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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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Everything old is new again

About four years ago in EVE, there were these things called "RR sniping battleships."  The "RR" stands for "remote repair."  For those not familiar with them, they were ships that would fit the largest, longest range guns in each arsenal.  Then they would stand off in big groups at about 130 kilometers and plink away at you with 250 DPS or so until you died of shame.  This led to really dynamic fleet combats where two such sniping battleship fleets would plink away at each other while the ship taking damage would call for repairs from all the other friendly battleships nearby.

Then a much-improved, much faster scanning system came along in early 2009 and it came to pass that a whole fleet of short-range, low-signature HACs could be warped right on top of such a battleship fleet and destroy them to a man.  And that was pretty much the end of sniping fleets in EVE.

Except for what's been happening since that moment, which is that PvP ranges have been slowly, steadily increasing again.

I need to sit down one Sunday and really explain "skirmish tactics" along with a couple of visual aids to make it clear what's going on when fleets use them.  But until that fine Sunday, let me summarize by saying that when you're in a skirmish PvP fleet, your goal is to out-range our opponents such that at least some of them have to come into your kill envelope without you necessarily entering theirs.  The advantage to a skirmish fleet is that even if you're massively out-numbered or out-gunned (as often happens), you can still score a few kills... and then run away if the fight starts to go against you.

In theory and in practice, it's a fine tactic.  It's also one of the few remaining ways in EVE that a small fleet can successfully up-engage against a much larger fleet.(1)

What's been happening all through 2011 and 2012 though, is that larger and larger fleet doctrines are being designed around longer and longer ranges.  Traditional skirmish fleets originally used 650mm or 720mm Artillery Hurricanes supported by Drakes.  That had an effective combat range of 50km or so.  Then Drakes alone became favored, increasing the doctrine by another 10-15km to about 65km.  Making them Tengus instead added another 20km.  These were paired with Maelstroms that were also effective at 80-95km.  Then Tornadoes, Nagas, and Oracles came along that were effective at about the same ranges or longer more cheaply.  These are slowly being replaced with even longer-range Tornadoes that can alpha just fine out to about 110km, fighting increasing numbers of twin Tracking Computer Pulse Apocs and Navy Apocs that can punch out to 100km for 400-500 DPS.

And all of them are about to be out-ranged by the triumphant return of large numbers of 425mm Railgun Rokhs... only this new version does 300 DPS at almost 200km or 400 DPS at 100km.  Welcome back to 2008... intensified.

Given the potentially enormous sizes of the fleets involved on the modern EVE battlefield, this is threatening to put skirmish tactics and up-engaging out of business entirely.  I guess that would solve the problem of having to write a blog post defining the term.  ;-)

And into this environment CCP is almost literally tossing the Micro Jump Drive.

If you haven't heard about it yet, you will.  It's a battleship prop mod that has a 12-second spool up, followed by a 100km jump in the direction that the ship is facing.  Target locks are retained, as is the ship's current velocity and direction at the moment of the jump.  Therefore, in theory, were you to fit out some super-close range battleships -- Megathrons, say -- you could fit this mod and use it to get a quite literal jump on sniping battleships that are tearing you up.

The problem of course is that in practice, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Sniper ships invariably align away from their targets and the MJD has a quite beautiful, quite visible visual effect as it spools up.  Therefore unless I'm terribly mistaken, that means that the sniper battleships that also have this mod fit can simply activate theirs the moment they see their targets activating the mod.  Both fleets, with only a few seconds lag between, will jump 100km.  Only the very unlucky or the very stupid will get tackled, and we're going to be left in the same situation we are today, with snipers and cloaky warp-ins.  At worst, the snipers will use the MJD as an additional GTFO option preliminary to warping off.

But of course anything smaller than a battleship is also going to be left behind... including any long-range tackle in both fleets.

So, the MJD is theoretically a great idea, but it's going to be quite amusing to see how it's actually used in practice and how successful it will (or won't) be.  Definitely looking forward to it!

