Time for another edition of "Kirith Makes Wild Guesses About The Future!", this time based on the curretn information we have about Rubicon and what's on the test server.
1) Rise of the Assault Frigate - The warp speed changes are going to be a big boon to all small ships, that's for sure, and a huge detriment to larger vessels (we'll talk about that more in a sec), but the biggest benefactors are going to be Assault Frigates.They will still move incredibly fast compared to everything else. Look at this chart from the Eve Forums:
|Click for full size|
Assault frigates will be only 9 seconds behind interceptors over 100 AU and a full 33 seconds landing before cruisers. They are relatively cheap, have impressive firepower and resilience, can support large enough buffers and resistances to work with frigate sized logistics, and now sport incredible maneuverability. Its easy to see how a fleet with a core of Assault Frigs, a few interceptors for tackle, and a wing of tech I logistics could cover a lot of ground and take on a lot of targets. Expect to see them more often.
2) Decline of the Battlecruiser - The flip side to this change is how much slower the battecruisers and battleships are going to be. For the latter, its not a huge deal as battleships have a very specific role already (i.e. damage application and absorption) and being a bit slower on the warp is not going to hamper that role much, but for the former this is a big deal. No more will lone sniping Tornadoes or the occasional Talos roamer get away with camping gates and patrolling null sec so easily. A kitchen sink defense fleet with a few frigs in it can cut off escape routes and check planets faster than the Talos can get to top speed in warp, or an inty will be on a Tornado pilot before he spam deep scan twice. Think about that for a second: Interceptors will warp from 20 AU away and land in 12 seconds! You you're distracted for just ten seconds between when you can hit deep scan and when you do, you had better be aligned and going speed to enter warp.
3) Sisters of EVE ships will be Popular - But not as popular as you think, at least not the Astero. While its a nice frigate, and a good prober, it will probably be in the 50-60 million ISK range like most pirate frigates and thus more expensive than a Covert Ops frigate which probes better at skill level IV. Sure, the Astero has more combat capability to go along with that Covert Ops cloak and good exploration ability, but serious probing will still be the domain of the Covert Ops ship.
The Stratios, on the other hand, is interesting in that it is a cruiser that gets a probing bonus that no other non-frigate ship has (EDIT: Forgot about the Gnosis which also has a probing bonus). Combine that with decent combat DPS, flexibility from large drone bay and slot layout, and hacking bonus and you have a new class of ship for a new role of Science / Exploration vessel. Still, its going to be expensive, probably in the 120 million ISK range, so it won't see a lot of action in regular combat. And it still has less virus strength and probing strength than Covert Ops so it will not dethrone that class as the perfect hacking ship. I figure it will be seen but not common outside of high sec and wormhole space (because, say it with me, wormholers are weird).
4) Deployable Structures Will Be Everywhere - As I said last week, a lot depends on the implementation for these things. But assuming a good outcome on the details then I make the following prediction: these things will be everywhere simply because they are new and people WANT to put things in space. The supply depots will see the most use followed by the tractor tower for missions in high sec and PvE plexes everywhere. But the cyno jammer will see some use all over space where cynos are allowed and the siphon will infest moons all over too. I look forward to the inventive ways players put these last two to use. Hell, all four of them. Note: on the first day of Rubicon, change your overview settings to show them as they will most likely be unchecked :P
5) Marauder Use Will Increase, But Not Noticeably - Despite being a fan of the idea of mini-dreadnoughts, the expense will still put them out of reach for common usage, and most large organizations will simply jump from Attack Battlecruisers to dreadnoughts for structure bashes, jumping right over Marauders. They will see some increase in use, for example in missions where increased range and damage could be useful in some situations. But in PvP where battles are too fluid and Micro Jump Drives are too slow to be useful (
That's all for this round.