Thursday, October 29, 2015

This is why the Rifter is terrible

CCP announced somewhat recently that several ships will be rebalanced, including a few of the T1 frigates.  Among the changes, the Rifter is getting some extra PG and CPU, with a stated goal of allowing the Rifter to fit artillery or use its utility high slot more easily.  I think the Rifter will still be bad, and will perhaps become the new worst T1 frigate in the game considering the buffs to the Punisher.

Here is a Rifter fit which does not fit now, but will work after the December rebalance:

[Rifter, MWD Rifter v2]
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Gyrostabilizer II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Small Diminishing Power System Drain I

Small Projectile Burst Aerator I
Small Projectile Ambit Extension I
Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I

Stat line:
DPS (faction ammo + heat) = 163
DPS (hail ammo + heat) = 181
EHP Buffer = 2819
EHP from 8 rep cycles (w/ heat) = 2662

If you pvp with this in low-sec, you have to expect to encounter kiting MWD Tristans relatively often.  This seems like it should be a good matchup for this Rifter: it's an MWD brawler, which in principle should be a counter against a point-range kiting ship, right?  Simply slingshot, tackle, and kill it, right?  Nope.

Here is a MWD kiting Tristan fit that I came up with:

[Tristan, MWD Kite v2]
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Pseudoelectron Containment Field I

Medium Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender
Warp Disruptor II
5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Transverse Bulkhead I
Small Processor Overclocking Unit I

Hobgoblin II x5

Stat line:
DPS (Hobgoblins) = 141
EHP Buffer = 6025

I'll start by assuming that a hypothetical fight between the two ships starts at 0 range.  This means that the Tristan has screwed up royally, and allowed itself to be tackled by the Rifter before it was able to apply any damage.  In this case, the fight in a DPS race, and the outcome is actually pretty easily to calculate: simply multiply the DPS & total EHP of the two ships and compare:

Rifter: 893403 (assumes faction ammo on the Rifter)
Tristan: 849525

(Normalized to the Rifter DPS * EHP):

Rifter: 1
Tristan: 0.951

A big assumption I've made here is 100% damage application from both ships.  This is obviously not going to be the case, because falloff and tracking for turrets are a thing, and because drone tracking can be a bit weird sometimes.  I don't have a good way to model this accurately, but I believe that if we were to account for this that it would tilt things in favor of the Tristan, mainly because damage application does not depend on transversal or range for the Tristan.  This means that a good pilot could manually pilot to maximize transversal against the Rifter in order to tilt the fight in his favor.

Regardless of that, the point is that even in an ideal scenario for the Rifter this is going to be an extremely close fight, and realistically (in a fight between two competent pilots) it will require near-perfect execution on the part of the Rifter!

And this is why the Rifter is going to be awful even after the buff.  It has bad EHP and bad DPS, to the point where it stands a very good chance a duel against a very common kiting frigate even in a fight that starts at zero range.  Extra PG and CPU will not change this at all.  What the Rifter really needs in an extra low slot, more effective turrets than what it has currently, or a significant buff to small projectiles (the latter of which is unlikely to happen I think, because it would make the Svipul even more overpowered).

And yes, I am aware that you could load Hail ammo, fit a Rocket Launcher in its utility high instead of a nos, and tilt the numbers more in favor of the Rifter.  That fit actually works now and from what I can see nobody ever uses it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Re-balancing Tech 3 Destroyer Propulsion Mode

A major reason that the Tech 3 Destroyers (T3Ds) are imbalanced is because of the way their propulsion mode is implemented.  The Svipul and the Confessor get a rather large bonus to their max velocity when they are in propulsion mode, which impacts their base speed with no prop mod running, their MWD speed, and their speed with a 10mn afterburner.  CCP seems to have realized that this was a mistake, and thus they made the Jackdaw relatively slow, and they gave the Hecate a bonus to MWD speed rather than max velocity in propulsion mode.

The way propulsion mode is implemented basically means that the Svipul and Confessor are overpowered, and that the Hecate is terrible.

