Saturday, 24 October 2015

Capital rebalance at "er, um" stage

CCP dumped a load of aspirations on the table at EVE Vegas, with details-light presentations with the design goals and no hard facts. This is to be expected.

Further reading.

Dreads being tamed
Philosophically, CCP clearly wants to get away from the blap dread meta in high-class wormhole space. This is evidenced by the removal of EWAR immunity and the introduction of c. 2K DPS 'high-angle weapon' anti-subcap batteries for Dreads.

There's not generally a lot of use for blap dreads in k-space, but with the introduction of these Battleship sized anti-subcap guns, on face value this means that blap dreads are definitely gone. Instead, we will likely see dread blobs replacing carriers as the N+1 k-space meta; high EHP or stronk-rep Dreadnoughts with a mix of anti-Capital and anti-Subcap guns. Indeed, you can basically just replace the Slowcat carrier with Dreads lining up to blob with anti-subcap weapons.

Sure, 2K DPS is low, but it depends what the EHP and active tank can get to; if you are faced with deploying Battleships or Dreads and the Dreads are ten times tankier and do twice as much DPS you may find people willing to just blob with Dreads. To put this into context, a fully Skynet carrier can get to 3K DPS, so Dreads need to compete with that.

For escalations, it will be interesting to see if the quoted c. 2K DPS is true, and if so, whether it is sufficient to allow escalations. To say that there will be tears over this is an understatement. it is also worth noting that if the anti-subcap weapons are too weak, and the site completion is too slow, with reduced tank numbers it could prove to be impossible to solo escalate. This appears to be the intention, of course. There is nothing wrong with nerfing Krabbing and encouraging group PVE, but without effective triage on field, it might get too clunky to be viable.

For instance, if you need 2 Dreads to even crack the Sleepless Guardians, this means you fully dread-escalate at the start. This means you need twice the tank, which means that it limits your subcap support even further, requiring a FAX and web Loki. So now you've got 3 waves minimum, and there's few current setups which people use that start sites nearly fully escalated. If they do start a full escalation, it only works because of blapping the Guardians off the field before they cap everyone out. With no blapping, it could become a horrible quagmire experience.

So, we need to really await the numbers, but I definitely think that 2K DPS is probably a wee bit low for a 3.5B asset, even if it's meant to be an anti-structure or anti-capital asset.

Carriers becoming tactical
Of course, the other meta-killer is the lack of a Triage function on carriers and the removal of strong non-Triage reps from Carriers, both of which are blows directed at the current meta. However, this is a bigger blow being struck at nullsec capital users.

On the Slowcat side, the weakening of capital RR to nerf Slowcats is long overdue, and will definitely extinguish the N+1 meta of capital blobbing.

In wormholes, the removal of the Triage capability for carriers is kind of a moot point, because in at least small skirmishes (in terms of capital numbers, at least) very few examples of real Slowcat deployment spring to mind; some Russians in a C5 or C6 Pulsar were known to use half a dozen Chimeras in Slowcat configuration, but usually it's 1-3 or so Triage fit carriers supporting subcaps. Therefore, carriers will need to be replaced by the Force Auxilliary capital to keep the current meta going; Carriers will need to be rethought for use in w-space meta.

For instance, there currently isn't really a role developed for the tactical fighter squadron use in most w-space fights, because carrier pilots are deployed in a role now being taken by the FAX. Once you've built a FAX to handle triage reps on your subcaps, carriers are kind of flapping in the breeze tactically (except, of course, to escalate). It will be interesting to see how the fighter squadron usage applies to wormhole brawling.

Bigger ships, bigger battles
As I have been saying, capital combat definitely needs to move away from the cyno at zero, sit there and win or die stale meta which definitely favours armour capitals and blap Moros, and favours supercaps. It is encouraging, and exciting, to see capital class propulsion modules, but their utility is hanstrung by the simple act of cyoing in.

Propulstion modules are necessary if you are looking at the upcoming uses of carriers. Without effective Slowcat meta, and with great force projection via the new fighter squadrons, you really do want your carriers to be as far away from the action as possible. This is reinforced by the new Titan doomsdays, Hand of God and the as-yet undefined remote EWAR capabilities of Supercarriers. Indeed, a blob of carriers would be hideously exposed if they cyno in and sit in a blob - one DD or remote EWAR or AOE weapon and your whole capital fleet could be cactus.

I think the whole Cyno mechanism needs to be looked at. The act of cynoing in places all your eggs in one basket within a few kilometres of the beacon; in the new capital meta this could be quite fatal. However, to spread your assets out even with capital MWD's takes time, or innumerable cynos and cyno alts.

Without an ability to cyno in at ranges of dozens or hundreds of kilometres the capital meta could twist and distort in unhelpful directions, or another way of looking at it is that the possibilities of carrier tactical fighter use, doomsdays, super AOE EWAR will be poorly utilised in favour of just bringing blap dreads like upscaled buffer-gank brawlers.

