Tech 3 Cruisers – Rebalance vs Redesign


Big thanks to Capri Sun KraftFoods who kindly agreed to read over this article before publication and discuss the ideas with me to make sure I wasn’t being a complete idiot. You should totally vote for him in the current CSM elections!

The fabled coming of the T3C changes is apparently on the horizon for the summer of 2017 but what shape will they take? What are the design goals for CCP? What do we want out of T3Cs as players?

Personally, I think that the changes will come in one of two forms, a rebalance, i.e changing stats on the ships and modules that we have, or a redesign fundamentally changing the nature of the ship class.

Let’s start by discussing the ~general~ goals, in as broad terms as possible, to have a reasonable level of agreement of what the issues are and why we the playerbase wanted changes for those issues.

The core complaint is as follows: T3Cs are oppressive in the role of being a main ship of the line, most notably in “AHAC” (Armour Heavy Assault Cruiser – due to Zealots being the origin of the fleet comp) fleets of LR Legions and Proteus due to their combined high tank and low sig and useable, if not extremely high, DPS. In this form they are on the less fun side of what i call the “not losing vs winning” scale, where the entire design of the concept is defensive. The optimal solution to fleet battles are slow, heavy F1 ships with little nuance to the pilot or the FC in terms of either availability, decision making or skillful piloting to achieve a greater result. They, to a great extent, eliminate the space for other ships types and methods of combat to exist in medium to large-scale warfare outside the most powerful cases of the rest of the subcap line, specifically pirate battleships. Pirate battleships which themselves are currently artificially boosted in relative power level due to their availability and comparative price they can be purchased at.

(Article gets rudely hijacked by Cosmo)

“I’m going to cut off Apothne’s talk of the PvP aspects of the T3C ship class and try to bring light to another role that it currently fills, that of a ‘best in slot’ top tier exploration and covops vessel. Between interdiction nullification, covops cloaking and probing bonuses in the same vessel and the modularity that allows you to hold at least another whole fit or two on you, the T3C is the Lexus of the wandering pilot. Considering ‘exploration’ can mean doing the puzzling and often deadly Sleeper Caches and Ghost Sites, relics and datas deep in wormholes with Sabres ready to pounce, destroying offline SMA/CHA’s as well as switching over to do a 10/10 you stumbled upon, T3Cs currently are unrivaled as the true nomadic exploration vessel.

A vessel which also demands a great deal of its pilot in order to be flown without a single mistake since any decision, that of switching fits at a depo at a poor moment, deeming a site ‘safe’ to run or a gate green to jump in the wrong fit, could potentially cost said pilot a few billion in hull, loot and extra fittings. Closing up my bit and summing it up, more importantly to mention is that there is nothing that can take their place if any of these abilities get taken away.
That said i pass the mike back to Apothne.”

The original design goal for the T3C line (which may be a contentious point) was for it to be a be high-skill ship class in terms of game knowledge as well as SP, giving the availability of versatility and intelligent decisions to advanced players, rewarding both on and off grid mastery of EVE, with the downside of mistakes being at a greater cost which ended up taking the form both of large amounts of ISK as well as some associated SP. Overall, to increase the ceiling of efficacy for the higher skilled player while requiring a higher buy-in in terms of resources and competency. I’ll leave the discussion as to whether SP loss and interdiction invulnerability should be removed for another time as it’s somewhat more of an independent issue to the overall discussion of balance and design space compared to the other ships, though my inclination is that we would be better off without either.

Broadly speaking, I believe that the progression of a ship’s ability should not just be one of superior speed/tank and DPS, balanced by an exorbitant cost while requiring no more skill to fly than a lower ship class. It should not be a progression from a 5 DPS sword to a 10 DPS sword to a 15 DPS sword with on other changes to its nature and so on and so forth if we look at traditional fantasy games. While good in part, true endgame and maximum efficacy should be found through a combination of inherently stronger stats, but that in order to get the most out of the equipment it should require an increasing skill component by the user.

