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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Monday, October 17, 2011

Wish list

Haven't seen any of the blogs delve into what they'd like to see from a "hybrid rebalance".  Here's my wish-list, rougly in order from "do this now please" to "this would be nice to have".  In the interests of the short time-frame CCP has given themselves for this activity, all of my suggestions are very easy to implement.

Hopefully, they'd be followed up by review, followed by additional tweaking based on the results gained.

First, some assumptions: I'm going to be using HACs as my comparison baseline ship.  I'm also going to standardize on two damage mods.  Some of the HACs, particularly in unusual fittings, can fit three or even more damage mods.  But I'm going to stick with two for all ships as my basis for comparison.  This will allow me to compare apples to apples in a consistent way.

Ready?  Let's begin.

Now then, in my view, the big problem with blasters isn't their damage.  Their damage is fine.  The problem is range.  On a lot of blaster ships, you end up gimping yourself either with second-rate ammo or over-reliance on Tracking Computers to make blaster range even somewhat adequate.  Way back in January, I compared blasters to Napoleonic War era carronades, a similar high-damage-short-range naval weapon from real life.  As I said in January, though, carronades were mated to fast ships to help mitigate their lack of range.  They were not carried on slower ships.

Yet, here we are in EVE, using the shortest range weapon on the heaviest, slowest ships.

In my view, lasers should have the best combination of range and punch for short range weapons: you're paying a hell of a lot of cap to use them, after all.  But blasters should have the second best range/punch combination, in my opinion.  One of the reason I chose to focus on HACs is because medium blasters clearly need the most help.  Right now, a pulse-fit Zealot does 500 DPS at 15km or 400 at 36km.  A blaster fit Deimos, meanwhile, does 500 DPS... at 8.5km, or 400 at 13km.(1)  This... is a problem.

So that's wish number one: give blasters a range buff, particularly medium blasters.  Blaster DPS is fine.  But without range, you can't apply your DPS, and end up taking a ton of damage as you close without being able to return fire.

Second, railguns need a damage boost.  It's ridiculous how awful they are.  At 100km, an Eagle does about 150 DPS.  A Muninn does nearly double that, 280 DPS.  The situation does not improve as range closes.  At Drake range, 70km or so, Eagle damage is up to about 200.  The Muninn, meanwhile, can bring two Heavy Missile Launchers into play at that range and do almost 350.  The Eagle does its maximum danage at around 40km, peaking at 275 DPS.  This is less than the Muninn does at 100km!  The Muninn, meanwhile, is doing more than 450 DPS at that range.  And the Muninn can tune its damage to different damage types.

Wish number two: more damage for rails, please.

Third: hybrids in general are too grid-hungry.  We'll go back to the blaster Deimos.  In order to fit the most powerful medium blasters available on a Deimos, one pretty much has to completely sacrifice tank.  Even fitting Ion Blasters necessitates difficult sacrifices.  Meanwhile, though most Vagabonds fit 220mm AutoCannons due to tracking and the ability to fit a medium neut, it is ridiculously easy to upgrade to 425mm AutoCannons if you like by sacrificing that neut.  The most popular Zealot fit need make no sacrifices at all: it goes straight to the most powerful pulse lasers available.

Rails have very similar issues.  For the grid you're paying to fit them, the results are simply not worth it.(2)

Wish number three: reduce the grid needed by hybrid weapons.  Just a few percent will probably do the trick, and allow easier fitting of the more powerful types.

Next up, a weird one.  Hybrid weapons are considered a Gallente signature.  What is the Gallente signature damage type?  Here's a hint: it isn't kinetic.  So why is it that hybrid weapons mostly do kinetic damage?  This has created a situation where -- while most PvPers omni-tank -- they all agree that if you're going to have a slight resistance hole, thermal damage is the place to put it.  CCP should close that hole.

Wish number four: reverse the damage types done by hybrid weapons.  They should do thermal/kinetic damage, not kinetic/thermal.

Finally, another strange one.  Players who fly Gallente blaster ships have been asking for a "dash mode" for quite a while now.  It's a wish that hasn't been granted probably because it's also a wish that would be difficult to implement.  I have a possible solution.  Right now, Precision missiles reduce the speed of the ship loading them.  Even more, every launcher in which you load Precision missiles compounds this speed nerf.  So, the relatively simple solution to this is to give blaster modules a small, cumulative speed buff.  Balance this by giving rail modules a small, cumulative speed nerf.  Nothing dramatic is needed, I think: a percent or two per module would probably do the trick.

