Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Projectile Rework

This is a bit of a broad based analysis of the current problems in the game with projectiles, and hence, with Minmatar ships in general.

I came to this via a round-about way which basically started with me looking at my hangar a few months ago and noticing something striking - for someone who used to fly almost exclusively Minmatar ships, I had only 6 out of 40 individual ship types in my hangar which were Minmatar and ever used at all. These were the Typhoon (used for ratting), the Svipul, the Scythe, the Scimitar, the Loki and the Mammoth (used for PVP). I had no Minmatar HACs, no minmatar AF's, no minmatar destroyers, no Minmatar combat cruisers, no battlecruisers, nada.

I realised - holy shit, minmatar suck balls. Donkey balls. Drone meta is dominant, and projectiles suck in terms of projection (zero-tacking arty) and gank (blasters outperform in brawling). The idea of kitey AC ships fighting nobly in falloff has been squashed by T3 Destroyers which can basically take on multiple T1 cruisers at a time, easily, and by Drone meta because, well, drones.

Things have maybe changed since that snapshot. We've got a Cyclone fit which, with T2 rigs and logi support, stacks up well for ISK vs effectiveness, and is somewhat useful. it maybe hasn't shone yet on the killboards, but that's tactical versus fitting. But basically, without the Scythe, Loki, Svipul and Typhoon, Minmatar is dead to me.

The Loki...there's a couple of fits we use but it's a niche thing related to heavy tackle scouting, but we prefer the Astero because of frig holes existing and cheapness. For cruiser tackle, we prefer our lachesis because of Null blasters and double the point range. So the Loki is rarely used. The phoon is only on the cards because of our ratting maths in C4s favouring it over the Rattlesnake. Barely.

So I basically used to fly Minmatar a lot but now it's all just the Svipul and the Scythe, without which we have almost no use for anything.

I won't get into the nitty gritty of every single Mnmatar hull and why they suck, but a brief TL;DR review of some key problems is warranted;
T1 Frigates - the Burst is only used in Harpy blobs. Rifter sucks due to the Garmur being around, if not the Slicer. Breacher is good, and I occasionally gank with the Vigil. But you can't make very many arty fits work efficiently.

Cruiser-wise, Ruppies are outclassed by everything, find it impossible to fit decently mobile high-DPS arty Rupture gangs, and due to PG there is never ever an option for arty Stabber. Bellicose is mediocre even as an EWAR cruiser due to inefficient slot layout.

Battlecruiser wise the Cane has been nerfed heavily and is just above the Drake. Post-nerf PG constraints have now done away with the Welpcanes of the past. AC Canes lack damage projection, because nowadays falloff means lost DPS. Drones don't suffer lost DPS. The Cyclone makes a shit Fleet boat outside of our niche use, and a shit solo shield tanker because it can't fit enough to realistically tank anything it will encounter. I Lachesis can tank twice as much as the Cyclone because it has so many mids.

Battleship-wise we've just seen the pest get a ROF bonus for another 12.5% effective DPS, which raises it from abysmal to shitty. I mean, armour BS meta you may as well use Baltecs, Apocs, etc, or even Scorch-wielding Abbadons which will outrange the Pest, out-DpS it and so on. Forgrt Arty fits.
Maelstromssuffer in Arty fit use not only because they suffer from a useless bonus to shield rep (forget it in fleet combat) but are slower and less maneuverable than Tornadoes. The phoon makes a better armour fleet ship than the Pest because of utility mids, drones and the interchangeability of missile systems without a lot of fiddling the fit.

What's the set of consistent themes here?

Artillery costs too much powergrid. It is instructive that our Sacrilige doctrine (since retired because it sucks) had RLML's and HAMs. You would fit a depot and take a set of launchers and ammo such that you could refit from HAMs to RLML's if you had to go into a Wolf-Rayet, whereupon you'd gain 600 DPS and damage projection. Try creating a fit with a projectile boat where you can refit from ACs to Artillery - it's impossible.

If Artillery was more of a weapon choice than a fitting choice, this would free up Minmatar ships to focus not on a choice of low rate-of-fire hail mary alpha fleets (where you better hope you hit cause your cycle time sucks and tracking sucks) where you fit up a ship and it lacks any tank and also lacks any gank, or a subpar medium-DPS AC choice where you are forced to fight in falloff while being hunted by drones. Or, soon, where your shit DPS and tracking problems compete with buffed missiles with better than Arty DPS and better than Arty projection.