In EVE, a good example might be that of active modules that are stronger than passive modules which perform the same or similar role, but to truly get the most out of them you have to micromanage them well, as well as their improved potential outcome being offset by the downside of greater risk of being able to be neuted off and thus performing worse than the passive hardeners. We have seen an expansion of this idea in the thought process behind T3Ds as a high-end small ship (ideally requiring using multiple modes at correct times to get the most out of any engagement) and in the rework of fighters in carriers being something beyond just drones which you have to micro as you would in an RTS. Even the new doomsdays are to some extent “skill-shots” which you have to aim and time as well as you possibly can for maximum effect.


When we discuss a rebalance, in my mind that means specifically that we keep T3Cs largely in their current format, with the current subsystem groups and changing their bonuses and perhaps the base hull stats themselves.

One of the most popular changes which crop up again and again in this form is to reduce the number of rigs a T3C can use. T1 ships get 3, T2 get 2, why should T3 not get only one or even no rigs? This drastically reduces their ability to have raw HP from Core Defense Field Extenders and Trimarks and I believe is a genuinely elegant and reasonable part of a solution. The only drawbacks are one of consistency with the T3 Destroyers (which also have 3 rigs) and that rigs often serve to extend the breadth of capabilities of ships, the removal of which would inherently reduce the versatility and potential specialised/interesting applications of the hull.

My core concern (which may be entirely circumventable) with simply rebalancing the subsystems is the given that you have to have at least one defense subsystem and at least one offense subsystem, there will always be a “tanky non-active” subsystem and a “projection/DPS” subsystem, which will either result in a useable ship of the line, or the subsystems will both have to be so weak that the ship is effectively unusable in other roles. Similarly, increasing the sig radius sufficiently may require too much of an extreme that they are as large or even larger than battlecruisers, which seems silly unless we go the whole hog and change them to being T3BCs in the same way that T3Ds are Destroyers rather than Frigates.

One of the fundamental issues with rebalancing subsystems is that you are balancing four ships with five categories of subsystem, each with four options, requiring you to effectively balance 4096 potential spaceships and that’s before you even fit them. Doing so without leading to oppressive configurations and having meaningful choices without losing your sanity may lead to just making each subsystem so homogeneous and bland that no possible combination could ever be extreme in any sense, making the entire class itself bland and inoffensive without andy real strengths, specialised or otherwise.

Finally, subsystems are decisions you make before you undock, they do not directly allow for any increase to efficacy through skillful decision making and execution after you have undocked. Instead of swapping out subsystems here and there for different tasks, I and I believe many just buy multiple T3Cs with different layouts for different purposes.

Overall, while I’m not saying I think it’s impossible, I do believe that rebalancing T3Cs through the current subsystem format and achieving the design goals and full potential for fun of the ship class is a gargantuan and extraordinarily difficult process, even for the most brilliant of us (which I am most certainly not). Further, this laborious task will have to be repeated every time every time you rebalance the ship line meaning it is a consistent pain in the ass.


What I hope for T3Cs is that CCP follow on from their experiments with T3Ds and expand upon it. When I say redesign, i mean fundamentally changing the hull, going away from the subsystem format and potentially towards the mode system we have seen on the Svipul, Hecate, Jackdaw and Confessor. If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to put forward my thoughts on what I believe a potential solution to the initial design goals of T3Cs may be. To be clear, I am not advocating that this is the only or best solution, just one I believe is exciting and satisfies both balance concerns as well as the core gameplay of the ship class.

Six modes; two offensive, two defensive and two utility with fixed slot layouts and fitting room. To be clear, this is not making three choices of one of two, but one choice of six, ideally with a reduced delay to being able to change modes over T3Ds. The options (broadly speaking) would approximately follow the following. I have purposefully left out specific numbers, as my rough numbers would lead to EFT warrioring and distraction from the core idea.

Long Range Offense: Flat Damage & Optimal/Falloff bonuses, Targeting Range bonuses
Short Range Offense: RoF & Tracking Bonuses, Scan Resolution bonuses
Active Defense: Bonuses to local active tank.
Passive Defense: Some combinations of Resistance/HP bonuses
EWAR Utility: Bonuses to the Tier 2 EWAR of each race + Scanning/Probing
Speed Utility: Bonuses to speed/agility, perhaps even warp speed

Clearly, this makes the use of these vessels as “F1-monkey” ships of the line in large scale combat extraordinarily risky and even a huge liability in the hands of pilots who aren’t paying full attention to what they’re doing, and even in utility roles in those fleets a high-skill job. Note that in the damage bonuses, RoF gives less alpha but higher raw DPS, which should be the purview of closer range ships. The more you commit, the more damage you want to do, the more you should have to risk, which in itself is why i hated Cerbs and Ishtars before them as the relationship of power vs committal being so skewed.