So, I would suggest that capitals hitting a cyno be able to pick the range to the cyno that they land at, just like a warp-to effect. Maybe landing 70km off the cyno is your choice as a carrier pilot, or a long-range dread. Maybe you want to land at zero as a blaster-fit Moros, maybe you want to MWD off with your arty-fit Nag. It's definitely worth considering.

EWAR immunity and no hot refits
This is another contentious change, and another meta-buster.

This will affect Nestors in particular, which are going to need a significant revamp. The current meta for Nestors, at least in w-space, is to keep them close to the Dreads, with proper Triage support, and provide the Dreads and/or the Carriers with what amounts to a mobile depot on wheels that can't be RF'ed. With no refitting with combat timers, and expansion of hangars and ship fitting services to all capitals, the Nestor is going to struggle to justify its existence at all, let alone at near 1B for the hull.

The implications of combat timers preventing refits impact wormholers more than anyone else; the flexibility that Swaglfars in particular get from depots, Nestors or being close to a Carrier and refitting mid-combat cannot be underestimated. It basically makes the Swaglfar so powerful, and help the Moros flip from massive gank to actual tank within seconds.

I can't say that changing this is a bad thing; Dreads at the moment can be considered to basically have their max-gank capability and max-tank capability in force at the same time, unless you catch them wrongfooted with the depot, they get separated from their Carrier refits, or the pilot screws up and gets caught in max gank fit and can't refit for a while due to module cycling. Forcing Dreads into 'fit properly or die' isn't necessarily bad. I also think that the 30s combat timer is being overstated; few caps in w-space die in 30s, so you can wait this out.

Marauders are going to suffer, as are Rattlesnakes. But since most of these are just using depots to refit max stabs and escape, it's hardly a massive loss for PVP. Marauders will suffer in PVE, however, in C4's. Especially the Kronos, which really sucks and needs to hump its depot.

Removing EWAR immunity will be an interesting but possibly unneeded move. The key point is that Dreads in siege and the new FAX in triage sacrifice mobility for either great DPS and increased tank, or great RR. Being liable to TD's, MD's, damps and especially EWAR, even if greatly reduced, will reduce the value of triage/siege significantly.

Consider the poor Dread, with 2K DPS from battleship-sized guns. One Falcon will render it utterly useless if its scan resolution remains as absymally low as it is now; your lock time on a Falcon is in the range of 30-45s and the Falcon's jams cycle in 15s. You're going to get jammed and have to sit for 15s and then try to reacquire lock over a 30-45s interval and not get jammed. Falcons are going to ruin dreads (however, auto-targeting Rapid Cruise Citadel Launchers....might be a thing).

I think there's going to be a few back-downs from CCP. While just a vomitorium of cool ideas, the devil is going to be in the detail and the biggest issues surrounding the new capital game are going to come down, in my opinion, to cynos and Dreadnoughts. Without addressing cynos dumping everyone at zero, and without addressing dreads properly, there will just be dread blobs vs Slowcat blobs, or useless tactical gameplay that you cannot utilise due to being dumped in a blob and subjected to a DD.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The daftness of fitting capabilities

If I told you that I believed CCP had not balanced a single class of ships properly, you wouldn't be shocked. If I told you that, within some classes of ships, there are several complete lame ducks and several complete overpowered killdozers, you would be thinking "No shit, Sherlock." But this is the reality of EVE, and it is because of inherited over-complexity and lack of logical design, which CCP seems incapable of stamping out.

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;
  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. The Garmur is just fucking OP as fuck. 
  4. The Slicer is only held in check by the Garmur. 
  5. The Worm is OP as fuck, but soon to suffer a harsh nerfing. 
  6. The Tormentor is only 'suffering' due to the trickiness of flying a beam AAR version in competition to the Slicer. 
  7. 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. 
The problems compound when you consider the difficulty of balaning weapon capabilities (eg; higher DPS blaster gankishness and short range, versus artillery alpha and crap tracking) with weapon fitting demands.

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.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

New Frigates

The addition of Navy EWAR Frigates is an interesting addition to the already bloated options available to frig pilots. It will be interesting to see how these spread in use outside duelling on stations and FW plex fights, and get adopted in larger fleet situations and wormholes. It is difficult to see the Navy Griffin and Crucifier as fleet boats, although the Navy Maulus and fleet Vigil have some use.

Frigate wormholes are an area rife with possibilities, as the extreme size chokehold forces you to deploy scram boats against BS, and when it's a Rattlesnake there's not a great deal of survivability for scramming frigs. These Navy EWAR frigs promise some pretty nice niche abilities for frig hole gang use, and their optimisation for brawling should see us using them....assuming frig holes can be found. 

