(... and the Punisher and the Tormentor.)
One of the nice things about faction warfare is the healthy spread of ships you see in a typical week, or even an average night. The nature of the plexes we fight over means that you and your opponents need to fly everything from cruisers to destroyers to tech I frigates, and then have some heavier ships on hand for bunker busting or POS/POCO bashes.
As a result you get to see a wide variety of ships flown by a wide variety and skill level of pilot, and over time you notice certain trends. I want to talk about the Tech I combat ships and the need for another pass of the balancing wand.
Each faction sport two combat frigates in which each one highlights the different weapon systems (except for the Amarr). For the Caldari and Gallente everything seems to be working as intended. For the former, the Merlin is a hard tanked brawler with blasters with the option of kiting with railguns while the Kestrel is a natural kiter with light missles and has the option of going in your face with rockets. For the latter, the Incursus is a personal favourite with blasters and an awesome active armour tank, and the Tristan has excellent engagement range with its bonused drones.
Things start to go downhill though as we get to the Minmatar. The Breacher has some followers due to its high speed and agility and missile weaponry; its very commonly seen with an Ancillary Shield Booster and a tough nut to catch and crack as a result. But the Rifter has gone from ubiquitous to mythical, its rare sightings being the cause, I suspect, of newbs who don't know better or veterans who hang on to nostalgia.
Things get worse as you go to Amarr. Already hamstrung with two combat ships that have extremely similar profiles in being 3-turret laser ships (the differentiating factor being the Punisher having bigger tank and the Tormentor doing more damage due to the extra small drones), they are further hampered by lacking a distinguishing feature to make them attractive in a frigate fight, i.e. not a lot of speed, not a lot of range, and not an overwhelming amount of tank. I can't even remember the last time I saw a Punisher in space, to be honest, and haven't seen a Tormentor in ages.
Next week I'm going to look at each of these three ships in detail and discuss some ideas of what needs to be done to bring them in line with the rest of the tech I frigates.