Let's geek out over the numbers a bit.  Here are the figures for how the T3 destroyers are implemented today:

Def ModeProp Mode
Def Mode SpeedProp Mode SpeedMassMWD Speed10mn AB SpeedMWD Speed10mn AB Speed
* This is probably confusing, but base speed numbers are given with 0 skills, and speed with prop mod on are given with all-V skills

If you don't know how to interpret the base speed numbers, here are the values for a couple common ships:

Rifter: 365 m/s
Thrasher: 270 m/s
Stabber: 290 m/s
Rupture: 210 m/s

The max velocity of T3Ds in defensive mode seems reasonable; they're all considerably slower than a T1 Destroyer (Thrasher), which seems reasonable to me as they have massive EHP potential when they are in this mode.  The Jackdaw and the Hecate are actually slower than most Cruisers in this mode.

In Propulsion mode though, the strength of the Svipul and Confessor is very obvious.  Both ships have better base speed than any T1 Combat Frigate!  This is WAY too much speed!  Since this is granted to max velocity, this also grants them exceptional speed with an oversized afterburner in propulsion mode.  Given that both ships have sufficient CPU and PG to fit a 10mn AB without much of a problem (in addition to at least 1 nanofiber!), you end up with two very powerful ships.

The differences between the Svipul and Confessor in propulsion mode are very stark. The Jackdaw has rather poor base speed and a modest bonus to max velocity in its propulsion mode.  This means that its velocity with a 10mn AB is rather poor.  I think that this is actually the most balanced and most well-designed ship within its class.  Even though it's max velocity with its prop mod off is comparable to many cruisers,  I think this is reasonable because it has good DPS application at any range within scram range, and with its slot layout it can fit two webs rather easily.

CCP took a completely different approach with the Hecate, giving it horrible base speed, but very low mass and a very large bonus to MWD speed in propulsion mode.  This means that its speed with its MWD running is excellent, but its speed with an afterburner (either 1mn or 10mn) is horrible, and it can be scram-kited by any cruiser which has a web.  In my opinion, this means that blaster-fit Hecates are not viable for solo pvp and they are unlikely to be able to control range against anything they're fighting.

Re-balancing Propulsion Mode

I think that the speed in defensive or sharpshooter mode for all the ships is fine the way it is.  I also think that the MWD speed of all the ships in propulsion mode is perhaps a bit too high, but not by too much.  The only significant problem is with max velocity in propulsion mode.

The best way I can think of to rebalance this is to split the propulsion mode speed bonus between a small bonus to max velocity and a larger bonus to MWD speed.  I had the following goals in mind (generally speaking):

1. Base speed in prop mode should be comparable to T1 cruisers or T1 destroyers.  I've somewhat arbitrarily shot for a base speed between that of a Stabber and a Rupture for most ships.
2. MWD speed should be similar to what it is currently (in all modes)
3. 10mn AB speed in propulsion mode should not be significantly better than that of a 10mn Thrasher
4. I gave the Svipul and Hecate higher base speed than the Jackdaw and Confessor, because these two ships cannot be scram-kited as easily (rockets and lasers have good projection anywhere within scram range).  I think this makes things a bit more balanced.

Here are the numbers:

Def ModeProp Mode
Prop Mode BonusDef Mode SpeedProp Mode SpeedMassMWD Speed10mn AB SpeedMWD Speed10mn AB Speed
Svipul50% MWD bonus, 20% Velocity Bonus23027616000001584139026781668
Confessor100% MWD bonus23523522000001324132623541326
Jackdaw33% Velocity bonus170226.6610000001554110920721479
Hecate50% MWD bonus, 20% Velocity Bonus20524615000001469125424911505
Base speed numbers are given with 0 skills, and speed with prop mod on are given with all-V skills

First of all, I left the Jackdaw's attributes the way they are.  Like I wrote earlier, I think the ship is fine the way it is.

The Svipul and the Hecate's bonus is now split between a +20% bonus to max velocity and a +50% bonus to MWD speed.  This ensures that both ships have reasonable base speed (similar to that of a Thrasher), and similar MWD speed than they have currently.  This required a mass adjustment to both ships, a rather significant one in the case of the Hecate.  Probably the most noticeable change here is a giant nerf to 10mn afterburner speed in propulsion mode for the Svipul.

In the case of the Confessor, I felt that a base speed of 235 m/s was fine, and instead gave it a +100% bonus to MWD speed along with a mass increase such that it maintains similar speed to what it has currently.  With these attributes, the Confessor will have arguably the strongest defensive mode within the class (with the highest speed, lowest sig, and excellent resists), but a somewhat weak propulsion mode.

