Thursday, March 20, 2014

Battleship Ecosystems

Previously I talked about the historical Downward Pressure on ship sizes in low sec through mechanics and balance changes, and then I looked at Battlecruisers and Battleships in their current incarnation and came to the conclusion that:
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. :(


  1. Over the last months I've been slowing but surely eating through my stash of BSs and I'm not replacing them. No point really.

    To be honest, I'm not sure I want to see more BS in Low Sec. While I enjoy flying them, the escalation that represents would be troubling long-term.

  2. What about having battleship-only plexes for FW? There are novice plexes for frigates so why not some that are restricted to larger classes of ship?

  3. Battleships are just fine the way they are right now. You have the Dominix, Armageddon, Typhoon and Raven that can either fit drones or RHML to melt smaller stuff. Battleships are too slow to roam with, and that's good. I don't think anyone wants to see Battlecruiser Online: Battleship Edition.

    The only problem with battleships in small gangs and solo is the lack of objectives. How do you get fights in Eve? You roam around trying to cover as many systems as possible to find a fight or you sit in a FW plex waiting for someone to bump into you. Battleships are too slow to roam, and can't enter anything but the mythical large plexes. What we need is the ability to go to a certain place and/or do a certain thing and have fights come to us. Increase the large plex spawrate, add some structures like ESSs and/or add "terrain" like a few static X/10 sites in random systems that small battleship gangs can fight over.

    I might be biased though, as battleships is my favorite class and I spend most of my time solo PVPing with a battleship in lowsec.

    TL;DR: battleships are fine, change Eve instead.

    -Tikktokk Tokkzikk

  4. Using the era of pre-Jutland to the 1960's as context, a cruiser was a small fraction of the weight, defensive capability, and firepower of a battleship. Under no circumstances would even a group of 3 or 4 cruisers engage in a firefight a battleship, and expect to live. (Shadow, yes, as the 2 British cruisers did with the Bismarck). The secondary weapon systems on most battleships was fair match match for most cruisers. (Iowa class has ten twin 5 inch gun turrets, 5 on each side, while a Cleveland class cruiser mounted four triple 6 inch turrets) But today, in the Eve world, any ship is supposed to be able to beat another one, in the circumstances are just right.

    Only way a Battleship gains it rightful place as a monster in the subcap world is if its stats are buffed hugely, or all other smaller ships are nerfed. And THAT is not going to happen.

  5. I have no doubt at this point that battleships will get their turn at tiericide. That'll mean ewar battleships for all, and perhaps even logi battleships.

    However, what would really shake up metas is to do as you say, allow for specifically down hitting, or up hitting fits. That means changing guns.

    To wit, take large electron, ion and neutron blasters cannons. Neutrons are the hardest to fit, offsetting tank (supposedly), have an extra kilometer of base range (20% more) over ions, 6% less tracking than ions, slow RoF, higher damage multiplier, and exactly the same signature resolution of 400m. That's just not enough distinction. So let's play "what if?".

    What if:
    -Ions had the greatest range of the three, but the stats were kept largely as they are now.
    -Electrons had their same range, tracking of .09 radians/s, a 250m sig res, a smaller damage multiplier.

    What are we doing there? Medium neutron blasters have a tracking of .12 radians/s, while current gen large electron blasters have a tracking of .06 radians/s, or 50% less. We're splitting the difference by going for .09 radians/s. In the same pairing, you have a 125m sig res and a 400m sig res. Not so much splitting the difference here, as giving the smallest battleship turret 50% of the chance to hit the same average group of targets.

    If a battleship fitted with such electrons went up against one fitted with ions, he'd be much more outgunned than he is today. The same battleship fitted with electrons, or say 250mm rails with similar adjustments made, would likely be a bit more intimidating to even fast moving cruisers without sig blooms. Middle gun fit battleships would have their same efficacy against MWD bloom cruisers/BCs that they have today.

    But why stop there? Neutrons, could also be truncated in range to be below ions, have their damage multipliers increased, but their sig resolutions swollen to 600m or more. Not so attractive shooting other battleships with them when your chance to miss a shot just went up 50%. Extra damage against MWDing BS and capital ships though? Yes, please.

    This can easily be extended to every tier of ship, although it would be quite the specialty to make 75mm rails and their peers the kings of nailing drones, pods, and interceptors.

    Other things we can do is to give tracking mids and lows reduction bonuses to signature resolutions on fitted guns.