Fozzie has posted the long-awaited BC balancing pass, let’s get stuck in and see if they’re any good.
CZ regulars will know that all of my non-AT articles are largely me stroking certain parts of my body while engaging in wild speculation on EFT. The EFT files (at the time of writing) are not out yet for the BC changes, so we’ll be even more speculatory than usual. In short, my summary of the BC changes is:
YES GOD YES OH MY FUCK YES
You can find the link to the dev thread here.
TL;DR: Role bonus to drone speed, a little more cap, a little more speed and an extra lockable target.
As Fozzie says in the blog, Prophecies were largely fine before this rebalance. The weakness addressed here is that of the nature of movement drones. Switching between targets that aren’t anchored on each other, or getting your drones on target after you drop them could take an excruciatingly long time, especially against kiting fleet comps. This change certainly helps the viability of a movement-based drone comp over sentries, which has historically been the primary way to run Prophecy fleets. The Prophecy was solid before, it’ll be solid after. I HATE fleet comps like Prophs/Mallers/ANIs that are just designed to sit there, unbreakable but barely having any efficacy of their own, relying on pure numbers to kill anything. This will hopefully take Prophecy fleets further away from that by giving them an increased offensive ability.
TL;DR: Role bonus to optimal/falloff, some extra armour, a nice buff to cap, a little more speed, a significant buff to lock range.
These changes to me seem to be un-subtly nodding towards wanting beam Harbingers to be a ~thing~, so let’s look at what changes this will make. Here are cookie cutter fits for a beam Harbinger fleet concept, pre-buff, in both armour and shield variants.
The shield fit is pretty darn straightforward, the armour fit kind struggles for CPU. With no fitting buffs, it’s going to be difficult to fit a more DPS focused 2x EANM 2x heat sink version of the armour fit. Yes, damps and ECM drones because I am in fact an asshole to logistics pilots. More range and more speed are going to significantly increase the viability of these setups, and beams track pretty amazingly even without tracking mods. These things have the potential to be very mean to a Caracal or any shield cruiser fleet that gets bubbled for even a little while. Sure, the Caracals will get out eventually, but they’re going to be in the killzone for much longer than before these buffs.
TL;DR: Losing the resist bonus for a damage bonus, losing a high slot and a turret hardpoint in exchange for a mid, gains a little CPU. Gains the optimal/falloff bonus on top of the optimal bonus already on the hull. A little more base shield, a little more cap, a significant buff to lock range.
Despite their popularity, I’ve never been a fan of rail Ferox fleets, preferring the Darkside Naga doctrine of that purpose. Whenever I engaged one I’d just blap the Minmatar recons, orbit at 10 and blap one Ferox at a time under their tracking or simply play range to my advantage, even when outnumbered massively with the aforementioned Naga fleet.
The damage bonus is a little misleading, the loss of the turret but gain in damage means that while it will output more damage, it won’t be as ridiculous as a flat 25% increase (assuming you have Caldari BC V). For blaster fits, I’m really interested to see if this extra hull bonus to projection makes T2 Null ammo worth looking at. The hull role bonus is plenty sufficient to make the blasters apply within scram range, rather than needing to be up the rear end of the ship you’re shooting as is the current case with medium blasters.
I have always disliked having double optimal bonuses, be they on Tengu/Eagle/Cormorant or the equivalent missile version on the Cerberus. At a 10% bonus it’s (in my opinion) just too good to be able to do that much damage from that far away (inherently increasing application as increasing distance from target reduces angular velocity) while still being fully tank fit. The Ferox here, I think, will overshadow the role of the Naga, potentially to extinction, by having comparable range, more tank and not that much less DPS while having the signature resolution and tracking of medium guns over the larges of the Naga.
Keeping the utility high for smartbombs for anti-bomb means that the nullsec rail Ferox doctrine has received a strong buff, even with the removal of the resist bonus (extra mid, slap on an adaptive). It was and will continue to be a cost effective choice for lower SP/ISK entities looking at a beefier doctrine to train into.
TL;DR: A little more powergrid and base shields, better cap, a touch more speed, a little more lock range. Role bonus to missile velocity.
I am not anti kinetic-locking the Drake. I won’t discuss it here as the concept deserves a piece in and of itself (no promises), but I do not think it is the worst thing in the history of the game as reddit seemed to start bemoaning when the thread went up. That said, I think it would be better to do a partial buff to other damage types as per the Osprey Navy Issue on T1 hulls (#FuckCerbs) so it’s more viable to do off-kinetic in certain situations.
Brawling HAM Drakes are actually really fun, one of the Waffles used to love roaming around Black Rise/Placid in them and we’ve had some really cool fights. The velocity bonus, as with all the projection bonuses, means that deciding to shoot logis instead of DPS, or having every ship able to shoot the next target immediately, is far more likely if you’ve had to spread out a little to tackle something. The velocity bonus also makes your missiles harder to firewall, an effect you see on the Cyclone which we’ll get to later as well.
For HML fits you’re now far less likely to be out-ranged when fighting a HAC comp like Ishtars, should you lack the ISK/SP to run HACs reliably and need to punch above your weight. Drakes aren’t suddenly going to be 2011 good again, and certainly aren’t the best hull coming out of these rebalances, but I don’t think they were necessarily “underbuffed”. They could probably take a little more of a tune up, but this change for them is okay.
I really can’t decide whether or not I like the Navy Drake. I’m told it’s going to be great for PvPers, but I’m seeing zero damage bonuses, even if admittedly on eight launchers. I just don’t know if the application bonus is enough for it to be able to put enough DPS onto the target to be a competitive platform in PvP.