Wish number five: cause blaster modules to give your ship a small speed boost.  Cause rail modules to give your ship a small speed penalty.

And that's it.  If I were rebalancing hybrids, those are some of the places that I'd start.

(1) Yes, I know the Deimos can sacrifice tank to get more, but again, I'm trying to compare apples to apples here.

(2) If you doubt this, take a closer look at the Ferox fit I posted last week.


  1. as usual you post what the community of whine wants to hear, rather than what makes sense.

    the only point in this that is right is "switch damagetypes"

    for the other stuff:
    Blasters are a pretty powerfull, and i very much enjoy flying my deimos and my astarte.
    you trade off range for damage. (and with rails the other way arround) - if you dont like the stats fly minmatar weapons, or amarr, or missile boats.

    There is no reason why hybrids should have the exact same stats as other weapons, it would take a variety out of the game, and decisions away from the player.

    proper balancing is not about making everything identical, its about making stuff have the same value, while providing the player with the decision of a different play style.

    If you want to go for a balancing issue that is totally overlooked, look at shield capitals/supercapitals, and how weak they are compared to their armor counterparts, here you have a difference which leads to shield variants being rarely used, since there is no viable playstyle that balances their difference.

  2. Yet, are not blaster and rail ships ignored because they are measurably inferior to the alternatives? I haven't flown my Eagle in two years, and I've never even purchased a Deimos even though Ripard can fly any Deimos fit you can come up with.

    By your logic, we should leave the Hel and Wyvern as they are. Smart players will realize they are fail and not fly them, right?

    The problem with blasters, for instance, is not a matter of a different play style. It's a problem of taking a ton of damage in a blaster boat from any possible alternative before you can close range to apply damage yourself. If CCP were going to balance that "style", every blaster boat would have 10-15% more EHP to reflect the fact that they're going to take an ass-kicking before they can close range.

  3. I think increasing the acceleration of Gallente boats by about 25% would make a massive difference to the perception of blasters - at the moment it is far, far too easy to kite them once they're plated and (armor) rigged.

  4. I believe keeping blaster as the closest range weapon system is fine, but they need better tracking, tank and speed for that role. For the tank and speed, higher resist would allow gallente ship to use smaller plates, be faster and have more PG.

    Also, all gallente frigates should have at least 3 mid slots, and maybe 4 mid slots for cruisers. Without a mwd, a scram and web, blaster bloat are useless.

  5. Why shouldn't blasters be extremely-close range weapons? They just need better tracking.

    Blaster boats can be given the ability to close range quickly by increasing the bonus of overloaded afterburners/MWDs, while simultaneously reducing the overloading damage.

    This will mean that blaster boats require "advanced" skills to fly (Thermodynamics), but uses existing in game mechanics to provide the critical need of blaster boats — getting to effective range quickly.

    So rather than fixing blasters, fix the boats that are supposed to specialise in using them. Improve their agility, allow an overheat bonus to afterburners/MWDs.

    Otherwise we'll see blaster-fitted vagabonds using the blasters purely as a propulsion mod.

  6. Thanks for the post - as a new Gallente pilot I trained Hybrids without much thought to min/maxing. I fly Myrm / Dominix and the drone damage is significant. As much as I'd like a buff, not sure the drone boats would not get overpowered. Never fitted a blaster though, their short range made it impractical for sleepers or even most missions. I had assumed they are the PvP weapons of choice.

  7. @Anonymous

    You talk about giving people a choice and creating variety, but you forget that for choice to be meaningful, the options up for consideration need to be equally appealing, depending on their implementation of course. Having an option that is under no circumstances better than another does not add real flavour to weapon variety, and it certainly does not add a choice. I'm guessing the fact that you like to fly blasterboats has more to do with aesthetics and perhaps a dash of individualism than anything else, and style should not be the only reason to fly these ships.

    I'm also very curious what you would consider to "make sense", considering I have not seen you offer any alternatives to Jester's suggestions.

  8. I like it Jester. I really like the Gallente blaster thing but hybrid weapons have stopped me training them. I love the thought of chasing down something in a Mega and laying down the pain but in practice it never seems to end that way. Thus I have never deviated much from Amarr/Matari except for Taranis and Drake although I am currently training med blasters in the hope they will be fixed.

    I renember seeing a video of a discussion on blasters at fanfest and the CCP guy put out the question - are blasters themselves the problem or is it the the ship not being able to properly apply the blasters thats the problem. I think it is largely the latter, although I agree they do need a bit of a range buff.

