Response to the Balance Patch

As you’ve likely seen, CCP released a pretty sizable balance update earlier today, addressing capitals and rorquals primarily, though there were a few token subcap tweaks included. If not, you can view it here, which I would recommend before continuing to read this.

The biggest effect relative to the campaign is on my nullsec platform. When I was reading through the changes, it was like reading down my platform points one by one. Certainly a bit of a surprise, but definitely a happy one. I will be reorganizing my null platform in the coming days in the light of this announcement, though I will be retaining a copy of my current points. Overall, this is firmly a good move on the part of CCP for the future of EVE, and I hope they continue to progress on this.

First off, I’ll take a quick run through of all the changes. This is by no means comprehensive, nor fully researched given how recent it came out.

FAX Reps

The first one, and the one that will likely shake up the large scale fleet fight meta the most, is the FAX change. This graph in particular is great for understanding the change, it uses FAX reps for the number, so normally 2-3 per FAX:

image-3.png

I'll take a brief aside to mention insurance. I think this is the right way to go on the matter, even if it does represent a dread nerf, because the FAX buff to Dreads outweighs that. Overall, T1 capitals cost far too little to replace, making them cheaper than some T2 subcaps even. The excessive cost of blops is a whole different issue, but this is a good change.

As you can see, you have dramatically lower gains once there are 15-20 FAX on field. This is a dramatic shift from the old system, where each FAX would cancel out 2 dreads worth of DPS, assuming the dreads are applying perfectly onto supercap resists. Now, at 15 FAX, you’re repping 2/3 of what you were before, meaning it only cancels out 20 dreads. At twice the number of FAX, bringing it to 30, you’re repping roughly half, a few percent over, cancelling out 30 dreads, and putting you in parity. Past that point, it actually starts working out in the dread’s favor, where fewer dreads can outdps a larger FAX contingent. There’s been some pushback on these changes in regards to dreads, mainly due to the insurance changes discussed later, but overall I feel this makes dreads dramatically more viable. While they’ll still die at the same speeds to titans, they’ll no longer also plink harmlessly off a wall of massed FAX reps. This sets a much lower critical mass threshold to break past reps, and means that if you drop 60 dreads, you are likely to at least be able to kill a titan, even if they have 60 FAX consistently on field.

As mentioned earlier, the larger it scales, the better the dreads are. Dreadbombs certainly won’t be able to kill super fleets, but they’ll be able to trade effectively now at least. This also means that you’ll likely see supers and titans picked off outside of doomsday volleys during supercap fights, which is, in my opinion, a good thing, as it makes it less one sided, and means that the disadvantaged side can still extract some blood, even if they don’t have enough titans to alpha a titan. Plus it gives supers a way to be more useful than they are currently during long ranged DD trades.

The lack of effect on subcaps is also fantastic, as logi hasn’t been a significant issue in subcap fights. In fact, in the recent highsec brawls, Horde has actually eschewed the use of logi for the most part, instead opting for more Feroxes to increase alpha. I’m very excited for a future with these rep changes, and the nice part is once the system is implemented, it should require less coding to tweak if the rep scale is off one way or another.

HAWs

This is one of the sections I think CCP got it wrong on, assuming they were aiming to make supercaps less oppressive. I have a theory the HAW changes may be more aimed at reducing the isk faucet of boson ratting, but they’ve not expressed that desire so I can’t be sure. What I can be sure on, however, is that HAWs are not the biggest issue with Titans. As I’ve mentioned before, long range cap guns are what allows Titans to thoroughly dominate subcaps, while still retaining damage capability against capitals, thanks to the mechanics of tracking at range. Against small gangs, HAWs definitely present a problem, but so do Dread HAWs, and CCP didn’t nerf those. I do feel, however, that Titans shouldn’t be able to apply as well to subs, so this fits in with that at least.

I want to reiterate, Titan long range weapons need a nerf against subcaps. They’re fine towards caps, but they simply are too often the best choice for both situations. This is a big part of why we’re seeing a shift towards HACs, as battleships are back to non-viability when facing Titan long range guns.

