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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shake your money-maker

I've covered lots and lots of Rubicon features that I'm positive about (and there's one or two more coming), but I also want to cover one that I'm less than enthused by.

Go through the list of EVE's ship classes and you'll find that most are historical -- frigate, destroyer, cruiser, battleship, freighter. Most of those that remain are descriptive -- command ship, interdictor, stealth bomber, interceptor, logistics. It's quite arguable that only one ship class name in EVE Online is picturesque and fanciful, not describing the ship at all. That is the marauder. The first marauders were French deserters from armies of the Thirty Years War in the late middle ages. Historically, the word has has come to refer to hit-and-run bandits or thieves, particularly those operating in groups. Over time in English, the word has even picked up a slightly romanticized subtext.

So it's totally appropriate that the name be applied to a class of ships that almost always operate alone, perform tasks that couldn't be more legal or more boring, and quite often do so while completely stationary.

OK yeah, maybe that was a little off-sides. Sorry. ;-)

Anyway, when the CSM first learned that these ships were to receive a first rebalance pass, I was initially excited. For years, the only real use a marauder could be put to outside tournament play was missions. Sure, you'd see the very very occasional Kronos being used as a substitute Vindicator thanks to T2 resists. But for the most part, the ships were relegated nearly 100% to solo risk-free PvE with no other use. I was looking forward to seeing some interesting PvP use cases thrown in for this ship.

Which is why I'm much less than thrilled to see that after no less than two full series of revamps, including a brand new fitting mod, dozens of CSM posts, and thousands of player posts, they're going to be relegated nearly 100% to solo risk-free PvE with no other use. So far, I haven't heard of anyone -- small gang, medium, or large fleet -- building a doctrine around these things for PvP... with one exception that I'll talk about shortly.

That would be bad enough. But now the thing is not only relegated to risk-free solo PvE, it's completely, hilariously over-powered at it. Even in CCP tests, dropping a single one of these things into an L4 mission results in the undoing of several years of nerfs to high-sec missioning as a high-value income stream. It clears the mission with ease, never at even the slightest amount of risk, and thanks to long-range firepower does so extremely rapidly. It will be routine to do four or even five L4 missions in an hour solo in a marauder of your choice. With only one of these, you'll be able to routinely make 60-70 million ISK per hour with a return on investment of about 24 hours of play. And with two run from a single machine dual-boxing, I'm having a hard time imagining less than a 100 million ISK per hour income.

The most painful part of the process is going to be the warp from mission to mission, something that can be mitigated somewhat by having a third character request and return all missions, warping into each completed mission with an interceptor before warping the fleet composing the two marauders to the next one. That will save the marauders having to dock.

You'll certainly be able to make more ISK running havens with Vargurs and the like in null-sec and I'm sure those in deep null with good intel channels will do so. But for the rest of us, why bother? We'll have access to an unlimited, no-sharing-needed, zero-risk ISK faucet that's nearly as good.

This is going to have a few downstream effects, all aggravating. First, we're going to see a slacking off of group PvE such as low-end wormholes and incursion sites. Given that solo income is more easily available, requires less travel time and less risk, and will be capable of equivalent or near-equivalent ISK-making, why bother with group PvE? In my opinion, this is bad for the game. Second, marauders are hugely tanky, which is going to result in ships that can be pimped to levels where suicide ganking them will be extremely difficult. In my opinion, this reduction in perceived risk is also bad for the game. And third, of course these ships are only open to those that can fly tech2 battleships... in other words, the very same people who least needed the help.

Finally, if all of that wasn't bad enough, PvE isn't the only place the Bastion Module is hilariously over-powered. Oh no, for those of you who didn't see marauders in action during SCL5, just wait until the next New Eden Open. While finding a PvP niche for marauders on Tranquility is going to be challenging, in a points-governed, numbers-limited tournament match, it's going to be all marauders all the time. As I mentioned during my own wrap-up posts on SCL5, we got to see both a Golem and a Kronos hold off nearly an entire enemy team single-handedly. The rest of you will be seeing it soon. The NEO organizers will have to set the points cost of these things to an absurd number to prevent them from dominating the proceedings.

So yeah, all in all it's safe to say I'm not a fan. If you're doing solo L4 missions and you don't have one or two of these, you might want to fix that. For those of you that have them already, enjoy several months of a massive income buff!


  1. gotta agree, marauders will make every null-sec inhabitant with a high-secl alt to come farm isk again.

