Logistics Cruisers: Its Raining NerfsMukk Barovian
Calling in the Nerf
For anyone unfamiliar with the simmering ever-arguments of the EVE community, logistics joined their ranks months ago. People hate off grid links. They hate AFK cloakers. And the more recent trend is to pour hate onto logistics. The argument runs that logistics ruin the enjoyment for the losers of a fight. Losing ten ships and killing three comes with a consolation prize. Losing ten ships and killing nothing is utter suck. Hate is poured on logistics ships for amplifying N+1 to the point that the N-1 fleet whelps without accomplishing anything at all. The argument goes that EVE would be a better, more exciting, game if ships exploded on both sides of every fight.
The argument is somewhat objectionable to me when it overstates the surety of N+1 bringing victory. I know that small fleets with good FCs can score kills and wins off bigger fleets right now. That aside, the rest of the argument seems to have some merit. CCP apparently agree. The nerfhammer is coming, making an awesome display. And by awesome I mean awe inspiring.
Kinds of Nerfs
“Logistics face a multitude of nerfs. Each by themselves is minor, but they stack up on each other.”
Logistics face a multitude of nerfs. Each by themselves is minor, but they stack up on each other. Logi are losing optimal range to falloff. They are losing fitting space and capacitor efficiency, while cycle time is going up. On top of that, the MJFG-capable command destroyers are going to lurk in the sidelines, ever ready to split the logi chain.
There are buffs mixed in with the nerfs. A good pilot would view cycle time increases on shield reps as a buff. The new existence of T2 logi frigates is a buff. Falloff will let logistics land some reps further than they could have before. The increase in range on the base remote repair modules will increase performance on unbonused ships. CCP often mix some buffs in when they swing the nerfhammer. It muddies the water for people who might otherwise be complaining. The question is whether the nerfs or the buffs are stronger. Will a logistics wing be better or worse at keeping fleet members alive? In this case there is no question. The nerfs are stronger. Taken together I expect weaker repair and more casualties.
This is the reason why the logi will be closer to the brawl. The optimal range of repair is going down. To provide full power repairs, logi will have to stay in that optimal range.
A logi wing hiding 80 KM behind its fleet is going to provide repairs at half strength. If the enemy FC has half a brain he will take advantage of this and blow away the poorly supported damage ships. This will make the friendly FC very angry at the logi anchor, who will in turn have a choice. The logi anchor could burn in closer and risk his logistics ships getting ripped apart, or he could tell the FC to suck it up and risk getting ripped a new one by an angry alpha nerd.
In other words, being logi anchor sucks. It is a thankless job prone to blame for fleet losses. And it is going to suck even more after the patch.
Shield and Armor: Dick Measuring
Yes, they are both shrivelling. But which one has shrivelled more? For each aspect of the nerf I will examine how each tanking style has fared. For range issues we have the chart handily provided by CCP.
Shield optimal is now down to the tiny value of 32.2 KM. Armor gets it a little better, reaching out to 57.6 KM for full strength. 57.6 KM is pretty close to the range a logi wing would previously want to stay at, so I rate this as a solid win for armor setups. You really want the end of optimal to be as far as possible. Going out beyond that is like bringing fewer logistics cruisers. Four Basilisks at 80 KM rep like two Basilisks at 30 KM. Five Basilisks at 50 KM is like four Basilisks at 30 KM or four Guardians at 50 KM. Putting your logi too far away is a great way to lose the war of N+1.
32 KM optimal is particularly bad for shield because a shield logi wing trying to stay in optimal range of its fleet is going to be close enough that a good bomber FC could conceivably hit it and the fleet at the same time. Shield fleets that have brought their logistics into optimal are going to be more vulnerable to area of effect weapons than armor doctrines. I should also stress that being closer to the friendlies that need rep also means being closer to the hostiles. Being closer to the hostiles means taking more DPS when they shoot at you. It hurts.
Still, we sometimes *need* to repair something quite far away. Armor and shield are equal in power out to 30. Armor is better from 32 to 70. Then shield is better out beyond 70. It is particularly worth noting that shield rep ships can get a little bit of repair quite a long way away. Shield inties are going to happy for the support. A shield ship abducted to 100KM away by a command destroyer will get some reps out there. Still, from the perspective of a logistics pilot, performance at 32 – 70 KM is more important than performance at 70 – 100 KM
Cycle time is going up. Medium and large armor repair times are going up to 6 seconds. Shield cycle time is nearly doubling, going up to 8 seconds for medium and large repairers. The stated purpose of this nerf, is to buff rapid target switching. The idea is that a bad logi pilot may commit all his reps to one target, and fail to switch in time when a new target is called. In practice, for an elite spacefaring veteran, this is an armor nerf and a shield buff. Waiting longer for reps is bad. Getting more reps up front is good.
