The great ship skill changes of summer 2013

By CCP Ytterbium
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Time flies - it has almost been one year already since our first Dev Blog on the rebalancing initiative, and much has happened since then. The balancing team, extended with the addition of CCP Fozzie, the machine sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor, and soon to be joined by someone else you guys know about, has so far tackled tech 1 Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers. With Battlecruiser changes planned for Retribution 1.1 time has come to purge the ship skill requirements with fire as we promised a while back.

Since the changes have far-reaching consequences, this blog will go into as much detail as possible to make sure everyone understands exactly why, how and when this is happening. So, take your time reading it and don’t hesitate to spread the news; copy then paste it in your corporation forums. Discuss it in-game, or on your favorite social communication tool. Print it in your local newspaper and announce the apocalypse is coming. You can even tell your mom about it.

In A Land Far Far Away

Before we take the red pill and go down the rabbit hole, let’s explain why we are overhauling a system that seemingly works fine.

Above is a simplified view of the current EVE Online ship progression tree for one Empire Race (we will use Amarr as an example here) plus mining ships most often associated with the ORE (Outer Ring Excavations) corporation. There are several things we do not like about this tree.

First, ship progression is not consistent. We have racial spaceship command skills (like Amarr Frigate, Amarr Cruiser, Amarr Battleship) mixed with generic skills (Destroyers and Battlecruisers). This creates unneeded complexity, as to define who can fly a Prophecy for instance, you thus need Amarr Cruisers 3 on top of the Battlecruisers skill, while the Prophecy bonus amount itself will still be linked from the Battlecruisers skill itself.

This problem is amplified on the tech 2 level. To fly a Damnation (and without counting the other requirements), one not only needs Battlecruisers at 5, but Amarr Cruiser at 5. This issue exists in the first place because Destroyers and Battlecruisers ship classes were added after the original release in the Exodus expansion, and had to be integrated in a way not to disrupt training at that time. The multiplication of ship hulls since then no longer makes it a viable option to maintain.

Another point we are not fond of is the over-redundant training needed for specialization. Still looking at the tree above, some tech 2 ships require sets of skills that are not relevant to the hull you are specializing into. Notorious example is the Absolution, the Amarr Field Command Ship, with forces training of Heavy Assault Ships, itself demanding Assault Ships to be learned. While we are fine with time sinks, they should be related to the field you are specializing into and not push you into hulls you are not interested in.

Less apparent on the tree above, there also is a lack of transparency on specialized modules tied to a given ship niche. Let’s take the Heretic, for instance. Among other things, it requires the training of Interdictors 1, Destroyers 5 and Amarr Frigate 5, for a total training time that approximates 40 days – (without counting any support skill). It seems alright for a ship of this size and role. However, the trap lies that 30 more days are required to use an Interdiction Sphere Launcher. Of course, a smart player should notice the module from the ship description and react accordingly, but the point remains that the training time on the show info is misleading.

At the end of the road

So, where does that bring us? To the revamped tree below that we want to achieve Summer 2013. This will require some significant modifications on training requirements.

Destroyers and Battlecruisers skill are going to be split up into four racial versions each. We announced this last year and there is nothing new about it. The Destroyers skill will be removed from the game and replaced with Amarr Destroyer, Caldari Destroyer, Gallente Destroyer, Minmatar Destroyer. Same with the Battlecruisers skill, being removed and swapped with Amarr Battlecruiser, Caldari Battlecruiser, Gallente Battlecruiser and Minmatar Battlecruiser. The new skills will have the same ranks and attributes than the old generic ones. Reimbursement will be given to all players that meet all requirements to fly tech 1 Destroyers and Battlecruisers (more details on the last section of this blog).

The new racial Destroyer and Battlecruiser skills will be set as requirements to train larger ship classes. To compensate for the extra training steps, all prerequisites to hop into the next, larger tech 1 hull will be reduced from 4 to 3. To train Amarr Battleship at level1 right now, one has to train Amarr Frigate and Cruiser to 4, plus a few levels in Spaceship Command. After the change the same person will need to train Amarr Frigate 3, Amarr Destroyer 3, Amarr Cruiser 3 and Amarr Battlecruiser 3 (plus a few levels in Spaceship Command, still) before being able to reach Amarr Battleships.

