Thursday, March 19, 2015

Capitalizing the Changes - Part 2

Yesterday I laid out the current situation facing combat capitals in the proposed FozzieSov sovereignty system. It can be summarized thus: the new system takes away the niche of structure grinding from capitals leaving them adrift in the changed meta.

So today I'm going to lay out my ideas for changing the four combat capital classes of ships to adapt to the new sovereignty mechanics as well as the new meta in low sec, wormhole space, and perhaps beyond.

WARNING: This post is not for the timid.


One of the most striking features of Tiericide for the sub-capital ship classes has been how the amorphous blob of ships of various power levels was transformed into ships with defined roles.

This has two benefits: first it prevents ships from being obsoleted by better ships with the same role but superior stats (i.e. the old tier method), and secondly it makes the ships easier to balance when they have a specific main role they are supposed to accomplish as opposed to jack-of-all-trades multi-role. There are downsides too, such as pigeon-holing ships to specific roles and limiting player inventiveness and counter-expectation fitting, but overall I think these concerns have proven to be insignificant and the health of the overall sub-capital meta is extremely good right now.

Capitals, on the other hand, with the notable exception of the Dreadnought, are multi-roled ship classes with many of them overlapping roles with other classes, especially in the direct damage department. For example, all four have considerable direct damage applications, every one except dreadnoughts can do warfare linking, and both carriers and super carriers have bonuses to logistical modules. Yes, there are marked differences between the classes and the exact best application for each varies, but the fact remains that its a muddled mess that is hard to balance and find appropriate roles for in light of a structure-grinding-less future.

With all that being said, onward to my ideas.


Let's start with the easiest and work our way to the hardest. Or another way to think of it, the least radical proposals to the most.

Dreadnought - this ship class needs no changes in my mind because it hits the sweet spot in several dimensions. It has a specific singular role and it does it exceptionally well, its not an insurmountable barrier to entry to any area of space, it has applications in null, low, and wormhole space. Even a blob of dreadnoughts does not guarantee success against all comers as the slow tracking weapons and lack of mobility limit their effectiveness on smaller targets. This ship class should be the starting point of any refactor and rebalance as an exemplar of capital ships done correctly.

Carrier - This one is a hard one because despite having many roles, the carrier class overall is in a decent place especially since drone assist has been identified as a problem and is being addressed. That being said, a class that is good at so many roles squeezes out other class from being in some of those roles. So in the end I think its time to break up the carrier's abilities to make the class more focused and leave room for another class to take over some of the roles.

Currently, a carrier can do a lot of things: Combat via fighters and drones; space healing via logistic modules and ship bonuses and Triage mode; moving ships and modules in the Ship and Fleet hangers; allowing in-space fitting changes via the Ship Maintenance Array; and most rarely providing warfare link boosting. In my experience, players first set out to get a carrier for its hangers to allow them to move their assets from base to base, and later on as the player becomes more of a  veteran than move to using carriers for combat roles, most usually in the uber-logistics triage mode supporting a fleet. Alternatively, experienced null players use fleets of carriers in remote repping mobs with hordes of drones as a powerful but slow moving combat fleet.

I'm proposing that carriers are rebalanced only for space combat and space healing roles and the other roles are removed. *Waits for uproar to die down* Yes, I realize that is a huge change but the jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-a-few is crowding out other ship class possibilities from flourishing or even existing. This means removing the role bonus for Warfare link modules (its mostly useless anyways) and removing the ship maintenance hanger/array and either removing the fleet hanger (with a boost to cargo bay size and/or fuel bay) or shrinking it.

Concurrent with this proposal, I think the cost of the carriers should drop by about 25%, a new capital class ship that has a Ship Hanger and jump drive should be introduced (kind of like a Jump Bowhead) for players to maintain the ability to move their stuff, and my super carrier changes coming up next are also implemented.

(I considered going even further and removing combat capability from carriers and making them pure capital sized logistics but I'm not sure that is completely necessary.)

