Friday, November 15, 2013

Rubicon: Dawn of a New Age

Back in 2007 and 2008, EVE was very, very different.

That was the height of the Nano Age, which had always existed in in EVE since the beginning but really came into its own as the cluster population expanded and aged, creating those with skills and resources to exploit it to its full.

Various attempts to combat the spread of "nano" ships had been tried and some stopgap measures worked, removing such things as Typhoon battleships moving faster than frigates, but the problem only spread throughout space until it was ubiquitous wherever you went.

In June 2008 I wrote about the problem:
Nano-ships are ships setup to achieve crazy-ass speed (that's a real technical term, half between "damn fast" and "ludicrous speed" on the Eve ship designer's scale) using Overdrive Injectors, Nanofibers, Inertial Stabilizers, Polycarbon Engine Housing rigs, Snake implants, and sometimes even gang mates with leadership bonuses. And of course, the Microwarp Drive. 
The nano setup works better on some ships than others but its a common setup and the source of extreme frustration for a lot of players. Due to game mechanics a nano ship is often nearly invulnerable to capture and most damage is negated by the extreme speed, and while their DPS is gimped in order to go so fast a gang of nano-ships can be quite deadly and nearly invincible. 
I used to be in the "nerf nanoships" camp but nowadays I'm on the fence on the issue since I'm more experienced and can see several strategies to deal with them at least some of the time but still feel they are very powerful even without some of the more expensive options. 
So I think CCP will probably do something to nerf nanoships. In my opinion, they need only to address one module to fix this problem: the Micro warp drive. 
The Microwarp drive gives at least a 500% boost to max velocity (550% for tech II, more for faction and deadspace versions) with a penalty to total capacitor and ship's signature when active. But despite these severe penalities, the benefit is such that many combat pilots insist that the MWD is a mandatory module on any PvP setup and not just for nanoships. 
The MWD essentially takes all the velocity improvements of other modules, rigs, implant, and gang bonuses and enhances them such that a ship with a base speed of 242 m/s (the Vagabond) can reach speeds of almost 6000 m/s with just Tech II modules and Tech I rigs. Even ships not built for speed like the Ishtar can get up to almost 4000 m/s without trying. Smaller ships like Interceptors easily get faster than that. 
The problem is not the speed though, its that all the weapon systems in the game seemed to have been designed with speeds less than a few km/sec in mind. And the only way to slow someone down, Statis Webifiers, have very short range and many ships simply can coast out of range of them due to the extreme speed they start at. (Minmatar Recons and Electronic Attack Ship having longer range webbers so are a rare exception.)
Did you read all that? Did you catch the part about Vagabonds going ~6000 m/s and Ishtars approaching 4000 m/s? These were also the days when micro warp drives were not turned off by warp scramblers so if you happned to get got by just one of the 90% speed reduction webbers you still moved faster than your base speed (i.e. 600 m/s for Vaga above) and you coasted out of range of it your speed immediately picked back up again. They were notoriously hard to catch. And the craziest thing was that larger ships could boost their speed more but having more slots to put overdrives, nanofibres, and polycarbon engine housing rigs so frigates generally were left by the wayside since they could not achieve the speeds the Vagas could.

While this was not the only ship/fleet type that one would see in the spacelanes of null and low sec, it dominated the meta to a large degree that was unhealthy for the game. Proponents of leaving things the way they were argued that there were counters to the nano ships, such as Minmatar recons with long range webbers and other nanoships, and they also argued that they had trained and paid a lot of ISK for deadspace gear and expensive implants to maximize their speed so why shouldn't they dominate and be hard to kill?

Those arguments were recognized as unhealthy for the long term of the game and CCP recognized the issue was creating an unbalanced environment that pushed all players who wanted to succeed to one style of gameplay, thus they decided to address it in the Great Nano Nerf of 2008, part of Quantum Rise:

- a vast rebalancing of base ship speeds and agilities
- all Micro Warp Drives limited to 500% speed boost
- webbers changed to 50-60% speed reduction from 90%
- warp scrambler deactivates micro warp drives
- modules affecting speed were changed to reduce non-stacking-penalty bonuses
- drugs, implants, and fleet bonuses were reduced that affect speed

The tears from this change were loud but limited to a small population of players who had the Ludicrous Speed ships, and the landscape of PvP changed dramatically overnight. Suddenly frigates were the fastest ships again. Suddenly pilots had to decide if they wanted a vulnerable-to-scram micro warp drive or more-durable afterburner because other pilots were choosing between short ranged but kills MWD scrambler versus long point.

So why the history lesson? Because of this dev blog: Warp Drive Active: Warp Acceleration Changes in EVE Online: Rubicon :

LUDICROUS SPEED!
Here's a comparison with the same two ships as they will warp post-Rubicon:


Observe that even though the interceptor's maximum warp speed has been reduced from 13.5 AU/s to 8 AU/s, it still manages to beat the cruiser to the finish line in less than half the time.
PUNCH IT!
The current design has the fulcrum set on T1 cruisers. If you're flying a T1 cruiser with no modifications to your warp speed then you will not notice any difference warping in Rubicon. Every ship that warps faster than a cruiser will see their acceleration increased (and therefore see significant reductions in overall time warping) and every ship larger than a cruiser will see their acceleration decreased (and therefore spend more time in warp). The small ships are being sped up by a larger degree than the big ships are being slowed down, so the average warp speed across the classes of ships is getting faster.
This change, more than any other since 2008, will change the landscape of PvP in low sec, null sec, and wormholes, mark my words. Combine it with the interceptor changes, deployable structure, and ongoing tiericide, it stands to reason that whatever PvP tactics, doctrines, and strategies you currently have will become obsolete on Nov 19th.

Brace yourself, a new age is dawning.

3 comments:

  1. Agreed. Been saying it since the change was first announced, this will impact every single comp, set-up, fit, and plan we've had and will fundamentally alter the landscape in ways we cannot predict. Having watched some of those 30AU Taranis set-up videos... wow. Things are gonna be different.

    And a lot quicker. Keep those fingers on your d-scan.

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  2. One thing to keep in mind is that some of videos that are circulating were made before the upper limit on deceleration were put in place and interceptor's warp speed was changed from 13.5 to 8 AU/s. They were decelerating at nearly the same speed they were accelerating at. With the speed change and deceleration limit in place, what was taking ~10s for a 30AU warp now takes 18. And even with implants, T2 rigs, etc, you still probably won't be getting any faster than a 10s warp for any appreciable distance. It's still a LOT faster than current speeds, but it's not quite as insane as what you see in some videos.

    It will certainly make for faster travelling. If you want to join up with a fleet 20j away, it might make sense to hop in a cov ops / inty, fly out to meet them, then reship there rather than bringing your ship along with you. I'm looking forward to inty roams. They'll have nearly as much mobility as blops gangs.

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  3. I think RvB Ganked already has a post-Rubicon Inty roam planned. They did one a month ago that was fairly successful. With the new changes, it's going to awesome. Imagine 5 or 6 inties crashing into a system and dispersing between belts, sites and plants. The odds of catching a PVEer or miner just went way up.

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