On the same vein as above, requirements to train capital hulls will only require battleship 3 instead of 5. Simply put, aiming for tech 1 hulls should not require training the previous class skill to 5, which is specialization, thus dedicated to tech 2 vessels. We are changing skill requirements to keep a training time close to what we have in game right now and to make sure players meet more relevant prerequisites when gearing for Capital Ships. This also means it will be easier for Capital pilots to cross-train to other races which we believe to be a good point.

All tech 2 ships requiring skill training conditions from other tech 2 ships will be cut. Again we will adjust other skill requirements to keep a close training time with what we have now. In practice it means that Heavy Assault Ships, Recon Ships, Command Ships can now be trained without first going for Assault Ships, Covert Ops, Logistics or Heavy Assault Ships.

Ship skill training has been further adjusted when necessary to include specialized module requirements. This is the case for Interdictors, Heavy Interdictors and Command Ships in particular. This also applies to Capital Ships, as you will see from the skill changes with Dreadnoughts, Carriers, Suppercarriers and Titans.

The ORE branch (Venture, Noctis, Orca, Rorqual plus all mining barge variations) has been tweaked to a consistent progression. For instance, the Rorqual will not need Mining Barges 5 to be flown anymore, but will instead require the Industrial Command Ship skill at 3, itself requiring ORE Industrial at 3.

Assault Ships, Heavy Assault Ships and Heavy Interdictors classes are going to be renamed to Assault Frigates, Heavy Assault Cruisers and Heavy Interdiction Cruisers. That is because with the training connection cut, we don't want to lure players into believing that some tech 2 hulls are linked in skill anymore. Besides, that is how you call them anyway, right?

What are the impacts of all of this?

  • Cross-racial training will be slowed down for sub-capitals, as a pilot will now have racial Destroyers and Battlecruiser skills.
  • However, since prerequisites have been lowered from 4 to 3 to hop into the next class, reaching a ship size you interested into will be faster. While this doesn’t mean much on its own as you need support skills to be effective, it follows ship balancing motto that no vessel in EVE should override another in role, or required another to be mastered to unlock it.
  • Cross-racial training will be faster for Capital Ships, so you can more quickly adapt to your corporation / alliance fleet policy when you reach that level.
  • Tech 2 specialization will be faster, or at least have more related skills. Training for a tech 2 hull requirement will give you skills you need to fly the vessel you aim for instead of being unrelated time-sinks.
  • The ORE ship progression will no longer be inconsistent and will offer two paths of progression: mining hulls with the Venture, then the Mining Barges, or industrial support vessels with the Noctis, Orca and Rorqual. As a side-effect, the Orca will be significantly easier to train for.

Skill changes under the microscope

Except for the Navy Battleships, Destroyers and Battlecruisers (whose reimbursement is detailed in the next part) all the affected ships will still be flyable even after the change with no fancy reimbursement, provided you can fly them on Tranquility right now. This works because once a particular skill is trained, the system doesn’t care about sub-requirements anymore. Theoretical and unlikely example: you have Amarr Battleship 1 and Amarr Cruiser 3 currently trained. You are pod-killed without having a proper clone, and Amarr Cruiser 3 is reduced to 2. You will still be able to fly the Armageddon, as long as Amarr Battleship 1 is retained.

To clearly illustrate the changes, we will be using two characters (with minimal skills and 20 in all attributes, except for Charisma at 19, no implants) to compare how training time is affected in game.

Rookie ships:

  • Removing racial frigate as a requirement. We now only keep Spaceship Command 1.

Navy Frigates:

  • Decreasing Racial Frigate level from 3 to 2.

Destroyers:

  • Splitting the Destroyers skill into 4 racial variants (Amarr Destroyer, Caldari Destroyer, Gallente Destroyer, Minmatar Destroyer).
  • All these new skillbooks will have the same training attributes, rank and cost as the previous generic Destroyers skill.
  • Racial Frigate level 3 requirement moved as a prerequisite to train the Racial Destroyer skill.
  • Spaceship Command requirement for the Racial Destroyer reduced from 3 to 1.