    1. Hahahahahahaha, clearly you have never ratted in null. You will make WAY more in an upgraded system doing anoms.

  2. EVE PvE has been heavily unbalanced in favor of solo and high-sec for a very long time. With two niche exceptions, it is always better to solo than to work in a group, and it is always better to operate in high-sec rather than anywhere else. The two exceptions are C3 and higher wormholes, and incursions; but these are the exceptions rather than the rule, since they do not comprise a substantial portion of EVE PvE.

    Grouping for content carries with it substantial overhead costs -- time spent organizing a group, waiting for stragglers, and coordinating activity. And as a group's increasing power allows it to run sites faster, the portion of time spent on travel increases, leading to diminishing returns. Solo content has none of these drawbacks.

    Both the marauder and the warp changes only exacerbate the above problem. Marauders are going to dramatically increase the ISK a player can make solo from PvE missions, and because marauders revolve around bastion mode, they are seemingly-intentionally designed for solo PvE use. Meanwhile, interceptors are now stupidly fast and are immune to bubbles, and so can move across a region faster than they can be reported in intelligence channels, limited now primarily by session change timers and client lag rather than warp speed.

    So I suspect that we will see at least some exodus of PvE activity from null, after a flurry of expensive killmails in the first few weeks following patch day.

    I keep hoping that CCP will provide incentives for players to team-up for PvE beyond the social experience, either by boosting rewards or by nerfing solo content. Instead, it seems that we're going in the opposite direction. But at least the new marauder transformations are awesome. And I'm sure we'll see some interesting solo work in lowsec involving the faster-cycling micro jump drive.

  3. Check Mabrick's blog for PVP Kronos uses, Jester. Nice little wormhole raiding doctrine. I don't know about you, but I rarely tend to fly PVE fits in a wormhole, whether I'm looking for PVP or not.

    There is one other block to using marauders, one that I think will serve to stave off doomsday, at least in the short-to-medium term, and that is the cost. Average folk won't be piloting these, and most players in the game are, I think, of the average variety (at least in terms of isk).

  4. I have one question. Who would make more money, a ratter in null sec during Odyssey or someone who runs level 4 missions in a marauder in high sec in Rubicon?

    1. Null is going to be worth more. Missions have a higher ratio of ISK/effort.

  5. maraurders will not be invulnerable to suicide ganking - it fact I would bet it is the opposite. bastion mode (b-mode) provides better ACTIVE tanking whilst engaged. the defence against ganking is buffer. because of the improved tanking in b-mode, missioners will min-max; reduce their required in-mission tank for better/more damage modes and tracking. Which would weaken even further against a suicide effort.

    and also bastion mode immobilises a ship - making it casual to scan a ship. does it matter if the missioner bothers with d-scan and sees probes; he's not going anywhere in b-mode.

    so what if a golem was able to tank in SCL?! that has a time limit and the attackers can not call re-inforcements to raise the DPS.

    can I ask you have you missioned in the current AI? if you have not - then how are you able to assume some magical isk printing? I can assure you without support for the management NPC frigates - a large weapon BS will bleed out drones even with the best micromanagement skills.

    The only interesting point will be being able to keep fleet mates in safes inbetween missions then advising the ammo types and resist profiles. which should reduce the incidence of a drive-by scan revealing the bling. the loot and fitting yurts will add some interesting mechanics to blitz efforts.

    1. Partially true. Don't forget the 30% resist bonus across the board that doesn't have stacking penalties with other resist modules for shield and armor. So it'll depend how players fit them, as always, but yeah as long as a player who gets ganked remembers to activate bastion when it starts, does add a ton of EHP, and even more if they get some rep cycles off before concord shows.

  6. Is this going to be one of those "you're stupid if your not doing it" things? Sounds like this is going to be one of those things.

  7. I'm unconvinced... If you're going to compare 2 marauders + interceptor triple boxing then you have to do it to, say, triple machariels or triple ham tengus or whatever your missioning calls for now. Even 3 sentry domis are going to put out 25%(?) more damage, probably with better application and would warp faster (before patch vs after patch). And because you're docking all three you get to cherry pick 3 parallel missions. Are you sure that your setup would actually earn more isk/hour?

    Yes the new marauder's tank will obsolete all existing high sec PvE content, maybe excepting some of the epic arc missions with heavy neuting, but MJD ships, like domis, and faction tanks have pretty much done that already. How difficult is tanking a level 4 at the moment, really? I routinely pop the frigates first in Guristas Extravaganza, aggro all groups on warp in for Stop the Informant, room 2 and don't bother killing the towers in the AE bonus room, etc., all without bastion mode...

    On the other hand I don't see the game problem that bastion was invented to address so it seems to add gratuitous tankiness up for no good reason.