    As I am writing this I have strange images in my head of getting rushed by a blaster Moros/Erebus with the speed boost, not pretty.

    Just a quick question, would the speed boost apply with blasters fit/certain ammo/only whilst firing?

  9. I like the proposed changes. The problem with any weapon that is balanced based on range is the requirement for fights to be predominately at those ranges. The reason missiles, projectiles, and lasers are more popular is because they are not balanced around a specific range but operate within a variety of ranges. Hybrids are either point blank or extreme long range which are two areas fights seldom occur. The only way to leave hybrids alone is to make Gallente and Caldari ships able to completely dominate range in all fights. Of course that would also require a 100km long point to allow a rail ship to hold a target at arm's length while whittling the enemy to death.

  10. If blasters are cannonades, adding range to them is not the solution. Blasters should have such ridiculous tracking that Caldari hybrid platforms become 'easy mode' like their missiles, and Gallente hybrid platforms can actually hit stuff (and hit hard) at their attenuated ranges (boosted by tracking enhancers if necessary, since the ship would provide +25% damage) FNG is doing a turret investigation - perhaps you and he could collaborate.

    I do like your +speed/+agility modifier to blaster modules though.

  11. I like the carronade comparison. Oliver Hazard Perry pummeled the British on Lake Erie using small fast ships armed with carronades. The British used long range nine pounders if I remember off the top of my head. Perry's ship's weren't very much faster if at all, but he was able to gain the wind gauge (advantage of wind on your side of the battle) and brought his ships very close aboard. There were some tragically fatal mistakes by the British commanders but it was carronades that won the day. Even today, The USS LAKE ERIE sports carronades on her crest.

  12. I think Personally, change blaster boats to be speed tanked/shield tanked and Rail boats to be Armour makes a lot more sense!

    Stick with me before I get flamed :-)

    Blasters are more akin to minmatar tatics of run and gun, this is what shield tanks are for! Rails are well long range stand off weapons, speed isn't so important here, if you wanted to retain armour tanking for Gallente here is where I would keep it.

    I know thats a lot of changes to slot layouts but ultimately blaster design is get in quick melt the target get out..... It's the speed/Slot layout that is the Gallente issue not the weapon Stats themselves.

    Granted I would probably apply a percentage increase of damage to Rails as they really are worthless since the advent of the new probing system.

    I like your blaster ammo type speed increase, even if it is just a bonus of the T2 ammo variety (ie akin to precision missiles, the counter can go to tracking penalties) That would give you more speed on top of shield tanking the ships which can only be good news for ships like the 'ranis.

    Again in terms of your comments for grid useage, switching to shield tanking would solve this issue, I've looked at the stats and I don't think there is anything wrong with the guns, they generally use less grid then their Amarr cousins, although they may be a percent or two out of balance it certainly isn't significant and a change in tank type would allow for the difference.

    Basically what CCP has done with new ingame mechanics and changes is break the Gallente ships, and by extension the turrets they are on, not really the Hybrids themselves...

    Although on the flip side the arguement about the Rokh points against everything I just said.... I guess with probing as it is there is no place for extreme range weaponary anymore, bring them in closer give the rails a bit more damage.

    Just my 2cents, everyone shouts on Hybrids, but that is only part of the story I think.

  13. Ah the Battle of Lake Erie, OHP was a very competent commander, and a great tactician, but I don't think the British flotila commander, (Barclay) did anything particularly incorrect according to the history books I read on the subject.

    Both sides received heavy loss of life and battledamage, and had the wind not shifted to from the favour of the British to the Favour of the American Navy then it may have had a different result.

    The wind shift allowed the smaller american Brig's to get in close and litteraly get under the guns of the British Corvettes.

    Do bare in mind also that a Corvette is traditionally smaller then a frigate even, so we are talking about small ships and even smaller ships. :D

    Then there is numbers 9 ships under the American Navy and 6 British. I think Perry did a sublime job and stuck to his ships strengths, along with his heroic actions and a great bit of luck saw a great victory over the British that day.

    This is exactly like EVE, right ships, right tatics, right luck = Win fleet!

  14. Boost tracking, reduce the MASS of Gallente ships to allow them to take better advantage of ABs and MWDs.

    Armor tanking the already very slow and massive Gallente ships turn them into slow moving lead buckets. Reducing their base mass will make them far more responsive to speed mods and allow them to get into range without overheating every time. Gallente ships already have more UTILITY mids than most Amarr ships and virtually all Minmatar and Caldari ships.