Let’s move onto the specific hulls and get a little more detailed, though naturally I am even more open minded to debate and just using filler the more specific I get.


  • LRO: Bonuses to Hybrid Turret damage and Optimal and/or Falloff. Targeting Range bonus.
  • SRO: Bonuses to Hybrid turret RoF and tracking. Scan Resolution bonus
  • AD: The normal Gallente % bonus to armour repair amount.
  • PD: Bonuses to Armour Resistance & Hull resistance.
  • EU: Bonuses to point & scram range, potentially warp disruption amount a la the Maulus Navy Issue.
  • SU: Flat Agility & Velocity bonuses, possibly also warp speed.


  • LRO: Energy Turret Damage and Optimal bonuses. Targeting Range Bonus.
  • SRO: Energy Turret RoF and Tracking bonuses. Scan Resolution Bonus.
  • AD: Bonus to Capacitor amount/regen OR cycle time of local repair modules.
  • PD: Bonuses to Armour HP & Resistances.
  • EU: Neut Range and/or amount bonuses
  • SU: Flat Agility & Velocity bonuses, possibly also warp speed.


  • LRO: Missile Damage and Velocity/Flight time bonuses. Targeting Range bonus.
  • SRO: Missile RoF and Explosion Velocity/Radius bonuses. Scan Resolution bonus.
  • AD: Bonus to Shield Regen OR cycle time of local repair modules.
  • PD: Bonuses to Shield Resistance and raw HP.
  • EU: Bonuses to ECM Strength and Optimal/Falloff.
  • SU: Flat Agility & Velocity bonuses, possibly also warp speed.


  • LRO: Projectile Damage and Falloff bonuses. Targeting Range bonus.
  • SRO: Projectile RoF and tracking bonuses. Scan Resolution bonus.
  • AD: Shield boost amount bonus.
  • PD: Shield Resist and Sig radius bonus.
  • EU: Stasis Webification Range bonus.
  • SU: Flat Agility & Velocity bonuses, possibly also warp speed.

These examples are largely just an aside to give a little more clarity to the idea with a prototype of sorts, it would certainly require the super smart Devs and players to debate and test what the exact bonuses and numbers to go with them should be, but hopefully seeing it inspires some idea in what using them would be like and what situations and parts of evolving and changing fights would require certain decisions.

The main flaws I see with these specific design decisions is the lack of a cloaking device which is currently a huge part of the use of T3Cs, though it may be a blessing in disguise increasing the room for Recons as a ship class, and even making room for a whole new class of ships. I am also not a PvE/Explorer, so my inclusion of those roles may be somewhat haphazard and flawed, I would be very interested in hearing in the comments what the appropriate way to give usefulness in that set of roles in this design idea would be.

Going into the back end game design part of things, I would imagine this is a much easier system to balance and compare than the myriad of subsystems we currently have, as well as being a non-trivial and consistent expansion of ideas for newer players to learn and grow into.

Overall, I am hoping that this design ethic not necessarily in the solution i proposed but in the effect i hoped the solution i presented has in mind is one we will see in the forthcoming changes. It is a fantastic topic of debate, and far more fun and rewarding that the latest bit of dumb nerd drama and I have really enjoyed the nature and approach community’s ideas and suggestions thus far. I would love to hear your thoughts on my ideas in the comments section or on twitter @CallMeApoth.

Tags: apothne, balance, t3c

About the author


Apothne is a proud member of Sniggerdly and an experienced roaming FC. He is a Guest FC and Lecturer for EVE University and anyone who invites him to ramble on their comms for a few hours. He is currently one of the most active and experienced player commentators for EVE Tournaments, including hosting and casting AT XII-XV and all #EVE_NT leagues, as well as the Amarr Championships on stage at Fanfest 2016.