  8. This doesn't make me happy. I'd always hoped Incursions and Epic Arcs were a look toward the future of PVE. They built a wonderful toolset, and I always considered them Mark I efforts, with a whole lot more being possible now that they'd built the initial framework. Especially since Eve doesn't have the same sort of art debt to pay to author them as other games would. Knowing they are going backwards toward the days of solo static missions makes me sad.

  9. When I am not c3 wh'ing with my RL friends I do PvE with alt characters. They are max skilled for mission running. I have 3 I can multi box if I want to. Sure you can get over 100mil/hour but it is really soul destroying and alot of hard work and I personally burnt out a long time ago trying to do that. I just dont need the money that badly. But if you want to then thats up to you personally.

    Yes, you can blitz them with 2 characters easily, but the marauders adds very little to this style of play, there is no new dps increase unless you count better optimal close to the eft damage. The marauder changes make it very easy to do the missions sure, but lets face it they were very easy anyway with a character that is not a few weeks old. Perhaps this is part of CCP's decision to make PvE harder with new missions and new challenges. I hope so? Since they have promised to revamp PvE this could be the first stage to that so we can have a tool to do missions that arent a cake walk. Be nice, eh.

    So honestly, they make something vey easy to survive. Will it make them complete it quicker? I can only assume CCP knows what it is doing with the numbers and has carefully made it so they can do missions easier but not actually any quicker, and it remains to be seen if it is any slower with the warp changes and marauder mass/speed changes.

    If you do the group content, sleeper loot and incursions, escalations, the new ghost sites in wh/null, the new anoms that are being put down in null/low etc then you get better rewards. So there are rewards for group stuff. But saying it makes people not want to group is not really true for me. I would much rather do things with my friends, if they are online. I am hardly going to tell them I am going to solo when they are online. If I am in a grump with work or life in general and want to hang out on my own then I can I guess, but I am not going to make as much ISK but thats okay I made a choice for how I wanted to play the game. If you tell your friends you would rather solo then you might not have those friends for long. If you are in a corp of random people then I cannot see this is going to make you more or less social, you are going to do what you did before, group or not not based on isk/hour that you can get. It seems a poor argument to me to say everyone is now going to go solo everything now. Would you dump your corp to do things that are tedious and would pay less than a group effort activity? I doubt it.

    Lets see what PvP they are used for if any, and reserve judgement for then. For the tournies yes, it is too much for them to be able to hold off the rest of an enemy fleet and that will have to be balanced somehow.

    1. "Since they have promised to revamp PvE..."

      I must have missed that memo. I don't recall any recent statements from CCP that they were planning to do that.

  10. There's a problem with this analysis, Ripard - you haven't compared marauders to current T1 battleships. An ordinary dominix with four T1 damage mods will outdamage a kronos with 3 faction + 1 T2 damage mods at all ranges above 20km. Below 20km, the marauder wins by about 30 dps. A rail kronos does much better beyond 50km and much worse below 50km. The dominix will have better tracking at all ranges. A dominix will be much much cheaper. (Imagine what this comparison would look like if fed navy DDAs existed!)

    The reason for this is the MJD - it means you can sacrifice tank if you're able to operate at long range. Combine that with one of the T1 battleships that does full damage out to 50km+ (sentry drones, cruise missiles) and bob's your uncle.

    1. I've definitely heard worse plans.

    2. I have done some comparison. Whilst there is now +damage in bastion, the additional falloff/optional does mean that it feasible to use higher damage/shorter range munition types outside there normal defined reach.

      I am by preference a drone pilot - but the bastion mode is a game changer as far as L4 missions go. (more than I had originally expected) I would like to sample it in a Blockade, or say the bonus Angel Extra room; so I will keep the jury just a little long in debate.

  11. I do not concur.

    I have been running L4 missions in a Machariel for the past year or two. For the past 2 weeks I have been testing the Vargur & Golem on Singularity. Out of the 3, which runs L4 missions the quickest?

    The hands down loser is the Singularity Golem. It's around a whopping 40% slower than the benchmark Tranquility Machariel (slightly pimped). Torps lack sufficient range (even in Bastion mode) and Cruises lack applicable DPS.

    The Vargur and the Machariel were very close. It basically depended on the mission, but overall they are too close to call. Sometimes the speed with which the Mach can move gives it an edge as it can rapidly adapt and close range when required. Also it can use 4 sentries. Sometimes the MJD & Bastion module gives the Vargur the edge. Maybe once I get used to when / when not to use bastion mode, the Vargur will be quicker overall. Maybe.

    So unless the Kronos or Paladin are much more effective than the Machariel, which I doubt, the Marauders change isn't going to have much of an effect on income potential from L4 missions, Those who can fly Marauders for missions can almost certainly fly a Machariel too and have been doing so because it is the most effective L4 mission boat.

