Monday, July 06, 2015

BB 64 - Arms Race

Torpedo! Torpedo! Torpedo!
With the Aegis release we will see missile boats get their own version of the tracking enhancer and the tracking computer. On the forums there have been calls for new 'missile defence eWar' to counter these new modules. Is this needed? Are smartbomb 'firewalls' enough? Do defender missiles need an overhaul to make them actually worth using? Do we need the missile version of the remote tracking disruptor? Or do we go all Star Trek and have Point-Defence Phaser Banks? Banter on!
Related to this topic is the official Dev Blog announcement for the new modules:
First of all, we are introducing two entirely new module groups to enhance performance of all missile systems in the game. 
Missile Guidance Enhancers – these are passive, low slot modules that give bonuses to missile velocity, missile flight time, explosion radius of missiles, and explosion velocity of missiles.
Missile Guidance Computers – these are active, scriptable, mid slot modules that give bonuses to missile velocity, missile flight time, explosion radius of missiles, and explosion velocity of missiles. Using ‘Missile Precision Script’ or ‘Missile Range Script’ you can double the bonus to either range or application, sacrificing the other. 
For both module groups we are starting with a Tech I variation, a ‘Compact’ meta variation with reduced fitting requirements, and a Tech II variation. You can find details on their statistics in this forum thread.
For the record, the current missile module, the Ballistic Control System (used to be Ballistic Control Unit hence why we sometimes call it BCU for short) gives bonuses to rate of fire and damage.

I'm a fan of these new modules because one of the issues missile ships always had to contend with was the inability to successfully "hit down" ship classes as you moved up to cruisers and battleships, a problem that turret equipped ships could circumvent with tracking computers and tracking enhancers. The only real option for missile ships was to sacrifice damage and range by using the rapid light launchers which is essentially fitting frigate sized weapons on cruisers / cruiser sized weapons on battleships. So yeah, modules that allow missile ships some flexibility in hitting various targets at greater range or better "guidance" while trading off tanking or tackling modules or whatever is something I generally approve of.

However, there is a downside. The dynamic always was that turret weapon systems got the trade off of being able to hit smaller targets with correct application of webs, tracking enhancers/computers, and know-how about transversal and optimal range, while missile systems had a simpler mechanic in that you needed only to know your range and the damage was pretty consistent but you had a harder time hitting smaller targets as it was very deterministic. But now we have modules that decrease that downside without the counterbalance of more complicated mechanics or the possible presence of a tracking disruptor in the enemy fleet.

There are defender missiles. No, wait, let me correct myself: there are jokes about defender missiles. Even if they worked as intended (i.e. missiles that shot out and destroyed enemy missiles coming at you), they lack the same wider application that a tracking disruptor provides in that it lets you affect the overall performance of tracking on the target ship regardless of what its shooting at.

Something needs to be done to rectify this imbalance between the major weapon systems. Either existing tracking disruptors need to be able to negatively affect some or all the four "hitability" factors of missiles (velocity, flight time, explosion radius and explosion velocity) OR we need a new module for guidance disruption. I'm a fan of the former option as I always felt that Amarr ewar boats suffered from being unable to impact missile ship weapon systems as they don't use cap and are not affected by tracking disruption.

While you're in there, CCP, maybe look into Remote Tracking Computers, will you?

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