Super Carrier - Ever since CCP turned these monsters from Motherships into Super Carriers they have suffered a series of nerfs: no more non-fighter drones, reduction in number of drones in space at once (with boost in Fighter Bomber damage to compensate), jump range reduction, jump fatigue... and now, one of the things they are still the best at, structure grinding, is going away under the Fozzie Sov system. Poor supers!

I think its time to acknowledge that we don't need another pure damage dealer on the capital scale between Dreadnoughts and Titans. Instead I think its time to take this beast back to its Mothership roots. I envision a ship that a fleet uses as a rally point in extended battles, a mobile defensive base where pilots can reship and regroup without having to put a POS in system.

To this end, I say that the class keeps the large ship hanger, maintenance array, and fleet hanger. It should keep its Fighters and Fighter Bombers, but lose the warfare links (there are better ships for that role) and the bonuses to remote repping modules. Instead give the ship a unique module (or cool Tactical Destroyer like mode shifting) where it can enter "Depot" mode which allows it to project a POS-like force field (20 km radius?) with boosted resists and lots of hitpoints. However, when in Depot mode the ship is immobile and cannot jump, and the cycle for the mode is 30 minutes long (i.e. short enough to not be a major time commitment and long enough to pose a serious risk). Also, while in Depot mode it can still use its fighter bombers and Remote ECM burst. I would think that there would be restrictions much like Deployable mobile structures about where it can be deployed to prevent exploits like activating it right next to a gate to make the gate effectively blockaded or on a station undock, etc, and I think the ship should not be able to receive remote reps or cap while in this mode.

I can see this class becoming a focal point for fights as fleets attempt to use it to resupply in a pitched battle and the opposing force moves to try and destroy them while they are locked in place.

"What happens if someone plops a fleet of these on grid together?" As long as the restrictions on where Depot mode can be activated includes "Not Within 30 km of another Depot Super Carrier" I don't see any issue. Its no worse, IMHO, then the current situation when someone jumps in a Super Carrier fleet except that their utility is currently lower under FozzieSov with fewer targets to grind.

Titan - Much like the Super Carriers, the Titan class has received a number of nerfs over the years as CCP realized that massed fleets of these ships were capable of widespread devastation with very little in the way of reasonable risk, the occasional Asakai or BR- battle notwithstanding. Today the class stands at a relatively decent position in comparison to carriers and super carriers, even under FozzieSov as its dual roles of  Line Breaker (with its Doomsday and large racks of capital weapons and damage bonus) and Jump Portal still have useful applications.

However, the Titan class presents a problem in that its roles are mutually exclusive (i.e. you can't be both a jump portal pig on the back line launching fleet of battleships or whatnot to battle AND a front line flagship breaking apart carriers and dreadnoughts) and the second role, that of jump portal platform, presents a significant advantage to forces that have that at their disposal compared to forces that do not have one at their disposal. This disparity is evident in null sec and low sec; in null sec alliances with Titans have more tactical flexibility to maneuvure their sub-cap fleets (prior to Phoebe they had a lot of tactical flexibility as well but that's been reduced), and in low sec the divide is even more marked as a corporation or alliance with even a single Titan can dominate a region of low sec against alliances without that asset. Black Ops Battleships with the Covert Jump Portal Generator does address some of this divide as its much easier to obtain a 1 billion Tech II battleship than it is a Titan, but since the power versus cost investment ratio of the ships you can send through the Covert Cyno is significantly lower, e.g. a fleet of battleships with tech 2 logistics versus a handful of Stealth Bombers and Recons.

To that end, I think its time to break the Titan class in two: the primary main class keeps the doomsday and capital weapons and bonuses but loses the jump portal, clone vat bay, warfare linking and bonus to fleet members. As a result, I think the cost of the Titan in this version as a Super Dreadnought should be dramatically lower. In conjunction, a new capital (not super cap) ship class is introduced which we'll call the Mothership class which will fit the clone vat bay and the jump portal generator. This will be more expensive than a dreadnought but less expensive than a Super Carrier, will be able to dock, and have virtually no offensive or defensive capabilities.

