Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tactical Flexibility of Supercarriers

With NCDOT living in low sec in Yong and with jump range of all of our operations here in CVA, their super capital fleet hangs a shadow over everything we do. It has led me to think a lot on the power of supercarriers and Titans and whether or not they lean to far to the overpowered side of the balance spectrum. There is certainly a lot of opinion in the community that this is so, but this is not a "Nerf Supercaps!" post. Instead I simply want to look at the current situation and discuss it.

First, let's look at the range of a supercarrier with Jump Drive Calibration IV based out of the Yong system.

As you can see, there is 153 valid destinations in range in eight regions, including most of Catch and Providence regions. All the supercarrier fleet in Yong needs is one alt with a cyno beacon and fuel to hotdrop anyone even though they are many many jumps away. This means that any small or lone capital operation in 153 systems has to be extra vigilant of any neutral or hostile coming through because NCDOT has a lot of supercarriers and it only takes a handful to obliterate a fleet of capital ships.

On top of that threat, we have their Titans and the jump portals to contend with. Fortunately, their range is not as long as that of supercarrriers.

Despite only have 3 light years less range (7 compared to 10 for the supercarriers) the number of systems that can be accessed is cut in half. Still, from Yong a good portion of the main targets, Providence and Catch, are still in range it is nowhere near as encompassing.

Nevertheless, those 74 systems have the double threat of being hotdropped by a supercarrier fleet and a conventional fleet from the Titan's jump bridge, making almost any significant operation fraught with peril. The best way to counter this threat would be to have your own supercapital fleet on standby, or setup some traps to bait these ships to their death. Unfortunately, this is difficult for small entities without extensive super capital resources.

This is exactly why cynosaural field jammed systems are in such high demand; it removes this threat and allows some measure of operations to occur.

So the question for the masses is this: do you feel that the current state of super capital tactical flexibility is acceptable?


  1. In terms of flexibility, I don't see range being a major issue when the area of operation is so small. Even if SC range was halved they could just move the supers to a pos in the middle of the region, leaving a couple titans to bridge subcaps.

  2. However, being closer to the targets would allow the enemy greater ability to know what's going on. I have intel channels for my current region, not three regions over.

  3. They use supercarriers to scout?

  4. Obviously not; sarcasm duly noted. :P

    I guess we fundamentally disagree that the "area of operation" of supercarriers is large or small. I think its massive, with ~150 systems in this case being within one second to reach.

    Regarding the intel channel point, I am trying to say that if the supercarriers were in the region (or immediately adjacent to) they were threatening, it would be less of a surprise when they hotdrop someone. Obviously a well prepared alliance has the enemy's supercap pilots on contact lists and knows when a lot of them are logged in, but I still find myself aghast at the engagement range of these ships.

  5. I'm slow like that :)

    It seems to me that there are a fairly small number of entities with meaningful supercapital fleets in the game, and you usually hear about it when they deploy to one place or another.

    On the other hand, although SC have the same range as a dread, which I'm used to thinking about as pretty small, we know that when tri are in cloud ring they can hit targets of opportunity in venal. That SC range might be excessive is an interesting thought, but since it's inconveniently short already I'm not going to rock the boat.

  6. I'm a bit of a noob where caps are concerned but don't you see a cynosaural beacon go up? I don't understand how you get hotdropped with one second's notice.

  7. *one* second is a slight exaggeration. If the cyno is at zero on your ships, it takes as long as jumping through a gate.

    So like, four seconds?

  8. Anonymous12:33 pm

    I'm in the camp that CCP has jump range, and therefore sphere of influence, totally backwards.

    My 500 dps/100k EHP Sin should be able to jump/bridge 14 light years.

    My 1000 dps/1MM EHP Thanatos should be able to jump 7 light years.

    A 10,000 dps/20MM(?) EHP Nyx should be able to jump 3 light years. Same for Titan jump/bridge ability.

    Eve tries to sell itself as the game where a 4 month old noob has the ability to easily kill the 5 year old vet. Sure, I've run across a few of those industrial alts mistakenly jumping into low sec too.

    The reality is that you now have 1300 SC pilots who can run around speed ganking regular caps and lol'ing as they log off while the 20 man support fleet wastes 15 minutes trying to chew through that buffer. So much for the somewhat even playing field.

    What % of Eve pilots are super cap pilots vs the rest of the population? That small a % of the population should not be allowed to control the rest.

    Extreme dps/tank should have its spere of influence limited.

  9. *kk not mm

    *35m ehp nyx

    About 0.75%

    Sounds like somebody runs black ops gangs. Turn that around for a minute though -- with a 14 au black ops bridge range hotdrops will increase a hundredfold; unlike using supers, which actually risks assets, bombers and recons are practically free.

    Fun fact -- killing a logged off nyx in 15 minutes would require 5 damage fit dreads, 12 normal dreads or 4 nyx. Add a few for the time it takes to form up.


    Quoth CCP Greyscale, "(The other thing about jump drives that potentially bears consideration is the immediacy of the jump, particularly as it relates to scouting. I've always been of the opinion that scouting, intel and pre-fight setup is an important part of EVE combat (when done properly), and being able to push a button and have a couple of previously-unscoutable carriers (or supercarriers or an entire titan-bridged fleet or whatever) appear on the scene rather bends that out of shape.)"

    Here's something I wrote related to that discussion, but never posted:

    I've spent the last couple of months FCing capitals 2-10 times a week.

    Greyscale is on the right track with requiring caps to 'spin up' over time in proportion to the distance of the jump. Ten seconds per lightyear is in the right ballpark, I think.

    I had been tinkering with the idea of limiting the cynos themselves instead: say you have to be out of warp, uncloaked, and under 10% maxV for at least 30 seconds before you can light. This is a somewhat more crude way to deal with hot-drops in general. Scaling the jump time with range brings in a great deal more depth for tactics.

    The size of space issue is a nice side benefit. But the truth is the way cap fleets are used has roughly the same issues that made the old AoE Titan DD "not fun". You see nothing, or you die.

    Two of the most powerful tools I have at my disposal to keep my cap fleet safe are Locator agents and the Address Book (I want folders back from the pawnshop by the way). Neither of which are in any way visible to the fleet. I just tell them when we can use caps, and when we can't. There's zero interaction. Most cap ops are either boring (hostiles not present), or a helpless loss (I fucked up intel and we got dropped on).

    Have you ever met one of those players that just can't handle intel at all? They warp in at all the wrong times and keep getting killed. They just can't assemble an image of the battlespace without seeing it first hand. Well not everyone is that bad, but it's not easy for the rest of us either.

    So, a few rules:
    * Being on grid is best.
    * Being in system is better than out of system.
    * Loading system and Fighting at the same time should be discouraged (for both side's benefit).
    * The more you can see how it happened, the more fun dying is (TF2's death cam is an awesome example of this btw).

    And a few additional comments on the above:

    * Turning off the 'suck in' effect (I still maintain it's a bug) of WD Bubbles lets you get on grid easier.
    * Allowing more flexible warp ranges (250+) and angles (not needing an off-angle bookmark) also gets you on grid easier.
    * Bigger grids (dunno where the technical side of this is) gives you more room to maneuver without reloading grid, so you spend more time looking at the enemy (good thing).
    * Local + UI revamp: Another pilot/ship can show up In Space, Local, Fleet Chat, Fleet Window, Overview, Directional Scanner, Probe Result, Target Icon... ugh. If you can merge just Overview, Local, and DirScan, that would be an epic win. There are a million half-decent ways to do it. But I think that merger is key.