Navy Griffin
The new Navy Griffin is going to be, essentially, Shameboat III. It's an interesting concept, the ECM brawler, but it's very niche. I wouldn't expect it to become as glaringly horrible as a Falcon is, nor as widespread in us, because the Navy Griffin pilot will have some distinct problems in dealing with the drone meta which will reduce the utility of the ECM to a GTFO card if drone DPS is too great. But there will be some good opportunities for an ECM brawler to take out larger ships like battlecruisers and the like, as it can park itself in close orbit sig-tanking territory and work away at their tanks once it's neutralised the drones. I also expect this will become a very good solo dueller ship, for the few people with info links trained up.

Fleet Vigil
I think this is one of the more 'fleet' ships of this set of Navy EWAR frigates, and will be a very good anti-drone and anti-support platform. Even without links, it will be murderous for interceptors, with a decent whack of DPS (my estimate c. 150's with LML's), a decent enough tank, and almost class-leading mobility (only the vanilla Vigil will go faster). It also, somehow, has been given enough fittings to use LML's. I'm not convinced it is set up for being a great brawler fit, because although the web range is nice, you will be fast enough to use your webs to kite a foe even if they have a MWD on, so it's really just too risky to get within brawling range and much better to use your excessive mobility and long web and actual DPS to kite around. It's going to wipe the smile off a lot of Slicer faces, Garmurs etc, but suffer mildly against drone boats.

Navy Maulus
This will be very popular given the fact it is a long-point drone boat. it's kind of a mutant Tristan-Keres hybrid. The utility of a 3 point scram is interesting for catching DST's, Ventures and stab whores, so this will be popular in FW. Besides this, it is de riguer for long-point ships, with the only distinction versus a Keres being it has an actual tank and actual DPS. It won't be anything amazing to comprehend how this is going to be used; gate camps, gate camps, kitefags. The drone bandwidth and tracking also opens up possibilities for sentry drone meta, which you can do with Tristans already but not very well. Likewise, good-tracking Berserkers will be an interesting fillip worth exploring. Mutant mini-Ishtars?

Navy Crucifier
With the addition of Missile Disruptors, this will become a BC's worth nightmare (assuming you can clear drones). Get in close, with a TD/MD, and most large ships are going to be cactus. Especially HAM boats and turret BC's which lack webs. Besides that, you can already achieve the majority of this ship's role with an AB Sentinel or a normal Crucifier, so the only real benefit it has is the higher DPS over the bog standard Crucifier, and a little more tankiness over a Sentinel.

Against other frigates, it will be interesting to see if you can achieve superiority given that your TD/MD won't be effective beyond 13km; if you get kited at all and don't get scrams on the foe, you will be cactus. Slicers and Garmurs are going to have a field day against the slower Navy Crucifier, and it is going to really want to avoid dedicated drone boats like Tristans.

T2 Logi Frigates
No deets yet, but in general the advent of T2 logi frigs is well overdue for frig hole gang use, and in frig gangs in general. Harpy-Burst fleets in nullsec will obviously be getting a buff with the introduction of T2 logi frigates.

The real question is going to be whether they get a range bonus, a tank buff (sorely needed, especially if they cost 15-25M), or repping buffs (arguable). The real key here is that falloff in RR is going to strongly impact frigate logis, where frigs face RLML ships everywhere and can't really afford falloff impacts given the short repping range.

I await the thread in F&I with bated breath. Tankier T2 logi frigs with 30-40km rep range and medium RR modules might be n the cards; that's just what a Confessor gang needs to become a PITA.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

is EVE Pay-to-Whine?

Oh. My. God. Becky - look at her butt.

I like big butts and i can not lie. other brutha's can't 50++ page threadnaught to deny.

I am in favour. I would prefer if they capped the ability to inject SP's at 5 to 5.5M SP's (ie, limit it to 4,999,999 SP's so that after you jam 500K SP's in you have 5,500,000), but I cannot see any moral or game design reason to do this and I cannot see any great game-breaking or "EVE is not pay-to-win" reason not to.


See previous post, about Struggle Street. Imagine if you could take your Mining Barge 5, and for the cost of US$15, convert that into Caldari Cruiser 5, or the pre-requisites for HAC skill, which then allows you to avoid a month worth of being literally unable to do anything in your chosen field of gaming?

Imagine starting out in EVE, with 450K SP's, and in two weeks you get recruited into a wormhole corp. Then you can either bang relics like a mad ferret for two weeks, earn a billion ISK or so, turn around and jam 500K SP's into your head. Repeat when you can. Within a few weeks you are 5M SP's and starting to git gud at a few things.

Or you double-down and toss US$90 at the game and bingo bango you're at 5M SP's with the character name you want, no fuss. You can then start doing whatever you want with a clean slate, and you've cannibalised 500K of TF's unwanted and unneeded Exhumer's 4 skill which he never goddamn uses. Or that research skillset he never uses because he's moved on from that mistake.