As a final adjustment to the Confessor, I'd also consider a nerf to small beam lasers, which I believe to be too strong right now.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Re-balancing the Svipul

Tech 3 Destroyers (T3Ds) are exceptionally powerful ships, and have quickly become some of the most-used and most-hated ships in the game, because they have largely supplanted assault frigates (by being better in almost every way) and are generally considered to be overpowered given their ease of training and price.  Their near-immediate proliferation within null-sec (the Svipul in particular) made it extremely difficult to solo-roam null in T1 frigates, and actually caused me to give up and return to low sec for a while, as I could at least use Novice plexes to avoid them.

CCP recently created a focus group to collect input from players on how to rebalance this class of ship.  I personally have very little experience flying T3Ds on typical TQ roams, which is why I did not put my name forward to be in this focus group.  A lot of my enjoyment in Eve comes from doing 'more with less', and thus I usually avoid flying 'flavor of the month' ships, particularly those which are perceived to be overpowered by the community.

That said, I do have extensive experience with flying T3Ds and theorycrafting T3D fits within the last Alliance Tournament, and I frequently fight against other T3Ds when I solo roam on TQ.  Does this really matter?  Probably not.  But this is my blog, so I'm going to write about it anyway!

First, I'd like to point out that CCP has already agreed to address a few common concerns:
1. T3Ds will soon no longer be allowed within small FW plexes
2. Insurance payout for T3D losses will be reduced, making losses of these ships more costly

These are very obvious, and perfectly reasonable changes, and I think there's no reason to address this any further.  I originally intended to write about ways to re-balance all of the T3Ds in this post, but I quickly realized that it would be far too long.  Instead I'd like to focus on the Svipul, which is probably the most-used of the T3Ds and is generally considered to be the strongest.

The key to re-balancing all four of the T3Ds though is to take a hard look at their propulsion mode,  Using prop mode to grant a large bonus to base speed (in the case of the Svipul) is just overpowered as you will inevitably end up with a ship which has higher base speed than most frigates when it is in propulsion mode.  In the case of the Hecate, which only gets a bonus to MWD speed, this means that its base speed will be at the level of a fast Battlecruiser (and consequently the Hecate is substantially worse than the other 3 T3Ds).

The Svipul

Really, the whole package is just very strong.  The Svipul has numerous strengths which I believe to be perfectly legitimate, such as 2 utility highs, a very favorable slot layout, pretty generous fitting, and a very versatile selection of viable fits.  The problems arise with a few points:

1. Base speed of the Svipul in propulsion mode is too high
2. 10mn afterburner is too easy to fit and speed & agility with 10mn AB are too good.
3. DPS is too high (This one is perhaps debatable)
4. Allowing Optimal Range bonus in all modes is too strong for artillery fits (Also debatable) and gives little incentive for kiting fits to ever leave propulsion mode

The second point is almost inevitable in a way; the large difference in fitting requirements between Autocannons and Artillery mean that a 10mn aftburner with autocannons will fit with minimal fitting mods/rigs, unless you completely gimp the ability of the ship to use artillery at all.

The type of fit that people complain most about are the 10mn fits with a medium shield booster:

[Svipul, New Setup 1]
Damage Control II
Nanofiber Internal Structure II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II

Federation Navy 10MN Afterburner
Pithum B-Type Medium Shield Booster
Small Capacitor Booster II, Navy Cap Booster 400
Warp Scrambler II

150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
150mm Light AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer II
Small Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer II

406 DPS with faction ammo (hot)
2718 m/sec in Propulsion Mode (cold)

It's a bit expensive, but these are not uncommon in low sec, and are often accompanied with links & pirate implants (this fit benefits greatly from either snakes or crystals).  This combines good dps, a very good active tank in defensive mode, the ability to signature tank virtually any cruiser-sized weapon, and the ability to disengage from any unfavorable fight at will (unless it has multiple webs applied to it).  Most ships which are able to kite this don't have enough DPS to break it (e.g. a Slicer) it's able to out-brawl most other frigates and destroyers in a pure dps race and it's able to beat many cruisers by out-tracking their guns.

