The problem I have is that I have Minmatar Carrier trained to level 5, and a Nidhoggur, and i live in a C5. I tend to be the shlub who warps his carrier in for the second carrier escalation, when there are 2 dreads on field already and it is just a mop-up operation.
Due to the power of the Archon as an armour triage carrier, it is basically the best and most easy-mode of all the carriers for C5 escalations.This is because of several factors.
Firstly, it has the highest base capacitor of all the carriers. I believe the thinking, in EVE's early days, was "Amarr ships use lasers
so they need the highest capacitor." and thus the Archon got it, even
though there's absolutely no reason for this.
Archon: 64.9 GJ and 36K GJ/s
Nidhoggur: 55K GJ and 36GJ/s
Thanatos: 60K GJ and 36GJ/s
Chimera: 56.3K GJ and 36GJ/s
This impacts on triage because, for example, you tend to fill your mids with capacitor rechargers and lows with capacitor power relays, and rigs are CCC's (T2 in wormholes because, why not?). To compare the utility of armour triage (because, lets face it, no one does shield) we will fit the carriers for C5 sites; DCU, 2 metalevel local reps, and one slot pimp tank and the rest capacitor mods. Highs are 2 metalevel capital RR's, triage I module, and metalevel energy transfer. Rigs are two T2 CCCs and a T1 memory cell. The toon is all level 5, no implants, no boosts.
Due to slot layout, of course, the mix of capacitor rechargers and CPR's changes.There is also a need to bung in power diagnostics on the Nidhoggur and a reactor control Thanatos to make the fit work.
Comparing the stats, as before, with the above philosophy, and just based on capacitor (without which you are useless) the following becomes apparent;
Archon: 97.9 GJ and 524K GJ/s
Nidhoggur: 83K GJ and 497GJ/s
Thanatos: 86.3K GJ and 433GJ/s
Running one armour RR, the cap transfer and one local repairer out of triage, as one may normally do in a wormhole, the cap stability of these three carriers is: Archon 54.7% cap stable; Nidhoggur 51.7% cap stable, Thanatos 40.8% cap stable.
In triage, cap stability drops to Archon 4m 7s, Nidhoggur 3m 15s and Thanatos 3m flat.
This is where the other attributes of the three carriers begin to weigh in. The Thanatos gets more DPS out of triage and buffed energy and armour transfer range. The Archon gets better resists, which flow through to better local rep efficiency, which in effect allows the Archon to tank longer on its triage cycle. It however suffers from short cap and armour transfer ranges, which is only a problem if you get bumped off your friends.
The Nidhoggur has a beastly RR capability. With metalevel reps in Triage you repair 4400 armour every 2 seconds - this is nominally a 15K DPS tank for the lucky sod getting the reps. It is just a pity you cannot use that rep power to sustain your fleet mates due to your weak capacitor - you can cap yourself out almost instantly. It is much more useful to rep sustainably for longer versus provide a glorious 3 minutes of burst tank and then be capped out. likewise, your local tank is weaker and capacitor is weaker, rendering you a softer target than an Archon.
The differences in the carriers aren't really well thought-out. It comes down to capacitor more than anything; the Archon gets a double-whammy bonus due to the resistances and higher base capacitor and higher capacitor recharge, which combined is synergistic towards being the best armour carrier in terms of tanking, remote repair and providing capacitor to fleet mates.
True, the Nidhoggur has a potential remote rep capability which should make it the go-to carrier for small-fleet engagements, hot-drops and the like. Sadly, you can see why it is used for repairing POSs and the like; it repairs a hell of a lot very fast, but you want to avoid tripping the triage button because you may very well die inside 3 minutes.
This is symptomatic of a balance issue. People train into Archons because they are more effective, not due to the racial bonus philosophy attached to the ships, but due to an arbitrary capacitor amount built into the hull which has nothing more to do with carriers than some vestigial concept early in the history of EVE where Amarr ships just simply had the best capacitor. True, extra armour resistances help, but you would still be more effective at your job than a Nidhoggur simply due to capacitor, and that's taking into account the Nidhoggur's massive rep bonus.
It gets even more ridiculous when you consider the Thanatos. When i were a lad, before supercarriers, Thanatos were the DPS gank carriers. You used to fear half a dozen Thanatos dropping on field, with their 25% DPS buff to fighters. The Nyx has proliferated, and the availability ot T2 rigs increased until you rarely see Thanny drops like you used to - but at least with some Archons providing the RR backbone you are the DPS wing of a Slowcat blob. But aside from Slowcat, you'd be best retraining to an Archon than bringing a Thanny to a wormhole or trying lowsec small-fleet triage. You've got less triage use than a Nidhoggur, due to 37.5% less RR strength, and less capacitor life.
I think the solution is to flatten the capacitor differences between the carriers, and differentiate them more based on their racial bonuses and design philosophies. This would see the base capacitor of all the carriers raised to close to Archon levels, to allow more sustained triage operation. Note, also, the above is based on T2 CCC's; you would be fairly mad to drop a T2 rigged capital in k-space.
It is clear that with T1 rigs, no carrier is cap stable through a triage cycle. That's fine, and indeed it may be how it should be, requiring compromise and restraint from the pilot, versus just hitting perm-running everything forever. Nevertheless, the Archon gets a full minute more capacitor than any other carrier, and under Triage, a minute is a shitload of tanking and RR, and a world of difference in terms of micromanagement and stress for the carrier pilot. It is far more problematic to be managing your capacitor on a second by second basis while RRing than to have to fidddle more with your stront bay than your reps.
Rooks and Kings have a few triage carrier videos which show what a capable, cool-headed, experienced carrier pilot can do. But they use the Archon; swap that for a Nidhoggur or Thanatos and I would argue the video would be at least one minute shorter and far less glorious.
If all carriers could, with T1 rigs, get 3m 30s of capacitor with 3 mods running (2 RR & Cap or RR + Cap + Local) then the differences in the ships would be down to pilot skill, racial bonuses, and hull bonuses.
I would argue that this would still see the Archon king of the hill for most armour triage, RnK style. However, for raiding style hot drops you'd pick the Nidhoggur with its stronger RR, or the Thanny with better DPS.
The Chimera and shield capitals, or a shield Nidhoggur? Totally different debate.