Seriously. Anything that can assist with a newbro getting what is really a tragically woeful level of skill in something cannot be a bad thing. If it takes SP's off bittervets and transfers them to noobs with wads of cash, so what?

It's not pay to win, it's pay to whine in EVE right now.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Struggle Street

So, you may remember how I up-honoured the Falcon a while back. I ended up recruiting the guy.

Statham Drien has been playing off and on for a few years, mostly doing hisec anoms and day trading. Due to his old corporation (mostly US/EU people) copping a war dec, he decided to try his hand at wormholes. First day on the job, honour Falcon, and loses Drake after having it for 2 hours. GG, TF.

However, not to be deterred, he's been picked upand set upon the righteus path of Holy DPS. He's been involved in a couple of ganks, some baiting, and we have started him out on doing C2 sites for ISK.

The problem is, his options with low skill in weapons (like....fuck all) and decent skill in drones, is the Gila. That's about it, really. His Drake does 130 DPS at the moment, and the Gila would do 539. I say this to illustrate two things.

Firstly, the Gila is OP as fuck. You can tell which cruisers are actually worth flying by their price on the market. Gilas are 270-290M ISk (a shade lower than the Rattlesnake), Stratios are 250-270, Orthrus are 240-260M. Vexor Navy Issues are 78M, most other navy Faction cruisers are 40-50M. This isn't just the vagaries of the market - this is collective wisdom of the Gestalt pricing these hulls based entirely o which ones are actually worth flying.

Secondly, there's been a lot made of the 450K SP starting skill point buff. Some people have brain damage when it comes to this issue - there is no issue! In fact, it should be more than 450K SP. It should be 1.5M. You should start out with all tier 1 skills at level 3, and have 1M SP's to spend on whatever you wish in order to specialise properly into whatever field you seek. It is no skin off my nose if someone gets 1.5M Sp's on day zero. It means they have the ability to buff a couple of skills to level 4, maybe go for cruiser 3 and medium gun skills in a Ruppy, or whatever.

I say this because Statham, with 15.5M SP's mostly spent in drones, mining, trading, is essentially a newbro starting out in wormholes on a DPS and tank path. He has absolutely fuck all skills in either, and he is only persisting because I can find him a role in the corporation (bait, EWAR frigate and cruiser). He can't even complete a C2 site without help.

Taking him as a typical newbro, you have to ask what is in it for people who want to start a game, make ISk, and dabble in PVP, when they literally cannot do it due to skills. Indeed, the reason for pushing for even MORE skills for newbros is to level off that initial training hump even more, open up options and most crucially, give players real options.

Finally, going back to the cruiser hull prices, the inability for even battlecruisers to compete at all with Gilas for PVE and PVP really drives home the barrier to entry of low-class wormholes. it is several weeks of training, and then you get into a Drake which still has atrocious DPS compared to other options. Forget a T1 cruiser, especially in the Gallente/Caldari lineup, if you want to do anything more challenging than a Level 3 mission (which pays nothing).

This is why ship balance is so crucial and why pathetic hulls like the Arbitrator and Osprey Navy need a strong lick of the buffing machine; severe imbalance drives people to train only one thing, because that's the ONLY sensible thing to train. In fact, it is the ONLY sensible thing to fly. The only skill in making it in EVE is knowing what to fly and not losing it before you can afford to pay it off.

For Statham and guys ike him, that comes down to luck more than anything. Sometimes the lucky Falcon swoops. Sometimes it doesn't and you get bored with playing a trading space game and being unable to progress with any ship because all the ships suck.

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Devil's Choice

CCP is proposing that remote assistance modules will be subject to falloff, like all other ranged modules bar gang assists and missiles are; turrets, EWAR, etc. all suffer from having an Optimal and a Falloff attribute.

To my mind, this is vital for addressing logistics over-proliferation in the metagame and doctrinal and fleet design of larger entities, and also equally vital in rebalancing them in terms of their effect on small gang combat.

The situation at the moment is that a Logistics cruiser has a range of 71.4km and projects perfect reps to the edge of its range. A typical 4/2 Guardian reps 285.6 armour hit points per second at 71.4km and a Basilisk reps 307.2 shield hit points per second at 71.4km. So two Guardians are 571.2 hp/s and 2 Basilisks are 614.4 hp/s as long as they are within range.

The smart thing to do, obviously, is to stay at least 38km away from an enemy, which is to whit, the range of Curse and Armageddon neuts. Add a few klicks if someone has splashed out on a Bhaalgorn. If you can achieve this, you have infinite capacitor and can even be beyond the range of drone attacks (typically 57km) which leaves your logis in a serene golden land of fucking up small gang combat and making T3 cruisers with their 80% plus resists incredibly strong (eg; ~3,000 EHP/s tank). I mean, i'm not going to mince my words, there are a lot of corps who won't take fights without their twin Guardians, beacuse it's not quite an I-win button but its pretty disastrously OP.