Fighters and NSA

The fighters section here really misses the primary issue with fighters oppressing small gangs, which is the support fighter ability to lock down subcaps for long range fighters to hit. That being said, some application nerfs are still worthwhile, and this method allows them to retain damage against capitals, so I’m not really opposed to it. I just would like to see the support fighter problem addressed. Even just limiting all ships to one support fighter would be a useful change.

The NSA mechanic is one I’m really excited about, and one I hadn’t thought of before. This creates a choice between ticks and safety, without making them unusable like the siege module, due to the one minute cycle time, rather than five minutes, meaning site clear times aren’t negatively affected by the usage. One of the big problems with catching carriers currently is that everyone rats aligned 24/7, so you have to catch them when they land in a site if you want any hope, which basically requires blue eyes or time logoff traps to deal with. This means you’ll have a window of opportunity to catch carriers, depending on when you jump in. It should not be easier to catch a VNI than a carrier, and this goes a long way towards making that a reality.

Subcaps

This is a section I was really hoping to see more of. Right now, the meta is dominated by Muninns, Feroxes, Eagles, and the occasional battleship if we get really lucky, plus a few specialized comps like Goku. While this is better than Ishtars online, or armor T3s, it’s not super great. Feroxes are there because they’re the most effective cheap trading ship, allowing them to be thrown about willy nilly and normally come out isk positive. Muninns and Eagles, meanwhile, see a lot of use due to the oppressive nature of supercaps on subcaps, as mentioned earlier, but also because the ADC gives them a phenomenal leg up in the alpha meta. This is definitely better than where HACs used to be, but some more variety would be great. The Ferox changes are good, but unlikely to have a significant effect.

Medium projectiles is another area that’s dramatically lacking, and has been for a while. One day, we will see any change at all, but until that day, I will continue to cry a single tear. I’d also like to mention the Corax, whose changes seem to miss the mark, as one of the biggest Corax issues is the lack of speed. There’s a reason most Coraxes go dual web and sit in FW plexes at 0, as once anything is moving, they have no chance of catching it.

The VNI and Gila changes seem to indicate CCP’s further aim of making them not part of the meta for ratting as much, and while I don’t think this will accomplish that, it’s good to move in the right direction.

Rorquals

This is the meat and potatoes of the update for many people looking for changes, and I say that as an expert, given that I am dining upon meat and potatoes as I write this, specifically a pot roast in a red wine-based sauce. Rorquals are one of the most divisive changes recently. Overall, I’m a big fan of the gameplay they’ve created in terms of being able to force fights, I personally have had a lot of fun on TEST’s recent bout of whaling Goku fleets going all over the place. However, they’ve also had a significant effect on the economy, and not a positive one. The fundamental root of the issue is that Rorquals simply scale too well, and these changes miss the mark on that. The yield nerfs are useful economically, and will scale down the amount of incoming ore, but they still don’t address the multiboxing capability.

However, they are mostly positive. Not allowing rorquals to save more than 3 drones in Wetus is a big deal, and means that losing a Rorqual is a significantly larger loss than it was before these changes, which is always a plus. It’s also easier to kill Rorquals before help arrives, though not by much, due to the PANIC change. What I really like is the shield rep nerf in combination with this, as it lowers the threshold for being able to kill rorquals pretty dramatically in terms of number of people needed. More opportunity for different alliances to be able to kill Rorquals with Goku is a good thing for making Rorquals less dominant.

The change in here I’m really interested in seeing results from is the links one. Based on that, and the next paragraph, it looks like CCP is trying to shift the meta back towards Rorquals boosting, now with secondary mining capabilities enough to get them in the belts, while the primary mining role is filled by subcap miners. It’s a delicate balancing act, but if they can pull it off where Rorquals are incentivized enough to be used in belts still, but not enough to overwhelm miners, I will be truly impressed.

The Future

I’m hoping this update is a sign of more balance in the future, and if they come through on the promised revisions in July, I will be pretty happy. 1.5 month balance cycles is ideal still, but this is a nice compromise. I’m unsure if the May decision is a wise choice, though if it continues the Triglavian storyline it’d be cool. Tiericide is the real jesus feature here though, if they can finally finish off Tiericide, and continue their ship class rebalances, especially with blops, I for one will be a happy man.