Cruisers:

  • Spaceship Command requirement decreased from 3 to 2 on all cruiser skills
  • All racial cruiser skills now require respective racial Destroyer skill at 3 instead of racial frigate at 4

Navy Cruisers:

  • Decreasing Racial Cruiser skill from level 3-4 to 2

Battlecruisers:

  • Splitting the Battlecruisers skill into 4 racial variants (Amarr Battlecruiser, Caldari Battlecruiser, Gallente Battlecruiser, Minmatar Battlecruiser)
  • All these new skillbooks will have the same training attributes, rank and cost than the previous generic Battlecruisers skill
  • Oracle, Naga, Talos and Tornado racial Battlecruiser requirements reduced from 3 to 1 as part of the Tiericide initiative
  • Racial Cruiser level3 requirements moved as a prerequisite for the racial Battlecruiser skill
  • Spaceship Command requirement reduced from 4 to 3

Battleships:

  • All racial Battleship skill requirements have been reduced from 1-3 to level1, depending on their former tier position.
  • All racial Battleship skills now require Racial Battlecruiser at 3 instead of Racial Cruiser at 4

Navy Battleships:

  • Increasing requirement to fly Navy Battleships previously known as Tier 1 (Armageddon Navy Issue, Scorpion Navy Issue, Dominix Navy Issue, Typhoon Fleet Issue) from level1 to level2 to make it consistent with other navy ships. Since the training from level1 to level2 only takes a few hours, we will not adjust your Racial Battleship level. Please make sure you train it before the change if you still wish to be able to fly Navy Battleships.

Carriers and Supercarriers:

  • Racial Carrier requirements on the Aeon, Wyvern, Nyx and Hel have been reduced from 3 to 1
  • Capital Ships requirement on all Carriers and Supercarriers increased from 3 to 4
  • All racial Battleship requirements on Carriers and Supercarriers reduced from 5 to 3
  • Adding the Jump Fuel Conservation skill at 4 as prerequisite
  • Adding the Jump Drive Calibration skill at 3 as prerequisite (which itself requires the Jump Drive Operation skill trained at 5)

Dreadnoughts:

  • All racial Battleship requirements on Dreadnoughts reduced from 5 to 3
  • Capital Ships requirement on all Dreadnoughts increased from 1 to 3
  • Adding the Tactical Weapon Reconfiguration skill at 1 as prerequisite (requires Advanced Weapon Upgrades at 5)

Titans

  • All racial Battleship requirements on Titans reduced from 5 to 3
  • Adding the Jump Portal Generation skill at 1 as requirement (which itself requires the Jump Drive Operation skill trained at 5)

Electronic Attack Ships

  • Swapping the Electronic Upgrades 5 skill with Long Range Targeting 5

Interdictors

  • Racial Frigate 5 requirement swapped for racial Destroyer 5
  • Generic old Destroyer skill removed from the Interdictor skill
  • Interceptor requirement removed from the Interdictor skill
  • Graviton Physics 1 added as skill requirement in the Interdictor skill
  • Propulsion Jamming 5 added as skill requirement in the Interdictor skill

Heavy Assault Ships

  • Assault Ships requirement removed from the Heavy Assault Ship skill
  • Energy Grid Upgrades 5 added as skill requirement of the Assault Ship skill
  • Energy Management 4 added as skill requirement of the Assault Ship skill

Recon Ships

  • Covert Ops requirement removed from the Recon Ships skill
  • Cloaking 4 added as skill requirement of the Recon Ships skill
  • Electronic Upgrades 5 added as skill requirement of the Recon Ships skill

Heavy Interdictors

  • Weapon Upgrades removed from the Heavy Interdictor skill
  • Graviton Physics 4 added as skill requirement of the Heavy Interdictor skill

Command Ships

  • Racial Cruiser 5 requirement swapped for racial Battlecruiser 5
  • Generic and old Battlecruiser skill removed from the Command Ship skill
  • Heavy Assault Ships skill requirement removed from Field Command Ships (Absolution, Nighthawk, Astarte, Sleipnir)
  • Logistics skill requirement removed from Fleet Command Ships (Damnation, Vulture, Eos, Claymore)
  • Information Warfare 5 skill added as requirement for the Command Ship skill
  • Armored Warfare 5 skill added as requirement for the Command Ship skill
  • Siege Warfare 5 skill added as requirement for the Command Ship skill
  • Skirmish Warfare 5 skill added as requirement for the Command Ship skill