(Command links exist that reduce repair cycle time. They reduce this time by 24.75% with a mindlink, a command ship, and max skills. I am going to talk about the numbers before the boosts because they are nicer and rounder, only taking boosts into account when it is necessary for a calculation to be accurate. For example when I talk about how much more damage an armor ship may take before reps land, I am calculating this value assuming the armor logi have boosts.)
We actually have to dive into dick measuring between tank types immediately because they respond differently to cycle time. Shield reps are front loaded. Armor reps are back loaded. Because of this, and despite shield being weighted down with a longer cycle time, armor takes it up the butt. You can think about shield repair as having an alpha value. This alpha value is nearly doubling because it now accounts for 8 seconds of repair instead of 4.5. And nothing forces a shield logistics to fire them off stupidly. The reps hit at the beginning of the cycle, and the logistics pilot can take advantage of this in two ways. First he can comfortably fire the reps off one at a time. If it turns out more than one repair is needed, the shield from another rep can be added in a fraction of a second. Therefore there is no need for a shield logistics to overrep. Shield logistics will often have free repair if the enemy fleet switches primaries. Secondly, the shield logistic ship can instantly boosh up a ship that has been heavily damaged by the initial volleys of an enemy fleet. Ships in shield fleets will catch reps faster and harder than ships in armor fleets. Breaking ships in a shield fleet without rapidly switching primaries will be that much harder. Either you do or you don’t in the first few seconds of firing, and rep volleys that are nearly twice as strong are going to make “don’t” happen much more often.
You can mathematically prove that the added cycle time is a good thing for shield with this thought experiment. Imagine a hypothetical logi ship with a 5 second cycle that repairs 500 shield at the beginning of the cycle. It has 4 of these reppers. I will call this guy Speedy Logi. His competitor Slow Logi has 4 reppers that boosh 1000 shield but have a cycle time of 10 seconds. Both logistics ships repair at 400 shield per second over the long haul. But shield per second (SPR) is not the whole story.
First let us assume a rapid target switching situation. Ship A needs 2000 shields. Then 5 seconds later, Ship B needs 2000 shields. In response to this, Speedy Logi puts all his repairs on Ship A and cycles down. Then he puts all his repairs on Ship B. Speedy logi is pretty well suited to this. You might initially think he would do better than Slow Logi, but this is not the case. Slow Logi puts 2 reppers on Ship A, instantly transferring 2000 shield. Then in a few seconds when Ship B comes under fire, slow logi puts 2 reppers on him, transferring 2000 shield again. 5 seconds later Slow Logi’s first set of reps cycle down and he is ready to assist the next primary.
Next, let us assume that Ship A needs 3000 shield or it will explode. Speedy Logi rolls his face across the keyboard and activates all his reppers. Then Speedy Logi gets to watch Ship A promptly blow up. Speedy Logi was only able to provide 2000 shield hit points in his volley. When Slow Logi faces this situation he does better. Slow Logi activates 3 of his 4 reps, booshing Ship A up 3000 hit points, and saving the day. Slow Logi even has a repper left over to tend to emergencies elsewhere.
An added effect when you are fighting shield fleets is that having one of your idiots shooting the secondary is going to make that secondary very hard to kill. It may be time to summon the commissars for these people.
Cycle time sucks for armor fleets so much. For one taking advantage of extra rep at the end of the cycle is hard. An armor logistics pilot has to guess if the repairs are going to be needed 4 seconds later, or if the broadcast was wrong. The Armor logistics pilot is going to have to guess how many reppers he should use. Erring on the safe side and committing reps makes the logistic vulnerable to rapid target switches. Taking the risk and confirming that reps are needed risks landing the reps too late and losing the ship. There is no right answer. Armor logi pilots are going to have to do their best at second-guessing enemy target callers. Armor logi pilots are going to have to make guesses about tracking situations and damage application. It is going to be anything but easy.