TL;DR: Role bonus to optimal/falloff, 5% more hull HP, better cap, more speed, and extra set of light drones in bay, slight speed/agility increase.
I can vouch for Fozzie’s love of hull tanking, and he’s not-so subtly trying to push for more of it on the Brutix hull, which was already a cool choice. You can get a ton of damage and a huge buffer tank without sacrificing any speed, making it a wonderful choice for solo/small gang work. As with the Ferox, the new hull bonus will make brawling with blasters so much more doable. The repair bonus on the brutix however has always felt off. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dual-rep Brutix as a solo boat, but the Myrmidon also has a rep bonus, so I feel like it would be more interesting to perhaps add a little more variety. That said, finding a good bonus to replace it with isn’t that easy, the best I can come up with would be a RoF bonus like the Exeq Navy Issue to make it a DPS monster.
For rails, the Navy Brutix is going to be a sick nerd baller, but on the vanilla Brutix the fitting is somewhat tricky. I spoke to a guy on Slack the other day who swears by 200mms + scram/web using javelin for brawling and normal ammo for fighting at range, but I’ll leave others to test that concept. Speaking about the Navy Brutix, it was already and tank and DPS powerhouse within the class, but these projection bonuses are going to mean that it has a much easier time actually applying it. Before, and most certainly after these changes, you do not want to find yourself brawling it out with these bad boys; they can get 1200+ DPS while holding a great tank when running blasters, and the naturally fantastic projection of rails plus a tracking bonus plus a huge damage bonus means you’re not safe at range either.
TL;DR: Role bonus to drone microwarpdrive speed, a little boost to capacitor, speed and agility.
The Myrmidon was my dream ship. As a classical civilisation nerd, the Myrmidon had such a badass name, looked so iconic and I dreamt of sending swarms of drones after my enemies. Anyone who flew with me back in EVE University will know that on any fleet for the first 2-3 months after I skilled into it I’d be in a dual/triple rep Myrm, later moving onto a shield buffer max DPS version.
Anyway, the Myrm was a solid ship before this balancing pass, so understandably it’s getting the lightest touch. The role bonus is going to make using heavy drones a good deal less painful, and even though it’s not getting as much love as some of the other hulls, I cannot wait to get in it again.
TL;DR: Role bonus to missile velocity, 5% bonus to shield HP, a little more speed, agility and capacitor, a little extra lock range.
Of all the hulls, the Cyclone benefits least from the new role bonus. HML Cyclones aren’t a thing, and HAMs were pretty okay for projection anyway. As mentioned in the thread, the Cyclone is a great little ship pre-buff. I took a few fleets of them out with Waffles before the summer and they performed so well in a 10-20 man fleet setting, as well as their more well known prowess as an entry to Sleipnir/Claymore ASB fits. Not all that much is changing for the Cyclone, so as with the myrm, I’ll leave it there.
TL;DR: Role bonus to optimal and falloff, more cap, speed and agility, a touch more powergrid, extra drone bandwidth with bay to match, and a bunch more lock range.
Vanilla Cane imma let you finish but the Arty Navy Cane is going to be one badass motherfucker. The projection bonus with a HUGE tracking bonus and a HUGE raw damage bonus, it’s no wonder all the hulls sold out the instant these changes were announced.
Okay, back to the vanilla Cane, sorry about that. The PG buff was sorely needed, and the drone bonus is a nice little touch. Before these changes, I and a few others really wanted AC canes charging around lowsec to be a thing, but they were just that little bit too slow and their projection just wasn’t quite good enough. For a young lowsec group, I think Canes are going to be an excellent doctrine to set their sights on for some lower-ISK brawling beyond T1 cruisers, with the potential to hit well above their weight class with that old Minmatar double whammy of selectable damage and utility neuts.
By and large, all the BCs are getting a buff to speed and agility, combined with role application bonuses. On top of that, they’re getting odd little buff to fitting, a few bonus changes and generally updating the class to the modern era of EVE Online, where everything is a bit faster than it used to be (post-nano-nerf at least).
With regard to the role projection bonuses, these were sorely needed and multiple members of the community have put forward this idea with variations on the specific numbers. BCs had this odd space where they were slower than cruisers and thus could not really control range against them, but used the same size weapon system and so rarely had the range to hit out to the range-bonused Navy/HAC hulls. A little extra EHP was not enough to overcome the sig/speed/cost of the next class down.
These changes will mean that, broadly speaking, BCs will have a much easier time putting damage onto their intended targets, especially against cruisers. The bonuses we’re seeing are pushing for more projection, so long range weapon systems are going to be significantly more viable as they’re actually going to be able to hit out to the ranges required without needing to keep pace (as much) with the regular cruisers, which of course the lock range increases across the board will help with. The missile BCs have some gains, but these changes really favour their turret counterparts, with the drone ships sitting somewhere in the middle.
I really hope that BCs become a far more reasonable choice to go against cruisers, which will in turn allow BSs to have a larger role in the meta. So far, there was not much that was a good choice to fight a cruiser doctrine than another cruiser doctrine. BCs were largely a weaker doctrine, and BS struggle to apply to many cruiser fleets while trading ISK horribly. Everyone is aware we’ve been stuck in Cruisers Online for some time now, so with these changes we will hopefully see the beginning of a more streamlined progression up the hull scale when entities work to upship each other as conflicts grow more intense, without getting stuck at cruisers.