Monday, October 20, 2014

Tugging at the Edges

Another thing announced at EVE Vegas was a new ship code named a "Tug":
Then there was a new ship type announced, currently codenamed “Tug.”

This will be a freighter sized ship that will be used for carrying around multiple fitted sub cap ships. A mock up of the ship was shown.
While this currently has no value to me in any of my activities right now, its something I can definitely see a need for in the world of rigged vessels that can't be repackaged. I was always a fan of the Orca's ability to carry ships around high sec but bemoaned its limited ship maintenance array that, at 400k m3, couldn't even carry a single battleship. This new tug is a nice counterpart to freighters which can carry everything but assembled ships with ease.

Now I'm wondering what its defenses will be like (i.e. how vulnerable it is to suicide ganking and I hope the answer is about the same as a freighter) and whether a tech II jumping version is ever going to be available, because that is what would interest me and my low sec shenanigans.

I Feel This Justifies My Earlier Position

During EVE Vegas it was announced that new Tech 3 Destroyers are coming to the game:
Each of the empires will get their version of the end result in the order in which they place… and what they are getting is Tech 3 Tactical destroyers.

Tech 3 Destroyers
The Amarr should get theirs as part of the Rhea expansion, which other races getting theirs with following expansion. There were even some mock-ups of potential models for the Amarr tactical destroyers shown.

Amarr tactical concepts
 I find it very interesting that these new ships are not using the Subsystem mechanic. I feel it justifies a position I took in a blog post two years ago titled "Strategic Cruisers are a Failure":
But the concept itself failed.
The concept is simple: you can pick what role / bonuses / slot layout your ship has AND you can change it whenever you want. The first part is part of the reason the ships are so ubiquitous but the second part has pretty much failed miserably. Most of the time, you use a tool like EFT or Pyfa to determine what setup you want for your Strat Cruiser including the 5 subsystems you want, and then you buy that setup, put it together, and most likely never change it again.

If you want a Strategic Cruiser for a different role, e.g. a probing cloaky ship instead or your sanctum running missile spammer, you are more likely to simply buy an entire second ship rather than just the mods to switch your current ship. My hanger, for example, has three Strategic cruisers in it: one for PvE, one for cloaky probing, and one for pure gank PvP.
Although a few commenters disagreed with me I have seen nothing in the past two years since I wrote the piece that convinces me I was wrong. And now with the new Tech 3 Destroyers ignoring the concept of subsystems entirely for a new mechanic, I feel vindicated in my opinion. Consider this: all the development effort to create the subsystem mechanic and support it since Apocrypha was disregarded for a new mechanic (or borrowed mechanic from siege mode, triage mode, etc) even though they are both Tech 3 ships. The only two Tech 3 things in the game, and they don't share the same mechanic that makes them special. Very telling.

All that being said, I'm super excited for these new ships and the gameplay they promise. More decisions to be made on the fly in the heat of battle? Excellent! More juicy targets trolling the space lanes of low sec? Sign me up.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cross Training Dreadnoughts

Aideron Robotics is heavily focused on armour tanking at all doctrine sizes, from frigate to capital.

I recently cross trained into a Thanatos carrier and purchased one from Project Vulcan, and then proceeded to invest in the skill book for a Gallente Dreadnought, the fearsome Moros.

I've got the skills to fly and fit one excepting the Tech II version of the Siege Module. For all the skills to V that I want I have 153 days to go!

Capital Repair Systems V (32 days, 1 hour, 50 minutes, 42 seconds)
Capital Hybrid Turret IV ((none))
Gallente Dreadnought III (1 day, 10 hours, 48 minutes, 8 seconds)
Gallente Dreadnought IV (8 days, 17 hours, 53 minutes, 12 seconds)
Tactical Weapon Reconfiguration V (32 days, 23 hours, 31 minutes, 51 seconds)
Gallente Dreadnought V (49 days, 11 hours, 17 minutes, 46 seconds)
Capital Hybrid Turret V (28 days, 20 hours, 35 minutes, 22 seconds)

Of course, most of that is for the three level V skills at the end so more like 2.5 months to be acceptable levels. 

