Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Strategic Post

One of my favourite things to do for blogging these days is to notice some announcement of a change from CCP or someone saying something, and then dig up an old post of mine where I say the exact same thing.

The latest entry to this hobby is this dev blog on Strategic Cruiser changes:

The short version of the plan is that we want to address a few key issues with the current Strategic Cruiser design:
- Rigs in their current state lock T3 hulls into a specific set of bonuses and prevent T3 Cruisers from achieving the goal of a “strategic” ship that you can adjust from day to day to meet your needs by changing subsystems
- T3 Cruisers overlap too much with other ships (especially Heavy Assault Cruisers and Recon Ships) and their dominance can reduce ship variety
- Many of the subsystems and subsystem combinations are underpowered and rarely used
- The current state of T3 Cruisers is unsustainable from a technical graphics perspective
To solve some of these issues we are currently working in the following directions:
- Condense the available subsystems into a smaller number of more powerful and useful choices.
- - The current plan is to have four subsystem slots with three choices in each slot
- A general rebalance of the T3 Cruiser class which would include (among other things):
- - New faction-specific build components sourced from WH space
- - Dual tank bonuses for the Loki
- - Some power reductions to long range combat alongside the nullification subsystem
- - An increase in signature radius and mass
- Allowing rigs to be freely removed from Strategic Cruisers without destroying them
So way back in May of 2012 I wrote a post titled "Strategic Cruisers Are A Failure" in which I pointed out that the concept of Strategic Cruisers had failed:
The concept is simple: you can pick what role / bonuses / slot layout your ship has AND you can change it whenever you want. The first part is part of the reason the ships are so ubiquitous but the second part has pretty much failed miserably. Most of the time, you use a tool like EFT or Pyfa to determine what setup you want for your Strat Cruiser including the 5 subsystems you want, and then you buy that setup, put it together, and most likely never change it again.
If you want a Strategic Cruiser for a different role, e.g. a probing cloaky ship instead or your sanctum running missile spammer, you are more likely to simply buy an entire second ship rather than just the mods to switch your current ship. My hanger, for example, has three Strategic cruisers in it: one for PvE, one for cloaky probing, and one for pure gank PvP.
What is the reason for the failure of the ship class to live up to its potential? There are several:
1) Rigs. When you put three rigs on a ship, they are usually to compliment its main role or main method of tanking (or sometimes both). However, changing the subsystems of a strat cruiser can vastly change its role and/or optimal tanking method, most likely making the installed rigs sub-optimal or useless. Since you can't just remove rigs, only destroy them, it makes players committed to a single setup once the rigs are installed.
2) In Game, Setting Up Ships is Tedious. While some big improvements to fitting a ship in game have been made over the years, the fact of the matter is that it is downright tedious and intensive to explore ship setups and tweak it to how you want. There is no easy way to compare stats of two ship setups, removed mods are assembled so don't stack and litter up your hanger, your hanger modules are not in a nice tree to browse like they are in the market, and unless your hanger is well stocked or you are in a market hub sometimes you just don't have the modules or charges you need for a quick setup change.While out of game tools help a lot with some of these deficiencies, the fact of the matter is that its easier to setup a new ship with brand new purchased items than it is to swap out subsystems and modules of an existing setup unless you don't want to use that setup ever again.
3) Too Limited. Many of the scenarios where having the ability to change the capabilities of your current ship on the fly would be useful are the same scenarios where you do not have the ability of swapping subsystems and modules: deep in enemy space, wormholes, during a long roam, etc, any time you are far from your home base. Even if you have the subsystems and modules available, since you have to be docked at a station you still can't use a POS hanger or capital ship maintenance bay to to the switch anyways. So no jumping from Sleeper-farming PvE ship to hostile-fighting PvP ship in wormholes and no switching from forward-scouting recon ship to damage-dealing tackle ship during an offensive in null sec.
* * * * *
So what is the answer to make Strategic Cruisers live up to their full potential? Easy; address these three problems in some manner and you will go a long ways to getting there. Introduce a method for removing rigs (i.e. only in station and for a cost), introduce more ship-building-theory tools and module hanger organization tools into the game client, and allow swapping of subsystems outside of station environments.
 So what has changed in the 5 years since I posted that?

Well, in reverse order, citadels and mobile depots and even POS structures have been added/changed to allow Strategic Cruisers the ability to change sub systems so those inaccessible systems where swapping was impossible no longer exist. The ability to save fits and apply them with a click of a button have made changing ship setups trivial (and throw in multi-buy and multi-fit as important quality of life changes as well). And now as of this change posted in the dev blog, rigs can be removed without destroying them.

All three of my reasons of failure have been or are being addressed. We'll have to see if the ship class becomes more strategic with this rebalance.


  1. And many of us who use these ships, like in me in low sec space, which is always hostile, don't have the luxury of docking up in some station 3 or 4 jumps away from our exploration, or burning over half our cargo space with a mobile depot.

    I fly a cloaked Loki, because the low sec pipe I travel is infested with pirates. I have seen the new stats on Reddit. The ship config I fly does about 350 in DPS with autocannons at optimal, a whole lot less at 15 km, and can tank a 4/10.

    That ship configuration will be utterly impossible after the nerf in July. My option will be a Stratios, which will not have anywhere near the mobility nor tank, plus relies on drones that are auto-targeted by the NPC's.

    Another solo playstyle will be have been killed by CCP.

  2. My biggest beef with the T3 was that they were sold to us as much more versatile as any t2, but only not quite as good in that role as the T2.

    Except they were better for combat than t2 combat cruisers (even battlecruisers) they were better for repping due to their toughness.

    I'd like T3s to be more reconfigurable on the fly, between roles, but ensure that in any of its configurations it would still not be better than a dedicated t2 cruiser designed for a particular role.