Ideally, if one were to evisage a bottom-up redesign of a class of ships (say, frigates), you would set a few goal posts. For instance:
Raw hitpoints should be 1000 +/- 10
Effective hitpoints (if there is such a thing) should be between 3,000 and 10,000
Powergrid should be sufficient to fit a long-range and a short-range fit with the requisite tank type
They should use racial weapons
They should follow the post-tiercide Roles layouts
Their DPS should be (roughly) equivalent, both within the short-range brawling envelope and a longer-range kiting envelope
Their speeds should be roughly equivalent
There should also be a list of prohibited features:
No ship should have so much excessive PG or CPU it can comfortably fit oversized prop mods or shield extenders or guns without some sacrifices (and here we should mean 10MN Worms with completely viable fits).
No ship should have high-DPS long range weapons, be fastest in class, have excessive point-range and spare midslot EWAR (....but Garmurs...)
No ship should have such luxe fitting capacity it is hilariously easy to fit biggest weapons and biggest tanks simultaneously and no fitting modules or rigs
So, that seems fairly straight forward. Already there are a lot of problems cropping up;
- No Minmatar frigate can fit arty and a coherent, workable fit with a tank. Or any 280mm Artillery at all. Even the luxe Svipul struggles for 280mm arty fits, and we all now how fixed they are.
- The Rifter will soon have half the fitting capacity out of the box that the Punisher has. Both are equivalent ships with the same roles. The Rifter cannot even fit 250mm artillery and make it work.
- The Garmur is just fucking OP as fuck.
- The Slicer is only held in check by the Garmur.
- The Worm is OP as fuck, but soon to suffer a harsh nerfing.
- The Tormentor is only 'suffering' due to the trickiness of flying a beam AAR version in competition to the Slicer.
- The Tristan has Luxe Fitting and drone meta; it is crazily OTT considering its cancerous ability to fit hull tank, kite away, and let its drones wreak havoc.
However, again, one would think that the way to fix the ship class of frigates (and i guess, upscale that to dessies which use the same weapons) is to standardise the weapon PG and CPU costs. Then you can move on to a simplified formula for calculating the fitting capacity of each hull.
For example, if all low-power weapons cost 3 PG and 8 CPU, medium-power weapons cost 5 PG and 10 CPU and top-power weapons cost 8 PG and 14 CPU, you could more easily standardise the capability of ships based on their fitting capacity. For example, 3 turret ships could be allocated 22 power grid for their weapons (taking into account skills reduce PG consumption of weapons), allowing all 3 turret ships to mount their biggest guns. Then you would move on to propulsion, allocating a teensy bit less than a T2 MWD to all ships; add a certain fitting capacity for tank (shield or armour) and tweak the numbers a bit at the end based on whether it's a PG intensive armour tank, or a CPU intensive shield tank.
This is logical. But unfortunately, CCP seems hell-bent on illogical fitting choices and restrictions. Like the Rifter, with 38 PG, lowest of all the combat frigates. it's not that a Rifter doesn't have less need of PG, being minmatar. Nothing is more PG intensive than armour arty boats (which basically don't exist due to fitting issues). Nothing is more CPU intensive than shield arty boats with MWDs.
By comparison the Punisher is getting 67 PG post-Vanguard, to mount big beam lasers, APC's, EANM's and whatever else it needs. It is pretty stark, the difference between fitting capacity between races and between ships with the same role.
This is, I think, because CCP is afraid of reworking the numbers of the weapons themselves. We have seen a lot of tweaks around the edges but a standardisation programme hasn't been embarked on. I don't mean standardising the weapon ranges, tracking, DPS, sig resolution or optial and falloff. I mean making the weapon systems all basically cost the same PG and CPU, and rll the capabilities of fittings back into the hulls and adjusting them to ensure that it's actually possible to fit what you want to fit, long or short range, regardless of the hull.
This would be an ambitious project to balance against quirky module numbers for EWAR (midslot EWAR proliferation being a massiv issue), and the free four slots a set of light drones realistically represent (120 DPS = 4 turrets or 5 drones). However, again, you have to start somewhere with this project, with simple principles, and highlight the aberrant ships on the peak of the power curve and the bottom of the power curve.
There will always be winners and losers, but if you look at some of the winners at the moment they are so far in front of their mid-ranked competitors it's unbelievable. I'm looking at you Gila, Stratios, Orthrus, Garmur, Worm, Tristan, Slicer and Rattlesnake.
The losers of the balance arguments are so worthless as to be deletable: the Minmatar race, in general (sure, proper piloting can give you a surprise punch, but you're still fighting uphill). The Arbitrator. The Bellicose. Osprey navy (even post-Vanuard, excrable low-DPS missile-tosser). The majority of Battleships, but especially the Scorpion navy, Raven, Maelstrom and Apocalypse. The Munnin and Vagabond deserve a special mention.
So, this is why the upcoming 'balance smorgasbord' is more like the buffet at Sizzler at 11 p.m.; tired, full of manky rot, and utterly unappetising except for the overdue kick to the Gila's balls.