(1) The others are either over-doing it on logistics or over-doing it on e-war, two things that will get you called all sorts of names for... you know... wanting to win a fight.  And yes, I've been known to call people names who do such things myself.  I am inconsistent.  I've covered that before.


  1. Since it is a BS-only module, the MJD won't be of much use in large fleets, except for some novelty amusement value - such as BS kamikaze attacks.

    As you noted, you can't take any other ships with you in a Micro Jump - no logis, no tacklers, etc.

    So, the sniper fleet only needs a frigate support group - made up of stealth bombers, ECM frigs and tacklers, to wipe out any attacking BS MJD fleet. An ECM burst from one of your sniper BSs will break all of the pre-established locks, and the frigs will have the MJD BSs locked up, tackled and jammed before they can get off a single shot.

  2. Are you suggesting that we should start investing in Arazu's?

  3. I thought what defined the skirmisher was its ability to dictate when it would engage, and most important disengage. This covers your definition where range is used to control the engagement. But it could cover ECM and stealth bombers as well., or have I got this wrong?

    On a different note, that footnote is one of your funniest =)

  4. I think we're already using rohks like that, and at the very least we use nagas like at ranges up to 200k for that 300dps

  5. I'n no PvPer, but might this revitalize the role of fast tackle? Send ten tacklers ahead to pin down 10 ships, jump ahead, kill those 10 fast while losing a couple, and repeat?

    Also, unless i'm mistaken, if you know the enemy is fitting these things and will be aligned on your fleet or an object in space.. won't that be a boon to bombing runs? Just place your cloaked bombers ~100km in front of them, wait until you see the jump animation, and prepare to launch bombs?

    1. And, why exactly would the snipers wait around for your tacklers to get within range, before jumping away?

    2. I was wondering the same thing. Sounds to me like This could mean a revival of sorts for interceptors?

    3. Well, unless it's changed, I'm sure I recall from the Fan fest videos that the module will have a significant reuse delay, so you can't just jump around at will. So once you use it, that tool is removed as a tactical option for a while. If you have interceptors running around at 5+ k/s, then a 100 km jump isn't all that far to cover, and it'll also separate you from your non-battleship allies.

      Sure the sniper fleet might have their own interceptor wing to run screens for them, but that just adds to the dynamic nature of the battle. That was my favorite dynamic in this past AT, and if that moves to fleet warfare as well, then that'd be a huge plus I'd think.

    4. Nothing says that the MJD has to be used to jump away from your non-BS allies. You could easily use it to jump 100 km, back and forth, between two groups of non-BS allies.

      AT is a completely different dynamic, due to the closed arena.

  6. As long as we're looking in the past to see the future, the upgraded Celestis takes us back to the pre-nerf days of damps.

    With bonuses to both damp strength and range, it won't take much to counter your Rokh sniper fleet.

    1. This.

      To quote a famous blogger:

      "[Damps are the] most under-rated EWAR out there, because it's not random (100% success rate)."


      "Large groups of them used against a battleship will make the battleship ineffective for the entire battle."

  7. If your logistic wing is placed correctly for that situation it will be about 60km away from the fleet and after the MJD it will be either something close to it and you are between the enemy and your ships or they are >150km off and your logistic wing just warps in.

    A fast ship providing warp ins wouldn't be too hard either. All in all it will surely mix up tactics quiet a bit.

    And keep your eyes open for special interdiction bubbles to prevent this module from work ;-)

  8. You might also see a new definition of "heavy tackle" to go with MJD fleets: battleship-weight tacklers. Find a ship that can sport a decent armor tank with a bunch of mid-slots, and you'll have something that can pin down snipers trying to warp out.

    A Scorpion, for example, could fit a prop mod and MJD and still have room for six points. Hyperion, Dominix, Tempest, Maelstrom, Rokh ... all could potentially fill the battleship tackle role.

  9. Given that a MJD has a 10 minute recycle time, as well as requiring 1,375 MW of PG and 77 TF of CPU, I'm sure that most folks can find many better things to fit in a BS mid slot.


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