Battleships need more abilities that other classes can't perform. Black Ops battleships and Mauraders are perfect examples of specialization in battleships that gives them more of a niche to operate in that is not crowded out by other classes of ships.This post will be exploring ideas about Battleships and modules to see if we can create a niche for them in low sec without crowding out the current meta.
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Last post I talked about the Micro Jump Drive which is a unique-to-battleship-class module which attempts to address some of the mobility issue that the big ships suffer from. There is also the Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher (aka RHML) module which is new in Rubicon for battleships, and like the Rapid Light Missile Launcher (aka RLML) for cruisers, it allows the battleship to use cruiser sized weapons at a battleship volumne of damage so that it can punch down a class. Much like a Caracal with the RLML can terrorize frigates, a Raven can threaten cruisers with a rack of RHML.
They are a start, but they are insufficient to carve a niche for them in low sec. What else can be done?
One approach is to increase their current offensive and defensive abilities even further. Since Cruiser hulls are the dominant vessel, make battleships even more capable of dealing with them in ways that other classes cannot. But this is just a form of power creep and would unbalance the scales too far to the battleships until low sec is dominated once again by the behemoths.
Another approach is to expand their abilities. Like the Scorpion and Armageddon, give the other battleships unique combat abilities to differentiate them from single aspect cruisers. Like the Nestor, a battleship with remote repping bonus. A Gallente sensor dampening battleship; a Minmatar battleship with webbing range bonus; and so forth. In other words, start expanding battleships from pure combat and bleed more over into the realm of recon and logistic cruisers. This has the advantage of not replacing Cruisers with super-heavy-hitters, but rather complimenting them for specific roles. I like this approach as it opens up gameplay decisions in a fight rather than limiting them, but it would require another huge rebalancing pass and concept change of the class that I suspect CCP will not go there again any time soon, especially since Battleships are seeing regular use in other area of the game.
So, one other approach: drop the price. Battleships are 3-4 times more expensive than battlecruisers and ~18 times more expensive than cruisers. So easiest path to getting more use for them in low sec would be to make them less expensive, at least by a quarter or even up to a half. While this would not expand roles for them in current low sec fleets, it would make it easier for pilots to opt for their increased tank and gank over a cruiser if the cost differential is less galling.
Failing that, there is one thing that could be done to at least give battleships a niche, albeit a small one, in low sec. We could make faction warfare complexes with acceleration gate restrictions that have a lower and upper limit mass, i.e perhaps the mythical Large faction warfare complex could allow battlecruisers and battleship (T1 and T2 and faction) classed vessels only (lore justification: too much energy in acceleration would rip apart smaller ships, but not enough to move a capital ship). This would give a "Big Ships Only" environment where using battleships is rewarded (i.e. capping the plex and getting the larger LP and system control reward) much like smaller plexes reward small ship usage. The reward would have to be significant enough to encourage pilots to jump in battleships and run the timer down instead of just ignoring it.
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In the end, CCP's best course of action for battleships in low sec may be to do nothing at all. As long as the class is healthy in other areas and seeing minor improvements through iteration balancing and new module introduction, perhaps that is sufficient for the health of the game.
But I miss cruising around in my Rokh. :(