Ship Balancing for 2013

Now, when CCP first introduced the concept of their ship revamps months back, I was a bit skeptical they’d be able to pull it off properly.  EVE’s delicious soup of ships allowed for creative fittings to be employed by pilots. This sometimes resulted in some really interesting uses for some ships, and hilariously shit ones as well.

In a shocking feat of organization and forward thinking, a team of monkeys at CCP has been sorting the ship pile into the following buckets:

  • Combat – killing things
  • Attack – killing things… too
  • Disruption – stop killing me and my friends
  • Support – the wind beneath your wings
  • Exploration – finding new places to die
  • Mining – everyone’s dirty little secret

After working their way up from the smaller supporting type ships for the Retribution expansion, CCP’s rebalancing meatshield Ytterbium details their plans for battlecruisers and battleships.  (Yes, I’m getting caught up on oldish dev blogs.)  The major details of this can be found in the dev blog itself, but there’s a couple of parts that bear attention.

Refactoring Skills

Throughout the entire series of ship tier related changes over the past year, CCP has been messing around with related skills. As we get into 2013, these changes start to take form in a really interesting way.

Historically, new players have bitched and moaned about not being able to catch up to veteran players that have years of skill training advantage over them. Truth, as the Vorlons say, is a three-edged sword:

  1. They’re right, it will take them years to acquire the skills veteran players have built up, surely the game must be changed to accommodate them
  2. They’re wrong, because they’re new players and too uneducated in the ways of EVE to understand that the game relies more on player skill rather than character skill
  3. They’re both right and wrong. Because.

CCP being CCP has chosen to run with the third option because it’s their game and can do with it what they please.

  • Make ship progression more consistent over all sizes, instead of having a mix of racial and generic skills
  • Allowing for faster tech2 specialization, and slower multi-racial diversification. In EVE Online, while you as a new player will never catch up with the total amount of skill points a veteran has, you can still be on the same level by specializing. This is precisely what we want to promote here. For instance, currently one needs Amarr Cruiser and Battlecruisers 5 to fly an Absolution, after the change the same pilot will only need Amarr Battlecruisers 5 (on top of the other skill requirements).

This is actually not a bad solution, at least on paper. Everyone currently flying nicer ships can still do so, and anyone getting their asses blown off by a veteran flying a ship can fly that one themselves sooner (in some cases). I’m a big fan of Tech 2 ships myself, and while I’d love to have more people flying them faster, CCP runs the risk of once again marginalizing Tech 1 ships — things they’ve just spent a considerable amount of time and effort making interesting again.

Tech 3 Confusion?

I remember when the Tech 3 ship concept was pitched to players for the first time. It was basically the metaship, the thing you could make into whatever matched your play style, with bojillions of combinations of everything available to you for an arm and a leg, constructed from a totally new and interesting economy of its own. While this is certainly not changed, the focus this time is on bonuses to warfare links.

  • Tech 3 ships to be able to carry more gang links at once than Command Ships, but with less effect
  • Tech 3 ships to be able to carry some gang links while still maintaining some combat capability
  • Command Ships to carry fewer types of gang links than Tech 3, but with stronger effects (specialization over generalization) – if fitted with gang links, they have less combat capability than Tech3 hulls.
  • All Command Ships to have a combat role on the field on top of having the possibility to be fit for a pure fleet commanding platform.

The focus of this particular effort is in battlecruisers and battleships. The fact that Tech 3 stuff is being talked about at all while they manhandle the warfare bonuses of Tech 2 battlecruisers tells me two things:

  1. Tech 3 stuff is so awesome in its current state that they’re more appealing than Tech 2 battlecruisers for warfare link related tasks.
  2. CCP doesn’t know what the fuck to do with these ships.

The reason I say the latter is that with the complexities of Tech 1 and Tech 2 ships alone, it’s a bloody miracle that CCP won’t completely break the game’s delicate balance. Well, Tech 3 ships are designed to be wildcards. In my opinion, they need to have their own separate and well-thought-out attention devoted to them but only after the rest of the ships have had their roles defined and tested to be appropriate.

Anywho, in general I welcome the proposed changes to battlecruisers and battleships. They make a lot of sense with the previous changes, and definitely do a lot to unify ship styles with their overall category and race traits.


Michael Lastucka

Also known as Winterblink in-game. Warp Drive Active's overlord.