Ah EVE, you heartless monster.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Am Secretly CCP Fozzie

OK, that title is not true but somedays it feels like he is stealing ideas from my head!

Check out the latest dev post about Stealth Bombers and this tidbit here:

New Anti-Capital Void Bomb:
This is the first toe dipped in the water for smaller AoE (and therefore more aiming required) dumb weapons, which we think have a lot of potential in the future. It's a void bomb with the following stats:
Armor HP: 600
Explosion Radius: 4000
Energy Neut Amount: 15,000
Flight Time: 15s
Velocity: 2000m/s
AoE Range: One Meter
This thing is most useful against very large ships, and has to detonate right on top of a target to have any effect. We don't expect it to take the world by storm but it should be a very good option for harassing capitals, especially with small numbers of bombers.
And now compare that to an idea I posted about in March of 2013:
5) Super Void Bombs
Currently Void bombs take away 1800 GJ of capacitor. Considering a Wyvern starts with 63750 GJ this weapon is nothing more than a light show. Change them to a percentage of cap neutralized, say... 75%? This would be crippling to cap fleets and subcap fleets and would be a viable weapon to countering them without taking much effort.
Now I realize that my posted idea is different from CCP Fozzie's idea but the end result is the same: an anti-capital weapon that allows a young pilot in a stealth bomber affect a veteran pilot in a capital or super capital. Unfortunately, you still can't use bombs in low sec so I don't foresee adding a stealth bomber to my hanger any time soon. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Suddenly, Real Life Appears and Attacks You!

Between Thanksgiving travels all weekend, sick kid and a sick wife yesterday, and a conference for work today, I've been a little tied up and haven't been blogging or playing EVE.

I'll be back on our regular schedule tomorrow if all goes well.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The New Coming Reality

UPDATE: After I posted this there was this Dev Post update which bumps Jump Freighter range to 10 light years, completely obsoleting my musings about supplying Nennamailia. The hazards of running a blog.

This Great Jump Nerf of 2014 is the gift that keeps on giving. As the playerbase moves from resistance and/or shock at the coming change to acceptance we start to see people thinking about what the new reality is going to be.

For us in Aideron Robotics it means analyzing what the warzone will look like from the perspective of a capital projecting force, something we have been reluctant to commit to in the past due to the bigger players in low sec like Pandemic Legion, Shadow Cartel, Overload Everything, and others.

Fortunately, using DotLan maps is not out of the question! It turns out that if you use a supercarrier with Jump Drive Calibration set to 0 you get a range of exactly 5 light years! So I plugged in those values and took a look at what the neighbourhood of Fliet was like.

The bolded red squares and circles are low sec systems in range, squares for ones with stations.

The total is 43 low sec systems in range spread over 6 regions. Notably not in that list are other Gallente Militia strongholds Vlillier and Nennamailia. In fact, both of those are 3 jumps away from us! The warzone just got a lot bigger for capital operations.

Locally, its not surprising that Heydieles and Old Man Star are within range, but one jump gate more to Ladistier and you are out of range. As you can see from the image above, Fliet and its constellation are sort of in a gap between Gallente space and Caldari space, explaining the large coverage of regions it reaches. Let's look at Old Man Star's range:

Just two jumps from Fliet and the number of systems in range is still 43, but now limited down to 4 regions and in Black Rise there are just two regions at the limit in range. Expanses between regions will be very important going forward all over the place. Gallente regions are very dense, look at what the Gallente stronghold of Nennamailia in Black Rise has in 5 light year range:

Just 22 systems in range and only in Black Rise and Placid regions, and more importantly the only low sec system in range with a station and connection to contiguous high sec is Kinakka, a system frequented by all manner of hostile forces.

In other words, while a jump freighter with supplies destined for Nennamailia can jump from high sec to the system safely enough, getting out back to high sec involves running the gauntlet through stationless and frequently contested Akidagi next door, or jumping to pirate infested Kinakka and getting to high sec there.

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
- Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

The war is going to be very interesting when this change goes live.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Twitter Straw Poll on Jump Changes

There was a straw poll created and exposed on twitter yesterday and I kept a close eye on the results. The question and results as of this morning were: 
What's your opinion of the upcoming power projection changes in Phoebe?