    Any marginal gain in L4 income is probably going to be offset from the impending drop in loot value due to the deployable tractor thingymajig.

  12. @Anonymous 21:20pm: The bastion module was, I think, supposed to be a mini siege module, but at some point they removed the damage bonus. So that's why it appears to be so pointless.

  13. "It's quite arguable that only one ship class name in EVE Online is picturesque and fanciful, not describing the ship at all. That is the marauder."

    'Titan' is picturesque and fanciful, and describes neither a function nor a ship.

    1. It's named after a U.S. brand of condoms, so that's descriptive. ;-)

  14. With the warp speed changes I am not sure marauder ratting in nullsec is such a good idea anymore. And level 4 mission income...
    Perhaps if you blitz and cherry pick the best missions you can achieve income levels mentioned but no level 4 mission ever came close to the income I got in nullsec anomaly ratting.

  15. As others have said I dont believe this will increase solo PvE content to any significant degree. Currently, any lvl 4 can easily be done solo in a marauder. Scrambling frigs can easily be dispatched before they get close or with light drones. The only times I have ever grouped for a lvl 4 was for team bonding and/or to help new players with some income. If you want to make maximum income doing lvl 4's solo was always the optimal way... and so will it continue in this expansion.

  16. Eve is a living breathing game, one second I'm loving it, the next I’m hate it.
    I'm a solo player and a hi-sec carebear. It's what I have time for. Its what I prefer. The more isk I have the more things I can do and the more shiny a ship I can fly. If solo is a bad thing for the game then make it so unplayable that it can't be done. Thats still not going to stop 2 people or a dual boxer from doing it.
    That income like mission running can be nerfed just because its considered too much. Or the fact that you can run missions faster and others say it needs to be nerfed is hugely frustrating.
    Of course the new b-mode is overpowered, and why shouldn’t' it be. You’re a capsuleer, immortal, you are your own private army. If you can have the skills to fly and operate a Marauder, buy it and fit it then yes it’s supposed to be overpowered when you apply it to doing a level 4.
    Oh this is a ‘game’ and it needs ‘balance’. Well then make the mission rewards and bounty dependent on the ship involved, T1 BS being the best pay out/bounty generation. (That is what a level 4 is aimed at right?) And have a more aggressive mission version/activity for the higher marauder like pilots.
    One second while people start crying about dual boxing T1 BS as a ‘isk faucet!’, then have them cry over having level 5’s in hi-sec.
    Heaven forbid there would be a mission system that adapts to the ship type (or number of ships) that enter the mission area.
    If you can’t skill up, ship up and do things better and faster without being nerfed; If you can’t reach the end of the race with the reward you want then that will give more frustration until you walk away.

  17. The problem is obviously there, but it's not on the Marauders, but on the missions. If there is an unlimited, zero-risk ISK faucet, people will find the optimal way to harvest it. If not Marauders, then faction battleships, blinged Tengus, 40-boxed Mackinaw fleets or whatever. The problem is that whatever ship performs in a WH or in a null anomaly, will also perform in highsec. With safety, solo. You can't nerf the "highsec Marauder" without nerfing the "WH-Marauder"

    You have to nerf highsec itself. But not even CSM has the courage to suggest that, mostly because most of the "nullsec PvP-ers" fund their hobby from highsec alts.

    1. sure you can...

      "bastion modules cannot be activated in highsec" would nerf them in highsec but not elsewhere.

    2. 40 macks or one mack; it is linear return.

      most null might use high sec for income - but how many of those are represented by the CSM. particular those large alliances with effective SRP. you should do some numbers based on the recent mittan's SRP of an archon - really?! from the people who brought you; "we need more moons for income", "we need renters for income" and "high-sec income needs to be ground into a negative value" (for our amusement). so where is the unlimited, zero-risk ISK faucet, wtb.

  18. So what does Garth think?

  19. And so it begins. The "Nerf High sec, because Marauders are too strong"

    First off, read Malbrick's blog where he lost TEN Hob II's doing one mission, because his guns are useless against frigs now. Kind of a large overhead per mission.

    And to suggest that Marauders should be nerfed because they are OP for the Alliance tourney is the height of hubris. That affects less than 1% of the entire Eve population, but somehow you think that is important...wow.

    Further, the Paladin and Kronos are completely wrecked in Incursion VG's now, without the web bonus. The Vindicator is a far superior ship now..

    I also like that warning: "For those of you that have them already, enjoy several months of a massive income buff! " What, have you and the rest of the cartels finally got CCP to nerf high sec mission income directly?