Tracking and falloff are penalties.
They are not advantages. There is no advantage to fighting deep in falloff. It requires a lot more skills versus missiles and drones to make any turret based weapon system effective, especially in a game where kite meta is king. I'm not even going to get into debating tracking formulae here, because what works for projectiles also works for lasers and hybrids.

Slow reload times.
Lasers? 2 seconds once your cycle is over. Hybrids? 5 seconds. Projectiles? Good luck, buddy.
Arguably some flexibility could be regained if you even moved projectiles to a 7.5 second or 5 second reload cycle. After all, we got the 5 second Hybrid reload time because apparently it sucks as Galente when you begin to be kited by anything and are using Void, so you need to be able to relaod fast.

Isn't that kind of the problem faced by projectiles now? You might need to reload your EMP to Carb lead to deal with a kiter. Good luck, buddy, on waiting the ten seconds. Let's leave missiles at 10 seconds and give Minmatar the flexibility the Lore demands, let alone the meta demands. 

Limited or no damage choices.
It's EM or Explosive. Let's be honest. You are as locked to a damage choice with projectiles as you are with hybrids or lasers. There's literally no other choice.

Projectile ammo comes in many different flavours, and everything except EMP and Fusion are shit. The problem is that range tends to conflate with reduced DPS and an increase in thermal and kinetic content. This means that you can and often do take a double-whammy to effective DPS if you are daft enough to not load fusion or EMP. Secondly, because AC optimal is so short anyway, the EMP and Fusion penalties here are mostly irrelevant - you're choosing the damage based on your foe's weakest resist, not your range. You control your range, and choose EM for shields and Fusion for Amarr and Gallente ships. Job done.

Take a 425mm Rupture versus a bog standard Drake.
Range Ammo: 60% optimal, 5% tracking. 5.28 + 15.5km.
Carb lead. 8 Kinetic, 2 Explosive. Ruppy 149 DPS, Drake 112K EHP.
Nuclear. 2 kinetic, 8 Explosive. Ruppy 149DPS vs Drake 123K EHP.
Proton M. 6 EM, 4 Kinetic. Ruppy 149 DPS vs Drake 85K EHP.

Tracking Ammo: 20% Tracking Bonus. 3.3 + 15km.
Ti Sabot. 12 Kinetic, 4 Explosive. Ruppy 239DPS vs Drake 113K EHP.
Depleted Uranium.4 Kinetic, 6 Thermal, 6 Explosive. Ruppy 239 DPS vs Drake 104K EHP.

Short Range Ammo: 50% optimal Penalty. 1.65 + 15km. 
EMP. 18 EM, 2 Kinetic, 4 Explosive. Ruppy 358 DPS, Drake  82K EHP.
Fusion. 20 Explosive, 4 Kinetic. Ruppy 358 DPS, Drake 123K EHP.
Phased Plasma. 4 Kinetic, 20 Thermal. Ruppy 358 DPS vs Drake 91K EHP.

Now, not much surprise there that the EM damage ammo does the most DPS and the Drake resists it the worst. However, that also ignores the fact that a 50% optimal penalty on AC's with already terrible Optimals isn't much of a penalty.

Your choices are about nothing anyway. If you were going to, for instance, kite a Drake beyond HAM range with an AC Ruppy at 16km, your Proton ammo would have an effective 75 DPS, and your EM ammo an effective 175 DPS. it's doubtful you'd crack the Drake with Proton at 17km since it has a 155 HP/s tank. In fact, you couldn't crack it with proton at 6km. EMP at 17km might get it to crack eventually, but you are right on the bleeding edge of your end of falloff. Either way you can't go for the tracking ammo because at 17km your effective DPS is about 120 and recharge is 227.

Thus you can see that even using Fusion vs a Drake, you are better off than any other ammo type bar EMP and Phased plasma, at any range. Against armour ships with a nominal explosive hole, you are just as well served going with Fusion as you are with Nuclear, even accounting for falloff. Its the same percentage explosive damage and  140% more base damage. The same is true of EMP vs Mallers with a high EM resist - not that you get a long-range EM choice.

The ammo damage types need to be rethought. Projectiles need a long-range EM-heavy choice and a short-range Kinetic heavy "choice". Thus, arguably, Phased Plasma should be 50/50 EM-Thermal and move to a long-range ammo type, and Proton replace it as a short-range ammo with 60/40 Them-Kin.