With falloff, you will have a devilish choice - stay comfortably at range and take up to a 50% hit to your EHP repping power for the benefit of neut immunity, lower risk of DPS and being in ECM falloff to enjoy less outages (and greater problems from damps)....or come in closer and rep more but take more damage, more neuting risk, more drone damage rik and greater ECM outage risk (but less damp problems).

This is not to say that intra-logi blob reps will be much affected, because logis will tend to blob up around a logi anchor, so their reps to and from each other will still be within optimal, and their cap transfers will most likely be unaffected by any falloff degradation.

There is still an argument that cap chains between massed logis (3/3 guards are a thing, you know) are too strong, which provides issues in busting them with neuts. I've been in situations where 3 Basis have held off 6 Ashimmu/Curses and stagnated 20 a side fights into bullshit territory. This definitely shows that cap chaining is far too strong, and falloff attributes on cap transfers are unlikely to affect anything because of logis anchoring on each other.

There is also an opportunity in introducing falloff and optimal to rework the hull bonuses of the Logistics cruisers to provide some differentiation between the tandem logis and the solo logis (Scimis and Oneiros). For example, the solo logis should get a bonus to Optimal on their repair modules so they rep to range better, but the tandem logis should get a bonus to Falloff.

  • If the range of the Large RR is 8.4km, and this splits 50/50 to 4.2 Optimal and 4.2 falloff, the current split would be 35.7km Optimal + 35.7 Falloff. 
  • However, if you make the hull bonus 75% per level bonus to Optimal and 225% bonus per level to falloff for the Guardian and basi, the final numbers would be 17.85 km Optimal + 53km falloff
  • The Scimi and Oneiros could have it the other way around, giving 53km Optimal + 18 falloff, which allows them to be more autonomous and differentiates them.

However, the addition of falloff will definitely cause disruption to the meta and break up some of the small fleet setups where you have 30%-40% logistics compositions and stupidity ensues. With falloff in reps, a logi blob will become more of its own organic micro-fleet component, sitting at range and having to make more of a nuanced choice as to exactly how far away they stay. If you can force them to range you are more likely to crack the enemy fleet's DPS component due to degrading their repping power.

Falloff does, however, make range-damping logistics counter-productive, as it forces them in closer and strengthens their repping power; that may be a ploy to drive them onto your neuts, but damps should be used surgically to break locks intermittently and not blanket the whole blob.

Of course, this may result in people just fielding more logistics, but right now that will be ludicrous. For example, I have seen NDORD run a 22 man armour Ishtar fleet where there were 12 Ishtars and 10 Guardians. Total gayflotilla behaviour, anyone would agree. No amount of falloff is going to make that a fleet anyone would want to fight or could fight. But I will take what i can get.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Upcoming changes to wormhole macro mining

oh, sorry, that was meant to say "it seems we are going to get a key bind for d-scan and not have to press the UI button".

Shameboat III

Sudden Buggery, and myself, very rarely use Falcons because in small gang combat they can be overly effective. Kinda like the Curse and Sentinel are threatening to be - overpowering EWAR which neutralises a foe and makes them sit there helplessly, dying.

Yeah, I know, very e-honour of us. Do we get a gold star?

Well, several weeks ago I caved in to my pecadillo for oddball fits that work in very specific situations and I tried to up-honour the Falcon by making it into a solo hunter. I made use of the fact the thing actually gets a hybrid bonus, packed on a buffer and a couple of ECM's. Not enough to be gay, you realise, but enough to provide some edge and utilise the other hull bonus. I was hoping that I hadn't over-niched the fit and it would actually be able to kill something mano-a-mano, like real gentlemen do.

So I've been dicking about in the mean time, trying to find something to kill. Too many Gila, too many Ishtar, too many Orthrus, too many pissy Imicus.

Then I saw a guy in a Drake running C2's, badly. He was an old toon, and a carebear, so I was thinking it was time to deploy the Shameboat III.

I was lining up to MWD bump him off a wormhole when he warped to a moon (like smart people do) so I followed him there, decloaked, got point and started chewing away. Now, ordinarily the 225 DPS of the Falcon would be nowhere near enough to bust peak recharge, so I had a gank boat lined up with TF, but by the time i was ready to warp in I saw actual progress on cracking it. Then he was at 30%, and suddenly it looked like I could pull off a solo kill.

This was obviously assisted by a complete lack of purger rigs or SPR's in his fit.