Out of 819 votes, 66% were in favour and 21% were against the proposed changes. I realize this is hardly a scientific result but I think it can be indicative of much there is a split in the playerbase over these changes but how the majority supports it.

I've read and listened to a lot of discussion and most of the opposition to the changes comes from the jump fatigue mechanic which can quickly render a jump capable character inert for days, and to a lesser extent the jump range changes which really hit the carriers hard, taking their max jump range from around 14.6 light years to 5.

The problem is that currently capital ships present a tactical and strategic problem.

By tactical I mean the ability of a capital (i.e. carrier, dreadnought, supercarrier, and titan) to impact an engagement anywhere in its jump range (or bridge range for the titan jump bridges) in a large degree with defensive and offensive capabilities a magnitude above sub-cap vessels.

By strategic I refer to the ability of a capital to go anywhere in the cluster in a negligible time frame using suicide-pod-jumping cyno alts(1), massive range, and virtually instantaneous travel.

So CCP is faced with a double edged sword: tactically capitals are powerful due to their range and power (i.e. tank and gank); strategically they are powerful due to their ability to use jumping many times over a short period of time. Both combined create an umbrella of coverage where the only way to attack that area is to be too small to hotdrop or have your own capital threat in reserves. Thus we get the current situation in null sec: groups can easily defend home turf and travel halfway across the cluster for a fight or extended deployment.

Can one be nerfed and the other left alone? Well, let's look at two use cases, the first where the jump fatigue is thrown out or mitigated to not be a factor while we keep the range nerf, and the second where we leave ranges alone and keep the jump fatigue timers. In both cases we keep the nerf to suicide pod jumping for cyno alts.

Range Nerf Only

By limiting all jump ranges to 5 light years, you have limited a large part of the tactical flexibility of capital ships of jumping on anything that moves within range in a surprise attack, but they are still able to cover large distances in a super short period of time but simply requiring more cyno alts and a bit more pre-planning of those alts' positions. In other words, they would still have lots of strategic significance over a large area for large periods of time.

Jump Fatigue Nerf Only

If you only introduce the jump fatigue mechanic, you limit the ultimate distance capital ships can travel in any reasonable period of time but still allow them tremendous influence on any battle within their jump range. Locally the capitals would still dominate the meta and not allow any cracks around the seams for smaller organizations to exist.

Therefore the conclusion I think CCP came to is that in order to disrupt null sec enough for it to matter, both nerfs had to happen to affect both local tactical flexibility and cluster wide strategic influence.

(1) - The mechanic where you set your medical clone to a distant station with med bay, self destruct yourself in your pod, and awake in the new station without requiring a jump clone or gate travel.

Monday, October 06, 2014

AAR: The Art of Exploding Gracefully

We were in a large Enyo fleet backed by Navitas logistics suppport and a number of ewar and tackle ships in support. Roaming the warzone looking for trouble, we finally found something of a challenge when a Razor fleet appeared in Muninns and Scythe/Scimitar support.

We decided to try and take the fight by setting up in a medium plex and letting them come to us. The plan was to primary the Scythes and then Scimitars while keeping the Muniin's tackled so they could not make range as much as possible. The Razor fleet warped into us and we put the plan in action, taking down two Scythes quickly. But then the Muninns got the range they needed and Enyos started popping in two volleys as the logi could not react fast enough.

Our DPS depleted rapidly and the Razor logistics started to hold and our fate was sealed as a Cal Mil fleet in Merlins warped in to join the fun. The order was given to warp off and we took that battle on the chin, 8 Enyos and a number of other ships lost to just two Scythes killed. Nicely done, Razor.

In hindsight our Enyo fleet doctrine is poorly matched against the arty Muninn doctrine, not enough raw EHP to survive the volleys long enough for significant reps to help. Our Rogue Squadron doctrine would have been better suited.

We reshipped into Vexors and Exequrors and went looking for trouble with Razor again but it appeared they were content with spanking us once and had docked up. I logged off as it looked like the action was over for the night but I got told this morning our fleet ran into a Cal Mil 20 minuts after I logged off and had an awesome winning fight including killing a Loki, Vulture, and Sleipnir. Dammit!
I miss all the fun.

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