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Since Battlecruisers are a big stable of Eve Online PVP combat, what CCP Fozzie says right now is a big deal, so let’s get to it (oh, btw.. this is my 301st post on my blog, woot!):

 

Hey everyone. Sorry for not getting this post up sooner, been pretty busy here at CCP.I’ve been reading all the feedback here and everything I can find on other websites, thanks for the help so far. I’m going to pick out a few common questions to answer today.

Are the Battlecruiser skills being split into racial version at the same time as these changes?

We have been planning to split the Battlecruiser and Destroyer skills into racial variations (Details can be found in CCP Ytterbium’s dev blog here) for a while, but we’ve been vague about the when. Originally I had hoped to get the changes into this point release, but we’ve seen an opportunity to both build better tools to help players understand the changes (communicating the mechanics involved is something we could have done better so far) and also combine the skill changes with some other adjustments that fit together well. So I now have permission to let you all know that the skill change is scheduled for our Summer expansion 2013 (which most of you know tends to fall in the late spring). We’ll be working to make sure that as many people as possible understand the changes beforehand. I know that some of you may feel that we’ve been stringing you guys along since the changes were first proposed so long ago, but we’re working to make sure a huge change like this is done in the most responsible way possible.

 
This will be a change that will make the progression for new and intermediate players take a bit longer to get more hulls.  Although there is a lot of negative talk about this, I think the long term result will be much more diverse PVP fleets and perhaps some fleet doctrines that will take that diversity into account.  Still, there is plenty of time for everyone to get on the bandwagon and get their skills maxed out before this change occurs.

Why aren’t there Tier 3 BC changes in this thread?

This thread is focused on the Combat line of Battlecruisers, which are the former Tier 1 and Tier 2 ships. The Tier 3 BCs will be rechristened Attack Battlecruisers and will have their own thread when we’re ready to start gathering feedback.

 
Hmm.. interesting.

What about armor tanking? The imbalances caused by the mass of plates, the speed penalty on armor rigs and the weakness of armor reps in pvp situations are a problem that becomes more pronounced for these ships than for any of the smaller classes and should be fixed as soon as possible!

I completely agree. ~Working on it~. However since we want to be very careful about what we promise and when that’s all I can say at this exact moment.

 
As most folks know, each taking type had their inherit weaknesses: Passive Armor Tanking reduces a ship’s agility and speed, mainly because of increased mass.  Passively shield tanked ships had their signature radius skyrocket making it easier to hit them, especially for bigger guns and missiles.  Speed Tanking was hindered by lack of much static defense and once slowed, were very vulnerable.  Active tanking, while not having any direct weaknesses, could only “heal” so much incoming damage and fed off of the capacitor, capacitor that was also often used to power speed, tackle, and weapons mods.
 
The problem with Passive armor tanking was that there simply wasn’t any way to “outpilot” your weaknesses.  Shield ships could go faster and the penalty wasn’t really a big deal against equal sized ships.  Speed tanking required only moving out of a certain range.  And while active tanking was never idea, you could fit modules that would at least give you significant boosts in cap while, at the same time, piloting your ship closer or farther away to reduce incoming damage.  In particular with Amarrian ships, but also with Gallente and some Minmatar ships, this problem would become more pronounced with the smaller ship classes, where speed and manuverability are more important factors for survival.
 
I suspect that the trick here is a solution that doesn’t make Minmatar frigate and cruiser classes an unfair speed advantage when these changes go through.

Even if active armor tanking gets better, Gallente don’t need two ships with a active armor bonus! Why not give them more variety in bonuses?

This is a very legitimate concern and is something I am open to changing, we have other options being looked at and are always interested in all your ideas. However I want to wait a bit before switching the design around.

 
I really can’t comment on this until we have more information on how they plan to improve active armor tanking (and to be fair, active tanking in general). 

Why is the Ferox keeping the optimal range bonus? A damage bonus would be stronger for blasters and nobody snipes with a Ferox!

There’s a couple of things going on here. I completely think that PVP Ferox fits will continue to be mostly blaster fit after these changes, I want to be clear that we are not trying to force people into rails with the optimal bonus. However there are a few reasons we decided on keeping the optimal bonus:

1) The Blaster Ferox works quite well with the current stats, and the optimal bonus is in fact useful with blasters (especially with Null or Void ammo, as well as alongside a TE module) and creates a nice (if subtle) gameplay distinction between the Ferox and other blaster ships. We were weighing the option of switching the bonus to damage, but chose to add the extra turret instead. This way the blaster Ferox fits get more DPS while also keeping their range benefit (at the expense of tighter fittings).
2) We have metrics on how people are fitting their ships, and many of you may be surprised to know that the most common highslot modules fit to Ferox in the game are named 250mm rails. There is actually a significant number of people using the Ferox for turret based PVE that many veteran players can easily overlook.
3) The issue of balance between long range fit Combat BCs and Tier 3 BCs is an important one. In the end the solution will likely revolve around making sniping with medium weapons and sniping with large weapons more distinct. I’m not expecting people to use RailFerox fleets in pvp after this point release, but while also keeping a strong BlasterFerox alive I want to put the ship in a place where it can benefit from any changes we make to both help medium rails specifically, and the balance between medium and large long-range weapons in general.
 