Industrials

  • All ship skill requirements reduced from 1-5 to 1. We want to overhaul Industrials roles as part of the Tiericide initiative and this is the first step in that direction. Watch out for more details when they are ready for player feedback.
  • Racial Frigate skill requirement removed from the Industrial skill

Freighters

  • Now requires Advanced Spaceship Command 5 instead of 1
  • Racial Industrial skill requirement reduced from 5 to 3

Mining Barges

  • Mining Frigate 3 skill added as a requirement of the Mining Barge skill

Industrial Command Ship

  • Mining barge skill requirement removed
  • Adding ORE Industrial 3 as requirement

Capital Industrial Ship

  • Mining barge skill requirement removed from the Capital Industrial Ship skill
  • Industrial Command Ship 3 skill added as a requirement of the Capital Industrial Ship skill
  • Industrial Reconfiguration 1 skill added as a requirement of the Capital Industrial Ship skill

All the other vessels not listed here (shuttles, frigates, Interceptors, Assault Ships, Covert Ops, Logistics, Strategic Cruisers, Black Ops, Marauders, Pirate Frigates, Pirate Cruisers, Pirate Battleships, Pirate Supercarrier, Transport Ships, Jump Freighters, Mining Frigate, Ore Industrial, Exhumers) are not directly affected by the skill modifications, although this may create prerequisite changes in nested requirements. For instance, Marauders require Battleship at 5, whose own requirements are changing.

Destroyers and Battlecruisers, please fill your reimbursement form

That was for the easy part. As mentioned above, since we are splitting Destroyers and Battlecruisers skills in four, we need to make sure we reimburse those properly to follow the motto of “if you could fly it before, you can fly it now” that we have been stating for quite a while now.

To understand how we are going to proceed, it’s wiser to have a look at current ship requirement themselves.

At the moment on Tranquility, the Prophecy requires two skills to fly: Amarr Cruiser 3 and Battlecruiser 1. Thus, if you have these two skills when the change happens, we will give you Amarr Battlecruiser 1. Simple so far.

The trick is to remember that the Prophecy bonuses are based on the Battlecruiser skill. Thus, if you want to maximize the reimbursement, training Amarr Cruiser past 3 will do you little good. Aim for Battlecruisers 5 instead, as you will then get Amarr Battlecruiser 5.

It is noteworthy to point out that if you don’t have a racial Cruiser at 3, then you won’t receive the corresponding racial Battlecruiser skill. It is thus worthwhile to train all Racial Cruiser skill at 3, then focus on maximizing Battlecruisers before the reimbursement happens.

Since we are also in the process of removing tiers, the Oracle, Naga, Talos and Tornado skill requirements will be dropped from 3 to 1, so you don’t even need to go past Battlecruisers 1 if you wish to fly them after the reimbursement.

Still following? Good, now applies everything we have said before to Destroyers, you just need to replace racial Cruiser with racial Frigate instead.

In case you wonder, the skill reimbursement also includes:

  • Removal and refund of all Destroyers and Battlecruisers skill books at the NPC order price.
  • Partial skill training will be properly be saved and duplicated. If you are halfway between Destroyers 3 and 4 when the change hits, your progress will be properly copied to all the racial Destroyer skills you are eligible for.
  • If, for some odd reason, you have Destroyers and/or Battlecruisers skills, but have no Racial Frigate/Cruiser 3 at all, then the skill points will be moved in the free allocation pool when the old skills are removed.
  • Skill queues having Destroyer and/or Battlecruiser in-training will be paused at the time of the change. If you expect to be away for a long time when the reimbursement hits, please make sure you don’t train either of these skills.

However, we will not adjust clone level if the refund causes your total skill points to go above your current clone capacity. If you have Destroyer and Battlecruiser 5 trained, you should account for approximately 6.2 additional million skill points, thus we highly suggest you think about upgrading your clone accordingly, especially if you plan on going into hostile or remote space.

Sealing the deal

All of this will happen for the Summer 2013 expansion. That’s a lot to take on, which is why we wanted to give you as much of an advance notice as possible so you can react accordingly. We do hope this will clear any confusion on the matter – all of this is final and should not change at this point.

 

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