Even a more 'basic' MWD buffer fit Svipul shares many of the same advantages.  In propulsion mode the Svipul has higher base speed than any combat frigate, and nearly double the base speed of even relatively fast cruisers (like a Rupture or Thorax).  Suitonia demonstrated the strength of such a fit, which takes advantages of the strengths of the ship and even adding two small neuts for additional utility.  This is his fit:

[Svipul, Buffer]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Micro Auxiliary Power Core II

5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
Republic Fleet Medium Shield Extender
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I

200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
200mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP S
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Small Core Defense Field Extender II
Small Core Defense Field Extender II
Small Core Defense Field Extender II

Defense Mode = 26K EHP Buffer
Propulsion Mode = 18K EHP Buffer
9 Effective Turrets

I chose a couple different metrics to illustrate how strong the Svipul is, particularly the propulsion mode.  Choosing Shield EHP to illustrate tank potential is somewhat arbitrary; I am well aware that ships like the Svipul, Thrasher, and Rupture are often armor-tanked.

Eff. TurretsBase SpeedShield EHP
Svipul (prop)94791818
Svipul (def)92882726
Base speed is the max velocity with prop mod off, no speed mods/rigs, and all-V skills.  Shield EHP assumes nothing is fit

The comparisons that most interest me are the ones between the Svipul and the Sabre and Jaguar.  Particularly the fact that the Svipul in prop mode is just flat-out superior to both of them.  No need to apply any brain-power whatsoever; simply be in prop mode, approach + F1 and you can beat a Sabre or Jaguar with a AC Svipul regardless of how they are fit (granted: this is in part because the Jaguar is completely terrible).  I also included the Rifter in this table just to show that a Svipul in propulsion mode has a higher base speed than the fastest T1 combat frigate in the game, which is pretty ridiculous.  I'd also like to point out: apart from the fact that 9 effective turrets might be too much, defensive mode doesn't appear to be particularly overpowered to me.

As far as Artillery fits go, since the Svipul gets its range bonus regardless of the mode it is in, there is very little incentive to ever leave Propulsion mode, unless you absolutely need the extra lock range or tracking that Sharpshooter mode gives you in a given situation, or if you screw up and get tackled by something, in which case you'll probably want to switch to defensive mode.

There are numerous other kinds of Svipul fits: MWD Artillery, Dual Armor Rep with 10mn AB, etc.  But the common theme which makes all of these fits strong is the simple fact that propulsion mode is too good.  I do not believe that the versatility in fitting possibilities is a problem (in fact, I think this should probably be the key discriminator for the Svipul in comparison to the other T3Ds!)

Suggested Changes

1. Change the Small Projectile Turret Damage bonus for each level of Minmatar Tactical Destroyer from +10%/level to +7.5%/level
2. Completely change Propulsion mode to give +20% to base speed and +50% to MWD speed (instead of +66% to base speed).  Remove the +33% bonus to inertia modifier.
3. Increase mass slightly to 1600000
4. Instead of an optimal range bonus, give the Svipul a +7.5%/level tracking bonus in all modes per level of Minmatar Tactical Destroyer.  Give the Svipul a +50% optimal range bonus in Sharpshooter mode instead of the tracking bonus

The aim of these nerfs are to slightly reduce DPS, make 10mn AB fits less viable, and give the ship more of an incentive to use sharpshooter mode as opposed to propulsion mode in kiting fits.  As a result of these changes, these will be the new stats:

Eff. TurretsBase SpeedMWD Speed10mn AB speed
Svipul (prop)947927452343
Svipul (def)928816481407
New Svipul (prop)8.2534526781668
New Svipul (def)8.2528815841390
Assumes a T2 10mn AB and a meta 5mn MWD.  Assumes all V skills.

10mn fits would be roughly the same speed and agility as a 10mn Thrasher, which has existed in its current form for years and which isn't considered to be particularly overpowered.  The speed with an MWD is nerfed slightly, but it is still considerably faster than most cruisers and assault frigates when it is in propulsion mode.  It's new base speed in propulsion mode would now fall between a Stabber and a Thrasher, and it would be slower than a Sabre or a Jaguar, which I believe is very reasonable.

I personally do not think that giving it the full 'Hecate treatment', wherein the ship is given horrendous base speed in favor of a very large MWD speed bonus in prop mode, is reasonable for this ship (or even for the Hecate quite frankly).  Honestly that just makes brawling fits pretty useless, at least within the context of solo pvp, since the ship would then be able be scram-kited by a Hurricane.  I think that all of the Tech 3 Destroyers prop mode should be given a similar treatment, bar maybe the Jackdaw which is probably fine the way it is.