Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why The "Frigate Menace" Is Overblown

Council of Stellar Management member Mr Hyde has become quite famous for coining the term "Frigate Menace", and leading the charge to defeat this in the current EVE meta.

The "Frigate Menace" from what I understand refers to the dominance in small gang PvP of small fast ships over larger vessels. For example, a handful of frigates catching and dispatching a cruiser or battlecruiser without taking a loss in the process.

There are many contributing factors to this imbalance:
- frigates align to warp and warp faster, making escape from them when they are hunting you difficult
- sentry guns can be negated with quick warp out and warp ins
- many frigates move faster than tracking of most cruiser and bigger guns
- frigates can kite the slower ships with ease
- logistics frigates, both Tech 1 and 2, keep damage frigates alive.
- frigates are cheaper and easier to train into effectively

The end result means that someone like Mr Hyde that loves roaming and fighting in Battleships has very limited options at the best of times, and even then faces near certain death. So he wants to either nerf frigates or buff the ability of battlecruisers and battleships to have some options to deal with them.

I disagree. I strongly disagree.

While I'm sympathetic to his reasons (I too love the bigger vessels) the fact remains that the advantages frigates have at the small gang / roaming meta are perfectly balanced by the advantages cruisers and bigger have over frigates at the larger fleet / objective warfare meta. Frigate are disadvantaged in almost every aspect in larger scale fleet warfare:
- they lack hitpoints to survive fleet alphas
- they lack range and damage to alpha enemy ships
- they lack DPS to overcome logistic cruisers or capital FAX machines
- many of the advantages they have (speed, warp speed, tracking advantages) are negated in the larger arena with objectives other than "catch and kill"

This is why you don't typically see frigate fleets fighting for serious objectives like bashing an IHUB or Citadel.

Another reason I disagree with supporter of the "Frigate Menace" campaign is that I have been in EVE long enough to remember the Battleship Menace. I.e., the time when small gang warfare was dominated to the extreme by battleships and the occasional well-fit battlecruiser. There was no scenario where smaller ships could compete against larger ships so the meta pushed to the top end and anyone else foolish enough to not go there as quickly as possible was either looking for extreme challenge or dead. There was *some* wiggle room for certain Tech II ships, and in null sec where gate guns didn't exist frigates had some use as scouts and cheap tackle, but overall battleships dominated the meta from small gang roaming to large fleet objectives / sov warfare.

I find having lived in both worlds I prefer the more diversified landscape we have today (with the exception of Svipuls, they need a nerf). If CCP listens to Mr Hyde I hope they are aware of the delicate balance the meta has in regards to ship size combat and how there is a risk that even a small buff to battleship/battlecruisers over frigate could destabilize the equation to a landslide return of the Battleship Menace.

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