Friday, June 09, 2017

The Fine Line of Strategic Cruisers

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Strategic Cruisers and how they fit into the meta going forward.

Currently they can perform in several roles better than the Tech II ships they emulate: heavy hitting cruiser with small signature better than a heavy assault cruiser, super tanky cloaky recon, super tanky e-war combat ship, etc. As well as being about to do other things like command boosting, nullification warping, fitting cloaks, and so on.

The idea was that the Strategic cruiser would be unable to do these roles as well as the dedicated Tech II versions for the same price magnitude but could be re-configured as needed by the owner. That didn't hold up so well as the prices fell and the risk-reward ratio for the tech III cruisers proved to be higher than the competing tech II versions.

What do I mean?

In EVE, a combat ship can be evaluated into a single number, a risk versus reward ratio. In other words, you want to maximize the reward side of the equation while minimizing the risk side.

For a pure combat ship like a Heavy Assault cruiser, this primarily comes down the the reward being its damage delivery potential on a target versus its risk of how likely it is it be caught and destroyed. While HACs have a higher reward value (i.e. more damage) than a strategic cruiser, the latter has superior signature and tank thus lowering its risk value by more, giving it a better overall ratio.

Cost plays into this ratio as well, increasing the risk as the price of the ship increases. But since a fully fit strategic cruiser is in the same price bracket as competing tech II ships, the ratio still evaluates better for the tech III ships.

In comparison, while the Tech III Destroyers easily outclass Tech I Destroyers, i.e. have much larger reward value, the risk part of the equation balances out the ratio because they are a different price bracket, and when compared to price-parity Tech II Destroyers we find they are in different roles and thus we do not need to worry about the risk-reward comparison.

CCP is faced with the question of how to balance Strategic Cruisers such a way that they are still good for pilots to own and use but don't replace Tech II cruisers in the same role. As I wrote last week, CCP have made or are going to make the changes required for Strategic Cruisers to actually be as flexible and strategic as they were originally envisioned to be, so there is a chance here for CCP to role-change the ship class out of competition with Tech II cruisers and into a new unfilled role of Multi-role Combat Cruiser.

Let's hope CCP gets it right!

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