So, I have done my part to up-honour the Falcon. Mano-a-mano, if you can find a Drake that is fit badly for running C2's, you can solo him and bring great honour to space clan.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Win at all costs

There's a disturbance in the, wait, that's the SWOTR blog I don't keep. Ahem.

There's been a gush of shit out the aft porthole of the good ship Alliance Tournament XIII after acrimony between conniving accomplices raised the possibility that the two teams in the finals  - Camel Empire and Hydra Re-re-reloaded....soz, Warlords of the Deep - colluded to fix the result of the whole fucking giant waste of space pixels. CCP suspended the prizes and investigated, and then....boom.


Kadeshi Princess is banned 4 lyfe. Poor dude. Now he's on Failheap with an exposee on the lengths that Hydra re-re-loaded goes to in order to win the matches.

Wading through the wall of text, the strategy boils down to;
  1. Ruthlessly picking competent pilots who fly their roles rigidly and properly
  2. Long periods of theory-crafting and grinding Pyfa setups
  3. API scrapers and other methods of basically aggregating what should be inaccessible information on rival organisations' Singularity training camps
  4. Pacts for cross-training between two competing alliances, where peak-level pilots form teams and iteratively refine their fits, tactics and piloting methods
  5. Involvement at the highest level with employees of CCP 
  6. Running two teams in parallel
This shows the lengths that the winners in an Alliance Tournament will go to to bag a set of rare ship blueprints. It is far beyond what  any other team bar, perhaps, goons or PL will go to in order to reign supreme.

The bombshell is that this wasn't match fixing, this was basically one organisation fighting itself. It was Hydra basically hedging its bets that it could get one of the two teams into the finals of the tournament, although they probably didn't expect to win first and second. This is a level of collusion that CCP cannot easily contain - how do you prove that a random Alliance which started 2 years ago is a pet of another? I mean prove - not just listen to mutterings in dark forum corners.

The other bombshell is the allegations of people scraping API killmail CREST info from SiSi. It would appear that there's probably still some of this going on with teams accessing SiSi for training sessions; you thought you had a sekrit setup and training session on the test server, but then someone can run a script pulling CREST and can piece together your fits and reverse-engineer the gang you were flying and put that together during their own tests and come up with a counter.

The punishment handed out by CCP is rather weak. Kadeshi Princess (the IRL person and his various toons) has been banned from all AT's going forward. Bob Shaftoes has got a 1 year ban. none of the other team members have a ban. Apparently, according to the logic of CCP, none of the other players in those teams are up for a sanction beyond losing the prizesand having wasted all their efforts.

This is interesting, because it does not address the problem of fielding two teams under different banners in the same tourney. This can probably be expected to occur in the future as PL will consider it a pretty smart move going forward; you just feed some ISk and hulls and pilots into an alliance for a year, apply into the tournament and see how you go. You can even swap theorycraft learnings in your secret forum fastnesses out of the EVE IT infrastructure so you field two teams in parallel working off the same play-book, just with different people at the helm.

The real question going forward is whether or not there can be an Alliance Tournament with any integrity whatsoever, given the inability of people to covertly train on Sisi with ships, teams and setups.

It also shows maybe some obsessive crazy-level bullshit gameplay limits that most people don't want to aspire to. But props to KP for his ridiculous level of devotion to gaming EVE's tournament for e-peen, I can only show amazeballs levels of respect.

So, if you are planning to go in to AT XIV next year, it's prett clear what you need to do:
  1. Find an adversary of some kind to run mock AT training camps on Sisi with you, full-on, for 3-4 months before the tournament. 
  2. Hit the pyfa grinder and seriously devote a lot of time to theorycrafting (and feed even your crazy ideas into the sausage grinder on Sisi)
  3. Get your pilot skills up (what KP calls 'execution') 
  4. Get to know a Dev
  5. Put two teams in the tournament 
  6. Cheat like a ratbastard
May the worst man win.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Missile Disruptors

news just in: Rockets, HAMs and Torpedoes are dead. Or at least on death row.

Fozzie is at it again, teabagging the fuck out of everything. The ONLY sensible thing I have read in favor of Missile Disruptors is that it allows someone to rock-paper-scissors an enemy which overuses a doctrine like Cerbs, or allows you to hard counter an Orthrus.

But consider an Orthrus with a midslot slopping about; fit a MD in the spare mid and you can effectively assfuck anything with RLML's or HAMs, and be effectively immune to anything with HMLs. Forget Cruise and Torpedoes, and Rockets are a joke.

Truly, Fozzie is going to completely dunk missile boats which will reinforce the terrible trajectory of the meta towards Rattlers, Gilas, Orthrus and Ishtars.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Focus-pocus - T3Ds

CCP is beginning a process of reviewing ship classes for rebalance via involving hand-picked focus groups of (allegedly) expert pilots. First cab off the ranks is T3 Destroyers. I'm not going to bother attending for two reasons - one, it's going to be at a crazy hour; two, it's not like I'll get invited.

