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I have about 78 million SP, and if you still play Eve Online, check out this devblog: http://community.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&nbid=9129

With my SP I can fly.. well, I can fly a ton of ships.  This devblog clearly has me losing approximately.. 24 ships in total.  24 ships that will instantly no longer be available to me once this change takes effect (edit: see side note).  Normally, this would upset me because it means I have to train for ships I use rarely, and it would add at least a couple months or so to regain my combat ability.  Logically though.. CCP is right in making this change.  It did always strike me as odd that so long as I could get a racial cruiser to III, that my level 5 battlecruiser skill made me instantly proficient in not only their tech 1 battlecruisers, but in their command ships as well.  The same applied to interdictors, but to a much lesser extent.

Old Way:

 

New Way:

I do like the new ship progression in that if you want to train for a specific ship, the way is basically straight.  Let’s say you are a new player and you’ve heard wonderful things about HACs.  Now, you don’t have to train up a bunch of other ships to get there.  Just train up the class, then the specific ship.  Some of the other changes indicate that instead of pre-reqs being at level V, they’ll be at level IV.  I think that is a good idea, though I am concerned that corps and alliances will change their advertisements to say “Cruiser V plus etc., etc.” instead of just stating that “Must fly Tech 2”.  However, I think that for the most part, this will be a welcomed change all around because you can get newer people in better ships to produce better fleets, plus the newer people get to content faster, and the overall downgrade in fleets won’t be that great.  Plus, vets will still maintain a strong edge against newcomers.

Still.. I think there is going to be quite a few unhappy vets.

That wasn’t the only interesting thing that was being said.  Another interesting idea was brought about in the blog by this comment:

That is why we want to remove ship tiers altogether, then refocus our balancing philosophy to be based on role. That means finding common themes, or lines that fit ships with the same purpose, then adjusting slot layout, HP and fittings within each class to support this goal.

So, Tiers will soon be a thing of the past.  Which, according to the blog, means that a good HALF of the ships need to be re-balanced.  Now, as they mentioned they will instead use roles to determine how balanced these ships are.  Likely, since the Tier system sort of had that in mind, there may not be as much difficulty in making the re-balance happen as one might suspect.  Particularly if we look at what roles are being defined as:

  • Combat ships: designed for direct fights, such vessels are usually found spear heading an attack force, or sniping from long range. Have great damage and defense, but poor mobility. A good representation would be 18th century “ships of the line“. EVE examples: Abaddon, Rokh, Hyperion, Maelstrom, Ferox, Maller.
  • Attack vessels: Made for hit and run assault, or flanking opportunities. Have great damage and mobility, but average defense. Similar in role with cavalry. EVE examples: Armageddon, Megathron, Tempest, Oracle, Thorax, Hurricane, Dominix, Myrmidon.
  • Bombardment ships: provide heavy fire support to pin the enemy down with constant barrage of ordnance. Have great damage and range, average defense and mobility. Can be compared to artillery. EVE examples: Raven, Drake, caracal.
  • Support vessels: mainly focused on assisting a friendly force, or disrupting an enemy fleet. Have average damage, poor defense, average mobility. Electronic warfare is the prime illustration of this line. EVE examples: Scorpion, Blackbird, Celestis, Arbitrator.
  • Industrial ships: provide the mining and logistic backbone to replace military losses and cover operating costs. Poor offense, average defense and poor mobility. An Oil platform is a fairly accurate depiction of industrial ships . EVE examples: Covetor, Orca, Rorqual, Iteron V.

Now, lets stop here for a second so that I can make a prediction.. it’s a safe one to be sure, but I think it will still be accurate.  Here is how I think the Tier 1 to Roles conversion will play out:

Frigates:

  • Combat Ships: Rifter, Punisher, Incursus, Merlin
  • Attack Vessels: Slasher, Executioner, Atron, Condor
  • Bombardment Ships: Breacher, Inquistor, Tristan, Kestrel
  • Support Ships (2 each race): Vigil and Probe, Crucifer and Magnate, Maulus and Imicus, Griffin and Heron
  • Industrial Ships: Burst, Tormentor, Navitas, Bantam

Cruisers:

  • Combat Ships: Rupture, Maller, Vexor, Moa
  • Attack Vessels: Stabber, Omen, Thorax
  • Bombardment Ships: Caracal
  • Support Ships: Bellicose, Arbitrator, Augoror, Celestis, Blackbird
  • Industrial Ships: Scythe, Arbitrator, Osprey, Exequror

Battlecruisers:

  • Combat Ships: Ferox
  • Attack Vessels: Tornado, Oracle, Talos, Naga
  • Bombardment Ships: Drake
  • Support Ships: ?
  • Industrial Ships: All ORE Mining Barges and Noctis

Battleships:

  • Combat Ships: Maelstrom, Abaddon, Hyperion, Rokh, Apocolypse
  • Attack Vessels: Tempest, Armageddon, Megathron, Dominix
  • Bombardment Ships: Raven, Typhoon
  • Supports Ships: Scorpion
  • Industrial Ships: Orca

As you can see, initially the small class ships are balanced.. at least one that fits into each ship role.  However, after that, things get a bit more.. dynamic or hazy, depending on your point of view.  I think that CCP will have their hands full for two particular reasons:

  1. How are they going to change various ship balances without disrupting, or worse, generalizing all the races?
  2. How does the issue of “Active” versus “Passive” tanking get solved now?

The first problem is clearly going to be on the minds of many pilots.  Are Caldari now going to be known as the “Bombardment” race?  How about the Minmatar?  The Amarr?  Are the Gallente going to be regulated to being the “Support” skilled race?  Will ECM be changed because it is so powerful in comparision that technically Caldari could be both the top Bombardment AND top Support race..  Even if the flavor of each race is kept, how is the balance going to work between four different races.. or will only a couple races have multiple ships for each class.. and if that happens, how will balance be achieved if only a couple values affect how well it does its intended role?

And then with all those other questions comes in a more subtle problem.  The issue of active tanking, which are feature predominantely in Gallente and Minmatar hulls.. how can that be balanced over the proven benefits that passive tanking has in most combat situations?  That I think will be a much harder question to solve.

Yet, despite these problems the overall concept that every hull serves a purpose is near and dear to my heart.  I will be watching with much excitement.. and a bit of trepidation.

(Side Note:  Apparently, even as I was in the process of writing this blog, some of these points came up and are in the process of being addressed.  See comments here: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=77673, I am disappointed that most just freaked out and their fingers went faster than their brain and eyes could go.  But, on one positive note.. I am not the only one who noticed the problem that this could have with Active/Passive tanking: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=77673&p=37, Force Colonel’s comment)

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