Even worse, in situations where all reps are clearly needed, the reps are going to arrive later. The extra cycle time means that if the enemy fleet consists of 30 damage ships each applying 400 DPS, their victim is going to take 12.7K more damage before the repairs arrive. That is ⅓ the EHP of a T1 logi cruiser, or about 1/6th the EHP of a HAC. It is enough damage by itself to vaporize an armor frigate. Even as shield ships become harder to alpha off the field, armor vessels are going to become much easier to blow away before repairs hit. Armor is seeming pretty flaccid right now.
Fitting Repair Equipment and Running It
Repair modules will be slightly harder to fit, and use more capacitor. These changes are not terribly significant, but they will make life just a bit harder for logistics. Without going into every detail here are some relevant highlights.
Large Remote Shield Booster IIs are requiring 58 more powergrid and 31 less CPU. Shield logistics cruisers are losing 50 CPU, and gaining powergrid. The Scimitar is up 185 powergrid. The Basilisk is up 225 powergrid. As far as I can tell, this is a buff for the Basilisk, at least when it comes to balance against the Scimitar. The Basilisk is going to look slightly better in comparison with its extra powergrid.
Large shield reps without cap use bonuses will use about 5 cap per second more. On logistics cruisers they will use about 1 cap per second more. Large armor reps will use about 4 cap per second more. Again, logi cruisers will see this as about 1 cap per second after bonuses.
Logi Frigates: Little Rays of Rep
I am strongly in favor of T2 logi frigates. However, we need to start this conversation stating that they in no way hold back the tide of nerf. A Basilisk in optimal range reps 2.66 times as much as a Scalpel in optimal range. For a Scalpel optimal range is 4.8 KM. Logi frigates are almost all falloff. You can expect weaker repairs in the field. If you previously had someone fly a Scimitar, and they elect to become an elite Scalpel master, you are losing rep power for your fleet. At best, logi frigates bring remote repair to fleets that would not have had it before. They bring survivability to repair ships that were easier to kill before. But in no way will their existence increase the ceiling of the performance of remote repair ships. They simply raise the floor.
They are tough little fuckers though. There was a picture floated around of a 12m signature scalpel. This picture was a lie, unless you plan on using high grade halos in you 10K EHP frigate. The real number is 18m. It is still a tiny signature, capable of shrugging off many frigate weapons aimed its way. With these guys on the field it will probably be a good idea to look into energy neutralizing and make sure your fleet has a few target painters mixed in somewhere.
T3 Remote Repair: A little less suck
Part of the range rebalance for remote repairs was weakening the range bonuses on ship hulls and increasing the native range on the modules themselves. In practice, naked repair modules gained optimal range, and got falloff values on top of that. This is certainly going to help tinkers.
A more interesting question is whether this is enough of a buff to make a logistics T3 worth using in a more mobile fleet. My gut answer is no. 10 to 20 KM of range is not enough to reach across a fleet. If it turns out to be far enough, then usable T3 logistics with 100+K EHP would be a huge step up for logistic power in general. Logi power is limited by the tank of the logistics themselves. That is why you see Tengu VS Tengu fights where both side kill the enemy logi. Its easier to kill a T2 Cruiser than it is to kill a T3 cruiser. The T3 has so much more tank.
Also, the Nestor got a buff. Its range bonus goes down a bit, but with the new base module stats its range increases from 25.2 KM optimal to 28.8 + 4.2 KM. It would not be a CCP expansion if the Nestor didn’t pick up a buff somewhere along the way.
Shield ships lose out on optimal range. Armor ships lose out on cycle time. Everybody loses just a bit on fitting and cap use. I expect to see every major group reexamining their logistics set ups and releasing new fits. The changes to logistics are probably not going to spawn new fleets. Tactics will probably adjust, but revolutionary changes are unlikely. It is not like we are sailing into a brave new world where logistics cruisers are not vitally important to fleets anymore.
Now that we have a full frigate lineup I hope to see T1 logistics battleships added to the lineup. CCP have demonstrated here that they can manage balance issues in fairly sophisticated ways. I think they could make it work somehow. This is mostly my love for new shinies speaking. Of course the new force auxiliaries will be vertical, so they should that satisfy that need pretty well. Triage is facing similar changes. The bit that sticks out most to me is the armor cycle time going up to 6 seconds on capital remote reps. That is going to have a big impact for armor triage, and armor capital fleets.
I have a special callout for the T1 armor logistics cruiser pilots, Exequrors and Augorors. Between your mediocre EHP and the added time before medium reps hit, it sucks to be you. Small remote armor repair and their shorter cycle time begin to look like good winter wear. I’ll be seeing you on the field.