Thursday, 14 February 2013

Circles in the metagame

With every new expansion of EVE, with every new ship and module and skill, people do the same things: buy it, try it, run wild with it....and come back to the core of the metagame concets which are tried and tested and true.

This happened with ASB's. They launched broken, seeing a massive proliferation of dual XL-ASB Cyclones, Maelstroms and Rokhs, dual ASB Merlins and Hawks and Harpies, and even ASB Thrashers, Myrmidons, Prophecies.

It got pretty crazy for a while there, but now, post nerf? You hardly ever see ASB ships anymore, at least in Faction Warfare. You might see them on undock in market hubs, some gatecamping situations, etc. But the nerf was pretty severe, and killed ASB shield tanking off in a single stroke, aside from the occasional ASB Merlin or Harpy.

Players have abandoned ASB's for the usual meta. This is, either buffer-gank or kite (preferably with boosts). Active tanking is still a niche held by the Incursus and the dual or triple-rep Myrmidon. Everything else can't active tank for shit, shield or armour, without boosts and pills.Oh, you will see the odd adept and practitioner unload a clip of charges in their ASB, but it isn't very effective.

There's good reason for this dichotomy of the metagame. Buffer-gank brawling is a recognition that sheer attritional simplicity is easily understood mathematically by almost anyone, is easy to pull off assuming you get a warp to zero (or near enough), and your enemy is pinned down well enough. You just pile a big enough buffer on, and the biggest guns, and you go at it.

The key to buffer-gank is the warp-in and getting the tackle - if you miss it or are stupid enough to put yourself on grid with something that can kite you (and your drones), you will die. It may take 30 minutes, but you will die. You therefore have to master the art of positioning yourself in space, on gates, and on the grid to achieve the tackle - and get the gank calculation right so you can blow them up and GTFO with a fucked buffer to rep or regen.

Kiting favours those with implants, boosts and well focused and trained toons. The advantage of kiting is that, if you have an edge in speed and don't get pinned by warping at zero and getting scrammed, you can basically kill whatever you want and disengage from whatever you can't, if you understand slingshotting, radiusing and manual piloting. You also have to factor in your enemy's boosts and implants and ship class, so it isn't terribly simple, but it is also not terribly hard. Invest in the Loki, the Snakes, and a double-damp Hookbill, and you are basically set for life and will be a PVP God in no time.

Nanogangs are of course, a subset of the kite meta. 

So, we are on the eve of getting the ancilliary armour repairer (AAR) and the overheating rigs (maybe) which is apparently the way to fix active armour - because active shield is apparently sorted with the introduction of ASB's, despite the evidence that no one is really carried away with it anymore. So the question is, what will the meta be, in the short term? It will inevitably go back to buffer-gank and kite concepts, but there will be a cycle of introduction, discovering how unbalanced it is (I'm looking at you, Incursus), nerfing, and abandonment.

We will see armour tanking philosophy of one AAR and one normal repper paired up; for example, an Incursus will have AAR and Small Armour Repairer II, and will have effectively 3.25 reps loaded. It will then get 7.5% per level of Gallente Frigate, or 37.5% bonus, for a total effective 4.46 repairer's worth. Add heat, and you will get 5.13 repairers worth of tank until your lows burn out or you run out of nanites. Given that, without Legion links, one repper at 10% bonus gives you 82hp/s active tank, that will drop to 62hp/s per repper - so a 5.13 repper equivalent will be 317 dps active tank before legion boosts. With legion boosts you will get to about 663 DPS active tank overheated - without implants or drugs.

The secondary effect of moving to an AAR+Rep setup will be that the Incursus will be even less reliant on capacitor. With the current dual-rep Incursus fit you run a small cap booster to make yourself reasonably cap stable till your hold runs dry. Of course, if you don't have a gang backing you up, you can eventually die (typically after taking between 28,000 and 43,000 damage) even to a pissy low-dps kitey frigate. But if you are playing the Incursus as it should be played, you have a gang. After the introduction of AAR's you will be able to tank about 663 DPS with overheat - and that is assuming a 100% efficiency of transfer to damage upon your ship. With your sig radius at 47m, cruiser sized weapons, poorly-tracking guns or rage missiles, your effective active tank will be in excess of 1,000 DPS.

This is unacceptable and bullshit. So, like with ASB's, the meta will glom onto this brokenness, everything will become incredibly broken incredibly quickly, with hordes of unkillable Incursus and Myrms and Brutixes (think 1100 DPS active tanks with a 180 DPS coast tank while your ASB reloads) flying around baiting, ganking everything. Then CCP Fozzie will wake up to the complaints, and nerf the AAR in some way and everything will be abandoned - and we will be back to the buffer-gank and kitefag metagame.

At least till links get fixed. That is what is required to make this all sensible. Because, although I have used max legion boosts to illustrate how ridiculous this is going to get, without those boosts working magically across 2.14 billion kilometres or space (or more) things won't be so terrible. 5.13 times 80 DPS tank is 320 DPS, which is still fucking retarded, but not OMGWTFBBQ retarded.

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