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.

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