Recently, comments have been made indicating that after the new sov changes come in this summer, Phase III of the overall Eve updating and rebalance will potentially consist of supercapital ships being removed from a damage dealing role. If this happens, what non-combat role would supercapital ships play? Intimations indicated that their value would be in some sort of fleet bonuses, but no further specifics have been given. It would seem that CCP is interested in finding a place for supercapitals as the flagships that I believe they originally should have been, rather than the ships of the line that they have become. At this point I must admit that all contemplation I have given to what sort of fleet booster a 100 billion ISK Titan would have to be in order to be worth the money, things that I have heard and contemplated personally concerning supercarriers are actually interesting. Further, potential uses for supercarriers could be related to a change set that I have advocated for the Rorqual for quite some time. These concepts pertain to introducing an element of invulnerability to mining operations (and now to fleet fighting).
In previous dialogs about invulnerability in Eve, I’ve been met with overwhelming resistance from the people I have spoken with, usually stemming from the sentiment that an invulnerability component to Eve violates the fundamental principle of risk v. reward upon which Eve is founded. I would concede that introducing forms of invulnerability allowing the direct accomplishment of game ‘success’ via an invulnerability mechanic that ensures such accomplishment with no risk would indeed break the game, or at least such elements of it as to be a flagrant violation of what we are about as the Eve community. I would proffer, however, that limited forms of invulnerability that do not directly ensure risk free success are not only perfectly within the scope of the game’s intent, but in fact are already present in Eve. For instance, there is the invulnerability provided by the POS. However, the lack of mobility of that absolute invulnerability ensures that incorporating a POS into operations does not ensure fights are won. It offer an advantage and options: fleets have a place to safe up, reship, what have you. It offers miners a place to park their Rorqual, but the barges and exhumers still have to run into the belts to get their rocks. Other forms of invulnerability exist as well. Cloaky campers, or cloakies at all, enjoy effective invulnerability from just about any point in system they want – but as soon as they do anything, the invulnerability is gone. This form of invulnerability provides the advantage and option of intelligence gathering and comfortable and well thought out placement of covert capable ships.
Given that invulnerability various forms exists already in Eve and has not broken the game, I would suggest allowing supercarriers to introduce some limited form of invulnerability with regard to the effect that supercarriers have on Eve. This could be a viable alternative that may yet offer a very significant advantage from these 25 billion ISK ships that if properly limited along several axis would not unbalance the game. Changes I would suggest share much in common with changes that I suggested for the Rorqual some months back and others suggested for the Rorqual well over a year ago when I was but a noob. At one point CCP seriously considered basically making the Rorqual a mobile POS of sorts, but the suggestion was so controversial that no specific details could be agreed upon and ultimately the question was ducked altogether with notice that making the Rorqual into a POS was just not technologically possible. When discussions renewed in the wake of CCP’s announcement that they wanted to buff up the Rorq so much you’d want to take it into a belt, criticism of the idea of a workable nullsec mining foreman ship in a belt was leveled from many quarters, and I introduced the idea of a quasi invulnerability field in response. It’s this concept, with some refinement, that I am thinking might be appropriate for supercarriers. Below I will propose some module and ship alterations which I think should be considered as CCP moves into the future in a potential effort to make supers into non-damage dealing flagships.
Finally, with the mind of creating an overall set of balanced ship and module changes, the concept of the independent capital fleet should be addressed. Essentially it would seem that when capital fleets were conceived, dreads would provide the primary damage against capitals and structures, and carriers would provide a support role including logistics, links, and anti-subcap capability. Cap fleets were designed to be used without subcaps. However, in play, capital fleet engagements nearly always involve subcap support at the fleet level except for small gang capital hot drops and whatnot. At this point I support the idea of removing the capability of capital ship fleets to engage in nearly all situations without subcap support via the carriers’ sentry and small drone launching capability. Carriers should maintain their support role for links and logistics, but become an alternative DPS dealer with limited capability against fleets of subcaps. The dreads would have the highest DPS and benefit from their missile and turret paradigms, but carriers should become a strong secondary damage dealer with a drone paradigm.
Given this introduction, I’ll propose some changes. First I will start with some ship changes:
- Remove its ability to boost from within a POS. Send it to highsec where it belongs and keep it there.
- Remove its scanner bonuses.
- Remove its ability to fit a Capital Tactor Beam.
- It should retain its drones and shield boosting capabilities to preserve its use as a battle Rorq and POS shield repair ship. It should be considered a ship designed to work with POSes.
- Add a role bonus for it allowing it to provide fleet boosts from within a POS. It should be the only ship in the game that can boost from within a POS. We should accept that it boosts from a POS as it has always been used.
- Create a T2 Rorqual that I am calling the “Snorqual” just to have a frame of reference.
- Give it the current rorqual’s scanner bonuses.
- Allow it to fit a capital tractor beam. Give it the current bonuses of the Rorqual for the capital tractor beam.
- Allow it to fit the Hawkins Radiation Emitter (described below).
- Allow it to fit the Capital Salvage Unit (described below).
- Allow carriers to fit only fighters and fighter bombers. No sentries, EWAR drones, smalls, mediums, larges.
- Remove the racial carrier skill bonus allowing for 1 additional drone or fighter per level. Replace it with a 20% bonus to fighter and fighter bomber damage per level. This bonus could be adjusted to provide carriers with appropriate damage entry points after balance considerations are discussed.
- Alter the Fighters skill for the allowance of 1 fighter per level.