    Rail damage would be nice, and PG needs to go WAY down, fitting a Hyperion with Neutron Blasters is just an impossibility.

    Finally: CAP USAGE

    The only Amarr ship with worse Cap issues than the Gallente's entire line of Hybrid using BS is the Abaddon, which doesn't have a cap bonus.

    I remember flying in CoW when Sniper BS were the rule, Apocs were cap stable, Megas and Rokhs ran out of cap so fast that it started me training for Amarr ships. Lasers are supposed to be cap hungry, not hybrids.

  15. A ton of people are bringing up bonuses for Gallente ships only, which I think would be a mistake. There's been a lot of fun had with things like arti Abaddons or laser Moas and the like. Any hybrid rebalance that is "Gallente only" is going to deny players the chance of playing with alternate uses for blasters.

    Wouldn't it be fun to see some viable Minmatar blaster boats, for instance? I would love that.

    And of course, ships like the Ferox, Moa, and Eagle deserve the chance not to suck, too. ;-)

  16. Blasters are supposed to melt face, but only at close range. You've demonstrated that blasters don't melt face enough to justify taking the abuse required to get to close range. Thus, I'd suggest blasters actually need a damage boost.

    However, Gallente ships still need the added capability to apply that damage in the first place, without just having a covops to warp to. For this, I agree with the mad haberdasher's assessment that MWDs need to be more effective on Gallente boats, either through mass reduction, or explicit bonuses.

    I think your assessments regarding rails, grid & damage profile are all spot-on. However, I firmly believe speed enhancements are completely inappropriate for weapons and would likely lead to abuse, probably involving Vagabonds.

  17. My friend H over at http://aggressivelogistics.wordpress.com/ has done a couple of opinnion posts on hybrid balance.

    My personal opinnion is that you should not over do the changes. A small DMG buff for rails and a moderate tracking buff for blasters and maybe a reduction in charge volume is all that is required.

    If after some playtesting that proves insufficient, increase blaster range and rail volley slightly.

  18. I like the speed bonus idea and the therm/kin change.

    But the point blank issue with the tracking calculation must be addressed IMHO : when you are as close as Gallente go in, tracking should not even matter - because you will hit the ship right in front of you from bow to stern. But for EVE, the opponent's ship is an infinitessimally small anchor point.

  19. I've always felt that a solution such as boosting the range would result in blandness, (and balance!).

    Personally, I would go for boosting the damage up, way up, and dropping the tracking. Make these guns the feared guns, but only if you're webbed and trapped. Suddenly you have a great gang ship which fulfills the dps role in a classic mmo and fulfills the background describing these ships.

    Then you have a nice split between the three main guns for short range:
    kiting - lasers, good dps at range, and able to hit at those ranges, in a survivable boat at that!
    close range solo - autocannons, good tracking, able to hit smaller catergories
    pure dps - useless solo, but with a few buddies a ship to be feared.

    I've always felt that this would also stop direct comparisons between the three close range gun types just as someone wouldn't compare eggs and apples. Sure both are edible, but in very different circumstances.

    Rails on the otherhand I think you're spot on, reduce pg and increase dps. These are a fleet weapon and at the end of the day, if they aren't comparable, they'll be ditched.

  20. All this discussion has brought up a few thoughts for me.

    First, yes, it is EXTREMELY hard to fit a full rack of guns on gallente ships (excluding the drone boats), especially neutron blasters. On comparison this seems to be the limited PG/CPU on the gallente boats, not necessarily the guns themselves. Fixing this by increasing the ships fitting limitations would solve that problem. Additionally, by ignoring the drone boats you will prevent the automatic-win, blaster domi of drone death.

    Second, the guns themselves DO need a buff and i agree that a range buff would make them too much of a win item. The biggest fault I've found flying blasters is not necessarily the range, a skilled pilot can fix that issue, but instead the tracking. Often only the last 30% of my blaster range is useful since getting any closer would over-speed my guns max tracking speed. Boost the blasters tracking(20% max) and they will become that much more useful without becoming the super-win item of the month.

    That, I think, would fix blasters. For rails, aside from the PG/CPU issue (mentioned above) the dps and alpha are pathetic. Here is how I would fix them; give them an alpha boost. Do NOT make them equal to artillery but do make them do more dps (with a faster cycle time) than the equivalent artillery. The artillery will still have a ridiculous falloff in comparison, preventing them from becoming too overpowered.


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