Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Commanding Attention

Command ships used to be divided into a "Field" and "Fleet" designation. The former was intended for front line combat with only marginal warfare linking ability and the latter was designed for pure warfare linking and marginal damage.

The end result was that the Field command ships were easily replaced by cheaper battlecruisers and cheaper/faster HACs and the Fleet Command ships only brought value to large enough fleets that only really occurred in null sec. That's not to say that some Command ships didn't see use; the tank and gank ability of the Sleipnir was legendary and the Astarte had some fans... but overall they were a dying breed.

On top of all of that, warfare linking strategic cruisers gave more bang for the linked buck while being harder to probe out and giving bigger bonuses. Doh!

CCP's response to this issue in the rebalancing initiative was threefold. First, they changed the bonuses that strategic cruisers got to 2% for warfare linking strength per level of racial defensive subsystem down from 5%. On the other side, Command ships all got a 3% bonus to warfare linking per level of Command Ships giving them the theoretical raw bonus advantage.

Secondly, in order to make all boosting ships more attractive, they balanced the warfare links and extended the bonuses each racial ship had. So Caldari ships give bonuses to Shield and Information warfare; Gallente has Skirmish and Armour warfare, etc.

Finally, they consolidated Fleet and Field into one hybrid class where they have impressive battlefield performance AND the ability to fit two warfare links without sacrificing their damage output.

So the verdict? Well, beyond some complaints about the homogenizing of the class and the continued emphasis on combat over support ships, I like these changes. If nothing else it makes them have obvious reasons for taking them in place of battlecruiser or HAC in normal combat. They are still massively expensive compared to other options but at least you are only trading off replacement cost and some mobility to get the  enhanced boosting capability. I'll have more to say on cost of HACs and Command Ships another day.

So let's look at a couple ships. First up is the Astarte since I have one in my hanger gathering dust and I want to see what I can do with it.

Boasting over 900 DPS with faction antimatter and drones (Void pushes it over 1000) along with a solid tank from the dual reps, this fit would be used in small gang skirmishes to bring the hammer on tough targets like bait battlecruisers and pesky Mallers and Vexors. And extra flight of light drones to deal with tacklers, and two links to make the gang that much harder.

Of course, local repair has issues and only really works with small numbers of opposing forces and this ship is no exception. And running everything, even with the cap booster running full tilt, is not going to last long.

For that matter, for the price a hard hitting Talos might do for a fraction of the cost, minus the boosts. So your mileage may vary.

I've always loved the Ferox hull and started as a hybrid pilot so I've always had a soft spot for the Vulture but damn me that thing sucked harder than a vacuum on "Remove Face" mode. So how does it fair with the changes plus the new railgun stats?

Right away you see its doing 578 DPS (all skills V of course) at optimal of 40 km (falloff 15km) with faction antimatter. Tracking is unsurprisingly low of course. More interesting is the 168km optimal (19.5 km falloff) with spike ammo and the tracking computer set to range for 335 DPS. Overwhelming? No, but not shabby.

Is it enough to make me want to try one out? No, not really. The massive tank is nice but it won't save you if the enemy lands right on top of you. The blaster version has nice range projection with null but really the Naga with large blasters and null has similar range anyways. Overall, I don't see prices of the Vulture spiking (HA! Pun unintended!) any time soon.

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