  1. Doesn't seem like that long ago it was 'Hurricanes Online' and 'Winmatar'... CCP sure fixed that problem.

    1. Absolutely.

      It used to be Rifters everywhere because you only ever had 2 other PVP frigates available to you - the Incursus and the Punisher. The Rifter was taken to be the Gold Standard, and everything was balanced around that. This resulted in midslot proliferation, and then it became Condors everywhere. Then pirate frigs got a buff and it was all Slicers, Garmurs, Worms, etc. Then drones became efficient, so now you've got Tristans viable. But how does a Rifter combat a Condor? it can't, because arty is shit and PG bloaty. it can't defeata Tristan if it doesn't get a scram because tracking and drones.

      Actually, AAR's probably did in most Minmatar ships, thinking about it. Inconsistent low damage against AAR's is what you want - in deep falloff being scram-kited, most AAR ships can outlast a Rifter if not even tank it till it gets another reload off.

      The Ruppy used to be king of cruiser combat, but it is outshone by Thoraxes because Thoraxes are faster and gankier. It's absolutely amazing how much better even the humble Thorax is. The medium AC meta fell apart with drones and hybrid buffs. Can't outrun drones!

      I think that there is also a hell of a lot of archaic nostalgia in the playerbase about alphacanes still waiting in the wings. I demonstrated on the Munnin rebalance thread on F&I why alpha fleets are no longer competitive with ishtars - the drones get better ROF, equal apha and better DPS at range.

      It's going to need a lot of work to bring projectiles back from irrelevance, and it will also need a lot of work on the minmatar ships.

    2. Rather than buffing projectiles, how about making them fast again? I always thought it was their speed that made them so popular because it gave you that GTFO and range control ability that Amarr and Gallente used to lack, and Caldari have always lacked. [Generally speaking]

    3. Well, of course, the 2006-2009(10?) Winmatar dominance was based on the system of old, where speed went up from Caldar, Amarr, Gallente to Minmatar.

      nanogangs used to be a thing, where hordes of people in Cynabals + Huginns + Scimis used to kill hordes of numpties in Drake blobs by getting them to chase willy-nilly and drive headlong into the guns of the enemy.

      The problem in giving Minmatar more speed, as I keep saying, is the utter lack of damage projection. You can only do so much by kiting in falloff range and also within point range. un-bonused projectiles, un-buffed projectiles, at >10km, even with webs, are less effective than say Eagles and rail boats, Cerbs, ishtars, beam legions, etcetera.

      Think about it. You get a very narrow engagement envelope outside web range but inside point range, and you suffer tracking and falloff losses. i'll say it again, nano gangs require people to lemmings at you one by one in shitty ships. if they can stand off at great range themselves and direct efficient DPS onto your tank-light nano ships, you will get vaped. When's the last time you've seen a Cynabal nano gang? And when's the last time you've chased it? 2010?

      For small gang, solo brawling, yes, ideally minmatar should do well if they maintain their speed. But you've already got the vagabond and cynabal.

      kite meta will still favour sentry doctrines, even if gallente ships are slower. I mean, what are you intending to do? MWD after an ishtar, 100m/s faster, for 50km while being shot by the drones, in order to hard tackle it with scram and webs and then, finally, at the vinegar stroke, actually apply DPS? Against what's going to be an armour-fit ishtar with defensive webs, to boot? My the time you achieve your goal you could easily be cactus unless you have withering DPS - and that's what Gallente are good for.

      Fast AC ships are for ganking and brawling, but Gallente ships do that better anyway. c.f. Deimos vs anything.

      I agree CCP made a huge mistake making Gallente ships actually FASTER than minmatar. Significantly so. But if they didn't, blaster gank boats wouldn't work. But since they have to be fast or dead, now Minmatar's falloff kiting is fatal.

      The Svipul is so dominant in the T3D realm because of it's fitting latitude and ability to tank with ASB's, AAR's or whatever. Not because of projectiles. Also the absence of the hecate, thus far. Will be interesting to see how the hecate does as a rail boat spewing 250 DPS to 25km; the Svipul will likely die on the run in to scram range, and if not, fail to crack the hecate by kiting.

  2. Totaly offtopic but.. why does Bex not allow comments on his blog?


Anonymous shitposting is disabled. If you want to insult me anonymously about EVE on my blog, you can fuck off.