Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall of the Sniper BS

For years the ship of the line in null sec was the Tech II fitted sniper battleship. This usually meant Megathrons, Apocalypses, and Tempests, and many null alliances were fine with Rokhs, Scoprions (back when ECM could be snipe range), and Maelstroms. Even just last spring in Paxton I had multiple battleships ready to go in the hanger for the fleets.

And slowly, it began to change. I first remember Pandemic Legion coming out with Armour HAC gangs supported by Guardian logistics, and the Paxton/CVA Panic Zealot fleets with a similar concept. I even remember a Goon fleet coming through in a Drake blob which we handily defeated with our battleship fleet.

Nowadays there are three fleets that a null sec alliance fields on a regular basis:

AHACs - armour based heavy assault cruisers, backed by considerable Guardian logistics, may include some tackle and recons. Typically fit with after burner and accompanied by command ships with sig reducing command links, the goal is to be as hard to target and hit as possible and to repair as quickly as possible if shot at. May also include remote ECCM to keep logistics from getting jammed.

Drake Army - Heavy Missile Drakes, lots of em, with Basilisk and Scimitar logistics support, shield command links. The goal is to be a tidal wave of bricks with great range (about 70 km IIRC) and decent damage.

Supercap Blob - The main weapon of choice for taking out starbases, sov structures, and disabling station services. Often accompanied by regular capitals, the core is the Supercarriers and Titans. Often the only counter for a decent sized fleet of these ships is another supercap blob, and these blobs can be dangerous to smaller sub-cap fleets due to the vast array of drones available to the carriers and supercarriers.

While there is still the occasional call for sniper battleships, it is about the frequency one hears calls for bomber fleets, assault frig gangs, and remote-rep battleship fleets.

Why has the sniper BS fleet suffered this fall from grace?

1) Probing Mechanics - quite simply, it is very easy for a prober to get a warp in on a battleship fleet in under 10 seconds, allowing bubbles to be deployed on the battleships and tackle to jump all over them followed by short range DPS ships like AHACs and Drakes. At those ranges the battleships can't track really well and they quickly get shredded.

2) Cost - A sniper battleship costs as much or more than an AHAC, and far more than a Drake.

3) Training - Tech II weapons are a huge hurdle to train for many pilots. Ironically, Cruiser V and medium weapons probably feels like intensive but is about the same time, however is useful for so many other ship types while Tech II battleship weapons are good on... battleships. Maybe Marauders someday. Drakes are incredibly easy to skill up for to a decent level.

4) Mobility - Cruisers and Battlecruisers align faster, use less jump bridge fuel, and have higher speeds. Every second can count.

5) More survivable - surprisingly, due to lower sig radius and not having to expend many slots for range boosting, AHACs and Drakes have equivalent or superior tanks to a fleet of sniper battleships.

6) Logistics - I mean in the actual movement of items and not the repair ship. Its easier to transport cruiser and battlecruiser hulls to the front lines than it is to move battleships. It may not mean much, but its something.

Does this mean that the sniper Battleship is going the way of the dinosaur? Perhaps. There are still use cases for a good battleship gang and FCs will try to counter enemy fleets with ideas and concepts that may include them, but for now the Sniper battleship will always be a second consideration to a good Armour HAC and Drake in my hanger.


  1. I have to wonder too if some of that is also due to the change of the Titan DD. With the previous AOE DD, if it was suspected a Titan might be deployed, you almost always had to bring ships capable of withstanding at least one hit. It just took a bit of time for people to adapt and stow away their trusty BS's.

  2. Damn, I knew I was forgetting something. Yes, add that to the list. :P

  3. I wonder if this same sort of discussion went on as cavalry charges were phased out in ww1. Our battlefields grow, evolve, and yet a few of us look at the old warhorses and sigh.

  4. Ah, the Battlecruiser of Glory fleets (read Drake fleet)... we used to take on fleets 1.5 times our size back in the BOZO days, and came out on top!

  5. Right on m8. You left out Snipe HACs, also a counter to SR/RR BS and other scrub fleets.

    Endless evolution. BS < aHACs < drake army (given sufficient numbers). Now people are experimenting with pulse Abaddons to counter drake army and complete the circle (drake army < pulse aba < ahac < drake army).

    One of the great things about Eve is its an ever evolving game of cat and mouse. Weapon buffs/nerfs, mechanics changes, new ships like T3s, all shake up the ant farm, but players have to figure it out too - its not spoon fed, which is a great, great thing.