However, going out on a limb here, I'll assume that a few people who will attend will read my blog in the mean time, and toward this end I will lay out my thoughts on what is good, bad, ugly and unbalanced in the realms of T3 Destroyers.

Firstly, we have to address price. This being pegged to the price of nanoribbons and sleeper salvage in some fashion, it's hard to definitively state that it is too cheap or not too cheap, as prices will be rising a bit in line with ribbon prices, etcetera. So if you peg a T3D hull to a T3 cruiser hull, it's about 1/3rd. Add in the cost of subsystems and the skill point risk of Strategic Cruisers and it's actually about 10%. peg it to an Assault Frigate, which the T3D's utterly obsolete, and it's only twice as expensive - 45M hull vs 23M hull.

I see some room to move them up a bit on this. Maybe 60M hull, so another 30% in material consumption.

Sig Radius
I see the major issue with T3D's as being sig radius. They get a better reduction in sig radius than AF's in Defense mode - 33% vs 50% of MWD sig. Consider that the Confessor starts with a 40m sig and the Enyo with 37m. With MWD on, the Enyo jumps to 120, and a Defense mode Confessor jumps to 240m. The Confessor has more DPS, better resists, better rep power, more fitting latitude. Now, yes, it's a T3 ship and a better class of ship, and is in Defense mode...but there's nothing to recommend an AF to a T3D.

Sig radius balancing is probably needed irrespective of giving AF's a niche at all. For a start, T1 and T2 Destroyer sigs are too large and the class is too slow, so these need adjustment - a fact not lost on anyone who should be commenting in this focus group, but probably lost on those who will. So a comprehensive rebalance of T1, T2 and T3 destroyers is required, with the T1 and T2 getting lowered and T3's going up.

Base signature radius:
T1 = 62-72 ; T2 = 70-85 ; T3 = 50-77 (Prop mode) or 40 - 57 (defense). 

It is pretty clear that sig radius is an important distinction in making small ships tank better via shedding applied DPS. This means that regardless of any other factor, a T1 destroyer will always be a more bloaty, weak target compared to a frigate, an AF, a T3D or in fact a T1 cruiser. A T3D can have cruiser EHP, cruiser-level active tank, and frigate level sig. In combination this can be somewhat ridiculous, eg, gate-camping Svipuls whose sig is so low with boosts that they can survive gate guns.

This needs consideration; T1 and especially T2 dessies can drop down base sig and/or T3 destroyers rise in sig (ex-Defense mode) to the same level. It's a bit much that their Prop mode sig is lower than both T1 and T2, and then when they go to Defense mode it gets even better.

Oversized Propulsion
Most efforts by Fozzie et al. at balancing T3D's have revolved around fiddling fitting capacity (including removing hardpoints and readjusting weapon bonuses around that). i have previously made the point repeatedly that at the small end of the ship spectrum, there's only integers to play with in terms of making a fit possible or not, which then restricts the real sphere of what you can and cannot do with fitting capacity. ie; add one powergrid to a pool of 27, it's a lot more impactful than adding 10 to 270.

This mostly addresses the problem of 10MN AB T3D's, but as above, sig radius is a major synergising factor here. 10MN AB works best when you can get your sig very low, your speed up (links, implants) and do decent DPS at the 10-15km range (heated webs). T3D's with 10MN's even without links and implants have excessively low sig for their size, which causes a lot of problems for cruisers; even medium drones struggle to do damage to sig 30m, 700m/s targets. Forget about it with AC's at 10km (falloff), Hybrids, and HAMs, HML's. This means it's game on versus basically anything except an Orthrus, Caracal, Vigilant (90% webs suck), or anything you suspect may carry RLML's and/or webs etc.

Again, adjusting the non-Defence mode sig upwards to T1 destroyer levels, and then forcing the T3D into defence mode, will remove the 10MN AB's dominance.

DPS and Weapons
I don't see much problem with DPS, or weapons in particular. The Hecate has significant drawbacks in terms of sig radius and capacitor to hold it back from being an OTT killdozer gank boat. The Svipul has fine DPS, and the jackdaw has excellent flexibility with its 5s reload times. The Confessor gets Pulses, stronk buffer and minuscule sig, which altogether can see them become a struggle in large numbers.

The exceptions begin cropping up in Wolf-Rayets at C3+, where these ships just become a bit unhinged. This is an overall problem with the new W-R in general, and worth addressing separately. 

Pimped Stacked Tanking
Of all the T3D's the Svipul and to a lesser extent the Jackdaw provide opportunities for wildly excessive active shield tanks. There's few examples of AAR confessors or Hecates owning the shit out of a half dozen T1 cruisers, but it happens reasonably frequently with Svipuls. These are always in the order of 600M ISk boats with pills, implants, links and so on.

