against supercaps very much at all.  And annoyingly, they haven't changed the ability for supercap fleets to project power in the slightest.  There isn't a single change to jump ranges, costs, or effects.

As for dreads joining the fight against these "nerfed" supercaps?  No.  EVE News 24 syndicated the post I did focusing on dread changes.  In it, I asked for information about how dread capital v. capital ship fights used to go.  The comments on that post have been really educational in that regard.  But even if we see larger numbers of dreads in EVE with the five minute siege cycle, I can't see dreads taking on super-carriers and Titans.  Particularly given that the Titans are going to be looking for new DD targets now.  ;-)

To summarize, the major impacts coming for supercaps, in rough order of significance:
  • The doctrine for using supercaps en masse hasn't changed, nor has the doctrine for attacking massed supercaps.
  • If you aggress a ship, it will no longer disappear after 15 minutes as long as you keep it aggressed.  That should reduce the number of small-scale super-carrier hot-drops since such hot-droppers will be taking the life of their ship into their hands.
  • Super-carriers are losing all their drones, but more importantly, will only be able to carry a full flight of either fighters or fighter-bombers, but not both.  We'll start to see more "support carriers" making up the difference by carrying extra fighters.
  • Titans will be looking for new DD targets, which will continue to keep dreads from showing up for cap fights.
And that's pretty much it.  So yes, while "winter is coming", I predict that this winter will be a mild one.  CCP didn't go nearly far enough.

(1) I'm not even going to cover what this change does to the poor Wyvern and Hel.  It's not inconceivable that a Hel owner somewhere in the world slit his wrists this week.  ;-)


  1. A supercarrier which forgoes its fighter-bombers for fighters will be able to engage subcapitals (mostly battleships), but won't do nearly as much damage against capital ships. The reduction in drone bay size means that once a supercarrier loses its fighter drones, it has no other weapons to fall back on. Consequently, unsupported supercarriers are no longer viable in most circumstances, must be backed up by a decent support fleet, and cannot engage subcapitals at all if they are to fulfill their primary role as anti-capital platforms.

    In theory, carriers fielding fighters and drones can make up for the inability of supercarriers equipped with fighter-bombers to engage subcapitals. However, carriers are much more vulnerable to subcapitals than are supercarriers, while the damage output of a carrier's fighter or drone contingent isn't all that significant on a per-ship basis, especially relative to their cost and defenses. Consequently, subcapitals will have a much easier time engaging combined supercarrier/carrier fleets not backed by a good subcapital fleet.

    I'm not sure where the insinuations that supercarriers are invulnerable against subcapitals come from. It takes only a few minutes for a properly composed subcapital fleet to cap out and melt a supercarrier. It is true that a kitchen-sink fleet won't be able to to so, but that's like complaining that a fleet of shit-fit T1 cruisers can't win against a fleet of T2-fit battleships.

  2. CCP can't change to much at once. The more they change the higher is the risk that it will backfire. Assuming that those changes are not the last changes to supercaps, it was a sane decision to start small + incorporate feedback (e.g. fighter nerf has been cancelled).

  3. The Titans DD is going to hurt dreads, but whats worse is that they are messing around with removing drones instead of reducing the utterly insane dps vs capitals, thats hurting much more than drones vs subcaps... should cut their dps in half, or at least reduce it by a quarter...

  4. @ foobar: Assuming that those changes are not the last changes to supercaps, it was a sane decision to start small + incorporate feedback (e.g. fighter nerf has been cancelled).

    Of course, if CCP had ANY sort of track record or history of successfully iterating on features we probably wouldn't be in the sorry state we're in today.

  5. "There isn't a single change to jump ranges, costs, or effects."

    Me and several members of my corp are wondering if the capital drone bays will be removed from the material requirements for dreads and titans, or if this makes too much sense to be remembered for the update ^_^

  6. Have to say, I take one look at the picture and thing "Oh look it's Raiden/PL/DRF".

    At least now the fear will be only when I'm sitting in my carrier, not also my command or logistics ship

    Like others have said, they need to be careful it would be way too easy to over do the "rebalancing"; but they do need to do something about the guns on the titan.

  7. Well, when Motherships turned into Supercarriers and lost clone vat bays etc, the capital components required changed, so here's hoping.

    Regardless, I suspect that these changes are just the first tranch of balance fixes and that CCP Tallest has a few more in the pipe.

  8. @Mrsockmonkie: I think it makes more sense to change those capital components to a different kind, to keep the mineral requirements about the same. Changing the mats required to build a ship is a very delicate matter. Suppose in next patch after winter they decide to give dreads another 50% HP, should they increase the amount of required components? no.


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