- Alter the Fighter Bombers skill to allow 1 fighter bomber per level.
- Therefore a carrier will come stock without the ability to launch drones , but with skills would be able to launch 1-5 fighter bombers and 1-5 fighters.
- Limit the number of Drone Control Units that can be fit to carriers to a number to be determined after considerable balance consideration or remove the modules from the game entirely.
- Reduce the number of high slots available to carriers to numbers determined after balance is considered reflecting the limitation or removal of Drone Control Units.
- Remove their drone bays, bandwidth, and ability to launch drones. Remove their ability to fit Drone Control Units. Supercarriers should not bring drones to the fight. They should bring ships to the fight.
- Give supercarriers 10 million cubic meter ship maintenance bays.
- Reduce supercarrier high slots by a number determined after balance considerations.
- Allow supercarriers to fit the Hawkins Radiation Emitter (described below).
Now for some module stuff:
Capital Tractor Beam
- Cause the capital tractor beam to operate using the Mobile Tractor Unit mechanics. The Snorqual pilot should not be required to actually lock individual targets to tractor cans and wrecks. This will be critical to its function with the Hawkins Radiation Emitter.
- Cause the capital tractor beam to simultaneously tractor all tractorable items within range once it is cycled on.
Capital Salvage Unit
- A new module that, when cycled on, simultaneously salvages all items salvageable that are within its range, say 5,000 meters.
- Can be fit only to Snorquals.
Hawkins Radiation Emitter (or whatever you want to call it – this one is the doozie).
- Can be fit only to Snorquals and supercarriers. A high slot unit.
- It is an active high slot module with a 5-minute cycle time that runs on heavy water.
- When active the Snorqual or super cannot move or warp, but it can cyno jump. Jumping to a cyno instantly deactivates the HRE.
- The HRE technology is based upon creating microscopic black holes within the ship that creates incredible effects on gravity and can only be operated within certain granitic conditions. Therefore:
- The HRE cannot be activated within 50 thousand kilometers of a station, stargate, acceleration gate, POCO, or POS. Its use will be limited to bookmarked safes, mining belts, anomalies and signatures, plantets where the planetary warp-to is far from its customs office, and moons where the warp-to point is not co-located with a POS.
- A HRE cannot be activated if the supercarrier or Snorqual is locked. While there’s no particular lore or rationale for this mechanic, this feature is necessary in order to prevent the HRE from breaking any attack at any time. If aggressed before the HRE was engaged, a supercarrier still has its EWAR immunity and massive tank to protect it.
- When activated, the supercarrier and all ships in the supercarrier’s squad, wing, or fleet that are within 10 kilometers of the supercarrier cannot lock targets or launch drones.
- All ships in the supercarrier’s squad, wing, or fleet that are within 5 kilometers of the supercarrier cannot be locked with the HRE is active.
- Bombs will not detonate within 25 kilometers of the supercarrier when the HRE is active.
- FoF missiles will not detonate within 10 kilometers of the supercarrier when the HRE is active.
- Smartbomb modules cannot be activated within 10 kilometers of a supercarrier with an active HRE.
- The supercarrier and all ships in its squad, wing, or fleet will have a massive mass increase while within 10 kilometers of a super with an active HRE. Something like a Higgs Anchor with the exact details determined after balance considerations are made. Bumping ships near a super with an active HRE should be possible but effectively impracticable.
- Active cynos within 10 kilometers of the supercarrier with an active HRE are instantly disabled.
- The Snorqual offers the same effects with an active HRE as a supercarrier, except that the effects are only conferred on industrial ships in the Snorqual’s squad, wing, or fleet.
With these changes, supercarriers and T2 capital industrial ships become a new kind of staging base for combat and mining operations respectively. The supers specifically will be able to bring huge numbers of fitted ships to systems allowing fleets to reship. They will also allow fleets to safe up in system while preparing for their battles. Depending on alterations to Titans (not discussed here) and alterations to jump clones (mentioned by CCP but not discussed here) they could provide entirely new ways to get fleets into and out of systems. Without the HRE active the supercarrier becomes an immense and unbreakable logistics platform as it is today, but is no longer a damage dealer. In place of damage it becomes a safe and quick trip to the fight, a fleet safe, and a trip home. T2 capital industrial ships radically change the paradigm for mining, as they can provide a safe spot in a belt for barges. Without the HRE the Snorqual can act as a battle Rorq useful in some industrial operation situations and certain combat roles.
These propositions are not complete, as redesigned Titans may have certain role bonuses allowing them to interact with the HRE in ways no other ship can. Since their fleet bonuses are tied to hulls, they can sit safely in an HRE field and boost, for example. They may be able to use certain bridging capabilities from within an HRE and modified and improved clone mechanics pertaining to their clone vat bays may combine with the HRE and the massive ship maintenance bays of the supers to create even more options for fleet transport, composition, recomposition, etc. Titans are mentioned here only to indicate that they could offer new dimensions to the mechanics mentioned above, and this point is made to illustrate that, while I have tried to be as holistic as possible with the above ship changes and modules to give a picture of an invulnerability mechanic that could significantly alter mining and warfare without ruining the game, this is just a draft of a possibility.
I wrote this just to put an idea on the floor. While there’s a lot of detail, it’s certainly not meant to be something final to be adopted, but rather to be contemplated and used as intellectual fuel to change and improve supercaps and bring the Rorq update that we’ve been waiting for. With all that said, I welcome comments.