This smaller ship class would bridge (HAHA Pun intended!) the gap between the small-medium corporations that do not have anyone with access to a Titan and those that do, lowering the barrier of entry to hot-drop/counter-hot-drop gameplay and the interesting emerging outcomes that spawn from that facet of the game.

* * * * *

There you have it, my vision for capital ships in the post FozzieSov universe. Instead of four classes of ships with multiple overlapping roles you have six ships with specific and interesting roles:
- Carrier : Logistics Platform
- *New* Jump Bowhead : Space Trucking
- Dreadnought : Capital DPS
- Super Carrier : Mobile Assault Base
- Titan : Anti-Capital DPS
- Mothership : Jump Portal Generator

These more focused classes will be easier to balance and provide a more gradual progression of power and expensive from the sub capital classes.


  1. The vast majority of these ideas are spot on with what's been percolating in my head, too. In terms of titans and super-carriers, though, I think I disagree a little.

    I'd like titans to retain their current roles. They are the super-dreads, the fortress-ships, the queens of the battlefield and they should remain that way. Perhaps remove their ship maintenance bay, but keep their combat roles and their jump portal roles.

    Morph super-carriers into the combat version of a rorqual (or what the rorqual was envisioned to be, anyway). At first, I almost blew a clot at the suggestion of a pos field-like effect, but it's not terrible; details need working, but the idea itself is worthy of serious consideration. In fact, I think that idea, having supers act like mobile combat bases, has some good applications for rescuing the rorq. The rorqual is supposed to be a mobile industrial base, but it's hidesouly vulnerable and can't really carry enough mining ships to make it worth the trouble.

    I seriously hope Fozzie et al are remembering to include the rorq in their capital rebalancing.

    I've always thought the carrier was OP for being both a transport and a combat vessel. Split the two and give the transport ability to something else. The bowhead, in fact, was the obvious chance to split those funcitons. Carrier's have an SMA of 1mil m3; so does the bowhead. Carriers have a jump drive; the bowhead does not. WTF?

    I think CCP needs to introduce a jump version of the bowhead, but at the same fleet hangar capacity. They screwed up badly by not introducing 2 versions and they should not be nerfing the 1 million m3 capacity just to add jump drives. If a combat vessel, which is infinitely more complex to build than a support vessel, has 1 mil m3 capacity, the jump transport should have at least that.

    This means they'll need to reduce the capacity of the bowhead, say to 750k, with a concurrent reduction in the mineral costs, but I think it's reasonable. Compare a 750k capacity to freighters, the bowhead's cousins. Players can either tank their freighters at the cost of gimping cargo capacity, resulting in less space than the old pre-balanced ships, or up the capacity to beyond what was available before, but at the cost of something far less survivable.

    Since there are no mods to affect SMA capacity or fleet hangar capacity, set the bowhead at an aribitrary 750k. Yes, it's less than what it is now, meaning only 1 fitted battleship can be carried, but it still does provide a viable alternative to courier contracting ships to freighters, which have to gimp their tank to carry that much cargo.

    1. Breath deep, Heretic, and behold what nonsense you said: What is the advantage of flying 1 bowhead with 1 single fitted BS inside, compared to flying the BS alone? Having LESS HP? Being MORE vulnerable? Losing 2 billion-plus ships instead of a single one? ¬¬

      In order to be of any use, the Bowhead must be able to carry 2 BS. At least CCP got that right...

    2. Well, Angry, you'd know nonsense, wouldn't you?

      Let's look at the nonsense you just spouted.

      Before the bowhead, people had to courier contract battleship hulls in order to move them around. That meant moving 1 hull at a time (plus other, smaller ones). So reducing the current bowhead's capacity would til keep the old ability, but without the requirement of gimping the tank like is required in the freighter.

