For a long time, amoung tech 1 frigates the Rifter was king. Sure, you could do some interesting things with Punishers, Incursi, and Merlins, but when it came to solid consistent performance the Rifter was heads and shoulders above the rest. Since CCP has decided to move away from tiers and balance ships on roles, these formerly tier 3 ships have been designated as each races combat attack ships and thus needed some tweaking to fit that role, excepting the Rifter which pretty much epitomized that role.
So the other three frigates were balanced around being competitive with the Rifter. I'm going to look at an old favourite, the Merlin, who received perhaps the largest shift as it had not only stat and layout changes, but an entire overhaul from its main role as sniping support to close range brawler. From the patch notes:
Merlin: changed role from sniper to close range brawler.Warning: due to the high-slot and launcher hard point removal on the Merlin, we highly recommend players to dock in a safe place or swap ships before release date.Tank and gank?! Yes please! These changes make me so happy because (a) sniping with frigate weapons is hard because of the shorter base ranges of frigate weapons and the smaller engagement envelope afforded by them, and (b) a split weapon system with a bonus to only one of them requires twice as much training for less effectiveness overall. With these changes the Merlin is a bit like an Incursus except with shields.
- New bonuses: 5% bonus to Small Hybrid Turret damage and 5% to shield resistances per level.
- Slot layout: 3 High, 4 Mid, 3 Low; 3 turrets and no launchers.
- Fittings: 40 PWG, 180 CPU
- Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 500 / 350 / 400
- Capacitor (amount / recharge rate / cap per second): 350 / 175 s / 2
- Mobility (max velocity / agility / mass / align time): 310 / 3.6 / 997000 / 3.36 s
- Drones (bandwidth / bay): 0 / 0
- Targeting (max targeting range / Scan Resolution / Max Locked targets): 50km / 580 / 5
- Sensor strength: 11 Gravimetric
- Signature radius: 39
I fit out a solo/small gang Merlin in Pyfa, going with big blasters and a over-sized shield extender to give a big buffer. Aim at target, engage MWD, slap scram and web on it, orbit close and fire until one of us is dead. I'm not sure if I want a Damage Control II in the third low slot or a second Magnetic Field Stabilizer II though. The former gives about 1500 effective hit points more, while the latter gives about 32 more damage per second. Decisions, decisions.
|With Damage Control|
|With 2nd Mag Stab|