Kirith did a good job in talking about these issues here.  He has always been a fan of the Ferox and getting it on par with the other BCs.  I do have to disagree with his conclusions on his third point however.  He states:
 
Point 3 is where it gets interesting. He says “[i]n the end the solution will likely revolve around making sniping with medium weapons and sniping with large weapons more distinct.” That is interesting. What I expect this means is that right now there is no real attractive reason to choose medium railguns for a particular range when large rails on the “Attack Battlecruisers”; for most use cases the large guns will always do more damage and the edge cases where they don’t are not plentiful enough to call for medium guns.

However, if things can be tweaked such that the large sniping guns have more trouble hitting targets, just enough to make FCs consider reshipping to BCs with medium sniping setups, than keeping the optimal range bonus on the Ferox will be a good option to take to make both Rail-rox and Blasterox setups viable.

 
My problem with Kirith’s statement is that there really isn’t anything you can do to the Ferox to make it a viable “medium railgun” sniping platform.  There are two reasons for this: 1.) Changing of any variable of medium and large Railguns will likely be compensated for with a change in piloting, rather than sacrificing damage and range.  2.) Whatever change is done to make the medium railguns on the Ferox more viable will likely render the Eagle obsolete.  Likely the thought is probably on improving the Tracking on medium railguns or the Damage.. either of those changes will still likely still be usurped by the Large Railguns (or even Large Blasters) on Nagas.  To be honest, while I think CCP Fozzie’s ship balancing skills are excellent, he might be better served just making the Ferox more short ranged focused, a sort of Caldari answer to the Brutix.  Probably my best suggestion would be to change the damage bonus on the Brutix to a Rate of Fire Bonus, and then give the Ferox the 5% damage bonus instead, while it gets to keep it shield resists too.
I thought the Drake was going to get missile range and RoF bonuses?

That rumor stems from a discussion that was made during a previous CSM summit, and represented an early idea rather than a completed design. I have always been of the opinion that the Drake was actually decently balanced other than the problems with the weapon system, and now that we have taken our shot at balancing heavy missiles in Retribution the changes the drake needed are smaller.There has also been a feeling expressed that we had been planning to remove all single damage type missile bonuses. It is true that we switched a few ships to omnidamage in Retribution, but we also specifically left the kinetic bonus on the Condor, as well as adding new racial damage bonuses to the Corax and Talwar. We do not consider the single damage bonus to be obsolete. Both RoF and damage missile bonuses are valid tools to use, and I prefer having a variety. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and provide different interesting gameplay in different situations.

 
Yeah, I was among those that were pretty sure CCP was stepping away from specific damage bonuses on Tech 1 ships.  Guess that got changed and I really don’t buy the logic.. but again, CCP Fozzie is doing something that has been deemed nigh-impossible so I am willing to cut him some significant slack.  I don’t like Drakes anyways and they still managed to keep their battleship class tank.

Why is the Cyclone getting just 5 launchers and why does it keep 2 turrets?

Creating effective balance between the Cyclone and the Drake is tricky business. We are aiming for a useful tradeoff between the ships, with the Cyclone significantly faster and more maneuverable and with two utility highs vs the Drake’s extra missile damage, with the shield boost bonus vs resists. If it turns out that the Cyclone needs more damage to be competitive, then changing it is not off the table, but we’re going to be careful here.

As for the turrets, we consider these slots to be utility highs. The existence of the turrets is simply to provide people more room to do creative things with fits and go max gank if they feel the need. A vast majority of the time we expect those remaining highs to be filled with Neuts, Smartbombs, Gang links, Probes, Salvagers or other handy highslot modules. Having two unbonused weapons available as an option for utility highs is not the same thing as split weapons, and the Cyclone is no more a split weapon ship than the Raven is. Examples of split weapon ships are the Typhoon and Naglfar, both of which are designs that I consider obsolete and worth changing when we get to them.
 
Hrm.. gotta test this once the changes are made to the Cyclone.  I’ve always been in favor of getting rid of split weapon systems as it takes twice the training time to get them on equal footing with single weapon system ships and it makes me happy that I can look forward to both the Typhoon and the Naglfar being changed to more reasonable weapon configurations.  The Cyclone change to be a missile boat is a good idea in my mind, but things are complicated when Heavy Missiles have recently been nerfed, the ASBs have recently been nerfed, the Cyclone has one less utility high, and it’s still stuck with five weapons and the same single weapon bonus.  Still, with the addition of a lot of CPU, drone space, and a critical lowslot, the Cyclone still appears to be a very strong, small gang PVP contender.

Why are you removing so many empty high slots from BCs when they keep the Gang link bonus?

This is a very legitimate concern, and I’m going to be working to see if we can ensure that each race has at least one T1 BC that can fit a gang mod without giving up too much from the highslot. Even though gang links on T1 BCs are not incredibly common at the moment, it would be great if it became more common so we’ll see what we can do to help.

 
An interesting point as only the Amarr and Minmatar BCs will have utility slots after this change, whereas both the Gallente and Caldari BCs will have to sacrifice some of their DPS to gain that ganglink.  This presumably means that we’re likely to see Prophecies and Harbingers become more popular as cheap ganglink ships.  Cyclones probably won’t see much change because of the nature of their defense bonuses, and Hurricane will still be in the mix.
 
Conclusion:
 
There are going to be plenty of growing pains here in the next few months, especially when we consider that what CCP Fozzie is change is the bread and butter of Eve Online PVP.  All the battlecruisers, but especially the Hurricane, the Prophecy, the Cyclone, the Ferox, and the Drake, are all going to be strong indicators of what the vision is for each race, and it will give us insight into what is planned for battleships.  Either way, whether I like all the changes going through or not, I think the CCP has thus far done a pretty outstanding job. 
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