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.

1 comment:

  1. "Philosophically, CCP clearly wants to get away from the blap dread meta in high-class wormhole space."

    I doubt they were even thinking of high-class wormhole space - it was just so much collateral damage. It was probably aimed more around the DPS/EHP for reinforcing citadels.


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