    1. Highsec income should be nerfed. Even the most one eyed highsec pilot surely must see that.

      also nobody cares about highsec

      also the majority of highsec dwellers are nullsec trade alts/mission alts which wouldn't exist if highsec wasn't as attractive and lucrative as it is now.


  20. By making the tank so massively OP in PvE situations the real issue isn't that ISK/hour increases so dramatically that marauders out shine Pirate battleships. The real issue is that the risk of using the high priced ships in the difficult missions go down so dramatically. A pirate BS is something that at present requires diligent attention to piloting to get the most out of it. Marauders will be warp in, deploy bastion mode, turn on reps, cycle through targets at will. The perfect semi-afk mission running income source. The absolute ISK/hour doesn't have to be larger to make this the preferred method of doing level IV's.

  21. I'm also hoping that they're introducing these monsters in anticipation of new, more dynamic PVE content.

    I'm sure someone will come up with a PVP application before too long, given the existence of a certain CFC fleet doctrine, or the nearly impossible ability of the ship to tank small gangs. Who knows? It will certainly be interesting.

  22. Umm... Here's the problem: for missions tank is a secondary concern, since the more damage you deal the less damage you have to tank. DPS and it's application are all-important, and new marauders don't look so formidable in this department.

    Paladin can't outdamage Nightmare, Golem is slightly worse than Navy Raven, Vargur doesn't seem to have significant advantage over Machariel. The only interesting thing about bastion - immunity to electronic warfare - is not so important because there are only few missions where it really matters, and those can be declined.

    Then there is an MJD bonus, which turns out to be as useful as ashtray on a bike: using it will catapult you out of any marauder's optimal range, unless you switch to ammo with more range and less damage. Golem doesn't have that problem (unless it's a torpedo Golem, which is a problem in itself), but then you'll have to count missiles and there will be some lost damage after all. In most situations it's better to have MWD instead of MJD.

    Making 100+ isk/hour in highsec? Was possible before marauder rebalance.
    Tanking everything in mission and then some? Same, and not really needed.
    MJD bonus? Useful about 10% of the time.
    Cheaper fit? After 1bil or more for the hull it doesn't really matter.

    Rebalanced marauders in highsec PVE are overrated, they shine in very few situations since their new bonuses are not so important in missions.

  23. All this talking and still no one is willing to take on the real issue:

    Marauders are obsolete, useless, nada, overshadowed by Tier2 and Pirate counterparts.

    The best solution would be to remove them altogether.

    - Limit MJDs to marauders also and synchronise the Bastion and MJD cool down.
    - Restrict MJDs use out of high sec.
    - Add damage percentage to Bastion modules and more tracking.

    This would enable some PvP aspect too:
    marauders need to jump from place to place (for example around a gate), deploy and harass the enemies from afar. Then pack gear, and jump 100km away. Rinse and repeat.

    This would finally make them fitting for their name.

    Window of opportunity for the other side would arise for small and fast crafts to EW (sensor damp, tracking dis) them while the slow boats are catching up.

  24. Rubicon has been out an entire 24 hours and people aren't swarming lowsec with Marauders! OMG stop the press!

    I can't help but think you are trying to say something about L4 missions, or PVE in general, in the guise of a "marauder rant."

    Or maybe you are fishing for some idea of who has the budget to PvP in these ships?

    But I am pretty sure this article isn't motivated by Rubicon's rebalanced Marauders.

  25. Okay person from comment above, c3 wh'ing with a friend. I must suck hard, cause I hate them in missions. I can do them far far quicker with a pirate faction bs and noctis to clean stuff up. They are horrid, simply horrid. Won't be using them anymore unless the nerf to pirate ships takes them below the pain of the mauraders. Maybe that is what they are intending to do, eh?

  26. I agree that calling these things Marauders is an abomination. Perhaps they should rename the class after the module; Bastion Battleships.

    When I think Marauder, I think Conan. Big muscles, big axe. Jump in, SMASH and GTFO.

    As for an actual Marauder class, I am thinking a bit crazy - 8 large turrets double damage bonused for short range weaponry (blasters, pulse, autocannon) with 1 mid, 1 low, and very high agility for a battleship. Tactics are jump in, hope to get some kills then either die in a blaze of glory or turn and burn.

    Extending the crazy further, I would make the former Tier 3 battlecruisers fit a similar model, but downgrading the turrets to medium - 8 medium turrets double damage bonused for short range guns with 1 med and 1 low.

  27. I think CCP are planning new PVE group content for maraduers. At least I hope so.

  28. LOL... risk free pve in a marauder???

    Im guessing you havent seen what the Tuskers have been up to in metropolis ?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.