Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Looking Into The Crystal Ball - Tiericide to Cruisers and Beyond

The ship overhaul that is going on right now (calling it a balancing is a vast understatement) is doing more to revitalized low sec PvP than anything I've seen in a while with the notable exception of the Ancillary Shield Boosters.

Whereas before you could count on one hand the number of combat frigates you could expect to face (mostly Rifters, a few Merlins and Incursi, a few faction frigs), the spread of types is much larger and now is starting to include things like Tormentors, Condors, Atrons, etc. The excitement for the changes to the Kestrel, Tristan, and Breacher is palpable. With dev posts highlighting how the remaining frigates are going to be specialized for logistics and exploration with improved capabilities, we can finally see how the line up of frigates for each race will fall out.

- Two main combat frigs with each one highlighting a different aspect of the factions combat philosophy :  Merlin(hybrids)/Kestrel(missiles), Punisher(lasers and tank)/Tormentor(lasers and cap usage), Incursus(hybrids)/Tristan(drones), Rifter(projectiles)/Breacher(missiles)

- Attack frigate with bonus to tackling : Condor, Atron, Executioner, Slasher

- Exploration frigate with bonuses to exploration mods like salvagers, code breakers, and analyzers : Heron, Probe, Magnate, Imicus

- Electronic attack frigates with bonuses to the racial ewar : Griffin (ECM), Crucifer (tracking disruptors), Maulus (sensor damps), Vigil (target painters)

- Logistics Frigate with bonus to racial repair mods : Bantam (shields), Navitas (armour), Inquisitor (armour), Burst (sheilds)

With these changes we get and idea for how the tiericide is being performed: more mod slots and fitting for previously low tiers ships, role bonuses to specialize them, and in some cases complete role reversals (such as the mining frigs becoming logi frigs). This gives us some ability to speculate what tiericide to the cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships will look like.

Cruisers

If any set of tech I ships was setup with specialization in mind over tiers, it was the cruisers. Each race has four cruisers and they are broken into two combat ships, one logistics ship, and one electronic warfare ship. I suspect the tiericide will simply look like giving the lower tier ships a bit more fitting in terms of slots and power grid and CPU to allow more variation, and the combat ships will be balanced to some of the less popular ones more desirable like they did/are doing with the combat frigates.

Battlecruisers

Overall the three battlecruisers of each race are pretty well balanced, with each one bringing something different to the table for each faction. The Cyclone is the active tanker compared to the Hurricane ganker; the Brutix is a blaster boat to the Myrmidon drones; Ferox hybrids to Drake missiles. For the Amarr, the Prophecy and Harbinger both are laser ships so there might be some bonus changes there along with some module and fitting changes that I expect all of the tier 1 battlecruisers to receive. The tier 3 battlecruiser being very new already have a very defined role and balance so I don't think we'll see any changes to them.

Battleships

Ah, here we get to the class that could potentially experience the most overhaul. For one thing, there is a huge step in capabilities (modules, fitting stats, damage potential, tanking potential, and price) between tier 1 and tier 2 and then again to tier 3 battleships. Also, there is a lot of role overlap. Take for example the Amarr where all three battleships are laser combat ships. To be fair, for battleships the issues are primarily tank versus damage versus range but with true sniping battleship fleets a rarity these days, and many ships able to take on the sniping role with a few tracking computers/enhancers, we may want to explore vastly different roles and designs for the ships.

Yeah, I'm going out on a limb here and putting on my game designer hat, but I can do what I want: that's what blogs are for.

The first question is if we want to introduce true roles to the battleship line. The Scorpion is a huge outlier in the 12 ships in that it has bonuses to the racial electronic warfare modules. I think this should be expanded into the other three factions.

The next question is if we want to have two combat ships, one exemplifying the two combat philosophies of each race, or if we want to have one better suited to short ranged combat and one better for long range combat, or even if we want to get radical and have one combat ship and one logistics/exploration combat ship. Personally I think a combination of the first two suggestions is highly likely to mirror the other smaller ship classes, but I'm hoping CCP is thinking about adding a fourth battleship to fill the large logistics hole between cruiser and carrier.

With the Scorpion as the starting point, I figure the other three electronic warfare battleships will be the:
- Dominix : losing hybrid capabilities but retaining drone bonuses and getting remote sensor damper bonuses and another mid slot or two, maybe losing a low or high slot in exchange
- Armageddon : losing all laser bonuses and getting a drone bonus, bigger drone bay, and a tracking disruptor bonus or two
- Typhoon : losing the missile bonus and getting a target painter bonus or two.

