Friday, 9 May 2014

Phoenix revival a fizzer

There is a mixed bag of goodies in the Phoenix rebalance pass, as detailed on the F&I Discussion thread.

The resist bonus is overdue, and brings it in line with the Chimera, Rokh, Moa and Merlin as a hefty resist-bonused Caldari boat. This will greatly help the Phoenix's survivability in those situations where you don't immediately get primaried, aren't solo bashing a POS, or just happen to live in a C5 or C6 Pulsar, where this will really begin to shine.  It will increase the active tank from a turgid 13K DPS tank (overheated) to around 18-20K (hard to simulate in Pyfa), or a sustainable 2900 DPS - enough to survive most POSs long enough to blap the defences and make the DPS sustainable. Not that it's a problem except for the odd low-class wormhole dread faced with solo bashing a proper deathstar - in its usual habitat, a 2900 DPS tank is more than enough, for you will have friends.

The change away from kinetic-only ammo is welcome, and definitely a bonus. The damage bonus swapping to ROF is also a bonus, given the promulgated percentage in paper DPS that is on the cards - 25% for Citadel Cruise, and 33% for Citadel Torps.

The indicated buff to Citadel Cruise and Torp missile parameters is welcome. 33% greater velocity is helpful, because now you won't be able to outrun them in a hauler (OK, a Prowler, but you get my point). Your cruise will now go 7km/s and your torps 3.4km/s - although range is the same, which is fine. You get dropped off grid and warp down to your target, so no change there.

There is also a bit of swapsies with the explosion radius and explosion velocity going up 38%, and down 14%, respectively for Cruise, and +75% and -50% for Torps. This is good, because it is really terrible right now, so any buff will help.

However, this is where it all falls apart. Explosion velocity for cruise goes from 45.7 m/s (base) to 63.06 m/s, and from 31.5m/s for torps up to a scalding 55.12m/s. This means that an unwebbed capital (its main prey, apparently) can only reduce 50% of the damage by moving about the field!

Then, of course, is explosion radius. 14% off the base for Citadel Cruise of 1225 leaves you at 1053. An armour fit Nid with Claymore gang links has a sig radius of 2,070. You get a meagre 4,650 of 6250 DPS out of a Phoenix now, using Cruise, versus a moving Nid. This represents 60% damage application. For Citadel Torps you also get around 4600 applied DPS right now, versus the same Nidhoggur - out of a theoretical 11,000, that's a pathetic 40% versus its main prey.

Simulating the new missile parameters via adding three T2 rigor rigs, you get close to 90% damage application from Citadel Cruise, and a better 70% using torps. This is bad news - even buffed your applied DPS versus a slow-moving carrier is less than 100%. Consider the transversal of a Nid orbiting a Moros (next to zero at any range) and you can see why no one should be or will be impressed by the new numbers on the Phoenix. Your tracking is so good on the Moros vs other caps, and the base DPS is already so high, you'd be mad to give that up for the crap shoot that missiles is.

The balance here is obviously avoiding making the citadel missiles so good that they become blapping machines - after all, there's no fancy flying you can do, no orbit speed or range, which will mitigate your damage liability when being shot at by missiles.

The thing is, as pointed out by wise poasters, who would design a missile to take down a target such that it only does 70% of the job?

The clear objective should be to give Citadel missiles of all flavours explosion velocities close to that of their targets - namely, 100-120 m/s. The explosion radius can also be adjusted, assuming infinite ISK for T2 rigs of course, to ensure that a battleship which is under way with an AB (300 sig, 350m/s) takes 50% damage.

If the Phoenix isn't made into a blapping machine, the improved missile velocity won't counter the alpha of all turret weapons. The key lesson here (as pointed out by the wise scholar Bagehi) is that on paper the Phoenix begins to look useful. However, it's only on paper.

My experiments with cruise missile Ravens and Typhoons has shown that TP's are king. Pushing the envelope hard enough requires triple rigor rigs and twin TP's, something only the Typhoon brings to the party, given its explosion radius buff takes care of the other half of the equation. The Raven can only rig itself 3 times, is a shield tanker so gives up midslots for tank (a fruitless exercise), and can't buff explosion velocity at the same time as sig radius. In essence, fast missiles are good in theory, but in reality if you're going to kill anything it's precise, high impact missiles, even if they hit a few seconds later. Remember, the missile velocity only matters for the first hit, not the second - DPS is flat.

Therefore, it would be better to take a leaf from the Typhoon's book. Give the Phoenix a 50% explosion velocity buff on the hull, ditch the missile velocity bonus and flight time nerf (it's irrelevant!), and tweak the ROF. This will result in a huge improvement in applied DPS versus moving targets (increasing the citadel ExVel to 90m/s, meaning 100% DPS vs moving unebbed caps, and torp to 77m/s, giving 80%) without unduly threatening lower-sig radius ships like battleships.

Of course, if you web and TP the shit out of something, pushing a BS sig to 2000 and keeping it below 75m/s, it will take the full alpha  strike of the missiles. Big deal - you'll need a web loki, and at least 2-3 TP's, and rigor rigs, and have the enemy pinned down within the engagement range of the Phoenix - basically, only people silly enough to land within 50km of a torp Phoenix or 160km of a Cruise Phoenix. Plus, it must be pointed out, anyone in the same situation facing a Moros with a 2,000m sig and no speed, will most likely suffer a horrible fate as well.

That's my fix.

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