Back to the Balancing Future

By CCP Ytterbium
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The tiericide locomotive is well on track so far. Retribution ship changes are already packed and ready to be delivered to your personal fireplace on December, the 4th.

With the bulk of our work out of the way though, this begs the question, what are we going to do now with all that precious free time? Eat marshmallows on the CCP office balcony? Impossible, it’s snowing outside. Break CCP Fozzie’s fingers with the Nerfbat™? Already done. Fondly trim CCP Unifex’s hairs while singing dirty French limericks? No can do, he is desperately and irrevocably bald.

Well, guess that leaves us no choice but to move forward with future balancing plan then. Let’s assume 2012 is not the end of the world, the universe and all things we hold dear, and let’s take a peek into what we want to start tweaking next year.

Battlecruiser operational

Yes comrades, battlecruisers are indeed next to get through the tiericide revolution. Let’s face it, they had it coming, as current tier 2 variations perform too well while tier1s are found wanting. With this in mind, the plan is to adjust total slot layout to 17 on all of them and split them into two categories depending on their expected role.

First, the attack version; they favor speed and damage over resilience, which fits the current tier 3 battlecruisers extremely well.

  • Oracle, Naga, Talos and Tornado: are mostly fine, except for the mobility which is a little too high, and signature radius, which could be increased a bit. Apart from this, little needs to change.

Second, the combat flavor, which follows in the footsteps of the frigate and cruiser variants – made for front line duty, they have a good balance of firepower and resilience.

  • Prophecy: expected to be changed to a drone boat. This is a role revamp that will radically modify its slot and fitting layout. It will most likely have less bandwidth but more drone bay than the Myrmidon.
  • Ferox: we would like to reinforce the sniping nature of this ship, most likely by replacing the shield resistance bonus with a hybrid damage bonus. Nothing is set in stone yet, as we need to find ways to ensure it doesn’t compete with the Naga.
  • Brutix: this ship role conflicts a bit with the Talos, mainly because the latter is more mobile and packs more punch. We want to explore options on how to turn the Brutix into a more reliable close-range brawler, while the Talos keeps a kiting advantage.
  • Cyclone: ancillary shield boosters have significantly improved this ship performance; however, it won’t hurt to make sure it’s in a good shape before moving on.
  • Harbinger: assuming direct control. Problems on this ship are tied with the shield versus armor tanking issues, which need to be looked at.
  • Drake: once again, blame the modules, not the hull – while missiles are being looked into by CCP Fozzie, shield tanking is the root of the problem here.
  • Myrmidon: this vessel is mainly fine, but it couldn’t hurt giving it a bit more drone bandwidth and bay to make it more of an improvement when compared to the Vexor.
  • Hurricane: counting CCP Fozzie’s adjustment to its fitting, the cruiser boost should reduce its over-the-top versatility, especially if battlecruisers slot layout is altered to 17 as mentioned above.

That’s the big lines for battlecruisers. As usual, your voice will be heard through feedback threads posted on the proper forum sub-section when the time is right. It is also worth noting that we will adjust ship mineral requirements as we continue with the rebalancing.

You sunk my battleship

Next on the ship rebalancing queue, battleships suffer the least from the current “tier” system, and most of them are fairly well balanced. However, some still require a little face lift, since we are one year into the future and we have the technology.

As usual, we would like to keep up with the ship line classification we have been using for frigate, destroyer and cruisers so far. This is not designed to arbitrarily pigeon-hole vessels into narrow roles, but to provide a basic line of operation for anyone to understand and follow through. The ship role and purpose on the battlefield will still greatly be influenced by the choice of modules, rigs and ammunitions you make.

First, let’s have a look at the disruption line, which only has one ship so far:

  • Scorpion: fine at the moment, it dies fast in fleet of course, but that’s what the ECM role brings to the hull anyway.

Then, we have attack battleships, where most of the changes will be:

  • Armageddon: this ship is performing well at the time being, and thus we have little reason to alter it.
  • Megathron: just like the Thorax on the cruiser level, the Megathron role will be changed slightly to make it less resilient, but more mobile so to make proper use of blasters. Think of it as a ship closer to the Typhoon in terms of speed and agility. Next to a Talos, it will be more durable, more flexible, but still cumbersome to have in small gangs.
  • Typhoon: this vessel is very good when you possess all skills on earth and beyond trained to 5 – for being a jack of all trades, it has nothing really going for it. That is why we would like to change its role to a missile platform. Next to the Raven, it would have less range, but more mobility for more close range in your face damage.