I also expect all three ships to get improvements to move the out of the tier 1 ghetto: more fitting, extra slots.

For the two combat ships, the Rokh and the Raven provide nice models to work off of: one combat ship for each weapon philosophy. Also the first combat ship would represent tank and gank, while the second would represent gank and range.

For the Tank and Gankers the Rokh, Maelstrom, Hyperion and Abaddon all work really well in various situation and need very little changes. I would probably consider changing the bonus on the Rokh from range to damage so that it at least can match the Naga battlecruiser, but it is livable with the optimal range bonus.

For the Gank and Range role, a few changes are required to make them workable and distinct from the other combat ships. I would change the:
- Tempest to a missile ship (and I know a thousand Minmatar pilots just grabbed their weapons to come find me) and both it and the Raven would get damage/rate of fire bonuses to missiles and a velocity bonus.
- Apocalypse more capacitor and change its cap use bonus for lasers into a damage bonus.
- Megathron I would consider exchanging its tracking bonus for an optimal range bonus but since this type of bonus is non-existent for other Gallente ships I would consider leaving it alone but I would drop the drone bandwidth to 100 or 75 mbit/sec.

I just re-read that paragraph, and it strikes me as pretty silly to suggest totally revamping the Tempest while only toying with the Mega. So let's propose that the Mega gets totally revamped as a drone boat with capabilities like the current Dominix and take the new ewar Dominix and downgrade its drone abilities. Yeah, that is much more inline with my overall tiericide ideas even if it will make a lot of Gallente pilots unhappy.

* * * * *

So those are my combined predictions and suggestions, predictions for the cruisers and battlecruisers, and ship design suggestions for the battleships.

10 comments:

  1. What about the Navy versions...? If you look backwards from them and their design philosophy as improvement to the basic version, that kind of pins them both into place.

    Or at least I would hope so.... I love my boat just the way she is.

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  2. I considered revamping them but the Scorpion and its Navy version gave me pause. CCP has already demonstrated with that ship that they don't mind abandoning a tech 1 ships design philosophy for the Navy version (even keeping the obscene number of mid slots the Scorpion would use for ECM). SO I felt safe in ignoring them during my tiericide exercise.

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  3. I'm not sure how I feel about the gank+range and gank+tank 'specializations' of battleships. Especially with the caldari varieties, I can't see the raven ever being used for range combat in a fleet setting. Just because :cruise missiles:. Also, I'm a big fan of the differentiation between caldari and gallente hybrids with range vs damage bonuses.

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  4. In manner of an old Pace commercial:

    Missile Tempest? Get a rope...

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  5. Almost no one has any reason to fly a Hyperion, it needs some work.

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  6. I spent some time thinking about the Hyperion and how to make it work, but nothing I could come up with was more decent than how it is as long as active armour tanking uses the current mechanics.

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  7. Omg, get a rope, leave the geddon as it is lol

    Z

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  8. You messed up big time dropping the missiles from the typhoon as you'll note that the vigil is a missile boat so instead of messing with the tempest drop the guns instead of the missiles and use the phoon like people usually use it.

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  9. I'm surprised that you think battleships are where tiericide will be felt the most - I actually think that of all the classes, battleships are one of the few instances where the lower tier ships have actually remained just as viable as their higher tier counterparts.

    Personally I don't think radical changes are necessary or eve a particularly good idea - the BS already fit quite will into specific categories, they just need some tweaks (plus some HP/fitting buffs for the lower tiers).

    I see them fitting together something like this:

    - Combat BS (slow, with tank and gank): Abaddon, Maelstrom, Raven, Hyperion
    - Combat BS w/ alternative weapons: Dominix, Rokh, Typhoon
    - Attack BS (fast, high damage output, less tank): Armageddon, Tempest, Megathron
    - Support BS (EWAR or other support roles): Scorpion

    The only ship that's missing from that list is the Apoc - it's the only battleship that I think it genuinely overshadowed by anything right now. Maybe repurpose it as another support battleship (neuting maybe? it's already used for it), and you're good to go.

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  10. I anticipate the Tempest having guns, and Typhoon going all missile + tp as you say. Anyway I expect this to be pretty prophetic and couldn't agree more, that's done some much to make this game feel brand new. But some things are sacred and the Tempest must be one, MOOOO

    Charlie "what have done with my 1400s" , I'd lie low for a while Kirith

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