On the one hand the pilot invests this much they feel entitled to ridiculous feats. On the other hand, you shouldn't feel entitled to anything merely by paying wads of ISK. Therefore we have to excise the pilots of these ships, and their views of what constitutes 'balance', from the debate entirely due to self-interest.

Balancing around over-investment and adding links, pills, pimp and implants is tricky but that's not the point - the point is to investigate the law of diminishing returns. After all, pimp is getting cheaper, which brings this problem out of the realms of the very few into the realm of the average pilot. It's not that expensive, and the results are excessive.

This cannot be addressed head-on. Balancing can, as usual, probably be achieved by looking at sig radius. An extra 10% in sig radius doesn't hurt non-pimped ships vastly, but it can shave a good 70-100 DPS of active tank (in EHP/s terms) off the extreme pimp-link-pill-plant setups.

Additionally, it needs to be considered as a whole of system balancing pass; do we need to address the stacking of pinp + links + pills + implants at 100% stacking? Yes. Definitely. So it's not all the Svipul and jackdaw's problem alone, but it seems to be their problem due to non-penalised stacking of layered pimp. 

Mode Switch Cooldown
An option also exists to lengthen the cooldown of the mode switch from 10s to 15s or even 30s. It can also be restricted, like overheating, to only being done when uncloaked. No more jumping a gate and sitting with jump cloak and then switching to the mode you want depending on the situation. Likewise, it is worth considering locking it out during warps - how often do Svipuls and hecates jump gate in Prop mode, warp off in <3 seconds to a pounce, and then warp back down in Defense mode? All the time, right? This would restrict the ability of the ships to just flip-flop constantly, but risks making them less enjoyable to fly.

Ship Loss Cooldown
An idea presented to my by Johnny Twelvebore was that if T3 cruisers lose you skill points, maybe if youlose a T3D you cannot board another one for a period of time due to mumbo jumbo psychic pain, whatever lore reason you want. This introduces consequence and loss to what are, for some people, disposable ships. Alternatively, and more controversially, you could lose an implant (if you have any) if you lose your ship. That will make HG Crystals very risky to run in lowsec.

I think the Svipul is reasonable if the pimped shield fits are addressed, and sig radius goes up a notch into the 60-70 base range.

The Confessor is fine, with 10MN fits difficult to make work, but becomes a bit silly when linked up gangs of them supported by logi get deployed.

This is a problem child that needs a tweak, possibly a bit less DPS and keeping its current sig, and giving it a little more tank and a little less agility. It's far too agile.

Being, basically, a Corax that could, the Jackdaw is mostly balanced, if only because it has no capacitor to do anything.

So that's my 5c. I agree with Johnny that T3D's aren't far off being balanced in terms of their actual capabilities addressed separately from ISK cost; they could do with a bit of a cost adjustment upwards to be more expensive than T2 Destroyers and AF's. They aren't far off being in balance, and to my mind adjusting signature radius affects the problem areas; 10MN fits, overall tank numbers, sig tanking issues, and the Pimp Stack problem.

At the end of the day, yes it's a T3 ship. But they are so cheap, so potent, and so liable to escalating out of control that hey are in need of a bit of a love-tap from the nerf bat.

Thursday, 1 October 2015


A week ago one of my guys, because the corp has shrunk and people are doing things other than playing EVE (as we all know), was doing missions in hisec. Apparently, unbeknownst to him, doing missions in Osmon requires the permission, explicit or otherwise, of various war-dec space champions. Lacking said explicit or implicit permission, we copped a wardec.

It has all wardecs. Utterly pointless.

Except that we have infiltrated a wormhole where one of their guys, using an alt corp tower (or friendly corp, who knows), goes to fly his extremely flash ships around with retarded shitfits. We have been camping him for a while, but haven't been close enough to strike while Capt Boernl has been ratting. Connections and all that.

Anyway, we found our way in last night a few hours before downtime and we were waiting for him to do something stupid, staring at the POS where his Ishtar, Drake, Megathron and a PI hauling Iteron were all floating. Suddenly, without much warning, all the ships got flung out of the POS.

Thankfully we were able to dock our ships and fly pods in to steal them. What we got was quite the haul - an Ishtar with B-type repper, two B-type EANM's, faction DDA, faction Omni and a 50MN C-type MWD, T2 CCC's. Total value 1.26B ISK. Then there was the Megathron with T2 rigs, 5 mag Stabs, a nominal 500M.

With all the looting and the fact we were observed stealing the guy's ships, he holed up in his friend's POS and ignored our conversational overtures in Local.

We remain convinced that we will find a way to get the holes to line up for a shot at these idiots. So it's back to lurking and doing the sums on eviction. I wonder if anyone told his CEO and Alliance XO that he's effectively dunked 2B for us on this war?