And finally, combat vessels. They share the same functions as explained for battlecruisers above, so without further delay:

  • Apocalypse: is behaving well at the moment, so there is little point in changing it.
  • Raven: the king of the hill lost its throne a while back. That’s mainly due to cruise missiles being terrible in most situations, and torpedoes not always being usable with a slow, cumbersome hull.
  •  Dominix: still remains a popular ship. It is fairly good, except for the drone mechanics themselves, which are terribly outdated. While we are not certain when this can be tackled, it definitely has high priority on our to-do list.
  • Tempest: we are mostly fine with it at the moment, no major change planned.
  • Abbadon: a nice ship with fine purpose in fleets and large gangs.
  • Rokh: is also all good, very competitive with the Abbadon
  • Hyperion: the hull could be improved, but again most of the issues come from passive versus active tanking problems
  • Maelstorm: has a good role as well, no need for major changes

Again, mineral requirements are most likely to be tweaked as we go through the balancing process. Below you can see how all tech1 ships come together with the new tiericide overhaul.

Click to enlarge

I love it when a plan comes together

As announced at the beginning of the year, skill requirements will be modified when we are done overhauling tech1 battlecruisers and battleships. This consists of:

  • Breaking Destroyers and Battlecruisers skills into four racial versions with an identical training multiplier (thus making it four times harder to get all races trained)
  • Changing skill requirements for Racial Cruisers from Racial Frigates 4 to Racial Destroyers 4
  • Changing skill requirements for Racial Battleships from Racial Cruisers 4 to Racial Battlecruisers 4
  • Changing skill requirements for capital ships from Racial Battleships 5 to 4, but introducing or increasing other skills to keep the same overall training time requirements

We are doing this for two reasons:

  • Make ship progression more consistent over all sizes, instead of having a mix of racial and generic skills
  • Allowing for faster tech2 specialization, and slower multi-racial diversification. In EVE Online, while you as a new player will never catch up with the total amount of skill points a veteran has, you can still be on the same level by specializing. This is precisely what we want to promote here. For instance, currently one needs Amarr Cruiser and Battlecruisers 5 to fly an Absolution, after the change the same pilot will only need Amarr Battlecruisers 5 (on top of the other skill requirements).

Reimbursement details:

  • Let us repeat again: if you could fly it before, you will be able to do so after the change. Technically it means if you are able to fly an Oracle by having Amarr Cruisers 3 and Battlecruisers 3, we will remove the Battlecruisers skill from your character and give you Amarr Battlecruisers at 3. If you had Battlecruisers at 3 and Caldari Cruisers 3 instead, you would not receive Amarr Battlecruisers but the Caldari Battlecruisers skill at 3 instead. The same principle work with the Destroyers skill.
  • With the way nested skill requirements work in EVE, it also means that you will still be able to fly an Apocalypse even if you don’t have the Amarr Battlecruiser skill trained at 4 after the change. It won’t matter as long as you have the Amarr Battleship skill at the proper level.

With this in mind, it becomes quite obvious to focus on training the Destroyers and Battlecruisers skills before the change to get the maximum return effect. We highly recommend you start doing so now.

Command and conquer

When we're finished with tech 1 hulls we are going to start looking into more advanced roles, starting with Command ships. They are seriously lacking at the moment for two reasons: first, regular tier 2 battlecruisers mostly fill the same combat role for less expensive operational costs, and second, tech 3 hulls are just plain better at gang link boosting.

Our goal is to make them appealing to fly as a whole, not something you keep inside a POS forcefield while watching your favorite TV show. For this reason, we want:

  • Tech 3 ships to be able to carry more gang links at once than Command Ships, but with less effect
  • Tech 3 ships to be able to carry some gang links while still maintaining some combat capability
  • Command Ships to carry fewer types of gang links than Tech 3, but with stronger effects (specialization over generalization) - if fitted with gang links, they have less combat capability than Tech3 hulls.
  • All Command Ships to have a combat role on the field on top of having the possibility to be fit for a pure fleet commanding platform.

What does that mean in practice? We are removing the distinction between “fleet” and “field” Command Ships. All of them will now have 3% bonuses to two Warfare Link fields and be able to fit three warfare link modules simultaneously (instead of 3 for fleet versions only). That also means that the previous fleet Command Ships will be rebalanced to fit combat roles. Want to use an Eos as a truly effective drone ship? You can. Or the Damnation as a sexy Khanid missile platform beast? Be our guest. All that matters is the specialization choices you make before undocking by deciding to fit gang links or not, not something forced to you from the arbitrary "field" versus "fleet" hull.

Tech 3 treatment will focus on making them more generalized. Their Warfare Link bonuses will be reduced from 5% to 2% effectiveness; however they will have bonuses to three racial Warfare Link fields while being able to fit three Warfare Link modules simultaneously.

As a side note, as we announced a while ago, we are not pleased by having Warfare Links work outside the battlefield zone, and will be investigating options to move them on grid. Command and Tech3 ships providing that much of an advantage should commit to an engagement instead of being safely parked inside a POS bubble.

Here is a picture summarizing the text below as a tl;dr version:

Click to enlarge

Well that’s pretty much it for now, remember this is just a vision for the beginning of 2013 and as such, not final. We have more balancing changes to be planned and released, so keep your eyes peeled for updates.

Hope that helped and many thanks for your time!