      The only other choice CCP would have would be to 1) duplicate the bowhead but with a jump drive, in which case, why really bother with getting bowhead? It would be like the old coveter/hulk, and 2) add a jump-capable bowhead with even more carrying capacity than the carrier/current bowhead, which strikes me as being a bit OP.

      I don't know where the bad man touched you, Angry, but I find that keeping things civil tends to produce better results when one wants one's views considered.

    3. Just as matter of fact, jump capable ships have smaller holds and higher price tags than their standard counterparts.

      So a "jump Bowhead" should be a) smaller and b) quite more expensive than a regular Bowhead (plus requiring the jump skills).

      You didn't adressed that using 1 large ship to carry 1 large ship makes no sense unless the transport does something which the ship being transported can't -like, jump. So as long as the "regular" Bowhead can't jump, 2 BS is the minimal requirement to fill its purpose. Being limited to 1 BS per jump would be the right price tag for the "jump Bowhead" as is exactly the same price being paid by the jump freighters.

  2. Is it wrong that I'm disappointed this post isn't about Battle Fleet Gothic...

    1. Never not Battlefleet Gothic.

    2. I am no long disappointed....

  3. I disagree with the carrier price drop, I don't want capitals ships to become much cheaper as subcapitals. Compared to dreadnaughts carriers are already quite cheap.

    Remove logistics and warfare link roles from supercarriers. Give back the clone vat bay for ongrid reshipping after dying :P Add a role similar to your depot mode and/or make supercarriers dockable and give them the role of your jump capable bowhead.

    I'd like to see titans as the ultimate capital fleet booster ships. Alter it so that only titan boosts affect capital class ships.

  4. The shoebox role carriers currently fill would not be filled by a tech 2 version of the bowhead unless you put a ton more tank on it. As it stands the bowhead is in many ways a useless piece of [stuff] enough space to fit a few fitted battleships... and the hp and speed of an anemic sloth. I do agree that the carrier as a role is too broad, but if you want to strip the hangers from it you need a ship that has essentially the same fitting ability as a carrier minus the drone bay, and offensive high slots, (personally I think it should still have 2 to 3 utility highs that allow you to choose to fit cloak maybe a probe launcher, but with explicit fitting restrictions for some stuff like ewar "because of the seam structure, and internal configurations that lack the shielding of their combat brethren attempting to fire [ewar] causes massive internal damage to the sensor system, therefore the designers have specifically locked the computer from activating the modules"

    If I were feeling really evil, and to be honest I am I would also give it a "brick mode" think triage, but it doesn't affect the rep stats, just a bit extra tank and make it nearly immovable, more the marauder siege, than tactical logistic reconfiguration. good luck bumping something that weighs more than your fleet.

    Yes this is partly my rant from my specific section of space, Missions in HS mostly, done with battleships, and supported by both a cleanup crew (salvager) and command logistics. Moving that mess when I want to work on a new rep is a trick and a half, the bowhead does not help as it cannot be tanked to safely transport 2 decently fit faction ships, let alone the ancillary stuff (command ships etc) My transport gets done these days in 2 sets of fleet warps, DST, orca, BS 1 fit for higher tank and align, shuttle 2 of the three toons back, BS 2, transport tengu. (tengu fit in that instance as a passive buffer version of the greedy goblin transport tengu with warp speed mods for quicker warp, it auto pilots while I manually jump the slow BS)

    As a side note, with carriers now able to take gates, and skynet being addressed, I think its High time they were allowed entry into HS, maybe make fighters in general restricted from HS


    1. So have the T2 version of the bowhead have the same tank as a JF. Jump freighters regularly move vast amounts of ISK.

      Instead of just concentrating on the specifics as a reason to discredit the idea, why not address the idea itself? Details can be changed. I still have no idea if you like the concept of a jump capable non-combat transport or not.

  5. Honestly I think the force field idea is DOA. CCP hates force fields and are removing them from POSes.